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Fantasy Football Utilization Report: Week 12 waiver, trade and drop candidates

Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) runs the ball past Las Vegas Raiders safety Roderic Teamer (33) during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

  • Treylon Burks demanded a target a whopping 38% of the time he was in a route. In six games, the rookie has three superstar-level TPRR performances.
  • Dak Prescott has three consecutive top-10 finishes. The veteran QB has two-plus TDs and at least 250 yards in the last three contests.
  • If the Tony Pollard can hang onto 35-40% of the rushing attempts and 60-65% of the passing downs, he has RB1 potential the rest of the way in a surging Cowboys’ attack.
Estimated reading time: 60 minutes

Editor's note: This year, PFF collaborated with Matthew Berry's Fantasy Life to bring readers the NFL Fantasy Football Utilization Report.


Volume is king in fantasy football, and this report will help you understand which players are due more or less according to their roles. It is a great way to know who is overperforming (sell high) and underperforming (buy low) based on historical data tied to metrics we know drive volume.

  • Overall offense: Which teams are enabling winning volume and efficiency across game scripts
  • Quarterbacks: How involved is each quarterback in the running game and who is unlocking upside for their weapons
  • Running backs: Which backs are handling early downs, short-yardage and passing downs
  • Tight ends: Who is running enough routes and meeting critical targets per route thresholds
  • Receivers: Which receivers are in the most routes and operating broadly within the offense
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Week 11 Takeaways

Waiver Wire

To make the waiver wire section of this column, a player must be rostered less than 50% of the time in typical leagues like Yahoo or ESPN. If players are trending upwards in utilization or performance and are over that threshold, they will be found under the upgrade or buy-low section.

WR – Treylon Burks

Burks delivered eight receptions for 111 yards on eight targets in his second game back from IR. While he is battling with Nick Westbrook-Ikhine for routes (68%), the rookie demanded a target a whopping 38% of the time he was in a route. In six games, the rookie has three superstar-level TPRR performances.

Week Routes TPRR Targets ADOT Air Yards EZ Tgts 3rd/4th Down Targets PA Targets PPR
1 36% 38% 17% 19.0 33% 50% 13% 80% 8.5
2 57% 35% 29% 7.3 25% 0% 20% 17% 8.7
3 97% 7% 9% 11.5 13% 0% 13% 0% 3.1
4 72% 15% 14% 9.3 29% 0% 17% 0% 3.8
10 75% 17% 15% 3.4 6% 0% 0% 0% 5.4
11 68% 38% 30% 11.3 37% 0% 33% 38% 18.1
YTD 45% 23% 13% 10.2 17% 9% 9% 28% 7.9

It is hard to see Westbrook-Ikhine – a 10% TPRR player – holding off the rookie from a full-time role for much longer. Burks also leads the Titans in yards per route run (2.08) and is building a solid rapport with Ryan Tannehill, who looked for Burks a team-high 33% of the time on third or fourth down in Week 11.

Some might talk themselves out of Burks due to the run-heavy nature of the Titans’ offense. However, that sort of thinking would have caused us to miss on A.J. Brown as a rookie. Talent is the No. 1 factor for WRs, and the best way to understand talent is the ability to demand targets.

The first-round NFL draft pick leads the Titans in TPRR (23%) and doesn’t have much competition for targets. Burks could be an absolute league smasher down the stretch and should be the No. 1 priority on most waiver wires. He is available in 79% of Yahoo leagues.

  • FAB: 50%+
WR – Darius Slayton

Slayton doesn’t have the historical profile we want when considering veteran WRs off the waiver wire. He has never eclipsed the 17% TPRR threshold in a season. Because of this, he hasn’t made it into the Utilization Report free agent pool.

However, he has performed admirably since taking over a substantial role starting in Week 5. The fourth-year WR has four top-24 performances and only one dud (WR74) in his last six games. In that span, he has a respectable 22% target share and a WR1-worthy 2.48 YPRR.

Week Routes TPRR Targets ADOT Air Yards EZ Tgts 3rd/4th Down Targets PA Targets PPR
5 68% 33% 28% 10.4 53% 0% 25% 43% 13.9
6 76% 13% 13% 13.0 26% 33% 10% 0% 2.8
7 70% 23% 21% 16.0 53% 50% 0% 83% 14.8
8 80% 19% 20% 12.5 30% 0% 29% 17% 11.6
10 75% 24% 24% 8.5 35% 0% 20% 75% 18.5
11 87% 21% 24% 11.6 30% 0% 14% 44% 13.6
YTD 52% 20% 14% 12.8 26% 29% 11% 46% 8.6

With Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) out for the season, the competition for targets in the Giants offense is meager. Last weekend, Slayton posted a season-high 87% route participation and 48% in slot routes.

The Giants want to win via ball control and minimizing mistakes, but Slayton could come through as a solid WR3 with sneaky upside if New York gives him a full-time role and schemes up more easy looks. Slayton is available in half of Yahoo! Leagues.

  • FAB: 25%+
RB – Latavius Murray

Melvin Gordon III was released on Monday, and Chase Edmonds has a high-ankle sprain. That leaves Murray and Marlon Mack as the last two RBs standing in Denver.

The nine-year veteran could be in for a significant utilization bump. However, what type of production we will see is unknown. The Broncos’ offense ranks 32nd in TD drives (11%), and Murray has been inefficient, averaging 3.6 yards per carry. His 2.20 yards after contact is over a half-yard below the three-year NFL average of 2.93.

Murray is a low-end RB2 moving forward and is available in 74% of Yahoo! Leagues.

  • FAB: 30%+
WR – Jameson Williams

Williams was designated to return from the PUP on Monday, opening the door for him to return in the next three weeks. The first-round selection is recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in the national championship game.

The Lions could take it slow with Williams, but the rookie makes a great stash play for the final weeks of the fantasy playoffs. He has the pedigree and high-end playmaking upside we covet. The Lions are on a three-game winning streak and could push for a Wild Card berth if they can keep it up.

Williams is available in 78% of leagues and will be an upside WR3 when he returns.

  • FAB: 25%
WR – Alec Pierce

Pierce posted his second-highest route participation rate of the season (89%) and led the team with eight targets (27%) against the Eagles. 

The rookie was showing promise early in the season before the Sam Ehlinger experiment. Pierce is available in most leagues, and with Matt Ryan back under center, he could surprise down the stretch.

  • FAB: 25%
WR – DJ Chark

Chark returned from IR in Week 11 and posted a 19% route participation. The Lions are taking it slow, but the plan might have been for a light workload, given the quick turnaround against the Bills on Thanksgiving.

The former second-round NFL draft pick has big-play upside (19.1 aDOT), and the Lions' offense needs more playmakers with T.J. Hockenson gone and D’Andre Swift in the doghouse. He doesn’t have the same talent profile as Jameson Williams, but he could still be a constant in three-wide receiver sets for the rest of the season.

  • FAB: 10%

Buy Low

QB – Lamar Jackson

Jackson hasn't had a top-eight finish since Week 3. The Ravens’ receiving corps is decimated thanks to a Rashod Bateman injury and the loss of Marquise Brown via offseason trade, and Jackson has a career-low YPA (6.8). 

However, he ranks second in designed-rushing attempts (26%) and ninth in scramble rate (6%) – which is a difficult combination to hold down for long in fantasy terms. The fifth-year QB averages 9.6 rushing attempts per game, putting him on pace for 163 total.

Remember how bad Justin Fields looked over the first month of the season? He had finishes of QB23, QB28, QB32, and QB25 before catching fire to post QB12, QB9, QB5, QB5, QB1, QB1, and QB7 performances. He hasn’t thrown for over 200 yards in six of those games – most of the value comes from his legs. 

Unless we suddenly believe running QBs aren’t a cheat code or Jackson doesn’t have elite upside as a rusher, we should be buyers. He could win fantasy championships if he gets hot.


Upgrades

QB – Dak Prescott

Prescott has three consecutive top-10 finishes. The Cowboys aren’t throwing as often, but they are winning with efficiency. The veteran QB has two-plus TDs and at least 250 yards in the last three contests.

Passing yardage and TDs are down across the NFL. Over the last three seasons, teams averaged 250 yards and 1.6 TDs per game. This year, it is down to 237 and 1.4.

That makes Prescott’s numbers suddenly strong in comparison to his peers. 

Prescott is a mid-range QB1 moving forward.

RB – Tony Pollard

Ezekiel Elliott returned to the lineup in Week 11 against the Vikings, which returned the Cowboys backfield to a rotation. However, an important development occurred, with Pollard posting a 59% route participation and gobbling up 100% of the two-minute offense.

The fourth-year RB has demonstrated a high-end receiving profile in the past, and it is showing up again this year with the fifth-best YPRR (1.71) of RBs with at least 100 routes.

Pollard and Elliott split the rushing workload evenly, including the work inside the five yard line. Elliott could regain the lead in those two areas as his knee gets stronger, but Pollard has outperformed Zeke in every efficiency metric.

PFF Rush Grade Missed Tackles Forced % Average Yards After Contact 10-Plus Yard Attempts %
Tony Pollard 89.9 22% 4.3 17%
Ezekiel Elliott 79.6 13% 2.7 6%

Jerry Jones has remained steadfast in his belief that Dallas is a better team with Elliott playing, but the door has opened for Pollard. 

If the fourth-year RB can hang onto 35-40% of the rushing attempts and 60-65% of the passing downs, he has RB1 potential the rest of the way in a surging Cowboys’ attack.

Pollard is a mid-range RB2 with upside moving forward.

RB – Isiah Pacheco

Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a high-ankle sprain, opening the door for Pacheco to bogart most of the rushing attempts (63%) for a second-straight game.

The Chiefs are a pass-first offense, and Jerick McKinnon will handle most of the passing-down opportunities, but this is the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. That means the rookie RB has two-TD upside in any given game.

Pacheco is an upside RB2 while Edwards-Helaire recovers.

WR – A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith

With Dallas Goedert out of action, the Eagles condensed their passing attack around Brown (30%) and Smith (39%). 

The two WRs have already shown an ability to demand targets with 28% and 25% target shares on the season, so we could see Philadelphia continue to channel 60%-plus of their targets through the duo until Goedert returns – similar to how the Dolphins handle their passing attack.

Brown is a mid-range WR1 and Smith is a mid-range WR2 while Goedert is out.

TE – T.J. Hockenson

Hockenson came up small in the Week 11 box score thanks to a terrible day for the offense, but he had another stellar utilization outing with a 29% target share. Kirk Cousins looked to his new tight end on 100% of end zone targets and 67% of third and fourth-down opportunities.

Week Routes TPRR Targets ADOT Air Yards EZ Tgts 3rd/4th Down Targets PA Targets PPR
9 84% 25% 27% 5.0 12% 0% 40% 33% 16.0
10 87% 20% 22% 6.0 14% 25% 18% 30% 11.5
11 78% 29% 29% 7.0 27% 100% 67% 13% 8.4

Over his first three games in Minnesota, the former first-round TE has a gaudy 83% route participation and 26% target share. He has surpassed a fading Adam Thielen as the clear No. 2 option in a pass-first attack seeking a division title.

Hockenson is challenging for the No. 3 TE spot behind Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews. He is a mid-range TE1 with high-end TE1 potential the rest of the way.

TE – Tyler Higbee

Higbee started the 2022 campaign on fire, with three top-eight finishes in the first five games. 

Unfortunately, the Rams' offensive line woes put an end to that starting in Week 6 as the veteran TE was asked to pass block more often. Although his TPRR remained great, the change in role created a four-game stretch where he posted TE50, TE35, TE55, and TE5 finishes.

With Cooper Kupp out of the lineup in Week 11, the Rams threw caution to the wind, cutting Higbee loose for an 89% route participation – his second-highest of the season. Of course, a top-10 finish followed, and he now has eight targets in back-to-back weeks.

The Rams don’t have much target competition, creating an opportunity for Higbee to reestablish himself as a mid-range TE1.


Downgrades

RB – Michael Carter

The Jets moved to a three-way committee coming out of their bye week, getting Ty Johnson more involved with a 32% snap share. Johnson also expanded his role beyond long-down-distance duties to take over 40% of the two-minute offense.

This development leaves Carter in a tricky position. James Robinson was already eating into his rushing attempts, handling 30-40% per game. It is hard to score fantasy points on a 40% rush share and sub-50 % route participation in a floundering offense like the Jets.

There is a chance the Jets make a switch at QB, which could revert them to a pass-heavy approach similar to the beginning of the season with Joe Flacco. However, even in that scenario, it will be hard for Carter to deliver value without playing more on passing downs.

The second-year back should be an RB2 but is stuck in a committee that makes him a low-end RB3.


ARIZONA CARDINALS

Team ranks

Pass-volume environment: Good

Run-volume environment: Below Average

Quarterbacks

Rest of the season: 

  • Kyler Murray: mid-range QB1 with high-end upside
  • Colt McCoy: low-end QB2 while Murray is out
Running backs

Immediate takeaways:

  • Monitoring: James Conner will have RB1 value if the Cardinals’ offense gets on track. He dominated the backfield again in Week 11 with a 77% snap share – a number that would have been closer to his 96% in Week 10 if not for the blowout loss.

Rest of season:

  • James Conner: high-end RB2
  • Keaontay Ingram: stash RB5
Receivers and tight ends
  • Injury: Rondale Moore left after injuring his groin on the first play.
  • Waiver: Greg Dortch corralled 10 targets with Rondale Moore out of the game. He will be the primary slot option until Moore returns. Dortch posted WR32, WR22 and WR19 finishes to start the season in that role.
  • Monitoring: Trey McBride posted a solid 72% route participation and 11% TPRR in his second game. In a game where the Cardinals didn’t have Marquise Brown and lost Rondale Moore, we would like to see more, but young TEs can take time. He remains a mid-range TE2 with upside.

Rest of season: 

  • DeAndre Hopkins: low-end WR1 while Marquise Brown is out; mid-range WR2 after
  • Marquise Brown: mid-range WR2 upon return
  • Rondale Moore: low-end WR2 while Marquise Brown and/or Zach Ertz are out
  • Robbie Anderson: boom-bust WR6
  • Trey McBride: mid-range TE2 with high-end TE1 upside

ATLANTA FALCONS

Team Ranks

Scoring Drive % TD Drive % Plays (Non-OT) Dropback (Non-OT) Rush (Non-OT) Plays per Minute Neutral Play Clock Time of Possession Trail Pass Close Pass Lead Pass
14 16 30 32 3 28 27 23 31 32 30

Pass-volume environment: Poor

Run-volume environment: Good

Quarterbacks
Player Week Pass Att ADOT Adj Comp % TTT YPA Play Action Designed Rush Att Scrambles Sacks i5 Att Checkdown PPR PPR Rank
Marcus Mariota 8 28 10.5 81% 3.1 9.0 61% 14% 3% 6% 0% 14% 24.4 7
9 23 14.9 57% 3.2 5.6 48% 9% 7% 7% 0% 9% 7.6 24
10 30 12.1 66% 3.1 6.2 27% 4% 5% 14% 0% 3% 18.7 13
11 20 6.3 72% 2.7 6.6 38% 31% 17% 0% 0% 15% 17.7 12
YTD 251 10.5 68% 3.0 7.5 45% 14% 9% 9% 30% 5% 16.5 8

Rest of season: 

  • Marcus Mariota: high-end QB2

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