Welcome back, everybody! We’ve got NFL Week 2 officially in the books and a lot to recap from ALL the action! Hopefully you’ll liked the new version of the 2023 usage report. While slightly altered from previous installments, I think it packs a punch that is exactly what fantasy managers want and NEED as they make transactions heading into the next week.
Again, we live in the year 2023, where bite-size and easy-to-digest content is the way, the masses consume content. My goal with this weekly piece is to provide you with the KEY ACTION items – waiver wire pickups, trade, add, drop, stash, buy, sell, start, sit, etc. – for your fantasy football team based on what happened the previous week. Let me do the work of scouring through the data, so you can just follow my lead. As my college marketing professor always said, “Keep it simple, stupid.” The KISS mantra is at its finest.
As always, I’ll be citing data and what I watched on film from the weekend’s past matchups highlighting what matters most and what’s potentially just noise. I will make a strong effort to feature players who are coming off polarizing performances, as they are sure to be the ones fantasy managers have the most question marks about. And note that If I omit a certain player(s), it’s likely because their role/usage did not change from the week prior. Want to save the valuable space for players whose stock is rising/falling, as this is where we can take advantage as savvy fantasy gamers.
And for those tuning into the usage report for the first time; the idea behind the usage report has always been about identifying which players are running routes, seeing high snap shares, and earning high-value targets as these tend to be precursors for future fantasy production. And sometimes they don’t always show up in the normal box score.
So, without further ado…let’s unveil the 2023 Usage Report for Week 2, to prepare for success in Week 3. The Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings Forecast featuring Waiver Wire Pickups and Buy Low/Sell High Trade Targets.
Let’s ride. Because the forecast calls for more action in the upcoming Week 3 slate.
For some overarching data points, check out my Twitter/X thread that covers some important nuggets from Week 2’s action.
Notable Fantasy Football Snap Counts
From Week 2.
To prepare you for Week 3…
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) September 18, 2023
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Fantasy Football Forecast
Hard to start anywhere but with Eagles running back D’Andre Swift, who had a career game on Thursday night football. He rushed for 175 yards on 28 carries while adding in three catches for six yards on three targets. His 75% snap share tied for the third-highest snap share of his career. The 28 carries were the second-most he has ever had in his career. Only twice (including Thursday night) has Swift carried the ball 17-plus times over 42 games played. This usage was insane and was obviously fueled by Kenneth Gainwell‘s inactive status. Gainwell started Week 1, saw solid usage, and was productive. But it was not nearly to the extent we saw Swift get deployed versus the Vikings, where the planets aligned for him in a short week. He barely played in Week 1 (two touches), so he had fresh legs. Boston Scott was second in command – 13% snap share, 5 touches – but he left the game due to a concussion. Rashaad Penny played a few drives with Swift catching his breath on the sideline, but still only played 9 snaps with 4 touches.
All in all, this was the upside case for Swift in the Eagles offense. Although, part of running behind an elite OL that creates space like none other – 82 of Swift’s yards came BEFORE contact (47%) – comes with the caveat that Jalen Hurts is going to limit RB TD production with the unstoppable “tush push” at the goal line. But that’s being nitpicky. The real question is what to do with Swift now after his UNBELIEVABLE game.
For me, it’s the perfect sell high situation. As I stated at the top, this type of usage was unlike anything we have ever seen from Swift or for an Eagles RB. Miles Sanders saw a 70-percent snap share once last season. Just twice in 2021 under head coach Nick Sirianni. I’m in the camp of believing that this type of workload is not in the Eagles’ long-term plan for Swift and that when Gainwell returns, Swift’s snaps will reduce dramatically. Now, I think Swift’s performance has changed the idea that Gainwell will dominate snaps like he did in Week 1, with Swift probably the 1A back. But unless he’s completely missing games, this is the ceiling spot for Swift. And that’s why he’s such a strong sell high after a massive game on prime time.
Recall that the Eagles head coach stated a day before the game that Swift’s role will vary from game to game. “He’ll be in that role sometimes where he carries the load for the game, and he’ll be in the role sometimes like he was in last game,”
So of course – me tuckering in fear as I failed to rank Swift highly enough in Week 2 – this was the spot to unleash Swift and have him carry the load. Short week. Gainwell out. Swift was fresh. And the Vikings’ defense was just begging for the Eagles to run. So, they did. But with a mini bye coming up, Gainwell should be back in the fold. And that puts Swift’s weekly role in ambiguity. We always knew that Swift was going to have his fair share of massive games in 2023. Even through the ups-and-downs in Detroit, he had massive games. But the usage was always suspect – as was Swift’s durability when his workload increased. And I don’t think that’s going to go away in Philadelphia. Keep in mind what’s coming up for the Eagles. Buccaneers. Commanders. Rams. Jets. Three of the four boast extremely strong defensive lines, nothing like Minnesota.
Sell high and if anything, buy super low on Gainwell, who might get dropped amid the Swift hype.
As for the rest of the Eagles, it was more of the same. Dallas Goedert got back in the fold with a team-high seven targets – albeit catching six for just 22 yards. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith saw six and five targets respectively, but Smith came away with the two TDs. AJB ran bad again, having one of his TDs called back due to a Penny holding penalty. Two weeks in Brown leads the Eagles with a 30% target share, followed by Smith at 28%. But because Smith has the long completions and two TDs, he has been the Eagles fantasy WR1. But he’s not. AJB still ranks 1st on the team in expected fantasy points per game (15.4) through two games. Buy low if anybody is souring on him after a quiet Thursday night game.
Minnesota is still playing K.J. Osborn ahead of rookie Jordan Addison, which I am curious about. Osborn had a night to forget with two key drops, and Addison flashed his big play upside with another long TD grab. Despite a 13% target share through two games, Addison ranks second on the team in air yards and total receiving yards. But his role increased in Week 2 as his route participation jumped from 66% to 78%. Snap share up to 69% from 55%.
With Justin Jefferson continuing to open looks for Addison, I think he is going to get opportunities every single week to hit on a splash play downfield. The rookie is a massive buy as I expect him to usurp Osborn sooner rather than later. Addison won’t be garnering a ton of volume at any points without an injury, but his high yardage and weekly TD upside make him a worthy acquisition in standard or half-PPR formats.
As for Alexander Mattison, it was another underwhelming performance. 8 carries for 28 yards and one lost fumble. Just 11 yards on 3 catches (6 targets) most of which came in pure garbage time. However, he still played 76% of the snaps to Ty Chandler‘s 12%. Chandler had one carry for zero yards but looked explosive on his catch and run. He caught two passes for nine yards. Mattison out-touched Chandler 11 to 3.
Still, zero indication that Chandler is a threat to Mattison’s workload through two games. And the first two matchups – that I tried to hit home as a reason to not draft Mattison – have been brutal as advertised. Injuries across the OL have not helped. But if you have Mattison, you can’t sell. The window is gone. But luckily, the matchups improve dramatically for the Vikings with the Chargers, Panthers, Chiefs and Bears in their next four games. If you are really hurting at RB, I actually think Mattison is super sharp buy low target to get you through the next few weeks.
Never felt like this game was really close. Bills benefited from some interceptions, that both led to TD drives. But the headline is definitely James Cook‘s big day on the ground rushing for 123 yards on 17 carries (59% snap share, same as Week 1). Also caught four passes on 4 targets for 36 yards. The fact that Cook has looked good and explosive helps mitigate his lack of red-zone opportunities. Latavius Murry (23% snap share) and Damien Harris (18% snap share) are going to continue to eat into Cook’s role at the goal line, which hurts his fantasy RB1 upside. Both guys scored on carries near the goal line. But Cook still has mid-RB2 fantasy appeal because he catches passes and is explosive as a rusher. And I’d note for the second straight week Murray looked like he was ahead of Harris on the depth chart. Ergo, if you need to cut Harris to make room on your roster, it’s okay. If you are struggling at RB2, I like Cook as a trade-for target.
If you want to cash out – because he is never going to be consistent – this would be the time to do so. Think he’s a great player to package trade, to upgrade at a starting fantasy position. Again, just a 15% target share through two games – with both TEs and Cook hot on his heels.
Alpha WR1 Stefon Diggs also saw seven targets. The tight ends have similar usage to the week before. Dalton Kincaid caught 5 for 43 yards on 6 targets. Dawson Knox scored on three catches for 10 yards (5 targets, 3 red-zone targets). Wouldn’t read too much into Kincaid’s snaps dipping. Bills were blowing out LV and he took a shot after seeing an end-zone target (2 red-zone targets). Although it needs to be brought up that Knox is still playing a legitimate full-time real TE role in the Bills offense.
Save this for your matchups going forward for teams playing the Raiders. They play a defense with two safeties back constantly. And this opens up so many targets for RBs/TEs to eat underneath. The Broncos did it Week 1, Bills in Week 2. Steelers vs Raiders in Week 3.
Las Vegas Raiders
Josh Jacobs finished with -2 rushing yards. You read that correctly. From the get-go, he had virtually zero room to run the ball, starting the game with a rush for -4 yards. Throughout it seemed like he never had any space to run, which has been an issue for the Raiders OL over the last two weeks. Their pass protection is relatively okay, but the run-blocking has been BAD. And actually, I should give the Raiders’ pass protection more credit. Jimmy Garoppolo has been pressured on just 15% of his dropbacks through 2 games. Lowest rate in the NFL.
Luckily, Jacobs stayed plenty involved in the passing game catching five balls for 51 yards on 6 targets. Totaled 14 touches on a 72% snap share after sitting out the last 5 minutes with the game out of hand. Zamir White didn’t come in till the game was already over. Jacobs is still a bell cow, that just needs to get by on volume. Without Jakobi Meyers, the targets just concentrated around Jacobs and Davante Adams (6-84-1). With Adams in the concussion protocol, it’s just going to be more force-fed volume for Jacobs in Week 3, should Adams miss. If you need a warm RB2 body, Jacobs fits the mold.
Probably best to avoid any Raiders WRs – other than Jakobi Meyers – because nobody got involved with Meyers out. Hunter Renfrow‘s routes (76%) and snaps increased, but he did nothing with them. Same with Kristen Wilkerson (72% snap share). They combined for one target. Austin Hooper and Ameer Abdullah had more.
Sell Kyle Pitts
We got a report before the game that Tyler Allgeier and Bijan Robinson were expected to split carries. That was mostly true, but Bijan still saw the majority of work and touches in the backfield. He played 72% of the snaps versus Allgeier’s 44%. The rookie also totaled 23 touches – 19 for 124 rushing yards, 4 catches for 48 yards on 45 targets – and was Hella efficient. Second strong week as a receiver (17% target share). Through two weeks (not including MNF) Robinson leads all RBs with a 25% target share. Positive development for the rookie. Not to say Allgeier is totally useless now. Allgeier still saw four more red-zone carries, one more than Robinson (who got stuffed on a goal-line rush and was the RB on an RPO TD run by Desmond Ridder). But unlike in Week 1, he just didn’t score.
Drake London got back in good graces with the Falcons passing more in a more contested contest. Drew 7 targets for 6 catches and 67 yards with 1 TD. Got first target of the game and more designed looks. Looked really good despite coverage from Jaire Alexander. Team-high 24% target share. Mack Hollins was the team’s air yards leader, converting his downfield looks into 3 catches for 60 yards. However, not everybody flourished. After London bombed last week, it was time for Kyle Pitts to disappoint. 2 catches for 15 yards. Two end-zone targets that came up short. 5 total targets was fewer than No. 2 tight end Jonnu Smith, who was actually running legitimate routes (not just designed behind the LOS passes etc.). That was despite Pitts running a route on 88% of dropbacks (same as London). He can’t run more routes. And Smith played a lot more in Week 2 (67% vs 50%) than he did in Week 1. Through two weeks, the only trustable asset in the Falcons offense is Bijan Robinson. Literally. So nasty.
Every other is going to be volatile week to week. Either you set it and forget it (take your lumps). Or cash out after a strong performance. Good matchups are coming up in the next few weeks with Detroit and Jacksonville. So easy case to sell. Note that Pitts and London have fewer targets than Robinson and Hollins through two games.
Other notes: Ridder almost threw a pick-six in the 2nd quarter. Another dropped INT by Quay Walker. Falcons also dropped an INT.
The advice I gave last week was to hold London/Pitts. Or even buy low on London. That looks like a W after he had a solid week. But Pitts, I think the ship has sailed. Not much has changed from last year that is working in his favor.
Green Bay Packers
I ranked A.J. Dillon as a low-end fantasy RB1 in Week 2. And I knew I was going to hate myself for it. Case in point, the Packers RB totaled 16 touches for 63 scoreless yards on a 68% snap share. Yet another underwhelming performance for a guy playing on a contract year. Perhaps the rumors of Jonathan Taylor being linked to Green Bay were true. His backups combined for just 4 carries for 6 yards with some mixed-in usage in the first half. So, if Aaron Jones misses another week with his hamstring injury, it will be more AJD – for better or for worse – in Week 3 versus the Saints. The biggest blow was him coming just short on a 3rd down late in the fourth quarter, which could have helped GB pull out the road win.
As for the receivers and passing game, Jordan Love was efficient again despite missing his top two playmakers. Rookie Jayden Reed led the way with 8 targets, snatching four for 37 yards and 2 TDs. Took a pitch pass on a jet sweep to the house from the 9-yard line. Impressive.
Fellow rookie Dontayvion Wicks caught two balls for 40 yards and also scored on one of his 4 targets. Romeo Doubs‘ production fell off with just 2 catches for 30 yards, while Luke Musgrave maintained his elite role. 88% snap share. 85% route run rate. He will have better days than his box score suggests (2 for 25 on 3 targets).
Doubs led the team in routes run (79%), followed by Reed (65%). Again, we saw Jordan Love spread the target wealth. But through two games, Reed owns a team-high 25% target share and 30% air yards share. His weighted opportunity is the same as DK Metcalf. The talented rookie is a massive buy for me. Some might be concerned about Chrisitan Watson’s return, but Reed’s role in the slot will remain the same with Watson back in the lineup. Watson will impact the other Packers WRs like Doubs. And speaking of Watson…he’s also a major trade for target. Again, his concern entering the year was tied to Jordan Love being good. I think through two weeks where Love has tossed 6 TDs, we should be confident he can support Watson – who was viewed as the clear frontrunner in the Packers WR room. I know he is coming off an injury, but he’s young and returned to success after injuries last season. Reed and Watson are the guys I will be targeting in trade before Week 3.
Especially given the Packers’ knack for dialing up some large passing plays that have not been able to connect. But that’s Watson’s bread and butter, so I’d expect he steps right into seeing those high-value downfield looks. Many of those went to Wicks in Week 2, but he didn’t capitalize enough.
The final box score suggests a dual backfield, between Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Edwards was more effective – 10 carries for 62 yards and 1 TD – but Hill got one more carry (11) for 41 yards. And Hill was the featured back with nine carries in the 1st half. He also started, ran more routes (11 vs 23) and caught three passes for 62 yards. Edwards only had four carries in the first half. Pretty much a committee with no J.K. Dobbins, with a lean towards Hill as RB1A. Hill played 57% of the snaps to Edwards’ 43%. He also saw 3 red zone carries for Edwards’ one. Hill was stuffed prior to Edwards’ lone TD score at the goal line.
Odell Beckham Jr. got hurt in this game (52% snap share) which opened the door for other guys to step up. Most notably, Nelson Agholor who caught five for 63 on 6 targets with 1 TD (33% snap share, 33% route participation). Lamar missed him deep earlier in the game. But even before Beckham exited Agholor was being frequently targeted by Jackson in the first half. Overall, he was targeted nearly on half of his 13 routes run (46%).
Rashod Bateman caught just three for 18, as he continues to get eased back in. 59% route participation was same as Week 1, but his overall snaps increased (39% vs. 59%). Would imagine he gets the biggest bump if OBJ’s injury is long-term. The Colts secondary is HORRIBLE and the Ravens WRs should FEAST in Week 3. Although in deeper formats, I wouldn’t be surprised if Agholor remains one of Jackson’s go-to targets after finished with a team-high 34% air yards share. Beckham’s injury is not expected to sideline him (ankle). Given his usage and how he has looked overall through two weeks (good), I’d prefer him over Bateman.
Zay Flowers caught 4 balls for 62 yards with some added production (5 targets). Was also possible that with Mark Andrews returning (team-high 8 targets, 24% target share) Flowers’ production might tail off slightly. Even so, the rookie made a GORGEOUS grab on a downfield strike from Jackson. And more designed looks near the red zone.
Andrews went 5 for 45 and 1 TD. Still, Flowers remained in the Ravens WR1 chair running a route on 87% of dropbacks. Over his first two games, Flowers ranks 5th in the NFL with a 31% target share.
1st play – Pass to Isaiah Likely just like last week. Perhaps a potential betting spot here? Stay tuned.
No Bengals bounce back, but a rebound performance for Tee Higgins. 8 for 89 yards and two TDs on a team-high 12 targets (31% target share). That’s why we chase the air yards folks. Another quiet day for Ja’Marr Chase as the Bengals offense continues to underwhelm. Considering where Chase went in fantasy drafts, owners might be getting irritated. Buy LOW. Higgins’ big Week 2 game shows this offense can still create big weeks for WRs. And it could have easily been Chase with the monster game, considering he saw 4 red-zone targets but came up short of finding the end zone. His lulls are not out of the ordinary, so I’d be aggressive trying to acquire him.
If Joe Burrow is healthy – aggravated his calf strain – the next stretch of games is SALIVATING. Rams, Titans, Cardinals and Seahawks. Buy the Bengals.
Tight end Irv Smith Jr. ran a route on 79% of dropbacks. Earned a 77% snap share, which was a boost from Week 1. He caught a long ball on the team’s opening drive but was ruled out of bounds.
Joe Mixon continued to see bellcow work with a 78% snap rate, 17 overall touches and 5 targets. Other Bengals RBs combined for three touches. Another buy for those looking for running back health. His snaps increased from Week 1. He also saw 5 red zone carries but didn’t find the end zone. He greatly benefits from the easy schedule upcoming – aside from the Titans matchup – starting with LA in Week 3.
Picked off in the red zone looking for Higgins which altered the tides. Also re-watching this game – and just the general takeaways from the Bengals – you would have thought the Bengals were just demolished. The offense looked much better overall. 10-15 on 3rd downs (67%). Obviously, the Ravens looked superior and were the better team on Sunday, but the Bengals’ demise I think is a tad overblown.
Big OT win for Pacific Northwest Seattle Seahawks. No starting offensive tackles. No problem for Chef Geno and company.
Tyler Lockett had favorable zone matchups and ATE. 8 catches for 59 yards and 2 TDs on 10 targets. 3 red-zone targets. Caught the game-winner from Smith.
DK Metcalf left the game but returned and caught six targets for 75 yards. Really didn’t miss much time (83% snap share) but failed to convert on his two red-zone looks. Inches away from a TD.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba‘s role didn’t change – 56% snap share, 63% route participation – despite the injury to Metcalf. Still the clear WR3. But he does have 11 targets on the year (18%) which is tied with Metcalf. Keep him stashed. High target rate per route run (21%).
Kenneth Walker had great receiving usage in Week 1…not so much in Week 2. 1 catch for 11 yards on 2 targets. Zach Charbonnet also saw two targets and added four carries for 16 yards. One of which came inside the 5-yard line in the 4th quarter. Wouldn’t overly read into this considering Walker scored twice and totaled 7 carries in the red zone. Also maintained his Week 1 snap rate and touch load versus the other backs (18 to 7).
Charbonnet didn’t play more but got more work running a route on 22% of dropbacks (24% in Week 1). Walker’s routes dropped from 55% to 40%. There’s going to be a give-and-take with Walker when it comes to his receiving, but if the trade-off is the red-zone usage; it’s a net positive. Solid schedule coming up for the Hawks with Carolina, New York, Cincy and Arizona on deck. I would be a buyer of Walker.
As for Charbonnet, he’s just a handcuff at this point with little to no standalone value. If you need to make a cut for instant production, he’d be droppable in my eyes in shallower formats. 4.5 touches per game through two weeks. He first entered the game during the team’s second drive. Noteworthy that he was the preferred back in the two-minute drill. So, I’d do my best to hold him because he is built with a three-down workload that could be MASSIVE if Walker were to get hurt. All in all, keep em stashed.
Seattle lost cornerback Tariq Woolen, and rookie Devon Witherspoon got WORKED in his first game as the starting left cornerback. Teams are going to attack this guy until he proves he can step up to the challenge.
Jahmyr Gibb is going to have an INCREASED ROLE. The rookie saw just seven carries for 17 yards. But the receiving role DID get a major boost from Week 1. Team-high nine targets (26%) for 7 receptions and 39 yards. 59% route participation and a 48% snap share.
Have to imagine Gibbs’ role will only increase based on the injury to David Montgomery (left game on the cart, 45% snap share). Craig Reynolds is the next guy up on the depth chart (waiver wire target). I don’t think we necessarily get Gibbs in an 80% snap role, so I think Reynolds has some strong streaming appeal. One of Reynolds carries in Week 2 came at the 6-yard line.
Sam LaPorta strung together another solid outing – 5 for 63 yards on 6 targets. Runs ALL the routes. Solid weekly floor. 84% route participation was better than in Week 1.
Josh Reynolds was really productive again with two TD scores. For those holding out hope for Jameson Williams…Hard to see him supplanting Reynolds as WR2 after he has shined with his old QB. Even my guy Kalif Raymond found the end zone.
The Lions faced the Falcons, Packers, Panthers and Buccaneers over their next four games.
After Monty got hurt, Reynolds played on the next two first downplays. Strongly recommend adding him as he will have a decent role with Monty slated to miss several weeks.
Galaxy-brain thought. Scottie Montgomery joined the Lions as assistant head coach/running backs in 2023, bringing 17 years of coaching experience throughout the NFL and college ranks. Montgomery comes to Detroit after spending two seasons as the running backs coach with the Indianapolis Colts….
Jonathan Taylor‘s future destination? Hmmm. Makes you wonder if they may add someone else. Gibbs is by no means a MUST-SELL, but I’m sure you could get potentially a hefty sum for him for managers expecting him to seize a crazy workload at sub-200 pounds. Reynolds fits the bigger Montgomery size at 216 pounds. I just find it hard to but the narrative that the Lions want to load up Gibbs with in-between-the-tackles carries when is body is not meant for it. Again, they want him to be their Alvin Kamara.
Anthony Richardson looks electric. But after his second rushing TD, he suffered a concussion and did not return. QB Gardner Minshew entered the game and basically did a lot of handing the ball off to Zack Moss. Moss finished with 18 carries for 88 yards and 1 TD while adding four grabs for 19 yards on 4 targets. Moss was a full-blown bellcow, playing all but one snap on offense (98%). Deon Jackson had zero touches. The way it should be.
Moss is a fantasy RB2 over the next two weeks with Jonathan Taylor out of the way till at least Week 5.
As for Minshew, he heavily targeted Michael Pittman Jr. Nine from Minshew, after seeing three from Anthony Richardson. Caught 8 for 56 yards on a total of 12 targets. Even if Richardson misses time, I’d view Pittman as a buy-low with the QBs force-feeding him targets. The first two plays were targets to Pittman after he saw one target in the first half last week. Minshew as a veteran is not bad for Pittman as many might automatically think for the WR’s fantasy value.
So although he was listed as a sell last week, I am changing my tune after Pittman was slightly less productive in Week 2 with new question marks about his quarterback’s availability. The guy ranks fourth in target share (33%) over the first two games.
Dameon Pierce continues to struggle. Through two games, he ranks dead last among all RBs in rushing EPA (-12.3). Snaps aren’t there either to buoy his production. Just a 45% snap share (same as last week).
The bad/injured offensive line is giving him no help. 15 carries for 31 yards in Week 2. Zero for 4 in the red zone. And again, no role in the receiving game is a BIG concern. Just two catches on 3 targets. Ran fewer routes than Devin Singletary (36% snap share).
C.J. Stroud threw the ball 47 times for 384 yards. The receiving usage doesn’t seem like it’s coming anytime soon…
And the schedule just doesn’t suggest things will get better. Steelers, Falcons and Saints aren’t ringing endorsements of layup matchups for an RB with a sub-50% snap share and a limited receiving role. You probably just have to hold Pierce because you won’t get much for him. I don’t think he’s going to lose his starting job, but his role is just not good enough for fantasy. Unless you can get him for dirt cheap, I’m staying away.
As for the WRs. Nico Collins baby. 7 for 146 and 1 with nine targets. 25% target rate per route this season. 5th in receiving yards (226). 5th in total air yards. A monster after the catch looking to dish out punishment. Looks like he is on the cusp of a true breakout.
But Collins didn’t lead the team in targets – that was rookie WR Tank Dell. 7 for 72 on 10 targets. With Noah Brown on IR, Dell got to see an expanded role. 81% route participation was higher than Collins (72% same as Week 1). I love Collins, but the fact that Dell was so productive in Week 2 is eye-opening. He and Collins both scored, but Tank also had another TD wiped off the board due to a penalty.
Robert Woods ran the most routes for the second straight week.
But I want to get the point across again like last week. This Texans passing offense is fun. C.J. Stroud is fearless behind a horrible OL but continues to make throw after throw. If I owned him in dynasty, I’d feel great. As soon as the OL gets healthy…watch out.
As for Dalton Schultz, time to drop him. Way better TEs are available. And he went 4 for 34 in a game where his QB nearly threw for 400 yards. Not gonna happen for him in 2023.
Also, the Colts’ secondary continues to be shredded by all passing games. Baltimore up next. They are emerging as a pass-funnel, with their strong run defense coaxing teams into passing.
Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce came back and immediately was the Chiefs’ No. 1 target. Nine targets but caught just four for 26 yards. Was not in a full-time role (64% snap share) coming off his knee injury.
But Kelce he scored – perks of being Patrick Mahomes‘ favorite red zone target. Speaking of targets, Mahomes targeted 12 different players…not ideal for fantasy football purposes. Keep in mind through two weeks with no Kelce and a limited Kelce…nobody has more than a 13% target share.
Nobody else saw more than 5 (Kadarius Toney, Justin Watson). Skyy Moore led with 70 receiving yards and scored. The majority of yards came on a 54-catch where he was wide open in the 4th quarter. Toney caught all of his 5 targets. Fun twist also fumbled for a 12-yard loss. He leads the team in targets through two weeks (10).
Still, Moore’s lack of targets remains concerning. 11% target rate per route run through two games. Woof. Rookie Rashee Rice has the same number of targets and target share (9%) on just 18 routes run (39% target rate per route run). Rice had three targets in Week 2 (one was called back for a penalty).
Marquez Valdes-Scantling ran the most routes as he tends to do, but a lot of it’s just cardio.
For me, the move is to SELL Skyy Moore. Talked about that in Week 2’s version of this article because he’s just not getting ANY reliable or consistent target share. He scored a big TD in Week 2. Use it as leverage to ship him off. KC plays the Chicago Bears in Week 3. No doubt one of these WRs is going to have a big game. Good luck guessing which one. I’ll do my best to find the answer.
|KC receivers||Route % Week 1||Route % Week 2|
Isiah Pacheco carried the ball 12 times for 70 yards, but just 2 targets. Not Ideal receiving usage, but all other KC RBs combined for two carries. And his snap rate (51%) and route participation were encouraging compared to Week 1. I’d be a buyer of Pacheco ahead of a matchup versus the lowly Chicago Bears. It’s the perfect spot for Pacheco.
A disappointing day for the offense. The ground game was poor as Travis Etienne went for just 40 yards on 12 carries. Also was dealing with cramps during the game. But Tank Bigsby had zero carries and played just 19% of the snaps. ETN also had three targets. 62% route participation. 72% snap share. Still, a workhorse out touching all other RBs 14 to 2.
As for the target pecking order…Christian Kirk revival. 14 targets, 11 catches for 110 yards. I know Zay Jones missed some time (66% snap share), but Kirk stepped up. Led the team in routes run (86% route participation, 81% snap share).
Meanwhile, Evan Engram and Calvin Ridley each saw 8 targets. But Ridley was super inefficient, going 2 for 32. A few drops, broken-up passes and 2 near misses at the back of the end zone. Zay Jones goose-egged going 0-for-6. Trevor Lawrence just nearly missed him for a go-ahead TD in the second quarter and again at the start of the 4th quarter on two more throws. Jones essentially had the Tee Higgins game from Week 1. 31% air yards share. Nothing to show for it.
Will the real Jaguars WR1 please stand up? Seems like every week somebody will be left out.
Through two weeks: Ridley is the target share leader (27%), followed by Kirk (22%), Jones (18%) and Engram (18%). Ridley is also still dominating the air yards (36%).
The Jaguars pass-catchers are tough to sort through. But one thing is for certain. Travis Etienne is RB1 and faces a horrible Texans defense in Week 3. BUY. THE. DIP.
As for the receivers, I suggested selling high on Ridley a week ago. That proved to be correct after a down game. So, although every bone in my body says to do the same thing with Kirk, I think it’s best to wait out the Jones knee injury first. If we remove one core piece from this offense, I expect the other guys to feast. Just more of a reason to go after Etienne.
Also, I want to note that Jacksonville used 3 WRs WAY MORE in this matchup. Jamal Agnew‘s snaps boosted from 4% to 37%. Tight ends not named Engram, played a fewer percentage of snaps. Both played 39% or more in Week 1. It was fewer than 30% in Week 2.
It’s clear that Kirk was slated for a big game by design in this matchup, was an oversight on my part. He’s traditionally had big games versus the Chiefs – both games in 2022 – and I didn’t take that into consideration. Kirk’s role remains the most subject to change in the Jaguars offense. He played more out wide in Week 2 than he usually does, most likely due to the Zay Jones injury.
All in all, I think Week 2 was a perfect storm for Kirk. If I have to buy/sell, I’d probably sell. Because next week’s matchup versus Houston is the one that Kirk struggled immensely in last season. Two games, three catches total. However, should be noted that Texans starting slot CB, Tavierre Thomas, will miss time with a broken hand.
Still, I’d like to wait for the Jones’ injury update at least. And my final overarching point here…. The Jaguars offense struggled when it was built around targets to Kirk. So why would they repeat those efforts?
Sell D.J Moore, Add Roschon Johnson
Hope you didn’t panic about D.J. Moore. After two targets in Week 1, DJ Moore saw seven targets, catching 6 for 104 yards (25% target share). But with a tough matchup on deck versus KC and Fields’ bumpy start to the season as a passer – I think it’s fair to flip Moore after his big game if you can find a steadier WR target.
Justin Fields also strangely rushed for just three yards on four carries. It was very unusual to not see Fields rushing. Lowest carry total since Week 11 of his rookie year (in a game he didn’t finish). Looks like a major outlier performance.
Seems like the Tampa Bay defense was dropping guys back to prevent him from scrambling, challenging him to beat them from the pocket. At times, Fields was able to deliver some nice throws – especially on the TD to Claypool. But there were also plenty of throws that he just did not make for whatever reason, instead holding the ball too long resulting in sacks. Moore was visibly upset when he was open and was not getting targeted, despite Fields having time in a clean pocket to deliver the ball.
The Bears QB is also getting buried by the media for his late-game interceptions, but I think the defender just made a nice play on the screen pass that turned into a pick-six.
As for the backfield, D’Onta Foreman was a healthy scratch. 7 carries for Herbert (60% snap share) 4 for Roschon Johnson (42% snap share). 3 targets vs 2 targets. Herbert ran more routes. Herbert started and played a higher rate of snaps than in Week 1. He is still Bears RB1. He came up 1-yard short of a goal-line TD on the team’s opening drive.
Johnson ripped off one big rush but was quiet other than that. Needs to be stashed, but don’t jump the gun on the Bears RB2 melting faces in fantasy football on a dysfunctional offense.
Speaking of which, Cole Kmet‘s usage tanked. 61% route participation in Week 2 after 88% in Week 1. Must imagine this has to do with the struggles across the OL. 97% snap share to 68% snap share in Week 2. Kmet leads the Bears with a 20% target share through two games, with 9 catches for 82 yards.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rachaad White. WE HAVE LIFE. 17 for 73 and 1 TD on the ground. A perfect 5 for 5 in the receiving game for 30 yards. 72% snap share. 22 touches. 70 route participation. Workhorse. Back-to-back weeks with 19-pus touches and a 70% snap share or higher. Receiving increased from Week 1.
It was a Big W for White-stans today. Let us have this moment. Because White’s efficiency will likely take a big hit versus the Eagles in Week 3. He must see the usage in the receiving game to avoid busting.
Mike Evans with 6-171-1 does it again on 8 targets (25% target share). Catches another bomb versus a horrible defense. The Chicago Bears D is that bad. Chris Godwin also saw 8 targets, but no scores. Mayfield missed him in the end zone. 5 for 58 to end the day. Think Evans’ reign of terror versus defenses comes to an end versus the Eagles’ strong perimeter cornerbacks. He remains a sell high as we anxiously await this Buccaneers’ 2-0 Super Bowl run to end. Godwin is the sharp buy-low target. Steady as they come with 5 catches for 50-plus yards on 7 targets per game in his first two contests.
Cade Otton played 97% of the snaps for the second straight game. And this time, it came with more targets. With the Eagles’ secondary extremely weak towards the middle of the field, expect Otton to be peppered with targets from Baker Mayfield. Caught all 6 of his targets for 41 yards in Week 2, while running a route on 78% of dropbacks. That led the Buccaneers pass-catchers.
Los Angeles Chargers
Only the Chargers could lose a game where Justin Herbert throws for 300 yards and 2TD. Woof.
Joshua Kelley started but was inefficient versus a top-tier elite run defense. 13 for 39 rushing. Zero pass game usage (1 target) despite a massive workload (79% snap share). He’s a bell cow if Austin Ekeler misses another game, ahead of a juicy matchup versus the Minnesota Vikings who were destroyed versus the running game on Thursday night football.
Most surprising is that Allen scored the TDs…while Williams saw the most targets (13, 33% target share). Williams hasn’t had the true BOOM game, but the Vikings’ defense might be the perfect cure he needs to EXPLODE.
The usage for the Chargers WRs was status quo – Joshua Palmer as WR3, Quentin Johnston buried and played less than Derius Davis – but the tight end usage is noteworthy. Gerald Everett, we have a problem. Donald Parham Jr. played MORE snaps (50% vs 41%) than Everett and ran more routes. YHTSI. Drop Everett if you have not already. I’m dying inside.
Derrick Henry aka the Big Dog eats for 80 rushing yards and 1 TD on 25 carries. 3 catches on 4 targets and 15 yards. Saw his snaps climb back up to 71% after a low rate in Week 1. 28 total touches.
No.2 RB Tyjae Spears more than doubled his touches from a week ago, totaling 10 (8 carries, two receptions). Efficient rushing the ball 8 times for 49 rushing yards (37% snap share). The fact that Spears is this involved alongside a healthy Henry just tells you how talented and excited the team is for him. Think Spears’ constant involvement will cause issues for Henry sooner rather than later.
The passing game was led by Treylon Burks ripping off big plays. 3 for 76 yards (17% target share). Commanded a massive 40% air yards share.
DeAndre Hopkins still saw the most targets but probably wasn’t at 100% after missing all practices. 4 for 40 yards (21% target share). The route rate fell to 72% as did his snaps (78% vs. 60%). He only saw one target in the first half.
Tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo was efficient catching all four of his targets for 35 yards. Nick Westbrook Ikhine ran the most routes and played the most WR snaps. Burks saw his route participation dip from Week 1 (62%). Okonkwo’s routes also descended (65%).
Through two games, Burks and Okonkwo are tied for third in target share (13%). Hopkins leads by a wide margin (30%), followed by Westbrook (16%).
Tough matchup versus the Browns defense in Week 3.
Add Jake Ferguson
I was constantly looking up to see Deuce Vaughn getting carries or targets in Big D’s backfield while watching this game. The team also frequently used Rico Dowdle at the goal line (stuffed). But that’s because Dallas was running so many plays. 83 to be exact.
However, Vaughn finished with just a 15% snap share, and Rico Dowdle settled at 21%. Dowdle remains the direct back-up, while Vaughn gets sprinkled in more as a change-of-pace RB. They saw 8 and 6 touches respectively. Dowdle was the primary rusher – 7 carries for 26 yards – while Vaughn was used as a receiver out of the backfield (3 targets).
As a result, Tony Pollard‘s Week 2 box score isn’t amazing. But again, the Jets defense is really good. Hell, 25 carries and 7 catches for 37 yards (8 targets, 22%) is a Pollard fantasy manager’s dream workload. 30-plus touches for Pollard on just a 64% snap share. Ignore the 2.9 ypc. Week 2 was the very rare occasion he doesn’t rip off a massive rush versus an elite Jets run defense or doesn’t score.
Tight end Jake Ferguson caught the first TD, and Dak Prescott missed him later in the third quarter in the back of the end zone. Ended with 3 catches for 11 yards and 4 targets. His snaps remain low (60%) as does his route participation (49%). But Prescott continues to hyper-target him whenever he is on the field, especially in the red zone. Leads ALL players in red-zone targets (7) through two games.
Ferguson is firmly on the streaming radar in more competitive games. Great matchup in Week 3 versus the tight end funnel Arizona Cardinals.
New York Jets
The Jets offense looked really bad from the first drive. Dallas immediately was able to apply pressure knocking Breece Hall for negative four-yard loss. Hall totaled 9 yards on four carries, and two targets. Played only 34% of the snaps.
Then Zach Wilson got sacked HARD by who else…Micah Parsons. One man wrecking machine. Woof. Next drive, the Jets ran a fake punt and started to get their ground game going. As in they accrued positive yardage running behind Hall.
But it didn’t last after they failed to convert a 4th down. The defense continued to make stops, but the offense was just…well looked like it was led by a majorly inferior QB. Until Wilson ripped off a great throw over the middle to Garrett Wilson who took it the distance for a 68-yard TD.
Reminder that guys who possess YAC, have a better chance of overcoming bad quarterback play. After that play, you could feel some confidence boost on the Jets sideline. Prescott almost threw a pick-six on Dallas’ next drive. But a few Jets penalties killed them in the red zone, giving Dallas another chance to punch in a TD late in the second half.
In the two-minute drill, Wilson started using his legs to create yardage and move the ball into scoring position. Looked more comfortable in the hurry up, running around. Not conducive for longevity, but good for moving the chains. But man he has some throws that just look AWFUL. And 68 of his total 94 yards came on Wilson’s TD in the first half. This is just not going to work. Moving the ball is just a total and utter struggle.
Dalvin Cook was stripped by Parsons early in the second half, and two late Zach Wilson interceptions sealed the deal for the Jets. Cook finished with 7 yards on four carries (1 catch). 36% snap share. 5 total touches. Woof.
Zach Wilson‘s bad. Ransk dead last in passing EPA through two games.
But to his credit, this Dallas D is going to make literally all quarterbacks and offenses look bad. Rough day at the office for the Jets. The Patriots are up next. Woof.
To add insult to injury, Garrett Wilson got hurt towards the end of the game. He finished with just two grabs on 8 targets (32% target share). Many were off the mark or uncatchable. A lot of air yards of sadness (49%).
The only way the Jets could move the ball was to Garrett Wilson or dump off Tyler Conklin targets (5 for 50 on 6 targets). Backfield is impossible to trust because nobody is commanding volume and it’s going to be inefficient.
Best to get out of the Garrett Wilson business fresh of weeks where he has salvaged production with TDs. He won’t do that every week as good as he is. If I were to buy-low on any Jets player, it would be Hall. The hope is the Jets just pound the ground game to protect Wilson, with Hall leading the charge. The Patriots’ defense didn’t look great versus the run in Week 2, and I don’t think the Jets have any choice but to go full-blown operation ground-and-pound to compliment their elite defense.
San Franciso 49ers
Mitchell also had zero carries. The dude is the RB3 behind Deebo Samuel, who went back to WR1 in Week 2.
Samuel tallied 38 rushing yards and 1 TD on 5 carries. Added 9 targets (38%) with 6 grabs and 63 yards while running a route on all but one of Brock Purdy‘s dropbacks.
It was a quiet game for Brandon Aiyuk (6 targets) but he took some shots and might have been playing through some pain. He only played 53% of the snaps. I’d buy low. He still was the leader in air yards (63%) and still ran a route on 77% of dropbacks. Doubled George Kittle‘s targets. Kittle remains a bust candidate as the clear-cut third option in the pecking order. 6 catches through two games.
And through two games in 2023, Aiyuk owns a 28% target share and is the leader in air yards. Samuel leads the team with a 31% target share.
Los Angeles Rams
Sell Kyren Williams
Well, doesn’t seem like Puka Nacua was a flash in the pan, one-hit wonder or insert cliche, etc.
20 targets. 15 catches for 147 yards. This guy is BREAKING RECORDS. In his first two games. 40% target share. Must start. Don’t care even about when Cooper Kupp returns.
40% target share
35 targets (15-plus target streak)
through two games
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) September 18, 2023
Cam Akers is dead to Sean McVay (as he is to me for that pointless field goal as time expired when I had SF – 7) Bruh. Chances are he is going to be traded anyway, so just excited to see this nonsense end.
Anyway, Kyren Williams was RB1, with 10 targets, 6 catches for 48 yards and 1 receiving TD. 14 carries for 52 yards. Williams played 95% of the snaps. No other Rams RB had a carry. Ronnie Rivers played 5% of the snaps. Through two games, only Tony Pollard has more red zone carries than Williams.
Still, I am hesitant to fully buy into Williams being a consistent fantasy RB1. As More Waiver Wire Advice, we have seen McVay throw RBs away like garbage. Remember Darrell Henderson? I also have long-term concerns with Williams based on the Rams’ OL, his size and his recent injury track record. Think the best move is to cash out for maximum ROI.
McVay has chosen the guys he likes. And there’s no reason to think he’s going to stop using them. Drop Van Jefferson as Tutu Atwell is in the McVay circle of trust. 7 for 77 on 9 targets. Atwell leads the NFL in raw routes run through two weeks. No reason to think his immediate production will stop at any point until Kupp returns in Week 5.
Tyler Higbee maintained a highly involved role – 86% route participation – but he’s just not getting it done with his targets. 7 in Week 2, that turned into 3 for 12. Woof.
New York Giants
Add Matt Breida
The big loss in the comeback was Saquon Barkley getting hurt at the end of the game, throwing his helmet in total frustration. In the game, he totaled 17 carries for 63 yards and 1 TD – also added a receiving score on one of his 6 catches for 29 yards. It’s an ankle injury that is going to keep Barkley out 3-4 weeks. Going too be tough to replace Barkley after he played 97% of the snaps in Week 2.
No. 2 RB Matt Breida had one carry – but might be needed on a short week. NYG plays SF on Thursday night. No bueno. Expect Breida to get the majority of work with rookie Eric Gary sprinkled in. But it’s a desperation spot I’d try to avoid if possible. Still there’s long-term appeal after Thursday with Barkley missing several weeks.
Darren Waller was Daniel Jones‘ favorite target – 6 for 76 on 8 targets – and his usage was epic. 82% route participation and a 90% snap share. I’d Imagine his target share stays extremely high with Barkley out of the lineup.
All Giants WRs helped in the legendary comeback. Specifically, rookie Jalin Hyatt led the team with 89 receiving yards on just 2 targets. His big-play ability was on full display. With the Giants down 20-0, Brian Daboll dialed up a huge passing play for the rookie to start the second half. It totally shifted momentum to jump start the Giants’ epic comeback.
However, his snaps need to increase until he can be trusted in lineups. Just a 21% snap share in Week 2.
Darius Slayton finished second with 62 receiving yards among the WRs (3 catches on 6 targets), while running the most routes.
Add Zach Ertz
James Conner workhorse season. 23 carries for 106 yards on a 72% snap share. Not much receiving as the Arizona Cardinals were up big from the start, before collapsing in the second half. His backups had three carries. Given the desolate state of the RB position, Conner might be the actual best target on this roster in trade. Only hesitance is the schedule gets rougher in the next two games between Dallas and SF.
Ertz has an insane 30% target share over the last two games, giving fantasy managers a safe floor in the TE slot. But it’s just not accompanied by much of any upside. 6 grabs in back-to-back games.
The last note is that rookie WR Michael Wilson saw his snaps and routes diminish greatly from Week 1.
Sam Howell spread the wealth. Terry McLaurin led with 6 targets – 5 for 54 – and scored. But it was another quiet game for Jahan Dotson. 3 for 22 on 5 targets despite running the most routes. 9 different players saw at least 2 targets. Still through two games, Dotson is WR1 followed by Logan Thomas and McLaurin.
Still believe Dotson is an intriguing buy-low WR based on his metrics. Thomas missing time with a concussion could also lead to more looks for Dotson.
The backfield is more clear-cut. It was all Brian Robinson. 18 carries for 87 yards and 2 TDs. But his snaps decreased dramatically to 52% with the Commanders in total comeback mode.
Antonio Gibson played 48% of the snaps but finished with just two carries (5 touches). Gibby saw slightly more receiving work (3 vs. 2 targets) and ran more routes.
Even so, Robinson crushed his two catches for 42 yards. Continues to take advantage of his opportunities. However, the split snaps to suggest that Robinson could be game-scripted out and that could leave his fantasy value for dead. Case in point, Robinson had 5 carries for 13 yards in the first half with Washington chasing points.
With Buffalo and the Eagles up next, I am afraid we may have reached a peak point with Robinson. He’s a sell for me.
The Broncos converted a Hail Mary late but still fell short of victory and versus the spread facing the Commanders. Sean Payton still can’t get Denver to win games. As for his player usage…serves him right.
Well, at least until I confirmed the snap counts.
Marvin Mims had just two targets again, but this time he did MUCH MORE. 113 yards and 1 TD. Dope. But he still only played 24% of the snaps – 6 routes run – same as in Week 1. Woof. I’d like to think his big plays will get him more playing time, but who knows what Payton is doing with this anemic offense. I’d like to stash Mims if possible, but understand he can’t be trusted until his playing time increases. Led the team in air yards (31%) on two targets.
Jerry Jeudy returned and was second in targets (5, 19% target share), going 3 for 25. After it was reported he would not be on a “pitch count” he only played 68% of the snaps, running a route on 85% of dropbacks. Not totally full-time, but pretty close.
Sutton led all receivers in targets (7) and did 5 for 66. They also went to him for the failed two-point conversion after the Hail Mary to Brandon Johnson. Johnson caught one TD earlier.
Backfield was more of a committee again. Perine was slightly more involved as a receiver, whereas Javonte Williams saw the bulk of rushing work – 12 for 44 yards. Perine out-snapped Williams (50% vs. 45%).
And Denver just HAD to get rookie Jaleel McLaughlin the TD on his lone carry.
Two weeks in, consider me not a fan of the Denver offense. What a mess.
At least Adam Trautman played a full-time role. 82% snap share. But just 69% route participation. Mid usage for a tight end with virtually no targets.
Denver’s got the Dolphins and Bears the next two weeks, so there’s a chance we could see an uptick in offensive production. At this point, I’d still be a buyer of Jeudy. He’s presumably healthy and that was the only reason I shied away from him at the end of the draft season.
New England Patriots
Add Hunter Henry, Avoid WRs
The Patriots offense was slow out of the gates Sunday night – per usual. DeVante Parker played 100% of the snaps, earning a 19% target share after missing Week 1. He hauled in six of eight targets for 57 yards. Although he did not lead the team in targets…Kendrick Bourne did with nine targets. However, Bourne was only able to catch four for 29 yards despite 184 air yards (49%). Mac Jones missed him deep on several occasions. Bourne leads the Pats in target share (21%) through two games. But it may not continue, as Parker’s return reduced Bourne’s snaps. Just a 55% route run rate. Still, Jones is frequently targeting Bourne, with him boasting a 25% target rate per route run.
No. 2 tight end Mike Gesicki played a much bigger role in Week 2, running a route on 79% of dropbacks. Hunter Henry scored again as Jones’ favorite red-zone target, while seeing elite usage. Ran a route on 91% of dropbacks. Henry is entering weekly starting territory at tight end.
Rhamondre Stevenson played 73% of the snaps finishing with 18 touches for the second straight week. Even with Ezekiel Elliott making occasional cameos here and there, Stevenson remains the Patriots’ RB1. He scored a red-zone TD on Sunday Night Football while catching three balls for 10 yards. But the biggest win was Zeke’s lack of targets. After seeing 7 in Week 1, Elliott was held to just five carries and zero targets in Week 2.
The Patriots take on Jets and Dallas over their next two games, so it’s probably best to avoid the WRs coming from a far-from-proven offense. If I had to choose one, it would be Bourne. My best guess is he will see less of the top CBs from the opposing defenses.
Raheem Mostert was the Dolphins RB1 for the second straight game, playing 73% of the snaps. Totaled 19 touches and scored. Denver’s defense has been decently stingy versus the run this year, so the matchup isn’t ideal for Week 3. And Week 2 was the perfect storm for Mostert, with his snaps and touches bloated by an injury to Salvon Ahmed. I am still in the camp of stashing rookie De’Von Achane, with Mostert’s 31-year-old age and extensive injury history looming.
Jaylen Waddle is in the concussion protocol, which would open targets up for others behind Tyreek Hill. Tight end Durham Smythe and WR Braxton Berrios would be the primary beneficiaries. Smythe played almost every snap for the second straight game and Berrios has averaged four targets to start the year.
Assuming everything checks out with Waddle’s health, he’s a buy-low target for me. He’s been overshadowed by Hill to start the year but is coming off an 86-yard performance on just four catches Sunday night. He only has four catches in each of the first two games but has averaged over 80 receiving yards per game. Averaging over 20 yards per reception. Just needs some TD luck, which could easily come in a BIG WAY if Patrick Surtain matches up with Hill versus Denver in Week 3.
The Steelers’ offense struggled again on Monday Night Football, as their defense vaulted them to victory with key turnovers. In the first half they could barely move the football aside from a 71-yard TD catch to George Pickens (the only catch on his 5 first-half targets). Najee Harris had 6 carries for 4 yards in the first half. Harris carried the ball just four times in the second half, highlighted by rushes of 21 and 17 yards. He played 57% of the snaps and caught one of his three targets for 0 yards. Woof.
Jaylen Warren wasn’t great on the ground either – 6 for 20 rushing – but his pass-game usage was encouraging. He finished second with six targets and four receptions for 66 yards on a 43% snap share. Also started the third quarter over Harris as the two split routes run. Two straight weeks where Warren has been the preferred receiver.
Right now, it’s hard to justify buying low on Harris because his job security doesn’t seem great with Warren out playing him to start the season. But there’s no ignoring that the first two matchups of the year have been brutal, which is not the case in Week 3 and 4, between the Raiders and Texans. The Steelers’ offense isn’t working right now, so they are going to have to change things up if they want to get back on track.
If anything, I’d try to add Warren from another manager who thinks he is still just a backup.
Calvin Austin saw the biggest increase in route participation (88%) without Diontae Johnson. Pat Freiermuth also played more but was a complete afterthought with just one target. Snaps went up to 76% (51% last week) and route participation (84%) was strong. I’d buy versus the Raiders defense that ranks top-5 in receptions allowed to TEs through two games.
George Pickens stepped in as the Steelers WR1, earning a 34% target share and 60% air-yard share. Still, he only caught four of his ten targets. Other than the 71-yard TD, he went 3 for 56. All in all, a solid effort that should continue into Week 3 versus a beatable Raiders defense.
Say it ain’t so Nick Chubb. Not like this. The Browns RB suffered a devasting knee injury on Monday night football, that will force him to miss the rest of the 2023 season. It’s a major blow to the Browns offense, as Chubb’s impact as one of the league’s most efficient rushers cannot be easily replicated. No. 2 running back Jerome Ford immediately caught a receiving TD after the Chubb injury, and the team leaned on him in the second half. He ripped off a big 69-yard run down to the 1-yard line on his first carry. He was replaced by former Patriots RB, Pierre Strong, at the goal line. Strong punched it in on his second carry.
Ford finished the second half with 12 carries for 100 yards (8.3 ypc). Obviously, he is the No.1 priority add this week on the waiver wire as the most logical in-house replacement for Chubb after playing 49% of the snaps on Monday night. He also caught three of four targets.
However, I’d imagine that the Browns bring in another body through trade or free agency. Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, and D’Ernest Johnson are all names worth stashing for zero-dollar bids on waivers this week just in case Cleveland makes another roster move in the wake of the Chubb injury.
As for the Browns pass-catchers, we saw the top-4 separate themselves. Each ran a route on at least 84% of dropbacks. Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore were each heavily targeted. Cooper (10, 25%) and Moore 9, 23%) saw ample opportunities, but Deshaun Watson‘s inaccuracy woes hurt his receivers’ efficiency. Moore caught just 3 for 27 yards. Cooper was better, catching seven for 90 after entering the game questionable with a groin injury.
Cooper owns a 25% target share and 36% air yard share through the first two weeks of the season. 7th in total raw air yards.
Without Chubb for the long haul, the team is going to have rely more on its passing game moving forward. Although it’s been underwhelming through two weeks, I think it’s worth going after Cooper/Moore with the idea that Watson steps up as the season progresses. Not better matchup than next week versus a horrible Titans secondary in Week 3 to dial up the passing game.
D.J. Chark‘s return to the lineup figured to provide a spike to a lifeless Panthers offense. Just two targets with one resulting in a pass interference. The target share leader was rookie Jonathan Mingo (10) but it was a lot of air yards (105) that resulted in just 26 receiving yards and three receptions after running a route on all but one of Bryce Young‘s dropbacks.
Adam Thielen came away with the TD score, catching seven of his 9 targets (29% target share) for 54 yards. Don’t need to tell me twice to sell high on a 31-year-old WR attached to a rookie QB.
Miles Sanders carried the ball 14 times for 43 yards while adding in three catches on 5 targets. The gap between him and Chuba Hubbard was larger than it was in Week 1, bolstering the case for Sanders as a more reliable RB2 – albeit in a bad offense. Sanders played 62% of the snaps (more than last week)
Hubbard carried the ball just twice for 16 yards, while also adding 5 catches for 34 yards (5 targets). He ran one more route than Sanders…but he didn’t touch the ball until the second half. The vast majority of his opportunities came during the final drive.
The volume and receiving is there for Sanders, with TD upside as his major flaw. But even so he’s averaged 16.5 carries and over 5 targets per game with his new team. He ranks 7th in total touches and 5th in opportunities.
And with the schedule easing up over Carolina after a tough start versus two divisional opponents. Sanders is one of the few RB2s that I feel confident buying with so many injuries at the position. Seattle, Minnesota, Detroit, Miami and Houston are all defenses that can be run on.
New Orleans Saints
Jamaal Williams got hurt in this game (23% snap share) ending his day with nine carries for 29 yards. With Kendre Miller and Alvin Kamara also out, the Saints turned to the two-headed monster of Taysom Hill (9 carries for 75 yards) and Tony Jones Jr. (12 for 34 and 2 rushing TDs). Nobody started Jones, so seeing him score twice is a killer for Williams’ fantasy managers.
Jones played 52% of the snaps, but that will likely come down with Miller expected back in Week 3. I’ve been waiting for Miller to get an opportunity, so I am adding him everywhere I can in case he gets a spot start in Week 3 with Kamara still another week away due to suspension.
As for the receivers, here’s what happened in Week 1. Chris Olave led the team with 10 targets (8-112, 30%) followed by Michael Thomas (8, 24%) and Rashid Shaheed (6, 18%). Olave was also the air yards share leader (34%, 129 air yards), while MT led the Saints in routes run (89% route participation). MT also saw two targets inside the 10-yard line. Juwan Johnson didn’t do much in the stat sheet but ran a healthy number of routes (84% route participation). Three for 36 on 5 targets will be his weekly floor with that deployment.
Week 2 was basically the same setup. Olave, Thomas and Shaheed were the three top WRs. Olave earned a 32% target share and a whopping 49% air yards share. 6 for 86. MT went 7 for 55, while Shaheed went 4 for 63. But no TDs, which has been an issue for Saints WRs for two weeks led by Derek Carr.
Olave owns a 31% target share through two games (42% air yards share) followed by Thomas at 25%.
Juwan Johnson is fine to drop, as he is buried as the fourth option in the target pecking order. 8 targets through two games.