Advanced stats can help fantasy managers determine potential breakout candidates in fantasy football. Two wide receivers can have similar stat lines in a given week. But they may have gotten there in different ways, and one may have more value going forward than another.
In recent years, targets and target share have become an important part of how we value pass catchers. However, those metrics only tell part of the story. This is because not all targets have the same fantasy value.
Air yards is an important metric because it can often be an indicator of a player’s potential value. Downfield targets offer more big play – and thus big fantasy point – potential. Those players who are being targeted often and also down the field could be in store for more fantasy production down the road.
Let us take a look at some of the top air yards performances from Week 2 to see if we can uncover any hidden gems. And you can find the full article here with all of my Week 3 takeaways.
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Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis & Takeaways: Week 3
The Top 10 Quarterbacks
Justin Herbert led the way in Week 2 with 441 air yards and an aDOT well over 10 yards. It was the perfect storm for Herbert and the Chargers’ passing game. They were facing the Tennessee Titans, who are a notorious pass-funnel defensive unit. And Herbert was without his favorite safety valve in Austin Ekeler. Since the beginning of 2022, Ekeler has earned 133 targets with a combined aDOT of -85 yards. If Ekeler is out or limited this Sunday, Herbert will likely continue to look downfield. The Vikings’ defense has held Baker Mayfield and Jalen Hurts under 200 passing yards. But I would not shy away from Herbert as a mid-range QB1 in this matchup. He is still armed with two high-end wide receivers, and a more concentrated approach down the field should be enough for him to put up solid fantasy numbers.
Deshaun Watson is an interesting case as it relates to air yards. On one hand, he ranks fourth in the NFL in air yards and leads the league in aDOT through two weeks. On the other hand, he has been pretty terrible throwing the football. Watson ranks in the bottom five among all signal callers in both EPA (expected points added) and CPOE (completion percentage over expected). The only other quarterback who is on both lists is Zach Wilson. However, there could be reason for optimism, at least in the short term. Watson faces Tennessee in Week 3. Cleveland may have to rely on Watson more than usual in this matchup. The Browns are also without their top rusher after the gruesome injury Nick Chubb suffered on Monday night. Watson’s rushing production raises his floor in a matchup that could provide fantasy managers with a higher ceiling than usual.