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 3 usage!
NFL Week 3 Usage Trends
Zach Ertz was a popular tight end streamer and DFS play on Sunday, but it was Trey McBride who played the majority of the game. Ertz’s snaps have tumbled three straight weeks while McBride has held at 50% for two straight weeks. With the Cardinals’ offense looking somewhat competent, this is something to monitor.
Tyler Allgeier Tumble
The split backfield from Atlanta’s Week 1 game looks like a relic from days gone by now. The snaps on Sunday favored Bijan Robinson 81% to 30% for Allgeier, his lowest of the season. Robinson also now has 17 targets to Allgeier’s six.
As Running Backs Fade, Flowers Blooms
Gus Edwards left this game with an injury which makes three running backs lost in three weeks for the Ravens. Meanwhile, Zay Flowers’ snaps exploded to 93% and he had two more targets (10) than all three of the other wide receivers combined. Flowers even doubled up Mark Andrews’ targets in this game.
Tight End Toss Up
For all the talk about Dalton Kincaid wrestling away the tight end job, Dawson Knox won’t go away. In fact, the role is just about split down the middle. Knox had 60% snaps to Kincaid’s 51%. Both had two targets on Sunday and are within one of each other on the season (12 for Knox, 11 for Kincaid).
Miles Sanders: Target Monster?
Before Sunday, Miles Sanders had never had nine targets in a game. Andy Dalton looked his way that many times against Seattle and he caught five of them for 38 yards. The Panthers’ coaching staff mentioned they wanted Sanders to get involved in the passing game this offseason, and he now has 20 targets in three games.
Fields Can’t Make the Easy Throws
Justin Fields’ had a 50% completion rate on Sunday, which is certainly horrific. But it could have been worse. NFL’s Next Gen Stats reports that Fields’ expected completion percentage should have been 48.7%. That’s especially bad when you consider his average completed air yards was just 5.2 on Sunday. Bears’ pass-catchers can be benched until further notice.
Chase Makes His Case
Ja’Marr Chase was a late arrival to the 15-targets club from Week 3, but he made it could with 12 catches for 141 yards. Tee Higgins (eight targets, but just two catches for 21 yards) was the big loser with Joe Burrow’s calf injury. After ranking top-ten in air yards and air yards share last week, Higgins should likely be nowhere near the leaderboards in that category for Week 3.
Ford Tough in the Backfield
For at least one week, Jerome Ford was an unquestioned leader in this Browns’ backfield with 56% of the snaps while Kareem Hunt had only 20%. Ford was lucky to find the end zone twice in this game (once through the air), but it likely earned him a longer leash as the main man in this backfield even as Kareen Hunt gets back into shape.
Pollard What Might Have Been
Tony Pollard had another massive workload on Sunday but was poached by Rico Dowdle for a goal-line score against the Cardinals. Pollard should have had a massive game as he led all running backs in rush attempts inside the Red Zone (8) and was second in rushing yards in that area. But he could not find the end zone in this embarrassing loss.
Mims Does a Lot With a Little
For the third straight week, Marvin Mims played between 24% and 27% of snaps for the Denver offense. He also was top-12 in air yards and top-five in yards per route run for the second straight week. If you took a chance on Mims in this one, you were happy with 73 receiving yards and a return touchdown, but there is still a lot of volatility here in games where Russell Wilson’s deep ball isn’t connecting.
LaPorta Coming Out Party
Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta officially broke out on Sunday with eight catches for 84 yards and a score. He ranked second in air yards and first in target share at the position in Week 3. For the season, LaPorta now leads all tight ends in receiving yards and is second in target share.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Jordan Loves Red Zone Receivers
There were seven receivers who drew at least three Red Zone targets in Week 3 and two of them were Green Bay Packers: Romeo Doubs and Jaylen Reed. This comes after Reed led all wideouts in Red Zone targets last week. Jordan Love has found his favorites when they are about to score, but when Aaron Jones returns we will need to monitor how that impacts this trend.
A Tank Through the Air
Rookie wide receiver Tank Dell was moving like he was shot out of a tank on Sunday, routinely burning the Jaguars’ secondary for big plays. Dell was top-five in the NFL in both share of air yards, receiving yards, and yards per route run. With C.J. Stroud setting records with his prolific passing, Dell is a name you want on your fantasy roster.
Zach Moss Red Zone Role
Over the past two weeks, Indianapolis has given eight opportunities to running backs in the Red Zone. Zach Moss has all eight of them. Will Jonathan Taylor put an end to this party assuming he returns in Week 5? Of course, but Moss and his new pass-catching abilities will still have a role.
This Tank Won’t Start
For the other Tank in the AFC South, things aren’t looking so good. Tank Bigsby hit rock-bottom on Sunday with Travis Etienne out-snapping him 52-9, and he had 24 opportunities to just three total for Bigsby. The one saving grace for Bigsby is the Jaguars look to be giving him the goal-line work this year.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Pacheco Getting Goal-Line
I’m willing to bet that you could go into a bar of NFL fans and win some money with this question: Which running back led the league in inside-the-10-yard-line rush attempts in Week 3? The answer is Isiah Pacheco with five attempts (plus one target). He also tied for the lead in most touches inside the five-yard line, so Pacheco has the most valuable RB touches in Kansas City right now.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Adams’ PPR Record Performance…
Davante Adams was an absolute beast on Sunday night, putting up 172 yards and two scores on 20 targets. He led the week in target share (45%) and touchdowns (2), and was second in yards. Just how much of the Raiders’ offense is Davante Adams? There were 61 opportunities for Raiders’ skill players on Sunday night and Adams had 20 of them. According to Stathead, there have been 41 instances since 2000 of a player getting 20 or more targets. Of those 41, Adams just produced the seventh-highest fantasy score among them (42.2 points).
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
…Overshadowed by Keenan Allen
And then there was Keenan Allen who caught 18 balls on 20 targets and put up a monstrous 215 receiving yards. Looking again at those 41 players who have received 20 targets since 2000, Allen just dropped the third-most catches and sixth-most yards of them all.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Looks Good in a Tutu
In Week 3, Puca Nacua took a backseat to Tutu Atwell in their game against the Bengals. Nacua saved his five-catch, 72-yard day with a late long catch, but it was Tutu Atwell who had more targets and got the Rams’ red zone look that resulted in a touchdown. They weren’t all going to be 15-catch weeks for Nacua, but he and Tyler Higbee did lead the team in snaps on Monday night.
Tyreek Hill What Might Have Been
As you probably heard already, Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins were… quite good on Sunday. But for Tyreek Hill, the outcome could have been so much better if Denver had just stayed competitive. Hill finished with 157 yards on nine catches and a touchdown. He also led the league in share of air yards at 68%. But he only played on 53% of the snaps so he essentially did his damage in just one half of football.
Jordan Addison may have graduated a level in the NFL with his involvement in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers. For the first time, his snaps topped 70% (71%, to be exact), and he out-targeted K.J. Osborn 8-to-3. Addison even got his second Red Zone target of the season although he couldn’t pull it in for a touchdown.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Ezekiel Elliott Won’t Die
Rhamondre Stevenson can’t seem to shake the ghost of Ezekiel Elliott, and it was quite haunting to the starter in Week 3. Elliott was simply the better runner in the sloppy game against the Jets. Elliott put up 80 yards on 16 rush attempts (5 yards per carry) while Stevenson gave us just 59 yards on 19 carries (3.1 yards per carry). Both also caught one pass, so this battle may be closer than we originally thought.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Olave Under the Radar
He hasn’t found the end zone yet this season, but according to just about any metric you can find, Chris Olave is one of the best receivers in the league. Among players with at least 10 targets this year, Olave is ninth in yards per route run and is fifth in yards after the catch. He is already fifth in the league in receiving yards, and it’s just a matter of time before the end zone spikes come. Olave also just finished his third week with at least 10 targets.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Waller Earning Targets, But Does It Matter?
After seven more targets on Thursday night against the 49ers, Darren Waller is fourth among all tight ends in targets this season. But it hasn’t mattered much because he is outside the top 12 in PPR points this season and only caught three balls for 20 yards in Week 3. Daniel Jones has quickly and decisively turned back into a pumpkin this year and all the rapport he apparently built with Waller in training camp was left in the preseason.
NEW YORK JETS
Zach Wilson Rock Bottom
For the second week in a row, Zach Wilson had the lowest completion percentage of any quarterback in the NFL. The ineptitude is really showing up most when the Jets do make rare trips to the Red Zone. There have been only five total targets to wide receivers in the Red Zone this season. But, hey! Garrett Wilson has four of them.
Hot Hand, Pants on Fire
So much for riding the “hot hand” which is what Eagles’ coaches said they would be doing with the running backs this week. Swift was decidedly that hot hand with 16 carries for 130 yards, but Kenneth Gainwell had 16 total opportunities to 18 for D’Andre Swift despite only 48 total yards for Gainwell. This will be a maddening development this season if Swift keeps playing this well.
Harris Hanging Onto RB1 By a Thread
It was officially a 50/50 split between Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren for snaps on Sunday (OK, it was 50% Harris and 46% Warren). Harris did out-touch Warren 19 to 11 in the game against Las Vegas, but Harris had 3.4 yards per touch while Warren had 4.7.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
George Kittle Resurrection
Kittle officially made his fantasy entrance to the 2023 season with a seven-catch, 90-yard game on Thursday. Did it come with Brandon Aiyuk out with injury? Sure, but Kittle also led all tight ends with 42.8% of his team’s air yards this week and he also demanded a 26.5% target share.
JSN Moving the Wrong Direction
After starting the first two games with an abysmally low aDOT, Jaxon Smith-Njigba dropped to 44% snaps on Sunday, his lowest of the season. Backup wide receiver Jake Bobo had 41% and to make matters worse, of the 26 throws by Geno Smith, JSN was only targeted on three of them.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Rachaad White Red Alert
Rachaad White played every snap on third downs, in the two-minute drill, and on the goal line against the Eagles on Monday, but it may still be time to panic. White rushed 14 times for 38 yards, and he was the worst running back on the weekend with 20 rushing yards under expectation. Volume is great, but inefficiency is eventually going to get him benched for Sean Tucker.
Get Your Spears Polished
A lot of it was game script-related, but Derrick Henry only playing 18 snaps to 27 for Tyjae Spears is concerning. Spears also had four targets to zero for Henry, so there could be a takeover happening before our very eyes in Tennessee.
Robinson Red Zone Role
Through three games, it’s become crystal clear who the Commanders trust when they are in the Red Zone. It doesn’t matter the game context or score, it’s going to be Brian Robinson among the running backs who will be in the game. He has 10 total opportunities compared to just one for all other running backs on the team.
Data Sources: Pro Football Focus, NFL Next Gen Stats, Football Guys Snap Summary, FTN Air Yards, Pro Football Reference, Team Rankings