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Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis & Takeaways: Week 10 (2023)

Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis & Takeaways: Week 10 (2023)

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 9 to see if we can uncover any hidden gems. 

Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis & Takeaways

Stats via

The Top 10 Quarterbacks

Name Team Att Air Yds aDOT
C.J. Stroud HOU 42 463 11.02
Dak Prescott DAL 44 420 9.55
Will Levis TEN 39 393 10.08
Taylor Heinicke ATL 38 391 10.29
Sam Howell WAS 45 384 8.53
Mac Jones NE 44 375 8.52
Zach Wilson NYJ 49 353 7.2
Josh Allen BUF 38 307 8.08
Tua Tagovailoa MIA 34 281 8.26
Baker Mayfield TB 30 264 8.8

C.J. Stroud put on a clinic last week as the Houston Texans rallied from multiple fourth-quarter deficits to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 39-37. Stroud threw for a rookie-record 470 yards and five touchdowns, putting up 41.8 fantasy points. It was the highest weekly fantasy output from a quarterback since Justin Fields’ 42.7-point effort in Week 9 of last year. Stroud is now the overall QB8 in fantasy and QB5 in terms of points per game.

There is likely to be some regression going forward, perhaps as soon as Week 10. Stroud enters this week’s matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals with just one interception thrown. Cincinnati ranks 10th in defensive defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) versus the pass and has picked off 11 passes on the year. Even if Stroud struggles a bit in this matchup, the rookie should still be treated like a low-end QB1 in 12-team leagues moving forward. 

Fellow AFC South rookie signal-caller Will Levis has finished third in air yards in both weeks he has started for the Tennessee Titans. Unlike his first outing, Levis’s air yards did not translate to fantasy points. Levis ranked just 21st in fantasy points at the quarterback position a week ago. The Titans will face the same Tampa Bay team that Stroud just carved up, so it will be interesting to see how Tennessee proceeds. I would imagine they would continue to push the ball downfield against a vulnerable Buccaneer secondary.

Thanks in large part to Stroud’s game, Tampa Bay now allows the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. I have Levis ranked just outside my top-12 for Week 10, but the upside is certainly there for him to finish the week as a QB1, as he did back in Week 8. 

The Top 10 Wide Receivers

Name Team Tar Rec Rec Yds Air Yds aDOT
CeeDee Lamb DAL 16 11 191 234 14.63
Nathaniel Dell HOU 11 6 114 222 20.18
Garrett Wilson NYJ 13 7 80 165 12.69
Jalin Hyatt NYG 5 2 19 151 30.2
DeAndre Hopkins TEN 11 4 60 150 13.64
Khadarel Hodge ATL 6 3 60 135 22.5
Cooper Kupp LA 7 2 48 131 18.71
Jalen Reagor NE 6 1 11 118 19.67
Jahan Dotson WAS 8 4 69 115 14.38
Rashod Bateman BAL 5 3 28 108 21.6

Nathaniel “Tank” Dell was one of the beneficiaries of Stroud’s great game. Dell finished the day with 114 yards and two touchdowns and was the top fantasy wideout last week. Dell has been the walking embodiment of a boom-or-bust fantasy player halfway through his rookie campaign. Here are his weekly finishes among wide receivers based on half-PPR scoring: 

  • Week 1: WR63
  • Week 2: WR19
  • Week 3: WR6
  • Week 4: WR77
  • Week 5: WR47
  • Week 8: WR73
  • Week 9: WR1

Dell ranks fifth among 56 wide receivers with 40 or more targets with a 14.05 aDOT. As we have seen, that can lead to high highs and low lows. Week 10 features four teams on a bye, and most of those teams are receiver-heavy. Five of the top 24 year-to-date fantasy scorers will be on bye this week, and that is not even counting Cooper Kupp. I have Tank Dell as a WR3 in 12-team leagues for Week 10. 

Jahan Dotson was a popular sleeper in fantasy circles during the summer and failed to reach expectations early on. He finished outside the top 50 in the first three weeks, including two sub-WR80 weekly finishes. But since Week 4, Dotson ranks as the overall WR21. Washington continues to throw the ball relentlessly, and Dotson has benefited. He has been extremely touchdown-dependent relative to his fantasy output so far.

In the three weeks he has scored, he has landed inside the top 30. When he hasn’t, he has finished outside the top 45. However, he has finished inside the top-10 in two straight weeks heading into a favorable Week 10 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle allows the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year. Dotson should be a borderline Flex play this week, depending on the other options available to you. 

The Top 10 Tight Ends

Name Team Tar Rec Rec Yds Air Yds aDOT
T.J. Hockenson MIN 12 7 69 76 6.33
Jake Ferguson DAL 10 7 91 75 7.5
Cade Otton TB 9 6 67 73 8.11
Hunter Henry NE 7 4 39 72 10.29
Dalton Schultz HOU 11 10 130 68 6.18
Mark Andrews BAL 10 9 80 66 6.6
Kyle Pitts ATL 5 4 56 54 10.8
Tyler Conklin NYJ 6 6 66 48 8
Hayden Hurst CAR 4 2 54 43 10.75
Dalton Kincaid BUF 11 10 81 42 3.82

We saw 15 tight ends post double digits in fantasy points last week. For reference, only 20 wide receivers hit that number a week ago. One of last week’s top scorers among tight ends was Cade Otton of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I do not think we can expect to see Otton score multiple touchdowns as he did last week. But he has now finished as a top-18 fantasy tight end in three straight games, four of five, and five of seven.

Otton has been targeted 21 times in total over his last three games. Tampa faces Tennessee, who has been tough on tight ends this year. Because of that, I would not rush to start him in Week 10. But he should at least be rostered, so make sure he is not still available on your league’s waiver wire. 

Dalton Kincaid has scored at least 11.1 fantasy points in three straight games and ranks fifth among tight ends over that timeframe. Kincaid has reeled in 23 of 26 targets during this stretch. The rookie has taken on a much larger role since Dawson Knox went down due to injury. Kincaid will now face a Denver Broncos defense that has ceded the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year.

Denver has played three road games this season. In the first, they gave up 70 points to the Miami Dolphins. In their other two, they allowed the overall weekly TE1 in fantasy. Kincaid has massive upside in this matchup and should be started in all formats. 

The Top Five Underperformers

Name Team Tar Rec Rec Yds Air Yds aDOT
Darnell Mooney CHI 6 5 82 26 4.33
Wan’Dale Robinson NYG 5 4 35 28 5.6
George Pickens PIT 5 2 -1 29 5.8
Adam Thielen CAR 6 5 29 29 4.83
Juju Smith-Schuster NE 7 6 51 34 4.86

For this section of the air yards report, I wanted to specifically highlight the wide receiver position. We know that generally, running back and tight end targets occur within close proximity of the line of scrimmage. I also wanted to filter this section to include only those wideouts who earned at least five targets. These are generally the type of players who you may be considering starting in your weekly matchups. Even those with a low aDOT could be worth starting in PPR formats if they get enough volume. 

A couple of the usual suspects found their way onto this week’s underperformers list. They are Wan’Dale Robinson and Juju Smith-Schuster. Robinson’s fantasy upside was already capped as it was. Now throw Daniel Jones’ ACL injury into the mix, and Robinson can safely be ignored in fantasy circles going forward. As for Smith-Schuster, he finished last week as the overall WR30. That is a huge improvement over his previous results this season. At the same time, he still only scored 8.1 fantasy points. That would make him an iffy Flex play in most weeks.

Smith-Schuster could continue to get more looks now that Kendrick Bourne has been lost for the year. However, his upside appears to be extremely limited. Pro Football Focus grades Smith-Schuster 98th among 118 qualified wideouts, and his 1.10 yards per route run is 90th among 109 wide receivers with at least 30 targets this year. 

One player we are not used to seeing in this section of the air yards report is George Pickens of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pickens has just three total receptions for 21 yards over his last two games. He scored negative fantasy points in standard formats last week, as he caught two passes for -1 yards. I suspect better days are ahead for the second-year wide receiver.

Pickens should have had a touchdown last week but failed to keep his second foot in bounds on a fade in the end zone. Had he simply made that play, he would have been a WR3 last week instead of finishing outside the top 100. Pickens may take a back seat to Diontae Johnson now that the latter is fully healthy, but Pickens is still a WR3 with high upside in most matchups. 

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