Doug Baldwin’s Target Share and WR1 Fantasy Football Upside Rising

With Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson removed, Doug Baldwin's path to huge volume, especially in the red zone, has become much clearer.

Doug Baldwin has far less competition for Russell Wilson’s attention in 2018. Fellow pass-catchers Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson have landed in Green Bay and Washington respectively, and the anticipated Usage increase has Baldwin’s Fantasy Football Stock Arrow soaring upwards.

Specifically, Graham and Richardson combined for 175 targets in 2017 (32% target share). More importantly, this departed duo leaves behind prime red zone real estate: Graham and Richardson combined for over 50% of Wilson’s throws within the 20 (37/50), with the tight end leading the NFL with 26 RZ targets and 10 RZ TDs and Richardson ranked second among the the ‘Hawks with 11 looks inside the 20 (five receptions, 4 TDs). Meanwhile, Baldin was tied with Tyler Lockett for third with only eight red zone looks, three of which went for TDs.

As currently built, Baldwin is the only weapon with established red zone chemistry with Wilson. Recall: Baldwin finished 2015 on a torrid scoring pace, breaking an NFL record with 12 TDs in an eight week span (Weeks 10-17, following a Week 9 Bye). He logged 15 of his 17 RZ Targets in this span, hauling in 9 looks that included 6 RZ TDs. Consequently, Baldwin was the No. 2 scoring WR in Fantasy during this span, trailing only Antonio Brown among WRs:

Sure, Baldwin’s 7 and 8 TDs over his past two seasons feel disappointing off his league-high 14 TDs in 2015. Still, this record-breaking pace was uncoincidentally Baldwin’s last without Graham. Moreover, Baldwin proved he’s capable of dominating in the red zone, even at only 5’10”.  Baldwin was destroying one-on-one, contested balls and was on a whole other level with Wilson chemistry-wise. He’ll undoubtedly be relied upon to fill the 16 TDs left behind, and Baldwin should approach, if not surpass, double digit TDs in 2018.

Summary – Baldwin’s Largest Ceiling Yet

Even at under 125 targets, Baldwin has finished as the fantasy football WR11, WR8, and WR10 in his last three campaigns. With Graham and Richardson removed, Baldwin should now see the highest volume of his career, especially in the red zone. He’s flat-out dominated within the 20 before, flashing unbreakable chemistry with Wilson en route to shattering scoring records in 2015. As a clear cut target hog for one of the league’s best signal-callers, expect Baldwin to put up his best TD totals in years while setting a career high in yardage. He’ll be 2018’s Keenan Allen  — a third round WR who finishes among the top-15 overall.


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