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Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis: Week 13 (2022)

Nov 30, 2022
Mac Jones

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. 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.

Stats via FantasyPros

The Top 10 Quarterbacks

Player

Air Yards

aDOT

Pass Attempts

1) Mac Jones (NE)

224

5.7

39

2) Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

223

6.2

36

3) Geno Smith (SEA)

217

5.9

37

4) Trevor Lawrence (JAC)

213

5.8

37

5) Josh Allen (BUF)

204

4.9

42

6) Kirk Cousins (MIN)

189

5.1

37

7) Joe Burrow (CIN)

182

4.9

37

8) Dak Prescott (DAL)

180

6

30

9) Patrick Mahomes (KC)

179

4.3

42

10) Lamar Jackson (BAL)

173

5.4

32

 

Last week the media talked all about Zach Wilson, Mike White, and the New York Jets. However, it was the Lawrence show in Week 12. The former first-overall pick had the best performance in his career. Over the first 10 games of the season, Lawrence averaged 136.1 air yards per game and posted a 3.9 aDOT. By comparison, the former Clemson superstar was fantastic on Sunday, finishing fourth in air yards (213) and aDOT (5.8). With matchups against the Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans over the next two weeks, Lawrence should keep up his excellent play from Week 12.

Speaking of quarterbacks from the 2021 NFL Draft class, Jones had a career performance on Thanksgiving. The former Alabama star had 382 passing yards and 23.3 fantasy points against the Minnesota Vikings, both career-highs. He also had two passing touchdowns, a season-high. Furthermore, Jones had only his second game with over 170 air yards this year on Thursday. More importantly, the young quarterback had struggled lately, averaging only 72.3 air yards per game and a 2.9 aDOT over the previous four contests. He suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 3 and hasn’t been the same since then. However, his performance on Thanksgiving should give fantasy players hope that Jones could be in line for a strong finish to the 2022 season.

The Top 10 Wide Receivers

Player

Air Yards

aDOT

Targets

1) Zay Jones (JAC)

110

7.9

14

2) Tee Higgins (CIN)

108

12

9

3) Justin Jefferson (MIN)

99

9

11

4) DJ Moore (CAR)

97

16.2

6

5) CeeDee Lamb (DAL)

85

7.7

11

6) Isaiah McKenzie (BUF)

81

8.1

10

7) Amon-Ra St. Brown (DET)

80

8

10

8) DeVante Parker (NE)

71

17.8

4

9) Jaylen Waddle (MIA)

69

6.9

10

10) DeSean Jackson (BAL)

67

22.3

3

 

Despite taking on the Denver Broncos, who have surrendered the second-fewest passing yards this season, Moore had arguably his best performance of the year. The former Maryland star receiver caught four of his six targets for 103 yards (94.2% of which were air yards), a touchdown, and scored 18.3 half-point PPR fantasy points. By comparison, the veteran receiver had scored only 4.1 fantasy points over the previous three games. He totaled only 77 yards (75.3% of which were air yards), with Baker Mayfield and PJ Walker starting those three contests. The Panthers have their bye this week but then face the Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Detroit Lions. Let’s hope Sam Darnold can keep getting Moore the ball.

Welcome back from the land of the dead, or the retirement home Mr. Jackson. The veteran receiver’s career appeared to be over the past few years. Last season he had 454 receiving yards in 16 games as he split time between the Los Angeles Rams and Las Vegas Raiders. Meanwhile, Jackson had one reception for 16 air yards last week. With Baltimore’s younger receivers struggling on Sunday, the veteran stepped up and totaled 74 yards (90.5% of which were air yards) on his three receptions. While his performance last week was impressive, fantasy players shouldn’t expect Jackson to keep it up as he turns 37 on Thursday.

The Top 10 Tight Ends

Player

Air Yards

aDOT

Targets

1) Jelani Woods (IND)

66

7.3

9

2) Josh Oliver (BAL)

46

7.7

6

3) Mark Andrews (BAL)

35

5

7

4) Noah Fant (SEA)

33

11

3

5) Travis Kelce (KC)

32

4

8

6) Tyler Conklin (NYJ)

27

9

3

7) Dalton Schultz (DAL)

27

6.8

4

8) T.J. Hockenson (MIN)

23

3.8

6

9) Foster Moreau (LV)

22

3.1

7

10) Hayden Hurst (CIN)

22

2.4

9

 

With Rashod Bateman out for the year, the Baltimore passing attack has struggled except for Andrews. Last week, the wide receivers accounted for only 51.5% of Jackson’s air yards, with the soon-to-be 37-year-old Jackson accounting for 75.3% of the wide receivers’ total. Meanwhile, Isaiah Likely missed Sunday’s matchup with an ankle injury, leading to a bigger role for Oliver. The former Jacksonville Jaguar almost got revenge against his former team, catching what we thought would be the game-winning touchdown with two minutes left. More importantly, he and Andrews accounted for 46.8% of Jackson’s air yards on Sunday. By comparison, the tight end position has accounted for 43.2% of the quarterback’s air yards over the first 10 games this year.

The Dallas Cowboys have won four of their five games since Prescott returned from a thumb injury. During that span, Schultz has averaged 10.6 half-point PPR fantasy points per game, making him the TE4 on a points-per-game basis. Meanwhile, the veteran tight end has averaged 33 air yards per game and posted a 5.7 aDOT since the return of Prescott. By comparison, Schultz averaged only one air yard per game and had a 0.4 aDOT in the three games he played with Cooper Rush. Assuming Prescott stays healthy, Schultz is a top-five tight end for the rest of the season.

The Top Five Underperformers

Player

Air Yards

aDOT

Targets

1) Cameron Brate (TE – TB)

3

0.6

5

2) Cole Kmet (TE – CHI)

7

1.2

6

3) Demarcus Robinson (WR – BAL)

9

2.3

4

4) Mike Evans (WR – TB)

17

1.9

9

5) Kendall Hinton (WR – DEN)

21

2.3

9

 

In Week 10, Robinson caught all nine of his targets for 128 yards and scored 17.3 half-point PPR fantasy points against the Carolina Panthers, all season-highs. The veteran receiver was a popular waiver wire option last week, given his Week 11 matchup. Instead, Robinson struggled. He had four targets and caught only one for 17 yards (52.9% of which were air yards). Instead, the soon-to-be 37-year-old Jackson was the star of Baltimore’s receiving core. Unless something changes, fantasy players should avoid starting any Ravens’ pass-catcher not named Andrews.

Somehow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers found a way to lose to a three-win Cleveland Browns team. While Chris Godwin had a solid performance, with a team-high 43 air yards, the rest of the receiving core struggled. Brate had five targets, the fourth-most on the team. Yet, he had only three air yards. Meanwhile, the rookie Cade Otton didn’t see a target despite playing one fewer snap than the veteran. Over the previous two games, the rookie averaged 32 air yards per game and posted a 7.1 aDOT. Hopefully, Tom Brady starts targeting Otton more often and stops wasting his throws on Brate.

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

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