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NFL Week 1 Usage Trends: Fantasy Notes for All 32 Teams

In fantasy football, usage and opportunity are king. Fantasy points can’t accrue on our teams unless our players accumulate the snaps, attempts, and targets that lead to yards and touchdowns.

This weekly piece will look at usage trends from each NFL team from a fantasy angle. We will look at who is gaining and who is losing opportunities in order to make better future roster decisions.

If you have interesting usage notes, feel free to reach out to me on X (@CableBoxScore) and let me know. Let’s dive into Week 1 usage!

Look for more Week 2 Fantasy Football Fun throughout the week! QB Sleepers | RB Sleepers | WR Sleepers | TE Sleepers | DST Streamers | NFL DFS | NFL Player Props | IDP Analysis | Bold Predictions | Survivor Picks | NFL Injury Report

NFL Week 1 Usage Trends


Zach Ertz the Red Zone weapon

As a team, the Arizona Cardinals only produced six red zone targets. Zach Ertz received two of them, so even if he only sees 5-7 targets per game, he can be viable as a red-zone weapon. Rondale Moore (68%) fell well behind Michael Wilson (90%) and Marquise Brown (84%) in snap rate.


Two-headed Running Back Monster

Both rookie Bijan RObinson and Tyler Allgeier had over 5.0 yards per carry and both scored a touchdown (Allgeier ended up with two). In terms of the snap breakdown, Robinson had 22 snaps alone, Allgeier had 18 alone, and the backs played 10 together. Both are extremely fantasy relevant right now considering Atlanta threw the ball just 18 times.


Dobbins Down, Flowers Blooms

With no J.K. Dobbins, the Justice Hill and Gus Edwards guessing game each week could be maddening. Hill and Edwards essentially split carries in this one after Dobbins went out. Bringing in another running back via signing or trade is also on the table.

Odell Beckham (59 snaps) and Zay Flowers (54) were clearly ahead of Rashod Bateman (25) and Nelson Agholor (24). Flowers leads the league after one week with a 47.6% target share.


Cook Burns His Running Bank Competition

James Cook got the chef’s kiss on Monday night as he completely obliterated Damien Harris and Latavius Murray for the running back usage. Cook played on 41 snaps in regulation and overtime with only 25 coming combined for the other two backs. Cook’s 18 opportunities (rush attempts plus targets) were seven more than Harris and Murray totaled together.


Carolina Running Back In My Mind

Miles Sanders out-snapped Chuba Hubbard 44-28, but Hubbard played on all third downs and four snaps on short yardage to just one for Sanders. Sanders did get the one goal-line carry and 14 of 20 two-minute drill snaps. Roles look to be defined after one week.


Roschon Ascension

Roschon Johnson arrives sooner rather than later during the Bears’ first game of the season. He out-snapped Khalil Herbert 29 to 27, and doubled him up on third downs and two-minute drills. Herbert was still involved, but this could be Johnson’s rushing game to dominate before too long. Was this a game script issue? It remains to be seen.


Mixon the Best of the Bad

We almost have to dismiss this entire passing game in Week 1 as a fluke. Joe Burrow and the receivers were truly horrific. Joe Mixon dominated running back snaps and touches – 25 to a total of 23 for Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans. Mixon’s five targets are something to watch as well. In 2022, Mixon had 8 games with five or more targets and that would go a long way to making sure he keeps bell-cow status.


The Peoples-Jones Champion

Donovan Peoples-Jones led the wide receivers in snaps (66). Elijah Moore led them in targets (6). Amari Cooper played behind both with just 45 targets and five targets. Weather and rust for Deshaun Watson certainly played a role, and Cooper is a buy-low candidate for me.


Defense Diminishes Dak

Michael Gallup and Brandin Cooks look to be neck and neck for the WR2 job. Both had 19 snaps, while Gallup had two targets and Cooks finished with four. Jake Ferguson led with six targets. Presumably, there are games ahead where the Cowboys are required to throw more than 22 times


Mims Doesn’t Matter

As someone who was Marvin Mims’ biggest fan in the offseason, it was sobering to watch him fall behind not just Courtland Sutton, but also practice squad guys like Brandon Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Mims played on just 17 snaps (26.5%) and had only two targets.

Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine each had exactly 20 snaps but Williams had six more opportunities.


Better Days Ahead for Gibbs

Jahymhr Gibbs managers shouldn’t panic. He only played about a quarter of the snaps on Thursday Night Football but was the more explosive player between he and David Montgomery. Dan Campbell said that was by design. More involvement is coming soon.


Packers Fans Feel the Love

Jordan Love was a revelation even without Christian Watson and a hobbled Romeo Doubs. He was fifth in average depth of target, third in yards per pass attempt, and seventh in average completed air yards. He only completed 55% of his passes (bottom 10) but was third among QBs with a -12.3 difference in his completion percentage and expected completion percentage (meaning he should have completed 67.8% – top ten).


C.J. Stroud Already Holding Two Security Blankets

Rookie C.J. Stroud was forced to throw 43 times in this game because of a significant negative game script. Of those throws, 21 went to Robert Woods (10) and Nico Collins (11). Eight other players saw between one and four targets.


Pittman Catch and Run Saves the Day

He played every single snap of the Colts’ game and was targeted 11 times (out of 37 Richardson pass attempts), but Michael Pittman only saw 73 air yards and a 6.64 aDOT. Of players who saw at least 70 air yards this weekend, Pittman’s 6.6 yards was by far the lowest.


Tank Can’t Get on a Roll

Rookie Tank Bigsby scored, but Travis Etienne dominated the usage. Etienne out-snapped Bigsby almost 4:1 and ran 30 routes to Bigsby’s five. Only eight running backs saw more than Etienne’s five targets, which was tied for most in his young career.


Get Well Soon, Travis Kelce

Patrick Mahomes needs Travis Kelce back now. We know the wide receivers were bad, but how bad? Patrick Mahomes ranked 20th in yards per pass thrown and 26th in completion percentage this week after ranking top five in both categories in 2022.


Vegas Threesome

The Raiders continue to have the easiest offensive pie to carve up. This is going to be a force feed all season to Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, and Josh Jacobs. Among non-quarterbacks for Las Vegas, the rest of the roster combined for one carry and four targets in the entire game.


Quentin Johnson Rumors are True

Quentin Johnson is WR4 at best right now. While Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Joshua Palmer all logged between 52-74 snaps, Johnson only saw 22 with three targets. This comes in a game that totaled 65 points and where Mike Williams missed some of it due to injury.


Kyren Williams Takes Over

This was a very unexpected outcome based on drafts and ADP. Kyren Williams is likely to be a very popular waiver wire pickup this week. Williams had a huge lead on Cam Akers in snaps (53 to 28) as well as early downs, third downs, two-minute, and he was tied with Akers in goal-line touches.


Tyreek the Freak, Waddle Wilts

Tyreek Hill had one of his typical crazy stat lines, 215 yards, 2 TDs, and fifth-highest target share – 35.7%. But Waddle only had an 11% target share and ended with four catches and 78 receiving yards. But there is certainly a mild concern that his crazy aDOT and air yards share from 2022 might regress somewhat, but don’t panic yet.


His Name is Alexander Mattison

Alexander Mattison quadrupled everything that Ty Chandler got against Tampa Bay. He led in snaps (47 to 11), routes (26 to 7), targets (4 to 1), and carries (11 to 3). In more positive game scripts, Mattison will get more work on the ground.


Ezekiel Elliott Quiet in Debut

Rhamondre Stevenson was able to hold off the recent addition of Ezekiel Elliott for now. Stevenson dominated touches, snaps, and high-value targets. He also had six targets (most among running backs was seven in Week 1) and he will have more than 12 carries in positive game scripts.


Three-headed Wide Receiver Monster

Chris Olave-Michael Thomas-Rashid Shaheed could be a dangerous trio for Saints’ opponents. They combined for 23 of 32 targets, and all had at least 65 receiving yards. But Olave was clearly the alpha with a 30% target share, 34% air yards share, and 10 targets leading to 112 yards.


Danny Dimes Dud

How does a team losing by 40 points only have 26 targets in a game? I guess it’s hard to throw when you’re getting sacked eight times and rushing 21 times. We know Saquon Barkley is the clear lead back, but based on what we saw with wide receivers, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, and Isaiah Hodgins are the main guys. Jaylin Hyatt and Sterling Shepard are purely backups and not worth rostering. In a game where he was clearly hobbling and only played half the snaps, Darren Waller still led the team in targets (five).


Hall Pass for This Game

Breece Hall, coming off an ACL injury, only played 18 snaps to 27 for newly-signed Dalvin Cook. But when it mattered most, it was Hall all day long. He finished with multiple explosive plays, including an 83-yard scamper in the first half. Coaches said Hall would be eased in after his long absence due to injury, but it’s clear he is ready to go.


Penny For Your Running Back Thoughts?

Kenneth Gainwell takes the RB lead by storm after Week 1. Rashaad Penny was a surprise inactive. D’Andre Swift played less than half as many snaps and rushed the ball one time. It’s speculated that Swift will be unleashed Thursday night and the Eagles were saving him for the game in a short week. But this is could be a situation where you drop Swift or Penny if these trends continue.


Steel City Split

Pittsburgh only ran the ball nine times in this game, so it’s hard to gauge how their running back room will shake out. But Najee Harris played 52% of snaps, and Jaylen Warren played 40%. Harris handled more carries while Warren handled the targets (6). The two backs never were on the field at the same time, so this an all-or-nothing situation and Warren looks to have the third downs on lockdown. Early downs were split an even 16 to 16 for the two backs.


San Francisco Treats

San Francisco might be the New Orleans Saints of the West. It’s so easy to unravel their usage and nothing is likely to change without a significant injury. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk both saw eight opportunities, Christian McCaffrey out-snapped Elijah Mitchell 58:10, and George Kittle still got six targets while taking more snaps off than normal due to a nagging injury (only played 69%).


JSN on the Outside Looking In

Rookie Jaxson Smith-Njigba (59%) significantly trailed D.K. Metcalf (94%) and Tyler Lockett (88%) in snap share and he only ran 19 routes. The Seahawks offense looked abysmal the entire game, but JSN did still end up with five targets. He needs a bigger piece of the pie (20% target share) and a bigger pie altogether (23 pass attempts) to be on fantasy lineups and rosters moving forward


Rachaad a Façade?

Sean Tucker stans will have to wait a little while longer. Rachaad White dominated everything against the Vikings on Sunday. That includes 54:10 in snaps, 21:4 in routes, and 17:5 in carries. But, on the bright side for Tucker, all that usage for White only turned into 39 rushing yards and 10 receiving yards.


Tyjae Taking the Torch?

Is Tyjae Spears already moving ahead of Derrick Henry? Many thought this was the year that another back might slowly start to take over for Derrick Henry, but it all happened right away in Week 1. Spears outpaced Henry with 54% snaps to 48%. This could have been because Tennessee trailed for large parts of this game, but it’s clear Spears is going to be a part of this offense in a big way.


Brian Robinson Commands Touches.

If you’re a Brian Robinson manager, you have to take the good with the bad from Week 1 against Arizona. Robinson played 61% of the snaps compared to 35% for Antonio Gibson. But the Commanders only ran the ball 43% of the time in a game script that was neutral the whole way. Robinson only had two targets so we will need to hope for some Washington games where they are ahead so Robinson can get bulk volume. He is the back to roster right now from Washington and it doesn’t appear very close.

Data Sources: Pro Football Focus, NFL Next Gen Stats, Football Guys Snap Summary, Pro Football Reference, Team Rankings

More Week 1 Rankings: Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | Half-PPR by Position | Flex Rankings

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  1. Chris Barber says

    very nice recap

    1. Ryan Kirksey says

      thanks for reading!

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