The following players have five end-zone targets on their resume this season: Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Garrett Wilson. So, that’s three widely known, elite, No. 1 fantasy wide receivers — and a rookie gunning to join those ranks. Wilson’s usage has been nothing short of insane through two weeks. He has a 33 percent share of the Jets’ air yards and has seen 22 targets overall.
Some of Wilson’s raw totals are certainly boosted by the fact that Joe Flacco has dropped back an outrageous 109 times so far this season. However, you really can’t ask for better fantasy usage for a wide receiver.
Wilson also just looks different out there. The guy is silky smooth as a mover and his ability as a route-runner has translated right away to the NFL game. I keep saying he’s like Kadarius Toney in the open field except he’s actually a technician at the position.
Wilson can make players miss as a tackle-breaker and is lightning quick in tight spaces. That’s my theory on why he’s been such a big factor for this team in the red zone. He just gets open and comes free quickly against close-quarters zone coverage.
When players are getting high-equity targets and are verifiably good at the game, don’t fight it. Embrace what’s happening.
While he won’t necessarily produce at this clip from start to finish, and I still have plenty of faith in Elijah Moore as a player, I’m buying Wilson’s breakout. The guy is legit and will be on the weekly WR3 radar. Both Wilson and Moore just really need Zach Wilson to be good when he comes back. The quarterback is the biggest unknown in this equation. The talent of these guys is a known reality at this stage.
Three WRs have four end-zone targets
I’m very tempted to say Diggs should be ranked as the WR2 behind Cooper Kupp the rest of the way. Obviously, some of Diggs’ eruption against the Titans can be mildly attributed to the absence of Gabe Davis. But mildly is the keyword.
Diggs and Josh Allen have clearly taken their chemistry and timing to another level this season. He’s going to have a career year in this Bills offense.
If you need a volatile but high-ceiling upside dart throw at WR4 or Flex, Chark is in consideration every week. The Lions are playing fast and Chark gets valuable perimeter deep targets. He’s run 67 routes to 69 for Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Sutton greatly benefitted from Jerry Jeudy’s injury in Week 2 but has a high ceiling every week with his scoring area and deep-game usage. I still have questions about Denver overall but Sutton’s deployment metrics are strong so far.
Rashod Bateman has a 62.6% snap rate
It’s okay to admit there are some odd numbers in Bateman’s usage portfolio. He’s rotating on and off the field and has only run a route on 73% of Lamar Jackson’s dropbacks, with a 20% target share overall.
Bateman’s efficiency, however, has been outrageous. He’s been getting deep looks and winning in the open field. Bateman is averaging 16 air yards per target and 16 yards after the catch per reception.
Let’s be clear: Those numbers are not going to hold throughout the season. However, Bateman fits into what I said about Garrett Wilson above. When guys are verifiably good at the game, we don’t need to overthink it.
Bateman is rotating off the field but it’s not a big deal. He’s losing some run-blocking snaps and routes in heavy personnel looks; that’s all fine. He’s still getting high-leverage looks and is attached to a good quarterback who is attacking deep down the field right now. And if you can’t tell Bateman is verifiably good at football … I don’t know what to tell you.
It’s also possible the Ravens are just rotating guys early on but will settle on playing Bateman and other guys who keep performing well at a higher rate as the year goes on. Either way, I don’t think Bateman is someone you should be concerned with. He’s a huge piece of the puzzle for Baltimore in 2022.
We can trust the Ravens and assume rational coaching. Bateman should see a full workload going forward.
Chris Olave leads the NFL in total air yards with 372
There are absolutely some “prayer yards” in those air yards with Jameis Winston chucking it to Chris Olave down the field in comeback mode. It still brings clarity to Olave’s role and the team’s intent.
Right now Olave ranks seventh in the NFL in air yards share at 45%. He’s just getting a lot of early opportunities any way you slice it. That makes sense because Olave had a pro-ready game and was an explosive vertical option in college.
Look no further if you’re searching for the next breakout rookie receiver. All the signals are there. Of course, this is all contingent on Winston playing through and thriving with a back injury. No small ask.
Miles Sanders has three goal-line carries
The only running backs with more through two weeks are Jamaal Williams and Antonio Gibson.
The frequency of scoring area chances was one of the biggest questions in Sanders’ outlook this year. It doesn’t seem to be a concern at this point. Not to mention that the Eagles' offense has looked so good, it’s time to project them for more scoring area chances as an entire unit than originally imagined.
Sanders also ranks seventh in the NFL in yards after contact per rush. He’s playing well right now. Sanders told us not to draft him in fantasy this year but that might have been bad advice — no shade to him; I get his point. Nonetheless, he’s been a pretty big value so far.
Top-5 targets per route run (min. 30 routes)
1- Stefon Diggs 37.5%
2 - Treylon Burks 36.7%
3 - Tyreek Hill 35.2%
4 - Amon-Ra St. Brown 34.8%
5 - Jaylen Waddle 34.3%
Treylon Burks finds his way on a list with a bunch of stars despite not playing much yet this year. What this shows us is that when Burks is on the field, the Titans are making it a priority to get him the ball. He’s done really well in that role.
I know there will be a clamoring from fantasy folks to get Burks more work. He’ll play more as the season progresses, there’s no doubt. I still have questions, and the Titans seemingly agree, about how much more he can handle. Burks is essentially learning a new position because he did not play as an outside wide receiver in college; he was a gadget slot player. His best plays right now are when he can run simple slants and crossers against soft zone coverage. Again, he’s really good at that and has already made several big plays.
As he grows he’ll get more time and exposure working all levels of the field across the route tree. He’s still a developing player. We just have to hope that we aren’t looking at a disaster Titans team by the time he’s ramped up.
The early returns on Tennessee aren’t ideal, as I’ll discuss in this next blurb.
Derrick Henry has gained 101 yards after contact
Credit to Andy Behrens and his stat pack article for this one. As Andy writes, this is “a notable figure because he's only actually rushed for 107 total yards.”
How much gas Henry has left in the tank is almost irrelevant when compared to the pressing concerns about the Titans' ecosystem. With left tackle Taylor Lewan likely to miss the rest of the season, the Titans are looking at shifting players around on their offensive line — a unit that already wasn’t a strength. This team was starting a Day 3 rookie at right tackle. It’s about to get worse.
The loss of A.J. Brown has been felt to a dramatic degree. We discussed Burks’ developmental curve above. With Burks on the slow burn, this team has no one else who scares a defense vertically. Henry is averaging 3.1 yards per rush with eight-plus defenders in the box and is contacted almost immediately.
If Henry is to succeed this year he will be running uphill all season. The 2022 season is going to be a slog for this offense.
Deebo Samuel is averaging one yard per target
The 49ers have been handed a difficult set of circumstances in both games this season. They played in a monsoon and lost their starting running back in Week 1 and then turned around the next game only to lose their starting quarterback.
The entire offense is in flux but the early returns for Deebo Samuel are that he is back to not playing real wide receiver. I mean one air yard per target — no need for plural; that is wild.
That’s not ideal for his fantasy value, even if he’s buoyed by rushing production. I’m open to Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to the starting lineup being good news for the San Francisco pass-catchers but Deebo is going to need different usage.
If Samuel is going to hit in fantasy this season he will need to get more downfield work. Period.