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ESPN predicts target share for Chiefs wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins

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But is it just a flat-out guess?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Tyreek Hill probably telling the media he is a ‘clear No. 1’ wide receiver.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Mike Clay (Gary’s favorite) was at it again Tuesday morning, when he released the following article: Rating No. 1 wide receivers for all 32 NFL teams

Using target share, or the percentage of a team’s total targets handled by a single player, the article broke up NFL receiving corps into four tiers:

  • Tier 1 - clear No. 1s
  • Tier 2 - not-quite No. 1s
  • Tier 3 - emerging No. 1s
  • Tier 4 - committee attacks

Based upon those four choices, where would you think the Kansas City Chiefs’ No. 1 wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, would land?

Upon first glance, I think I’d say not-quite No. 1s.

Yes, I’ll admit that Hill is still proving himself among the best at the WR position in the league, but he led Chiefs receivers in targets last year with 105 and finished seventh in receiving yards in the NFL. Travis Kelce’s 122 targets hurt Hill, but his 105 targets still finished within the top 30 players across the league.

But because of the offseason addition of Sammy Watkins, the Hill-Watkins duo fell into the fourth tier, or committee attacks.

Per Clay:

Projected target share: 23/21 percent. Hill isn’t your traditional No. 1 wideout, standing at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds and contributing often as a rusher and returner in addition to a large role as a wide receiver. Still, there’s no question he emerged as Kansas City’s top wideout last year, handling 23 percent of the targets while playing 82 percent of the offensive snaps in 16 games. He’ll have more competition for targets this year with 2014 fourth overall pick Watkins in the house. Last season’s 15 percent target share was underwhelming, but Watkins was on the field for 88 percent of the Rams’ pass plays and handled a 25 percent share while operating as the Bills’ clear top wide receiver from 2014-16. -- Clay

While I think Clay has a point—Hill’s target share may go down—I’m not sure about his logic that defines a top-10 wide receiver as deserving of the fourth tier regardless of who has joined him this offseason. Other fourth-tier situations included the Cleveland Browns’ Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon and the Minnesota Vikings’ Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.

You’d take all three of these combos (Hill/Watkins, Landry/Gordon and Thielen/Diggs) before third-tier situations such as Oakland’s Amari Cooper, Washington’s Josh Doctson or the Jets’ Robby Anderson and certainly before some of the second-tier situations listed like Carolina’s Devin Funchess and San Francisco’s Pierre Garcon.

And I get Clay is in the business of projections (that’s his job—to make projections for each team no matter what, so keep that in mind), but calling Hill and Watkins for 23 percent and 21 percent, respectively, with an offense with new elements, a rookie quarterback with one game to his name and not knowing how Kareem Hunt’s improved receiving skills or how the return of like Chris Conley will factor in seems more like a guess than anything else.