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Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis & Takeaways: Week 13 (2023)

Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis & Takeaways: Week 13 (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 12 to see if we can uncover any hidden gems. 

Fantasy Football Air Yards Analysis & Takeaways

Stats via FTNFantasy.com

The Top 10 Quarterbacks

Name Team Att Air Yds aDOT
Dak Prescott DAL 32 470 14.69
Josh Allen BUF 51 411 8.06
Kyler Murray ARI 45 386 8.58
Sam Howell WAS 44 352 8
C.J. Stroud HOU 36 345 9.58
Derek Carr NO 38 329 8.66
Trevor Lawrence JAC 38 322 8.47
Jared Goff DET 44 318 7.23
Jordan Love GB 32 302 9.44
Justin Herbert LAC 44 298 6.77

Dak Prescott hasn’t needed to top the air yards leaderboard to be considered an elite fantasy option. But when he does air it out – look out. Prescott posted his fifth top-three weekly finish over his past six games this past week in Dallas’ drubbing of the Washington Commanders. It would not be a surprise if he had another big game in Week 13. The Seattle Seahawks have allowed at least 29 points in three of their past four games. The biggest question is whether they can contain the Dallas Cowboys’ run game and keep the game close. Seattle has surrendered over 700 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns to opposing backs in those four outings. And they have lost two of the four by at least 18 points. But given Prescott’s recent form and Mike McCarthy’s continuing to feature the pass, Prescott should be locked in as a high-end QB1 this week. 

Jordan Love was the overall QB6 last week and lead the Green Bay Packers to a surprising road win in Detroit. Love threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns in the upset victory. He has been inconsistent in his first season as the Packers starter, but Love enters Week 13 as the overall QB10 for the season in fantasy. Fantasy managers with Love may have an interesting choice to make this week. There are six NFL teams on bye in Week 13. However, only Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson are reliable fantasy starters among the teams that are off. Justin Fields and Joshua Dobbs are also off this week. Each has had various levels of success, though both trail Love in fantasy points per game this season. 

The matchup figures to be difficult for Love when the Packers host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. Kansas City has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Their numbers have not been as great in recent weeks. However, they gave up two rushing scores to Jalen Hurts two weeks ago, which needs to be taken into account. Love’s success rate may come down to how he fares versus the blitz. Love has completed just 59.3 percent of passes when blitzed, though he has five touchdown passes without an interception. The Chiefs have been blitzing more from their secondary than usual this season. I think Love can have a solid game but starting him in 12-team leagues this week may be a matter of who your other options are. 

The Top 10 Wide Receivers

Name Team Tar Rec Rec Yds Air Yds aDOT Air % Tar %
Marquise Brown ARI 12 6 88 189 15.75 48.34% 27.27%
Gabriel Davis BUF 12 6 105 185 15.42 44.36% 24.49%
Jordan Addison MIN 10 6 39 163 16.3 61.05% 37.04%
CeeDee Lamb DAL 9 4 53 163 18.11 34.68% 28.13%
DK Metcalf SEA 9 3 32 161 17.89 55.52% 33.33%
Terry McLaurin WAS 11 4 50 149 13.55 42.33% 25%
Christian Watson GB 7 5 94 140 20 47.30% 23.33%
Elijah Moore CLE 9 3 44 128 14.22 44.29% 23.08%
Nathaniel Dell HOU 8 5 50 125 15.63 36.23% 22.22%
Jalin Hyatt NYG 6 5 109 125 20.83 64.43% 25%

Jordan Addison had a 37 percent target share and a 61 percent air yard share in the Minnesota Vikings’ loss to Chicago Bears on Monday night. The main problem for Addison was that Joshua Dobbs seemingly turned back into a pumpkin in that game. The result was a weekly finish of WR63 in half-PPR scoring formats. It is too bad for Addison because it will likely be his last game as Minnesota’s top receiving threat. Justin Jefferson should be back in action following this week’s bye. Addison has shown enough to still be considered a fantasy commodity. Even with the down game, Addison is the overall WR15 in total fantasy points this year, albeit just outside the top 20 on a points-per-game basis. But between Jefferson’s return and their instability at quarterback, there is likely to be some inconsistency moving forward. 

Elijah Moore is not considered a trusted fantasy player, and his usage concerning air yards is frustrating, to say the least. On the bright side, last week was his third game in the past five weeks with an aDOT over 10 yards. The bad news is that in those three games, his weekly finishes are WR77, WR19 and WR78. It should come as no surprise that he scored a touchdown in the second of those three games, which occurred in Week 10. To consider Moore an inconsistent fantasy play would be an understatement. Over his last six games, he has had three inside the top 40 and three outside the top 75. With so many teams off this week, Moore could be a desperation flex play for those in need. Just beware of the potentially low floor that Moore brings to the table. 

The Top 10 Tight Ends

Name Team Tar Rec Rec Yds Air Yds aDOT Air % Tar %
Pat Freiermuth PIT 11 9 120 105 9.55 39.33% 34.38%
Travis Kelce KC 7 6 91 80 11.43 53.69% 21.88%
Jake Ferguson DAL 3 1 35 72 24 15.32% 9.38%
David Njoku CLE 9 6 59 67 7.44 23.18% 23.08%
Sam LaPorta DET 8 5 47 64 8 21.62% 19.51%
Juwan Johnson NO 7 4 45 59 8.43 18.21% 18.92%
George Kittle SF 5 3 19 55 11 20.75% 17.24%
T.J. Hockenson MIN 6 5 50 52 8.67 19.48% 22.22%
Evan Engram JAC 8 5 49 51 6.38 16.56% 21.62%
Dalton Kincaid BUF 6 5 38 47 7.83 11.27% 12.24%

Speaking of players whose weekly fantasy finishes are all over the place, try this one on for size: 

TE9, TE52, TE6, TE35, TE39, TE2

Those would be the weekly finishes using half-PPR scoring for Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth. Despite the inconsistency, I think the arrow is firmly pointing up on Freiermuth’s rest-of-season outlook. First and foremost, he appears to be fully back after missing six weeks with a hamstring injury. It seems Pittsburgh eased him back into the fray the week before, but finally unleashed him last week. Pittsburgh’s recent dismissal of former offensive coordinator Matt Canada may be a factor as well. Immediately upon changing play callers, the Steelers posted over 400 yards of offense for the first time in over three years. We may not be able to expect much in the way of passing touchdowns from any Steelers pass catchers. But Freiermuth should be considered a low-end TE1 both in Week 13 and in ROS rankings. 

While having a high air yards total can often lead to high ceilings, it also can result in untapped potential. Such was the case for Jake Ferguson last week. Ferguson caught just one pass, finishing the week as the TE22. What I found interesting was that last week’s usage was in stark contrast to how Dallas had been deploying him. Before last week, Ferguson had an aDOT of just 4.89 yards downfield. Then against Washington, he had an aDOT of 24 on three targets. I am very curious to see how Dallas utilizes Ferguson on Thursday against Seattle. Given Dallas’ explosiveness in the passing game, I am still inclined to consider Ferguson as a top-12 player this week. However, the Seahawks have allowed just one touchdown to a tight end this year, so the floor may be a bit lower than usual for this year’s overall TE9. 

The Top Five Underperformers

Name Team Tar Rec Rec Yds Air Yds aDOT Air % Tar %
Tyquan Thornton NE 5 2 19 11 2.2 8.80% 14.29%
Wan’Dale Robinson NYG 5 4 26 13 2.6 6.70% 20.83%
Rashid Shaheed NO 5 2 9 20 4 6.17% 13.51%
DeVante Parker NE 5 3 42 21 4.2 16.80% 14.29%
Tyler Boyd CIN 5 3 23 24 4.8 18.18% 20%

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. 

Things are ugly in New England, as two Patriots wide receivers (Tyquan Thornton and DeVante Parker) make this week’s underperformers list. Their wide receiver group is not great, but it is not nearly as bad as their quarterbacks. Mac Jones threw for two interceptions and averaged just 4.2 yards per attempt before getting benched at halftime of New England’s loss to the Giants last week. Bailey Zappe relieved him and wasn’t much better. Zappe averaged 3.9 yards per attempt with one interception in the second half. What was perhaps more discouraging for anyone invested in Patriots’ wide receivers was that Zappe had an aDOT of 1.43 yards on his 14 throws. Even Tim Boyle had an aDOT of 3.19 if you remove his miserable failure of a Hail Mary attempt. 

Fantasy managers may hold out hope that the player pool is thinned out with so many teams on a bye. And for whatever it is worth, New England does have a favorable matchup in Week 13. The Los Angeles Chargers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Having said that, I just have no faith in either Jones or Zappe to capitalize on the matchup. Demario Douglas is the only Patriots wide receiver I have ranked inside my top 50, and even he is a borderline flex player for me. I have no interest in Parker, Thornton or any other New England receiver outside of that. Week 13 is a crucial one for many fantasy managers, and I just cannot advocate for anyone with such a low fantasy floor. 

I expressed concern over Tyler Boyd here last week, and unfortunately, it appears as if I was correct. Boyd ended last week as the WR79, his worst weekly finish since Week 1. Replacement quarterback Jake Browning wasn’t quite the trainwreck that either Jones or Zappe were, but safe to say that nobody watching that game forgot that Joe Burrow is out for the season. The Bengals also have a decent matchup in Week 13 when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars. But those good vibes are not likely to extend to Boyd. Jacksonville ranks in the bottom five in both receiving yards and touchdowns to slot receivers this year. Tee Higgins may also return in this game, relegating Boyd further down the pecking order. Boyd may still have some name value, but he offers painfully little upside this week. 

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