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Fantasy Football Week 2 Usage Report: Gabriel Davis, Kyle Pitts, Darrell Henderson (2022)

Sep 13, 2022

High-end fantasy football performances and weekly finishes are fueled by high numbers of routes run and high-value targets and touches. The majority of top scorers from Week 1 saw healthy doses of red-zone targets, air yards, deep targets and goal-line carries.

Targeting players who run a high percentage of routes is also a good approach for identifying breakout candidates, beatable player props, DFS targets and players to prioritize in the Week 2 fantasy football rankings and rest of season rankings.

Check out the rest of our weekly fantasy football advice >>

Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Assistant

This report will look at recent rates of routes run per dropback along with players who commanded a high rate of high-value opportunities compared to larger samples to find sleeper running backs, wide receivers and tight ends who are garnering more or fewer opportunities in the passing game heading into Week 2 and for the remainder of the 2022 season.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Rate of routes run per dropback | Week 1

Player Routes run % of routes run per dropback
Cooper Kupp 50 100%
Justin Jefferson 33 100%
Ja’Marr Chase 65 100%
Robbie Anderson 33 100%
Gabriel Davis 38 100%
D.J. Moore 33 100%
Adam Thielen 33 100%
Brandon Aiyuk 35 100%
DeVante Parker 33 100%
Michael Pittman Jr. 53 98%
CeeDee Lamb 45 98%
Courtland Sutton 44 98%
Davante Adams 41 98%
DeVonta Smith 41 98%
Allen Robinson II 48 96%
Darnell Mooney 22 96%
Greg Dortch 42 95%
Marquise Brown 42 95%
A.J. Brown 40 95%
Brandin Cooks 38 95%
Deebo Samuel 33 94%
Jakobi Meyers 31 94%
Terry McLaurin 42 93%
Diontae Johnson 38 93%
Chase Claypool 38 93%
Amon-Ra St. Brown 36 92%
D.J. Chark Jr. 36 92%
Donovan Peoples-Jones 35 92%
Mike Williams 31 91%
Christian Kirk 41 91%
Zay Jones 41 91%
Jerry Jeudy 41 91%
DK Metcalf 29 91%
Mack Hollins 38 90%
George Pickens 37 90%
Amari Cooper 34 89%
Jahan Dotson 40 89%
Elijah Moore 55 89%
Hunter Renfrow 37 88%
Ben Skowronek 44 88%
Josh Reynolds 34 87%
Marvin Jones Jr. 39 87%
K.J. Osborn 28 85%
Noah Brown 39 85%
Tyreek Hill 31 84%
Tyler Lockett 27 84%
Michael Thomas 33 83%
Chris Olave 33 83%
Shi Smith 27 82%
Parris Campbell 44 81%
Drake London 30 81%
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 33 80%
Jarvis Landry 32 80%
Tyler Boyd 52 80%
Curtis Samuel 36 80%
Nico Collins 32 80%

Who made the 100% route participation club? Just nine players crested the elite usage mark in Week 1, with the majority being the alpha WRs we have grown so fond of.

But the ones that were disappointing in the stat sheet – D.J. Moore, Adam Thielen, Brandon Aiyuk and DeVante Parker – are the exact ones you should be targeting through trade as prime buy-low candidates. They have everything working in their favor to post fantasy numbers, so be aggressively targeting them.

Moore is the most obvious as the most talented of the group, coming off a 21% target share week where he just saw two fewer targets than Robbie Anderson. Parker has a better matchup in Week 2 versus a Steelers secondary that got roasted by the Bengals in Week 1.

And Aiyuk looks slated to ascend to the WR1 chair in San Francisco with Elijah Mitchell expected to miss time with an injury, thus forcing Deebo Samuel back into RB1. I’d buy low with better weather conditions ahead in the future, even after Aiyuk saw little production in Week 1.

Although this does not mean Samuel will no longer be used as a receiver. In fact, Samuel still saw a 30% target share in Week 1 despite playing snaps in the backfield. It’s because when the 49ers would drop back to throw, Samuel was still out there running a route on 94% of dropbacks.

Thursday night was a night to forget for Allen Robinson. The Rams prized free agent acquisition ran a route on an outstanding 96% of Matthew Stafford dropbacks…but was targeted just twice – with one end-zone target coming in total garbage time.

It’s extremely concerning that A-Rob was a complete afterthought with Van Jefferson out of the lineup. Remember, Robinson’s playing time can’t increase. And considering we have never seen Robinson command targets with actual competition around him – including last season when Darnell Mooney out-produced him with the same bad QB play – I’d probably be looking to sell high on Robinson once he puts together a solid outing.

When playing in the Rams’ offense, that will eventually happen naturally, even if it takes a squeaky wheel narrative game like what we saw from Robert Woods last season before his injury.

Los Angeles’ offensive line problems – seven sacks allowed on Thursday night – make it more likely that Stafford will continue to pepper Cooper Kupp and others closer to the LOS and not wait for Robinson at the intermediate level.

Unlike Robinson, Gabriel Davis made the most of his increase in playing time. He ran a route on 100% of Josh Allen‘s dropbacks – even more than Stefon Diggs (79%). This isn’t to say that Davis will be taking over as the Bills WR1 as he still only commanded a 16% target share to Diggs’ 29%. But our sample size of Davis in his last seven games as a full-time player in this offense (19.3 PPR points per game) indicates he needs to be in all starting lineups as a high-end WR2.

Especially considering running back Zack Moss probably isn’t going to be catching six balls ever again in his entire NFL career.

Without Van Jefferson in the lineup for the Rams, Bennett Skowronek picked up the slack running a route on 88% of dropbacks. Second-year pro Tutu Atwell filled in the remaining routes with a 12% routes run per dropback rate. Skowronek surprisingly commanded six targets, to the dismay of every Robinson manager.

Isaiah McKenzie‘s route participation settled at 55%, which is fine. But it’s still less than what Cole Beasley saw last season (67%). Jamison Crowder‘s seldom usage is taking just enough of McKenzie’s workload that I would be hesitant to chase his TD score from Week 1 into Week 2.

Darnell Mooney ran a route on 96% of Justin Fields‘ dropbacks as the true alpha WR1 in the Bears’ offense. I’d be looking to buy low on him after he failed to post any worthwhile production playing in a Soldier Field swamp in Week 1. He still has virtually no competition for targets in the receiving room.

CeeDee Lamb’s 98% route participation is salivating, but the fact that he did nothing with it – 2 catches on 11 targets – and Dak Prescott being out the next 6-8 weeks have me running as far away from him as humanly possible. We want WRs attached to good QBs in above-average offenses, and Dallas no longer offers that for Lamb.

Buy low on Mike Williams. You didn’t honestly think the Williams 2022 season wouldn’t have a few bumps in the road now, did you? Big Mike did his best Casper impression in Week 1, finishing with just two catches for 10 yards on four targets.

It was extremely bizarre to see him not featured, especially considering Keenan Allen exited the contest in the 1st half. It’s par for the course when it comes to Williams, who always has a bit of boom-or-bust to his game. He’ll bounce back big Thursday night with Allen unlikely to suit up versus the Kansas City Chiefs.

He’s an every-down player, evidenced by his 91% route participation. Second to him in that category for the Chargers was Josh Palmer. But I anticipate Palmer’s usage to increase more from his 74% route participation in Week 1, with the team able to game plan with him in mind as a featured offensive weapon.

I highly doubt we see backup slot WR DeAndre Carter as involved for a second straight week.

Every season we get guys that run a crazy number of routes but get almost no targets. I call this player the “cardio king.” Week 1’s king was Mack Hollins for the Las Vegas Raiders. 90% route participation and just one target. That’s life playing next to Davante Adams.

And although this is a WR section, I’d be hard-pressed to disregard the elite TEs that saw similar route usage to that of top-tier WRs. Those TEs that saw a 90% or higher route participation in Week 1 include Mark Andrews, Dalton Schultz, Tyler Higbee and Dallas Goedert.

These guys are going to put up fantasy points based on their roles. Ergo, buy-low on the Eagles tight end.

Highest Target Share | Week 1

Player Target Share Target Rate Per Route Run
Davante Adams 49% 41%
A.J. Brown 45% 33%
Tyreek Hill 39% 39%
Donovan Peoples-Jones 37% 31%
Cooper Kupp 37% 30%
Justin Jefferson 35% 33%
Brandin Cooks 33% 32%
Saquon Barkley 33% 33%
Diontae Johnson 32% 32%
Amon-Ra St. Brown 32% 33%
Robbie Anderson 32% 24%
Christian Kirk 32% 29%
Deebo Samuel 31% 24%
Ja’Marr Chase 30% 25%
Stefon Diggs 29% 30%
Kyle Philips 29% 43%
Richie James Jr. 29% 30%
Jarvis Landry 28% 28%
Curtis Samuel 27% 31%
CeeDee Lamb 27% 24%
Michael Pittman Jr. 27% 25%
Mike Evans 26% 30%
DK Metcalf 26% 24%
Greg Dortch 25% 21%
Michael Thomas 25% 24%
D.J. Moore 24% 18%
Zay Jones 24% 22%
Jauan Jennings 23% 22%
Noah Brown 22% 23%
Drake London 22% 23%
D.J. Chark Jr. 22% 22%
JuJu Smith-Schuster 21% 25%
Amari Cooper 20% 18%
Jakobi Meyers 20% 19%
Sterling Shepard 19% 22%
Julio Jones 19% 23%
Equanimeous St. Brown 18% 18%
Darnell Mooney 18% 14%
Rashod Bateman 17% 20%
Hunter Renfrow 17% 16%
Nelson Agholor 17% 28%
Courtland Sutton 17% 16%
Jerry Jeudy 17% 17%
Marquise Brown 17% 14%
Chase Claypool 16% 16%
Gabriel Davis 16% 13%
Jaylen Waddle 16% 18%
Treylon Burks 16% 38%
Marvin Jones Jr. 16% 15%
Corey Davis 16% 21%
Mecole Hardman 15% 24%
Tyler Lockett 15% 15%
Bennett Skowronek 15% 14%

 

What also doesn’t work favorably in Allen Robinson’s outlook is the fact that nearly every big WR that moved to a new team was heavily featured in their new team’s debut. Davante Adams, A.J. Brown and Tyreek Hill all posted absurd target share numbers as their new No.1s on their respective squads. Even the real-life overpaid Christian Kirk feasted with a 32% target share for the Jacksonville Jaguars and 91% route participation.

11 targets. 37% target share. Nobody on planet Earth saw this coming for Donovan Peoples-Jones, who averaged exactly three targets over his first 26 NFL games. So consider me skeptical of buying into DPJ’s performance with two highly paid players in David Njoku and Amari Cooper seeing little involvement in Cleveland’s passing game. And keep in mind, even with 11 targets, Peoples-Jones didn’t even finish the week as a top-40 WR.

Diontae Johnson picked up where he left off last season, as the target hog in the Steelers offense. 12 targets and seven catches for 55 yards. He also dominated the target rate per route run (32%) and air yard share (30%) compared to the other Steelers’ WRs.

Gross efficiency – 1.45 yards per route run – but in PPR we will take it.

Amon-Ra St. Brown aka the Sun God showed in Week 1 that the end of last season was no fluke. 12 targets. 8 catches. 64 yards and one score. He’s an every-week starter after combining for more targets than Swift and Hockenson.

The target share leaders in the Titans’ new-look passing game? Kyle Philips with 9 targets and 29% target share, followed by Treylon Burks (5) and tight end Geoff Swaim.

Robert Woods saw two targets. Austin Hooper saw two targets. Nick Westbrook saw two targets. All dust.

The fact that the fifth-round rookie was able to accomplish such a feat on just a 60% route participation suggests that targets and more playing time are coming his way in future weeks. His 43% target rate per route run – No.1 among WRs in Week 1 – is bonkers for a Day 3 pick in his first NFL game.

Although he wasn’t the only rookie to make an instant impact on limited playing time, first-round pick Treylon Burks posted a modest 16% target share but an impressive 38% target rate per route run. He only ran 13 routes – but was targeted five times. He also posted a 34% air yards share (99 air yards) which led the team.

Welcome back, Michael Thomas. The Saints No. 1 looked healthy and made a splash in his return, catching five of eight targets for 57 receiving yards with two TDs to boot on just an 83% route participation – first, among Saints WRs (tied with rookie Chris Olave)

However, he did not lead the Saints in targets – Jarvis Landry did (9).

Drake London led the way for the Falcons’ passing attack with five catches for 74 receiving yards. An excellent debut for the rookie after missing time in the summer due to injury.

Kyle Pitts also earned an identical target share – but went just 2 for 19. Woof. But I view this as the perfect opportunity to buy low on the uber-talented Pitts. He actually commanded targets at a higher rate than London in Week 1 (25% vs. 22%) and led the Falcons in air yards. All positive signs that Pitts will right the ship in Week 2.

RED-ZONE TARGETS (Targets inside the 20-yard line)

Most Red-zone targets | Week 1

Player Red-zone targets Red-zone touchdowns
Ja’Marr Chase 6 1
Davante Adams 3 1
Mecole Hardman 3 1
Justin Jefferson 3 1
Zay Jones 3 0
Christian Kirk 3 0
Michael Pittman Jr. 3 1
Travis Etienne Jr. 3 0
Garrett Wilson 3 0
Javonte Williams 3 2
Michael Thomas 2 2
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 2 2
Travis Kelce 2 1
Zach Ertz 2 1
Marquise Brown 2 1
Gerald Everett 2 1
Nyheim Hines 2 0
Hayden Hurst 2 0
Damien Harris 2 0
A.J. Brown 2 0
Ashton Dulin 2 0
K.J. Osborn 2 0
Michael Carter 2 0
Noah Gray 2 0
Breece Hall 2 0
Alec Pierce 2 0
Jerry Jeudy 2 1
Melvin Gordon 2 2

Trevor Lawrence left a lot of production on the table in Week 1. He failed to connect with Christian Kirk and Zay Jones; 6 red-zone targets between the two resulted in zero receptions. Not to mention the overthrow of Travis Etienne Jr. in the end zone and then ETN’s huge drop on a walk-in touchdown resulted in a 0-9 completion rate for Lawrence in the red zone. Woof.

Still, the usage remains elite for a guy like Kirk, who not only has a massive target share locked down but more TD upside as a favorite of Lawrence’s in the red zone.

The Colts couldn’t stop Brandin Cooks in Week 1, so I’d bet Kirk finds similar success.

A similar success story might be found in Cincinnati, where tight end Hayden Hurst may be tasked with taking on a larger role with Tee Higgins sidelined. Because in addition to red-zone targets in Week 1, Hurst also posted a top-10 route participation rate and a 15% target share.

You could do worse than an every-down TE in a high-powered offense off the waivers this week.

DEEP TARGETS AND AIR YARDS

Most Deep Targets (20-plus air yards) | Week 1

Player Deep Targets Deep catches
Tyreek Hill 4 2
D.J. Chark Jr. 3 1
Jarvis Landry 3 2
DeAndre Carter 3 2
Cooper Kupp 2 2
Davante Adams 2 0
Brandin Cooks 2 1
Justin Jefferson 2 2
Diontae Johnson 2 1
Christian Kirk 2 1
Mark Andrews 2 0
Tyler Boyd 2 1
Kyle Pitts 2 0
Mecole Hardman 2 0
Jakobi Meyers 2 1
Darren Waller 2 1
Marquise Brown 2 1
Marvin Jones Jr. 2 0
Treylon Burks 2 0
Jahan Dotson 2 1
Julio Jones 2 1
Rashod Bateman 2 1
Dennis Houston 2 0
Devin Duvernay 2 2
Breshad Perriman 2 0
Byron Pringle 2 1

 

Several players saw multiple deep targets in Week 1 but failed to haul in any for actual production. The most notable players include: Treylon Burks, Mecole Hardman, Kyle Pitts, Mark Andrews and Davante Adams.

Christian Watson had a prime opportunity for a long TD from Aaron Rodgers in Week 1.

But let it slip through his hands. Woof.

Had he caught the TD, he’d be the headliner of every waiver wire article this week. Just add him and hope his 76% route participation — Highest on Sunday — stays intact even if Allen Lazard makes his return. He still has more long-term upside than Romeo Doubs despite the latter’s higher target rate per route run in Week 1 (20% versus 14%). Watson led the Packers in air yards.

Jahan Dotson should be added off waivers this week. He caught two TDs for the Commanders on 5 targets, operating as the No. 2 wide receiver with an 89% route participation.

However, don’t overspend on the rookie and “settle” for Curtis Samuel – who also caught a TD and commanded a whopping 11 targets converting them into 8 catches for 55 yards on an 80% route run rate. Also added four carries.

Samuel is just one year removed from a top-25 fantasy finish and 23rd-ranked 1.94 yards per route run. He’s never finished worse than WR42 in any season he has played at least 13 games.

I’d much rather add him than Baltimore Ravens WR Devin Duvernay after his two scores on just a 54% routes run rate per dropback.

Most Air Yards | Week 1

Player Air Yards Air Yards Share
A.J. Brown 94 73%
Justin Jefferson 118 73%
Davante Adams 177 53%
Richie James Jr. 63 53%
Brandin Cooks 131 50%
Cooper Kupp 116 49%
Stefon Diggs 99 44%
Courtland Sutton 121 44%
Tyreek Hill 109 42%
Robbie Anderson 70 42%
Jarvis Landry 123 41%
D.J. Chark Jr. 124 41%
Corey Davis 112 40%
Donovan Peoples-Jones 87 38%
Gabriel Davis 87 38%
Diontae Johnson 115 38%
Marquise Brown 101 38%
Julio Jones 110 36%
Michael Pittman Jr. 113 35%
Sterling Shepard 42 35%
Christian Kirk 128 35%
Treylon Burks 99 34%
Kyle Pitts 93 33%
DeAndre Carter 77 33%
Jakobi Meyers 90 32%
D.J. Moore 53 32%
Byron Pringle 51 31%
Travis Kelce 95 31%
Drake London 88 31%
Rashod Bateman 108 31%
Ja’Marr Chase 108 30%
Ashton Dulin 95 30%
CeeDee Lamb 108 30%
Michael Thomas 88 30%
Mike Evans 90 30%

 

Richie James WR1? Well, based on the usage, that’s what it looks like. With Kadarius Toney locked in the Brian Daboll doghouse, James commanded a 29% target share while running a route on 71% of Daniel Jones‘ dropbacks.

Other buy-low WRs that you should expect more fantasy production from based on their air yards totals include Marquise Brown, Treylon Burks and Kyle Pitts.

D.J. Chark saw great usage in his Lions debut with over 120 air yards, three deep targets, 22% target share and 92% route participation. The Commanders’ defense has shown no ability to slow down opposing WRs, so it’s a solid spot for Chark to post some fantasy numbers.

Julio Jones is going to play a big part in the Buccaneers offense as long as Chris Godwin remains sidelined. The future Hall-of-Famer earned 110 air yards and ran just one fewer route than Mike Evans in Week 1 versus the Dallas Cowboys. He was efficient 3.14 yards per route run with just a 19% target share. Buy him.

Courtland Sutton tied Jerry Jeudy with seven targets on Monday Night Football, with the latter coming away with the higher production total after a massive catch-and-run for a touchdown. However, this is hardly the time to jump off the Sutton bandwagon as the Denver Broncos No. 1 WR still commanded the lion’s share of air yards (44%, 121 air yards) while running a route on a team-high 98% of dropbacks. Both guys each saw two targets of 20-plus air yards, but Jeudy was the one that turned the high-value target into a 67-yard score.

RUNNING BACKS

Rate of routes run per dropback | Week 1

Player Routes run % of routes run per dropback
Darrell Henderson 39 78%
Leonard Fournette 22 76%
Saquon Barkley 21 75%
Aaron Jones 28 74%
Christian McCaffrey 24 73%
Dalvin Cook 23 70%
D’Andre Swift 25 64%
Jonathan Taylor 34 63%
Rex Burkhead 25 63%
James Conner 27 62%
Javonte Williams 28 62%
David Montgomery 14 61%
Rashaad Penny 19 59%
Joe Mixon 38 58%
Kareem Hunt 22 58%
Chase Edmonds 21 57%
Cordarrelle Patterson 19 51%
Antonio Gibson 23 51%
Travis Etienne 22 49%
Jeff Wilson Jr. 17 49%
Devin Singletary 18 47%
Avery Williams 17 46%
Kenyan Drake 15 44%
Miles Sanders 18 43%
Alvin Kamara 17 43%
A.J. Dillon 16 42%
Breece Hall 26 42%
Michael Carter 26 42%
Jerick McKinnon 17 41%
Nyheim Hines 22 41%
Josh Jacobs 17 40%
Derrick Henry 14 40%
Ezekiel Elliott 18 39%
Austin Ekeler 13 38%
J.D. McKissic 17 38%

 

Darrell Henderson not only dominated the snap share in the Los Angeles Rams (82%) backfield Thursday night over Cam Akers, but he received elite usage in the passing game. His 78% route participation was par for the course for the Rams RB1 last season (82%) between Henderson and Sony Michel.

Hendo also converted his receiving usage into solid production, commanding five targets.

His fantasy stock is obviously way up after the surprise prime-time showing, but the real question fantasy managers should be having is how to take advantage of Henderson’s status as RB1.

Because I’m not so sure it’s secure as many others will think. And please bear with me here, as I know many that read my advice know that I was “in” on Cam Akers as a target in the RB Dead Zone. As a side note…just drafting WRs in this range helps avoid potential pitfalls such as this.

Regardless, I’d like to point out that all the reports of Akers/Henderson splitting snaps were totally false. Sean McVay has traditionally operated with an RB1 philosophy, where one guy gets 20-plus touches per game. Which is why I was in on Akers in the 1st place.

So my process of chasing the RB1 role – 82% snap rate is extremely high for any RB – was correct. I just picked the wrong Rams running back.

But, let’s not forget that both Akers and Henderson both dealt with soft-tissue injuries during the offseason. So it’s possible that Henderson may have just been the more healthy of the two and got the RB1 role in this particular matchup.

It’s my long way of saying that if I drafted Henderson late, I’d just cash out now. Sell high. Because an 82% snap rate for an RB can only go down, not up because of how high it is. Not to mention, Henderson’s injury history precedes him and the Rams’ offensive line looks like it could have issues all year long.

As for Akers managers…you’re concerned. As Akers manager myself, I’m concerned. Of course. But it’s only one game, and overreacting too much isn’t the approach here. Akers still has a handcuff appeal in a high-powered offense if Henderson is the lead back, and he can be bought for dirt cheap after a prime-time contest where everybody saw him take a major backseat.

Especially if you still want to hold Henderson or can’t get a high enough return, just target Akers on the cheap. Because it would not shock me if Akers has this RB1 role at some point down the line.

So much for James Cook playing a massive role in the Bills’ passing game. The second-round rookie running back fumbled on his first touch and was basically never heard from again in Week 1. It makes sense that Moss’ boost in the receiving game could have been Cook’s had he not put the ball on the ground.

A lack of ball security put Devin Singletary in the doghouse during the first half of last season; his two teammates both fumbling are a definite benefit to Motor Singletary maintaining the RB1 role on offense.

And even though Singletary was out-targeted by Moss, he ran a higher percentage of routes per dropback (47% vs 37%) and played a higher snap rate (59% vs 37%). It is slightly concerning that Moss did earn the lone red-zone carry among the Bills RBs, but Singletary did have a red-zone target for eight receiving yards.

Extremely bizarre usage for Dameon Pierce. With a positive game flow, the rookie running back should have been fed. But the team elected to use more of Rex Burkhead

Rex saw more carries (14 vs 11) and out-targeted Pierce 8 to 1. All in all, Burkhead earned 19 touches and needs to be scooped off all waiver wires. His 63% route participation is excellent for an RB and much larger than Pierce’s work as a receiver (13%).

Cordarelle Patterson made the most of an early exit by Damien Williams, touting the rock 22 times for 120 rushing yards against an elite Saints run defense on a 65% snap share.

All in all, C-Patt totaled 25 touches, easily the most in his polarizing career. Considering how late you were able to draft him, I’d sell-high knowing I can get a much less volatile asset in return.

Not to mention, next week’s matchup versus a stout Rams defense might poise serious issues for Patterson and bring his fantasy value back down to Earth.

And it’s interesting to see how Patterson nearly split route participation with Avery Williams – who was the only other healthy RB active on Sunday. Could easily Damien Williams in that role when healthy in Week 2, which would eat into Patterson’s role as a receiver.

Alvin Kamara totaled just 12 touches for 42 yards in Week 1, while backfield teammate Mark Ingram had 5 for 27. Kamara’s egregiously large workload was going to come down after last season, and that’s exactly how we saw things play out.

Recall, AK41 averaged 15 touches per game when in use in tandem with a healthy Mark Ingram last season. 24.2 touches without Ingram.

If that doesn’t change, Kamara’s production won’t meet that of fantasy RB1, especially if his route participation stays below the 50% mark.

Is Nyheim Hines going to be an issue for Jonathan Taylor? Nope. Despite trailing, Taylor saw more targets (7 vs 6), ran more routes and still hung 31 carries for 161 rushing yards with four catches to boot.

Hines ran a route in just 41% of Matt Ryan‘s dropbacks.

Austin Ekeler only ran 13 routes in Week 1 – a very low number. I’d just chalk it up to variance and a different game plan for LA as the target distribution numbers were basically flat across the board after Allen left with an injury.

Javonte Williams (58%) and Melvin Gordon (41%) split backfield snaps in Week 1, but the younger back got elite usage as a receiver. Not only did he lead the team with a 29% target share — 12 targets — he ran a route on 62% of the dropbacks. Gordon ran a route on just 295 of dropbacks, but out-carried Williams 12 to 7. Gordon saw two carries inside the 5-yard line versus Williams’ 1. Both lost a fumble.

Highest Target Share | Week 1

Player Target Share Target Rate Per Route Run
Saquon Barkley 33% 33%
Javonte Williams 29% 43%
David Montgomery 24% 29%
Rex Burkhead 22% 32%
Antonio Gibson 20% 35%
Zack Moss 19% 43%
Breece Hall 18% 38%
A.J. Dillon 17% 38%
Joe Mixon 17% 24%
James Conner 17% 22%
Dalvin Cook 16% 22%
Christian McCaffrey 16% 17%
Michael Carter 16% 35%
Cordarrelle Patterson 16% 26%
Aaron Jones 14% 18%
Jonathan Taylor 14% 21%
Kenneth Gainwell 14% 40%
Ty Montgomery 13% 36%
Kareem Hunt 13% 18%
Dontrell Hilliard 13% 67%
Chase Edmonds 13% 19%
Alvin Kamara 13% 24%
Darrell Henderson 12% 13%
Austin Ekeler 12% 31%
Eno Benjamin 11% 33%
Travis Etienne 11% 18%
Rashaad Penny 11% 16%
Jerick McKinnon 10% 24%
Damien Harris 10% 30%
Samaje Perine 9% 24%
D’Andre Swift 8% 12%
Jeff Wilson Jr. 8% 12%
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 8% 23%

 

Ya love to see a healthy Saquon Barkley. The New York Giants running back went full-on bellcow accumulating 24 touches for nearly 200 yards of offense with elite usage to boot as a receiver. 33% target share and 75% route participation.

He’s officially back.

Antonio Gibson is a fantasy RB1 as long as Brian Robinson remains sidelined. 21 touches in Week 1 – seven catches for 71 yards and 58 rushing yards. McKissic totaled just six touches. Gibson more than 3x’d that volume.

For those that fear when B-Rob returns, I think if Gibson continues this stretch of high-end production – he will remain the team’s fully entrenched starter.

Time to fully panic on Travis Etienne Jr. after he dropped a walk-in TD and was out-carried 11 to 4 to James Robinson off the torn Achilles injury while splitting snaps 50/50?

Not so fast.

ETN still drew more targets (4 vs 2) and had a higher route participation. And as previously mentioned, he was the one getting the targets in the red zone, not J-Rob. As long as Etienne can start converting on some high-value touches, he will be a fantasy producer. Don’t sell.

But I would sell Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Anytime you can sell an RB after he scores two receiving TDs…you should do so. CEH only played 39% of the Chiefs’ snaps — albeit it was a blowout — but you’d expect him to get more than 7 carries with KC playing with a positive game script. The fact that Jerick McKinnon was equally involved — 39% snap share, higher route participation, more targets — and Isiah Pacheco got the rushing score late make me want to cash out on CEH.

Has Breece Hall taken over the Jets backfield? No.

Michael Carter is still a significant part of what the team wants to do on offense.

But the fact that Hall was able to command a whopping ten targets (2 red-zone targets) on just a 45% snap share versus Carter’s 60% snap share, gives me confidence that he will continue to be used in the passing game as he eventually takes over the true RB1 role. It might take some time, but fantasy managers that practice patience will be rewarded handsomely.

CARRIES NEAR THE GOAL LINE

Most carries inside the 5-yard line | Week 1

Player Goal-line carries Goal-line touchdowns
Joe Mixon 3 0
Jamaal Williams 3 2
Miles Sanders 3 1
Saquon Barkley 2 1
Jeff Wilson 2 0
Jalen Hurts 2 1
A.J. Dillon 2 1
Najee Harris 2 0
Khalil Herbert 2 1

 

D’Andre Swift was ripping off huge runs behind the Lions elite OL – 15 carries for 144 yards, but the coaching staff continued to use Jamaal Williams in-and-around the goal-line.

Swift scored once and Williams scored twice on five carries inside the 10-yard line. This usage definitely makes it tough for Swift to realize his top-tier fantasy potential with Williams getting the preferred usage near the opponent’s end zone.

Jeff Wilson figures to be a heavily targeted RB off waivers this week with Mitchell out the next few weeks. He is going to split time with Samuel and likely another 49er RB, but it seems he at least has the goal-line job in grasp.

Most carries inside the 10-yard line | Week 1

Player 10-yard line carries TDs
Jamaal Williams 5 2
Saquon Barkley 4 1
Joe Mixon 3 0
Miles Sanders 3 1
Jeff Wilson 3 0
Jalen Hurts 3 1
Najee Harris 3 0
Jonathan Taylor 3 1
A.J. Dillon 2 1
Khalil Herbert 2 1
Cordarrelle Patterson 2 1
James Conner 2 1
Josh Allen 2 1
Deebo Samuel 2 1
Kenneth Gainwell 2 1
Isiah Pacheco 2 1

 

A.J. Dillon led the team in targets (6) not Aaron Jones (5) in Week 1.

Dillon also out-touched Jones 15 to 8 and got the red-zone work…continuing the usage trend from last season.

Jones’ production is going to be heavily reliant on him as a receiver out of the backfield – 74% route participation in Week 1. My advice would be to sell Jones after a spiked week in production and buy Dillon before the market realizes he is the traditional RB1 in the Packers offense, with goal-line duties in hand.

Joe Mixon – no work on 3rd downs? No problem. Nine targets with a 58% route participation. 34 touches. And he didn’t even score on any of his three goal-line carries. That will regress positively in his favor.

Miles Sanders finally scored! But he still lost some goal-line touches to both Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott who both also scored on Sunday. You can play Sanders in plus-matchups, but he’s risky in game scripts that the Eagles might be trailing in. Might be worth trying to flip before Sander’s warning to “not draft me in fantasy football” comes to fruition.

TIGHT ENDS

Rate of routes run per dropback | Week 1

Player Routes run % of routes run per dropback
Mark Andrews 32 94%
Dalton Schultz 43 93%
Tyler Higbee 41 92%
Dallas Goedert 38 90%
Hunter Henry 29 88%
Darren Waller 35 83%
Tyler Conklin 50 81%
Juwan Johnson 32 80%
Hayden Hurst 51 78%
Evan Engram 35 78%
T.J. Hockenson 30 77%
Cameron Brate 22 76%
Kyle Pitts 28 76%
Albert Okwuegbunam 34 76%
Pat Freiermuth 31 76%
Travis Kelce 31 76%
Cole Kmet 16 70%
David Njoku 26 68%
Gerald Everett 23 68%
Dawson Knox 25 66%
Austin Hooper 23 66%
Brevin Jordan 25 63%
Zach Ertz 27 61%
Logan Thomas 26 58%
Ian Thomas 19 58%
Noah Fant 18 56%
Kylen Granson 29 54%
Isaiah Likely 18 53%
Jonnu Smith 17 52%
Johnny Mundt 16 48%
Robert Tonyan 18 47%
Robert Tonyan 18 47%
Will Dissly 14 44%
Mike Gesicki 16 43%
Geoff Swaim 15 43%
Tyler Kroft 15 43%
Irv Smith Jr. 14 42%
Ross Dwelley 14 40%
Harrison Bryant 15 39%
Tre’ McKitty 13 38%
John Bates 17 38%
Pharaoh Brown 15 38%
Mo Alie-Cox 19 35%
Durham Smythe 13 35%
Tommy Tremble 11 33%

 

Tyler Higbee isn’t a sexy name by TE standards. But his elite role in the Rams offense – 92% route participation – provides him a super secure floor each and every week. Just be wary that his weekly ceiling is not high, because his 2.7 aDOT is not going to generate chunk yardage plays anytime soon. Considering the landscape of the tight end position, you could do much worse than Higbee off the waiver wire.

Guys, please do not waste your waiver wire money on O.J. Howard‘s two-TD performance. He ran a route on just 15% of Davis Mills dropbacks in Week 1, behind both Pharaoh Brown and Brevin Jordan. He’s fool’s gold.

Juwan Johnson is a sneaky addition in some deeper formats. The Saints tight end saw a lot of playing time as the primary pass-catching option, with an 80% route participation rate. Jameis Winston could lean on him early and often against a Buccaneers defense that allowed nine targets to Dalton Schultz in Week 1.

Speaking of Schultz…

Panic will ensue among his fantasy managers regarding the injury to Prescott. But we know that TEs fare much better with sub-par QB play than WRs do. And among all the TEs that played on Sunday…Schultz was the only one that played 100% of the snaps. His role in Dallas’ offense provides him a super secure floor, even if the ceiling is lessened with Prescott sidelined.

Highest Target Share | Week 1

Player Target Share Target Rate Per Route Run
Pat Freiermuth 27% 32%
Tyler Higbee 27% 24%
Mark Andrews 24% 22%
Travis Kelce 23% 29%
Dalton Schultz 22% 21%
Kyle Pitts 22% 25%
T.J. Hockenson 19% 23%
Albert Okwuegbunam 17% 18%
Darren Waller 17% 17%
Juwan Johnson 16% 16%
Hayden Hurst 15% 16%
Noah Fant 15% 22%
Logan Thomas 15% 23%
Kylen Granson 14% 24%
Robert Tonyan 14% 28%

 

Pat Freiermuth might already be an elite fantasy tight end. The Steelers second-year pro picked up where he left off last season, commanding ten targets for 75 receiving yards (5 receptions). His 27% target share ranked 1st in Week 1 among TEs and solidifies his status as a must-start fantasy TE1.

My concerns for Dawson Knox during the draft season came to fruition on Thursday night. I was extremely worried about his low target rate per route run last season, and it was the same story. On only 8% of Knox’s routes did he earn a target.

His role – 66% route participation – is still better than most, but the inability to command targets is going to make Knox pretty TD-or-bust most weeks.

Keep an eye on Robert Tonyan. He didn’t play all that much in Week 1 in his first game back from injury, but still commanded a 14% target share – tied for second on the roster.

Kylen Granson could be the sneaky Colts TE to roster in deeper formats. A former college slot WR, Granson got the superior route usage to the big-bodied Mo-Alie Cox.

Logan Thomas’ return should not be overlooked. 15% target share and a 23% target rate per route run is shockingly good for someone coming off a devastating injury. His route participation leaves some to be desired, but it should increase as he gets back to full health.

Another TE that disappointed in the usage column was Irv Smith Jr. (42% route participation). The Vikings tight end was playing for the 1st time since 2020, so that’s probably the reason for the limited usage in Week 1.

*Routes run data provided by PFF.com

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