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McFarland: Fantasy Football Utilization Report following NFL Week 2

Fantasy performance occurs at the intersection of efficiency and opportunity. While most fantasy players and fans can recite empty efficiency stats such as yards per carry and yards per reception by memory, most don't have a real grasp of a player's utilization.

Opportunity is the lifeblood of fantasy performance. Thanks to statistics such as average depth of target (aDOT), air yards, routes run, and quarterback dropbacks, we have a greater understanding of player utilization.

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For 2020, using proprietary PFF data, readers will now have unique insights into several new utilization metrics only available in this report.

  • Two-minute offense
  • Four-minute offense
  • Long-Distance Downs (LDD): third and fourth down with over seven yards to go
  • Play-action
  • Open targets (two steps of separation or more)
  • First, next and check-down targets

With this data in hand, fantasy players can make timely and informed decisions based on the value of a player's role. After Week 2, we don't have enough data to formulate trends, but it creates a baseline for moving forward.

Data notes and key: 

  • Snap data includes plays called back by penalty because they provide additional play-calling and utilization intent
  • Pass snaps = route or pass blocking
  • Run snaps = rush attempt or blocking
  • LDD = long down and distance (third and fourth down with over seven yards to go)
  • 4 Min = four-minute offense (score differential and time dictates slower pace)
  • 2 Min = two-minute offense (score differential and time dictates faster pace)
  • aDOT = average depth of target
  • EZ target = end-zone target 

James Conner (RB26), Pittsburgh Steelers

Fully practicing by Wednesday of last week, we have to wonder if Conner was hurt Week 1. After showing frustration and yelling at his sideline from the field, he disappeared from the action. Whatever the issue was, it didn't impact the Steelers' bruiser in Week 2. After an early fumble, Benny Snell was an afterthought.

Week 2 snap data
Player Snaps Close Pass Run i5 4 Min LDD 2 Min
James Conner 77% 71% 74% 83% 100% 100% 75%
Benny Snell, Jr. 15% 24% 17% 13% 0% 0% 0%
Jaylen Samuels 8% 5% 10% 4% 0% 0% 25%

Outlook: From a utilization perspective, Conner is in a choice situation. He is shouldering the bulk of reps in every scenario. He will need to remain healthy, but for now it appears our love for Snell may have been premature. Snell belongs on a roster in most formats as a premier handcuff option.

Antonio Gibson (RB35), Washington Football Team

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