Skip to main content

The Primer: Week 3 Edition (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Derek Brown | @dbro_ffb | Featured Writer
Sep 24, 2022
Fantasy Football Week 3 Start/Sit Advice

  • Go to page:
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals

Pace and playcalling notes

  • The Rams have deployed a balanced attack after two games ranking 14th and 16th in neutral pace and passing rate.
  • The Cardinals have cratered into the run-heavy abyss. They are 32nd (yes, 32nd) in neutral pace with the 11th-highest neutral rushing rate.

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford: Stafford made up for his Week 1 stink fest with a QB10 finish last week. Stafford is set to obliterate all in his path this week. He’s playing solid football, and it’ll pay off this week against possibly the worst secondary in the NFL. Stafford is fifth in big-time throw rate and seventh in adjusted completion rate (minimum 20 dropbacks). He’s top 12 in passing accuracy from a clean pocket, under pressure, and on his deep ball. Arizona is first in pass success rate per dropback and third in EPA per dropback. They have bled out the most fantasy points per game and passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks.

Kyler Murray: It hasn’t been pretty by any means, but Kyler Murray has been the QB9 and QB7 through the first two games. Despite having the fourth-lowest yard per attempt, Murray has played much better than his box scores suggest. He’s the 11th-highest graded passer per PFF with the ninth-highest big-time throw rate. He’s also 14th in adjusted completion rate. Now, he gets a Rams’ pass defense that’s reeling. Los Angeles has surrendered the second-highest pass success rate per dropback and the fourth-highest EPA per dropback. They are fourth in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks while giving them all day in the pocket with their 30th-ranked pressure rate.

Running Backs

Week 2

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Cam Akers 57.7% 8.6% 21.6% 4
Darrell Henderson 38.5% 0% 54.1% 3

 

Cam Akers: This backfield is a mess. Akers came back from the grave in Week 2. He played 43% of the snaps leading the backfield with 17 touches and 62 total yards. He led the team on early downs, but he was swallowed up in routes by Henderson. Akers also had the edge near paydirt, although it feels more like Sean McVay was flipping a coin. Akers performed well on his targets with 2.25 yards per route run, so we’ll see the route split in Week 3. The Cardinals are a matchup for either (or both) backs to take advantage of. The Cardinals are 29th and 28th in second-level and open field yards allowed. They have given up the second-highest explosive run rate. The hits keep coming for Arizona as they are also 32nd in DVOA against receiving backs. Despite allowing the tenth-fewest receptions, they are eighth in receiving yards and tied for the most receiving touchdowns allowed to running backs. Akers and Henderson are both upside RB3s this week.

Darrell Henderson: Henderson rumbled for 47 total yards with his ten touches last week. He out-snapped (56%) Akers while also dwarfing him in routes, as previously mentioned. With a beautiful matchup upcoming and a mad hatter head coach who changes the running back rotation as often as he changes his underwear, there’s no telling what we’re in store for in Week 3. I could see the Rams running a split backfield again or handing all of the work to one of these rushers. If you’re looking for upside to put you over the top in Week 3, this isn’t the worst place to go hunting for it.

Week 2

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
James Conner 24.1% 8.3% 34% 0
Darrel Williams 27.6% 6.2% 41.5% 2
Eno Benjamin 27.6% 8.3% 17% 3

 

James Conner: Conner has been ruled a game-time decision. Even if he suits up, this backfield could be split 2-3 ways with Conner, Darrel Williams, and Eno Benjamin all factoring in. I wouldn’t start any of these backs unless you don’t have any better options.

Darrel Williams: Williams played 46% of snaps last week with ten touches and 62 total yards. He split the early down work with Benjamin after Conner’s exit while running more routes. He failed to draw a higher target share despite the overwhelming route advantage. This could be a 2-3 way split in Week 3 making it a full avoid.

Eno Benjamin: Benjamin played 43% of the snaps with 11 touches and 51 total yards. He had the slight edge in the red zone work over Williams although that could be circumstantial.

Wide Receivers

Cooper Kupp: You don’t read the Primer for my Cooper Kupp analysis. Seriously though, if Kupp is active you play him. He’s averaged 14.5 targets, 12 receptions, and 118 receiving yards per game so far. He’s first in target share and 13th in yards per route run. He’ll run about 51% of his routes against Jace Whitetaker inside who has allowed a 78.6% catch rate and 126.5 passer rating in his career.

Allen Robinson: Robinson showed that there was still some juice left in those legs last week. His 1.47 yards per route run won’t lead to shock and awe, but securing four of five targets with 53 receiving yards and a score was good enough for WR23. Robinson is a top 20 wide receiver this week with a pair of cakewalk corners that he’ll see on about 71% of his routes. Byron Murphy has no business playing on the outside, but thanks to injuries, here we are. Murphy has allowed a 69.2% catch rate and 119.2 passer rating. News flash. Marco Wilson is still bad. Wilson has allowed a 66.7% catch rate and 93.1 passer rating.

Marquise Brown: Brown is currently the WR29 in fantasy points per game. He’s seen a 20.5% target share and 32.4% air yard share (25th). His efficiency has been miserable, ranking 67th in yards per route run and 64th in yards per target. Brown’s a WR2 based on projectable volume and plus-matchups. Yes, at this juncture, I’m not afraid of Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey has allowed a 63.6% catch rate and 103.0 passer rating. When he’s not matched up with Ramsey, he’ll see Robert Rochell in coverage (David Long ruled out). Rochell allowed a 65.0% catch rate and 88.8 passer rating last year.

Greg Dortch: Dortch is a WR3 play this week which might sound insane until you realize that he’s the WR24 in fantasy points per game. Over the last two weeks, he’s finished as the WR29 and WR22. He’s made the most of his 15.7% target share, which could bump up this week. If Brown can’t succeed again this week on the outside, don’t be surprised if Murray turns Dortch’s way. With Troy Hill hitting the IR, Cobie Durant out, and Jordan Fuller questionable, it looks like the Rams will cover the slot with a combination of safeties Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott. Jordan Fuller has allowed a 75% catch rate and 93.0 passer rating in his career. Rapp allowed a 75.8% catch rate and 94.6 passer rating in coverage last year. Scott gave up a 70.8% catch rate and 67.9 passer rating.

A.J. Green: On a team thirsting for receiving help, Green has managed a 13.3% target share and 0.40 yards per route run. At this point in his career, he’s just there for locker room support.

Tight Ends

Tyler Higbee: I blinked my eyes, and Arizona became the free pass for fantasy tight ends again. We experienced this a few years ago. Well, it looks like it’s back, just in time for Higbee to hit the town. Higbee leads tight ends in targets while ranking second in target share (26.3%), sixth in receiving yards, and tenth in yards per route run. The Cardinals are 32nd in DVOA against tight ends allowing the most receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.

Zach Ertz: Zach Ertz looked healthy last week, playing 83.8% of the snaps with 11 targets, eight receptions, and 75 receiving yards as the TE3. He has the ninth-highest target share and 14th-highest target per route rate among tight ends. He’s a top-ten option weekly, even against a middling matchup like the Rams. Last year Los Angeles was 11th in receptions and 16th in receiving yards allowed to tight ends.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks

Pace and playcalling notes

  • The pace in this game should remain sufficient, as Atlanta is tenth in neutral scripts. Seattle comes in at 21st.
  • Seattle has taken a balanced approach after two weeks sitting at 18th in neutral passing rate. It didn’t take Arthur Smith long to siphon the air from the ball as the Falcons are 28th in neutral passing rate.

 

Quarterbacks

Marcus Mariota: Mariota is one of my favorite streaming quarterbacks this week. Seattle has permitted the eighth-highest pass success rate per dropback and the highest EPA per dropback. This secondary also ranks sixth in yards per attempt allowed. Mariota is the QB13 in fantasy points per game with his legs fueling the charge. He’s third among quarterbacks in rushing yards per game with the most red zone carries. Seattle is sixth in pressure rate, but Mariota should be fine as he’s tenth and fourth in completion rate and accuracy rating against pressure this year.

Geno Smith: Smith should be able to muster close to his QB25 fantasy points per game mark this week. He’s a low-end QB2 against a secondary that’s third in pass success rate per dropback. Atlanta is also tenth in yards per attempt and fourth in passing touchdown rate allowed. Smith has played well this year ranking seventh in PFF passing grade, second in adjusted completion rate, and 17th in big-time throw rate (minimum 20 dropbacks).

Running Backs

Week 2

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Cordarrelle Patterson 37% 3.8% 39.4% 3
Tyler Allgeier 37% 0% 0% 3

 

Cordarrelle Patterson: While Patterson played 59% of the snaps in Week 2, his volume dried up as he only garnered ten touches that he turned into 41 total yards. With his target share withering to 3.8% and his route run rate dropping below 40%, Patterson is a dicey RB3/4. Yes, he has 20-touch potential, but the Falcons’ usage of him has been all over the map. We know what this looks like. Would I be surprised if he blew up this week against a defense that was 32nd in DVOA against receiving backs last year? No. Would I also be shocked if his stat line resembled Week 2? Nope.

Tyler Allgeier: Allgeier is another interesting RB4/flex candidate. Last week he finished with the rushing and red zone share as Patterson. His pass-game role is non-existent, but if he can get into the 12-15 rushing attempt range, he’s still viable. Seattle is 14th in rushing success rate. They are also 32nd in adjusted line yards and second-level yards allowing the eighth-most rushing yards per game. His 1.7 yards after contact per attempt last week isn’t great by any stretch, but it’s one game. In the preseason, he posted 4.00 yards after contact per attempt, so some shimmy ability in between the tackles is in there.

Week 2

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Rashaad Penny 42.9% 0% 33.3% 0
Ken Walker 28.6% 10% 15.2% 1

 

Rashaad Penny: Penny saw his snap share dwindle to 41% as he and Walker split up the early down work and Travis Homer got involved on passing downs. Penny finished the day with six carries (zero targets) and 15 total yards. The three way split of a backfield on a bad offense is RB4 territory. Penny is a sit until further notice.

Ken Walker III: With one game of NFL action under his belt and only 24% of snaps played with six touches and 15 total yards, I can’t possibly start Walker. He’s a bench stash and hold for now.

Wide Receivers

Drake London: London proving he’s the guy from day one. Things you love to see. London has a 33.3% target share (fifth-highest) while also rocking a 41.3% target per route rate (third-best). He’s the sixth-highest graded wide receiver per PFF, ranking 12th in yards per route run (minimum ten targets). These are alpha numbers. London will run about 85% of his routes against Michael Jackson and Tariq Woolen. Jackson has allowed a 50% catch rate and 62.5 passer rating. Woolen has permitted a 42.9% catch rate and 59.8 passer rating. London is a top 30 wide receiver play this week.

D.K. Metcalf: Metcalf has been reduced to an oversized possession receiver. His 5.5 aDOT (88th) is laughable for a player of his talents. He’s seen a 22.8% target share with zero deep targets, and zero red zone looks. Until something changes, Metcalf is a PPR league WR4. His matchup is actually juicy this week as corners A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward are both struggling. Metcalf will run about 84% of his routes against them. Terrell allows a 90.9% catch rate and 141.9 passer rating in coverage. Hayward isn’t quite as bad, giving up a 62.5% catch rate and a 106.3 passer rating.

Tyler Lockett: Lockett is the WR33 in fantasy points per game after his big game last week. He snagged nine of his 11 targets for 107 receiving yards. Overall, Lockett has a 26.3% target share with a 38.3% air yard share. His aDOT is a healthy 8.3, and he’s seen a deep target. Lockette will run about 55% of his routes against Terrell and Hayward. Lockett is also a WR4, but I’m more willing to bet on his upside than Metcalf’s unless we get some squeaky wheel narrative.

Tight Ends

Kyle Pitts: Pitts’ numbers outside of his TE35 scoring status aren’t terrible from a volume perspective. His target share and target per route rates are both 11th at the position. He still has a 24.3% air yard share which is third among tight ends. His yards per route run have fallen to 0.86 (30th). He’s lining up in the slot or outside on 66.1% of his snaps. Pitts will lineup in the slot on nearly 41% of his routes against Coby Bryant, who has allowed an 83.3% catch rate and 158.3 passer rating. If there was ever a time for Pitts to go off? Please let it be this week. While fear and panic are real about Pitts right now, I can’t rank him outside the top-five tight ends this week. Maybe it’s just being stubborn, but the talent is still there. If he bombs this matchup, maybe I’m changing my tune next week.

Noah Fant: Fant’s 54.2% snap share and 54.2% route participation are still too low to consider him anything more than a run-of-the-mill streamer. Add in his 10.5% target share and 8.3% air yards share on a bad offense, and you have a perfect sit candidate weekly that you should be kicking to the waiver wire.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos

Pace and playcalling notes

  • Denver will lead the way in this game regarding pace and passing volume. They are 13th and ninth in neutral pace and passing rate.
  • Wash. Rinse. Repeat. We know what to expect from the 49ers, who are 30th in neutral pace with the second-highest neutral rushing rate.

Quarterbacks

Jimmy Garoppolo: Garoppolo is a break glass in case of emergency type of QB2 option this week. His first start couldn’t come against a tougher assignment. The Broncos are sixth in pass defense DVOA with the fifth-lowest success rate per dropback and EPA per dropback. Looks for the 49ers to do as they usually do and lean on the ground game this week. Look for other options in your 2QB and Superflex leagues.

Russell Wilson: The on-paper matchup for Wilson here isn’t pretty either, but there’s a silver lining. The 49ers are seventh in pass defense DVOA while also ranking inside the top four in success rate (fourth-best) and EPA (third-best) per dropback. So yeah, this looks like a tough assignment. Until we also see that the 49ers are 19th in DVOA against deep passing. They have allowed opposing quarterbacks in the early going to complete 57.1% of their deep passes with two touchdowns (zero interceptions) and a 129.4 passer rating. Wilson is first in deep pass attempts, fourth in deep passing yards, and 14th in deep passer rating. Let’s Ride!

Running Backs

Jeff Wilson: “There can be only one.” Wilson has seen the backfield crumble around him in the last two weeks. Last week as the lead back, he rolled up 20 touches and 103 total yards while playing 49% of the snaps. He handled 40% of the team’s carries, 30.8% of the team’s red zone carries, and 20% of the high-value touches. With only Jordan Mason and newly elevated Marlon Mack to divvy up touches with outside of Kyle Juszczyk, we could see Wilson handle more of the work. The matchup is quite nice for Wilson. The Broncos are 26th in open field yards while relinquishing the 11th-highest explosive run and 12th-highest rush success rates. Wilson isn’t the most elusive back (28th out of 50 backs with ten or more carries in PFF’s elusive rating), but he’s a solid bet for 17-20 touches this week and a handful of targets as a solid RB2 with darkhorse RB1 upside.

Jordan Mason: Mason will see his first work this week at running back in NFL after playing 21-35% of his snaps at special teams in the first two weeks. Last week Tyrion Davis-Price handled 31.1% of the team’s carries and 15.4% of the red zone work. This should put Mason in line for 8-10 touches on the ground with a red zone carry or two. You could do a lot worse for flex plays in a plus matchup. If he falls into the endzone, he’ll likely finish as a top 30-36 running back. In the preseason, Mason ranked 14th in yards after contact per attempt and 23rd in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum ten carries).

Week 1

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Javonte Williams 35% 30% 63.6% 4
Melvin Gordon 60% 5% 29.5% 4

 

Week 2

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Javonte Williams 50% 14.3% 57.1% 3
Melvin Gordon 33.3% 3.6% 25.7% 0

 

Javonte Williams: It only took one week for Williams to grab more of this backfield. After splitting the red zone in Week 1 and losing the early-down battle to Gordon, Williams grabbed 50% or higher shares of the rushing work, routes run, and all of the red zone work in Week 2. Williams has averaged 17 touches and 96.5 total yards. He remains one of the most efficient running backs in the NFL. After two weeks he ranks 11th in yards after contact per attempt, seventh in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum ten carries), and ninth in yards per route run (minimum five targets). He’ll need every ounce of his slipperiness this week against a tough 49ers’ run defense. San Francisco is top ten in rushing success (fifth-lowest), rush EPA (ninth-lowest), and explosive run rate (ninth-lowest). Williams will need the added checkdowns against a team that’s 18th in DVOA against receiving backs to get him there in fantasy this week. Williams is on the RB1/RB2 border this week.

Melvin Gordon: Gordon is on the wrong side of a committee backfield with a tough matchup this week. Last week he played 32% of the snaps with 11 touches for 53 total yards. He’s still a talented rusher ranking 20th in yards after contact per attempts and 16th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum ten carries). With 10-15 touch potential and maybe a goal line tote, Gordon is a decent flex/RB3 candidate.

Wide Receivers

Deebo Samuel: Samuel is the WR27 in fantasy points per game thanks to his remaining wide back role. Yes, he’s seen a 29.8% target share, but the team has reverted to his old role in the passing game with his 2.6 aDOT. Maybe that changes with Garoppolo under center, but we have to see it first. Samuel has averaged six carries and 52.5 rushing yards per game this season with 13% of the red zone work on the ground. When he’s lined up as a wide receiver, he’ll run about 59% of his routes against Ronald Darby and Patrick Surtain lll. Darby has allowed a 40% catch rae and 54.6 passer rating. Surtain lll has given up an 88.9% catch rate and 87.5 passer rating. Samuel is a WR2 this week.

Brandon Aiyuk: Aiyuk has a 21.3% target share with 28.3% of the team’s air yards. After two games, he’s averaged five targets, 3.5 receptions, and 51.5 receiving yards as the WR51 in fantasy points per game. With his raw target volume bound to see a small spike, Aiyuk is a WR3/4 this week in a tough matchup. He’ll run about 74% of his routes against Darby and Surtain lll. Aiyuk has seen one red zone target and one deep target thus far.

Courtland Sutton: Sutton is doing Sutton things. As the in-game rapport with Wilson grows, it’ll be beautiful. After two weeks, Sutton has a 26.1% target share and 40.4% air yard share (seventh-highest) while ranking second in deep targets among wideouts. Sutton is 22nd in yards per route run and 20th in yards per target. He’ll match up with Emmanuel Moseley and Charvarius Ward this week on nearly 84% of his routes. Sutton is the tip of the spear for Wilson’s success with deep shots this week. Moseley has allowed a 75% catch rate and a 90.6 passer rating. Ward has surrendered a 63.6% catch rate and 82.8 passer rating. In a game where the Broncos won’t be able to run much, Sutton will be leaned on heavily. He’s a WR1 despite the tough assignment.

Jerry Jeudy: Jeudy has been listed as questionable. If he plays expect him to a full-time player. Jeudy handled a 17.5% target share in Week 1 with 26.5% of the team’s air yard. He ran about 69% of his routes from the slot with 2.49 yards per route run. Jeudy will match up with Samuel Womack who has allowed a 66.7% catch rate and 73.6 passer rating. Jeudy is a WR3 this week.

Tight Ends

George Kittle: Kittle sounds like he’ll be a full go this week. If he is playing, you play him in fantasy. Last year he saw a 24.9% target share which was good for second among tight ends. He was also third in yards per route run and second in yards per target. The Broncos have been victimized by tight ends this year. They rank 22nd in DVOA allowing the fifth-most receptions, seventh-most receiving yards, and second-most touchdowns. Kittle is a top-five tight end play this week.

Albert Okwuegbunam: Okwuegbunam is a mid-TE2 this week. He’s seen an 11.6% target share with a 76.7% route participation. With only a 4.0% air yard share and 0.59 yards per route run, Okwuegbunam could struggle this week. The 49ers are a shutdown unit against tight ends ranking top-five in DVOA in back-to-back seasons.

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

Pace and playcalling notes

  • The Cowboys didn’t alter the approach even with Cooper Rush under center. Their neutral passing rate last week was 62% (Week 1, 61%). They are fourth in neutral pace.
  • Brian Daboll is trying to acclimate to his team’s strengths with the fifth-highest neutral rushing rate. He’s also run a slow-paced offense (25th) in close games to minimize exposure to his porous defense.

Quarterbacks

Cooper Rush: Rush is a low-end QB2 this week. The Cowboys should look to lean on their running backs in this game. New York has allowed the 14th-lowest pass success rate per dropback and tenth-lowest yards per attempt. Out of 34 quarterbacks with at least 20 dropbacks, Rush is 28th in PFF passing grade, 16th in yards per attempt, and 24th in adjusted completion rate.

Daniel Jones: Jones is a vanilla QB2 option. He’s the QB20 in fantasy points per game with QB16 and QB22 finishes. The Giants are asking him to be a game manager type. He’s 28th in passing attempts, 32nd in air yards per attempt, and 24th in yards per attempt. The tiny sliver of rushing (averaging 23 rushing yards) adds some puff to his blah fantasy finishes. Dallas is fifth in pass defense DVOA allowing the ninth-lowest yards per attempt after demolishing Joe Burrow in Week 2.

Running Backs

Week 1

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Ezekiel Elliott 58.8% 4.9% 39.1% 0
Tony Pollard 35.3% 4.9% 32.6% 0

 

Week 2

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Ezekiel Elliott 55.6% 6.7% 59.4% 0
Tony Pollard 33.3% 23.3% 40.6% 1

 

Ezekiel Elliott: Elliott has averaged 13.5 touches (two targets) and 49 total yards through two games. Elliott is washed at this point in his career. He’s forced one missed tackle with his 25 rushing attempts and ranks 48th out of 50 running backs (minimum ten carries) in PFF’s elusive rating. The matchup this week is a good one, but it’s worth questioning if Elliott can take advantage of it at this point. New York has allowed the tenth-highest rushing success rate and EPA while holding down big plays (seventh-lowest explosive run rate allowed). Elliott’s a volume based low-end RB2/RB3.

Tony Pollard: While Pollard’s snap rate decreased in Week 2 (39%), he was his usual explosive self, with the team concentrating on getting him involved. He finished with 13 touches and 98 total yards. His 23.3% target share last week and 54% target per route run rate were nice. Pollard is a low-end RB2/high-end flex option this week against a Giants’ defense that ranks 30th in DVOA against receiving backs. They have allowed the eighth-most receiving yards and most receiving touchdowns to running backs.

Saquon Barkley: Barkley has been everything we wanted so far this season. He’s averaged 24 touches, 111 total yards, and 83% of the snaps played. He’s third in opportunity share, second in weighted opportunities, second in evaded tackles, and sixth in breakaway run rate. Barkley can take advantage of a run defense that’s 28th in adjusted line yards, 30th in second-level yards, and has allowed the fourth-highest explosive run rate. Fire up Barkley as a top-five running back.

Wide Receivers

CeeDee Lamb: Lamb bounced back in Week 2 as the WR24 in fantasy after a terrible Week 1. He’s a volume hog WR2 until further notice. He’s soaked up a 31.0% target share (tenth), 30.6% target per route run rate and 38.0% air yard share (12th). He’ll see Darnay Holmes on nearly 60% of his routes. Holmes has allowed a 50% catch rate and 65.6 passer rating.

Noah Brown: Operating as the WR2 in this offense, Brown has been surprisingly productive. He’s averaged seven targets, five grabs, and 79.5 receiving yards as the WR20 in fantasy. He ranks 28th in yards per route run and 15th in yards per target. He’ll run about 55% of his routes against Adoree’ Jackson and Cordale Flott. Jackson has allowed a 14.3% catch rate and 43.2 passer rating. In his first NFL start, Flott held the opposition to a 33.3% catch rate but allowed a receiving touchdown. Brown is a WR5/flex option.

Michael Gallup: Gallup is said to be active for this game, but with an uncertain snap count there’s no way I can play him.

Sterling Shepard: The Giants are starved for pass catchers. Shepard has reemerged as a weekly flex option as the WR37 in fantasy. He’s seen a 26.9% target share and a 30.4% target per route run rate. He’s 33rd in yards per route run and 49th in yards per target. He’ll run about 59% of his routes against Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown. Diggs has allowed a 66.7% catch rate and 107.1 passer rating. Brown has given up a 70.6% catch rate and 119.7 passer rating.

Richie James: Kadarius Toney is still dealing with a hamstring injury and not practicing. After eating into James’ slot routes last week, Toney could miss this week, pushing James back into a full-time role. Last week his route run rate dipped to 60.5%, but his target per route rate (23%) and target share (18.8%) remained strong. James ranks 17th in yards per route run and is the 29th-highest graded wide receiver per PFF (minimum ten targets). He’ll match up with Jourdan Lewis on nearly 81% of his routes. Lewis has allowed a 75% catch rate and 107.8 passer rating. James is a solid flex in PPR leagues.

Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz: Monitor practice reports, but it doesn’t sound like Schultz will be suiting up this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns

Pace and playcalling notes

  • This game should finish at least average for play volume. While Cleveland isn’t very surprising, ranking 18th in neutral pace, the Steelers are tenth though and could help to keep things respectable in the total play category.
  • No Ben Roethlisberger. No care. Despite trotting out Mitch Trubisky under center, Pittsburgh has completed two games and sits tenth in neutral passing rate. While the volume might be ugly, it’s still present.

Quarterbacks

Mitch Trubisky: The matchup for Trubisky is decent. The Browns are 24th in pass defense DVOA, 14th in yards per play, and ninth in net yards per pass attempt allowed. The problem is Trubisky has been his usual wretched self. After two games among 34 quarterbacks (minimum 20 dropbacks), he ranks 19th in PFF passing grade, 33rd in yards per attempt, and 31st in adjusted completion rate. If Trubisky starts off stinking up the joint this week, we can’t rule out a Kenny Pickett sighting. Trubisky is a risky low-end QB without much reward.

Jacoby Brissett: Let the putrid quarterback bowl commence. Brissett is on the same level as Trubisky. The only silver lining is he can retain his job despite playing at a below-replacement level. Through two games among the same 34 quarterback sample as Trubisky, Brissett is 17th in PFF passing grade, 28th in yards per attempt, and 25th in big-time throw rate. The Steelers are ninth in pass defense DVOA allowing the 11th-lowest net yards per pass attempt. The one helpful factoid for Brissett is that Pittsburgh can’t pressure the quarterback. After two games, they have the eighth-lowest blitz rate and rank 24th in pressure rate, so while Brissett is god awful, he should have time in the pocket to deliver decent pop gun passes in Week 2. Brissett is a basement level QB2.

Running Backs

Najee Harris: Harris saw his snap share and volume return in Week 2. He played 71% of the snaps with 20 touches and 89 total yards. Concerns in his profile still exist. While his target per route run was at 31.5% in Week 2, he still only ran a route on 51.3% of dropbacks. This isn’t nearly good enough to consider Harris a locked-in RB1 weekly. The Browns have been tough on the run through two weeks. They are top-ten in explosive run rate, rush success, and second-level yards allowed. Harris is a volume-play RB2.

Week 1-2

Player Carries Targets Routes Red zone opportunities
Nick Chubb 39 4 25 8
Kareem Hunt 24 6 34 7

 

Nick Chubb: Chubb is coming off a monster performance in Week 2 with 20 touches and 113 total yards. After two games, that’s close to the weekly watermark for Chubb as he’s averaged 21.5 touches and 128 total yards through two games. Chubb remains one of the best running backs in the NFL, ranking 11th in yards after contact per attempt, first in missed tackles forced, and fourth in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 15 carries). This is a tough matchup for Chubb, though, so temper expectations. The Steelers are 15th in rush EPA while allowing the fourth-lowest explosive run rate and third-lowest rushing success rate. Chubb’s 17-20 touches weekly and touchdown equity keep him as a top 15 running option.

Kareem Hunt: This game sets up as a Hunt game. After two games, he’s averaged 15 touches and 72 total yards with a 10.5% target share. If the Browns’ defense continues its struggles against passing, it’s conceivable the Steelers will jump out to a lead. That means more snaps for Hunt through the air, playing 84.4% of the Browns’ third down snaps. The Steelers are tough against the run but more pliable for backs through the air. They are 22nd in DVOA and have seen the fifth most running back targets giving up the sixth-most receptions and fifth-most receiving yards. Hunt is an RB2 with RB1 upside this week.

Wide Receivers

Diontae Johnson: Johnson is just that dude. After two games he has a 31.4% target share with 39.7% of the team’s air yards. He’s seventh in weighted opportunity at wide receiver. Johnson will run about 95% of his routes against Martin Emerson and Denzel Ward this week. Both corners are struggling out the gate. Emerson has allowed a 72.7% catch rate and 113.4 passer rating. Ward has given up a disgusting 85.7% catch rate and 158.3 passer rating.

Chase Claypool: Claypool has seen a 17.1% target share producing a pitiful 0.59 yards per route run and 0.33 weighted opportunity. He’s yet to see an endzone target. He’ll run about 87% of his routes inside against Greg Newsome who has allowed a 64.3% catch rate and 120.8 passer rating. Claypool is a WR4 this week.

George Pickens: The preseason is in the rearview with Pickens hype. With the bright lights of the regular season beaming down, Pickens has only garnered an 8.6% target share with 22.7% of the team’s air yards. With the volume, he’s only mustered 0.36 yards per route run, but this week he’s a WR5 with some fashionable upside. He is the team’s deep threat (team-leading four deep targets) with a 21.2 aDOT facing a secondary that’s 25th in DVOA against deep passing. He’ll run about 88% of his routes against Ward and Emerson.

Amari Cooper: Cooper bounced back from a WR79 showing in Week 1 with a WR12 finish this past week. Cooper’s handled a 28.1% target share with 42.4% of the Browns’ air yards. He’s 12th in weighted opportunity among wideouts (minimum five targets). He’ll run about 82% of his routes against Akhello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace. Witherspoon has been erratic through two games giving up a 78.6% catch rate and 116.1 passer rating. Wallace has been beatable, giving up a 70% catch rate and 92.9 passer rating. Cooper is a volume-driven WR3.

Donovan Peoples-Jones: After standing out in Week 1 as a possible waiver wire darling, Peoples-Jones came crashing back to earth. In Week 1, he saw a 36.7% target share. That fell to 3.7% in Week 2, with his only target coming in the end zone. People-Jones will run about 68% of his routes against Witherspoon and Wallace. He’s a desperation WR6 (low-end flex).

Tight Ends

Pat Freiermuth: Freiermuth has been a volume monster with a 22.5% target share and 76.9% route per dropback clip. He’s been an integral endzone target for the Steelers again this year. The Browns have ranked seventh and ninth in DVOA against the position over the last two seasons. They were vulnerable in the touchdown column, though, with the sixth-most receiving touchdowns allowed. With his high-value role in this offense, Freiermuth is a rock-solid TE1.

David Njoku: David Njoku‘s route per dropback numbers scream top 12 tight end this year with a 74.2% route per dropback rate, but his target volume hasn’t lived up to the routes yet. He’s only seen a 9.8% target share. This week against a tough Steelers defense, he’s only a mid-TE2. Pittsburgh has ranked tenth and second in DVOA against the position over the last two seasons.

*All data utilized in this article courtesy of FantasyPros, PFF, 4for4, SharpFootball Stats, Rbsdm.com, Football Outsiders, FTN, Rotoviz, and Playerprofiler.com unless otherwise specified.*

  • Go to page:
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
Featured, Featured Link, NFL, NFL Primers