High-end fantasy football performances and weekly finishes are fueled by routes run and high-value targets and touches. The majority of top scorers from last week saw healthy doses of end-zone targets, air yards, routes run, deep targets and goal-line carries.
Darrell Henderson Jr., Jonathan Taylor, Aaron Jones and Chase Edmonds were all long overdue to score based on their previous opportunity volume inside the red zone. Each hit paydirt in Week 8: Trust the process.
To find Week 9's version of Jones or Edmonds in the fantasy football rankings or as a waiver wire pickup, fantasy managers can leverage PFF’s fantasy stats tool to identify the players who saw the most high-value opportunities but failed to cash in.
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DEEP TARGETS AND AIR YARDS
Most Deep Targets (20-plus air yards) | Week 8
|Player||Deep Targets||Deep Catches|
|Michael Pittman Jr.||3||1|
Justin Jefferson fell victim to solid coverage from Trevon Diggs, as he was held to just two catches for 21 yards in Week 8. He was getting open constantly, however, and seeing downfield looks from Kirk Cousins. Four of Jefferson’s targets were 20-plus air yards, but he and Cousins just couldn’t connect.
Don’t expect that to remain the case in Week 9. Cousins ranks eighth in adjusted completion percentage on passes of 20-plus air yards, and the Minnesota Vikings’ Week 9 opponent — the Baltimore Ravens — rank 27th in explosive pass-play rate allowed.
No quarterback attempted more deep passes than Carson Wentz in Week 9, with the Indianapolis Colts signal-caller throwing 12 passes of 20-plus air yards. Unfortunately, he completed just one of his downfield passes.
That's why the likes of Ashton Dulin, Michael Pittman Jr., Zach Pascal and T.Y. Hilton left production on the Week 8 table. Look for the Colts passing attack to bounce back with big plays against the Jets on Thursday night; New York ranks 29th in explosive pass-play rate allowed this season.
If Hilton misses the contest with his concussion, expect Dulin to operate on the outside opposite of Pittman. Pascal and his eighth-ranked 94% routes run per dropback rate will stay in the slot.
Emmanuel Sanders’ ghosting in Week 8 was truly bizarre, as he had been averaging more fantasy points per game than Stefon Diggs through the Bills’ first six games. However, the beyond-the-box score usage — three deep targets, 132 team-leading air yards — has been the norm for Sanders all year. He has been Josh Allen’s go-to when it comes to high-value targets, so don’t write off Sanders after the goose egg.
The veteran still saw six targets and ran more routes than both Diggs and Cole Beasley. Roster him in DFS lineups at $5,600 on DraftKings versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags rank 31st in yards per attempt allowed this season.
Darnell Mooney is slowly but surely establishing himself as the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 wide receiver. He has led the team in targets since Week 5, and he commanded two deep shots from Justin Fields in Week 8. Fields will continue to force-feed Mooney downfield shots versus the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday night, as they rank last in passer rating allowed (131.1) on 20-plus air yard throws.