Trey McBride earned a 40 percent target share.
In his first start sans Zach Ertz, McBride ran a route on 88 percent of the Cardinals’ passing plays and earned a 41 percent air yards share. McBride is playing the Ertz role but doing far more with his opportunities. He will settle in as a mid-range TE1 for me this week.
Kyle Pitts has run a route on 66 percent of his team’s dropbacks over the past four weeks.
Pitts’ route rate was at 89 percent through the first four weeks. His target share has actually risen over his past four games, so the decline in routes isn’t the end of the world. It is, however, concerning. If he can’t keep his gaudy, .24 targets per route run going, his target share could plummet.
The Ravens are first in the NFL in EPA per play over the past three weeks.
They are second in dropback EPA and fifth in rushing EPA over that stretch. Jackson has five passing touchdowns and has set Gus Edwards up for four rushing scores. First-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken is calling the good plays and it’s working.
Ravens play-action rate and EPA per pass rank, Weeks 1-5:
23.6% + 24th
33.7% + 2nd
Todd Monken discovered the good plays during the plane ride to London.
— Kyle Dvorchak (@kyletweetshere) October 31, 2023
Week 8 was the first time all season a Bills receiver not named Gabe Davis or Stefon Diggs ran a route on over half of Josh Allen's dropbacks.
The player to break the streak was Khalil Shakir with a 72 percent route rate. He caught six passes for 92 yards. The Bills narrowed down their personnel usage with Dawson Knox and Quentin Morris out in Week 8, allowing Shakir to play the full-time WR3 role. He is a solid add in deeper leagues, though it remains to be seen if this usage sticks.
Chuba Hubbard earned 71 percent of the Panthers’ carries.
Hubbard also logged a 66 percent snap share and saw 100 percent of Carolina’s attempts inside the five-yard line. All three of those marks are season-highs for Hubbard in games with Miles Sanders active. The backfield has officially been flipped.
The Bears did not have a running back earn a 40 percent snap share.
Chicago operated a dreadful, three-back committee with Darrynton Evans entering the fray for the first time this year. D'Onta Foreman led the backfield in carries, Roschon Johnson ran the most routes, and Evans saw the majority of the goal line work. This shouldn’t be legal.
Tee Higgins has one top-30 fantasy finish this season.
That came all the way back in Week 2 when he dropped 29 PPR points. Only 59 percent of his targets have been deemed catchable and he is averaging 1.15 yards per route run. His previous career low in YPRR was 1.83.
Jerome Ford took the field for 31 percent of the Browns’ snaps.
He earned 24 percent of the team’s carries and ran a route on 27 percent of Cleveland’s passing plays. Both marks are season-lows for him even including games Nick Chubb played in. Ford entered Sunday as questionable with an ankle injury and it was a shock to see him active. He should be healthier for Week 9, though it will be impossible to trust him coming off this performance.
Tony Pollard has negative rush yards over expected for the first time in his career.
Pollard ranks 46th in the NFL in success rate and 32nd in rush yards over expected per carry. He is at career lows in yards after contact per carry and missed tackles forced per attempt by a wide margin. When the Pollard truthers needed him most, he turned into Joe Mixon.
Javonte William earned 82 percent of the Broncos’ carries.
Williams rushed 27 times for 85 yards and caught all three of his targets, one of which resulted in a touchdown. Williams is still ceding work on passing downs to his backups, but he may have a stranglehold on the carries in Denver. A game against the Bills, who are 21st in EPA per carry allowed and 22nd in rushing yards per game allowed, isn’t nearly as bad of a matchup as you would think.
Jahmyr Gibbs added 45 rushing yards over expected.
Gibbs had a negative rushing yards output versus his expectation entering this game. The first-round rookie had looked more like a complementary back until Week 8, but he proved more than capable of not only handling a workhorse role but thriving in it.
Christian Watson was targeted in the end zone four times.
The fantasy managers who started Watson already know that Watson was unable to come down with any of his four touchdown-scoring opportunities. He has seen half of the Packers’ end zone targets since returning to the lineup. Matt LaFleur is doing everything he can to make Watson a thing. Jordan Love just isn’t having it.
Dameon Pierce took the field for 43 percent of the Texans’ offensive snaps.
That’s back-to-back games with season lows in snap share, carry share, and route rate. Week 6 wasn’t an outlier and Pierce appears to be locked into a low-value committee role.
At halftime, Taylor had 11 carries for 94 yards. He ended the game with 12 carries for 95 yards. Fantasy managers were spotted openly weeping in the streets after the final whistle. The good news is that Taylor’s snap share actually rose in the second half. The only issue was that the Colts ran six times in the third quarter, the first of which was given to Taylor, and did not log a carry for the final 20 minutes of the game.
Evan Engram has finished as a TE1 in 7-of-8 games this season.
Engram is second among tight ends in target share (23 percent) and sixth in target per route run (.22). Most of his work is coming near the line of scrimmage, capping his weekly ceiling, but he remains one of the highest floor options in PPR leagues.
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Patrick Mahomes was held without a touchdown for the first time since Week 11 of the 2021 season.
Week 8 was just the second time Mahomes threw multiple interceptions and didn’t score in his career. It was his first three-turnover, no-score game ever. There isn’t much to take away from this game as the occasional bust performance happens to the league’s best quarterbacks.
Davante Adams’ high in receiving yards over the past five weeks is 75.
The last time Davante Adams went five games without a 100-yard performance in a season was in 2017. Since his breakout, nothing has been able to slow Adams for this long of a stretch. That was, of course, until he met Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer, and Aidan O’Connell.
Quentin Johnston set a career-high in target share (17 percent).
He also set a career-high in air yards share (28 percent). Neither number is anything special, but both represent steps in the right direction. The Chargers are at least trying to get the ball in his hands. Johnston isn’t a starting fantasy option for Week 9, but he has a pulse.
Los Angeles Rams
Brett Rypien averaged -.47 EPA per play and had a -22.4 percent CPOE.
Rypien took over for Matthew Stafford after he suffered a sprained UCL in his throwing hand. Rypien averaged 4.2 yards per attempt on 10 throws. He has four touchdowns and eight interceptions across three career starts plus a few partial appearances. This is a short-term disaster for the Rams.
Jaylen Waddle has a 29 percent target share since Week 5.
Waddle’s target share sat at 20 percent through three weeks. His targets per route run and air yards share are both up considerably since the first three games. After a slow start, Waddle is back on track for high-end WR2 numbers.
T.J. Hockenson has a 27 percent target share with Justin Jefferson out of the lineup.
Hockenson has 28 targets over the past three weeks. The Vikings lost Kirk Cousins for the year to a torn Achilles in Week 8 and acquired Joshua Dobbs as a replacement for him at the trade deadline. Dobbs is a massive downgrade from Cousins, but his propensity for targeting tight ends will help cushion the blow for Hockenson. The Cardinals rank third in the NFL in tight end targets as a team.
Demario Douglas has run a route on 80 percent of the Patriots’ passing plays over the past two weeks.
Douglas had a 76 percent route rate with JuJu Smith-Schuster inactive two weeks ago and upped that to 84 percent with Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker suffering injuries in Week 8. Bourne is done for the year with a torn ACL and Parker is likely to miss a week with a concussion. Douglas is in line to be his team’s top receiver for the remainder of the season.
Chris Olave is second in the NFL in air yards (1,079).
He is 12th in air yards share and 14th in target share. Despite usage that would typically result in WR1 fantasy numbers, Olave is 19th in receiving yards. Plays like this haven’t done him any favors.
Saquon Barkley set a career-high in rush attempts (36).
After seeing a few dropbacks from Tommy DeVito in the first half, Brian Daboll took the air out of the ball and loaded Barkley up with carries in the final two quarters (plus overtime). He rushed 36 times for 128 yards. He also caught three balls. Even if Daniel Jones starts in Week 9, expect a run-heavy approach from the Giants.
Breece Hall is fourth among running backs in yards per route run (1.95).
Hall has 17 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown through the air over his past four games. He has a 15 percent target share during that stretch. The Jets have two methods of scoring points: the brute force of a near league-leading target share for Garrett Wilson and explosive plays from Hall.
A.J. Brown is the only wide receiver ESPN has ranked inside the top 10 in ESPN’s Open, YAC, and Catch Scores.
ESPN Analytics uses player-tracking data to determine a player’s ability to get open (even when not targeted), create yards after the catch, and catch the ball. The metrics, especially open score, give us some of the best data we have for judging wide receiver talent. Brown is putting together an incredible season.
George Pickens’ target share fell to 13 percent.
He was only targeted on one of every 10 routes. This was Diontae Johnson’s second game back in the lineup and it looked like more of what we saw from Pickens in 2022. Pickens also struggled to earn targets with Mitch Trubisky under center last year and the backup appears set to start this week.
Diontae Johnson out-targeted George Pickens 43 to 17 in Mitchell Trubisky's 4 full games last season.
— Jared Smola (@SmolaDS) October 31, 2023
Brock Purdy is 13th in EPA per play over the past three weeks.
I’ll be honest, I expected this to be significantly worse. Purdy has five interceptions and three scores over his past three games and the 49ers have been held to exactly 17 points in all three appearances. Purdy bolstered his advanced metrics with 83 rushing yards and just six sacks since Week 6. He also faced the No. 1 and No. 10 defense in EPA per play allowed in this downswing. If top-15 numbers are the baseline for a rough stretch of games, 49ers fans should be thrilled.
Zach Charbonnet earned 31 percent of the Seahawks’ rush attempts.
Charbonnet also ran a route on 56 percent of Geno Smith’s passing plays. Kenneth Walker was dealing with a calf injury early in the week but ultimately came off the injury report on Friday. He was likely at less than 100 percent on Sunday, leading to an uptick in Charbonnet’s workload.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baker Mayfield is on pace for career lows in interception rate and sack rate.
Mayfield has been picked on 1.62 percent of his passes, just a hair below his prior best of 1.64 percent. He is doing that on a career-high in pass attempts per game. His sack rate of 4.3 percent is .6 lower than his rookie season and over two percent lower than his career mark. Mayfield isn’t lighting up the scoreboard, but he’s making smart decisions while not costing his team with big mistakes.
Will Levis became the sixth player to throw four touchdowns in their first start.
The last player to do this was also a Titan, Marcus Mariota in his debut in 2015. The Titans did everything they could to get the most out of Levis in his first start. They dialed up play-action on over half of his dropbacks. He threw two of his touchdowns and put up 118 yards on these plays.
Over 50 percent of Jahan Dotson’s receiving yards have come in the past two weeks.
Curtis Samuel has been banged up in each of those games, allowing more work to go Dotson’s way. He has 13 receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown over the past two weeks. After a slow start to the season, there may be some life with Dotson after all.