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Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis & Takeaways: Week 11 (2023)

Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis & Takeaways: Week 11 (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 10 to see if we can uncover any hidden gems.

Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis & Takeaways

Stats via FTNFantasy.com

The Top 10 Quarterbacks

Player Team Att Air Yds aDOT
C.J. Stroud HOU 39 466 11.95
Will Levis TEN 39 448 11.49
Jordan Love GB 40 395 9.88
Dak Prescott DAL 35 383 10.94
Jameis Winston NO 25 380 15.2
Zach Wilson NYJ 39 358 9.18
Joe Burrow CIN 40 352 8.8
Baker Mayfield TB 29 349 12.03
Deshaun Watson CLE 34 334 9.82
Kyler Murray ARI 32 333 10.41

I mentioned both C.J. Stroud and Will Levis in this column a week ago, and the pair of AFC South rookie quarterbacks finished at the top of last week’s air yards leaderboard once again. And for the second consecutive week, Stroud balled out while Levis underwhelmed. As much as we love air yards, they do not mean much if you cannot complete passes. Levis did so at just a 48.7% clip against a suspect Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary.

It will be interesting to see if the Tennessee Titans continues to be aggressive on offense or if they dial it down a bit in an attempt to get Levis some easier completions. Even with four more teams on a bye in Week 11, fantasy managers cannot trust Levis in one-quarterback leagues. None of the teams that are off this week feature a fantasy-friendly quarterback.

Kyler Murray made his long-awaited 2023 season debut last week and led the Arizona Cardinals to their second victory of the season. He also finished as the overall QB13 in fantasy for the week. Murray had a 10.41 aDOT this past week, which is a significant bump from the 8.19 mark that Joshua Dobbs posted in his eight starts with the club. At the same time, more than half of his attempts went to tight end Trey McBride and wide receiver Rondale Moore. Those players generally have a low aDOT. So it seems Murray was willing to trust those two players when he needed a completion while taking shots downfield to other targets such as Marquise Brown. Time will tell if that is a trend or was matchup-specific. Murray and the Cardinals take on the Houston Texans in Week 11. The Texans have allowed a healthy 7.49 yards per pass attempt this season.

This will probably end up being nothing, but I did want to mention New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston came in relief for an injured Derek Carr and nearly led the Saints to a comeback victory. In the process, he put up 380 air yards in just 25 attempts. He also threw two interceptions in the last four minutes, as he is wont to do. Carr is in the league’s concussion protocol and is also dealing with a sprained AC joint. But with New Orleans on bye in Week 11, Carr should be ready for the team’s next game. The Saints’ next opponent is the Atlanta Falcons, who allow the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Winston’s aggressiveness would likely offer him a higher fantasy ceiling than Carr in the event Carr is not healthy enough to compete in that game.

The Top 10 Wide Receivers

Player Team Tar Rec Rec Yds Air Yds aDOT Air % Tar %
Mike Evans TB 10 6 143 190 19 54.44% 34.48%
Nathaniel Dell HOU 14 6 56 182 13 39.06% 35.90%
Chris Olave NO 9 6 94 182 20.22 44.83% 22.50%
Davante Adams LV 13 6 86 175 13.46 89.74% 52%
DeAndre Hopkins TEN 8 3 27 162 20.25 38.03% 21.05%
CeeDee Lamb DAL 14 11 151 157 11.21 34.20% 31.82%
Christian Kirk JAC 11 6 104 151 13.73 68.02% 35.48%
DK Metcalf SEA 12 7 98 137 11.42 53.10% 28.57%
Keenan Allen LAC 14 11 175 135 9.64 50.56% 35%
Brandin Cooks DAL 10 9 173 133 13.3 28.98% 22.73%

I usually like to feature some under-the-radar players in this space, but this past week’s air yards leaderboard featured plenty of high-end wide receivers. The most obvious outlier would seem to be Tank Dell, whom I discussed last week. But Dell put up another top-12 weekly fantasy performance in Houston’s victory in Cincinnati.

Dell enters Week 11 as the overall WR21 in fantasy, so perhaps we are not giving him enough credit. He is still a boom-or-bust candidate, but his upcoming matchup offers high potential. Dell and the Texans face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11. Arizona has allowed the third-most yards per target to opposing wideouts this year. Also, with Murray back in the fold, Arizona’s offense may have more potential to put up points. This game has the highest implied total on the slate and could be a shootout.

The Dallas Cowboys have two receivers on the air yards leaderboard from a week ago. Under normal circumstances, that might not mean a whole lot. But I think the context here is important. Dallas led last week’s game by 21 or more points for the final 33:38 of gameplay. Yet they continued to feature the passing game. This is a shift that Mike McCarthy has made since the team came out of its Week 7 bye. Since that time, CeeDee Lamb is easily the overall WR1 in fantasy while nearly lapping the field. He has 91.6 fantasy points since Week 8, while no other wide receiver has more than 57.6. There are only five receivers in the NFL who have half as many fantasy points as Lamb over the past three weeks. Lamb has 21.8 more fantasy points than any other receiver even if you include Week 7.

As awesome as Lamb is, the real winner here could be Brandin Cooks from a value standpoint. Cooks got off to a horrific start to the season. He posted just 12.4 total fantasy points over his first four games as a Cowboy. Through the first five weeks of the season, Cooks ranked outside the top 100 wide receivers in fantasy. However, he has been the overall WR15 since Week 6, which includes Dallas’ bye week. Since Week 8, Cooks has been the overall WR11. I think those numbers are a bit optimistic, as the yardage has not quite been there up until his last game. Cooks had more receiving yards last week than he had accumulated over his previous seven games. Still, he at least offers some weekly upside that looked lost a month ago. He is a viable Week 11 flex play.

The Top 10 Tight Ends

Name Team Tar Rec Rec Yds Air Yds aDOT Air % Tar %
T.J. Hockenson MIN 15 11 134 134 8.93 53.60% 46.88%
Trey McBride ARI 9 8 131 85 9.44 26.65% 29.03%
Dalton Schultz HOU 6 4 71 81 13.5 17.38% 15.38%
George Kittle SF 4 3 116 75 18.75 47.17% 16.67%
Luke Musgrave GB 4 2 64 68 17 18.58% 10.81%
Josh Whyle TEN 5 2 16 64 12.8 15.02% 13.16%
Chigoziem Okonkwo TEN 6 3 27 53 8.83 12.44% 15.79%
Sam LaPorta DET 5 4 40 47 9.4 19.26% 15.63%
Tyler Conklin NYJ 7 7 70 47 6.71 14.33% 18.92%
Juwan Johnson NO 3 1 2 40 13.33 9.85% 7.50%

As a whole, the tight end position came back down to earth a bit in Week 10. Only six tight ends posted 10 or more fantasy points after 15 had turned the trick the week prior. One of this past week’s most prolific tight ends was Trey McBride, who put up 17.1 fantasy points. What was most impressive about the performance was that he did not have the benefit of scoring a touchdown. The 131 yards was easily a career-best and an encouraging sign being that it happened in Murray’s first start of the season. McBride could be in for another big day in Week 11. The Texans have permitted the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends on the year. Fantasy managers in 10- and 12-team leagues should consider McBride a low-end TE1 this week.

Perhaps the most efficient tight end over the last two weeks has been Tyler Conklin. During that time, Conklin hauled in all 13 of his targets and recorded 136 receiving yards. He ranks fourth among tight ends in both receptions and yards over that stretch. The problem with trusting Conklin as a fantasy asset is twofold: First, that type of efficiency is not sustainable over the long haul. His aDOT is low enough that he will continue to catch most of his targets, but the yardage totals are not likely to impress. Secondly, there is almost no touchdown upside with Conklin. He has yet to find paydirt this year, and the New York Jets offense as a whole has scored just eight touchdowns on the season Conklin is only viable in two TE leagues.

The Top Five Underperformers

Name Team Tar Rec Rec Yds Air Yds aDOT Air % Tar %
Jaxon Smith-Njigba SEA 5 4 53 -5 -1 -1.94% 11.90%
Curtis Samuel WAS 6 2 6 28 4.67 13.93% 14.29%
Stefon Diggs BUF 5 3 34 30 6 13.76% 20%
Kyle Philips TEN 5 3 61 36 7.2 8.45% 13.16%
Adam Thielen CAR 10 6 42 36 3.6 15.79% 29.41%

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.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba has been on this section of the Air Yards Report several times this season. In fact, he has had zero or fewer air yards in two of his last three games. But that has not stopped the rookie from putting up solid fantasy production. Smith-Njigba has been a top-48 fantasy wide receiver in all five of his games since coming out of Seattle’s Week 5 bye, including four straight weeks inside the top 40. In that timespan, he is the overall WR21 in half-PPR formats. The yardage totals will not dazzle anyone, but Smith-Njigba has been a consistent part of Seattle’s passing game. He is the type of high-floor, low-ceiling player who can be an important piece of a fantasy roster, especially as we gear up for the upcoming fantasy playoffs.

Adam Thielen has now made this section of the report in consecutive weeks. For some receivers, being on this list is not the worst thing in the world. But it has not been good for Thielen in terms of production. His past two games have been his least productive fantasy weeks since Week 1. He has not been a complete disaster in either week (WR48 in Week 9, WR40 last week). Thielen has still led the team in targets in both games, so there is no need to hit the panic button quite yet. However, a slight decrease in receptions and aDOT could be concerning down the road considering Carolina has no playoff aspirations whatsoever. It feels like Thielen is simply regressing to where he should be given his white-hot start to the season.

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