Skip to main content

Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis: Week 4 (2022)

Sep 28, 2022
Jameis Winston Injury: Waiver Wire Replacements to Target (2022 Fantasy Football)

The game of fantasy football has become more complex over the past several years. While the game itself hasn’t changed much, the way to analyze stats and draw conclusions has become much more in-depth with the development of advanced stats.

One of those advanced stats is air yards. Why are air yards important? Because it helps differentiate the value of targets. Quick passes like screens and slants have a different value than downfield routes. So depending on what your league’s scoring is, it will make a difference in what you want from a fantasy player.

Receiving yards is a basic yet important stat for fantasy football players. Having receivers who catch plenty of short targets is valuable in PPR scoring. However, a receiver with consistent big play ability downfield is equally valuable.

Air yards are not the golden ticket to winning your fantasy league. However, they are a useful tool to help you analyze the game. Let’s look at the top 10 performers at each position and the five top underperformers.

And be sure to check out our weekly trade value chart with updated values for all players >>

Stats via FantasyPros

The Top 10 Quarterbacks

Player

Air Yards

aDOT*

Pass Attempts

1) Jameis Winston (NO)

263

6.4

41

2) Geno Smith (SEA)

240

5.5

44

3) Mac Jones (NE)

225

7

32

4) Josh Allen (BUF)

218

3.5

63

5) Derek Carr (LV)

205

4.8

44

6) Jalen Hurts (PHI)

200

5.7

35

7) Mitch Trubisky (PIT)

197

6.2

32

8) Joe Burrow (CIN)

161

4.5

36

9) Justin Herbert (LAC)

161

3.6

45

10) Kyler Murray (ARI)

157

2.7

58

 
*Average Depth of Target

Winston led the NFL in air yards for the second time this season. In those two weeks, he has averaged 245.5 air yards per game. More importantly, Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry left the game early with injuries, forcing Winston to lean on Chris Olave, Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith. While he leads the NFL in interceptions thrown, Winston continues to push the ball downfield, resulting in a high air yard total.

Seeing Smith second on the list is surprising. While he has two elite downfield wide receivers, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Smith had 260 air yards over the first two weeks. Despite losing the quarterback battle in the preseason, many believe Drew Lock will take over as the starter at some point this year because of his ability to push the ball downfield. However, that might not happen if Smith keeps up his level of play from Week 3.

The Top 10 Wide Receivers

Player

Air Yards

aDOT

Targets

1) Chris Olave (NO)

119

9.2

13

2) DeVante Parker (NE)

115

11.5

10

3) DeVonta Smith (PHI)

112

9.3

12

4) Mack Hollins (LV)

106

10.6

10

5) Terry McLaurin (WAS)

90

10

9

6) Jaylen Waddle (MIA)

87

14.5

6

7) Tee Higgins (CIN)

81

11.6

7

8) Tre’Quan Smith (NO)

78

15.6

5

9) Courtland Sutton (DEN)

74

7.4

10

10) Diontae Johnson (PIT)

74

6.7

11

 
If by some chance, Olave is still on the waiver wire, you need to grab him. After having 108 air yards over the first two weeks of the year, the rookie receiver led the NFL with 119 last week. Part of that was Thomas and Landry leaving the game early, giving Olave the opportunity of a 33.3% target share. However, the rookie is making a name for himself, and it’s only a matter of time until he turns into Winston’s go-to guy.

After seeing four targets over the first two weeks, Parker had only four air yards entering Week 3. However, with Jakobi Meyers out, Parker saw an uptick in snaps and targets, which many expected. Yet, no one saw his massive performance coming against the Baltimore Ravens. Despite totaling only five receptions, Parker had 156 yards in the game, with 73.7% of them being air yards. Unfortunately, Mac Jones will likely miss the next several weeks with a high ankle sprain. Whether Brian Hoyer or Bailey Zappe replaces him, fantasy players shouldn’t expect a repeat performance from Parker anytime soon.

The Top 10 Tight Ends

Player

Air Yards

aDOT

Targets

1) Mark Andrews (BAL)

53

4.1

13

2) Kyle Pitts (ATL)

52

6.5

8

3) Cameron Brate (TB)

38

6.3

6

4) Pat Freiermuth (PIT)

37

9.3

4

5) David Njoku (CLE)

29

2.9

10

6) Cole Kmet (CHI)

28

9.3

3

7) Travis Kelce (KC)

28

3.5

8

8) Will Dissly (SEA)

27

9

3

9) Colby Parkinson (SEA)

25

12.5

2

10) Zach Ertz (ARI)

24

2.4

10

 
The title of TE1 no longer belongs to Kelce, as Andrews has taken over it this year. He led all tight ends with 121 air yards over the first two weeks of the season. Last week Andrews had 53 air yards, leading tight ends for the second week in a row. With Lamar Jackson playing at an MVP level and giving Andrews a 35.2% target share, the former Oklahoma tight end will continue to give opposing defenses nightmares this season, both in the middle of the field and downfield.

Surprisingly, either Metcalf or Lockett made the top-10 air yards list for wide receivers this week despite Smith’s big performance. However, two of Seattle’s tight ends did make the tight end list. Unfortunately, that’s not good news for fantasy players who have Noah Fant on their team. While Dissly and Parkinson each had at least 25 air yards last week, Fant has 29 air yards for the year despite leading all Seattle tight ends with 10 targets.

The Top Five Underperformers

Player

Air Yards

aDOT

Targets

1) Dallas Goedert (TE – PHI)

-5

-1.3

4

2) Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR)

0

0

4

3) Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR – DET)

19

2.1

9

4) Davante Adams (WR – LV)

26

2.6

10

5) Stefon Diggs (WR – BUF)

38

3.5

11

 
It was a bad week for star wide receivers in the air yards department. St. Brown, Adams, and Diggs played an average of 79.6% of the snaps, saw 30 combined targets, and ran 126 combined routes. Yet the trio had a combined 83 air yards, 30.3% less than Olave had by himself. However, fantasy players shouldn’t panic. All three receivers are star players and will rebound moving forward.

Goedert and Higbee had an awful week, combing for negative five air yards on eight targets. Nevertheless, both tight ends had solid fantasy performances, scoring at least 8.1 half-point PPR fantasy points. However, all 61 of Higbee’s yards came after the catch. Meanwhile, Goedert had 31 yards after the catch on his three receptions despite having only 26 receiving yards in the game. Fantasy players shouldn’t be worried about Goedert, given his role in the offseason. But now is the time to trade away Higbee while he still has some fantasy value.

Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Trade Analyzer – which allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – to our Trade Finder – which suggests trades that will help you improve your team – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

Mike Fanelli is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @Mike_NFL2.

Featured, Featured Link, NFL, Start/Sit, Waiver Wire NFL, Weekly Advice