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Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 6 Analysis

Your wide receivers remain essential components toward your primary goal of securing league championships. As this unique regular season continues to unfold, an expanding assortment of tools is available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge regarding this critical position. Those results are contained in this weekly statistical breakdown of multiple categories, which is designed to help you fulfill your championship aspirations.

This will be the sixth installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, first downs, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a compilation of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. This massive collection of data supplies the foundation from which the numbers that are generated in various categories can be evaluated.

As the season progresses noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, PFF, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

 

Week 6 Target Leaders 

Wide Receivers Total Targets Targ/Game YPT
Allen Robinson 66 11 7.2
Amari Cooper 65 10.8 7.7
DeAndre Hopkins 61 10.2 9.9
Stefon Diggs 59 9.8 9.4
Terry McLaurin 58 9.7 8.4
Calvin Ridley 57 9.5 9.6
Robby Anderson 51 8.5 11.1
Keenan Allen 50 10 7.1
CeeDee Lamb 50 8.3 9.9
Adam Thielen 49 8.2 8.5
Tyler Boyd 48 8 8.7
D.J. Moore 48 8 9.9
Jamison Crowder 46 11.5 8.3
Cooper Kupp 45 7.5 8.3
A.J. Green 45 7.5 4.8
Darius Slayton 44 7.3 9.2
Odell Beckham 43 7.2 7.4
Marquise Brown 42 7 9
Brandin Cooks 42 7 8.7
Robert Woods 41 6.8 8
Will Fuller 41 6.8 11.1
DeVante Parker 40 6.7 9.1
D.K. Metcalf 39 7.8 12.7
Tyler Lockett 38 7.6 8.9
Tee Higgins 38 6.3 8.9
Keelan Cole 38 6.3 9.5
Tyreek Hill 38 6.3 10.1
Mike Evans 37 6.2 7.6
T.Y. Hilton 37 6.2 6.5
Cole Beasley 37 6.2 9.7
Emmanuel Sanders 36 7.2 8.4
Russell Gage 36 6 8
Julian Edelman 36 7.2 8.4
Justin Jefferson 36 6 14.9
Laviska Shenault Jr. 35 5.8 8
Greg Ward 34 5.7 5.6
Michael Gallup 34 5.7 10.9
D.J. Chark 34 6.8 7.8
Jerry Jeudy 33 6.6 8
Jarvis Landry 33 5.6 9.7
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 30 6 8
Darnell Mooney 30 5 6.5
Davante Adams 30 10 8.4
Julio Jones 30 7.5 11.7

 

Allen Robinson leads all wide receivers in targets for the second consecutive week (66). Amari Cooper is second (65), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (61), Stefon Diggs (59), Terry McLaurin  (58), and Calvin Ridley (57). Robby Anderson is next (51), followed by Keenan Allen (500, CeeDee Lamb (50), and Adam Thielen (49), while D.J. Moore and Tyler Boyd are tied with 48. Jamison Crowder is next (46), followed by Cooper Kupp (45), A.J. Green (45), Darius Slayton (44), and Odell Beckham (43). Marquise Brown (42), Brandin Cooks 42.  Will Fuller 41, Robert Woods, (41), and DeVante Parker (41), are the only other wide receivers who have eclipsed 40 targets.

Robinson also leads all wide receivers with 48 targets since Week 3. Cooper is second once again with 42, followed by McLaurin (41), Diggs (37), Hopkins (36), and a three-way tie with Boyd, Ridley, and Lamb at 35. Kupp and Anderson have collected 34 targets, while Crowder and Thielen are tied with 33 during that four-game span. Allen and Tee Higgins are next with 32, Fuller has captured 31, and both Marquise Brown and Justin Jefferson have been targeted 30 times. Jefferson’s recent surge in usage and production will be examined further in the 5 Things I Noticed section.

Robinson also leads to the position with 25 targets during the last two weeks, while Diggs is located directly behind him with 24. Crowder and the surging Travis Fulghum are in a tie for third (23). Cooks and Lamb are next (21), while Cooks’ teammate Fuller is tied with McLaurin at 19. D.J. Chark Anderson and Thielen are next (18), followed by Kupp, and Ridley in a tie at 17.  Five different receivers have also been targeted 16 times during that two-game span – Higgins, Moore, Jefferson, A.J. Brown, and Marquise Brown.

Crowder leads all receivers in targets per game (11.5) and is one of six receivers who is averaging 10+ - Robinson (11), Cooper (10.8), Hopkins (10.2), Allen (10), and Adams (10).

Justin Jefferson leads all receivers with a 14.9 yards per target average. Chase Claypool is the only other receiver with an average of 14+, followed by Metcalf (12.7), Julio Jones (11.7), and three receivers who are tied with an average of 11.1 - Anderson, Fuller, and Scott Miller. Michael Gallup and Travis Fulgham are next (10.9), followed by four receivers that are tied at 10.8 – Josh ReynoldsCorey Davis. Gabriel Davis, and Mecole HardmanTim Patrick and Kenny Golladay are tied at 10.7, while Tyreek Hill (10.1), Hunter Renfrow, and Christian Kirk (10.0), are the only other receivers who currently have an average of 10+

 

Largest Weekly Changes

Wide Receivers Week 5 Week 6 Changes
A.J. Green 1 11 10
D.J. Chark 4 14 10
Davante Adams INJ 10 10
Julio Jones INJ 10 10
Tim Patrick BYE 8 8
Breshad Perriman INJ 8 8
Amari Cooper 4 10 6
D.J. Moore 5 11 6
Julian Edelman BYE 6 6
Justin Jefferson 5 11 6
Adam Humphries COVID 6 6
Terry McLaurin 7 12 5
Robert Woods 5 10 5
DeVante Parker 3 8 5
Jerry Jeudy BYE 5 5
Marquez Valdes-Scantling BYE 5 5
Zach Pascal 2 7 5
Marcus Johnson 3 8 5
Jamison Crowder 10 13 3
Will Fuller 8 11 3
Keelan Cole 6 9 3
James Washington 4 7 3
Calvin Ridley 10 7 -3
Brandin Cooks 12 9 -3
Tyreek Hill 6 3 -3
Larry Fitzgerald 7 4 -3
Brandon Aiyuk 6 3 -3
Travis Fulgham 13 10 -3
Marquise Brown 10 6 -4
Jarvis Landry 9 5 -4
Odell Beckham 9 4 -5
T.Y. Hilton 10 5 -5
Allen Robinson 16 9 -7
Robby Anderson 13 5 -7
Darius Slayton 11 4 -7
Mike Evans 9 2 -7
Chase Claypool 11 4 -7
Jeff Smith 11 4 -7
Stefon Diggs 16 8 -8
Adam Thielen 13 5 -8
Gabriel Davis 9 1 -8

 

D.J. Chark captured 14 targets during Jacksonville’s Week 6 matchup with Detroit, which was the highest total for any wide receiver during the week. It was also his first double-digit target total since Week 14 of last season. Chark was one of 13 different receivers who collected 10+ targets during the Week 6 matchups. Jamison Crowder continued his streak of double-digit targets in every game this season while also attaining the second-highest total for the week (13). Terry McLaurin’s 12 targets placed him third, while four receivers were all targeted 11 times during Week 6 -Will Fuller, D.J. Moore, A.J. Green, and Justin Jefferson.

Robert Woods was among the six receivers who captured 10 targets, as he was joined by Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Travis Fulgham, and two receivers who returned after being sidelined by injury - Julio Jones and Davante Adams. Robinson, Cooks, Kupp, and Keelan Cole all received nine targets while a group of eight receivers was targeted eight times - Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, DeVante Parker, Tim Patrick, Marcus Johnson, Breshad Perriman, and Cincinnati teammates Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd.

Four different receivers experienced a week to week increase of +10 in their target totals. Both Devante Adams and Julio Jones had been sidelined during Week 5 and re-emerged to join the two other receivers who attained a weekly increase of +10 during their Week 6 matchups. They were joined by Chark who had been averaging five targets per game from Weeks 1-5. A.J. Green also experienced a surge of +10 by collecting 11 targets just one week after being targeted just once when the Bengals traveled to Baltimore.

Tim Patrick returned from his Week 5 bye and promptly captured eight targets in New England. That tied him with Breshad Perriman who easily established a new season-high by collecting his eight targets. Amari Cooper, D.J. Moore, and Justin Jefferson all attained a week to week increase of +6. They joined by Julian Edelman and Adam Humphries who did not perform in Week 5 but resurfaced to capture six targets in Week 6. The weekly totals for seven different receivers rose by +5 during their Week 6 matchups - Terry McLaurin, Robert Woods, DeVante Parker, Jerry Jeudy, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Indianapolis teammates Zack Pascal and Marcus Johnson.

Gabriel Davis established a career-high when he received nine targets in Week 5. However, Josh Allen only launched one pass in his direction during Buffalo's Week 6 matchup with Kansas City. The week to week decrease of -8 ties him with his teammate Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen. However, managers will not be concerned about the Week 6 results for either veteran.

Six different receivers experienced a week to week reduction of -7 -Allen Robinson, Robby Anderson, Darius Slayton, Chase Claypool, Jeff Smith, and Mike Evans - whose two targets in Week 6 tied his career-low.

 

Week 6 Air Yards

Wide Receivers Air Yards Cmp AY % AY aDOT
Calvin Ridley 836 453 39.5 14.9
D.K. Metcalf 717 374 44.5 17.5
Adam Thielen 696 358 43.3 14.5
Marquise Brown 673 275 45.8 16
Allen Robinson 665 343 32.8 10.2
A.J. Green 659 170 30.4 14.6
Stefon Diggs 637 420 35.1 11
Will Fuller 610 360 32.1 14.2
Tyreek Hill 580 259 34.6 15.3
Amari Cooper 569 273 26.6 8.8
Terry McLaurin 562 216 42.8 10
Darius Slayton 559 331 45 12.7
D.J. Moore 559 320 41.3 11.9
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 556 169 35.8 18.3
Odell Beckham 531 272 38.7 13.3
Michael Gallup 528 285 27.1 16
Robby Anderson 503 322 36.9 9.5
DeAndre Hopkins 494 317 30.5 8
Tim Patrick 474 259 26.2 16.3
CeeDee Lamb 471 310 22.1 9.6
Justin Jefferson 469 351 27.6 13
Tee Higgins 467 227 25.3 13.2
Brandin Cooks 456 255 26.2 11.4
Tyler Boyd 448 301 21.4 9.3
D.J. Chark 431 219 24.1 12.7
Jerry Jeudy 429 188 24.7 13.8
T.Y. Hilton 424 180 27.6 11.8
Keelan Cole 420 261 24.9 11.1
Keenan Allen 410 201 31.1 8.7
Darnell Mooney 408 166 20.7 13.8
John Hightower 400 65 19.5 21.2
Preston Williams 398 181 24.9 14.4
DeVante Parker 389 282 25.2 9.6
Mike Evans 387 209 22.6 10.5
Julian Edelman 386 230 37 10.7
Mike Williams 379 167 27.7 17.2
Christian Kirk 378 124 24.2 16.4
Scott Miller 374 201 19.3 16.3
Jamison Crowder 367 189 23.1 8
Julio Jones 359 227 16.5 12

Calvin Ridley continues to lead all wide receivers in air yards after six weeks of game action (836). He is followed by D.K. Metcalf (717), Adam Thielen (696), Marquise Brown (673), Allen Robinson (665), A.J. Green (659), Stefon Diggs (637), and Will Fuller (610). No other wide receivers have eclipsed 600 yards entering Week 7. Tyreek Hill is next (580), followed by Amari Cooper (569), and Terry McLaurin (562), while Darius Slayton and D.J. Moore are tied at (559). Marquez Valdes-Scantling is next (556), followed by Odell Beckham (531), Michael Gallup (528), Robby Anderson (503), DeAndre Hopkins (494), Tim Patrick (474), CeeDee Lamb (471), and Justin Jefferson (469).

Marquise Brown has emerged as the new league leader in percentage share of air yards (45.8). Slayton is second overall (45.0), followed by Metcalf (44.5), Thielen (43.3), McLaurin (42.8), and Moore (41.4). No other receivers have obtained an average of at least 40%. Calvin Ridley is next (39.5), followed by Odell Beckham (38.7), Julian Edelman (37.0), Anderson (36.9), Valdes-Scantling (36.0), Diggs (35.1), and Hill (34.6).

John Hightower leads all wide receivers in targeted air yards (21.3), followed by Valdes- Scantling (18.4), Mike Williams (17.6), Michael Gallup (16.8), Marquise Brown (16.4), Metcalf, and Scott Miller in a tie at 16.3. Christian Kirk is next (16.1), followed by Tim Patrick (16), Andy Isabella (15.8), Ridley (15.4), Preston Williams (15.3), and Hill (15.1). No other wide receivers have attained an average of 15+. Thielen spearheads a group of four receivers that are averaging 14+ through Week 6.

 

Week 6 First Downs

Wide Receivers First Downs
DeAndre Hopkins 31
Calvin Ridley 28
Amari Cooper 28
Tyler Boyd 27
Terry McLaurin 26
Stefon Diggs 25
Robby Anderson 24
CeeDee Lamb 24
Allen Robinson 23
D. J. Moore 23
Adam Thielen 22
Justin Jefferson 22
Keenan Allen 21
Darius Slayton 21
DeVante Parker 20
Will Fuller 20
D.K. Metcalf 19
Cole Beasley 19
Tyreek Hill 18
Cooper Kupp 18
Marquise Brown 18
Keelan Cole 18
Tyler Lockett 17
Russell Gage 17
Emmanuel Sanders 17
Mike Evans 17
Odell Beckham Jr. 17
D.J. Chark 17
Laviska Shenault Jr. 17

 

DeAndre Hopkins has maintained his league lead in first down receptions (31), while Calvin Ridley and Amari Cooper are tied for second (28). Tyler Boyd is next (27), followed by Terry McLaurin (26), Stefon Diggs (25), Robby Anderson (24). CeeDee Lamb (24), Allen Robinson (23), D.J. Moore (23), and Minnesota teammates Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson with 22. Keenan Allen and Darius Slayton are tied with 21 first downs, while DeVante Parker and Will Fuller each have 21 receptions for first downs. D.K. Metcalf and Cole Beasley are next (19), while four receivers are tied with 18 receptions for first downs - Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, Marquise Brown, and Keelan Cole.

Jefferson collected six receptions for first downs in Week 6, while Cooper captured five. McLaurin accumulated four catches while a collection of receivers collected three first down receptions in Week 6.

 

Week 6 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5 Team %
Calvin Ridley 8 4 2 26.67
Adam Thielen 8 4 2 38.1
Darius Slayton 8 5 2 28.57
Emmanuel Sanders 8 4 2 26.67
Russell Gage 8 4 2 26.67
D.J. Chark 8 3 1 21.05
Zach Pascal 8 4 3 25
N'Keal Harry 8 4 2 40
DeAndre Hopkins 7 3 1 33.33
Robby Anderson 6 2 1 26.09
Stefon Diggs 6 3 3 16.22
Amari Cooper 6 3 2 19.35
CeeDee Lamb 6 5 4 19.35
Allen Robinson 6 2 1 18.18
Will Fuller 6 2 1 26.09
Tyreek Hill 6 4 1 20
Cole Beasley 6 5 2 16.22
Keenan Allen 6 1 0 31.58
Julio Jones 6 2 1 20
Odell Beckham 6 5 4 33.33
Mike Evans 6 5 4 17.65
Sammy Watkins 6 5 2 20
A.J. Brown 6 3 0 24
DK Metcalf 5 4 0 17.86
Cooper Kupp 5 2 1 22.73
Tyler Lockett 5 4 3 17.86
Tee Higgins 5 3 3 17.24
Robert Woods 5 1 0 22.73
Travis Fulgham 5 1 1 22.73
Kenny Golladay 5 2 0 16.13
Preston Williams 5 4 3 19.23
Brandon Aiyuk 5 4 3 16.13
Trent Taylor 5 2 1 16.13

Entering Week 5, N’Keal Harry led all wide receivers with eight red zone targets. As we fast forward two weeks to the current leaderboard, Harry remains stagnant with his eight targets and is now tied with seven other receivers for the league lead - Calvin Ridley, Adam Thielen, Darius Slayton, Emmanuel Sanders, Russell Gage, D.J. Chark, and Zach Pascal. DeAndre Hopkins has collected seven targets, while 14 different receivers have been targeted six times inside the 20.

Five different receivers are tied for the league lead with five targets inside the 10 - Slayton, CeeDee Lamb, Cole Beasley, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and Sammy Watkins.

Lamb, Beckham, and Evans are tied for the league lead with four targets inside the five, while Pascal, Stefon Diggs, Brandon Aiyuk, Preston Williams, Tyler Lockett, and Tee Higgins, have all captured three targets in inside the five.

Julio Jones had only been targeted twice inside the red zone as he entered Week 6. But he registered more targets than any other wide receiver in Week 6 (4). Travis Fulgham, A.J. Brown, D.J. Chark, and Pascal all collected three targets inside the 20 during their Week 6 matchups.

 

Week 6 Snap Counts

Wide Receivers  Week 6 Snaps  Total Snaps Total Snap %
Michael Gallup 72/80.9% 417 89.84
Amari Cooper 79/88.7% 392 81.51
DeAndre Hopkins 48/77.4% 380 93.26
Terry McLaurin 70/95.9% 379 94.99
Tyreek Hill 67/91.8% 370 86.82
Robert Woods 57/95% 357 90.15
Adam Thielen 52/92.9% 350 92.11
Tyler Boyd 57/78.1% 348 77.85
Calvin Ridley 59/73.8% 346 79.18
Mike Evans 51/78.5% 344 83.7
Cooper Kupp 55/91.7% 343 86.62
D.J. Moore 64/94.1% 338 84.29
Allen Robinson 58/87.9% 338 83.87
Darius Slayton 40.83.3% 337 91.33
Zach Pascal 58/92.1% 324 81.41
Odell Beckham 48/84.2% 314 78.7
Damiere Byrd 55/96.5% 312 92.58
Stefon Diggs 51/96.2% 307 89.5
D.K. Metcalf BYE 304 95.6
DeVante Parker 46.82.1% 301 76.79
Marvin Jones 62/80.5% 301 88.01
Tyler Lockett BYE 300 94.34
Robby Anderson 59/86.8% 299 74.56
Kendrick Bourne 41/56.2% 299 72.93
T.Y. Hilton 59/93.7% 298 74.87
Brandin Cooks 63/87.5% 297 82.5
A.J. Green 58/79.5% 296 66.22
Larry Fitzgerald 38/61.3% 295 82.87
Will Fuller 66/91.7% 292 81.11
Keelan Cole 48/75% 292 73.37
Jarvis Landry 44/77.2% 289 72.43
Keenan Allen BYE 288 80.22
Brandon Aiyuk 62.84.9% 288 82.76
Tee Higgins 59/80.8% 288 64.43
Justin Jefferson 50/89.3% 287 75.53
Marquise Brown 62/84.9% 284 76.14
Dontrelle Inman 66/90.4% 280 70.18
Tre'Quan Smith BYE 279 83.28
Preston Williams 40.71.4% 275 70.15
Chris Hogan IR 274 82.78
CeeDee Lamb 60/67.4% 274 71.35
JuJu Smith-Schuster 42/64.6% 271 77.65
Josh Reynolds 50/83.3% 270 68.18
Russell Gage 51/63.8% 267 61.1
D.J. Chark 57/89.1% 266 80.12
N'Keal Harry 51/89.5% 266 78.93
Greg Ward 58/88.7% 266 62.88
Tim Patrick 59/92.2% 265 79.58
Jalen Guyton BYE 264 73.54
Demarcus Robinson 69/94.5% 263 62.32
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 53/84.1% 259 76.4

Michael Gallup now leads all wide receivers with 417 offensive snaps. His teammate Amari Cooper is second (392), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (380), Terry McLaurin (379), Tyreek Hill (370), Robert Woods (357), Adam Thielen (350), and Tyler Boyd (348). Calvin Ridley is next (346), followed by Mike Evans (344), Cooper Kupp (343), and two receivers who are tied at 338 - Allen Robinson and D.J. Moore. Darius Slayton is next (337), followed by Zach Pascal (324), Odell Beckham (314), and Damiere Byrd (312). Stefon Diggs and D.K. Metcalf spearhead a group of seven additional receivers that have been involved in at least 300 offensive of snaps from Weeks 1-6.

Metcalf leads the position in offensive snap count percentage (95.6), followed by McLaurin (95.0), Metcalf‘s teammate Tyler Lockett (94.3), Hopkins (93.2), Damiere Byrd (92.6), and Thielen (92.1). Slayton is next (91.3), followed by Woods 90.2, Gallup 89.8, Diggs (89.5), Marvin Jones (88.0), and Tyreek Hill (86.8). Jamison Crowder, and Cooper Kupp, are among the group of 17 additional receivers that have performed on over 80% of their teams’ offensive snaps.

Cooper led all receivers in offensive snaps during Week 6 matchups (79). His teammate Gallup was second with 72. McLaurin was next (70), followed by Demarcus Robinson  (69), and Hill (67), while Dontrelle Inman was tied with Will Fuller at 66. Julio Jones and D.J. Moore were next (64), while four receivers were tied with 63 snaps. Brandin Cooks, Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, and A.J. Brown. Three receivers were next with 62 snaps - Brandon Aiyuk, Marquise Brown, and Marvin Jones. Deebo Samuel and Jeff Smith were next 60, while a group of five receivers was tied at 59 - Tee Higgins, T.Y. Hilton, Tim Patrick, Calvin Ridley, and Robby Anderson.

Damiere Byrd led the position in snap count percentage for Week 6 (96.5). McLaurin was second (95.9), followed by Woods (95), Robinson (94.6), Moore (94.1), Hilton (93.7), Thielen (92.9), and Tim Patrick 92.2. Zack Pascal was next 92.1, followed by Fuller 91.7, Kupp (91.7), Inman (90.4), and N’Keal Harry (89.5). Justin Jefferson was next (89.3), followed by D.J. Chark (89.1), Cooper (88.7), Crowder (88.7), and a collection of four additional receivers that were involved in at least 85% of their teams’ offensive snaps during Week 6.

 

Five Things I Noticed

1. The Vikings enter their Week 7 bye while contending with the uncomfortable reality of a 1-5 record.

The numerous shortcomings that have permeated the team include an overly generous defense (ranked 28th) that has surrendered 413.7 yards per game - which is 72 yards higher than the 341.6 that their 14th ranked unit allowed during 2019. The vulnerable nature of Minnesota’s defense has not compelled Mike Zimmer to completely abandon his penchant for the ground game.

But the Vikings have risen slightly to 25th in pass play percentage (53.1%), after ranking just 30th with a 50.9% percentage during 2019. The Vikings are also ranked 21st in passing (235 yards per game). This is slightly above last season when the Vikings were 23rd while averaging 220.2 yards per game. Kirk Cousins is also averaging 29.2 attempts per game, which is slightly below the 29.6 attempts per game average that he attained during 2019. However, Minnesota’s top two receiving weapons are also commandeering an even 50% of Cousins’ targets. This has enabled Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson to function as highly productive resources for their fantasy GMs regardless of their team’s deficiencies.

 

In Weeks 1-2, Jefferson averaged 3 targets, 2.5 receptions, and 35 yards per game. But the 21-year old rookie delivered a statistical explosion in Week 3 (7 receptions/175 yards/1 touchdown) that has fueled his meteoric rise toward weekly WR2 status. He accumulated more receiving yards than any other receiver in Week 6 (166) and also tied for first at his position in receptions (9). Jefferson also resides at WR1 in scoring from Weeks 3-6 and has averaged 7.5 targets, 5.8 receptions, and 117 yards per game during that span. If you extract the results of his matchup in Week 5 versus Seattle (5 targets/3 receptions/23 yards) he has averaged 8.3 targets, 6.7 receptions, and 149 yards per game.

Jefferson was outside the top 70 in receiving yards entering Week 3 but has soared to fifth overall (537) after stockpiling 166 yards during Minnesota’s matchup with Atlanta. He has also averaged at least 18.4 yards per reception and 15.1 yards per target during three of his last four contests, which has propelled him to the league lead in yards per target average (14.9), and fourth overall in yards per reception (19.2).

None of this diminishes the numbers that Adam Thielen has attained through six matchups, as he is currently WR3 in scoring. The seven-year veteran also leads the league with seven touchdowns and is fourth in percentage share of air yards (43.3%). Thielen is also 10th in targets (49), 14th in receiving yards (415), and third in air yards (696). Regardless of the frequency with which Zimmer is willing to rely on Cousins and the passing attack, Thielen and Jefferson will not be contending with formidable competition for targets. This should sustain their current status among the league leaders in a collection of categories.

 

2. DeKaylin Zecharius Metcalf entered the NFL in 2019 after performing in a total of 21 games at Ole Miss.

Projections for his professional career contained a blend of excitement surrounding his unique blend of physical attributes that was offset by concerns regarding limitations in his experience, and his need for further development as a receiver. That contributed to Metcalf being just the ninth receiver to be selected during the NFL Draft.

Metcalf’s prospects for delivering a breakout season were discussed here last April.  The rationale was based upon his exceptional combination of size, speed, and athleticism that would enable him to explode into high-end WR2 territory. He has accomplished that, while his accelerated progression as a receiver has propelled him to the periphery of WR1 status. This has also fueled Metcalf’s emergence as arguably the NFL’s premier deep threat. His usage and production have exceeded even the most optimistic expectations entering the regular season, which provides the incentive for reviewing his accomplishments after five contests.

Metcalf entered Seattle’s Week 6 bye in a tie for 13th with 39 targets (7.8 per game). He was also second in air yards (717), third in percentage share of air yards (44.5), fifth in yards per target (12.7), and eighth in targeted air yards (16.3). Metcalf was also tied for 11th in first downs (19) and tied for fifth in targets inside the 10 (4). He had also joined teammate Tyler Lockett in placing among the top 10 in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement ratings (DYAR) for wide receivers.

Seattle's restructured offensive approach has also been beneficial in his statistical surge as the Seahawks have climbed to 11th in pass play percentage (60.9%). This represents a significant change from 2019 when the aerial attack ranked just 27th (54.0%). Russell Wilson is assembling touchdowns at a historic rate, as his 19 touchdown passes are just one short of the all-time record for the first five regular-season games.

A team-high 24.2 share of Wilson’s targets is being distributed to Metcalf, who was WR4 in scoring entering his Week 6 bye. Metcalf’s aforementioned 12.7 yards per target average is nearly four yards higher than his average as a rookie (9.0). His 22.5 yards per reception average is exactly 7 yards higher than the 15.5 he attained in 2019. Metcalf has also added an additional 42.9 yards per game when contrasted with last season 2019 (99.2/56.3). At his current pace, Metcalf would collect 125 targets, capture 70 targets, and stockpile 1,587 yards.

Tyler Lockett is also constructing a highly productive season even though he has been surpassed by Metcalf in targets, first downs, air yards, targeted air yards, percentage share of air yards, and yards per target. Lockett does lead the Seahawks in receptions (30), while his 68.4 yards per game average is still the highest of his career, However, it is Metcalf that has become Seattle’s most explosive and productive receiver. That will remain intact regardless of whether Seattle eventually adds Antonio Brown.

 

3. Several wide receivers returned to game action following their collective receiving very from injuries.

Julio Jones was leading the league in receiving yards (157), was second in air yards, and included among the top five in targets (12), and receptions (9), after Week 1. However, a protracted hamstring issue had limited him to eight targets, six receptions, and 56 yards from Weeks 2-5. It also created trepidation for many managers regarding the potential of Jones’ to deliver substandard numbers due to the lingering impact of his injury in Week 6. But he tied for eighth among all receivers in targets (10), and was third in both receptions (8), and receiving yards (137). He also accumulated 71 air yards, while averaging 17.1 yards per reception and a season-high 13.7 yards per target.

Davante Adams also re-emerged for the first time since Week 2, following a recovery from his hamstring injury. He attained a double-digit target total for the second time this season by capturing a team-high 10, and his season-long average of 10 targets per game ties him for sixth among all receivers. He also paced Green Bay in receptions (6) and receiving yards (61) during Green Bay’s matchup in Tampa. He should continue to stockpile targets and supply favorable numbers to fantasy GMs while performing as the focal point of the Packers' aerial attack.

Breshad Perriman also resurfaced in Week 6 to deliver what was easily his most productive outing since signing his one year, 8 million-dollar deal with the Jets. Perriman had been limited it came to 76 snaps, seven targets, five receptions, and 29 yards entering New York’s AFC East matchup with Miami. But he established new season-highs in targets (8), receptions (4), and receiving yards (62). The 27-year old Perriman also averaged 15.5 yards per reception and 7.8 yards per target against Miami, after averaging 5.85 yards per reception, and 4.7 yards per target prior to the contests. The Jets desperately need another receiver beyond Jamison Crowder to perform reliably, while anyone who invested in Perriman during the offseason would be ecstatic if that would transpire.

A.J. Brown was involved in his second matchup since his reemergence from a knee issue that had forced his absence in Weeks 2-3. He has collected 12 of 16 targets for 138 yards and three touchdowns since his return. Brown finished ninth among overall among all receivers with a 50.3% percentage share of air yards in Week 5 and was also 13th in target share (33.3) during that matchup with Buffalo. He has also averaged 11.45 yards per reception and 8.55 yards per target since resurfacing in the lineup. Even with Corey Davis scheduled to also return this week, Brown has reestablished his WR1 status on the Titans and should provide managers with the WR2 that they had envisioned during their draft process.

 

4. Many fantasy GMs have constructed rosters that contain Dallas receivers Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, or Michael Gallup.

If you are among them, then you might have overcome your initial concerns regarding Dak Prescott season-ending ankle fracture, and shifted into renewed optimism regarding Andy Dalton's prospects of keeping your wide receivers productive as the season advances.

Of course, that was before Dalton's calamitous performance in Week 6. Dalton's unsightly efforts included two interceptions, a 4.9 yard per attempt average, and a quarterback rating of 38.7.

However, it will be beneficial to examine the target distribution and production for Dallas receiving weaponry during Dalton’s initial start under center. Cooper was second overall in targets (55) as he entered Week 6. He was also second in receptions (39/7.8 per game), fourth in first downs (23), seventh in receiving yards (433/84.8 per game), and ninth in air yards (510). Exceptional newcomer CeeDee Lamb was 10th in targets while averaging 8-per game. He was also ninth in receptions (29/5.8 per game), and seventh overall with an 86.6 yards per game average. Lamb was also 16th in yards per target (16.8), 21st in air yards (394), 10th in first downs (20), and tied for the league lead with five targets inside the 10. Gallup was tied for 35th in targets (5.6 per game). But he was also 13th in air yards (453), third in targeted air yards (17.4), and seventh in yards per target (12.4).

Despite Dalton's deficiencies, anyone with Cooper or Lamb on their rosters has reason to be satisfied with their receiver's production. Both players collected 10 targets, caught seven of those passes, and combined for 143 yards. Cooper overcame a slow statistical start to eventually collect a double-digit target total for the fourth time this season, and the third time in his last four matchups. He also generated his second touchdown and attained a yard-per-target average of 11 + for the third consecutive game.

Lamb's 10 targets created a streak in which he has now attained a double-digit total in two consecutive matchups. His yards per reception average (9.1) was significantly lower than the 15.5 that he had averaged from Weeks 2-5. He also registered the lowest yards per target average of the season (6.4) after entering the game with an average of 10.7.

Gallup was targeted six times which essentially matched his season average. However, he tied his season-low in receptions (2) while his 23 yards were 46 fewer than his average of 69.6 prior to the matchup. He also dropped from 13th to 16th in air yards, and from third to fourth in targeted air yards. The results of the Week 6 outing also diminished his season-long yard per game average by nearly eight yards (61.8). Any continued struggles by Dalton could be most impactful to Gallup, due to his downfield usage. However, if you have been dependent upon any member of this trio for your fantasy points, there is no reason to alter your plan after one matchup.

 

5. The focus will now shift toward two receivers that have been mentioned recently in this column but still do not appear to be garnering the level of attention that they deserve among fantasy GMs.

Tim Patrick has leapfrogged presumed lead receiver Jerry Jeudy by commandeering WR1 responsibilities in Denver.

Courtland Sutton was originally expected to function as the Broncos' top receiver, but a torn ACL abruptly terminated his season. First-round selection Jeudy was the logical candidate to absorb the majority of targets following Sutton’s injury.

But Patrick has now garnered more receptions (20/17), and assembled more yardage (310/266) than Jeudy, even though his role did not expand until Noah Fant and K.J. Hamler also encountered injuries. Patrick also leads the Broncos in target share since Week 4 (25%), while Jeudy is second at 14.3%. Patrick is also leading the team in percentage share of air yards (35.1%), while easily generating the most air yards during that span (214). He has also averaged a team-high 14.0 yards per target during that sequence and is tied for third among all receivers with five receptions of 20+ yards. Even after Fant and Hamler return, Patrick should still operate as Denver’s WR1 and will supply fantasy GMs with a viable WR3 option.

 

Travis Fulgham was included in last week’s review, and his career transformation continued in Week 6. The former sixth-round pick was originally selected by Detroit in 2019. However, he did not register a reception as a Lion. But he eventually landed on the Eagles’ practice squad and was signed to their active roster in early October. His stock has soared since Week 5, as his production during the past two matchups has cemented him as Philadelphia’s primary receiving option. His ability to capitalize on his recent surge in usage has been timely for the Eagles, whose conga line of injured receiving options has been expanded following Zach Ertz’s ankle injury.

Fulgham has been WR3 in scoring since Week 5 and is third among all receivers with 23 targets during his last two contests. He also leads all receivers in air yards (124), is second in receptions (16), and is also second in receiving yards (227) during that span. He has also captured a 36.1% target share while averaging a 30.5 percentage share of air yards since his Week 5 emergence. That easily exceeds the second-highest share of both John Hightower and Zach Ertz, who were tied at 16.7%. Fulgham’s ascension into Philadelphia’s WR1 responsibilities should continue for the foreseeable future, which provides managers with a legitimate WR3 for their rosters.



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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has required a new level of flexibility to also absorb the COVID-related postponements and ever-changing scenarios for adjusted schedules.

We have also progressed into weekly planning for scheduled bye weeks, which includes the four teams that will be affected by this week’s revised schedule - the Colts, Ravens, Dolphins, and Vikings. This ensures that Jonathan Taylor, Myles Gaskin, Dalvin CookAlexander Mattison. Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and J.K. Dobbins will not be available this week. It also will provide managers with an additional factor that could fuel interest in locating alternative options on the waiver wire.

These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing and progressing to runners for anyone that is struggling with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. After you've finished this breakdown, you can also find news updates and data-fueled analysis that is designed to help you maximize the scoring potential of your rosters.

 

Running Back Leaderboard

Week 6 Rushing Leaders Team Attempts Yards TDs
Derrick Henry Tennessee 22 212 2
Miles Sanders Philadelphia 9 118 0
D'Andre Swift Detroit 14 116 2
Ronald Jones Tampa Bay 23 113 2
Phillip Lindsay Denver 23 101 0
James Conner Pittsburgh 20 101 1
Myles Gaskin Miami 18 91 0
Darrell Henderson Los Angeles Rams 14 88 0
Raheem Mostert San Francisco 17 65 0
Devonta Freeman New York Giants 18 61 0
Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis 12 60 0
David Montgomery Chicago 19 58 0

 

Frontrunners - Week 7 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the options that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR formats than standard. All players have 60% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

46% rostered

Jackson and Joshua Kelley were expected to split touches during Austin Ekeler’s absence (hamstring) and that is what transpired during the Chargers’ Week 5 matchup in New Orleans. However, Jackson garnered the most extensive workload by accumulating eight more touches than Kelley (20/12). Jackson easily accrued more total yards than Kelley (94/38), while also capturing a 59% snap share. Kelley’s 35% share was his lowest since Week 3 after he had exceeded 50% in two of his three previous matchups. While this was only the first contest in which Ekeler was unavailable, the results were encouraging for Jackson - who also performed more effectively with the touches that he received.

Not only did he run with a greater burst with his rushing attempts, but he also collected more targets (5/1), and receiving yards (23/9) than Kelley. The promising touch distribution and Jackson’s superior production have elevated him among this week’s most enticing waiver wire options. Any fantasy GMs who are successful in securing him can also start him as a low-end RB2/high-endRB3 during this week's matchup with Jacksonville.

 

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens

3% rostered

Mark Ingram’s ankle injury forced him to the sideline during the Ravens' Week 6 matchup with Philadelphia. That shifted the touch distribution for Baltimore's backfield to Edwards and J.K. Dobbins. It also elevated Edwards and Dobbins among this week’s most viable waiver wire options at the running back position, as the tandem could absorb expanded workloads if Ingram is absent from Baltimore's lineup. Dobbins is already rostered in 64% of all leagues. However, Edwards’ resides on 97% of all waiver wires.

The third-year back received a team-high 14 attempts versus the Eagles and has averaged 8.8-attempts per game since Week 2. He has also accumulated 48 carries throughout the season, which is just two fewer than Ingram. Baltimore's Week 7 bye will supply Ingram with additional time to recover before the Ravens host Pittsburgh in Week 8. However, fantasy GMs with Ingram on their rosters should prioritize the addition of Edwards as they monitor Ingram's health. Anyone else can also target Edwards, who could become a viable resource for your rosters in the upcoming weeks.

 

Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles

13% rostered

Miles Sanders bolted for 118 yards on just nine carries when Philadelphia hosted Baltimore. However, he was also sidelined by a knee injury at the conclusion of a 74-yard burst. His status for Week 7 will remain uncertain until the severity of his issue is determined by an MRI. However, the Eagles are scheduled to play on Thursday night, which increases the possibility that he could be absent for that matchup. Scott’s role would expand considerably if that scenario transpires, which elevates him among this week’s primary targets on the waiver wire.

Corey Clement would also garner touches. But Scott would operate as Philadelphia's primary back. He has carried 21 times during the season opener while accumulating 67 yards. While those numbers are uninspiring, he did explode upon the fantasy landscape last season by accumulating 350 total yards from Weeks 14-17.  He should become a top priority for any managers who depend on Sanders in their starting lineups. He is also included in this week's frontrunners among backs that are available on most waiver wires.

 

In The Running - Week 7 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds.

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers

55% rostered

Even though Jackson's stock has risen significantly following his performance in Week 5 that does not mean that Kelley should be dwelling on waiver wires. He was dropped by some fantasy GMs during the Chargers’ bye week which expanded his availability to 45% of all leagues. He did assemble 167 yards on 43 carries in Weeks 1-3 and has been utilized with consistency in the red zone (10 attempts/7 inside the 10).

Kelley will continue to split touches with Jackson, and his usage and production should normally reside somewhere between the expanded workload that he experienced earlier in the season and the role that he was entrusted with during Week 5. His ability to function as an inside runner will also keep him involved in the offense whenever Ekeler resurfaces. Managers who invest in him will be attaining a back that has already completed his bye week, and he remains a viable RB3/flex option.

 

Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions

60% rostered

Even though Detroit is operating with a committee approach, Peterson's role as a vital component with the Lions’ rushing attack remains intact. He was 16th in attempts prior to the team’s Week 5 bye and has now led the team in carries and rushing yards during four of their five matchups. Since Week 3, he has accumulated 48 carries, compared to 10 for Kerryon Johnson and 18 for D’Andre Swift. That includes his team-high 15 carries in Week 6 versus Jacksonville when Swift was allotted 14 attempts, and Johnson only rushed four times.

Swift did deliver the most prolific performance of his rookie season in Week 6 (17 touches/123 total yards/2 touchdowns), and should continue splitting touches with Peterson as the season continues. The combined usage for the tandem will remove Johnson completely from the fantasy radar. But the timeshare will not deter Peterson from absorbing a respectable number of early-down carries, along with a sizable percentage of red zone opportunities. That presents your motivation for adding him as a flex option.

 

Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills

55% rostered

As fantasy GMs have steadily released Moss from their rosters, he has now become available in over 40% of all leagues. He generated 64 total yards on 20 touches in Weeks 1-2. But interest in the once-promising rookie has diminished during his three-game absence, as he recovered from a toe injury. However, he should eventually recapture a role that is similar to his previous responsibilities. This should include red zone carries, as Moss collected seven during those initial two matchups.

He is now healthy and will resume his responsibilities in a committee with Devin Singletary. But Moss remains capable of performing effectively between the tackles, while also running with sufficient power to accumulate carries near the goal line. This presents fantasy GMs with greater potential to deliver fantasy points than many other options that are available on the waiver wire. It also elevates his potential for him to develop into as a flex option for anyone who is contending with bye weeks and injuries.

 

Dark Horses - Week 7 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you are willing to wait for the possibility of a larger role during the year, or consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries.

J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team

11% rostered

There is a dearth of productive players contained in Washington’s 32nd ranked offense, and Antonio Gibson remains the most appealing option from the team’s backfield. But McKissic has absorbed a consistent role as the pass-catching specialist while providing managers with increased incentive to seize him in PPR leagues. McKissic collected all six of his targets and generated 43 yards during Washington’s Week 6 matchup with long-time NFC East rival New York in Week 6.

That easily led his team’s running backs in each category, while McKissic also expanded his lead in season-long numbers among all Washington’s backs (31 targets/23 receptions/167 receiving yards). This also places McKissic second only to Terry McLaurin in receptions and yardage, while he has also averaged 7.3 targets, 6.3 receptions, and 43 yards per game since Week 4. McKissic was also included in this section one week ago. However, he still remains available in nearly 90% of all rosters. Anyone searching for scoring from your running backs in the PPR format should strongly consider securing him this week.

 

Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons

18% rostered 

The fifth-year back currently does not present stand-alone value. However, he is performing proficiently when he receives carries (35 attempts/161 rushing yards/4.6 yards per attempt). His value would also surge significantly if Gurley would be sidelined during the season. Hill would share touches with Ito Smith if Gurley were to become unavailable for any reason. However, Hill has attained a 27% snap share while Ito Smith's share dwells at 17%, and Hill would commandeer the largest workload if that scenario transpires.

Even though Hill’s numbers as a receiver might appear unimpressive (11/targets/9 receptions/75 yards), he has already established new career-highs in receptions and receiving yards. Those numbers would also rise substantially as he absorbed more opportunities, should Gurley be absent from the lineup. Hill remains available in over 80% of all leagues and presents an excellent insurance policy for anyone with Gurley on their rosters. He is also a viable roster stash for all managers in deeper leagues.

 

La'Mical Perine, New York Jets

18% rostered

The release of Le’Veon Bell was just the latest unsightly development for the increasingly beleaguered Jets. But it also reshaped the landscape of New York’s backfield. This presents an opportunity for any fantasy GMs who are willing to stash Perine and exercise patience after they have secured him.  Perine’s usage and production after six matchups will not excite you, as he has now carried 22 times, and has accumulated 83 yards (3.8 yards per attempt).

However, his prospects of Perine being entrusted with a larger workload provides your motivation for including him on your rosters. The inexplicable decision-making of Adam Gase is well-chronicled, as is Gase’s ongoing comfort level with Frank Gore. But Perine possesses a ceiling that easily exceeds the 37-year old Gore's. This could eventually lead to an expanded touch total – particularly if Gase is no longer determining the weekly touch distribution. This supplies an opportunity for anyone who is searching for a back that could reward your decision as the season progresses.

 

Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure a running back with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Sony Michel, New England Patriots

30% rostered                                                                                                                   

Michel was already on injured reserve due to his quad injury, before New England placed him on the COVID-19 list.  These issues will keep Michel affixed to the sideline. However, there are additional concerns surrounding the third-year back. Whenever Michel does return, it is highly unlikely that he will receive a role that even remotely resembles his touch total prior to his absence. New England’s backfield remains highly congested, starting with Damien Harris – who has accumulated 23 carries during Michel’s absence. Rex Burkhead remains capable of pilfering opportunities, while James White has attained a 54% snap share since he returned to the Patriots in Week 5.

Michel’s inability to capitalize on his touches has also diminished considerably since his 2018 rookie season. He averaged just 3.7 yards per attempt and 57 yards per game during 2019 and had manufactured even lower averages in Weeks 1-2 (28 yards/3.2 yards per game) before an uncharacteristically productive outing in Week 3 (117 yards/13 per attempt). There are other backs that should be targeted for your critical roster spots.

 

Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions 

21% rostered 

Adrian Peterson's frequent usage was discussed previously as was D'Andre Swift's season-best performance in Jacksonville. While that tandem has commandeered the majority of opportunities, Johnson has been relegated to a minimal touch total. The third-year back has averaged an anemic 3.3 attempts per game since Week 3, while has he managed just 34 rushing yards during that sequence. Peterson has consistently received early-down opportunities, and 48,3% of the team's red zone usage, while Swift’s role should expand following his highly productive outing against the Jaguars.

These developments have left Johnson as an after-thought within the offense. His nominal usage is primarily creating frustration for anyone with Peterson or Swift on their rosters, while also failing to present any reason for optimism if your roster contains Johnson. No improvement in Johnson’s situation is imminent unless Peterson is sidelined by a health issue. There are running backs on your waiver wire that are accumulating more touches than Johnson. This provides tremendous justification for dropping him this week.

 

Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins

28% rostered

Howard will be included yet again in this section since managers in nearly 30% of all leagues continue to waste a valuable roster spot by retaining him. Since Week 1, he has experienced a steady decline in his weekly allotment of rushing attempts (8/5/3/2) which were punctuated by the fifth-year back being relegated to healthy scratch status in both Week 5 and 6. His inability to generate yardage with the carries that he did receive was undoubtedly a factor, as Howard had only managed 14 yards on his 18 attempts (0.8 per attempt) before being removed from the backfield equation completely.

Myles Gaskin has easily confiscated lead back duties for the Dolphins, while Matt Breida has been entrusted with a modest role as Miami’s RB2. The team’s interest in Le’Veon Bell also provided an indication of how Howard is perceived by the team’s offensive decision-makers. The alternative options that are now available on the waiver wire eliminate all rationale for managers to use valuable roster space by retaining Howard.



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Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 5 Analysis

Your wide receivers remain essential components toward your primary goal of securing league championships. As this unique regular season continues to unfold, an expanding assortment of tools is available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge regarding this critical position. Those results are contained in this weekly statistical breakdown of multiple categories, which is designed to help you fulfill your championship aspirations.

This will be the fifth installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, first downs, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a compilation of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. This massive collection of data supplies the foundation from which the numbers that are generated in various categories can be evaluated.

As the season progresses noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, PFF, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

 

Week 5 Target Leaders 

Wide Receivers Total Targets Targ/Game YPT
Allen Robinson 57 11.4 7.4
Amari Cooper 55 11 7.7
DeAndre Hopkins 53 10.6 10
Stefon Diggs 51 10.2 10
Calvin Ridley 50 10 9.7
Keenan Allen 50 10 7.1
Robby Anderson 47 9.4 10.4
Terry McLaurin 46 9.2 9
Adam Thielen 44 8.8 8.3
Tyler Boyd 40 8 9.1
Darius Slayton 40 8 9.1
CeeDee Lamb 40 8 10.8
Odell Beckham Jr. 39 7.8 7.5
D.K. Metcalf 39 7.8 12.7
Tyler Lockett 38 7.6 9
D.J. Moore 37 7.4 10.3
Cooper Kupp 36 7.2 10.1
Marquise Brown 36 7.2 8.9
Emmanuel Sanders 36 7.2 8.4
Mike Evans 35 7 7.7
Tyreek Hill 35 7 10.4
A.J. Green 34 6.8 3.5
Jamison Crowder 33 11 10.2
Brandin Cooks 33 6.6 9.1
DeVante Parker 32 6.4 10.3
Russell Gage 32 6.4 7
T.Y. Hilton 32 6.4 7.2
Robert Woods 31 6.2 9.7
Greg Ward 31 6.2 5.5
Julian Edelman 30 7.5 9.8
Will Fuller 30 6 11.1
Tee Higgins 30 6 7.1
Cole Beasley 30 6 10.4
Sammy Watkins 29 5.8 7.7
Keelan Cole 28 5.8 7.6
Jerry Jeudy 28 7 8.4
N'Keal Harry 28 7 5.9
Isaiah Ford 28 5.6 6.2
Michael Gallup 28 5.6 12.4
Jarvis Landry 28 5.6 10
Laviska Shenault Jr. 28 5.6 9.6
Diontae Johnson 26 6.5 5.7
Kendrick Bourne 26 5.2 8.7
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 25 6.3 8.4
Darnell Mooney 25 5 6.4
Justin Jefferson 25 5 14.8
Larry Fitzgerald 25 5 4.9

 

Allen Robinson has now stockpiled 39 targets since Week 3, which is the most among all receivers during that three-game span. He has also collected at least 10 targets in eight of his last 11 regular-season matchups. His 16 targets in Week 5 tied his career-high which had originally been established in Week 7 of last season. It also propelled him to the league lead in targets for the year (57).

Amari Cooper is second overall (55), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (53), Stefon Diggs (51), Calvin Ridley (50), Keenan Allen (48), Robby Anderson (47), Terry McLaurin (46), Adam Thielen (44), and three receivers tied with 40 - Tyler Boyd, CeeDee Lamb, and Darius Slayton - who will be discussed further in the 5 Things I Noticed section. D.K. Metcalf and Odell Beckham Jr. are tied at 39, followed by Metcalf’s teammate Lockett (38), D.J. Moore (37), Cooper, (36), Marquise Brown (36), Emmanuel Sanders (36), and two receivers tied with 35 - Mike Evans, and Tyreek Hill.

A.J. Green has been targeted just 12 times during his last three matchups combined, after collecting 22 during Weeks 1-2. That raised his season total to 34, while Jamison Crowder and Brandin Cooks are next with 33. T.Y. Hilton, DeVante Parker, and Russell Gage are tied with 32, Robert Woods and Greg Ward, have been targeted 31 times, while Will Fuller, Julian Edelman, Cole Beasley, and newcomer Tee Higgins are the only other receivers that have reached 30 targets through the first five weeks.

Calvin Ridley has collected at least 10 targets in four contests which leads all receivers. Robinson’s three games of 10+ targets tie him with Cooper, Allen, Anderson, and Crowder - who has attained double digits in all three matchups that he has played in. McLaurin and Thielen have accomplished it twice, as Thielen has captured 23 targets during his last two contests (10/13).

Nelson Agholar leads all wide receivers with a 16.8 yards per target average. Justin Jefferson is second (14.8), followed by two receivers who commandeered their place within the fantasy landscape in Week 5 - Chase Claypool, and Travis Fulgham at 13.1. D.K. Metcalf is fifth (12.7), followed by Metcalf's teammate David Moore, and Michael Gallup with 12.4. Scott Miller is averaging 11.9 yards per target, followed by Stefon Diggs 11.5, Mecole Hardman (11.4), Josh Reynolds (11.3), Andy Isabella (11.3), Will Fuller (11.1), Gabriel Davis (11,0), and D.J. Chark (11.0). Lamb, Randal Cobb, and Corey Davis are next (10.8).

Carolina teammates Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore are among the 11 additional receivers that are averaging at least 10 yards per target. Moore's current 10.3 average is the highest of his career after he averaged 9.2 during his first two seasons. Anderson's average of 10.4 also exceeds his previous career-high of 8.3. There will be more discussion surrounding these two Panther receivers in the 5 things I Noticed section.

 

Largest Weekly Changes

Wide Receivers Week 4 Week 5 Changes
Chase Claypool BYE 11 11
Travis Fulgham 3 13 10
Stefon Diggs 7 16 9
A.J. Brown BYE 9 9
Brandin Cooks 3 12 9
Gabriel Davis 1 9 8
Mike Williams INJ 8 8
Allen Robinson 10 16 6
Emmanuel Sanders 9 14 5
D.K. Metcalf 6 11 5
Calvin Ridley 5 10 5
T.Y. Hilton 5 10 5
Deebo Samuel 3 8 5
Darius Slayton 7 11 4
CeeDee Lamb 7 11 4
Larry Fitzgerald 3 7 4
John Hightower 2 6 4
Darnell Mooney 9 5 -4
A.J. Green 5 1 -4
Olamide Zaccheaus 9 4 -5
D.J. Chark 9 4 -5
Sammy Watkins 7 2 -5
Zach Pascal 8 2 -6
Terry McLaurin 14 7 -7
Hunter Renfrow 8 1 -7
Scott Miller 7 0 -7
Isaiah Ford 10 2 -8
Keenan Allen 11 2/INJ -9
DeVante Parker 12 3 -9
Amari Cooper 16 4 -12

 

 

Robinson attained the highest weekly target total when he collected the aforementioned 16 targets during Chicago’s matchup with Tampa Bay. Diggs was also targeted 16 times during Buffalo's matchup in Tennessee, which was the second time that he has attained at least 13 targets during the last four weeks. Emmanuel Sanders had averaged 4.3 targets per game from Weeks 1-3. But he has captured 23 during his last two matchups, including his highest weekly total since Week 5 of 2018.

Philadelphia’s Travis Fulgham was originally selected by Detroit in Round 6 of the 2019 NFL Draft and failed to catch a pass for the Lions throughout all of last season. But fantasy GMs have quickly become acquainted with Fulgham after Carson Wentz launched 13 passes in his direction during the Eagles’ matchup in Pittsburgh. That tied him with Thielen and Anderson for the third-highest weekly total behind Robinson and Diggs. Cooks was next with (12), which resulted in his highest weekly total since Week 3 of 2019.

Five receivers collected 11 targets during their matchups - Metcalf, Slayton, Lamb, the Jets’ Jeff Smith, and Pittsburgh rookie Chase Claypool - who has become a scorching hot waiver wire target this week. Ridley, Marquise Brown, Crowder, and Hilton were the only other receivers to eclipse 10+ targets during Week 5. Among the collection of 14 receivers that reached double-digits, new season highs were established for Robinson, Anderson, Thielen, Cooks, Slayton, Lamb, Metcalf,  Smith, Hilton, Sanders, and Brown. The weekly totals for Claypool and Fulgham were also career bests.

Claypool's 11 targets following Pittsburgh's bye launched him to the largest week-to-week increase of +11. Fulgham’s 13 targets were generated one week after he collected three targets in Week 4. That difference of +10 was the second-largest week-to-week increase among all receivers. Cooks’ 12 targets were captured one week after he had been targeted just three times, which resulted in the third-largest increase for the week (+9). That also tied him with Diggs and A.J. Brown, -who performed for the first time since Week 1. Diggs' teammate, rookie Gabriel Davis, experienced an increase of +8 after collecting a career-high nine targets. That tied him with Mike Williams, while Robinson was next (+6), followed by Metcalf, Ridley, Sanders, Hilton, and Deebo Samuel, who all attained a rise of +5 in their week to week target totals.

Amari Cooper had accumulated 28 targets in weeks four and five, including the 16 that he captured last week. However, he was only targeted four times when Dallas hosted NFC East rival New York. That produced the largest week to week decrease of -12. The week five totals of DeVante Parker and Keenan Allen were both reduced by -9 although Allen’s back issue was responsible for his decline.

Isaiah Ford’s target totals have now fluctuated significantly during the past four weeks. After attaining nine targets in Week 2, his total dropped by =7 in Week 32. He was also targeted 10 times in Week 4 but received just two targets when Miami traveled to San Francisco. That created the decline of -8. The week to week totals for McLaurin, Scott Miller, and Hunter Renfrow all dropped by -7, while Zach Pascal’s two targets in Week 5 created a reduction of -6.

 

Week 5 Air Yards

Wide Receivers  Air Yards % Air Yards aDOT
Calvin Ridley 780 41.7 15.9
D.K. Metcalf 717 44.4 17.5
Adam Thielen 626 48.4 14.6
Allen Robinson 604 33.2 10.8
Marquise Brown 597 45.1 16.6
Tyreek Hill 569 37.7 16.3
Stefon Diggs 526 33.7 10.5
A.J. Green 512 28.8 15.1
Amari Cooper 510 27.7 9.3
Darius Slayton 497 44.2 12.4
Odell Beckham 490 39.6 13.2
Terry McLaurin 466 41.7 10.4
Michael Gallup 453 26.8 16.8
D.J. Moore 440 39.2 12.2
DeAndre Hopkins 437 31.2 8.2
Will Fuller 436 27.7 13.6
Robby Anderson 435 39 9.3
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 431 34.5 17.1
Keenan Allen 410 31.1 8.4
Brandin Cooks 397 28.1 12.8
CeeDee Lamb 394 22.7 10.1
T.Y. Hilton 394 33.1 12.7
Tee Higgins 382 25.5 13.6
Mike Williams 379 25.8 17.2
Mike Evans 375 25.1 10.7
Tyler Boyd 361 21.7 9
Jerry Jeudy 353 25.8 13.6
Julian Edelman 347 39.4 11.6
Tyler Lockett 345 24.9 9.1
Darnell Mooney 341 19.3 13.7
Scott  Miller 341 20.5 16.2
Christian Kirk 341 25.2 16.2
Preston Williams 340 24.1 14.8
DeSean Jackson 338 20.9 16.9
Justin Jefferson 329 24.1 13.2
Emmanuel Sanders 322 32.7 8.9
DeVante Parker 318 23.8 9.9
John Brown 302 27 13.1

 

Calvin Ridley has maintained his league lead in air yards (780) followed by D.K. Metcalf (717), Adam Thielen (626), and Allen Robinson (604). Marquise Brown is fifth overall (597), followed by Tyreek Hill (569), Stefon Diggs (526), A.J. Green (512), Amari Cooper (510),  and Darius Slayton (497), completing the top 10. Odell Beckham (490) is next, followed by Terry McLaurin (466), Michael Gallup (453), D.J. Moore (440), DeAndre Hopkins (437), and Will Fuller (436), Robby Anderson (431), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (431), and Keenan Allen (418) complete the list of receivers that have accumulated 400+.

John Hightower leads all wide receivers in targeted air yards (18.8). Mike Williams is second overall (17.6), followed by Gallup (17.4), Valdes-Scantling (17.2), Brown (16.9), DeSean Jackson (16.8), Ridley (16.4), and three receivers that are tied at 16.3 – Metcalf, Christian Kirk, and Scott Miller. Tyreek Hill is the only other receiver that has eclipsed 16 (16.1). Higgins and teammate A.J. Green are tied with 14.9, followed by Preston Williams (14.7), Thielen (14.5) Chase Claypool (13.9), and three receivers that are tied at 13.7 - Beckham, Darnell Mooney, and Gabriel Davis.

 

Thielen continues to lead his position in percentage share of team air yard‘s (48.4). Marquise Brown is now second (45.1), followed by Metcalf (44.5), Slayton (44.2), McLaurin (43.2), and Ridley (41.7). Beckham is next (39.6), followed by Edelman (39.4), Moore (39.2), Moore's teammate Anderson (39.0), Tyreek Hill (37.7), Valdes-Scantling (34,5), Diggs (33.7), Robinson (33.2), Hilton (33.1), Sanders (32.6), and Hopkins (31.2). Allen (31.1) completes the list of receivers that are averaging at least 30%.

 

Week 5 First Downs

Wide Receivers First Downs
DeAndre Hopkins 29
Calvin Ridley 25
Tyler Boyd 25
Amari Cooper 23
Terry McLaurin 22
Stefon Diggs 22
Robby Anderson 21
Keenan Allen 21
Allen Robinson 21
CeeDee Lamb 20
D. J. Moore 19
Darius Slayton 19
Adam Thielen 19
D.K. Metcalf 19
Tyreek Hill 18
Tyler Lockett 17
Cooper Kupp 17
Russell Gage 17
Emmanuel Sanders 17
DeVante Parker 17
Marquise Brown 16
Mike Evans 16
Justin Jefferson 16
Julian Edelman 16
Laviska Shenault Jr. 16
Sammy Watkins 16
Cole Beasley 16

DeAndre Hopkins leads are wide receivers with 29 first downs, while Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd are tied for second (25). Amari Cooper is fourth (23), followed by Terry McLaurin (22), Stefon Diggs (22), and three receivers that are tied with 21 first downs – Allen Robinson, Robby Anderson, and Keenan Allen. CeeDee Lamb leads rookies in yet another category with his 20 first downs, while Adam Thielen, Darius Slayton, D.K. Metcalf, and D.J. Moore, have all captured 19. Tyreek Hill is next (18), followed by five receivers that have collected 17 receptions for first downs - Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, DeVante Parker, Emmanuel Sanders, and Russell Gage.

 

Week 5 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5 Team %
Emmanuel Sanders 8 4 2 26.67
Russell Gage 8 4 2 32
N'Keal Harry 8 4 2 40
Darius Slayton 7 4 2 28
Adam Thielen 7 3 1 53.85
Calvin Ridley 7 3 2 28
Mike Evans 6 5 4 21.43
Keenan Allen 6 1 0 31.58
Sammy Watkins 6 5 2 22.22
CeeDee Lamb 6 5 4 26.09
Odell Beckham 6 5 4 37.5
Robby Anderson 6 2 1 28.57
DeAndre Hopkins 6 2 1 35.29
DK Metcalf 5 4 0 17.86
Tyler Lockett 5 4 3 17.86
Tyreek Hill 5 3 1 18.52
Zach Pascal 5 3 2 18.52
Allen Robinson 5 2 1 17.24
Stefon Diggs 5 2 2 15.63
Cole Beasley 5 4 2 15.63
DJ Chark 5 3 1 17.24
Trent Taylor 4 1 0 14.29
David Moore 4 1 0 14.29
Greg Ward 4 1 0 30.77
Chris Hogan 4 2 1 26.67
Tre'Quan Smith 4 1 1 13.33
Preston Williams 4 3 2 21.05
Hunter Renfrow 4 0 0 16
Cooper Kupp 4 1 0 22.22
Collin Johnson 4 3 2 13.79
T.Y. Hilton 4 0 0 14.81
Will Fuller 4 1 1 26.67
Amari Cooper 4 1 0 17.39
Tee Higgins 4 2 2 14.81
Anthony Miller 4 1 1 13.79
Brandon Aiyuk 4 3 2 14.29
JuJu Smith-Schuster 4 3 0 25
Julian Edelman 4 2 1 20
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 4 0 0 14.81
John Brown 4 2 1 12.5
Kenand ny Golladay 4 1 0 18.18

N’Keal Harry maintained his lead in red zone targets (8). However, he is now tied with Russell Gage and Emmanuel Sanders after the Week 5 matchups. Darius Slayton, Calvin Ridley, and Adam Thielen are next (7), followed by seven receivers that have collected six targets - Odell Beckham, Robby Anderson, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, CeeDee Lamb, and Sammy Watkins (6). Eight additional receivers are tied with five targets inside the 20 - D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Tyreek Hill, Zach Pascal, Allen Robinson, Cole Beasley, D.J. Chark, and Stefon Diggs.

Beckham, Evans, Watkins, and Lamb are tied for the lead with five targets inside the 10, while eight different receivers have been targeted four times  - Harry, Ridley, Sanders, Slayton, Metcalf, Beasley, Gage, Lockett, and Sanders.

Lamb, Beckham, and Evans are in a three-way tie for the league lead with four targets inside the 5.  Lockett has captured three targets, while a collection of 15 receivers have been targeted twice.

 

Week 5 Snap Counts

Wide Receivers  Week 5 Snaps Total Snaps Total Snap%
Michael Gallup 64/97% 345 89.84
DeAndre Hopkins 65/87% 332 93.26
Amari Cooper 42/64% 313 81.51
Terry McLaurin 54/100% 309 94.79
D.K. Metcalf 52/96% 304 95.6
Tyreek Hill 63/88% 303 86.82
Tyler Lockett 52/96% 300 94.34
Robert Woods 59/87% 300 89.29
Adam Thielen 81/93% 298 91.98
Darius Slayton 64/94% 297 92.52
Larry Fitzgerald 60/80% 295 82.87
Mike Evans 60/85% 293 84.68
Tyler Boyd 46/69% 291 77.81
Cooper Kupp 56/82% 288 85.71
Keenan Allen 12/17% 288 80.22
Calvin Ridley 48/74% 287 80.39
Allen Robinson 55/87% 280 83.09
Chris Hogan 45/65% 274 82.78
D.J. Moore 51/78% 274 82.28
CeeDee Lamb 36/55% 274 71.35
Zach Pascal 51/92% 266 79.4
Odell Beckham 63/86% 266 77.78
Jalen Guyton 65/92% 264 73.54
Kendrick Bourne 42/66% 258 76.56
Damiere Byrd BYE 257 91.79
DeVante Parker 53/79% 255 75.89
Stefon Diggs 60/83% 247 91.14
Jarvis Landry 56/77% 245 71.64
Keelan Cole 60/80% 244 73.05
Robby Anderson 47/72% 240 72.07
T.Y. Hilton 53/94% 239 71.34
Marvin Jones BYE 239 90.19
A.J. Green 28/42% 238 63.64
Sammy Watkins 26/36% 237 67.91
Justin Jefferson 70/80% 237 73.15
Preston Williams 40/60% 235 69/94
Brandin Cooks 48/83% 234 81.25
JuJu Smith-Schuster 57/76% 229 80.63
Tee Higgins 54/81% 229 61.23
Mike Williams 55/78% 227 74
Will Fuller 48/83% 226 78.47
Emmanuel Sanders 45/59% 224 66.77
Marquise Brown 54/86% 222 74

 

Michael Gallup has now led all wide receivers in offensive snaps for two consecutive weeks (345). He is followed by DeAndre Hopkins (332), Gallup’s teammate Amari Cooper (313), Terry McLaurin (309), D.K. Metcalf (304), Tyreek Hill (303), and two receivers that have performed on exactly 300 offensive snaps - Tyler Lockett, and Robert Woods. Adam Thielen is next (298), followed by Darius Slayton (297), Larry Fitzgerald (295), Mike Evans (293), Tyler Boyd (291), Cooper Kupp (288), Calvin Ridley (287), and Allen Robinson (280).

Metcalf (95.6), leads all receivers in offensive snap percentage, followed by McLaurin (94.8), Lockett (94.3), Hopkins (93.3), Slayton (92.5), Thielen (92.0), Damiere Byrd (91.8), and Stefon Diggs (91.1). Gallup (89.9) is next, followed by Robert Woods (89.3), Tyreek Hill (86.8), Cooper Kupp (85.7), Mike Evans (84.7), and Allen Robinson (83.1).

Thielen led the position in offensive snaps during Week 5 (81). His teammate Justin Jefferson was second (70), followed by Jeff Smith (68), Hopkins (65), Jalen Guyton (65), Gallup (64), Slayton (64), and three receivers that tied with 63 - Beckham, Hill, and Olamide Zacchaeus. Three receivers were also tied with 60 snaps (Evans, Fitzgerald, Keelan Cole). They were followed by Woods (59) JuJu Smith-Schuster (57), Deebo Samuel (57), and three receivers that were tied with 56 - Kupp, Landry, and Tampa Bay rookie Tyler Johnson.

McLaurin and Gabriel Davis led all receivers in snap count percentage during Week 5, by performing on 100% of their teams’ offensive snaps. Smith was third for the week (98.6), followed by Gallup (97.0), Zacchaeus (96.9), Aiyul (96.9), Lockett (96.3), Metcalf (96.3), Hilton (94.6), and Slayton (94.1). Thielen was next (93.1), followed by Guyton (91.6), Zach Pascal (91.7), Samuel (89.1), Hill (87.5), Robinson (87.3), Woods (86.8), Hopkins (86.7), and Beckham (86.3).

 

Five Things I Noticed

1. It has become increasingly clear that Robby Anderson has ascended beyond D.J. Moore as Carolina's true WR1 after five weeks of the regular season.

Moore entered the year in the aftermath of his 2019 breakout, in which he finished eighth among all receivers in yardage (1,175), and 10th in both targets (135) and receptions (87). He was also averaging 9.5 targets, 6.1 receptions, and 84 yards per game from Weeks 1-15, before a concussion, prematurely ended his season. This had vaulted him into high-end WR2 terrain which propelled his momentum as a Round 3 selection during the draft process. But fantasy GMs did not display a similar level of enthusiasm for drafting Robby Anderson after he signed with the Panthers during the offseason.

Anderson had finished 33rd in targets (96/6.0 per game) 43rd in receptions (52) and 37th in receiving yards (779) during 2019, although he tied for sixth in percentage of team's air yards (36.7). He appeared to provide Carolina with a downfield weapon who would primarily clear space for Moore by running deeper routes. But Anderson has thrived in the strategic approach of Matt Rhule and Joe Brady, and now enters Week 6 with 47 targets. That is 10 more than Moore and is also the league’s sixth-highest total. Anderson is also fourth overall in both receptions (36), and receiving yards (489), and has now paced Panther wide receivers in targets and receptions during each of their last three contests. That includes Week 5 when he also led Carolina in targets (12), receptions (8), and receiving yards (112).

Moore led the team in targets during their first two games, is 16th overall for the season (37), and is also 19th in receptions (22). However, he is also 10th in yardage (381), and 14th in air yards (440) - just three spots above Anderson (435). Both receivers are currently inside the top 10 in percentage share of air yards as Moore in ninth (39.2), followed directly by Anderson (39.0). However, Moore’s 57-yard touchdown in Week 5 was generated on a short reception in which nearly all yardage was generated after the catch. It was Moore’s first touchdown of the season - which ties him with Anderson.

Even though Moore’s current per-game averages (7.4 targets/4.4 receptions/76.2 yards), do not match his averages from 2019, anyone with the third-year receiver on their rosters should not become discouraged. He remains a WR2, and would still finish the season with 118 targets, 70 receptions, and 1,219 yards if he retained those averages over a 16-game schedule. Anderson has earned the distinction of WR1 status, as his combination of talent and opportunity should allow him to continue flourishing in Carolina’s restructured offense.

 

2. On the eve of last Sunday’s Week 5 matchups, several websites categorized “all Jet receivers” as “unplayable”.

This recommendation was due to the numerous deficiencies throughout the Jet offense, which was to be accentuated by the elevation of Joe Flacco under center. However, Crowder has repeatedly overcome the various hurdles that have permeated the Jet attack – both on and off the field. He was primed to enter the matchup having already navigated his team’s internal obstacles while accumulating 23 targets in just two contests. This should have provided fantasy GMs and analysts with sufficient confidence to keep him entrenched in the lineup, even though Flacco would be spearheading the offense.

Crowder remains the only wide receiver that has collected 10+ targets in every contest this season, as he caught eight of his 10 targets during New York’s Week 5 matchup with Arizona. That currently places him in a tie for 23rd among all receivers with 33 targets for the season, even though he was sidelined in Weeks 2-3. He is also 20th in yardage despite his two-game absence, after he assembled a season-high 116 against the Cardinals. He has now exceeded 100 yards in all three games (115/104/116). Crowder also vaulted to WR7 in scoring for the week, even though he was operating with Flacco.

Crowder’s usage and production in just three matchups have been sufficient to lead the Jets in targets (33), receptions (22), while he has also generated over 200 more receiving yards than any of his teammates (335). He is also sixth overall in yards after catch (170) and is averaging a career-high 15.2 yards per reception following his performance against the Cardinals.

The drama surrounding Le’Veon Bell provides yet another self-defeating development for the Jets, and the endless collection of issues that impact the franchise could compel fantasy GMs to overlook Crowder’s accomplishments this season. But that provides the rationale for including Crowder in this section. He has earned recognition for the excellent season that he is constructing amid the ugliness of his organization. There should be no hesitation in starting him, as he has become unrestricted by what could easily have been massive constraints in his production. He should be in all lineups moving forward. as savvy managers should know that they can place infinite trust in the sixth-year veteran.

 

3. The Packers were universally expected to bolster their wide receiving arsenal during the off-season.

However, it has been well documented that General Manager Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur eschewed the opportunity to provide Aaron Rodgers with additional options throughout free agency and the NFL draft. This initiated an eruption of widespread criticism, while also resulting in a Round 10 ADP for Rodgers.

Green Bay has risen to ninth in run play percentage (45.6%), after ranking 17th (40.2%) one year ago. However, the Packers also enter Week 6 bye with the league’s third-ranked passing attack (294.8 yards per game). Rodgers is QB6 in scoring, has constructed an exceptional 13:0 touchdown to interception ratio, and is second in touchdown percentage (9.4).

Rodgers accomplished this even though Green Bay ranks 24th in pass play percentage (54.4%), and has been without passing game centerpiece Davante Adams since Week 2. Adams was a strong candidate to lead the NFL in targets this season and achieved that in Week 1 (17 targets/42.5% target share). He should return this week to recapture his role as Green Bay’s target monster and could reprise his statistical surge from last season. Adams reemerged from a turf toe injury in Week 8 to finish second overall in targets (91) and receptions (58) from Weeks 8-17.

Allen Lazard generated a career-best 146 yards on eight targets in Week 3 but remains in the early stage of an extended absence following core muscle surgery. He still leads the Packers yardage (254), while Marquez Valdes-Scantling has garnered a team-high 25 targets (6.3 per game). Valdes-Scantling is also fourth among all receivers in targeted air yards (17.2), 18th in air yards (431), and 18th in percentage share of air yards (34.5). Valdez-Scantling also leads the team in target share (18.7) although that will change following Adams’ return.

Aaron Jones is second in target share (17.2). and entered his bye in a tie for third among all backs in targets (23). Third-year tight end Robert Tonyan has experienced a steady rise with his weekly target totals (0/3/5/6) which has propelled him to a 10.4 target share. Rodgers will continue to locate Jones and Tonyan as the season progresses. But Adams is easily the Packers’ primary receiver and should eventually resurface among the league leaders in each major category. Valdes-Scantling should be targeted with enough frequency to function as a WR3, even after Adams returns.

 

4. There were divergent opinions during the off-season surrounding the value for Giant wide receivers Sterling ShepardGolden Tate, and Darius Slayton.

Shepard was the first member of the trio to be selected during the draft process (ADP 112), although the fantasy community was split concerning which receiver would ultimately deliver the highest level of production.  But as the team enters their Week 6 matchup with division rival Washington, Slayton has separated himself by emerging as the most targeted and productive weapon among Daniel Jones’ trio of options at the position. The former fifth-round draft selection also collected the second-highest target total of his career in Week 5 (11), while his weekly total also tied him for eighth among all receivers.

He also eclipsed 100 yards for the second time this year, which matches the number of  100-yard performances that he delivered during his 2019 rookie season. Slayton is now 12th overall in targets (40/8 per game), fourth in percentage share of air yards (44.2%), 10th in air yards (487), 17th in receiving yards (365), and is also tied for 17th in receptions (23). He is also tied for fourth in red zone targets (7) and leads the Giants in each of those categories. Slayton also paces the team in target share (23.7), yards per reception (15.9), and yards per target (9.1). But while Slatyon's season is progressing favorably, the results have been disappointing for anyone who invested in Shepard or Tate during the draft process.

A toe injury has cemented Shepard to the sideline since he exited New York’s matchup with Chicago in Week 2. He has been limited to just 68 snaps, has collected just eight receptions, and currently remains on injured reserve. Tate’s usage and production also remain alarmingly short of expectations. The 32-year old has accumulated just 145 yards on 18 receptions and has failed to exceed 47 yards during any of his four matchups. His current per-game averages of 5.6 targets, 4.5 receptions, and 36.3 yards would result in season-long totals of 85 targets, 68 receptions, and 545 yards if Tate retained those weekly results during his remaining matchups. That would equate to his lowest usage and output since 2012.

The Giants currently rank third in pass play percentage (65.4%), and the team will not generate an effective ground game with their current components in their backfield.  This should preserve a consistent reliance on Jones and the passing game, with Slayton continuing to operate as the primary weapon in the aerial attack.

 

 

5. Henry Ruggs was one of three rookie receivers who delivered their most prolific outings of the season in Week 5.

Ruggs maximized his three targets by registering receptions of 46 and 72 yards during the Raiders' matchup in Kansas City. That resulted in astronomical averages of 59 yards per reception and 39.3 yards per target, while his 118 yards placed him eighth among all receivers in Week 5. He has been operating from the slot during 72% of his routes and is averaging 29.5 yards per reception and 16.1 yards per target. Ruggs’ exceptional speed blends favorably with his route running ability in allowing him to explode beyond defenders. Ruggs is also underrated as a competitive receiver who can prevail in contested catch situations. Volume is a concern, as he has averaged just 3.6 targets per game. But that is partially a byproduct of Ruggs playing through his knee injury in Weeks 1 and 2  If he can achieve sustained health Ruggs should justify the Raiders' decision to select him with the 12th overall pick in last April's draft.

Laviska Shenault led Jacksonville in targets (8), receptions (7), and receiving yards (79) during Jacksonville’s matchup in Houston. He has now collected 20 targets during his last three contests, which has elevated his season total to 28. That places him in a tie for the team lead with Keelan Cole. Shenault also leads the Jaguars in receptions (23) and receiving yards (270), after collecting 12 receptions and 165 yards in Weeks 4-5. Shenault is now averaging 11.7 yards per reception, after exceeding 11.3 in four of his five matchups, and has been involved in 63% of Jacksonville's offensive snaps- including his season-high 69.3% in Week 5. Shenault is also being deployed both outside and in the slot, and this versatility will blend with his physical style to expand his involvement in the offense as the season progresses.

The 6’4”, 240-pound Chase Claypool possesses the size and speed (4.42-40 yard dash) to create matchup nightmares for opponents. He had entered Week 5 with season totals of nine targets, six receptions, 151 yards, and one touchdown. But Claypool’s relevance skyrocketed when he led the Steelers in targets (11) receptions (7) and receiving yards (110) while averaging 15.7 yards per reception and generating three touchdowns. He also produced a fourth touchdown on the ground, while finishing WR1 in scoring for the week.  Claypool now leads the Steelers in receiving yards (261), and the 11 targets that he procured places his season total just six behind team leader Diontae Johnson, and only four behind JuJu Smith-Schuster. He is also third overall with an average of 20.1 yards per reception. Johnson experienced a back issue that forced him to the sideline in Week 5, but he remains Pittsburgh’s WR1. However, Claypool maintains the potential to remain relevant in the upcoming weeks, even though his production could be inconsistent.



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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 6

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has required a new level of flexibility to also absorb the COVID-related postponements and ever-changing scenarios for adjusted schedules. Anyone with Derrick Henry, James Conner, Melvin GordonDamien Harris, or James White on their rosters has experienced this process during the past two weeks.

We have also progressed into weekly planning for scheduled bye weeks, which includes the four teams that will be affected this week - Las Vegas, New Orleans, Seattle, and the Los Angeles Chargers. This ensures that anyone with Alvin Kamara, Josh JacobsChris Carson Joshua Kelley, or Justin Jackson on their rosters will have to avoid starting those backs this week. It also will provide managers with an additional factor that could fuel interest in locating alternative options on the waiver wire.

These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing and progressing to runners for anyone that is struggling with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. After you've finished this breakdown, you can also find news updates and data-fueled analysis that is designed to help you maximize the scoring potential of your rosters.

 

Running Back Leaderboard

Week 5 Rushing Leaders Team Attempts Yards YPC TDs
Todd Gurley LA Rams 14 121 8.6 1
Alexander Mattison Minnesota 20 112 5.6 0
Ronald Jones II Tampa Bay 17 106 6.2 0
David Johnson Houston 17 96 5.7 0
Ezekiel Elliott Dallas 19 91 4.8 2
Raheem Mostert San Francisco 11 90 8.2 0
Mike Davis Carolina 16 89 5.6 0
Miles Sanders Philadelphia 11 80 7.3 2
Josh Jacobs Las Vegas 23 77 3.4 2
Kareem Hunt Cleveland 20 72 3.6 0
Dalvin Cook Minnesota 17 65 3.8 1

 

Frontrunners - Week 6 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the options that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR formats than standard. All players have 60% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues.

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

54% rostered

Chase Edmonds has been a mainstay in this column due to his potential to burst for sizable yardage. He has also sustained his status as one of the top two insurance policies among all running backs - along with Alexander Mattison.  This is due to his prospects of igniting as an RB1 for fantasy GMs if Kenyan Drake would experience a reduction in his workload for any reason. Through five weeks, Drake has now carried 85 times but has averaged 3.7 yards per attempt, while manufacturing 314 yards.

Edmonds has continued to capitalize on his opportunities, by accumulating 224 total yards and three touchdowns on 37 touches. That includes his performance in Week 5 when he accrued 92 total yards on eight touches while bolting for a 29-yard touchdown on the ground. Edwards has also been far more involved as a pass-catching weapon than Drake, as his target share (12.7%) and target total (23) easily exceeds Drake’s (3.7%/6 targets). Edmonds is an absolute must add, who could become a league winner if Kliff Kingsbury elevates him beyond Drake on Arizona’s depth chart.

 

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

37% rostered

Only three backs had carried the ball with greater frequency than Dalvin Cook entering the matchups of Week 5. His ability to take advantage of those opportunities had also propelled him into the league lead with 424 rushing yards. This placed constraints on Mattison‘s weekly touch total, as he averaged 7.3 per game from Weeks 1-4. (25% snap share). Cook’s extensive usage and production continued until the third quarter of Minnesota’s matchup in Seattle when he suffered a groin injury.

That propelled Mattison into workhorse responsibilities, and he responded by exploding for 136 total yards on 23 touches, including 112 yards on the ground. Cook's status should be monitored throughout the week. But Mattison's performance has provided the latest reminder that he can instantly supply fantasy GMs with a weekly RB1 if he inherits Cook’s workload for any reason. He remains an elite insurance policy for anyone with Cook on their rosters. Mattison is also a viable roster stash for anyone else due to the soaring value that he would possess if Cook becomes unavailable.

 

Damien Harris, New England Patriots 

57% rostered

The landscape of New England’s backfield was destined for change prior to the Patriots’ Week 4 matchup with Kansas City. Sony Michel had been highly unproductive in Weeks 1-2, before exploding for his most prolific outing since 2018. Rex Burkhead generated 98 total yards while delivering the first three-touchdown performance of his career in Week 3. But James White was also returning to the team following his absence while Harris was reemerging from injured reserve.

The timing of Harris’ return also coincided with the placement of Michel on injured reserve (quad), which elevated Harris into lead back duties. He attained a 31% snap share while bolting for an even 100 yards on 17 attempts against the Chiefs. He demonstrated that he can perform effectively if he is entrusted with the majority of rushing attempts, and should function as the Patriots’ primary rusher when they host the Broncos on Sunday. Harris is still available in over 40% of all leagues, and he should be one of your top targets on this week’s waiver wire.

 

In The Running - Week 6 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds.

Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos

52% rostered

Lindsay was included in last week’s recommendations but remains rostered in only 52% of all leagues. He is primed to reemerge in Denver’s offense after being absent since Week 1 (turf toe). Melvin Gordon was ninth among all backs in rushing attempts (65) and 10th in rushing yardage (281/6.3 per attempt) from Weeks 1-4 while performing on a career-high 72% of the offensive snaps. Gordon was also infused into Denver’s offense to function as the team’s primary back.

But he will not maintain the same massive workload with Lindsay blending into the backfield. He should receive a respectable touch total after generating  2,048 yards and finishing among the top 14 in rushing during both 2018 and 2019. He will not match his previous yardage totals with Gordon above him on the depth chart. But both backs will be actively involved in the offense and could be deployed on the field at the same time. Lindsay's availability is surprising, and he should be rostered in all leagues.  

 

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

38% rostered

The training camp reps for Jackson and rookie Joshua Kelley provided intrigue in August as both backs were competing for the opportunity to operate as LA's RB2 behind Austin Ekeler. Jackson originally received first-team reps. But the competition evaporated when he encountered a quad injury, and Kelley delivered an impressive camp. Jackson had registered just two attempts from Weeks 1-3 before capturing a 40% snap share during LA’s Week 4 matchup with Tampa Bay.

Estimates vary on the exact length of Ekeler’s absence, but he will be sidelined for multiple weeks.
Kelley should operate as the primary rusher during that span while also commandeering red-zone opportunities.

But Jackson will also be a vital component in a Charger offense that is eighth in run play percentage (47.1%). He should collect enough touches to function as a flex option for managers during that sequence. That elevates him beyond several other waiver wire options whose week-to-week involvement is uncertain.

 

Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions

57% rostered

Peterson’s role as Detroit’s lead rusher has been consistent through four matchups, while he has run effectively and displayed his durability during those contests. He was 16th among all backs in rushing attempts (54) and 18th in rushing yards (245) as the Lions entered their bye week. He has also performed sufficiently with his respectable workload (4.5 yards per attempt/13.5 attempts per game) to warrant a roster spot for anyone who is searching for options in the flex.

Peterson leads the Lions’ backfield in snap share (40%), while Swift is second (31.4%), and Kerryon Johnson lags in third (26.5%). Peterson has easily commandeered the highest number of rushing attempts on the team, and his yardage total easily exceeds the totals for Johnson and Swift. Johnson has carried just 21 times while manufacturing 71 yards (3.4 per attempt) while Swift has been limited to 12 carries and 42 yards (3.5 per attempt). Peterson remains available in over 40% of all leagues and remains a potential solution for anyone contending with roster challenges.

 

Dark Horses - Week 6 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you are willing to wait for the possibility of a larger role during the year, or consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries.

Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams

39% rostered

Your initial reaction to the possibility of adding Brown will not match the enthusiasm for targeting more dynamic players. Nor will it duplicate the passion that exists for Brown’s teammates Cam Akers or Darrell Henderson. However, Brown has sustained a respectable percentage within Sean McVay’s weekly touch distribution, while averaging 10.6 rushing attempts per game. His week-to-week total has ranged between 7-11 carries, while Brown has also attained the largest snap share among LA backs during three of the team’s first five matchups.

The reemergence of Akers after a two-game absence (ribs) injected an additional layer of congestion into the Rams’ backfield. Brown also does not have Akers’ Round-2 draft pedigree, nor can he match Henderson’s potential for huge gains. But he has retained ongoing involvement in the weekly touch allotment within LA’s crowded backfield. This supplies the rationale for including him on your roster, during a season in which multiple factors can leave managers scrambling for flex options.

 

Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons

21% rostered

Todd Gurley is still the lead back in Atlanta. But Hill is the insurance policy for savvy managers with Gurley on their rosters. The fourth-year back entered 2020 with 122 career touches during his first three seasons. But he did erupt for 115 yards on just eight attempts during Atlanta’s Week 16 matchup in 2018. Hill also demonstrated his potential to perform efficiently when he established season highs in attempts and rushing yards in Week 3 (9/58).

Hill also separated from Ito Smith into defined RB2 duties during that contest, as his 35% snap share, easily exceeded Smith’s (9%). He also assembled 54 total yards on eight touches in Week 5, while maintaining his role as the backup to Gurley (18 touches/150 total yards). Hill remains available in over 70% of all leagues and is a worthy roster addition for anyone who prefers to elude a roster crisis if Gurley is sidelined for any reason.

 

J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team

6% rostered

The relentless avalanche of injuries, ineffectiveness, and evolving schedules was mentioned in the introduction. These factors have forced many fantasy GMs to extend their flexibility to new levels in order to locate emergency options that can be inserted into their starting lineups. That scenario transpired once again as Week 5 kickoffs were rapidly approaching, and this recommendation to add McKissic in PPR leagues is made with that uncomfortable process in mind.

Antonio Gibson is the lead back in Washington. However, McKissic has confiscated responsibilities as the team’s primary pass-catching back. He has garnered eight targets in two different matchups, including his team-high total in Week 5. McKissic also leads Washington’s backfield in targets (25), receptions (17), and receiving yards (124), while his snap share has ranged between 44% and 55% during the season. His involvement as a receiving weapon elevates McKissic among the viable options for anyone who is participating in PPR leagues.

 

Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure a running back with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Sony Michel, New England Patriots

35% rostered

Michel ascended into the role of New England’s primary rusher during his 2018 rookie season while finishing 14th overall in attempts, and 15th in rushing yards (9314/5 per attempt). But there has been a litany of inefficient performances since that initial season. Michel’s averages declined significantly during 2019 (57 yards per game/3.7 yards per attempt). He also remained extremely ineffective in Weeks 1-2 (3.2 yards per attempt/28 yards per game) before delivering a rare productive outing in Week 3 (9 attempts/117 yards).

Michel’s placement on injured reserve (quad) was mentioned previously, and he appears destined for a diminished role upon his return. Harris performed impressively while operating in Michel’s usual role during New England’s Week 4 matchup (17 attempts/110 yards/5.9 per attempt). James White has also re-captured his responsibilities as New England’s primary pass-catching back, while Rex Burkhead perpetually looms as a candidate to siphon touches. All of these factors have collapsed Michel’s ceiling while providing fantasy GMs with significant motivation to remove him from their rosters.

 

Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions

26% rostered  

Peterson's aforementioned status as the team leader in rushing attempts and rushing yardage indicates that he is Detroit's lead rusher. D'Andre Swift's deployment in the ground game has been minimal. But he has become the Lions' primary pass-catching back. Swift leads the Lion backfield in targets (16/4 per game) receptions (13) and receiving yards (124).

While Peterson and Swift maintain their responsibilities, Johnson has been relegated to minimal involvement in both the ground game and Detroit's aerial efforts. Johnson has averaged just 5.3 attempts per game during his first four matchups, and just three carries per game since Week 3. He is also a distant third among Detroit's trio of running backs in targets (3), receptions (2) and receiving yards (17). Modest usage as both a rusher and receiver is not a formula for viability in a running back. Fantasy GMs can do better and should remove Johnson from their rosters this week.

 

Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins

33% rostered

Here is the latest reminder that Howard is not collecting enough touches to function as a resource on anyone’s roster. He was only accruing a modest workload entering Week (4.5 attempts per game) and was not running effectively with the opportunities that he was receiving. Howard was averaging just 0.8 yards per attempt and had manufactured just 14 yards on 18 carries. Howard’s season degenerated even further in Week 5 when he became a healthy scratch.

It is highly unlikely that Howard’s situation will improve, as Myles Gaskin has commandeered the Dolphins’ lead back responsibilities. Gaskin has now accumulated 247 rushing yards on 64 attempts. Gaskin has also collected 23 of his 25 targets while assembling 147 yards as a pass-catcher. Matt Breida has also maintained involvement in the offense, while Howard has now been relegated to a non-entity. He is somehow rostered in 33% of all leagues, and that is no reason for that to continue.



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Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 4 Analysis

Your wide receivers remain essential components toward your primary goal of securing league championships. As this unique regular season continues to unfold, an expanding assortment of tools is available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge regarding this critical position. Those results are contained in this weekly statistical breakdown of multiple categories, which is designed to help you fulfill your championship aspirations.

This will be the fourth installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, first downs, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a compilation of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. This massive collection of data supplies the foundation from which the numbers that are generated in various categories can be evaluated.

As the season progresses noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, PFF, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

 

Week 4 Target Leaders

Wide Receivers Targets Targ/Game YPT
Amari Cooper 51 12.8 7.9
Keenan Allen 49 12.3 6.7
DeAndre Hopkins 46 11.5 8.6
Allen Robinson 41 10.3 8.1
Calvin Ridley 40 10 8.7
Terry McLaurin 39 9.8 9.9
Stefon Diggs 35 8.8 11.5
Tyler Boyd 34 8.5 9.4
Robby Anderson 34 8.5 11.1
Tyler Lockett 33 8.3 9
A.J. Green 33 8.3 3.6
D.J. Moore 32 8 9
Adam Thielen 31 7.8 9.2
Odell Beckham Jr. 30 7.5 7.9
Julian Edelman 30 7.5 9.8
DeVante Parker 29 7.3 9.6
Darius Slayton 29 7.3 8.1
Tyreek Hill 29 7.3 9.9
CeeDee Lamb 29 7.3 10.7
Jerry Jeudy 28 7 8.4
D.K. Metcalf 28 7 14.4
Cooper Kupp 28 7 10.6
N'Keal Harry 28 7 5.9
Russell Gage 27 6.8 7.7
Sammy Watkins 27 6.8 7.3
Greg Ward 26 6.5 5.6
Marquise Brown 26 6.5 9.3
Isaiah Ford 26 6.5 5.8
Mike Evans 26 6.5 8.8
Robert Woods 26 6.5 8.8
Diontae Johnson 25 8.3 6
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 25 6.3 8.4
Michael Gallup 24 6 11.5
Cole Beasley 24 6 10.8
Chris Hogan 23 5.8 4.3
John Brown 23 5.8 8.4
Jamison Crowder 23 11.5 9.5
Keelan Cole 23 5.8 8.4
Kendrick Bourne 22 5.5 9
Will Fuller 22 5.5 12.5
T.Y. Hilton 22 5.5 7.4
Emmanuel Sanders 22 5.5 8.3
Hunter Renfrow 22 5.5 9
Tee Higgins 22 5.5 6.9
Damiere Byrd 22 5.5 8.1
Scotty Miller 21 5.3 11.9
Danny Amendola 21 5.3 8.4
Dontrelle Inman 21 5.3 5
Brandin Cooks 21 5.3 6.6
Tim Patrick 21 5.3 10
Davante Adams 20 10 9.6
Julio Jones 20 6.7 10.7

Several prominent receivers were absent due to injuries (Michael Thomas/Davante Adams/Chris Godwin), while several others returned to their teams’ lineups (D.J. Chark/Jamison Crowder/Deebo Samuel). Other receivers encountered health issues during their matchups, or could not deliver their normal level of effectiveness while operating at less than 100% health. However, many receivers that remain unencumbered by any form of injuries are continuing to thrive.

Amari Cooper has surged beyond Keenan Allen and DeAndre Hopkins to the league lead with 51 targets. Allen is now second (49), followed by Hopkins (46) and Allen Robinson (41). Calvin Ridley is fifth overall (4), followed by Terry McLaurin (39), and Stefon Diggs (35). The former Viking has also played an integral role in the sustained success of Buffalo’s passing attack which will be discussed In the 5 Things I Noticed section.

Tyler Boyd and Robby Anderson are tied with 34 targets, while Tyler Lockett and A.J. Green are directly behind them with 33. Anderson‘s teammate D.J. Moore has been targeted 32 times, followed by Adam Thielen (31) Julian Edelman (30), and Odell Beckham Jr. (30). DeVante Parker, Darius Slayton, Tyreek Hill, and newcomer CeeDee Lamb are tied with 29 targets, followed by four receivers that have captured 28 after four matchups - Jerry Jeudy, D.K. Metcalf, N'Keal Harry, and Cooper Kupp. Russell Gage and Sammy Watkins are tied with 27 targets, while five receivers are tied at  26 (Marquise Brown, Greg Ward, Isaiah Ford, Mike Evans, and Robert Woods).

Ridley, Cooper, and Allen are the only three wide receivers that have collected 10+ targets in three of their four matchups. Robinson, Hopkins, McLaurin, Anderson, Crowder, and Diontae Johnson have all accomplished it twice, as Crowder has managed that feat despite playing in only two matchups. Five receivers have been targeted 40+ times (Cooper/Allen/HopkinsRobinson/Ridley), while 15 receivers have collected at least 30. A total of 58 receivers have attained 20+ targets, including a group of six rookies – Lamb, Jeudy, Tee Higgins, Laviska Shenault, Justin Jefferson, and Darnell Mooney.

Two rookies have commandeered the top two spots in yards per target average. Justin Jefferson leads all wide receivers (17.4), followed by Gabriel Davis at 16.1. Seattle's David Moore is third (15.7), followed by teammate D.K. Metcalf (14.4), D.J. Chark (12.8), Will Fuller (12.5), Scott Miller (11.9), Randall Cobb (11.8), and Willie Snead completing the top 10 (11.7). Stefon Diggs and Michael Gallup are next (11.5) followed by Josh Reynolds (11.3),  Robby Anderson (11.1), and a group of nine receivers that are averaging 10+ yards per target.

 

Largest Weekly Changes

Wide Receivers Week 3 Week 4 Total  Changes
Jamison Crowder INJ 10 23 10
D.J. Chark INJ 9 16 9
Isaiah Ford 2 10 26 8
Damiere Byrd 3 10 22 7
DeVante Parker 5 12 29 7
Terry McLaurin 8 14 39 6
Robby Anderson 5 11 34 6
Justin Watson INJ 6 11 5
Adam Thielen 5 10 31 5
Chris Hogan 3 8 23 5
Christian Kirk INJ 5 14 5
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 4 8 25 4
Julio Jones INJ 4 20 4
Amari Cooper 12 16 51 4
Mike Evans 4 8 26 4
Emmanuel Sanders 5 9 22 4
Darnell Mooney 5 9 20 4
Zach Pascal 4 8 19 4
John Brown 2 5 23 3
Tim Patrick 4 7 21 3
David Moore 1 4 11 3
Zay Jones 3 6 10 3
Olamide Zaccheaus 6 9 16 3
DeAndre Hopkins 12 9 46 -3
Allen Robinson 13 10 41 -3
Cooper Kupp 10 7 28 -3
Cole Beasley 7 4 24 -3
Brandon Aiyuk 8 5 16 -3
Greg Ward 11 7 26 -4
Michael Gallup 9 5 24 -4
Chris Conley 8 4 20 -4
Justin Jefferson 9 5 20 -4
Tyler Boyd 13 8 34 -5
Jerry Jeudy 9 4 28 -5
Keenan Allen 19 12 49 -7
Calvin Ridley 13 5 40 -8
Tyler Lockett 13 4 33 -9

Cooper registered the highest target total among all wide receivers in Week 4 (16). It was also his highest weekly total since Week 7 of 2017 when he stockpiled 19 targets. It was the third time this season that he has collected at least 12 targets, and the 14th time in his career. Terry McLaurin’s 14 targets placed him second overall for the week, while also establishing a new career-high. He achieved a double-digit target total once during his highly productive rookie season, but he has now achieved it twice during his first four matchups of 2020.

Devante Parker tied with Allen by accumulating 12 targets during Week 4, followed by Robby Anderson (11) and five receivers that all collected 10 targets – Robinson, Adam Thielen, Jamison Crowder, Damiere Byrd, and Isaiah Ford. Six receivers also captured nine targets - (Hopkins, Chark, Emmanuel Sanders, Chicago’s Darnell Mooney, Atlanta's Olamide Zacchaeus, and Jeff Smith of the Jets. Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and Kenny Golladay spearheaded a group of nine receivers that were targeted eight times during their Week 4 matchups.

Several receivers resurfaced after being sidelined in Week 3 matchups, which created a surge in their week to week target totals. Jamison Crowder returned to collect a team-high 10 targets after being absent in Weeks 2 and 3 with his hamstring issue. D.J. Chark (chest) resurfaced after missing Jacksonville’s Week 3 matchup and led the Jaguars with nine targets. It was easily his highest total of the season after he only received a total of seven targets in Weeks 1 and 2 combined (3/4).

Two Dolphins collected a total of 22 targets as DeVante Parker overcame an ankle issue to capture a team-high 12. It also represented a week to week increase of +7. However, Ford’s weekly total rose by +8, after he captured a career-best 10 targets. He will be discussed further in the 5 Things I Noticed section as one of several enticing receivers that remain available on nearly all waiver wires. The weekly totals for Terry McLaurin, Robby Anderson improved by +6, while Adam Thielen, Chris Hogan, Justin Watson, Christian Kirk experienced increases of +5.

Tyler Lockett was averaging 9.7 targets per game entering Week 4, and was sixth overall with 29 targets. But Russell Wilson only launched four passes in his direction. This resulted in his lowest total since Week 13 of last season, while also creating the most significant week to week decline of -9. Calvin Ridley entered Week 4 in a tie for third with 35 targets and was the only receiver who had attained 10+ targets in each of his first three games. But a combination of his hamstring issue and excellent coverage from Green Bay's Jaire Alexander resulted in a season-low 5 targets. That also dropped his weekly total by -9.

Keenan Allen’s 12 targets were exceeded by just two receivers in Week 4. However, matching the career-high 19 targets that he attained in Week 3 was destined to be an arduous task, and his weekly total declined by-7. Tyler Boyd, joined Jerry Jeudy in experiencing a reduction of -5, while the weekly totals for Justin Jefferson, Greg Ward, Michael Gallup, and Chris Conley all declined by -4.

 

Week 4 Air Yards

Wide Receivers Air Yards Comp AY Team % AY aDOT
Calvin Ridley 667 305 38.9 17.6
Adam Thielen 486 247 46.1 15.7
Amari Cooper 477 264 29.9 9.5
A.J. Green 475 96 32.2 14.4
Allen Robinson 469 235 32.1 11.4
DK Metcalf 460 297 42.8 16.4
Marquise Brown 453 184 44.9 17.4
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 427 150 35.1 17.1
Odell Beckham Jr. 422 196 44.4 14.6
Keenan Allen 418 173 38.9 8.5
Michael Gallup 396 216 24.9 17.2
Stefon Diggs 388 331 33.2 11.1
D.J. Moore 384 245 42.2 12
Terry McLaurin 375 176 37.7 9.6
Tyreek Hill 368 186 36.5 12.7
Jerry Jeudy 353 159 26.4 12.6
Darius Slayton 351 200 37.3 12.1
DeSean Jackson 348 105 29.3 17.4
Scotty Miller 336 195 27.3 16
Julian Edelman 336 228 40.3 11.2
Tyler Lockett 335 223 31.2 10.2
Tee Higgins 328 119 22.3 14.9
John Brown 315 153 27 13.7
Robby Anderson 311 189 34.1 8.9
DeAndre Hopkins 307 212 30 6.7
Tyler Boyd 297 236 20.2 8.7
Tim Patrick 293 168 21.9 14
Julio Jones 288 155 16.8 13.7
Anthony Miller 287 119 19.7 15.1
CeeDee Lamb 283 206 17.8 8.8
Will Fuller 269 220 25.7 12.2
T.Y. Hilton 268 119 31.1 12.2
Justin Jefferson 266 218 25.2 13.3
DeVante Parker 264 214 26.5 9.1
Darnell Mooney 257 122 17.6 12.9
Diontae Johnson 252 82 31.6 9.7
Damiere Byrd 252 128 30.1 11.4
Mike Evans 247 164 20.1 9.5
Brandin Cooks 243 91 23.2 11.6
Mike Williams 243 85 22.6 17.4
Kendrick Bourne 240 127 27.4 10.9
Chris Hogan 227 63 23.6 9.9
Danny Amendola 222 94 19 10.1
Chris Conley 222 57 20.5 11.1
Christian Kirk 216 64 21.1 16.6
Zach Pascal 213 103 24.7 11.2
Emmanuel Sanders 210 152 28.3 9.5
Allen Lazard 208 153 22 12.2
DJ Chark 208 168 19.2 13
Dontrelle Inman 206 79 20.7 9.8
Cole Beasley 203 178 17.4 8.5
Jamison Crowder 202 102 21 8.8
Isaiah Ford 200 108 20.1 7.7

Calvin Ridley was leading all wide receivers in air yards by 226 yards after Week 3, and still has accumulated 181 more yards than second place Adam Thielen. Amari Cooper is third (477), followed by A.J. Green (475), Allen Robinson (469), D.K. Metcalf (460), Marquise Brown (453), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (427), Odell Beckham (422), and Keenan Allen (418). No other wide receivers have eclipsed 400 yards through four matchups.

Brown led all wide receivers in air yards during Week 4 matchups (210). Damiere Byrd was second (146), followed by Beckham (135), Thielen (133), Cooper (129), Robinson (129), Terry McLaurin (127), and Tee Higgins (125). D.J. Chark was next (124), followed by Darnell Mooney (120), and Tampa Bay teammates Mike Evans and Scott Miller (116).

Brown also leads all wide receivers in targeted air yards (17.7), followed by Michael Gallup (17.4), Ridley (17.3), Christian Kirk (17.2), and Valdes-Scantling (17.2). DeSean Jackson is next (16.8), followed by Thielen (16.5), Miller (16.3), Mike Williams (16.2), Higgins (16.1), and Metcalf (16.0). 10 additional receivers have attained a percentage of 13+. including Justin Jefferson and Tim Patrick - who will be discussed in the 5 Things I Noticed section.

Thielen leads his position in percentage share of air yards (49.1). Beckham is second overall (45.3), followed by Brown (45.0), D.J. Moore (42.7), Ridley (41.2), and Metcalf (41.1). Keenan Allen is next, (40.2), followed by Julian Edelman (39.4), Terry McLaurin (39.2), Darius Slayton (37.9), Tyreek Hill (35.9), and Robby Anderson (35.4). Valdes-Scantling, Stefon Diggs, and Robinson spearhead a group of nine receivers that are averaging a percentage share of 30+

 

Week 4 First Downs

Wide Receivers First Downs
DeAndre Hopkins 24
Tyler Boyd 23
Amari Cooper 22
Terry McLaurin 20
Calvin Ridley 19
Keenan Allen 19
Stefon Diggs 18
Robby Anderson 16
Allen Robinson 16
Julian Edelman 16
Tyler Lockett 15
Cooper Kupp 15
D.J. Moore 15
DeVante Parker 15
Russell Gage 15
Tyreek Hill 15
Mike Evans 14
CeeDee Lamb 14
Justin Jefferson 14
Sammy Watkins 14
Corey Davis 13
D.K. Metcalf 13
D.J. Chark 13
Adam Thielen 12
Odell Beckham 12
Keelan Cole 12
Will Fuller 12
Darius Slayton 12
Emmanuel Sanders 12
Cole Beasley 12

 

DeAndre Hopkins continues to lead all wide receivers in first downs (24) followed by Tyler Boyd (23), Amari Cooper (22), and Terry McLaurin (20). Calvin Ridley and Keenan Allen are next (19), followed by Stefon Diggs (18) Robby Anderson (16), Allen Robinson (16), Julian Edelman, and a cluster of six receivers that have all accumulated 15 receptions for first downs  - Tyler Lockett, DeVante Parker, Cooper Kupp, Russell Gage, Tyreek Hill, and D.J. Moore. Mike Evans, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, and Sammy Watkins are next with 14, while D.K. Metcalf, D..J. Chark, and Corey Davis are tied with 13.  Adam Thielen, Odell Beckham, and Will Fuller are among a collection of seven receivers that have registered 12 receptions, while a total of 17 additional receivers have caught 10+ receptions for first downs after four matchups.

 

Week 4 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5 Team %
N'Keal Harry 8 4 2 40
Calvin Ridley 7 3 2 31.82
Russell Gage 7 3 1 31.82
DeAndre Hopkins 6 2 1 35.29
Darius Slayton 6 4 2 27.27
Stefon Diggs 5 2 2 15.63
Robby Anderson 5 2 1 26.32
Keenan Allen 5 1 0 33.33
CeeDee Lamb 5 4 4 26.32
Cole Beasley 5 4 2 15.63
Sammy Watkins 5 4 2 25
Emmanuel Sanders 5 3 2 20.83
Zach Pascal 5 3 2 25
Amari Cooper 4 1 0 21.05
Allen Robinson 4 1 0 16
Tyler Lockett 4 3 3 19.05
Julian Edelman 4 2 1 20
Tyreek Hill 4 3 1 20
Adam Thielen 4 1 0 50
Mike Evans 4 4 3 16.67
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 4 0 0 14.81
Hunter Renfrow 4 0 0 16.67
John Brown 4 2 1 12.5
Tre'Quan Smith 4 1 1 16.67
David Moore 4 1 0 19.05
Tee Higgins 4 2 2 14.81
Anthony Miller 4 1 1 16
Kenny Golladay 4 1 0 18.18
Brandon Aiyuk 4 3 2 15.38
Chris Hogan 4 2 1 36.36
Preston Williams 4 3 2 28.57
Trent Taylor 4 1 0 15.38
Terry McLaurin 3 0 0 20
Cooper Kupp 3 0 0 21.43
Will Fuller 3 1 1 23.08
Robert Woods 3 0 0 21.43
DJ Chark 3 2 1 13.64
Davante Adams 3 2 2 11.11
JuJu Smith-Schuster 3 2 0 23.08
Chris Godwin 3 2 1 12.5
Marvin Jones 3 1 1 13.64
Adam Humphries 3 0 0 25
Chris Conley 3 2 1 13.64
Willie Snead 3 1 0 17.65

 

N’Keal Harry has captured the league lead with eight red zone targets, after collecting five during his last two matchups. Calvin Ridley and teammate Russell Gage are next with seven, while DeAndre Hopkins and Darius Slayton have each been targeted six times.

Rookie CeeDee Lamb is one of eight receivers that has captured five red zone targets. He is joined by Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders, Zach Pascal, Stefon Diggs, Robby Anderson, Russell Gage, and Keenan Allen. A collection of 19 different wide receivers have all been targeted four times inside the 20.

Harry is also tied with five other receivers with four targets inside the 10. He is joined by  CeeDee Lamb, Darius Slayton, Mike Evans, Cole Beasley, Sammy Watkins. Lamb leads all receivers with four targets inside the 5-yard line, while Evans and Tyler Lockett are next with three.

Lamb and Chris Hogan collected a league-high three red zone targets in Week 4. Amari Cooper, Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark, and Kenny Golladay, were among the 11 receivers that were targeted twice inside the 20 during their Week 4 matchups. Lamb led all receivers with his three targets inside the 10 and was joined by Harry as the only wide receivers to collect more than one target inside the 5.

 

Week 4 Snap Counts

Wide Receivers  Week 4 Snaps Total Snaps Total Snap %
Michael Gallup 67/82% 281 88.36
Keenan Allen 50/94% 276 95.83
Amari Cooper 63/77% 271 85.22
DeAndre Hopkins 54/95% 267 95.02
Damiere Byrd 73/97% 257 91.8
Terry McLaurin 64/90% 255 93.75
D.K. Metcalf 55/87% 252 95.45
Tyler Lockett 56/89% 248 93.94
Stefon Diggs 56/92% 247 91.14
Tyler Boyd 58/77% 245 79.8
Robert Woods 54/95% 241 89.93
Tyreek Hill 53/93% 240 86.6
Marvin Jones 54/89% 239 90.19
Calvin Ridley 46/64% 239 81
CeeDee Lamb 62/76% 238 74.84
Larry Fitzgerald 53/93% 235 83.63
Mike Evans 54/71% 233 84.73
Darius Slayton 66/97% 233 92.09
Cooper Kupp 49/86% 232 86.57
Chris Hogan 68/88% 229 87.4
Allen Robinson 55/89% 225 82.12
D.J. Moore 55/71% 223 83.21
Tre'Quan Smith 62/89% 220 84.94
John Brown 52/85% 218 80.44
Adam Thielen 58/88% 217 91.56
Kendrick Bourne 50/68% 216 79.12
Zach Pascal 54/75% 215 77.06

N'Keal Harry

57/76% 215 76.8
A.J. Green 53/71% 210 68.4
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 61/97% 206 74.6
Tim Patrick 53/76% 206 76.58
Odell Beckham 58/77% 203 75.46
DeVante Parker 57/80% 202 75.09
Jalen Guyton 45/85% 199 69.1
Preston Williams 43/61% 195 72.49
Robby Anderson 44/57% 193 72.01
Julian Edelman 46/61% 191 68.2
Jarvis Landry 57/76% 189 70.26
Allen Lazard INJ 188 88.26
Brandin Cooks 51/94% 186 80.87
T.Y. Hilton 54/75% 186 66.67
Keelan Cole 50/74% 184 71.04
Dontrelle Inman 57/80% 183 67.28
Jerry Jeudy 48/69% 182 67.66
Emmanuel Sanders 51/73% 179 69.11
Will Fuller 50/77% 178 77.39
Tee Higgins 43/57% 176 57
Russell Gage 47/67% 176 60

Michael Gallup leads all wide receivers in offensive snaps (281). Keenan Allen is second (276), followed by Gallup's teammate Amari Cooper (271), DeAndre Hopkins (267), Damiere Byrd (257), Terry McLaurin (255), D.K. Metcalf (252), Tyler Lockett (248), Stefon Diggs (247), Tyler Boyd (245), and Robert Woods (241) completing the top 10.

Allen leads the position in snap count percentage (95.8). Metcalf is second (95.5), followed by Hopkins (95.0), New York Jet Jeff Smith (94.8) Lockett (94.0), McLaurin (93.8), and Slayton (92.1). Byrd is next (91.7), followed by Thielen (91,6), Thielen's former teammate Stefon Diggs (91.1), and Marvin Jones (90.2). No other wide receivers have eclipsed an offensive snap count of 90%.

Byrd and Smith tied for the lead offensive snaps during their Week 4 matchups (73). Smith’s teammate Chris Hogan was third (68), followed by Nelson Aguilar (67), Gallup (67), Slayton (66), and Zay Jones (66). Jamison Crowder was next (65), followed by McLaurin (64), rookie Brandon Aiyuk (64), and Cooper (63), while Tre' Quan Smith and CeeDee Lamb were tied at 62.

Byrd also was involved in the highest percentage of offensive snaps in Week 4 (97.3). Slayton was second (97.1), followed by Valdes-Scantling (96.8), Smith (94.8), Hopkins (94.7), and Woods (94.7). Allen (94.3), Brandin Cooks (93.9), Larry Fitzgerald (93.0), Hill (92.9), Diggs (91.8), Agholor (90.5), and McLaurin (90.1).

 

Five Things I Noticed

1. Buffalo’s passing attack has soared to second overall while averaging 316.3 yards per game. That is over 100 yards per game more than the Bills averaged during 2019 (201.8) when the team only ranked 26th. The potency of their passing game is even more significant when contrasted with 2018, as the Bills ranked just 31st while averaging only 174.6 yards per game. That was Josh Allen’s rookie season when he was operating with Zay Jones (102 targets/56 receptions/652 yards) and Robert Foster (44 targets/27 receptions/541 yards) as his most productive receivers.

General Manager Brandon Beane worked in coordination with head coach Sean McDermott to dramatically upgrade Allen’s weaponry by signing John Brown and Cole Beasley before the 2019 regular season. Beane and McDermott also provided Allen with his most dynamic option by extracting Stefon Diggs from Minnesota. The results have been outstanding, as Allen and the trio of receivers are performing proficiently, while the Bills deploy the pass on 61.1% of their offensive plays – which ranks 11th overall. The team was only 26th in that category just one year ago (54.3%).

Allen has already thrown for 1,326 yards, which places him second overall. He is also fourth in average completed air yards (7.9), while his completion percentage (70.9%) has risen sizably from his previous seasons (52.8%/58.8%). He has already exceeded his touchdown total from 2018 (10) and is steadily approaching his current career-high of 20 that was established last season. Diggs has made a fluid transition to the Bills while operating from the slot on 68.1% of the Bills’ offensive plays. He is currently tied for the league lead in receiving yards (403), yards before catch (334). and completed air yards (331), while he is also sixth among receivers in receptions (26), and is also seventh in both targets (35) and point per game scoring.

 

Diggs also leads the Bills in target share (24.3), and percentage share of air yards (33.2), although Brown is second at 27.0. Brown had paced the Bills in targets (115), receptions (72), and receiving yards (1,060) during 2019. But has dropped to third behind both Diggs and Beasley in targets (23) and yardage (194), and has fallen to fourth with 14 receptions. Beasley has collected 18 of 24 targets for 260 yards, while promising rookie Gabriel Davis has surged to the team lead in yards per reception (16.1) and yards per target (16.1). Anyone who was able to procure Diggs during Round 6 of their draft process should be ecstatic, as he should remain highly productive throughout the season.  Brown should now be considered an inconsistent WR3, while Beasley is best reserved for the flex. However, Davis should be secured on all dynasty rosters this week.

 

2. During Sean McVay’s first three seasons as head coach of the Rams, Los Angeles ranked 25th (55.8%), 24th (56.7%), and eighth (62%), in pass play percentage. But the 2020 version of McVay’s aerial attack currently ranks just 30th overall (48.9%). This strategic approach has elevated the Rams to third in run play percentage (51.1%). It also represents a sizable change from last season when McVay’s Rams only deployed the ground game on 38.0% of their offensive plays, which ranked just 25th overall. LA's decreased reliance on the passing attack has reduced the number of passing attempts for Jared Goff, who launched a league-high 626 throws in 2019 (39.1 per game). He is currently 21st in attempts (122) while averaging almost nine fewer attempts per game (30.5). That places him on pace for 488 attempts which will result in fewer opportunities for Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp than they collected last season.

However, both players are unchallenged as the Rams' top two receiving weapons, which will sustain their productivity despite the reduction in their targets and snaps when compared last season. Kupp is leading Los Angeles in target share (23.9%), followed by Woods (22.2%). Those shares easily exceed the percentages for Josh Reynolds (10.3%) and Van Jefferson (8.5%). The Ram tight ends became the source for significant discussion during the off-season. However,  Tyler Higbee is a distant third in team target share (12.8%) while Gerald Everett remains a complete non-factor at 4.3%. Kupp (17th) and Woods (18th) currently are adjacent in scoring, while Kupp is 18th overall in targets (28/7.0 per game). He is also averaging 5.8 receptions and 74.3 yards per game. Woods is currently 24th in targets (26/6.5 per game), while also averaging 4.8 receptions and 57 yards per game.

Kupp's averages in targets and receptions do not match the results from 2019 (8.4 targets/5.9 receptions per game). But his yardage per game is comparable to last season (72.6) and places him on pace for 1,189.

 

Woods averaged 9.3 targets, 6.0 reception, and 75.6 yards per game during 2019. His decline of 18.6 yards per game would also equate to 912 yards if it would be sustained over a 16-game period. That number would not match the result that GMs envisioned when they selected Woods. However, both Woods and Kupp are operating without a significant threat to their status as the most integral components within the restructured offense. That keeps them positioned firmly at WR2 status.

 

3. There was a reason for optimism regarding Philadelphia’s aerial attack during the offseason. The Eagles had ranked 11th in passing during 2019 (239.6 yards per game) while Carson Wentz overcame multiple injuries at wide receiver to finish at QB7. The team had also invested a first-round draft selection on Jalen Reagor, who would join a healthy DeSean Jackson in providing an explosive downfield element to the offense. But after four weeks, Philadelphia ranks 27th in passing (207.5 yards per game), Wentz is 16th in scoring. and he just operated with Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, and fifth-round pick John Hightower as his primary wide receiving targets during the team’s Week 4 matchup in San Francisco.

Attention has been focused on the puzzling but consistent struggles of Wentz who is fourth overall in passing attempts (160) but is also 14th in completions (97), and just 28th in completion percentage 60.6. He has also constructed a nightmarish 4-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio, while also plunging to just 33rd in both Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and also in Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). But Ward has emerged as Philadelphia’s current WR1, after pacing the team in targets (18), receptions (12), and receiving yards (110) during the last two contests. That target total places him seventh overall among all receivers during that span, while his numbers during that two-game sequence have also propelled him to the team lead in each category after four weeks (26 targets/18 receptions/146 yards).

Hightower had performed on just 10% of Philadelphia's offensive snaps in Week 2, but he has averaged 82.5% during the team’s last two matchups (79%/86%). However, that percentage will decline significantly after Reagor, Jackson, and Alshon Jeffery have resurfaced. Reagor averaged 12 yards per target while providing a glimpse of his ability to function as a dynamic vertical weapon in Weeks 1-2. But his thumb injury will keep him cemented to the sideline until at least Week 7. The 33-year-old Jackson was leading Philadelphia's wide receivers in snaps (120) and snap count percentage (52.2) before a hamstring issue sidelined him in Week 4. But he still presents a mixture of health concerns with the occasional productive outing.  Jeffery has yet to play a down following LisFranc surgery and has failed to demonstrate any reasonable form of reliability during the majority of his career. These factors could combine to warrant WR3/flex usage of Ward even after Jackson and Jeffery reemerge.

 

4. Many of you have been contending with uncomfortable roster decisions as a number of starting receivers have been sidelined by injuries. The absence of high-profile receivers has been particularly challenging when fantasy GMs attempt to locate alternative players for their lineups. However, there are also wide receivers that are experiencing a surge in usage and production as the result of the injuries. This elevates them into consideration as potential solutions to any difficult roster situations – even though several of these options may not be widely known.

Greg Ward has been mentioned in this section, and he is included in this collection of receivers that are rising in relevance. Tim Patrick was originally signed by Baltimore as an undrafted free agent in 2017. However, he did not enter the field until 2018. He averaged 7.5 targets and 60.5 yards per game from Weeks 13-17 before descending into irrelevance until Week 4. Patrick collected six of seven targets and generated a career-high 113 yards while averaging 18.8 yards per reception against the Jets. Injuries to K.J. Hamler and Noah Fant have combined with the absence of Courtland Sutton to create a path for Patrick to seize a consistent role in Denver’s depleted offense. He has the size (6’4”, 210-pound) and sufficient speed to operate efficiently on the perimeter while Jerry Jeudy functions predominantly in the slot.

Isaiah Ford is a seventh-round draft pick who entered 2020 with career totals of 36 targets, 24 receptions, and 244 yards. But he has overtaken Preston Williams as Miami’s WR2 and can provide a boost for anyone who is searching for flex options in deeper leagues. Ford is currently second on the Dolphins in targets (26) and target share (18.4) and is also third in receptions (15), receiving yards (151) air yards (200), and percentage share of air yards (20.1). Williams has caught just six of his 17 targets and has only manufactured 89 yards after four contests. He has also plunged to fifth in team target share 12.1, while Ford also attained a higher snap share than Williams in Week 4 (63% /61%).

Darnell Mooney was selected by Chicago in the fifth round of last April's Draft after he delivered a blazing 4.38 in the 40-yard dash during the NFL combine. His snap share has risen steadily from 34% during the Bears season opener to a season-high 74% in Week 4. That has improved his overall snap share to 58%, which is higher than the 52% of third-year receiver Anthony Miller. Mooney's target total has also elevated to the season season-high nine that he collected in Week 4 (3/3/5/9).

Mooney is now second only to Allen Robinson among Chicago wide receivers in targets (20), target share (13.0), receptions (13), and receiving yards (145). Miller has been a perpetual disappointment while Mooney's stock is on the rise. His current shoulder issue should be monitored, his prospects for delivering expanding target and yardage totals as the season progresses are legitimate.

 

5. The situation surrounding Atlanta’s trio of wide receivers has transformed dramatically after their seasons began with a promising sequence in September. Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage were in a three-way tie for fifth in targets (12) following the Falcons’ season opener and were also tied for fourth with nine receptions. Jones was leading the NFL in receiving yards (157) while Ridley was fourth (130), and Gage was tied for sixth (114). Jones and Ridley were both among the top five in air yards, as they entered Week 2.

But the situation began to degenerate due to Jones’ protracted hamstring issue. He only caught two of his four targets in Week 2, then was sidelined during Atlanta’s Week 3 matchup with Chicago. However, Ridley did surge to the league lead in touchdowns (4), receiving yards (239), and first downs (16), and was fourth in targets (22) and third in receptions (16). Gage was eighth in targets (21), sixth in receptions (16), and third in first downs (12) while contributing to the team’s aerial attack from the slot.

But Gage encountered his own statistical decline in Week 3 when a concussion limited him to 12 snaps. Ridley was still able to commandeer a double-digit target total for the third consecutive week (13). He was the top point per game scorer, surged to the league lead in air yards (599), and was also second in receptions for first downs. Despite pregame concerns regarding the health of each receiver, Matt Ryan began the team’s Week 4 matchup with Jones, Ridley, and Gage in the lineup. However, the ever-changing outcomes for Falcon receivers shifted once again in Week 4, as Olamide Zaccheaus led the team in snap share (76%), targets (9), receptions (8), and receiving yards (86). Jones’ lingering hamstring issue prevented him from finishing the contest, while Ridley shockingly failed to garner any of his five targets.

Anyone with the Falcons’ primary receivers on their rosters has now been forced to remain flexible with their expectations. Ridley’s latest performance resulted in a drastic decline from his recent production and is likely an aberration. But it is uncertain how long Jones will be impacted by his injury. Anyone with Jones on their rosters can add Zaccheaus, as his role will temporarily expand.



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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 5

Some of you were forced to contend with significant injuries to your running backs during the matchups of Week 4, while others experienced frustrating output and inconsistent patterns of usage. The sudden bye weeks for Tennessee, and Pittsburgh, also created unexpected challenges for anyone with Derrick Henry, or James Conner. Uncertainty surrounding the status of New England's matchup with Kansas City also caused fantasy GMs with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, or any Patriot backs on their rosters to consider lineup changes. These situations have provided a reminder that all managers will need to remain extremely flexible because player availability could be altered at any time during this unique season.

We now progress into planning for Week 5, which includes the onset of eight weeks with scheduled byes. This is the designated bye week for both Detroit and Green Bay, which ensures that anyone with Aaron Jones, Adrian Peterson, or D’Andre Swift on their rosters will have to avoid starting those backs this week. It also will provide managers with an additional factor that could fuel your interest in locating alternative options on the waiver wire.

These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing and progressing to runners for fantasy GMs that are struggling with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. After you've finished this breakdown, you can also find news updates and data-fueled analysis that is designed to help you maximize the scoring potential of your rosters.

 

Running Back Leaderboard

Week 4 Rushing Leaders Team Attempts Yards YPC TDs
Joe Mixon Cincinnati 25 151 6 2
Dalvin Cook Minnesota 27 130 4.8 2
Ronald Jones II Tampa Bay 20 111 5.6 0
Melvin Gordon Denver 23 107 4.7 2
D'Ernest Johnson Cleveland 13 95 7.3 0
Mike Davis Carolina 16 84 5.3 1
Alvin Kamara New Orleans 19 83 4.4 1
Chris Carson Seattle 16 80 5 2
James Robinson Jacksonville 17 75 4.4 0
Kareem Hunt Cleveland 11 71 6.5 2
Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis 17 68 4 0
Latavius Murray New Orleans 14 64 4.6 2


Frontrunners - Week 5 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the options that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR formats than standard. All players have 60% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues.

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

37% rostered

Kenyan Drake entered Week 5 at just RB28 in points per game scoring, even though he had been averaging 19.7 touches per game. He had also been averaging 79.7 total yards per game but was primed for an enticing matchup with Carolina. The Panthers' run defense had already surrendered 345 yards and seven touchdowns to opposing runners - including 196 yards and five touchdowns to Josh Jacobs and Leonard Fournette. But Drake could only manufacture 35 yards on 13 attempts (2.7 yards per attempt) and failed to register a target against the Panthers.

Expectations had been lofty for Drake after many fantasy GMs had invested their first-round selections on the 26-year old back. But his lackluster production could open an enormous runway for Edmonds to seize an expanded workload. Edmonds capitalized on his nine touches in Carolina by generating 40 total yards and a touchdown. He has already cemented his status as a viable insurance policy for anyone with Drake on their rosters. But Edmonds also possesses the potential to emerge as a highly productive weekly starter if Drake is sidelined by injury or the Cardinals remove his feature-back responsibilities.

 

Joshua Kelley / Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

Kelley - 54% rostered / Jackson - 5% rostered 

Kelley had attained a 36% snaps share and was 15th overall with 43 rushing attempts entering Week 4. That included a whopping 22 carries that he collected in Week 2. He had also accumulated nine red zone carries, while also generating 167 yards. All of those numbers stood in contrast to Jackson, who had been involved in just 11 snaps from Weeks 1-3 while contending with a quad injury. However, both backs are worthy of targeting on your waiver wire, due to the expected absence of Austin Ekeler.

 

 

More details will be revealed by Ekeler’s scheduled MRI. But it appears that he will be unavailable for multiple weeks. Touches should be distributed to both Kelley and Jackson while Ekeler is sidelined. This elevates each back into flex consideration, for anyone who has been impacted by injuries or discouraging performances from your current stable of backs.  Kelley is available in nearly half of all leagues, while Jackson can be located on the waiver wire in 95% of all leagues.

 

D'Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns

1% rostered

Johnson played collegiately at South Florida, was originally signed by the Saints, and also played for the Orlando Apollos of the AAF (Alliance of American Football). He dwelled far outside the fantasy radar during that sequence and remained there while accumulating 92 total yards for Cleveland in 2019. But Johnson skyrocketed into relevance after becoming a critical resource for the Browns during their Week 4 matchup in Dallas. Johnson exploded for 95 yards on 13 attempts (7.3 yards per attempt) after Nick Chubb was sidelined by a leg injury.

Kareem Hunt generated 71 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys. But he has been contending with a groin issue, which presented Johnson with the opportunity to become involved in the Browns’ ground game. Hunt will operate as Cleveland’s lead back while Chubb is on injured reserve. But Johnson should also sustain a role in the Browns' backfield while functioning as a starter for fantasy GMs. That has elevated Johnson near the top of this week’s waiver priorities.

 

In The Running - Week 5 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds.

Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos

52% rostered

Lindsay rushed for 24 yards on seven attempts before exiting Denver’s season opener with a turf toe issue. He has been sidelined since the injury occurred but appears primed to reemerge when the Broncos visit New England on Sunday. His workload might be managed initially, and Melvin Gordon was signed by John Elway to function as the team’s primary back. However, Lindsay’s return will prevent Gordon from approaching the massive touch total that he attained against the Jets in Week 4 (25/62% snap share).

Lindsay’s presence did not deter Elway from infusing Gordon into the backfield. But Lindsay should still collect a respectable number of touches. He became the first undrafted back to generate 1,000+ yards in consecutive seasons. That includes 2019, when he finished 16th in attempts (224), 14th in rushing yards (1,011), and averaged 4.5 per attempt. Anyone who is contending with running back issues due to injuries, substandard production, or the arrival of bye weeks, should seize Lindsay from their waiver wire this week.

 

Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints

60% rostered

Murray is making his initial appearance of the season in this column, as his availability has gradually increased to exactly 40% of all leagues.  He garnered 12+ rushing attempts during three of the Saints’ first four matchups (12/15/14) and generated 184 yards during those contests. He also accrued 62 yards during New Orleans’ victory at Detroit, while also producing his first two touchdowns of the season.

However, these favorable numbers do not even present the most compelling reason to target Murray for your roster. The seventh-year back is still included within the select group of backups that can ascend into RB1 status if their responsibilities would suddenly expand. Murray commandeered lead back duties in Weeks 7-8 last season while Alvin Kamara was sidelined (ankle), and assembled 221 yards and three touchdowns. He also led all backs in scoring during that sequence and remains capable of accumulating sizable yardage if Kamara is absent during the season. This provides an incentive for anyone with Kamara on their rosters to secure Murray. It also supplies motivation for anyone else to stash him this week.

 

Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions

58% rostered

The addition of Peterson appeared to create an extra layer of congestion to Detroit’s backfield committee. But despite the ongoing potential of fluctuating workloads for Peterson, Kerryon Johnson, and rookie D’Andre Swift, Peterson has consistently been entrusted with the majority of touches by Detroit’s offensive decision-makers. He has paced the Lions in carries during three of their four matchups while being allotted at least 11 attempts during those games. Swift has been deployed primarily as a pass-catcher (16 targets/13 receptions), while Kerryon Johnson has been relegated to only minuscule involvement.

Peterson now leads Detroit's backfield in rushing attempts (54) and rushing yardage (245). That includes his workload (33 carries) and output (111 yards) during the Lions’ last two matchups, as Peterson continues to perform as the team's lead back. He is also averaging 4.8 yards per attempt while continuing to display efficiency and resilience that defy his age. He can function in the flex for fantasy GMs, although you will need to wait until after Detroit’s Week 5 back to use him.

 

Dark Horses - Week 5 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you are willing to wait for the possibility of a larger role during the year, or consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

39% rostered

Mattison’s presence in this weekly column has been consistent since he became the direct backup to Dalvin Cook. That is due to a combination of his continued availability in the majority of leagues, and the massive production that he could deliver if he suddenly inherits Minnesota’s lead back duties for any reason. Cook’s extensive workload has placed him fourth overall with 75 carries, while he has soared to the league lead in rushing yardage (424) and touchdowns (6). Mattison’s role as Minnesota’s RB2 has resulted in an average of six attempts per game. 

 

 

However, he has accrued 107 yards (4.6 per attempt) during his four contests and scored his first touchdown of the season during the Vikings’ Week 4 matchup in Houston. Cook is entrenched as the foundation of Minnesota’s offense. But Mattison would instantly absorb a heavy workload if Cook would be sidelined for any reason. If that scenario develops, Mattison would vault into RB1 candidacy for anyone who has secured him for their rosters.

 

Damien Harris, New England Patriots

26% rostered

The second-year back is now healthy after undergoing pinkie surgery in early September. He had performed impressively during training camp and was a strong candidate to seize an expanded role within the Patriots’ congested backfield prior to that issue. Harris returned to practice last week, which launched a 21-day period in which New England can activate him to their 53-man roster.

If he resurfaces for the Patriots' matchup in Kansas City as expected, he will be blended into a mix that will also include Rex Burkhead, and James White – who will also reemerge after his absence from the team. Sony Michel will be sidelined with a quad injury this week, as it remains difficult to generate a specific forecast concerning the touch distribution between New England’s backfield options, Harris did commandeer a large percentage of reps during training camp. Managers have an opportunity to secure him this week before he gains greater popularity as a roster addition.

 

Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams

43% rostered

Brown’s availability had steadily decreased as managers responded to Darrell Henderson’s recent statistical explosion. The second-year back had ignited for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries (6.25 per attempt) in Weeks 2-3 while Brown had amassed 66 yards on 18 attempts during that span. However, even though Henderson had appeared to have commandeered lead back responsibilities following his recent surge, he only carried eight times in Week 4 and manufactured just 22 yards (2.8 per attempt).

Brown led the Rams with nine carries and generated 37 yards (4.1 per attempt). Brown also collected five of his six targets, as managers were reminded that the touch distribution between LA’s running backs can easily fluctuate under Sean McVay. Attempting to navigate the potential usage for both Brown and Henderson will become even more cumbersome whenever Cam Akers overcomes his rib injury. But Brown can still present fantasy GMs with a viable flex option. That should persuade you to secure him if he is available in your leagues.

 

Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure a running back with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions 

28% rostered   

Detroit’s deployment of a second-round selection on Swift during last April’s NFL Draft was an indication that Johnson’s tenure as the Lions’ lead back was reaching a conclusion. Then, the team’s decision to sign Adrian Peterson in early September accelerated Johnson’s decline in usage. Peterson’s domination of rushing attempts and his ability to take advantage of his opportunities have separated him from Johnson – who has failed to surpass a 32% snap share in any of Detroit’s four contests.

Johnson has been allotted just 21 attempts during that sequence. He has also carried just six times during the Lions’ last two matchups and has manufactured just 25 yards during that sequence. While Swift has not been highly involved in the offense, that is destined to change. An expanded workload for the rookie would combine with Peterson’s sizable touch total to solidify the massive constraints on Johnson’s workload. This removes any reason for managers to retain him on their rosters.

 

Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins

43% rostered

Howard’s weekly yardage totals have not even matched his surprisingly low touch totals. But he has inexplicably remained entrenched on rosters in over 40% of all leagues. Despite offseason expectations that Howard would function as the Dolphins’ primary back, he has carried the ball just 18 times. He has also failed to average even 1.0 yards per attempt (0.8) while manufacturing an anemic 14 yards. He did register his first reception of the season in Week 4, but he also lost three yards on that catch.

Myles Gaskin has confiscated Miami’s lead back duties (66 touches/305 total yards), and it is highly unlikely that Howard will reestablish any beneficial form of relevance. This renders him incapable of providing managers with fantasy points unless he is able to produce a touchdown near the end zone. That eliminates any reason for starting him, while also eviscerating the likelihood that he will ever function as a reliable option for your roster. This should provide the incentive for fantasy GMs to remove Howard. It will also supply the opportunity to locate an alternative option that will deliver yardage and points.

 

Matt Breida, Miami Dolphins

30% rostered

Gaskin’s ability to perform effectively in his new role as the Dolphins’ primary back has also presented fantasy GMs with enormous motivation to extract Breida from their rosters. Gaskin has now averaged 48 rushing yards during Miami’s four contests, while also capturing 18 of his 20 targets. This has solidified his status as the Dolphins' lead back while elevating him to a favorable location within the fantasy landscape.

However, the forecast for Breida is less favorable. He has now been relegated to 18 carries since the season opener while assembling only 72 yards. That includes his minimal involvement in Weeks 3-4 when Breida was allotted just six attempts and managed just 13 yards on the ground. Breida’s snap share has also failed to exceed 22% in any of the Dolphins’ matchups. There is no rationale for believing that Breida’s workload will expand, which leaves no incentive to keep him on your rosters.



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Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 3 Analysis

Your wide receivers remain essential components toward your primary goal of securing league championships. As this unique regular season continues to unfold, an expanding assortment of tools is available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge regarding this critical position. Those results are contained in this weekly statistical breakdown of multiple categories, which is designed to help you fulfill your championship aspirations.

This will be the third installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, first downs, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a compilation of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. This massive collection of data supplies the foundation from which the numbers that are generated in various categories can be evaluated.

As the season progresses noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, PFF, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

 

Week 3 Target Leaders

Wide Receivers Targets Targ/Game Yards/Targ
DeAndre Hopkins 37 12.3 9.6
Keenan Allen 37 12.3 7.2
Amari Cooper 35 11.7 7.6
Calvin Ridley 35 11.7 10
Allen Robinson 31 10.3 7.4
Tyler Lockett 29 9.7 8.9
Stefon Diggs 28 9.3 10.3
A.J. Green 28 9.3 4.1
Tyler Boyd 26 8.7 8.8
D.J. Moore 26 8.7 9.2
Diontae Johnson 25 8.3 6
Terry McLaurin 25 8.3 10.8
Jerry Jeudy 24 8 7.2
Russell Gage 24 8 7.8
Robby Anderson 24 8 11.6
Julian Edelman 24 8 10.8
Tyreek Hill 23 7.7 9.7
Odell Beckham Jr. 22 7.3 7
Darius Slayton 22 7.3 8.5
D.K. Metcalf 22 7.3 13.5
N'Keal Harry 22 7.3 6.6
Cooper Kupp 21 7 10.9
Adam Thielen 21 7 8.1
CeeDee Lamb 21 7 11
DeSean Jackson 20 6.7 6.1
Cole Beasley 20 6.7 11.4
Adam Humphries 20 6.7 6.8
Davante Adams 20 10 9.6
Sammy Watkins 20 6.7 7.8
Robert Woods 19 6.3 10.2
Corey Davis 19 6.3 10.8
JuJu Smith-Schuster 19 6.3 8.4
Greg Ward 19 6.3 5.7
Michael Gallup 19 6.3 12.9
Mike Evans 18 6 6
Brandin Cooks 18 6 7.7
Danny Amendola 18 6 6.7
John Brown 18 6 8.4
Marquise Brown 18 6 8.7
DeVante Parker 17 5.7 9.9
T.Y. Hilton 17 5.7 7.8
Marvin Jones 17 5.7 7.6
Allen Lazard 17 5.7 14.9
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 17 5.7 9.7
Keelan Cole 17 5.7 8.7
Kendrick Bourne 16 5.3 10.3
Julio Jones 16 8 11.3
Dontrelle Inman 16 5.3 4.8
Isaiah Ford 16 5.3 6.4
Chris Conley 16 5.3 5.5
Will Fuller 15 5 11.1
Chris Hogan 15 5 5
Larry Fitzgerald 15 5 5.6
James Washington 15 5 6.1
Tee Higgins 15 5 5
Justin Jefferson 15 5 16.3

DeAndre Hopkins is currently leading the NFL in targets for a second consecutive week. However, Keenan Allen vaulted into a first-place tied with the former Texan after stockpiling 19 targets during the Chargers’ Week 3 matchup with Carolina. Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley are tied for third (35), followed by Allen Robinson (31), Tyler Lockett (29), Stefon Diggs (28), A.J. Green (28), Green’s teammate Tyler Boyd (26), and D. J. Moore completing the top 10 with 26.

Terry McLaurin and Diontae Johnson have each collected 25 targets, followed by four receivers that are tied with 24 after their first three matchups – Robby Anderson, Julian Edelman, Russell Gage, and Jerry Jeudy. Tyreek Hill is next with 23, while Odell Beckham Jr., Darius Slayton, D.K. Metcalf and N’Keal Harry have all captured 22 targets. Cooper Kupp, Adam Thielen, and CeeDee Lamb have all been targeted 21 times, while DeSean Jackson (20), Cole Beasley (20), Adam Humphries (20), Sammy Watkins (20), and Davante Adams (20) are also on the list of 29 wide receivers that have been targeted at least 20 times through Week 3.

Ridley is the only wide receiver that has eclipsed double digits during all three of his matchups (12/10/13). Hopkins (16/12), Allen (10/19), Cooper (14/12), and Johnson (10/13) are the only other receivers that have collected at least 10 targets in two different matchups. Robinson, Lockett, Kupp, Boyd, and Greg Ward all attained a double-digit total for the first time this season. Rookie Quintez Cephus was one of 12 wide receivers to collect at least 10 targets in Week 1. But he was not targeted during Detroit’s Week 3 encounter with Arizona.

 

Largest Weekly Changes

Wide Receivers  Week 2 Week 3 Weekly Changes
Greg Ward 1 11 10
Keenan Allen 10 19 9
Kenny Golladay 0 7 7
Cedrick Wilson 0 7 7
KeeSean Johnson 0 7 7
Justin Jefferson 3 9 6
Hunter Renfrow 3 9 6
Chris Godwin 0 6 6
Isaiah Wright 0 6 6
Tyler Lockett 8 13 5
Tyler Boyd 8 13 5
Sammy Watkins 3 8 5
Will Fuller 0 5 5
Brandon Aiyuk 3 8 5
Olamide Zaccheaus 1 6 5
Allen Robinson 9 13 4
Cooper Kupp 6 10 4
Michael Gallup 5 9 4
KJ Hill 0 4 4
Brandon Powell 0 4 4
Robby Anderson 10 6 -4
John Brown 6 2 -4
Larry Fitzgerald 7 3 -4
Braxton Berrios 8 4 -4
Van Jefferson 5 1 -4
Steven Sims 4 0 -4
Julian Edelman 11 6 -5
Tyreek Hill 11 6 -5
DeSean Jackson 9 4 -5
Chris Hogan 8 3 -5
Mike Evans 10 4 -6
Damiere Byrd 9 3 -6
Josh Malone 6 0 -6
Stefon Diggs 13 6 -7
A.J. Green 13 6 -7
Isaiah Ford 9 2 -7
N'Keal Harry 12 4 -8
D.J. Moore 13 4 -9
Diontae Johnson 13 2 -11

Allen easily led all receivers in targets during Week 3, as the 19 passes that he collected were six more than any other player. His Week 3 target total also tied his career-high which was originally established in Week 13 of 2018. Allen’s usage and production with Justin Herbert under center will be examined further in the 5 Things I Noticed section.

Ridley, Robinson, Lockett, and Boyd all received 13 targets during their Week 3  matchups, while Cooper and Hopkins collected 12. Greg Ward’s 11 targets established a new career-best, as the second-year receiver’s previous high (9) was achieved twice during his 2019 rookie season (Weeks 14/15). Cooper Kupp was the only other receiver who collected at least 10 targets in Week 3. Hunter Renfrow, Michael Gallup, and a trio of rookies - Jerry Jeudy, Justin Jefferson, and Tee Higgins - all garnered nine targets. McLaurin, Metcalf, newcomer Brandon Aiyuk, Allen Lazard, and Chris Conley all captured eight targets during their Week 3 matchups.

 

Ward had entered Week 3 with a season total of eight targets and had been only targeted once in Week 2. That resulted in the largest week to week increase among all receivers in Week 3 (+10).  Allen’s rise of +9 placed him directly behind Ward, while Kenny Golladay made his season debut and collected seven targets. Cedric Wilson and Keesean Johnson also performed for the first time in Week 3 and matched Golladay's rise of +7.  Jefferson, Renfro, and Chris Godwin all attained an increase of +6, while Lockett, Boyd, Aiyuk, and Will Fuller expanded their weekly totals by +5.

All fantasy GM’s who have Johnson on their rosters are already aware that he experienced a concussion when Pittsburgh hosted the Texans. He left the contest during the second quarter after capturing two targets. Otherwise, it is highly unlikely that Johnson’s week to week decline of -11 would have transpired. D.J. Moore’s weekly drop of -9 is more concerning since he was involved in 88% of the Panthers’ offensive snaps.

N’Keal Harry was only targeted four times when the Patriots faced Las Vegas. This resulted in a decline of -8 after he had attained a career-best 12 targets in Week 2. A.J. Green and Stefon Diggs both experienced a drop of -7 after each receiver had been targeted 13 times in Week 2, then collected six targets in Week 3. The weekly totals for Mike Evans, Damiere Byrd, Josh Malone, and Russell Gage all declined by -6. However, Gage’s week to week reduction was also injury-related (concussion). The weekly totals for Edelman, DeSean Jackson, Tyreek Hill, and Chris Hogan all declined by -5.

 

Week 3 Yards-Per-Target

Justin Jefferson skyrocketed into the league lead with a 16.3 yards per target average. D.J. Chark (15.6) remains second despite missing his Week 3 matchup, followed by Allen Lazard (14.9), Gabriel Davis (14.3), Josh Reynolds (13.8), Randall Cobb (13.6), D.K. Metcalf (13.5), Michael Gallup (12.9), and Steven Sims (12.9) completing the top 10 at 12.9. Marquise Brown and Scott Miller are tied with an average of 11.9, followed by Robby Anderson (11.6), Cole Beasley (11.4), Julio Jones (11.3), and five wide receivers that are averaging 11+ - Chris Godwin, Will Fuller, David Moore, CeeDee Lamb, and Jarvis Landry. Cooper Kupp and Terry McLaurin spearhead a group of nine wide receivers that have attained a yards-per- target average of 10+.

 

Week 3 Air Yards

Wide Receivers Air Yards  Comp AY Team % AY aDOT
Calvin Ridley 559 305 41.9 16.9
A.J. Green 373 93 34.2 13.3
D.K. Metcalf 372 237 48.4 16.9
Adam Thielen 353 160 45.5 16.8
Amari Cooper 348 193 32.2 9.9
DeSean Jackson 348 105 33.2 17.4
Keenan Allen 342 149 38.6 9.2
Allen Robinson 340 148 30.8 11
D.J. Moore 332 211 48.9 12.8
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 313 120 33.1 18.4
Michael Gallup 312 189 28.9 16.4
Julian Edelman 293 199 52.3 12.2
Stefon Diggs 289 230 30 10.3
Odell Beckham Jr. 287 116 41.8 13.7
Jerry Jeudy 286 105 27 11.9
John Brown 278 121 28.9 15.4
Julio Jones 277 144 20.7 16.3
Tyler Lockett 267 205 34.8 9.2
Darius Slayton 265 169 35.7 12
Tyreek Hill 263 150 33.3 11.4
Diontae Johnson 252 82 31.6 9.7
Anthony Miller 252 108 22.8 18
Terry McLaurin 248 88 31.9 9.9
Mike Williams 243 85 27.4 17.4
DeAndre Hopkins 238 188 29 6.4
T.Y. Hilton 224 98 35.7 13.2
Scotty Miller 220 135 27.1 15.7
Brandin Cooks 213 91 27.7 11.8
Chris Conley 210 47 27.3 13.1
Robby Anderson 208 151 30.6 8.7
Allen Lazard 208 153 22 12.2

Calvin Ridley leads all receivers with 559 air yards, followed by A.J. Green (373), D. K. Metcalf (372), Adam Thielen (353), Amari Cooper (348), DeSean Jackson (348), Keenan Allen (342), Allen Robinson (340), D.J. Moore (332), and Marques Valdes-Scantling (313) completing the top 10. Michael Gallup (312), Julian Edelman (293), Stefon Diggs (289), Odell Beckham (287), Jerry Jeudy (286), John Brown (278), Julio Jones (277), Tyler Lockett (267), Darius Slayton (265), Tyreek Hill (263), Diontae Johnson (252) and Anthony Miller (252), have all eclipsed 250 air yards. 

Valdes-Scantling is currently the league leader in targeted air yards (18.4), followed by Anthony Miller (17.8), Thielen (17.7), Gallup (17.6), Jackson (16.8),  and Jones (16.7), while Metcalf and Ridley are tied at 16.5. Mike Williams is next (16.2) followed by K.J. Hamler (15.6), Scott Miller (15.6), the emerging Tee Higgins (15.1), and three receivers that are tied at 14.8 - John Brown, Mecole Hardman 14.8, and Chase Claypool. Beckham (14.2), and Marquise Brown 14.1 complete the top 20 in this category.

 

Julian Edelman leads all wide receivers in percentage share of air yards (51.2) for the second consecutive week. Moore is second overall (48.9), followed by Metcalf (48.4), Thielen (45.5), Ridley (41.9), Beckham (41.8), Allen (40.7), Marquise Brown (38.9), and Lockett (36.8), with both Slayton and T.Y. Hilton tied with 35.7. Hill is next (38.4),  followed by McLaurin (33.6), Green (33.3), Cooper (32.3), Valdes-Scantling (32.2), and Jackson (32.0). Four additional wide receivers have eclipsed a percentage of 30+ - Robby Anderson, Michael Gallup, Kendrick Bourne, and Stefon Diggs.

 

Week 3 First Downs

Wide Receivers First Downs
DeAndre Hopkins 21
Calvin Ridley 19
Tyler Boyd 17
Keenan Allen 16
Tyler Lockett 14
Cooper Kupp 14
Russell Gage 14
Stefon Diggs 13
Julian Edelman 13
Corey Davis 13
Terry McLaurin 12
D.J. Moore 12
Amari Cooper 12
Sammy Watkins 12
Allen Lazard 11
Robby Anderson 11
Allen Robinson 11
CeeDee Lamb 11
Tyreek Hill 11
JuJu Smith-Schuster 10
Davante Adams 10
Keelan Cole 10
Darius Slayton 10
Justin Jefferson 10
DeVante Parker 10
Cole Beasley 10

Calvin Ridley leads all wide receivers in first downs after the matchups of Weeks 1 and 2. However, DeAndre Hopkins has now advanced beyond him into the league lead (21). Ridley is second (19), followed by Tyler Boyd (17), Keenan Allen (16), and three receivers that are all tied with 14 receptions for first downs -  Cooper Kupp, Tyler Lockett, and Russell Gage. Corey Davis, Julian Edelman, and Stefon Diggs are all tied with 13, while Terry McLaurin, D.J. Moore, Sammy Watkins, and Amari Cooper have all captured 12 receptions for first downs. A group of six receivers is tied with 11 - Allen Lazard, Tyreek Hill, Robby Anderson, CeeDee Lamb, Sammy Watkins, and Allen Robinson, while a collection of seven receivers have all caught 10 receptions for first downs - DeVante Parker, Davante Adams, Keelan Cole, Darius Slaton, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cole Beasley, and rookie Justin Jefferson.

 

Week 3 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5
Calvin Ridley 6 3 2
N'Keal Harry 6 2 0
DeAndre Hopkins 5 2 1
Stefon Diggs 5 2 2
Keenan Allen 5 1 0
Russell Gage 5 2 0
Emmanuel Sanders 5 3 2
Robby Anderson 4 1 0
Tyler Lockett 4 3 3
Julian Edelman 4 2 1
Cole Beasley 4 4 2
Darius Slayton 4 3 2
Anthony Miller 4 1 1
Tee Higgins 4 2 2
Terry McLaurin 3 0 0
Allen Robinson 3 1 0
Cooper Kupp 3 0 0
Davante Adams 3 2 2
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 3 0 0
JuJu Smith-Schuster 3 2 0
Sammy Watkins 3 3 1
John Brown 3 2 1
Chris Godwin 3 2 1
Hunter Renfrow 3 0 0
Adam Humphries 3 0 0
Marvin Jones 3 1 1
Mike Evans 3 3 3
David Moore 3 1 0
Preston Williams 3 2 2
Zach Pascal 3 2 1
Trent Taylor 3 1 0

 

Calvin Ridley joins second-year receiver N'Keal Harry in leading their position with six red zone targets. Five receivers have all collected five targets - Hopkins, Diggs, Allen, Gage, and Emmanuel Sanders, while eight receivers have captured four targets inside the 20 - Anderson, Lockett, Edelman, Slaton, Higgins, Cole Beasley, Watkins, and Anthony Miller. 13 different receivers have received three targets inside the 20, including McLaurin, Robinson, Kupp, and Evans.

Beasley leads all wide receivers with four targets inside the 10 while six other receivers have captured three - Ridley, Lockett, Slaton, Watkins, Evans, and Sanders. Evans and Lockett also lead the position with three targets inside the five.

 

Week 3 Snap Counts

Wide Receivers Week 3 Snaps  Total Snaps Total Snap %
Keenan Allen 75/96.2 226 96.17
Michael Gallup 70/85.3 214 90.68
DeAndre Hopkins 61/93.9 213 95.09
Amari Cooper 65/79.3 208 88.14
D.K. Metcalf 73/96.1 197 98.01
Calvin Ridley 63/92.7 194 87.39
Tyler Lockett 74/97.4 192 95.52
Stefon Diggs 61/98.4 191 90.95
Terry McLaurin 64/98.5 191 95.02
Allen Lazard 59/95.2 188 88.26
Tyreek Hill 60/80 188 85.07
Tyler Boyd 54/75 187 80.6
Robert Woods 67/97.1 187 88.63
Marvin Jones 61/91.0 185 90.69
Damiere Byrd 66/95.7 184 89.76
Cooper Kupp 62/89.9 183 86.73
Larry Fitzgerald 56/86.2 182 81.25
Mike Evans 61/89.7 179 89.95
CeeDee Lamb 48/59.8 176 74.58
JuJu Smith-Schuster 58/72.5 172 82.3
Mike Williams 40/51.3 172 73.19
Corey Davis 55/73.3 171 78.44
Allen Robinson 64/78.1 170 80.19
D.J. Moore 45/88.2 168 87.96
Darius Slayton 51/98.1 167 90.27
John Brown 29/46.8 166 79.05
Kendrick Bourne 64/83.1 166 83
Sammy Watkins 65/86.7 165 74.66
Chris Hogan 51/79.7 161 87.03
Zach Pascal 56/93.3 161 77.78
Adam Thielen 61/93.9 159 92.98
Tre'Quan Smith 61/100 158 83.6
N'Keal Harry 46/66.7 158 77.07
A.J. Green 55/76.4 157 67.67
Jalen Guyton 63/80.8 154 65.53
Tim Patrick 53/84.1 153 76.88
Preston Williams 35/57.4 152 76.77
Robby Anderson 40/78.4 149 78.01
DeVante Parker 56/91.8 145 73.23
Julian Edelman 56/81.2 145 70.73
Odell Beckham 51/81 145 74.74

Keenan Allen has ascended into the league lead with 226 offensive snaps after three matchups. Michael Gallup is second overall (214), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (213), Amari Cooper (208), D.K. Metcalf (197), Calvin Ridley (194), Tyler Lockett (192), Stefon Diggs (191), Terry McLaurin (191), and Allen Lazard completing the top 10 (188). Tyler Boyd and Robert Woods are tied at 187, followed by Marvin Jones (185) Damiere Byrd (1840, Cooper Kupp (183), and Larry Fitzgerald (182). Six additional receivers have performed on at least 170 of the team's offensive snaps -Mike Evans, CeeDee Lamb, Juju Smith-Schuster, Mike Williams, Corey Davis, and Allen Robinson.

Metcalf leads the position in offensive snap percentage (98.0), followed by Allen (96.2), Lockett (95.5), Hopkins (95.1), McLaurin (95.0), Thielen (93.0), Diggs (91.0), Marvin Jones (90.7), Gallup (90.7), Darius Slayton (90.3), and Evans (90.0). No other wide receivers have been involved in 90% of the team's offensive snaps. However, Byrd, Tre' Quan Smith, Kendrick Bourne, and Chris Hogan are among the list of 21 receivers that have played on over 80% of their teams' offensive snaps.

The conga line of injuries that has dramatically depleted Philadelphia's receiving weapons has also created opportunities for several other Eagle receivers. Greg Ward will operate as the team's temporary WR1 this week, while rookie John Hightower has also elevated into an expanded role. He also led all wide receivers in offensive snaps during Week 3 (78). Ward was second (76), followed by Allen (75), Lockett (74), Metcalf (73), Gallup (70), Woods (67), Byrd (66), Watkins(65), and Cooper (65). McLaurin, Robinson, and Bourne were next with 64 snaps.

Smith led all wide receivers in snap count percentage in Week 3 by performing on 100% of New Orleans' offensive snaps. McLaurin was second (98.5), followed by Diggs (98.4), Slaton (98.1), Lockett (97.4), Woods (97.1), Allen (96.2), Metcalf (96.1), Byrd (95.7), and Lazard completing the top 10 at (95.2). Hopkins, Thielen, Will Fuller, and Zach Pascal were among the 10 additional wide receivers that were involved in at least 90% of their team's offensive snaps in Week 3.

 

Five Things I Noticed

1. Keenan Allen has thrived with Justin Herbert under center for two consecutive games after Tyrod Taylor spearheaded the Chargers' passing attack during their season opener. Allen was targeted eight times in Week 1 but only collected four of those passes for 37 yards. Taylor only completed 53.3% of his throws, generated 208 yards through the air, and ended the matchup with a quarterback rating of 25.6. His inaccuracy was a factor with Allen’s inability to garner a higher percentage of his targets.

The 28-year old Allen also averaged just 4.63 yards per target during his first game without Philip Rivers, and these results were unsettling for anyone who had secured Allen for their rosters.  But his numbers have improved considerably during two games with Herbert repeatedly launching passes in his direction. Taylor is still recovering from a collapsed lung and could recapture his starting role after he resurfaces with the team.

But Hebert has completed 69.5% of his passes, averaged 320.5 yards per game, and his propensity to target Allen has propelled a significant increase in the veteran receiver’s production. Allen accumulated a league-high 29 targets (14.5 per game) in Weeks 2-3, which is six more than any other receiver. He also leads his position in both receptions (20) and receiving yards (228) during that two-game sequence. Allen is fourth with four receptions of 20+ yards during those contests and has averaged 8.3 yards per target – which is nearly four yards higher than the average that he attained with Taylor guiding the offense.

Allen was also just WR60 in point per game scoring following Week 1. But he has now soared to WR9 and is WR2 behind Tyler Lockett during the combination of Weeks 2-3. Allen has also vaulted to seventh in air yards (342), and percentage share of air yards (38.6), and is second among wide receivers in target share (34.3). Allen also leads the Chargers in red zone targets (5) after collecting three targets inside the 20 during Week 3. He has performed as a high-end WR1 with Herbert as his signal-caller and should continue to flourish if the rookie remains under center.

 

2. A trio of rookie receivers planted themselves securely within the fantasy landscape during their performances in Week 3. Justin Jefferson had only been targeted six times during his first two matchups. But Kirk Cousins launched nine passes in his direction during Minnesota’s Week 3 encounter with Tennessee. This launched Jefferson's statistical explosion (7 receptions/175 yards/1 touchdown) after the former LSU Tiger had entered the game with just five receptions for 70 yards.

 

Jefferson’s yardage total easily led all receivers, while he finished among the top 10 in targets and receptions during Week 3's matchups. Jefferson is now tied with Adam Thielen for the team lead in receptions after three weeks (12), while the first-year receiver has soared to first in yardage (245). He is now fifth among all wide receivers with an average of 20.4 yards per reception and is averaging a league-best 16.3 yards per target among receivers with 10+ targets.

Brandon Aiyuk commandeered a team-high eight targets in his second game with San Francisco and collected five passes for 70 yards. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan had exchanged three draft picks in order to seize Aiyuk at 25th overall pick in last April’s NFL Draft. He had been affixed to the sideline during the team’s season opener (hamstring), while his involvement was limited in Week 2 (3 targets/2 receptions/21 yards). But he tied for 15th in targets during San Francisco’s matchup with the Giants, while operating from the slot on 58% of his offensive plays.

Tee Higgins was targeted nine times by Joe Burrow, which was second to Tyler Boyd’s team-high 13. Higgins also scored his first two touchdowns, while collecting five receptions for 40 yards. The steady progression in his usage and output is encouraging, as his rising snap shares (22%/65%/79%) and his expanding target totals (0/6/9) provide an indication that he has secured WR3 responsibilities behind Boyd and A.J. Green. The Bengals’ decision to relegate John Ross to healthy scratch status also underscores the upward trend in Higgins’ stock.

Jefferson now leads all rookies in receiving yards after his performance. However, Jerry Jeudy has garnered the most targets among rookies (24) while CeeDee Lamb has collected the most receptions (16).

 

3. Odell Beckham Jr.’s ADP of 31 during the recent draft process resulted in the seven-year veteran being selected before a large collection of receivers including five of the top seven scorers in the PPR format - Calvin Ridley, Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, D.K. Metcalf and Keenan Allen. Amari Cooper, Cooper Kupp, D.J. Moore, Robert Woods, Adam Thielen, Terry McLaurin, and JuJu Smith-Schuster are also contained on the lengthy list of receivers that have generated more fantasy points than Beckham after three matchups. 

Beckham is currently 18th in targets (22), but just 40th in receptions (11), and 36th in receiving yards (155). He is also 38th in scoring, as his production through three contests has been a source of frustration for many fantasy GMs that secured him with a third-round investment. However, his numbers are largely a byproduct of Cleveland's redesigned offense under Kevin Stefanski. Cleveland currently ranks 31st in pass play percentage (47.3%), as the Rams are currently the only team that is even less reliant on their aerial efforts (45.9%). When Baker Mayfield, does launch the ball, he is targeting his wide receivers on 54% on his attempts. This ranks just 26th overall.

Beckham is sixth overall in percentage share of air yards (41.8) and is also sixth in team target share (25.2). He collected a season-high 10 targets during Week 1. He also manufactured just 22 yards on three receptions during that matchup, although that can be partially attributed to Mayfield’s inaccuracy. But any optimism surrounding that initial target total has diminished, as Beckham has been targeted six times by Mayfield in both Weeks 2 and 3. His only touchdown of the season occurred on a 43-yard reception, and his unimpressive numbers would be even more problematic if that play had not transpired.

Some discouraged managers have considered trading Beckham. However, he will be the recipient of an enticing matchup this week. Dallas has surrendered seven touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, while also permitting Metcalf (110), Ridley (109), Woods (105), and Lockett (100) to generate 100+ yards. If Stefanski increases Cleveland’s deployment of the pass in order to exploit this matchup, then Beckham could deliver his most productive outing of the season.

 

4. Terry McLaurin has made a seamless progression from his stellar rookie season when his name could be located among the leaders in multiple categories. Washington selected McLaurin with the 76th overall pick in the NFL draft and he immediately became the team's most prolific receiver. McLaurin promptly collected 5 of 7 targets for 125 yards and a touchdown during his NFL debut, and ultimately finished sixth overall in percentage share of air yards (37.09), 10th in yards-per-target average (9.9), and 16th in targeted air yards (14.1). He also finished second in point per game scoring, targets (93/6.6 per game), and receptions (58), among first-year receivers – even though he missed two games due to injuries (Week 4-hamstring/Week 17-concussion).

McLaurin has transitioned fluidly into a revamped offense under new coordinator Scott Turner, without the benefit of normal offseason activities. McLaurin leads all wide receivers in yards after catch (174) and is second in broken tackles (4). He is also sixth overall in receiving yards (269), 11th in targets (25), and 14th in receptions (16). He is also tied for first with six receptions of 20+ yards and is also eighth in yards per reception (16.8). The 25-year old McLaurin has also operated on the perimeter during 74.2% of Washington's offensive plays while providing the team with a dynamic downfield presence.

McLaurin has already proven that he can remain proficient while quarterback Dwayne Haskins continues his learning curve, as Haskins is currently just 32nd in completion percentage (56.4%). Washington's remaining receiving weapons also contains no discernible competitor for targets, as Dontrelle Inman, Steven Sims Isaiah Wright, and rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden remain stationed below McLaurin on the depth chart. If he can sustain achieve sustained health, McLaurin will continue to his steady climb beyond high-end WR2 status.

 

5. Anyone who selected D.J. Chark in Round 5 during their draft process has been contending with disappointment in both his usage and output. He was Jacksonville’s undisputed WR1 at the onset of the season and led the Jaguars in yardage (109) and yards per target (15.6) through Week 2, However, he was just WR34 in point per game scoring and outside the top 70 in targets (7), while Keelan Cole led the Jaguars in targets (12), and receptions (11). He was followed by promising rookie Laviska Shenault (8 targets/6 receptions/72 yards) and Chris Conley (8 targets/5 receptions/54 yards).

But there is a reason for optimism if you invested in Chark, following the results from Week 3 - even though he was sidelined when Jacksonville hosted Miami (chest/back). The Jaguars’ passing attack was ineffective in his absence, while Conley failed to approach Chark’s proficiency as a reliable downfield option for Gardner Minshew.

Conley led the Jaguars in targets during the matchup (8) but only managed three receptions for 34 yards. Shenault collected five of his six targets for 33 yards, while Cole captured four of his six targets for a team-high 43 yards. Cole has now operated in the slot on 84.3% of his offensive plays, and leads Jaguar wide receivers in targets (17) receptions (15), and receiving yards (148). Cole registered his career-high in targets during 2017 (83) but only captured 42 receptions. But his current averages (5.7 targets/5 receptions/49.3 yards per game place him on track to establish new career bests in each category (96 targets/80 receptions/789 yards).

Conley has just one fewer target (16) but has only collected eight passes for 88 yards. His 50.0% catch rate is also the lowest of his career. He averaged a 38.5% snap share in Weeks 1-2 before performing on 80% of Jacksonville’s snaps during Chark’s absence. Shenault has accrued 14 targets, 11 receptions, 105 yards, and his involvement in the offense will rise as the season continues. Cole should remain a viable WR3 for fantasy GMs as the weeks advance, while Conley should be relegated to modest usage following Chark’s return. Chark’s managers can monitor his status, in hopes that he returns for Sunday’s matchup with Cincinnati.



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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 4

The collection of injuries that emerged at the running back position has forced teams throughout the NFL to restructure their backfields. Some offensive units are not operating with the same lead backs that were spearheading their rushing attacks in Week 1, while other franchises created fresh committees to compensate for the loss of their original starters.

Fantasy GMs have also responded to the numerous injuries by transforming their own rosters. Many managers have also been compelled to reassemble their lineups due to concerns with the usage and output of their previous starters. Regardless of why you might be considering your waiver wire options, this article is designed to help you pinpoint the best backs that remain available as we enter planning for Week 4.

These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing and progressing to runners for fantasy GMs that are struggling with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. After you've finished this breakdown, you can also find news updates and data-fueled analysis that is designed to help you maximize the scoring potential of your rosters.

 

Running Back Leaderboard

Week 3 Rushing Leaders Team Attempts Yards YPC TDs
Dalvin Cook Minnesota 22 181 8.2 1
Derrick Henry Tennessee 26 119 4.6 2
Sony Michel New England 9 117 13.0 0
Darrell Henderson LA Rams 20 114 5.7 1
James Conner Pittsburgh 18 109 6.1 1
Nick Chubb Cleveland 19 108 5.7 2
Miles Sanders Philadelphia 18 95 5.3 0
Todd Gurley Atlanta 14 80 5.7 1
Adrian Peterson Detroit 22 75 3.4 0
Kenyan Drake Arizona 18 73 4.1 0
Devin Singletary Buffalo 13 71 5.5 0
Josh Jacobs Las Vegas 16 71 4.4 0

Frontrunners - Week 4 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the options that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR formats than standard. All players have 60% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues.

Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers

22% rostered

The collective absence of Raheem Mostert (MCI sprain) and Tevin Coleman (knee sprain) presented Jerick McKinnon with an opportunity to continue his career rebirth. But it also cleared a path for Wilson’s return to relevance. Both backs combined for 32 touches during San Francisco’s Week 3 matchup with the Giants, as McKinnon accumulated 17 touches and produced 77 total yards and a touchdown. Wilson generated 69 total yards and two touchdowns with his 15 touches, including 54 yards as a receiving weapon.

 

Wilson was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and demonstrated his ability to thrive with a sizable workload from Weeks 12-15 that season (67 touches/314 total yards). Coleman will remain on injured reserve for the immediate future, while the status of Mostert and McKinnon (rib) should be monitored as the week progresses. Wilson remains available in nearly 80% of all leagues and will remain highly involved in the rebuilt 49er backfield if Mostert or McKinnon is absent this week.

 

Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins

45% rostered

The Dolphins reshaped the composition of their backfield during the off-season by signing Jordan Howard and making a trade with San Francisco for Matt Breida. It appeared that Howard would have the opportunity to collect early-down carries, while also functioning as the primary back in the red zone. Breida appeared to present flex appeal, due to his potential to generate significant yardage on any given play. However, those off-season expectations have quickly evaporated as Gaskin has seized control of Miami’s RB1 responsibilities.

 

 

The former seventh-round pick (2019) has now accumulated 152 yards on 38 attempts, while also remaining involved as a pass-catcher (16 targets/15 receptions/91 receiving yards). That includes his 95 total yards on 27 touches during the Dolphins’ Week 3 matchup in Jacksonville. Gaskin also performed on 46 snaps against the Jaguars, while Breida (11) and Howard (4) were repositioned into irrelevance. Gaskin has easily surpassed them on Miami’s depth chart and is now a viable roster addition in all leagues.

 

Carlos Hyde, Seattle Seahawks

18% rostered

Chris Carson has been operating as the Seahawks’ unquestioned RB1. However, that was hardly surprising. He finished fifth overall in both attempts (278) and rushing yardage (1,230), and eclipsed 100 yards in six different contests during 2019. He was leading Seattle running backs in snap share (54.4%), rushing attempts (23), and rushing yardage (93) entering Week 3, and had also accumulated 64 yards on 14 attempts against the Cowboys in Week 3 before a leg issue abruptly ended his day.

His health should be monitored as the week progresses. But Hyde becomes a viable waiver target, due to his status as Carson’s backup. Hyde joined Carson as one of the 15 backs to surpass 1,000 yards (1,070) during 2019 after finishing 11th with 245 attempts - which established new career highs in each category. He has accumulated 83 total yards on 19 touches with Seattle this season and would procure an extensive workload if Carson is unavailable. He should be added by anyone who is searching for an additional running back. Securing him also becomes a top priority if Carson is on your roster.

 

In The Running - Week 4 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds.

Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions 

53% rostered

 

You might be hesitant to depend on a 35-year old back for fantasy points. But if you can expand your thinking to include Peterson’s unique ability and durability, then your comfort level should rise. It can also be beneficial to consider his extensive usage in Week 3, as he commandeered 22 carries. It was the second time in three weeks that Peterson has paced Detroit in rushing attempts, and he now leads the Lions in carries (43), and rushing yards (209) entering Week 4.

Kerryon Johnson was limited to three carries against Arizona and has now accumulated just 62 yards on 18 attempts after three games. D’Andre Swift was relegated to five snaps versus the Cardinals and has now accumulated just eight attempts and 17 touches. Swift’s involvement will eventually rise, while Johnson’s status should be concerning to his managers. But Peterson has performed with enough efficiency to remain the Lions’ primary rusher. This elevates him into flex status for anyone who secures him this week.

 

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

39% rostered

There has been an ongoing discussion within the fantasy industry concerning the viability of using roster spots to retain the backups of your top players. There is a justifiable rationale on both sides of the discussion. But managers that have encountered the sudden loss of their starting backs are not subjected to a significant roster crisis if they have already secured the runner that is being elevated into lead back duties.

The elusive Edmonds has demonstrated his ability to deliver huge gains on a repeated basis. He possesses the talent to deliver favorable numbers in Kliff Kingsbury’s attack if his role expands for any reason. Edmonds could also become a potential league winner if Kenyan Drake is sidelined for an extended period. Edmonds is now available in over 60% of all leagues. This supplies you with an opportunity to capitalize on his availability. That decision could deliver enormous dividends during the upcoming weeks.

 

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

45% rostered

The primary incentive for having Mattison on your roster involves his potential to function as an RB1 if Dalvin Cook becomes sidelined for any reason. Mattison would absorb one of the league’s most extensive workloads, due to Mike Zimmer’s penchant for controlling the time of possession through his reliance on the running game. But deficiencies within the Viking offense had diminished the effectiveness of Minnesota's ground game while placing restraints on Cook’s ceiling in Weeks 1 and 2.

Minnesota had plummeted from sixth in rushing during 2019 (133.3 yards per game), to 21st (107 yards per game) entering Week 3. Cook’s yards per game average had also dropped from 81.1 in 2019 to just 56.5. per game after two contests.

But Cook exploded for 181 yards and a touchdown with his 22 carries in Week 3 (8.2 per attempt). Minnesota’s improved rushing proficiency bodes well for Mattison’s chances of accumulating sizable yardage if his role suddenly expands. That keeps Mattison entrenched as an enticing insurance policy for anyone who is depending on Cook.

 

Dark Horses - Week 4 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you are willing to wait for the possibility of a larger role during the year, or consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries.

Damien Harris, New England Patriots

26% rostered

You might be tempted to add Rex Burkhead after he assembled 98 total yards and three touchdowns. But chasing that performance places you at risk of experiencing massive disappointment. The 30-year-old Burkhead is now in his eighth season, and should not be expected to deliver highly productive outings on a routine basis. His workload will diminish whenever James White returns to the Patriots, while Harris is also eligible to return from injured reserve this week.

Harris should seize a consistent role within a rushing attack that was unimpressive before facing Las Vegas. Sony Michel had been woefully inefficient in Weeks 1 and 2 (56 yards/3.3 yards per attempt/28 yards per game) before delivering 117 yards on nine attempts against the Raiders. Burkhead had also accrued 81 total yards in Weeks 1 and 2 combined.

The Patriots can maximize their resources by infusing Harris into the backfield mix. This would help New England retain an effective rushing attack while bolstering Cam Newton’s efforts under center and supplementing his yardage on the ground. Savvy fantasy GMs can seize Harris before he begins operating with a favorable workload.

 

Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons 

2% rostered

Todd Gurley's problematic knee and the issues that surround it have been well established. But this did not discourage fantasy GMs from selecting him in Round 3 of during their drafts. However, Gurley does not resemble the back who delivered league winning dominance while leading all backs in scoring during 2017- 2018. Gurley is currently outside the top 30 backs in scoring, although he did assemble 80 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts in Week 3.

However, Hill was entrusted with nine attempts and responded by producing 58 yards. That included a 35-yard scamper for a touchdown during the first half.

 

Hill’s involvement in Atlanta’s offense has been modest since he was selected by the Falcons in Round 5 of the 2017 Draft. But he has bypassed Ito Smith to secure Atlanta’s RB2 responsibilities and should be allotted a percentage of carries during Atlanta's upcoming matchups. If Gurley is suddenly sidelined, Hill would also confiscate the majority of attempts during his absence.

 

La'Mical Perine, New York Jets 

6% rostered    

Perine assembled 2,485 yards on the ground in four seasons as a Florida Gator, while also collecting 72 receptions for 674 yards. He was selected by the Jets in Round 4 of the NFL Draft and has only accrued 10 carries. But his relevance could be rising due to the placement of Le’Veon Bell on injured reserve (hamstring), and limitations in Frank Gore’s ability to function as a workhorse back. 

The increasingly beleaguered Adam Gase has allotted 36 rushing attempts to Gore during the Jets' last two matchups, and the 37-year-old Gore has averaged just 3.4 yards per attempt. Gase’s favorable history with Gore was forged during their time together in Miami and San Francisco. But Gase could face increasing pressure to alter his strategy as the Jets’ season continues to unravel. This should result in an increased workload for Perine, who appears to be the most talented rusher in New York’s backfield. That supplies an incentive for fantasy GMs to stash Perine while he remains available in nearly 95% of all leagues.

 

Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure a running back with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers

38% rostered

Raheem Mostert had accumulated 258 total yards on 29 touches, which had propelled him to RB7 in point per game scoring. But he was sidelined with an MCL sprain in Week 3, which could have elevated Coleman into a significant role - if he had been injury-free. However, Coleman has been placed on injured reserve, as the result of his knee injury, which presented an opportunity for McKinnon and Wilson to share touches against the Giants. Even after Coleman recovers, he will be returning to a congested backfield, as undrafted free agent JaMycal Hasty also lurks as a threat to enter the equation.

Coleman has also failed to provide fantasy GMs with a reason to trust him after his first two matchups. The sixth-year back has manufactured just 30 yards in 18 attempts (1.7 yards per attempt) while his involvement as a receiver has also been minimal (4 targets/3 receptions/34 yards). Coleman's underwhelming performances, and the presence of sizable competition for touches, should diminish your motivation for keeping hin on your roster.

 

Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins

58% rostered

Howard has now been limited to a grand total of 16 touches during Miami's first three contests, while his yardage total has been infinitesimal (12/0.8 per attempt). Eight of Howard’s carries occurred in the red zone, and he has produced three touchdowns. However, the results of his three matchups as a Dolphin have been dismal for fantasy GMs who selected him during their draft process. Even minimal expectations for Howard included his ability to receive a respectable workload, and it appeared logical that he would operate as Miami’s primary back.

 

But Gaskin has commandeered those responsibilities while Howard’s snap share has plunged to 10.61%. His microscopic touch totals negate the possibility of using him in your lineups. However, managers in nearly 60% of all leagues are still retaining Howard on their rosters. His insignificance within Miami's offensive strategy should compel everyone to locate another option.

 

Matt Breida, Miami Dolphins

37% rostered 

Breida's stock has undergone a mammoth plunge that exceeds the descending value of Howard. The former 49er has only rushed 15 times while registering just one 2-yard reception. He also established a new season-low with only three touches during Miami’s Week 3 matchup, while also manufacturing a paltry four yards against Jacksonville. His limited involvement continued a pattern in which his snap share has declined during each contest (22.6%/21.3%/18.0%)

After Miami acquired Breida from San Francisco in exchange for a fifth-round pick, it appeared that the fourth-year back could supply the Dolphins with big-play capabilities. This could have resulted in an ongoing role that would fortify a rushing attack that ranked dead last during 2019 (72.3 yards per game). However, Gaskin has become the player to infuse energy into the backfield, while Breida has become insignificant. This eliminates all incentive for fantasy GMs to retain him on their rosters.



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Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 2 Analysis

Your wide receivers remain essential components toward your primary goal of securing league championships. As the season unfolds, an expanding collection of tools are available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge regarding this critical position. Those results are contained in this weekly statistical breakdown of multiple categories, which is designed to help you fulfill your championship aspirations.

This will be the second installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, first downs, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a compilation of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. This updated data supplies the foundation from which the numbers that are generated in various categories can be evaluated.

As the season progresses noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, PFF, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

Week 2 Target Leaders

Wide Receivers  Targets  Targ/Game  YPT
DeAndre Hopkins 25 12.5 8.8
Amari Cooper 23 11.5 7.9
Diontae Johnson 23 11.5 6.5
D.J. Moore 22 11 7.9
Calvin Ridley 22 11 10.9
A.J. Green 22 11 3.6
Stefon Diggs 22 11 10.9
Russell Gage 21 10.5 7.6
Davante Adams 20 10 9.6
Robby Anderson 18 9 12.4
Julian Edelman 18 9 13.1
Allen Robinson 18 9 5.9
Keenan Allen 18 9 7.4
N'Keal Harry 18 9 6.2
Terry McLaurin 17 8.5 10.9
Tyreek Hill 17 8.5 8.5
John Brown 16 8 9.5
Tyler Lockett 16 8 9.9
Adam Thielen 16 8 8.8
Odell Beckham 16 8 6
DeSean Jackson 16 8 6.9
Julio Jones 16 8 11.3
Darius Slayton 15 7.5 9
CeeDee Lamb 15 7.5 11
Jerry Jeudy 15 7.5 7.9
D.K. Metcalf 14 7 13.4
JuJu Smith-Schuster 14 7 8.4
T.Y. Hilton 14 7 5.8
Marvin Jones 14 7 5.6
Danny Amendola 14 7 7.3
Mike Evans 14 7 7.6
Isaiah Ford 14 7 6.4
Corey Davis 13 6.5 10.5
Jamison Crowder 13 13 8.8
Adam Humphries 13 6.5 7.3
Tyler Boyd 13 6.5 8.1
Robert Woods 13 6.5 9.2
Brandin Cooks 13 6.5 8.8
Cole Beasley 13 6.5 9.8
Mike Williams 13 6.5 6.4
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 13 6.5 12.3
Quintez Cephus 13 6.5 7.5

A barrage of injuries have already created torment for many fantasy GMs. This includes anyone who was been forced to reconstruct their rosters due to the absence of highly productive wide receivers during their Week 2 matchups. The challenges that ensued for some of you will be discussed in the 5 Things I Noticed section. However, there have also been impressive performances as other receivers have accumulated favorable results during the first two weeks of regular-season game action.

That list includes DeAndre Hopkins, who now leads all wide receivers with 25 targets. His league-best total has been built primarily through the 16 targets that he collected during Arizona's season opener. Amari Cooper and Diontae Johnson are next with 23, followed by D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley, Stefon Diggs, and A.J. Green with 22. Moore's usage and production will be discussed further when Carolina’s passing attack is examined in the Five Things I Noticed Section.

Atlanta's Russell Gage (21) and Davante Adams (20) are also included in the top 10, followed by five receivers that have captured 18 targets - Julian Edelman, Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen, N’Keal Harry, and Robby Anderson. Terry McLaurin and Tyreek Hill have both collected 17 targets, while six receivers are tied with 16 targets through two matchups (John Brown/Tyler Lockett/ Adam Thielen/Odell Beckham Jr./DeSean Jackson/Julio Jones).

Darius Slayton joined CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy in collecting 15 targets, as Lamb and Jeudy also lead their rookie class in this category. They are followed by seven different receivers that have been targeted 14 times – D.K. Metcalf, JuJu Smith-Schuster, T.Y. Hilton, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Mike Evans, and Miami’s Isaiah Ford.

27 additional receivers have reached 10+ targets during their first two games. This list includes seven players that are tied with 12 - Marquise Brown, Preston Williams, DeVante Parker, Sammy Watkins, 37-year-old Larry Fitzgerald, Chris Hogan, and Keelan Cole.

Johnson and Ridley are the only two receivers that have attained a double-digit target total in both of their contests. Quintez Cephus (13) is the only other rookie beyond Lamb and Jeudy that has exceeded 10 targets after two weeks of the regular season.

 

Largest Weekly Changes

Wide Receivers Week 1  Week 2  Total Targets Weekly Changes
Damiere Byrd 0 9 9 9
Braxton Berrios 0 8 8 8
K.J. Hamler INJ 7 7 7
N'Keal Harry 6 12 18 6
Mike Evans 4 10 14 6
Tre'Quan Smith 1 7 8 6
Chris Conley 1 7 8 6
Tee Higgins 0 6 6 6
Josh Malone 0 6 6 6
Tyreek Hill 6 11 17 5
D.J. Moore 9 13 22 4
A.J. Green 9 13 22 4
Stefon Diggs 9 13 22 4
Julian Edelman 7 11 18 4
Isaiah Ford 5 9 14 4
Chris Hogan 4 8 12 4
DeVante Parker 4 8 12 4
Michael Pittman 2 6 8 4
Deonte Harris 1 5 6 4
Diontae Johnson 10 13 23 3
Terry McLaurin 7 10 17 3
CeeDee Lamb 6 9 15 3
Tyler Boyd 5 8 13 3
Brandin Cooks 5 8 13 3
Randall Cobb 3 6 9 3
Russell Gage 12 9 21 -3
Darius Slayton 9 6 15 -3
Corey Davis 8 5 13 -3
Robert Woods 8 5 13 -3
Jarvis Landry 6 3 9 -3
Anthony Miller 6 3 9 -3
Scotty Miller 6 3 9 -3
Breshad Perriman 5 2 7 -3
John Ross 5 2 7 -3
John Brown 10 6 16 -4
Odell Beckham 10 6 16 -4
T.Y. Hilton 9 5 14 -4
Amari Cooper 14 9 23 -5
Mike Williams 9 4 13 -5
Sammy Watkins 9 3 12 -6
Curtis Samuel 8 2 10 -6
Greg Ward 7 1 8 -6
DeAndre Hopkins 16 9 25 -7
Quintez Cephus 10 3 13 -7
Julio Jones 12 4 16 -8
Will Fuller 10 0 10 -10
Davante Adams 17 3 20 -14

Moore, Johnson, Diggs, and Green all collected 13 targets in Week 2, which was the highest total among all wide receivers. Harry established a career-high with 12 targets, while Harry's teammate Edelman and Hill both captured 11. Anderson, McLaurin, Allen, Ridley, and Mike Evans were all targeted 10 times in Week 2.

Various factors emerged that created enormous fluctuations in weekly target totals for several players when contrasting their numbers from matchups in Weeks 1 and 2. Some receivers experienced significant increases in Week 2, after being unavailable in Week 1. Others were simply deployed with greater frequency after minimal involvement during their season openers. This created a dramatic rise for multiple receivers whose names do not normally appear in this column.

That applies to Damiere Byrd (+9) who collected nine targets in Seattle. That placed him third on the Patriots behind Harry (12) and Edelman (11) while propelling him to the largest increase of the week. Braxton Berrios (+8) established a new career-high with eight targets, which tied him with Hogan for the team lead on the increasingly beleaguered Jets. K.J. Hamler (+7) was inactive in Week 1 due to a hamstring issue. But he tied Jeudy for the team lead with seven targets during Denver’s Week 2 matchup with Pittsburgh. Hogan’s eight targets in Week 2 represented his highest weekly total since Week 17 of 2018. Ironically, Cole’s seven targets in Week 2 were also the most that he has collected since that same week in 2018.

 

 

Tee Higgins (+6) was limited to 15 snaps during Cincinnati’s Week 1 matchup with the Chargers and failed to receive a target. But his involvement expanded in Week 2, and his weekly total rose by +6. Harry’s career-best 12 targets were mentioned previously, and they also propelled him to a rise of +6. Higgins and Harry were joined by Evans, Chris Conley, and Josh Malone, while Hill’s 11 targets represented an increase of +5.  The weekly totals for Moore, Green, Stefon Diggs, Edelman, DeVante Parker, Hogan, and Ford all increased by +4.

Davante Adams (-14) led all receivers in targets during Week 1 (17), but only registered three when the Packers faced Detroit in Week 2. However, a hamstring issue and a favorable game script contributed to his decline.

Will Fuller’s target total also dropped significantly (-10). This was just the latest statistical fluctuation for Fuller, whose erratic totals have been a frequent occurrence throughout his career. After finishing in a tie for eighth overall with 10 targets during Houston’s initial matchup last season, Fuller was not targeted during the Texans’ encounter with Baltimore. He appeared to be impacted by an injury. However, nothing has been confirmed by the team.

This is a familiar pattern for anyone who experienced the volatile numbers that were delivered by Fuller last season. He was  14th in targets from Week 1-6 (48/6 per game) but injured his hamstring on Houston’s first possession in Week 7. He accumulated 11 targets upon his return in Week 12 but only collected 11 more targets during the Texans’ final five contests.

Julio Jones (-8) was impacted by a hamstring issue during his Week 2 matchup with Dallas and only received four targets. The significant decrease in usage has allowed Ridley to surpass Jones for the team lead entering Week 3 (22/16).

 

Week 2 Yards-Per-Target

D.J. Chark’s usage and production have failed to reach expectations of the fantasy community and anyone who drafted him. However, he does lead all wide receivers with a 15.6 yards per target average. Willie Snead is second overall (15.5), followed by D.K. Metcalf (13.4), Steven Sims (12.9), David Moore (12.7), Robby Anderson (12.4), Darnell Mooney (12.3), Allen Lazard (12.0), and Jalen Reagor (12.0). Marquise Brown was next (11.9), followed by Jarvis Landry (11.9), Bisi Johnson, (11.4), Julio Jones (11.3), Tre’ Quan Smith (11.3), Will Fuller (11.2), CeeDee Lamb (11.0),  and Cooper Kupp (11.0). Six other receivers are averaging over 10 yards per target including Diggs, Ridley, and McLaurin.

Odell Beckham averaged 12.3 yards per target against Cincinnati, which was just the fifth time that his average has eclipsed 10+ during his 18 games as a Brown. Green averaged just 2.23 yards per target against Cleveland which was his lowest average since Week 17 of 2017.

 

Week 2 Air Yards

Wide Receivers  Air Yards Comp AY Team % AY aDOT
A.J. Green 330 63 44.4 15
Calvin Ridley 309 204 34.4 15.5
DeSean Jackson 286 99 37.2 17.9
Julio Jones 277 144 30.9 16.3
Adam Thielen 269 139 48 16.8
D.J. Moore 260 155 47.2 11.8
Stefon Diggs 248 191 38.4 11.3
Allen Robinson 239 88 40.1 13.3
Amari Cooper 234 131 37.4 10.2
Mike Williams 229 71 38.9 17.6
Julian Edelman 224 180 51.1 12.4
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 224 116 33.5 17.2
John Brown 220 121 34.1 13.8
DK Metcalf 207 140 50.9 14.8
Jerry Jeudy 198 71 25 13.2
Odell Beckham 190 66 37.9 12.7
T.Y. Hilton 188 62 38.5 13.4
Keenan Allen 185 65 31.5 10.3
Davante Adams 184 137 27.5 9.2
Robby Anderson 183 129 33.2 10.2
Diontae Johnson 176 82 38 7.3
Tyreek Hill 176 98 38.4 10.4
Terry McLaurin 171 69 32.9 10.1
Brandin Cooks 166 83 32.3 12.8
Darius Slayton 165 122 35.6 11
Christian Kirk 163 49 31.6 20.4
Marquise Brown 161 113 38.9 13.4
Tim Patrick 161 37 20.3 16.1
Jalen Reagor 158 65 20.6 19.8
Henry Ruggs 153 35 38 19.1
Anthony Miller 152 73 25.5 16.9
Danny Amendola 149 73 24 10.6
Corey Davis 148 105 34.7 11.4
Preston Williams 148 59 27.6 12.3
Michael Gallup 147 85 23.5 16.3
Russell Gage 144 98 16.1 6.9
Tyler Lockett 139 109 34.2 8.7
Hunter Henry 138 86 23.5 8.6
Quintez Cephus 137 53 22.1 11.4
DeAndre Hopkins 135 111 26.2 5.4
Kendrick Bourne 131 59 36.6 13.1
Will Fuller 128 84 24.9 12.8
CeeDee Lamb 125 80 20 7.8

However, Green also leads all receivers in air yards following his prolonged absence (330), while Calvin Ridley is the only other receiver who has eclipsed 300 yards after two games (309). Week 1 air-yard leader DeSean Jackson is third (286), followed by Julio Jones (277), Adam Thielen (269), D.J. Moore (260) Stefon Diggs (253), Allen Robinson (239), Amari  Cooper (234), and Mike Williams (229). Marquez Valdes-Scantling (224), Julian Edelman (224), John Brown (220), and D.K. Metcalf (207) complete the list of 14 receivers that have surpassed 200 air yards after two contests.

 

 

Edelman leads all wide receivers in percentage share of air yards (51.1). Metcalf is second (50.9), followed by Thielen (48.0), Moore (47.2) Green (44.4), and Robinson (40.1). No other receivers are averaging shares above 40%. Mike Williams is next (38.9), along with Marquise Brown (38.9), T.Y. Hilton (38.5), Tyreek Hill (38.4), Diontae Johnson (38.0), Odell Beckham (37.9), Amari Cooper (37.4), and DeSean Jackson (37.2).

Christian Kirk has averaged a league-best 20.8 in targeted air yards, followed by Gallup (18.8), Jalen Reagor (18.5), Ruggs (17.7), Thielen (17.5), Valdes-Scantling (17.3), Jackson (17.3), Courtland Sutton (17.0), Julio Jones (16.7), Mike Williams (16.4), Anthony Miller (16.4), and Green (15.9).

 

Week 2 First Downs

Wide Receiver First Downs
Calvin Ridley 16
DeAndre Hopkins 13
Russell Gage 12
Stefon Diggs 11
Julian Edelman 11
Davante Adams 10
D. J. Moore 10
Corey Davis 10
Diontae Johnson 9
Tyler Boyd 9
Darius Slayton 9
Amari Cooper 8
Robby Anderson 8
Terry McLaurin 8
Tyler Lockett 8
Keenan Allen 8
Cooper Kupp 8
JuJu Smith-Schuster 7
Julio Jones 7
CeeDee Lamb 7
John Brown 7
Tyreek Hill 7
Adam Thielen 7
D.J. Chark 7
D.K. Metcalf 7
Sammy Watkins 7
Keelan Cole 7
Isaiah Ford 7

Ridley leads all wide receivers in first downs for a second consecutive week (16). Hopkins is second overall (13), followed by Russell Gage (12), Diggs (11), Edelman (11), and three receivers all tied with 10  - Adams, Moore, and Corey Davis.

Diontae Johnson, Tyler Boyd, and Darius Slayton have all generated nine first downs through receptions, while Robby Anderson, Amari Cooper, Terry McLaurin, Tyler Lockett, Keelan Cole, and Cooper Kupp have all registered eight catches for first downs. 11 different receivers have attained seven first downs including Smith Schuster, Julio Jones, Lamb, and Metcalf.

 

Week 2 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5 Team % 
Calvin Ridley 4 2 1 30.77
Emmanuel Sanders 4 2 2 40
Russell Gage 4 2 0 30.77
Darius Slayton 4 3 2 26.67
DeAndre Hopkins 3 1 1 60
Stefon Diggs 3 0 0 16.67
Julian Edelman 3 1 0 37.5
Robby Anderson 3 0 0 50
Davante Adams 3 2 2 20
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 3 0 0 20
John Brown 3 2 1 16.67
Cole Beasley 3 3 1 16.67
JuJu Smith-Schuster 3 2 0 33.33
N'Keal Harry 3 2 0 37.5
Allen Robinson 3 1 0 23.08
Sammy Watkins 3 3 1 33.33
Marvin Jones 3 1 1 33.33
David Moore 3 1 0 37.5
Zach Pascal 3 2 1 25
Trent Taylor 3 1 0 25

Sanders led all wide receivers in red-zone targets after Week 1. However, he was not targeted inside the 20 during his Week 2 matchup. This has dropped him into a tie with three other receivers atop the league lead (Slayton, Ridley, and Gage). 15 different receivers have collected three targets including Hopkins, Andersen, Edelman, Harry, Smith-Schuster, and all three of Buffalo’s top receiving options (Diggs/Brown/Beasley). 18 additional receivers have received two targets inside the 20.

Slayton, Watkins, and Beasley lead their position with three targets inside the 10, while Slayton, Sanders, and Adams have all attained a league-best two targets inside the five.

Hopkins has captured the highest red zone percentage among all wide receivers (60). Anderson is second (50%) followed by a trio of receivers that are tied with 37.5% -  David Moore, N'Keal Harry, and Edelman). A group of five receivers are all tied at 33.3% - Smith-Schuster, Thielen, Watkins, Marvin Jones, and Justin Jefferson.

 

Week 2 Snap Counts

Wide Receiver Week 2 Snaps Total Snaps Total Snap % 
DeAndre Hopkins 75/97% 152 95.6
Keenan Allen 81/98% 151 96.18
Michael Gallup 75/91% 144 93.51
Amari Cooper 75/91% 143 92.86
John Brown 56/92% 137 92.57
Tyler Boyd 78/85% 133 83.13
Mike Williams 74/89% 132 84.08
Calvin Ridley 63/84% 131 85.06
Stefon Diggs 48/79% 130 87.84
Allen Lazard 61/84% 129 85.43
Tyreek Hill 69/90% 128 87.67
Terry McLaurin 62/94% 127 93.38
CeeDee Lamb 68/83% 127 82.47
Larry Fitzgerald 61/79% 126 79.25
D.K. Metcalf 63/100% 124 99.2
Marvin Jones 53/90% 124 90.51
Julio Jones 59/79% 124 80.52
D.J. Moore 65/89% 123 87.86
Cooper Kupp 59/86% 121 85.21
Robert Woods 59/86% 120 84.51
Tyler Lockett 60/95% 118 94.4
Mike Evans 53/87% 118 90.08
Damiere Byrd 62/86% 118 86.76
Steven Sims 60/91% 118 86.76
Preston Williams 61/81% 117 85.4
Russell Gage 62/83% 117 75.97
Darius Slayton 58/89% 116 87.22
Corey Davis 50/81% 116 81.12
JuJu Smith-Schuster 59/91% 114 88.37
N'Keal Harry 61/85% 112 82.35
Chris Hogan 59/91% 110 90.91
Christian Kirk 47/61% 110 69.18
Diontae Johnson 54/84% 109 84.5
Robby Anderson 54/74% 109 77.86
Davante Adams 38/52% 108 71.52
Allen Robinson 53/82% 106 81.54
Michael Pittman 67/92% 106 72.11
Zach Pascal 59/81% 105 71.43
Kendrick Bourne 45/74% 102 82.93
A.J. Green 57/62% 102 63.75
D.J. Chark  59/79% 101 80.8

DeAndre Hopkins leads his position in offensive snaps (152), followed closely by Keenan Allen (151), Michael Gallup (144), Amari Cooper (143), John Brown (137), Tyler Boyd (133), Mike Williams (132), and Calvin Ridley (131). Stefon Diggs is next with 130, followed by Allen Lazard (129). Tyreek Hill (128), Terry McLaurin (127), CeeDee Lamb (127), Larry Fitzgerald (126), and Julio Jones (124). Marvin Jones (124), D.K. Metcalf (124), D.J. Moore (124), Cooper Kupp (121), and Robert Woods (120) completed the top 20 in offensive snaps after two matchups.

Metcalf has attained the highest snap count percentage (99.2), followed by Allen (96.2), Hopkins (95.6), Lockett (94.4), Gallup (93.5), McLaurin (93.4), Cooper (92.9), John Brown (92.6), and Thielen (92.5), completing the top 10 in this category. Chris Hogan (91.0), Marvin Jones (90.5), and Mike Evans (90.1) are the only other wide receivers that performed in at least 90% of the teams’ offensive snaps.

Metcalf also played on 100% of Seattle’s offense of snaps during Week 2. Allen was involved in 97.6% of the Chargers’ snaps, while Hopkins attained the third-highest percentage in Week 2 (97.4). Lockett (95.2), McLaurin (94.0), John Brown (91.8), Michael Pittman (91.8), Cooper (91.5), Gallup (91.5), and Steven Sims (91.0), completed the top 10. Hogan (90.8), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (90.8), were the only other wide receivers that were involved in 90+ percent of their teams’ offensive snaps.

Allen played on 81 snaps in Week 2, which was the most of any wide receiver. Boyd (78), Hopkins (75), Cooper (75), Gallup (75), Mike Williams (74), Hill (69), Lamb (68), Pittman (67), and DeVante Parker (66), completed the top 10 in offensive snaps during Week 2.

 

Five Things I Noticed 

 

 

1. If Michael Thomas, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, A.J. Brown, or Jamison Crowder, are contained on your rosters, then you were affected by their absence in Week 2. The avalanche of injuries has been impactful for many managers while altering the usage and production of other receivers on their teams. Matthew Stafford distributed 19 passes to Detroit’s wide receivers, with Danny Amendola collecting a team-high seven. But Amendola’s failure to capitalize (2 receptions/21 yards) underscores the need for fantasy GMs to avoid him throughout the season. Marvin Jones did not deliver a productive outing (6 targets/4 receptions/23 yards). But he should regain his effectiveness after Golladay resurfaces. Quintez Cephus easily led the team in receiving yards (54) and yards per target (18) and should retain a spot on Dynasty rosters.

Mike Evans captured 10 of the 17 passes that Tom Brady launched to the wide receivers that remained in his arsenal. Evans easily paced the Buccaneers in receptions (7), and receiving yards (104), while generating a touchdown. Justin Watson (2 receptions/48 yards/16 yards per target) outproduced Scott Miller - who managed just two receptions for an anemic 11 yards, If you prioritized seizing Miller from your waiver wire last week, you can discard him immediately. Godwin has cleared concussion protocol and should line up against Denver on Sunday.

Adam Humphries led the Titans in targets (6) and paced Tennessee’s wide receivers in receptions (5), and receiving yards (48) during Brown’s absence. He supplies fantasy GMs with a viable WR3 option if Brown remains sidelined. However, the career resurrection of Corey Davis has increased his relevance considerably. He collected three of his five targets for 36 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville. He also leads the Titans in receiving yards (137), air yards (148), and percentage share of air yards (34.7).

Crowder was sidelined with his hamstring issue, while the talented but frequently disappointing Breshad Perriman managed just 12 yards on two receptions before contending with an ankle issue. This propelled two receivers from that outer region of irrelevance into the team lead in targets (8), as Chris Hogan and Braxton Berrios also combined for 105 snaps, 12 receptions, and 134 yards. Berrios’ output elevated him to 14th in point per game scoring, and he will operate in the slot until Crowder resurfaces.

Drew Brees did not have the luxury of locating Michael Thomas (ankle) but did launch 15 passes to his wide receivers in Las Vegas. Only one was collected by Emmanuel Sanders, as anyone who started the 33-year old was subjected to a nightmarish outing (3 targets/1 reception/18 yards). However, Tre’ Quan Smith’s emergence was a promising development, as he led New Orleans wide receivers in targets (7), receptions (5), and receiving yards (86). The third-year receiver also averaged 12.3 yards per target, and now presents the most enticing option on your waiver wire among receivers that have been discussed in this section.

 

2. Carolina’s massive offensive transformation during the offseason included the arrival of Matt Rhule and Joe Brady as the Panthers’ new decision-makers, with Teddy Bridgewater responsible for on-field navigation of the refurbished attack. During the initial installment of Carolina's transformed offense in Week 1, former Jet Robby Anderson led the Panthers in receptions (6) and receiving yards (115), while also averaging 19.2 yards per reception and 14.4 yards per target. D. J. Moore paced the Panthers with nine targets. However, he only caught four of those passes, while accruing 54 yards.

Overreaction to Week 1 game action is perpetually rampant, and some fantasy GMs expressed concern regarding Moore’s numbers in the season opener. However, the results from Week 2 should have quelled any escalating uneasiness as Moore tied for the league lead with the aforementioned 13 targets. He also tied for second in receptions (8) and was fourth among all receivers with 120 yards. Moore is now tied for fourth in targets after two games (22) and is 11th in receiving yardage (174). He also leads the Panthers in target share (29.7) and percentage share of the air yards (47.2).

Anderson is second in those categories (24.3/32.2), while he is also tied for 10th overall in targets (18) and has also vaulted to fourth in receiving yards (223). His current 111.5 yards per game average easily surpasses his career-best (58.8), while Anderson is also sixth with a 12.4 yards per target average - which exceeds the season-best 8.3 that he registered during 2017.

Curtis Samuel’s current numbers have yet to approach the results that have been attained by Moore and Anderson. He is third on the Panthers in targets (10) and has only manufactured 51 yards. His current average of 7.6 yards per reception is the lowest of his career, while his yard per target average (4.8) is his lowest since Samuel’s 2017 rookie season.

Christian McCaffrey’s absence will only enhance the importance of Moore and Anderson within the reshaped attack. Deficiencies also permeate the Panthers’ defense, which will also compel Rhule and Brady to depend on Bridgewater and the aerial attack even further, This should keep Moore entrenched among the high-end WR2s throughout the season, while Anderson is emerging as a viable WR3.

 

3. After two weeks with Cam Newton spearheading New England’s offense, he is eighth in passing yardage (522). Newton is also completing a career-best 71.4% of his throws, while his 8.8 yards per attempt average is also the highest of his career. His numbers have been built primarily through connections with N’Keal Harry and Julian Edelman, who are tied for the team lead in targets (18) and receptions (13).

Despite offseason uncertainty surrounding Edelman’s ability to flourish without Tom Brady under center, the 34-year old is averaging 9 targets per game. Edelman easily leads the Patriots in receiving yards (236) which has vaulted him to third overall in that category. He has never exceeded a 7.9 yards per target average during his first 10 seasons but is now averaging 13.1 after two games. His average of 18.2 yards per reception is also 5.9 yards more than his previous season-high. Edelman is also first overall in percentage share of air yards (51.1)

Harry’s underwhelming 2019 season has been well documented. The Patriots invested a first-round selection on Harry during the NFL Draft, after he had accumulated 213 receptions, and generated 2,899 yards at Arizona State. There were conflicting opinions regarding his chances for success at the NFL level, as concerns about his ability to gain separation were blended with optimism regarding his propensity to secure contested throws.

A lingering ankle issue sidelined him from Weeks 1-10, and he ended the season with just 24 targets, 12 receptions, and 105 yards. But he has already surpassed last season’s reception and yardage totals with his career-best results against Seattle in Week 2.

Damiere Byrd is a distant third in the major receiving categories, as New England will be reliant on Edelman and Harry to operate as Newton's primary weapons. This should reward anyone who waited until Round 7 to select Edelman. It could also provide a massive reward for anyone who refused to dismiss Harry following his forgettable rookie year.

 

4. There is a very good chance that you became aware of the "Let Russ Cook” campaign that escalated as we approached Week 1. However, there is a combination of factors that have propelled Wilson into an exceptional start to his ninth professional season. Seattle’s offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has migrated from the field into the booth for his playcalling while making various adjustments to the attack. Wilson has also been maximizing his opportunities when spearheading Seattle’s aerial assault.

Wilson is averaging 31.5 attempts per game - which is actually below his average from last season (32.5) but also higher than his average from 2018 (26.7 per game). He has performed exceptionally during his matchups against Atlanta and New England and is now 24th in attempts (63), but ninth in completions (52). Wilson also leads the NFL in completion percentage (81.5), and touchdown percentage (14.3) and is also third with a quarterback rating of 88.9.

His 9.7 yards per attempt average is the highest of his career, while his league-high nine touchdowns has enabled him to construct a stellar 9:1 touchdown to interception ratio. Wilson’s proficiency has been also extremely beneficial for anyone who secured D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for their rosters. Metcalf is seventh in receiving yards and 14th in air yards. He is also second in both yards per receptions (23.4) and percentage share of air yards (50.9), while the second-year receiver is also sixth in yards per target (13.4) and completed air yards (140).

 

 

Metcalf’s unique blend of size, speed, and athleticism also remains a problematic matchup for opposing defenders. This was displayed to a national audience during the Seahawks’ Sunday night encounter against New England when Stephon Gilmore was forced to endure a rare nightmarish experience. Lockett has attained a team-best 26.7 target share, is tied for seventh in receptions (15), and is pacing the Seahawks with 16 targets. He is also tied for 15th with eight receptions for first downs and joins Metcalf among the top four in snap count percentage (Metcalf 99.2%/Lockett 94.4%). Fantasy GMs that have Metcalf or Lockett on their rosters should experience more favorable results as the Seahawks progress through their schedule.

 

 

5. After Dallas selected CeeDee Lamb 17th overall during last April‘s NFL draft, there were conflicting opinions regarding the timeline for Lamb to become a regular contributor to the Cowboys’ aerial attack. But the immensely talented rookie is already blending favorably into a passing offense that ranked second in 2019. Lamb is tied for 23rd in targets (15), and just delivered his first 100-yard performance against Atlanta (106).

Amari Cooper has been undeterred by Lamb’s presence, while rewarded his managers with a sizzling start. Cooper is currently tied for second in targets (23), tied for third in receptions (18), and ninth in air yards (234). Cooper also leads the Cowboys in targets, receptions, receiving yards (181), while Lamb is second in each category (15/ targets/11 receptions/165 yards).

There were questions regarding Lamb’s potential impact on Michael Gallup, who seemed primed to achieve breakout status before Lamb was drafted. Gallup has delivered a late-season statistical surge in 2019, by finishing in a tie for eighth among all receivers in targets (67) and fifth in receiving yards (653) from Weeks 10-17. But Gallup is now third behind both teammates (10 targets/5 receptions/108 yards) after two matchups.

Cooper has also attained the highest target share (27.4) and leads in percentage share of air yards (37.4). Lamb is second in team target share (19.0), followed by Gallup (10.7). However, Gallup is second in percentage share of air yards (23.5) and leads the trio in snap count percentage (93.5).

Both Cooper and Lamb have captured two red-zone targets. But Lamb is the only member of the receiving unit that has collected opportunities inside both the 10-yard line and the 5-yard line. When these numbers have been fully absorbed it indicates that Cooper is entrenched as a low-end WR1 for fantasy GMs, while Lamb is rapidly approaching WR3 status. Anyone who drafted Gallup will not receive the level of scoring that would have been delivered if he was still operating as the Cowboys’ clear RB2.



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Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 1 Analysis

After months of research, conversation, and recommendations regarding potential usage and production for wide receivers, we can finally shift into the analysis of actual regular-season matchups. The results of Week 1 provided a collection of impressive performances, including several surprising developments. It also delivered our first opportunity to examine the massive assortment of numbers that were generated during the season openers for all 32 teams.

Those results provide the foundation for this weekly statistical breakdown of the wide receiver position. This will be the first installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a blend of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. It is also designed to help with your roster decisions throughout the season.

This week’s article will be functioning with one week of data, which will construct the baseline from which the numbers that are generated in the upcoming weeks can be evaluated. Beginning next week, noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, PFF, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

 

Week 1 Target Leaders

Wide Receiver Targets Yards/Target Receptions YPC Yards TD
Davante Adams 17 9.2 14 11.1 156 2
DeAndre Hopkins 16 9.4 14 10.8 151 0
Amari Cooper 14 5.8 10 8.1 81 0
Jamison Crowder 13 8.8 7 16.4 115 1
Julio Jones 12 13.1 9 17.4 157 0
Calvin Ridley 12 10.8 9 14.4 130 2
Russell Gage 12 9.5 9 12.7 114 0
Diontae Johnson 10 5.7 6 9.5 57 0
Odell Beckham Jr. 10 2.2 3 7.3 22 0
John Brown 10 7 6 11.7 70 1
Will Fuller 10 11.2 8 14 112 0
Quintez Cephus 10 4.3 3 14.3 43 0
Stefon Diggs 9 9.6 8 10.8 86 0
Sammy Watkins 9 9.1 7 11.7 82 1
Allen Robinson 9 8.2 5 14.8 74 0
T.Y. Hilton 9 5.9 4 13.3 53 0
A.J. Green 9 5.7 5 10.2 51 0
Darius Slayton 9 11.3 6 17 102 2
Parris Campbell 9 7.9 6 11.8 71 0
Mike Williams 9 7.7 4 17.3 69 0
D.J. Moore 9 6 4 13.5 54 0
D.K. Metcalf 8 11.9 4 23.8 95 1
A.J. Brown 8 4.9 5 7.8 39 0
Marvin Jones 8 6.9 4 13.8 55 0
Keenan Allen 8 4.6 4 9.3 37 0
Robert Woods 8 13.1 6 17.5 105 0
Adam Thielen 8 13.8 6 18.3 110 2
Tyler Lockett 8 11.5 8 11.5 92 0
Robby Anderson 8 14.4 6 19.2 115 1
Curtis Samuel 8 4.8 5 7.6 38 0
Corey Davis 8 12.6 7 14.4 101 0
Jerry Jeudy 8 7 4 14 56 0

It was hardly a secret that Adams would enter Week 1 as Green Bay's primary receiving weapon. It has also been well-documented that he would operate without any tangible competition for targets. This triggered offseason projections that Adams would stockpile targets throughout 2020,  as Aaron Rodgers was expected to locate his most reliable option with great frequency. This perfect convergence of talent and opportunity ultimately yielded the highly anticipated usage that was expected, as Adams captured a league-high 17 targets during Green Bay’s NFC North matchup in Minnesota.

Adams has now collected 10+ targets in nine of his last 10 regular-season contests and is a logical candidate to lead the NFL in this category throughout the season - provided that he can achieve sustained health. Anyone who drafted Adams in 2019 can easily remember his modest numbers through Week 8. He was only 47th in receptions (25) and 39th in receiving yards (378) as he contended with the impact of turf toe.

But he averaged 11.4 targets per game during his final eight matchups and finished second in targets from Weeks 12-16 (57). The results of his statistical surge were consistent with his usage during 2018 when Adams averaged a league-best 11,3 targets per game.

He also finished just one target behind Julio Jones for the league lead (170/169) and might have paced the NFL in this category if he had eluded the knee injury that sidelined him in Week 17.

Among the top 25 receivers in targets during Week 1 of 2019, 13 receivers accomplished it once again this season. Adams spearheaded this list, along with Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, D.J. Moore, Jamison Crowder, Amari Cooper, T.Y. Hilton, John Brown, Robert Woods, Keenan Allen, and Odell Beckham Jr.

 

 

Hopkins has finished fifth in targets during each of the last two seasons (150/163) and is second overall entering Week 2. His impressive debut with Arizona will be discussed in the Five Things I Noticed section. Amari Cooper overcame a hamstring issue and the attention of Jalen Ramsey to collect Week 1's third-highest target total (14).

Exactly one year ago, Jamison Crowder led the NFL with 17 targets following the matchups of Week 1. He collected 13 passes from Sam Darnold during the season opener and should remain a steady presence as the dependable weapon that is desperately needed in the Jet offense.

Atlanta’s trio of wide receivers all tied with 12 targets during Week 1, and the performances of Jones and Calvin Ridley will also be examined in the Five Things I Noticed section. Quintez Cephus was targeted 10 times during his professional debut, as Detroit functioned without Kenny Golladay.

 

This tied the newcomer with Will Fuller, Brown, Beckham, and Diontae Johnson. Stefon Diggs captured nine targets during his first game with Buffalo, which tied him with eight other receivers. 11 players collected eight targets, including Seattle teammates D.K. Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett, and rookie Jerry Jeudy.

Last year’s target leader placed outside the top 60 during Week 1, as Michael Thomas only collected five during New Orleans’ season opener. That was his lowest total since Week 11 of 2018. Mike Evans was targeted just four times by Tom Brady during the substandard debut of Tampa Bay’s transformed attack. D.J. Chark registered just three targets, which was his lowest total since Week 17 of 2018.

Gage and Cephus were mentioned previously as unexpected names to appear among the top 20. Parris Campbell’s nine targets established a career-high. His total also tied him with A.J. Green, who achieved his highest weekly total since Week 7 of 2018.

 

Week 1 Yards-Per-Target

The list of leaders in yards per target average includes a cluster of players that are not usually located near the top of receiving categories. Steven Sims leads all receivers 16.7, followed by Willie Snead 16.0, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (16.0), and Allen Lazard (15.8). Robby Anderson is next (14.4), followed by two Vikings -  Bisi Johnson (14.0), and Adam Thielen (13.8). Julio Jones and Robert Woods are tied at 13.1, followed by Corey Davis (12.6), Scott Miller (12.2), and D.K. Metcalf (11.9). DeVante Parker (11.8), Tyler Lockett (11.5), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (11.5) are among the seven receivers that averaged between 11.0-11.9, while Calvin Ridley (10.8), Jarvis Landry (10.2), and Michael Gallup (10.0) complete the collection of 21 receivers that averaged at least 10 yards per target during Week 1.

 

Week 1 Air Yards

Wide Receiver  Air Yards Team % AY aDOT
DeSean Jackson 210 40 30
Julio Jones 195 37.2 16.3
Davante Adams 166 44.4 9.8
Allen Robinson 150 41.3 16.7
Calvin Ridley 147 28.1 13.4
Jalen Reagor 144 27.4 36
Mike Williams 143 46 15.9
Adam Thielen 140 53.6 17.5
Will Fuller 128 50.6 12.8
A.J. Green 127 44.6 14.1
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 123 32.9 20.5
D.K. Metcalf 119 61.7 14.9
Quintez Cephus 117 32.2 13
Marquise Brown 113 47.3 18.8
Amari Cooper 113 45.9 8.1
Anthony Miller 112 30.9 18.7
Parris Campbell 103 37.7 11.4
T.Y. Hilton 103 37.7 11.4
Odell Beckham 102 34.3 11.3
Darius Slayton 102 46 11.3
Corey Davis 102 40.2 11.3
Jerry Jeudy 101 41.5 12.6
John Brown 100 35.8 10
Preston Williams 98 40.2 14
Jamison Crowder 98 41.5 7.5
DeAndre Hopkins 98 53.8 6.1
Henry Ruggs 96 60.8 19.2
D.J. Moore 95 35.6 10.6

 

DeSean Jackson leads all wide receivers in air yards after the season openers (210). Jones is second overall (195), followed by Adams (166), Robinson (150), Ridley (147), Reagor (144), Williams (143), and Thielen (140). Fuller was next (128), followed by Green (127), Valdes-Scantling (123), Metcalf (119), and Cephus (117).

Jackson also leads all wide receivers in targeted air yards (29.1) while Marquise Brown is second (21). Valdes-Scantling is third overall (20.8), followed by Adam Thielen (18.7) newcomer Henry Ruggs (18.5), Anthony Miller (18.2), and Michael Gallup (17.4). Robinson and Mike Williams are tied at 16.1, followed by Christian Kirk (15.5), Julio Jones (15.4), Preston Williams (15.1), Green (14.7), and Metcalf at 14.1.

Metcalf leads all receivers in percentage share of team’s air yards (61.7) while Ruggs is second following his debut with Las Vegas (60.8). Julian Edelman is third (57.8), followed by Hopkins (53.8), Thielen (53.6), Fuller (50.6), Marquise Brown (47.3), and Slayton (46.4). Mike Williams is next (46.0), followed by Cooper (45.9), and Green (44.6) completing the top 10. Adams, Robinson, and Jackson are included among the 20 receivers who averaged a percentage share of 40+ during Week 1.

 

Week 1 First Downs

Wide Receiver First Downs
Calvin Ridley 9
Davante Adams 8
DeAndre Hopkins 8
Russell Gage 7
Corey Davis 7
Julio Jones 6
Stefon Diggs 6
Sammy Watkins 6
Darius Slayton 6
JuJu Smith-Schuster 5
Will Fuller 5
Adam Thielen 5
John Brown 5
Amari Cooper 4
Tyler Lockett 4
Jamison Crowder 4
Diontae Johnson 4
Parris Campbell 4
Robert Woods 4
A.J. Green 4
Jarvis Landry 4
Allen Robinson 4
Keenan Allen 4
T.Y. Hilton 4
D.K. Metcalf 4
D.J. Moore 4
Willie Snead 4

Thomas led all wide receivers with 91 first downs during 2019. He was joined in the top 20 by Jones (77), Hopkins (68), and four receivers that were tied with 63 - Chris Godwin, Robinson, Moore, and Keenan Allen. But Thomas only registered one first down reception during this season's Week 1 matchups while Hopkins and Jones were the only receivers that resurfaced among the top five.

Jones’ teammate Ridley registered the highest weekly total (9). Adams and Hopkins were next (8), followed by Gage (7), Corey Davis (7), Jones (6), Stefon Diggs (6), Sammy Watkins (6), and Darius Slayton (6). Will Fuller, John Brown, Adam Thielen, and JuJu Smith-Schuster all registered five receptions, while a whopping 14 receivers collected four receptions for first downs during their season openers.

 

Week 1 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5 Team % 
Emmanuel Sanders 4 2 2 40
Davante Adams 3 2 2 33.33
Sammy Watkins 3 3 1 37.5
John Brown 3 2 1 23.08
Calvin Ridley 3 1 0 37.5
Quintez Cephus 2 2 0 33.33
Russell Gage 2 1 0 25
Allen Robinson 2 1 0 18.18
Miles Boykin 2 1 0 25
David Moore 2 1 0 40
Demarcus Robinson 2 1 0 25
Robert Woods 2 0 0 40
Stefon Diggs 2 0 0 15.38
Amari Cooper 2 0 0 33.33
Willie Snead 2 0 0 25
Michael Thomas 2 0 0 20
Mike Williams 1 1 1 25
Allen Lazard 1 1 1 11.11
Cole Beasley 1 1 1 7.69
D.J. Moore 1 1 1 50
Tyreek Hill 1 1 1 12.5
Kendrick Bourne 1 1 1 14.29

33-year-old Emmanuel Sanders leads all wide receivers with four red zone targets in Week 1. This is similar to the early results of 2019 when Sanders finished in a three-way tie for the league lead after the season openers.

Adams and Ridley collected three targets inside the 20, which tied them with John Brown, and Sammy Watkins. Robinson, Cooper, Woods, and newcomer Cephus were among the 11 receivers that were targeted twice during Week 1.

Watkins was the only wide receiver to register three targets inside the 10, while Sanders, Adams, Brown, and Cephus were all targeted twice. Sanders and Adams were the only receivers to exceed one target inside the five.

 

Week 1 Snap Counts

Wide Receiver Snap Count Snap Count %
Stefon Diggs 82 94.25
John Brown 81 93.1
DeAndre Hopkins 77 93.9
Marvin Jones 71 91.03
Keenan Allen 70 94.59
Davante Adams 70 89.74
Michael Gallup 69 95.83
Allen Lazard 68 87.18
Calvin Ridley 68 86.08
Amari Cooper 68 94.44
Chris Godwin 66 94.29
Corey Davis 66 81.48
A.J. Brown 66 81.48
Terry McLaurin 65 92.86
Mike Evans 65 92.86
Julio Jones 65 82.28
Larry Fitzgerald 65 79.27
Christian Kirk 63 76.83
Cooper Kupp 62 84.93
Quintez Cephus 62 79.49
Robert Woods 61 83.56
Parris Campbell 61 82.43
DK Metcalf 61 98.39
CeeDee Lamb 59 81.94
T.Y. Hilton 59 79.73
Tyreek Hill 59 85.51
Tyler Lockett 58 93.55
Steven Sims 58 82.86
Darius Slayton 58 85.29
D.J. Moore 58 86.57

Stefon Diggs performed on a league-leading 82 offensive snaps during his first matchup as a Bill, while his new teammate John Brown was second overall with 81. DeAndre Hopkins was third for the week (77), followed by Marvin Jones (71), Keenan Allen (70), and Davante Adams (70). Michael Gallup was next (69), while Amari Cooper was tied with Calvin Ridley and Allen Lazard at 68. Chris Godwin, A.J. Brown, and Corey Davis were next (66) while Terry McLaurin, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Larry Fitzgerald all played on 65 offensive snaps.

Breshad Perriman performed on 100% of the offensive snaps during his debut with the Jets, which led his position in Week 1. Metcalf was second (98.4), followed by Thielen (96.2), Gallup (95.8), Allen (94.6), and Cooper (94.4), while Godwin and Diggs were both involved in 94.3% of their team's offensive snaps. Hopkins, Lockett, Evans, and McLaurin where among the group of 10 other receivers that performed on over 90% of their team's snaps.

 

Five Things I Noticed

1. The numbers for Atlanta’s wide receivers were discussed earlier, as Matt Ryan targeted Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, and Russell Gage 12 times. All three players captured nine of their targets, although the usage and production for Ridley and Jones are most significant to fantasy GMs. Ridley’s prospects of delivering a breakout season became a popular topic within the fantasy community during the offseason and propelled him to WR15 during the draft process. This was partially based upon his statistical surge during his final six regular-season matchups of 2019 (Weeks 8-14) which coincided with the departure of Mohamed Sanu. Ridley was ninth in point per game scoring during that sequence, while averaging 8.2 targets, 5.7 receptions, and 82.1 yards per game after Sanu had been traded to New England.

The same pathway toward expanded opportunities remains intact, and the potential exists for both Ridley and Jones to perform as WR1s for fantasy GMs. Jones generated a league-high 157 yards and averaged exactly three yards per reception more than Ridley during the season opener (17.4/14.4). But Ridley produced the only two touchdowns that were registered by an Atlanta receiver. He also leads the NFL in first downs (9) and has joined Jones among the top five in air yards after Week 1.

Gage matched the target and reception totals of his teammates and eclipsed 100 yards (114) while operating in the slot. However, no other Falcons garnered significant usage beyond Jones, Ridley, and Gage. Hayden Hurst was targeted five times during his Atlanta debut, and the team’s backfield components (Todd Gurley/Brian Hill/Ito Smith) combined for 10. Hurts and Gage can be expected to experience fluctuations in their usage during the year. But the favorable target totals for Ridley and Jones should remain a frequent occurrence throughout the season. Jones remains an elite presence at age 31 and should finish near the top of every major receiving category. Ridley is on track to perform as a high-end WR2 with the potential to approach the aforementioned WR1 status.

2. The full ramifications of Bill O'Brien's decision to discard DeAndre Hopkins have yet to unfold. But the initial results that transpired during Week 1 did nothing to diminish scorching criticism of the trade that weakened Houston’s passing attack. Hopkins had averaged 159.5 targets from 2014 to 2019 while accumulating 580 receptions and 7,800 yards during that span. He also finished among the top two in target share during 2018 (33.1%) and 2019 (29.2%). Those numbers appeared difficult to replicate, even though Hopkins would retain WR1 responsibilities with Arizona.

However, concerns about Hopkins’ ability to maintain his elite status have been eviscerated after he soared to the league lead in target share (43.2%). His 16 targets placed him second overall, while he also tied with Adams for the league lead in receptions (14), and was third in yardage behind Adams and Jones (151). He also finished fourth in percentage share of team’s air yards (53.8%) while providing second-year signal-caller Kyler Murray with a legitimate centerpiece to the passing game.

Houston's first game in the post-Hopkins era was not as encouraging. Deshaun Watson distributed a team-high 10 targets to Will Fuller, who was easily the Texans' primary receiver. Fuller also led the team in receptions (8) and receiving yards (112) while finishing sixth overall in both target share (32.3%) and percentage share of team’s air yards (50.6%). Houston’s offseason acquisitions Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb combined for just four receptions and just 43 yards. Their underwhelming numbers underscore the importance of Fuller, whose home run potential has been negated by his failure to evade health issues during his first four seasons (26 missed games). His ability to remain on the field will be critical for a Houston passing attack that has been negatively impacted by the loss of Hopkins.

3. Hopkins was not the only prominent wide receiver to make his debut in a fresh environment. Stefon Diggs was disenchanted throughout 2019, which prompted his trade from Minnesota to Buffalo. This infused Diggs into a passing attack that had improved marginally from 31st in 2018 (174 yards per game) to 26th last season (202 yards per game). The receiving unit had been bolstered by the additions of John Brown and Cole Beasley, as Beasley operated as a reliable slot weapon, while Brown became a proficient presence downfield.

The arrival of Diggs was designed to fortify the Bills’ arsenal of receivers even further while providing Josh Allen with an enormously talented weapon. Diggs finished second overall in yards per target (12.0) and was fourth in yards per reception (17.9) during 2019. He also finished third in percentage share of their team’s air yards (41.5). However, the addition of Diggs also threatened to diminish Brown's productivity as a downfield option. Brown generated career highs in targets (115) and receptions, (72) while eclipsing 1,000 yards for the first time in his career (1,060). He also finished eighth in percentage share of air yards (36.1) and was also 15th in targeted air yards (14.2). Brown also registered the second-highest averages of his career in yards per target (9.2) and yards per reception (14.7).

But both perimeter receivers were productive during the Bills’ AFC East matchup with the Jets, as they combined for 19 targets, 14 receptions, and 156 yards. Diggs collected eight of his nine targets for 86 yards, while Brown captured six of his 10 targets for 70 yards and a touchdown. Brown attained a higher average in yards per reception (11.7/10.8), while Diggs averaged 9.6 yards per target, compared to 7.0 for Brown. Diggs’ target share (20.0), and percentage share of air yards (31.9) were both lower than Brown’s (22.2/35.9). But the Week 1 performance for both perimeter receivers was beneficial for fantasy GMs that inserted them into their lineups.

4Smith-Schuster’s Round 3 ADP was an indication that most fantasy GMs believed in his ability to deliver numbers that easily exceed his disappointing output from 2019. During his first game with Ben Roethlisberger‘s under center, Smith-Schuster captured all six of his targets, generated a team-high 69 yards, and produced two touchdowns. It was the first time that he has assembled multiple touchdowns since Week 14 of 2018, and he has almost matched last year’s season total (3) after just one contest.

The rapidly emerging Diontae Johnson paced the Steelers in targets during 2019 (92/5.8 per game) and was the team leader once again during their opener (10/34.4% share). He also matched Smith-Schuster’s six receptions and accrued 57 yards. Smith-Schuster also averaged 11.5 yards per target, which is an encouraging development considering his average of 8.3 during 2018-2019. Both Smith-Schuster and Johnson played on 55% of the offensive snaps, followed by James Washington (37%), and Chase Claypool during his NFL debut (19%).

The belief from here is that the absence of Antonio Brown was more impactful in Smith-Schuster's statistical decline than the loss or Roethlisberger -even though the talent deficiencies in Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges were significant. Johnson was able to navigate the unfavorable situation as a rookie (92 targets/58 receptions/680 yards) which suggests that Smith-Schuster's 2019 numbers should not be dismissed as solely a quarterback issue.

However, having Roethlisberger's reemergence will be beneficial to Smith-Schuster. It also presents good news for fantasy GMs that have Smith-Schuster or Johnson on their rosters. Roethlisberger does have a track record of spearheading offenses that can sustain two highly productive receivers, which was underscored by the numbers that Smith Schuster and Brown accrued during 2018. Regardless of how you valued Smith-Schuster before Week 1, he now appears primed to rebound significantly from last year’s discouraging results.

5. 21 wide receivers were chosen during last April’s NFL Draft before Detroit selected Quintez Cephus. While he was the subject of favorable reports during training camp, Cephus did not make his entrance into the fantasy landscape until last Sunday. But the former Wisconsin Badger led all rookies with 10 targets, which tied him for eighth overall. Kenny Golladay’s hamstring issue elevated Cephus into an expanded role during the Lions’ home opener, and he responded by leading Detroit in team target share (22.5), and also in percentage share of team’s air yards (32.2).

Jerry Jeudy accumulated the highest target total (8) among the six rookies that were drafted in Round 1. He is functioning as Denver’s WR1 during Courtland Sutton’s absence and performed on 44 snaps (75%). He also caught four passes, experienced two drops, and amassed 56 yards. CeeDee Lamb was involved in 82% of the snaps with Dallas and ran routes from the slot on 50 of his 59 plays. He also collected six targets, and led the newcomers in receptions (5), and receiving yards (59).

Henry Ruggs was targeted five times by Derek Carr and operated from the slot on 72% of his plays. He was sidelined during part of the Raiders’ Week 1 matchup in Carolina (knee). But he still caught three passes for 55 yards, averaged 18.3 yards per reception, and was second overall in percentage share of team's air yards (60.8). Jalen Reagor registered four targets and only managed one reception. However, that lone catch generated 55 yards. Justin Jefferson collected two of his three targets for 26 yards while functioning almost solely from the slot (94.5%).

Second-round selection Laviska Shenault Jr. (4 targets/3 receptions/37 yards /1 touchdown) was deployed outside on 56.7% of his 30 offensive plays while finishing third among Jacksonville wide receivers in snap count percentage (62%). Van Jefferson captured one of his three targets and played four fewer snaps than Josh Reynolds (37/33). But he should bypass Reynolds on LA’s depth chart very soon.



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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 2

After months of drafting and reshaping rosters, the long-awaited return of NFL matchups has finally occurred. This was the first opportunity to witness game action in any form, due to the absence of preseason contests. It was also the initial chance to evaluate your running backs as they performed during their opening day matchups. Some of you might be extremely satisfied with the production that your backs delivered in Week 1.

However, others might have lost confidence in the runners that are contained on your rosters, after experiencing disappointment in their ineffective performances, or the limitations of their workloads. Regardless of why you might be considering your waiver wire options, this article is designed to help you uncover the best backs that remain available as we enter planning for Week 2.

These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing and progressing to runners for fantasy GMs that are struggling with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. After you've finished this breakdown, you can also find news updates and data-fueled analysis that is designed to help you maximize the scoring potential of your rosters.

 

Running Back Leaderboard

Week 1 Rushing Leaders Team Attempts Yards YPC TD
Clyde Edwards-Helaire Kansas City 25 138 5.5 1
Ezekiel Elliott Dallas 22 96 4.4 1
Christian McCaffrey Carolina 23 96 4.2 2
Adrian Peterson Detroit 14 93 6.6 0
Josh Jacobs Las Vegas 25 93 3.7 3
Austin Ekeler LA Chargers 19 84 4.4 0
Malcolm Brown LA Rams 18 79 4.4 2
David Johnson Houston 11 77 7 1
Kareem Hunt Cleveland 13 72 5.5 0
Joe Mixon Cincinnati 19 69 3.6 0

 

Frontrunners - Week 2 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the options that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR formats than standard. All players have 60% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues.

James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars 

56% rostered

Robinson routinely gashed opposing defenses at the FCS level, accumulating 5,218 all-purpose yards and 46 touchdowns during his four seasons at Illinois State. He also exploded for 1,899 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground last season, then joined Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent. Even after the departure of Leonard Fournette, he was buried below Ryquell Armstead and Devine Ozigbo on the depth chart. But he performed impressively throughout training camp. and confiscated lead back responsibilities for the Jaguars in Week 1.

Robinson was the only Jacksonville back to register a carry during the season opener, and easily led the team in attempts (16), and rushing yardage (62). He also generated 28 yards on his lone reception and provided an enormous incentive for Doug Marone and Jay Gruden to keep him highly involved in the attack. Ozigbo (hamstring) and Armstead (COVID-19) will remain sidelined for multiple games, and their prolonged absences will cement Robinson’s role during the upcoming weeks. Despite a recent surge in interest by fantasy GMs, Robinson is still available in 44% of all leagues. But this will be the final week in which anyone can locate him on their waiver wires.

 

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers  

11% rostered

The transformed Charger offense was unveiled in Week 1 following an offseason of uncertainty concerning Austin Ekeler’s workload, and the competition for backup duties between Kelly and Justin JacksonJackson’s lingering hamstring issue deprived him of critical training camp reps while presenting Kelly with the pathway to overtake him on the depth chart. Kelly took full advantage of his opportunities against Cincinnati, and his proficiency supplies the incentive for fantasy GMs to seize the gifted rookie while he is still available.

He accrued 60 rushing yards and a touchdown with his 12 carries (5.0 per attempt), while Jackson was not a factor during the matchup (2 carries/4 yards/2.0 per attempt). Kelly has successfully navigated the challenge of reduced offseason preparation and appears to have secured LA’s RB2 responsibilities behind Ekeler. His ability to function as a power back should also help him sustain an ongoing role near the red zone. This enhances his status as an appealing option for fantasy GMs on the Week 2 waiver wire.

 

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

20% rostered

Ongoing speculation regarding how rushing attempts would be interspersed between third-year back Marlon Mack and promising rookie Jonathan Taylor provided a source of intrigue entering Week 1. But Mack’s non-contact injury impacted the Colts’ touch distribution while propelling Indy’s pass-catching specialist into an integral role. Hines confiscated two first-half touchdowns, and ultimately produced 73 total yards on 15 touches. That includes his 45 yards as a receiver, as Hines collected a team-high eight receptions.

Indianapolis running backs accumulated 20 carries, with Taylor accruing a team-best nine attempts. He also produced 67 yards on six receptions, and his responsibilities as both a rusher and receiver are destined to increase. Mack’s torn Achilles tendon has ended his season, while assuring that both Taylor and Hines will be critical resources during the Colts’ remaining matchups. Hines is a proven receiving weapon and can remain efficient during any involvement as a rusher. He is currently available in a whopping 80% of all leagues and should be included among your primary targets this week.

 

In The Running - Week 2 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds.

 

Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams

25% rostered

The Rams entered the post-Gurley era by deploying a timeshare between promising rookie Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, and six-year veteran Malcolm Brown on Sunday Night. Akers has the ability to perform adeptly in a three-down role, and should eventually rise atop the depth chart. But even though he is easily the most appealing component in the reshaped backfield, that will not preclude Sean McVay from utilizing multiple backs.

It also does not diminish the numbers that Brown assembled during the matchup with Dallas, as he accumulated 110 total yards on 21 touches. That included his production on the ground, as he amassed 79 yards and two touchdowns. Henderson has been contending with a hamstring injury, which was a factor in his limited usage and production (3 attempts/6 yards).

But Brown provides a steady veteran presence, and McVay appears committed to supplying him with an ongoing role for the foreseeable future. This should be of interest to anyone who is attempting to locate an early-season flex option.

 

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

43% rostered

Kenyan Drake performed adequately with his 16 attempts in Week 1, as he rushed for 60 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. But Edmonds garnered more touches than had been anticipated (9) and capitalized by assembling 45 total yards and a touchdown. This does not alter Drake’s status as Arizona’s primary back. But it does reinforce the recommendation that Edmonds should be added by anyone who already has Drake on their rosters.

It also creates standalone value for Edmonds. who had exceeded eight touches in just four games prior to the Cardinals' season opener. However, Edmonds has repeatedly provided enticing glimpses of his capabilities. This includes his potential to explode for substantial yardage when he was briefly elevated into feature back responsibilities last season (150 total yards/3 touchdowns in Week 7). Edmonds provides Kliff Kingsbury with a home-run threat, while also supplying fantasy GMs with a highly productive RB1 if Drake is sidelined for any reason.

 

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

48% rostered

The second-year back was a mainstay in this column throughout 2019 and remains cemented within the select group of premier insurance policies at the running back position. He capitalized on his opportunities during Minnesota’s disappointing Week 1 matchup, by generating 80 total yards on 10 touches. That includes the 50 yards that he attained on just six rushing attempts (8.3 yards per attempt). He also captured all four of his targets (30 receiving yards) during a performance that was consistent with his favorable outings as a rookie.

Dalvin Cook is entrenched as the Vikings lead back, in the aftermath of his 5-year contract extension. But Mattison has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to flourish with an extensive workload if Cook is unable to perform at any point during the season. This should compel anyone who used a first-round pick on Cook to protect their investment. Mattison also supplies other fantasy GMs with an RB1 for their lineups if Cook becomes unavailable.  

 

Dark Horses - Week 2 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you are willing to wait for the possibility of a larger role during the year, or consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries.

Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions 

45% rostered

Anyone who needed to extract a player from their roster might have considered dropping Peterson following his release by Washington. There was also a legitimate reason for concern that his presence in Detroit would create an unwanted committee in the Lions’ backfield, while collectively reducing the ceilings for newcomer D’Andre Swift, Kerryon Johnson, and the 35-year old Peterson. But his outlook has improved substantially after the Lions’ Week 1 matchup with Chicago.

He easily led Detroit’s backfield in attempts (14), and rushing yardage (93), and captured all three of his targets for 21 yards. Kerryon Johnson and second-round selection D’Andre Swift combined for a modest 10 carries and 22 yards on the ground. Swift’s touch total should increase as the season progresses. But Johnson’s opening day usage and recent injury history (14 missed games) have sent his stock into a rapid descent. Johnson’s declining touch total, and Peterson’s promising performance, should also allow Peterson to retain a consistent weekly role. This presents fantasy GMs with an effective flex option.

 

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs

28% rostered

Williams confiscated Kansas City’s RB2 responsibilities during training camp and remains firmly entrenched in that role. It was conceivable that Williams might procure a workload that was comparable to first-round draft pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire during Kansas City’s season opener since the matchup with Houston would be Edwards-Helaire’s professional debut. But the newcomer performed on 66% of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps, accumulated 25 rushing attempts, and bolted for 138 yards. Williams was relegated to 34% of the snaps while manufacturing 30 total yards on nine touches.

Williams’ Week 1 output was disappointing for anyone who started him as a flex (9 touches/30 total yards). However, the one-week sample size does not alter his firm status as the backup to Edwards-Helaire. He also retains the potential to function as the third-down back in Andy Reid’s explosive attack and to attain goal-line carries. Williams also supplies an insurance policy for fantasy GMs that invested a first-round pick on Edwards-Helaire and would become an RB1 if the rookie becomes unavailable during the year. This sustains his presence among the week’s targets on your waiver wire.

 

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers

13% rostered

Much has occurred within the NFL since 2017 when Dalvin Cook’s torn ACL elevated McKinnon into a sizable workload for Minnesota. McKinnon generated a career-high 570 rushing yards as a Viking, and also finished 12th among backs in receiving yards (421) that season. This prompted his desire to operate as an RB1, and San Francisco eventually signed him to a $30 million contract in 2018. But he experienced protracted recoveries from two season-ending knee injuries which had placed him below Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman on the 49ers’ depth chart.

However, that will not deter Kyle Shanahan from utilizing McKinnon as a component in his backfield during any given contest. That became evident during San Francisco's Week 1 matchup with Arizona, as he amassed six touches against the Cardinals. He also produced 44 total yards and also generated a receiving touchdown (5-yard reception). McKinnon’s involvement could create a nightmarish committee for fantasy GMs. But it would also vault McKinnon from the outermost region of irrelevance into consideration as a flex option.

 

Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure a running back with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Duke Johnson, Houston Texans 

43% rostered

The first five years of Johnson’s career have provided a blend of sustained efficiency and mystifying limitations in his usage. Johnson averaged 80 targets, 63 receptions, and 580 receiving yards from 2015-2017, and finished among the top 15 in targets (62) and receiving yards (410) during his first year in Houston.

But his snap count has never surpassed 53% during his five seasons and was limited to 47.8%.in 2019. This process continued in Week 1 even before Johnson encountered his ankle injury. He manufactured just 14 yards on five carries (2.8 yards per attempt) and was targeted only once. David Johnson was deployed extensively, while accumulating 14 touches, and accruing 109 total yards. 77 of those yards were assembled on the ground, while he averaged an impressive 7.0 yards per attempt.

Bill O’Brien will remain intent on utilizing David Johnson as Houston’s workhorse back. But there is no guarantee that he would assign the same workload to Duke Johnson if David Johnson becomes unavailable for any reason. Duke Johnson’s ankle issue could also keep him sidelined for this week’s home opener against Baltimore. These factors supply your incentive for dropping him if you need to bolster other areas of your roster.

 

Ryquell Armstead, Jacksonville Jaguars

 16% rostered

The rising fortunes of Robinson hardly presented the scenario that fantasy GMs envisioned when they invested in Armstead. The 5’11”, 220-pound back was the presumed backup to the now-departed Fournette throughout the offseason. This appeared to provide the pathway toward an extensive workload, which fueled the interest in selecting Armstead. But when the Jaguars jettisoned their former starter, Robinson became the primary beneficiary. While the newcomer was capitalizing on his opportunity to perform during training camp, Armstead’s availability was reduced drastically by two extended absences, due to placement on the COVID-19 list.

Armstead’s timeline for a return is uncertain, while his stock has steadily declined as Robinson has commandeered lead back duties. If Armstead is occupying a slot on your roster, he cannot provide any assistance to any lineup challenges that you might encounter. There is also no assurance that he can become a viable resource in the foreseeable future. This presents the ingredients for roster removal.

 

Devonta Freeman, Unsigned Free Agent

13% rostered

The number of backs that are clearly droppable will expand as we progress into the regular season. This will occur as ineffective performances or unwanted injuries will prompt fantasy GMs to drop these runners. But if you are planning on adding one of the backs that have been discussed in this article, removing Freeman is an effective method for clearing roster space. He has not resurfaced in a new environment after eschewing an offer from Seattle in May and failing to arrive at a deal with Jacksonville last week.

The six-year veteran did finish 20th in point per game scoring (PPR) last season while finishing 10th among backs in targets (70), and eighth in receptions (59). However, he only averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per attempt as a rusher and has not elicited significant interest on the market. Where or when he will reemerge remains uncertain. But Freeman’s name cannot be found on an NFL roster and there is no reason for him to be included on yours.



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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 3

After two weeks of the regular season, some of the running backs that were drafted in the early and middle rounds have performed effectively for anyone who selected them. Hopefully, you are among the fantasy GMs that have received favorable results from your backs. Unfortunately, other runners have not delivered the results that were expected.

That applies to a growing collection of backs that have encountered injuries, including Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley. Other managers are contending with backs that have been encumbered by production-inhibiting committees. Regardless of why you might be considering your waiver wire options, this article is designed to help you pinpoint the best backs that remain available as we enter planning for Week 3.

These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing and progressing to runners for fantasy GMs that are struggling with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. After you've finished this breakdown, you can also find news updates and data-fueled analysis that is designed to help you maximize the scoring potential of your rosters.

 

Running Back Leaderboard

Week 2 Rushing Leaders Team Attempts Yards YPC TDs
Aaron Jones Green Bay 18 168 9.3 2
Nick Chubb Cleveland 22 124 5.6 2
James Conner Pittsburgh 16 106 6.6 1
Leonard Fournette Tampa Bay 12 103 8.6 2
James Robinson Jacksonville 16 102 6.4 1
Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis 26 101 3.9 1
Miles Sanders Philadelphia 20 95 4.8 1
Austin Ekeler LA Chargers 16 93 5.8 0
Raheem Mostert San Francisco 8 92 11.5 1
Ezekiel Elliott Dallas 22 89 4.1 1
Kareem Hunt Cleveland 10 86 8.6 1
Kenyan Drake Arizona 20 86 4.3 0

 

Frontrunners - Week 3 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the options that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR formats than standard. All players have 60% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues.

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams

30% rostered

Henderson was sidelined during LA's season opener due to a hamstring issue. But his stock has increased dramatically following his usage and output during the Rams' Week 2 matchup at Philadelphia. Henderson led LA in rushing attempts (12) and rushing yards (81/6.8 per attempt) while exploding for 121 yards and a touchdown. Malcolm Brown carried 11 times and manufactured 47 yards (4.3 per attempt) before contending with a finger injury, while Cam Akers' involvement ended prematurely due to a rib injury (3 attempts/13 rushing yards).

 

Henderson has presented an appealing upside due to his potential for delivering big plays. But his home run capabilities had not been displayed at the NFL level until Sunday. The health of Akers and Brown should be monitored as the week progresses, and Sean McVay could distribute touches to all three of his backs whenever the trio can resurface on the field. But Henderson should have earned a higher percentage of touches after his high-quality production in Week 2. That vaults him among this week's primary targets on the waiver wire.

 

Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers

1% rostered

Christian McCaffrey has never missed a game since entering the league in 2017. This sustained health during his NFL career has enabled him to amass 646 rushing attempts, accrue 311 receptions, and generate 5,666 total yards. But that streak will end after the seemingly invincible McCaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain during Carolina’s NFC South matchup in Tampa.

McCaffrey will be sidelined from 4-6 weeks in the aftermath of an MRI on his problematic ankle. This elevates Davis into RB1 duties for the Panthers until McCaffrey can reemerge. The 5’9”, 220-pound Davis gained just one yard on his only rushing attempt in Week 2. But he did capture all eight of his targets for 74 yards against the Buccaneers. The absence of McCaffrey is a scenario that fantasy GMs would have preferred to avoid. But anyone who secures Davis can deploy him in their lineups until McCaffrey can eventually function as the centerpiece of Carolina’s attack.

 

Devonta Freeman, New York Giants

12% rostered

Barkley was sidelined by a knee injury during the first half of his matchup in Chicago. This is an unwanted situation for anyone that selected him among the top two picks during their drafts. There was not a legitimate insurance policy on the current Giant roster, it was uncertain that Dion Lewis could ascend into responsibilities as New York's primary back. But the situation has been altered through the signing of Freeman.

The 28-year-old back declined an offer from the Seahawks last May and departed Jacksonville without a contract earlier this month. But he will now join a Giant rushing attack that has a definitive need for his contributions. The timeline for Freeman to be ready for a significant workload is uncertain. But Lewis and Gallman should receive touches until Freeman is ready to emerge.

None of the backs that are currently in the Giants’ roster can provide the prospects of league-winning upside that exists with premier backups such as Chase Edmonds, Alexander Mattison, Tony Pollard, or Latavius Murray. But Freeman is worthy of targeting on your waiver wire. He is also available in nearly 90% of all leagues.

 

In The Running - Week 3 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds.

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers  

39% rostered

The Chargers began the season with Austin Ekeler established as the primary back, while both Kelley and Justin Jackson were contenders to split carries with LA’s elusive RB1. There was also the potential for the Chargers to spread the touch distribution among all three backs on a regular basis. But after two games, Kelley has now carried 35 times, while generating 124 yards on the ground. Jackson has collected just two carries after a quad issue sidelined him for the Charger’s AFC West matchup with Kansas City in Week 2.

The  injury has already encumbered Jackson’s ability to rise from his spot on the depth chart, as Kelley becomes increasingly entrenched in his role as the Chargers’ RB2. The 5’11”, 210-pound Kelley has made an immediate impact with his first two performances, and his proficiency should rise as he gains experience. This should compel fantasy GMs to secure him for their rosters while he remains available.


Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

42% rostered

Edmonds' numbers during Arizona's Week 2 matchup with Washington were not overly impressive (6 touches/13 total yards. But that should not diminish your motivation to secure him for your rosters. He remains available in nearly 60% of all leagues, even though he is entrenched among the most enticing roster additions on the waiver wire. Edmonds is the consummate insurance policy for anyone who has Kenyan Drake on their rosters and would ignite statistically if he were to absorb Drake’s workload for any reason. 

Edmonds also retains the potential to assemble sizable yardage whenever he is on the field. He could have scored a touchdown for a second consecutive week versus Washington but was overthrown by Kyler Murray in the end zone. Kliff Kingsbury has also characterized Edmonds as a"starting running back", and appears to have made it a priority to blend Edmonds into his weekly strategic approach. Edmonds is a home run threat on every touch and would become a potential league winner if Drake is suddenly unavailable.

 

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

45% rostered

Mattison has been an unwavering recommendation in this column. That continues this week due to his proximity to a mammoth touch total and the sizable numbers that he will accrue if that workload develops. Mattison has demonstrated repeatedly that he is capable of gaining yardage as a rusher and receiver, and would be presented with the opportunity to flourish in an every-down capacity if Dalvin Cook is absent from Minnesota’s lineup.

While Mattison is operating as Cook’s backup, he does receive a weekly allotment of touches and performs proficiently during those opportunities. He assembled 80 total yards on 10 touches during Minnesota’s season opener but was limited to 16 total yards on four touches in Week 2 against the Colts. Cook has now accumulated 113 rushing yards on 26 attempts, while also producing three touchdowns. But Mattison will vault to RB1 status for fantasy GMs if he absorbs Cook's extensive workload at any point during the season.

 

Dark Horses - Week 3 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you are willing to wait for the possibility of a larger role during the year, or consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries.

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers

20% rostered

McKinnon could soar to the top San Francisco's depth chart after beginning the season as a candidate to compete for touches with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman. He has now accumulated nine touches while accruing 121 total yards during the 49ers' first two matchups. That includes the team's Week 2 invasion of New York when McKinnon assembled 77 rushing yards and a touchdown on just three attempts against the Jets.

McKinnon's efficiency with his opportunities would have cemented him among this week's recommendations to target on your waiver wire. But his workload will also increase if Mostert (knee) is unable to perform this week against the Giants. Kyle Shanahan had seemingly settled on Mostert as the 49ers' primary back, and the former Purdue Boilermaker had accumulated 258 total yards. He also bolted for an 80-yard touchdown reception against the Jets. But Mostert's departure elevated McKinnon into an expanded role. Mostert's MCL sprain will also keep him sidelined this week, while Coleman is dealing with a knee sprain that will force him to miss multiple contests. This has positioned McKinnon for a significant workload. He remains available in 80% of all leagues and is a viable roster addition before this week's matchup in New York.

 

Frank Gore, New York Jets 

14% rostered

Many fantasy GMs remain uninspired by the concept of adding a 37-year-old back. However, Gore’s relevance was ascending this week even before the Jets placed Le’Veon Bell on injured reserve (hamstring).

Adam Gase’s puzzling track record of player usage includes his indifference toward Bell. But he also shares a positive relationship with Gore from their time together in Miami and San Francisco. This was a factor in Gase’s commitment toward providing Gore with a weekly role regardless of Bell’s status. Gore (24 rushing yards) also outperformed Bell (14 rushing yards) when both backs carried six times in Week 1.

But Gore easily functioned as New York’s lead back during the Jets’ Week 2 matchup with San Francisco while stockpiling 21 attempts. Bell’s injury and Gase’s imprecise leadership have created a situation that is unfavorable for anyone who selected Bell. But it also provides the opportunity to add Gore, who can function as a flex in deeper leagues.

 

Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure a running back with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Matt Breida, Miami Dolphins

48% rostered

Breida appeared to provide a level of explosiveness that has been severely lacking in the Miami backfield before the Dolphins acquired him from San Francisco. But optimism that surrounded his arrival during the offseason has evolved into nightmarish usage and production for anyone who invested a Round 9 draft selection on the 25-year-old back. Breida resides below Myles Gaskin on Miami’s depth chart and has accumulated just 59 rushing yards on 12 carries during the Dolphins’ first two matchups.

His involvement as a pass-catcher also consists of one reception for two yards. Even if Breida were to somehow attain a higher percentage of the touch distribution in upcoming weeks, the Dolphins’ backfield has become overcrowded with the emergence of Gaskin, and the potential for Patrick Larid to also become involved. Breida will also be functioning within a Miami offense that contains multiple shortcomings. That destines fantasy GMs for continued disappointment in upcoming weeks and should supply the incentive to discard him.

 

Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins

74% rostered

While Breida's relevance is dissipating rapidly, Howard’s has evaporated completely. He joined the Dolphins with an opportunity to operate as the early-down back, with red zone carries blended into the equation. But his 0.9 yards per attempt average in Week 1 was eerily reminiscent of the microscopic rushing results that were delivered by Kalen Ballage (1,8 per attempt) and Patrick Laird (2.7 per attempt) when Miami’s ground game ranked dead last during 2019.  He also managed just four yards on five attempts (0.8 per attempt) during his Week 2 matchup with Buffalo and has now manufactured a minuscule 11 yards on 13 attempts during his first two games with the Dolphins (0.85 per attempt). Even if Howard’s workload were to increase slightly in the upcoming weeks, it would be extremely risky to start him. That should compel managers to avoid using him, which also removes any rationale for keeping him on your rosters.

 

Duke Johnson, Houston Texans

26% rostered

Johnson was rostered in 48% of all leagues entering Houston’s season opener against Kansas City. But that percentage dropped to 26% when the Texans hosted Baltimore. There are multiple reasons why you should join other fantasy GMs that have removed him from their rosters. Regardless of  your opinion regarding Duke Johnson’s talent as a dual-threat weapon, David Johnson is embedded above him on Houston‘s depth chart. Bill O’Brien has provided consistent evidence that Duke will only be deployed on a specific percentage of plays each week.

David has carried 22 times, assembled 111 rushing yards, and amassed 48 receiving yards after two games. But Duke carried just five times and did not register a reception during Houston's season opener. Even though Duke appears to supply the Texans with a valuable resource to supplement David, O’Brien has shown no indication that he shares that sentiment. Duke's ankle injury also kept him sidelined during the Texans’ Week 2 matchup, which creates uncertainty surrounding the date of his return. However, your timetable for making better use of his roster spot is now.



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Boston Scott (RB, PHI) - Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups

BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues

OWNED IN: 45% of Leagues

ANALYSIS: Scott’s journey into the fantasy landscape began slowly. He was selected 201st overall by New Orleans during the 2018 NFL Draft before Philadelphia signed him from the Saints' practice squad later that season. He started 2019 as an afterthought within the Eagles’ backfield, which was comprised of Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Darren Sproles. This limited Scott to just 38 offensive snaps from weeks 1-13. But he suddenly burst into relevance as a valuable component in Doug Peterson’s offense when injuries depleted the Eagles’ backfield.

He accumulated 355 total yards from weeks 14-17, including 151 rushing yards on 38 attempts. He also captured 23 of his 25 targets, while finishing third among all backs with 199 receiving yards during that four-game sequence. That includes his career-high 84 during Week 17. With only Corey Clement below him on the depth chart, Scott’s late-season performances have solidified his role as Philadelphia’s RB2 behind Sanders. It has also injected him into the collection of viable roster additions.

UPDATE 9/12 @ 4 PM ET: With the news that Miles Sanders is out for Week 1, Boston Scott becomes even more of a must-add in all leagues. If he's still available on your waiver wire, be sure to pick him up. If you are looking for a better RB2 or Flex option for Week 1, feel free to roll out Boston Scott. Corey Clement should be in the mix as well for touches in the backfield, but Scott will likely see more volume and has previously shown he can be a productive fantasy football running back.

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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 1

How high was your level of concern that we might not experience an NFL regular season? Anyone who wondered whether Week 1 matchups would transpire as expected is just days away from witnessing all 32 teams in their season openers. While you have been anticipating the onset of regular-season games, you have also been focusing your time and energy constructing rosters in leagues of all formats.

Once your teams were assembled, you may have been satisfied with the results. But that initial enthusiasm might have diminished after you re-examined your rosters. This could easily include the running backs that you selected during your drafts. Regardless of why you are now considering your waiver wire options, this article is designed to help you uncover the best backs to target on the Week 1 waiver wire.

These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing options and progressing to suggestions for fantasy GMs that are struggling with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. After you've finished this breakdown, you can also find the latest news and data-driven analysis from the team at RotoBaller that is designed to maximize your scoring potential in Week 1.

 

Frontrunners - Week 1 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the options that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR formats than standard. All players have 60% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues.

 

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

44% rostered

Edmonds presents an enticing combination of talent and the opportunity to perform in an Arizona offense that places running backs in a position to thrive. He remains available in over 50%, of all leagues, due to the presence of Kenyan Drake, who begins the year as the Cardinals’ RB1. Drake has earned this distinction after finishing second in touchdowns (eight), and sixth in rushing yardage (643) from Weeks 9-17.

However, he has averaged 114 attempts and 150 touches during his four NFL seasons and remains untested by the challenges of performing as a high-volume back for 16 games. This elevates Edmond’s potential for achieving standalone value. Edmonds has also displayed his ability to flourish with feature back responsibilities, by bursting for 126 yards and three touchdowns in Week 7.

If Drake in on your roster, it is highly recommended that you seize Edmonds as an insurance policy. All other fantasy GMS are encouraged to secure Edmonds, who will soar to RB1 status if Drake becomes unavailable for any reason.

 

Chris Thompson, Jacksonville Jaguars

37% rostered 

Jacksonville’s decision to jettison Leonard Fournette has ignited interest in Devine OzigboRyquell Armstead, and James Robinson, as the fantasy community attempts to determine which back will benefit most from Fournette’s departure. However, Thompson was destined to receive a sizable share of the 100 targets that Fournette collected last season even before Fournette was released. He built a track record of flourishing as a receiver when Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was his head coach in Washington. That includes last season when Thompson was third among backs in targets (35/7.0 per game) and receiving yards (268/53.6 per game) before a protracted toe problem sidelined him from Weeks 6-12.

Weeks 1-5 Targets Targets/Game Yards/Targ Recepts Yards TDs
Austin Ekeler 41 8.2 8.7 39 356 3
Christian McCaffrey 39 7.8 7.2 31 279 1
Chris Thompson 35 7 7.7 25 268 0
David Johnson 33 6.6 7.5 24 247 2
Le'Veon Bell 32 8 5.2 27 166 1
Alvin Kamara 31 6.2 7.8 26 241 1
Tarik Cohen 31 6.2 4.1 20 128 1
James White 30 7.5 5.9 22 178 1
Leonard Fournette 30 6 4.8 20 143 0
Devonta Freeman 26 5.2 6.7 22 173 1

He also led all backs in receiving yards (493) in 2017, before being sidelined during Washington's last six contests (fractured fibula). He has missed 17 contests since 2017, but that should not overshadow his on-field accomplishments. This includes finishing among the top nine backs in targets per game during each of his last three seasons. Thompson’s pass-catching proficiency should keep him highly involved in a Jacksonville attack that will be operating with an unending array of negative game scripts. That will supply you with a valuable flex option in PPR leagues.

Year Targets Targets/Game Recepts Yards TDs
2019 58 5.3 42 378 0
2018 55 5.5 41 268 1
2017 54 5.4 39 510 4
2016 62 3.9 49 349 2
2015 48 4 35 240 2

 

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs

19% rostered

After Damien Williams made his decision to opt-out of the 2020 regular season, former Raider DeAndre Washington was initially a popular choice to capture backup duties behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire. However, it was Darrel Williams who commandeered the most first-team reps during training camp and ultimately prevailed in competition with Washington and second-year back Darwin Thompson. Williams joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and accumulated 308 total yards on 56 touches during 2019. He also provided a glimpse of his ability to function effectively in Andy Reid’s attack by accruing 109 total yards on 14 touches in week 3, including 62 yards on the ground.

Williams has now commandeered Kansas City’s RB2 responsibilities and will share touches with Edwards-Helaire as the season launches. This has vaulted him into consideration among this week's most enticing targets on your waiver wire. He also provides a viable insurance policy for anyone who has secured Edwards-Helaire for their rosters.

 

In The Running - Week 1 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds.

 

Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles

45% rostered

Scott’s journey into the fantasy landscape began slowly. He was selected 201st overall by New Orleans during the 2018 NFL Draft before Philadelphia signed him from the Saints' practice squad later that season. He started 2019 as an afterthought within the Eagles’ backfield, which was comprised of Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Darren Sproles. This limited Scott to just 38 offensive snaps from weeks 1-13. But he suddenly burst into relevance as a valuable component in Doug Peterson’s offense when injuries depleted the Eagles’ backfield.

Weeks 14-17 Receiving Yards Targets Yards/Target Receptions
Christian McCaffrey 361 47 7.7 41
Austin Ekeler 275 29 9.5 23
Boston Scott 199 25 8 23
Melvin Gordon 173 26 6.7 22
Kareem Hunt 167 19 8.8 17
Tarik Cohen 150 30 5 25
Miles Sanders 150 22 6.8 18
Saquon Barkley 147 17 8.6 14
James White 133 19 7 15
DeAndre Washington 125 22 5.7 18
Duke Johnson 116 21 5.5 14
Devonta Freeman 115 21 5.5 17
Aaron Jones 107 16 6.7 10
Jalen Richard 100 12 8.3 10
Joe Mixon 97 10 9.7 9

He accumulated 355 total yards from weeks 14-17, including 151 rushing yards on 38 attempts. He also captured 23 of his 25 targets, while finishing third among all backs with 199 receiving yards during that four-game sequence. That includes his career-high 84 during Week 17. With only Corey Clement below him on the depth chart, Scott’s late-season performances have solidified his role as Philadelphia’s RB2 behind Sanders. It has also injected him into the collection of viable roster additions.

 

Devine Ozigbo, Jacksonville Jaguars

12% rostered 

There were clear indications during the offseason that a long-term relationship between the Jaguars and Fournette was unlikely. Armstead was the preferred insurance policy for anyone with Fournette on their rosters, while Ozigbo was likely to receive a modest workload. But Armstead has now been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list twice. This provided Ozigbo with an expanded platform to showcase his capabilities, and he has secured lead back duties entering Week 1. Ozigbo was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by New Orleans in 2019, then was later claimed off waivers by Jacksonville.

He only registered six snaps until Week 17, before collecting 12 touches during the Jaguars’ season finale. Qzigbo also averaged 371 rushing yards on 88 attempts during his first three seasons at Nebraska, before exploding for 1,082 yards on 155 carries (7.0 yards per attempt) in 2018. His rushing attempts will be interspersed with Robinson’s while Thompson will absorb the vast majority of targets. That elevates Ozigbo among this week’s most enticing roster additions.

 

James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

2% rostered

Jacksonville's failed efforts to trade Fournette were well-documented and were followed by the Jaguars' disinterest in extending his 5th-year option. This should have built a fortress of red flags that shielded fantasy GMs from the temptation of selecting Fournette. The potential existed for several Jaguars to experience an expanded touch total if Fournette was released. But Armstead was the prime candidate to assume RB1 responsibilities if that scenario occurred. However, Armstead’s extended absence during training camp cleared a path for Robinson to seize a role within the backfield.

The undrafted free agent then responded by performing impressively during camp. Robinson also stockpiled 3,207 yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground during his final two seasons at Illinois State. Now Robinson is primed to share carries with Ozigbo, while Thompson performs as the backfield’ pass-catching specialist. Robinson should be available on your waiver wire and is worthy of a roster addition.

 

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

20% rostered

Jonathan Taylor averaged a whopping 309 attempts and 2,058 rushing yards per season during his three years at Wisconsin. But he only accumulated 42 receptions and 407 yards as a receiver. He will begin this season splitting carries with Marlon Mack, while Hines will operate as Philip Rivers’ primary receiving weapon from the backfield.

Hines tied for seventh among all backs in targets during 2018 (81), was eighth in receptions (63), and 15th in receiving yards (425). But his snap count percentage shrunk from 44% to 32% last season. This resulted in a drop for his per-game averages in targets (5.1-3.6), receptions (3.9-2.8), and yardage (26.6-20). But Hines still paced the Colt backfield in each category, as Mack was relegated to minimal involvement (17 targets/14 receptions/82 yards). Rivers’ reunion with Frank Reich could propel Hines to a role that replicates Danny Woodhead’s usage when Rivers and Reich were with the Chargers. This supplies you with a viable flex option in PPR leagues.

 

Dark Horses - Week 1 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you are willing to wait for the possibility of a larger role during the year, or consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries.

 

Benny Snell, Pittsburgh Steelers

13% rostered

Snell manufactured 426 yards on 108 attempts (3.9 yards per attempt) during his 2019 rookie season, although he was a complete non-factor as a pass-catcher (4 targets/3 receptions/23 yards). He did average 73.6 yards per game during the five matchups in which he received 16+ carries and tied for fifth in yards after contact per attempt (2.8). But that failed to elevate Snell into strong consideration as an enticing roster option during most of the offseason. The Steelers’ fourth-round selection of Anthony McFarland also appeared to relegate Snell to a modest role within the allocation of backfield touches.

However, Snell shed weight and performed effectively during training camp. This appears to have launched him into the Steelers’ RB2 role which has presented fantasy GMs with the incentive to add him. His stock will soar even further if James Conner is sidelined for any reason. This also makes Snell an outstanding addition for anyone that has Conner on their rosters.

 

Bryce Love, Washington Football Team

12% rostered

While Antonio Gibson became a popular topic following Adrian Peterson‘s release, he was already rostered in over 70% of all leagues when that news was announced. He had become an intriguing roster component due to his unique combination of size (6’2”, 220-pounds), speed (4.39-40 yard dash), and versatility. The departure of Pederson elevates Gibson’s stock even higher. But since he is unavailable in the majority of leagues, this presents you with motivation to target Love.

He finished second overall in rushing yards during his third season at Stanford (2,118) and averaged 8.1 yards per attempt. But he experienced a torn ACL in 2018 which required two surgeries before he resurfaced during training camp. He should attain an ongoing role in Scott Turner’s Washington offense while sharing touches with Gibson and J.D. McKissic. While this could keep Love embedded within a committee, he could also confiscate a significant percentage of touches.

 

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers

9% rostered

Kelley has not received the same level of interest that has been attained by other members of his rookie class. But he has a legitimate opportunity to capture a consistent weekly workload. Austin Ekeler is cemented as LA’s primary back and will perform as the Chargers’ exceptional pass cashing weapon from the backfield. But the team will allocate rushing attempts to multiple backs, and Kelley is competing with former seventh-round draft pick Justin Jackson for the opportunity to split carries with Ekeler.

Kelley appears to have overcome the hurdles of a condensed offseason that prevented him from experiencing the usual team activities. Jackson had shared first-team reps with Ekeler during the initial portion of training camp, but Kelly quickly earned his own percentage of first-team involvement. Kelley also provides a physical presence that should ensure an ongoing role as the Chargers’ power back, and should also vault him beyond Jackson on the depth chart. That should provide your incentive to add him this week.

 

Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure a running back with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

 

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

27% rostered 

While the arrival of Fournette was an unfavorable development for Ronald Jones, it sent Vaughn’s declining stock into a devastating freefall. The rookie appeared to have a genuine chance of becoming Tampa Bay’s lead back after the Buccaneers selected him during Round 3 of last April’s NFL draft. But anticipation that Vaughn could make an immediate statistical impact has been increasingly squashed during the summer. The dramatic reduction in team activities created his first significant hurdle.

His limited time to form a favorable impression with Bruce Arians and Tom Brady was constrained even further when he was placed on the COVID-19 list. This forced an extended absence from training camp, which was followed by underwhelming performances after Vaughn arrived. These factors cemented him under  Jones on the depth chart, while the addition of Fournette has pushed Vaughn even further from relevance. That should compel you to locate a player that is not an afterthought in his team’s offense.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

22% rostered

Jackson generated nearly 5,500 rushing yards (5,440) and produced 41 touchdowns during four seasons at Northwestern (2014-2017). He has also provided flashes of his ability to accrue yardage at the professional level by rushing for 190 yards in Weeks 12-15 of 2018 and assembling 142 yards on 18 attempts last September. But Jackson has also contended with multiple injuries during his tenure with LA (calf/ hamstring) and is currently hampered by a toe issue. This has created an absence from daily camp activities, which has been detrimental to Jackson.

Kelly's stock has surged. as he has performed effectively during camp. This will increase his acceleration toward the Chargers' RB2 role. Jackson might not be healthy for the Chargers’ opener. If rushing attempts are distributed between all three backs whenever Jackson does return, Ekeler and Kelly are destined to commandeer larger roles than Jackson. This will restrict his ability to deliver points, which supplies your incentive to locate a more favorable roster option.

Carlos Hyde, Seattle Seahawks – 26% owned

The number of backs that are clearly droppable will expand as we progress into the regular season. This recommendation only applies if you are attempting to make a roster addition, and cannot locate a clear candidate to release. A healthy Chris Carson will commandeer a massive workload as Seattle’s lead back, after finishing fifth in rushing attempts (278/18.5 per game) and fourth in yards after contact (734). Rashaad Penny will begin the year on the reserve/PUP list, and Hyde would accrue attempts if Carson is sidelined. But he does not present fantasy GMs with a definitive insurance policy that is comparable to must-own backups Edmonds, Alexander Madison, Latavius Murray, and Tony Pollard. Rookie DeeJay Dallas would also be included in the backfield mix if Carson is unavailable. This eliminates the possibility that Hyde would automatically absorb the same touch total that had been allocated to Carson. Anyone who has the opportunity to add an unquestioned contributor can consider dropping Hyde in order to make the transaction.



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Benny Snell (RB, PIT) - Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups

OWNED IN: 13% of Leagues

ANALYSIS: Snell manufactured 426 yards on 108 attempts (3.9 yards per attempt) during his 2019 rookie season, although he was a complete non-factor as a pass-catcher (4 targets/3 receptions/23 yards). He did average 73.6 yards per game during the five matchups in which he received 16+ carries and tied for fifth in yards after contact per attempt (2.8).

Even with those numbers, Snell couldn't elevate himself into strong consideration as an enticing roster option during most of the offseason. The Steelers’ fourth-round selection of Anthony McFarland also appeared to relegate Snell to a modest role within the allocation of backfield touches.

However, Snell shed weight and performed effectively during training camp. This appears to have launched him into the Steelers’ RB2 role which has presented fantasy GMs with the incentive to add him. His stock will soar even further if James Conner is sidelined for any reason. This also makes Snell an outstanding addition for anyone that has Conner on their rosters.

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Nyheim Hines (RB, IND) - Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups

BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues

OWNED IN: 20% of Leagues

ANALYSISJonathan Taylor averaged a whopping 309 attempts and 2,058 rushing yards per season during his three years at Wisconsin. But he only accumulated 42 receptions and 407 yards as a receiver. He will begin this season splitting carries with Marlon Mack, while Hines will operate as Philip Rivers’ primary receiving weapon from the backfield. It seems everyone is expecting Jonathan Taylor to break out and win Rookie of the Year in his first NFL contest. Not only is that premature, it's unrealistic.

Taylor had a hard time catching passes during the preseason and will not have a big role as a receiver initially as he acclimates to the league and gains the trust of the coaching staff. That role belongs to Hines, who has caught 107 passes his first two seasons.

Hines tied for seventh among all backs in targets during 2018 (81), was eighth in receptions (63), and 15th in receiving yards (425). But his snap count percentage shrunk from 44% to 32% last season. This resulted in a drop for his per-game averages in targets (5.1-3.6), receptions (3.9-2.8), and yardage (26.6-20). But Hines still paced the Colt backfield in each category, as Mack was relegated to minimal involvement (17 targets/14 receptions/82 yards).

Rivers’ reunion with Frank Reich could propel Hines to a role that replicates Danny Woodhead’s usage when Rivers and Reich were with the Chargers. This supplies you with a viable flex option in PPR leagues. He also gets to face Jacksonville in Week 1, which allowed the ninth-most receiving yards to running backs last year.

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James Robinson (RB, JAX) - Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups

BALLER MOVE: Add in Deep Leagues

OWNED IN: 2% of Leagues

ANALYSIS: Jacksonville’s decision to jettison Leonard Fournette has ignited interest in Devine OzigboRyquell Armstead, and James Robinson, as the fantasy community attempts to determine which back will benefit most from Fournette’s departure.

Jacksonville's failed efforts to trade Fournette were well-documented and were followed by the Jaguars' disinterest in extending his 5th-year option. This should have built a fortress of red flags that shielded fantasy GMs from the temptation of selecting Fournette. The potential existed for several Jaguars to experience an expanded touch total if Fournette was released. But Armstead was the prime candidate to assume RB1 responsibilities if that scenario occurred. However, Armstead’s extended absence during training camp cleared a path for Robinson to seize a role within the backfield.

The undrafted free agent then responded by performing impressively during camp. Robinson also stockpiled 3,207 yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground during his final two seasons at Illinois State. Now Robinson is primed to share carries with Ozigbo, while Thompson performs as the backfield’ pass-catching specialist. Robinson should be available on your waiver wire and is worthy of a roster addition.

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Darrel Williams (RB, KC) - Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups

BALLER MOVE: Add in 12-Team Leagues

OWNED IN: 19% of Leagues

ANALYSIS: After Damien Williams made his decision to opt-out of the 2020 regular season, former Raider DeAndre Washington was initially a popular choice to capture backup duties behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire. However, it was Darrel Williams who commandeered the most first-team reps during training camp and ultimately prevailed in competition with Washington and second-year back Darwin Thompson. Williams joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and accumulated 308 total yards on 56 touches during 2019. He also provided a glimpse of his ability to function effectively in Andy Reid’s attack by accruing 109 total yards on 14 touches in week 3, including 62 yards on the ground.

As the RB2 in KC, Williams now becomes a high-end insurance policy for Clyde Edwards-Helaire after DeAndre Washington was released. He could also play the role of TD vulture as the bigger back. He's not a big bruiser at 5'11" and 224 lbs but that gives him quite the advantage over Edwards-Helaire, who stands at 5'7" and 207 lbs. His role will more to frustrate CEH owners than anything but those in standard leagues might count on a score from Williams.

Taking on Kansas City’s RB2 responsibilities and sharing touches with CEH as the season launches has vaulted Williams into consideration among this week's most enticing targets on your waiver wire. He also provides a viable insurance policy for anyone who has secured Edwards-Helaire for their rosters.

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Bryce Love (RB, WAS) - Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups

BALLER MOVE: Add in Deep Leagues

OWNED IN: 12% of Leagues

ANALYSIS: While Antonio Gibson became a popular topic following Adrian Peterson‘s release, he was already rostered in over 70% of all leagues when that news was announced. He had become an intriguing roster component due to his unique combination of size (6’2”, 220-pounds), speed (4.39-40 yard dash), and versatility. The departure of Pederson elevates Gibson’s stock even higher. But since he is unavailable in the majority of leagues, this presents you with motivation to target Love.

He finished second overall in rushing yards during his third season at Stanford (2,118) and averaged 8.1 yards per attempt. But he experienced a torn ACL in 2018 which required two surgeries before he resurfaced during training camp. He should attain an ongoing role in Scott Turner’s Washington offense while sharing touches with Gibson and J.D. McKissic. While this could keep Love embedded within a committee, he could also confiscate a significant percentage of touches.

If you believe he can recapture his college form and seize the chance to earn touches for a team in need of a new face in its backfield, take a chance on him breaking out. If you firmly believe it's Antonio Gibson szn or don't think Love can make much of a pro career after missing all of his rookie year recovering from ACL surgery, then look elsewhere on this list.

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Chase Edmonds (RB, ARI) - Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups

BALLER MOVE: Add in 12-Team Leagues

OWNED IN: 44% of Leagues

ANALYSIS: Edmonds presents an enticing combination of talent and the opportunity to perform in an Arizona offense that places running backs in a position to thrive. He remains available in over 50%, of all leagues, due to the presence of Kenyan Drake, who begins the year as the Cardinals’ RB1. Drake has earned this distinction after finishing second in touchdowns (eight), and sixth in rushing yardage (643) from Weeks 9-17.

However, he has averaged 114 attempts and 150 touches during his four NFL seasons and remains untested by the challenges of performing as a high-volume back for 16 games. This elevates Edmond’s potential for achieving standalone value. Edmonds has also displayed his ability to flourish with feature back responsibilities, by bursting for 126 yards and three touchdowns in Week 7.

If Drake in on your roster, it is highly recommended that you seize Edmonds as an insurance policy. All other fantasy GMS are encouraged to secure Edmonds, who will soar to RB1 status if Drake becomes unavailable for any reason.

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Darrel Williams (RB, KC) - Fantasy Football Draft Values

BALLER MOVE: Target Around ~140-160 Overall

CURRENT ADP: ~220

ANALYSIS: Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams is the clear No. 2 running back behind rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire after two weeks of practices. A few weeks ago Damien Williams decided to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, elevating Darrel Williams' fantasy stock considerably. Edwards-Helaire should see the lion's share of backfield work in this explosive offense, making him a high-end RB1 in his rookie season, but Williams is now worthy of a late-round target in fantasy leagues, at least as a handcuff to CEH if you select him in the first round.

After Damien Williams made his decision to opt-out of the 2020 regular season, former Raider DeAndre Washington was initially a popular choice to capture backup duties behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire. However, it was Darrel Williams who commandeered the most first-team reps during training camp and ultimately prevailed in competition with Washington and second-year back Darwin Thompson. And as of Saturday September 5th, the Chiefs surprisingly cut DeAndre Washington cementing Williams' role in the offense.

Williams joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and accumulated 308 total yards on 56 touches during 2019. He also provided a glimpse of his ability to function effectively in Andy Reid’s attack by accruing 109 total yards on 14 touches in week 3, including 62 yards on the ground. Williams has now commandeered Kansas City’s RB2 responsibilities and will share touches with Edwards-Helaire as the season launches. This has vaulted him into consideration among the most enticing late-round targets for fantasy football drafts. He also provides a viable insurance policy for anyone who has secured Edwards-Helaire for their rosters.

 

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Stop That Hype Train! Ke’Shawn Vaughn

The process of forming an opinion about a particular player can be built through watching video, and diving into data that helps determine each performer’s strengths and weaknesses. It also involves researching the dynamics of each player’s environment, including how they are likely to be deployed by their offensive decision-makers, and the blend of talent that surrounds them.

Enthusiasm can grow for various players, and can even escalate to an excessive level. This can result in an eagerness from many fantasy GMS to seize these performers during their drafts. Unfortunately, some players that reside among the most popular targets will not always deliver the results that had been envisioned. Some of these performers have been over-hyped during most of the offseason, while others have been promoted excessively in recent weeks.

The team at RotoBaller is providing a collection of articles that place the spotlight on these overhyped players. This supplies fantasy GMs with the analysis that fully examines every aspect of their situation, and is designed to temper unbridled enthusiasm for players that are currently being overrated. This article will examine rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn, whose pathway to a sizable workload has contained more obstacles than had been expected.

 

Overcoming Challenges At The Collegiate Level

Vaughn accumulated 3,296 rushing yards, 3,944 total yards, and 33 touchdowns during his four collegiate seasons. That included his 2,232 total yards during two years at Illinois. He led the Illini in multiple categories during his first season (157 attempts/723 rushing yards/6 touchdowns). But his usage and output declined in 2016 as the team transitioned to a new coaching staff, and Vaughn ultimately transferred to Vanderbilt.

Vaughn was entrusted with 355 attempts during his two seasons with the Commodores while rushing for 2,272 yards and 21 touchdowns. His touchdown total placed him third all-time among Vanderbilt's backs, while he also became the third rusher in school history to exceed 1,000 yards in multiple seasons.

He delivered the most productive season of his collegiate career in 2018 while leading the Commodores in attempts (157), rushing yards (1,244), and rushing touchdowns (12). His 7.9 yards per attempt average also placed him sixth overall among all backs. But that average dropped to 5.2 per attempt last season, as Vaughn labored within a talent deficient unit. This included the offensive line, as the Commodores ranked a dismal 128th out of 130 FBS teams by PFF while finishing dead last in run-blocking.

School Attempts Rushing Yards TD Receptions Receiving Yards TD
Illinois 157 723 6 16 119 0
Illinois 60 301 3 9 89 0
Vanderbilt 157 1,244 12 13 170 2
Vanderbilt 198 1,028 9 28 270 1
Overall 572 3,296 30 66 648 3

 

A Pathway To Touches In Tampa

When Tampa Bay selected Vaughn with the 76th overall pack of last April’s NFL draft, there was a legitimate rationale for believing that he was entering one of the most favorable environments among running backs in this year’s rookie class. He was joining a backfield that did not contain an unquestioned RB1, as polarizing incumbent Ronald Jones would provide Vaughn’s primary competition for touches. Pass-catching specialist Dare Ogunbowale was a prospective candidate for targets while Peyton Barber was no longer a factor after migrating northward to Washington.

Tampa Bay’s rushing attack appeared to be in need of a talent infusion, after ranking just 26th in Football Outsiders’ Offensive Efficiency Ratings. Jones finished 35th in point per game scoring last season (PPR), although that was still the highest placement by a Buccaneer back since 2016. Jones also led the backfield in receiving yards (309), while Ogunbowale paced the team's running backs in targets (46) and receptions (35).

Jones' production improved following a dreadful rookie season in 2018 (23 attempts/1.9 yards per attempt/4.9 yards per game). But conflicting opinions have been prevalent throughout the fantasy community, regarding the level of improvement that he displayed during his second year. Once fantasy GMs extract themselves from that ongoing argument, the fact remains that Tampa Bay deployed a third-round pick on Vaughn, which indicated their reluctance to entrust Jones as the unchallenged lead back. This presented Vaughn with a potential pathway toward a significant touch total during his rookie season.

The Hype Has Halted

Vaughn's opportunity to make an immediate statistical impact fueled enthusiasm for the newcomer as his stock soared after the NFL Draft. His ADP rose to Round 7 in NFFC drafts during late June (76). This placed him at RB32, which was also two slots above Jones at that point in the offseason.

However, much has transpired since that initial surge in passion for targeting Vaughn in the middle rounds, as his ADP dropped to 122/RB43 by the conclusion of August. He was confronted by multiple hurdles, including the challenges of a shortened offseason. The usual calendar of team activities was condensed substantially, which automatically forced Vaughn to contend with the absence of rookie minicamp, OTAs, and the team's mandatory minicamp. This problem was intensified by Vaughn’s encounter with COVID-19, which sidelined him during the Buccaneers’ eventual training camp for over a week.

The team’s decision to add six-time Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy to an already crowded backfield only intensified the blend of factors that have negatively impacted Vaughn’s stock. This situation was compounded even further by Vaughn’s underwhelming performances once he did emerge at training camp.

These unwanted developments have occurred as Vaughn has been injected into an environment that operates under the direction of Bruce Arians - who is entering his 16th season as an NFL coach. Vaughn’s delayed involvement in training camp was undoubtedly a factor in Arians’ recent statement that Jones would "carry the load". Arians has also stated that Vaughn's Week 1 contributions would be limited to returning kicks.

Vaughn can still overcome the cluster of issues that have transpired during the summer. But his prospects of regaining the momentum that has evaporated with fantasy GMs will be determined by his ability to create a favorable impression with his head coach, and the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback that is beginning his first season under center with the Buccaneers.

 

An Offense In Transition

Arians has a track record of developing positive relationships with his quarterbacks, to maximize his teams’ chances for success. He now begins his second season in Tampa with the opportunity to build an offensive approach in coordination with Tom Brady, which will elevate the comfort level for his new signal-caller. The Buccaneers averaged a league-best 302.8 yards per game through the air last season, while also ranking seventh in pass play percentage (62.3%). That was an aerial attack that was spearheaded by Jameis Winston and the transition to Brady will automatically require modifications in how the passing game is implemented. Brady will also have the luxury of locating the talented tandem of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans

Godwin and Evans were both among the top four in yardage, and touchdowns after Week 14, before they both encountered season-ending hamstring injuries. But they still placed among the top five in point per game scoring for the season, while combining for 2,490 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Evans’ average depth of target (aDOT) was nearly five yards higher than Godwin’s (15.2/10.5). But despite apprehension about Brady's remaining arm strength Arians will concoct an approach that enables his quarterback to locate both receivers with great frequency.

That also reduces the likelihood of Brady being asked to generate throws that he is ill-equipped to launch. Rob Gronkowski's reemergence will also provide Brady with a familiar presence at tight end.

Tampa Bay's ground game was less impressive than the passing attack during 2019, as the Buccaneers only ranked 24th overall (95.1 yards per game). They also finished 27th with an average of 3.7 yards per attempt. The rushing attack did finish fourth in red zone scoring percentage (64.8), although Barber was the team leader in attempts (22) and yardage (56) inside the 20.

 

Competition For Touches

The decision to draft Jones occurred before Arians’ arrival, which eliminates the potential for excessive loyalty toward the third-year back. But Arians’ recent comments have made it clear that Jones has confiscated RB1 responsibilities. There is potential that his words were delivered as a source of motivation to Vaughn, who must accelerate his development following the reduced involvement in team activities.

Arians will also be searching for satisfaction with his stable of running backs during the season, and it is uncertain that either Jones or Vaughn can play with the proficiency that would result in sustained lead back duties.

The Buccaneers selected Jones with the 38th overall pick during the 2018 NFL Draft, but his rookie season was forgettable. He only performed on 90  offensive snaps, carried just 23 times, and could only manufacture an anemic 44 yards with his limited number of attempts. That placed him behind Barber, and Jacquizz Rodgers, as Jones failed to perform to his draft pedigree. He also collected seven of his nine targets for just 33 yards as a receiver and remained a liability in pass protection.

But his snap count percentage rose to 36% last season, as his attempts (172), yardage (724), and touchdown totals (6) increased. Jones also accrued 309 receiving yards on 31 receptions. But despite his universal improvement in multiple categories, Vaughn’s route to a sizable workload still appeared accessible following the NFL Draft.

Running Backs Attempts YPC Rushing Yards  TD
Ronald Jones 172 4.2 724 6
Peyton Barber 154 3.1 470 6
Dare Ogunbowale 11 1.5 17 2
Running Backs Targets Receptions Receiving Yards  TDs
Dare Ogunbowale 46 35 286 0
Ronald Jones 40 31 309 0
Peyton Barber 24 16 115 1

Unfortunately for anyone who envisioned Vaughn commandeering RB1 duties in his first season, it is troubling that the Buccaneers signed 32-year old McCoy in late July. The former NFL rushing leader (2013) begins his 12th season with his fourth team and is unlikely to resurrect the lofty numbers that he achieved during his peak years. However, he does provide a veteran presence in the backfield, and his resume includes over 11,000 rushing yards and 73 touchdowns.

The addition of McCoy revealed Arians' reluctance to enter Week 1 with a backfield that was comprised of only Vaughn, Jones, and Ogunbowale. McCoy remains fully capable of procuring a respectable workload, and he could receive the highest percentage of touches in Week 1 - if Jones' foot injury becomes more serious than anticipated.

 

Vaughn’s Outlook

While enough fantasy GM's have retained enough confidence in Jones to propel his ADP into Round 5, there are tangible reasons why he is not receiving universal interest during the draft process. But there is also a strong likelihood that he will seize lead back duties in the aftermath of Vaughn’s substantial stock drop. Jones' ability to sustain that role throughout the season will be dependent on his ability to perform effectively as a rusher, receiver, and blocker. He must also elude health issues, which includes overcoming the current problem with his foot.

Jones's deficiencies during his first two seasons also built the foundation for believing that Vaughn could quickly assume a sizable role in the rushing attack. But the convergence of factors that were mentioned previously makes it unlikely that Vaughn can emerge atop the depth chart during the early portion of the regular season. It also ensures that he will not live up to the hype that was so prevalent earlier this summer.

While Vaughn may not be permanently planted in the abyss, he does need to demonstrate improvement in every major aspect of his on-field responsibilities. Not only is it important that Arians attain a favorable comfort level with Vaughn, but it is also incumbent on the newcomer to gain Brady’s trust as both a dependable receiver and a reliable pass blocker.

If he displays growth at these essential skills and can run with effectiveness, then he would garner a larger percentage of touches than his current trajectory would project. Jones’s stock could be altered at any time if he fails to satisfy Arians or loses the confidence of Brady.

But until that occurs, Vaughn’s hype train will remain stagnant. His plunging ADP does provide you with an opportunity to re-consider Vaughn at his reduced cost in Round 11. Jones still possesses his own inadequacies which will keep the runway open for Vaughn to capture an expanded role during the season.



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