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NFL Fantasy Football Utilization Report: Week 2 waiver, trade and drop candidates

  • ​​Amon-Ra St. Brown has eight consecutive 30%-plus target share outings. He has finished as the WR6, WR26, WR6, WR6, WR2, WR9, WR12 and WR4 over that stretch. He is this year’s Cooper Kupp and a top-10 option the rest of the way.
  • CeeDee Lamb has 26% and 34% target shares in his first two games. Some doubted Lamb could demand that type of target share, but he is off to a hot start.
  • Kyle Pitts isn’t performing up to his lofty ADP, but his 91% route participation is a step in the right direction. We know the talent isn’t an issue — Pitts makes a great buy-low candidate.
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 2 Takeaways

Waiver Wire

RB – Raheem Mostert took over the early-down work for the Dolphins offense in Week 2, handling 61% of rushing attempts. Chase Edmonds remained the primary passing-down back but was out-snapped 55% to 51%. Miami’s backfield could be maddening to figure out each week, but Mostert has big-play ability, and the Dolphins’ offensive arrow is pointed up. If the backfield tipped to one player, it would create a high-end RB2 scenario. Mostert is available in roughly half of leagues and should be rostered. FAB: 15-25%

RB – Jamaal Williams makes this list for the second consecutive week. He is the primary backup to D’Andre Swift and would carry high-end RB2 upside should he find himself the starter. Williams also brings some stand-alone value as the No. 1 option inside the 5-yard line, where he has 100% of the totes on the season. The Lions’ offense is starting to form, and Williams is in a similar situation to James Conner at the beginning of 2021 — a quality touchdown-dependent back with significant contingent upside. He is available in over half of leagues. FAB: 10-15%

RB – Brian Robinson took part in agility drills last week and has a shot at returning as soon as Week 5. Antonio Gibson has played well enough to make this a three-way committee once Robinson is ready, but the Commanders’ offense is scoring points, and a lot can happen health-wise in an NFL season. Robinson could carve out a role as the short-down-distance option to create some immediate value in larger formats. FAB: 3-5%

RB – Alexander Mattison remains the clear-cut handcuff to Dalvin Cook, who has a history of missing time. The Vikings’ offense stumbled on Monday Night Football, but they have plenty of weapons and an offensive-minded head coach. This team will get things back on track, and Mattison becomes a high-end RB2 if Cook suffers an injury. He is rostered in less than half of fantasy leagues. FAB: 3-5%

WR – Michael Gallup has a chance of returning in Week 3 and is available in over half of leagues. He could start slow, and the Cowboys are without Dak Prescott, but there aren’t many receiver options on the wire. Gallup should be in the WR3 conversation by the time we see Prescott back on the field. FAB: 5-10%

Sell High

RB – James Robinson has bogarted 59% of the Jaguars’ rushing attempts in the first two games and has two top-12 finishes. However, he continues to leave the field on most passing-down situations, making him a game-script/touchdown-dependent option on an offense that could face more trailing scripts in the future. Robinson isn’t someone to give away, but if someone is blinded by Week 1 and Week 2 finishes, see if you can sell high. His utilization profile is still that of a high-end RB3.

WR – Amari Cooper erupted with a 37% target share and 25.1 fantasy points in Week 2. Cooper has shown an ability to post these sorts of games in the past, but historically he has never been able to get over the 20-21% target share hurdle. The Browns are quarterback challenged and want to run the ball as often as possible, creating a scenario where it is tough to see Cooper being more than a low-end to mid-range WR3. This is a great time to move Cooper if someone needs a WR.

Buy Low

I don’t remember a buy-low segment this juicy in my three years writing this column.

RB – Dalvin Cook handled 80% of the backfield snaps and registered a 73% route participation before the final drive of Monday night when the game was out of hand. Cook is one of the few backs that possesses a high-end RB1 utilization profile. However, he now has RB20 and RB38 finishes, which could frustrate your local Cook manager. Now is the time to swoop in and buy low on Cook, who has big days ahead.

WR – CeeDee Lamb has 26% and 34% target shares in his first two games. Some doubted Lamb could demand that type of target share, but he is off to a hot start. If Lamb can stay in that range, he will be a high-end WR1 once Prescott returns. Gallup will demand some looks but profiles as a secondary or tertiary option from a talent perspective, and the Cowboys are willing to pump up the play volume when healthy.

WR – Elijah Moore has gotten off to a rough start with two finishes outside the top-48 receivers. However, he is leads the team with a 91% route participation and possesses a high-end talent profile. As a rookie, he rattled off six top-36 finishes — including three top-10 marks — over seven weeks. His 1.75 YPRR mirrored Jaylen Waddle, and he just missed the 75.0-plus PFF receiving grade. Pounce now.

WR – Terry McLaurin has underperformed with WR29 and WR38 finishes in the first two games. However, the fourth-year WR has adjusted target shares of 22%, 23% and 23% over his first three seasons. He has more target competition than ever, but those results are still in reach, and that is also the profile that could still take a big step forward. Big days will come soon for McLaurin in the new pass-happy Commanders offense.

TE – Kyle Pitts isn’t performing up to his lofty ADP, but his 91% route participation is a step in the right direction. As a rookie, Pitts posted a juicy 81.6 PFF receiving grade — the fourth-best since 2011 (minimum 200 routes), behind Jordan ReedHunter Henry and Zach Ertz. In addition, he ranked third in target share (19%) and fifth in YPRR (2.02) in 2021. We know the talent isn’t an issue — Pitts makes a great buy-low candidate.

Upgrades

WR – Drake London moves into high-end WR3 status after 12.4 and 22.6 performances. After two weeks of action, he leads the Falcons in target share (32%) and air yards (38%). The Falcons’ offense is a run-first attack which is the only thing keeping London from a move to top-24 status. However, if he registers another monster target share like Week 2 (46%), he will join that group soon. For now, he is a must-start WR3 in most formats.

WR – Amon-Ra St. Brown has eight consecutive 30%-plus target share outings. He has finished as the WR6, WR26, WR6, WR6, WR2, WR9, WR12 and WR4 over that stretch. He is this year’s Cooper Kupp and a top-10 option the rest of the way.

WR – Christian Kirk was expected to lead the Jaguars in targets this season, but he and Trevor Lawrence are dialed in. Kirk has WR19 and WR7 finishes to start the season, and his utilization looks strong, with a 24% target share. The Jaguars are protecting him in the slot (84%), and defenses are struggling to contain the playmaker.

WR – Garrett Wilson exploded with 30 points in Week 2 on the back of a 34% target share. He improved his route participation from 56% to 72% and should push Davis for more after this outing. The rookie has a 2.17 YPRR and is the Jets leader in targets (24%), air yards (35%) and end zone targets (71%). The Jets might prefer Davis as a blocker in heavy personnel groupings, but the team is best served to operate from three-wide receiver sets. Wilson could crest 80% route participation with fewer routes from Berrios. Wilson is only available in 30% of ESPN leagues, but that number should be 0% unless your team is stacked. He is an upside WR3 moving forward. FAB: 50%-plus

WR – Chris Olave barely missed a massive day in the fantasy box score in Week 2. He led in targets (33%) and air yards with a mind-numbing 320 yards (63%). He was on the field for more routes (84%) than Jarvis Landry and was Winston’s favorite target on third downs (56%). Landry and Thomas will challenge for targets, but Olave looks like the primary deep threat and carries upside as a high-end WR4 moving forward.

See the team summaries below for more upgrade news.
Downgrades

WR – Darnell Mooney is the WR126 after two weeks of fantasy football. The Bears offense has dealt with some inclement weather to start the season, but 20 dropbacks per game are still absolutely horrifying in any conditions. This team doesn’t seem to want to throw the ball. Even when trailing by 4 or more points, they opt to pass 24 percentage points below (46%) the average NFL team. Mooney is a low-end WR4 the rest of the way.

RB – Travis Etienne isn’t involved much in the running game (21% of attempts) but is the lead option on passing downs. Unfortunately, his role mirrors Nyheim Hines more than a player like Alvin Kamara, making him a downgrade this week. He depends on trailing game scripts to give him a chance, and that isn’t coming to fruition right now in Jacksonville. Etienne is a low-end RB3 moving forward.


JUMP TO A TEAM:

ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH


ARIZONA CARDINALS

The Cardinals rank eighth in regulation plays per game (66.5) and fourth in dropbacks (45). From a pace perspective, they rank second in plays per minute (2.5).

Pass-play rate by game script vs. 2021 NFL average:

  • Trailing by four or more points: 70% (-1)
  • Within three points: 78% (+18)
  • Leading by four or more points: N/A

The Cardinals utilize three or more receivers the eighth most (76%) in the NFL.

Pass-volume environment: Good

Run-volume environment: Below average

Quarterbacks
Player Week Snaps Dropbacks Pass Att ADOT Adj Comp % TTT YPA Play Action Designed Rush Att Scrambles Sacks i5 Att Checkdown PPR Rank
Kyler Murray 1 57 37 34 7.9 76% 2.86 5.7 24% 21% 3% 5% 0% 0% 13
2 57 52 49 5.9 75% 2.43 5.7 17% 11% 4% 2% 0% 4% 8
YTD 57 89 83 6.7 75% 2.61 5.7 20% 15% 3% 3% 0% 2% 9
  • Hold/Buy-low: Yeah, we have concerns about Kliff Kingsbury’s ability to design an optimal offense, but it is hard to top a mobile QB in a pass-happy offense. Murray is in the top 10 despite the absence of Rondale Moore and DeAndre Hopkins. Murray is set to best these totals in the coming weeks.

Rest of season: top-five QB

Running backs
Player Week Snaps Rush Att Routes Targets TPRR SDD Snaps i5 Att LDD Snaps 2MIN Snaps PPR PPR Rank
James Conner 1 72% 53% 63% 16% 19% 75% 100% 75% 0% 16.9 15
2 21% 26% 18% 7% 33% 15% 0% 15% 0% 7.1 37
YTD 43% 37% 38% 11% 22% 44% 50% 44% 0% 12.0 21
Eno Benjamin 1 34% 21% 26% 9% 25% 33% 0% 33% 0% 9.1 36
2 43% 30% 40% 7% 14% 15% 0% 15% 45% 8.1 32
YTD 39% 26% 34% 8% 18% 24% 0% 24% 45% 8.6 33
Darrel Williams 1 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
2 46% 30% 45% 7% 14% 92% 100% 92% 60% 14.2 11
YTD 26% 17% 25% 4% 14% 48% 50% 48% 60% 14.2 41
  • Monitoring: Conner was injured (ankle) on the fourth drive of the game. Early reports are that the injury isn’t serious, but his inability to return to the game doesn’t align with those reports.
  • Downgrade/Waiver: We thought maybe Benjamin was the primary handcuff to James Conner after Week 1. That wasn’t the case. He handled 48% of snaps, 35% of the rushing attempts and posted a 41% route participation after the Conner injury. He gave way to Williams more often than not in two-minute and LDD situations. He will be tough to trust in lineups, even if Conner is out. FAB: 5-10%

Rest of season:

  • Conner: low-end RB1
  • Benjamin: mid-range RB3 if Conner misses time; low-end RB5
  • Williams: mid-range RB3 if Conner misses time; low-end RB5
Receivers and tight ends
Player Pos Week Routes TPRR Targets ADOT Air Yards EZ Tgts 3rd/4th Down Targets PA Targets PPR PPR Rank
Marquise Brown WR 1 96% 14% 19% 18.3 45% 67% 25% 17% 14.3 26
2 95% 20% 23% 10.1 39% 0% 42% 20% 12.8 33
YTD 95% 18% 21% 13.2 42% 29% 35% 19% 13.6 28
A.J. Green WR 1 72% 10% 9% 12.0 15% 0% 13% 0% 3.3 92
2 85% 16% 16% 7.9 21% 25% 17% 14% 4.6 68
YTD 79% 13% 13% 9.1 18% 14% 15% 10% 4.0 88
Greg Dortch WR 1 96% 21% 28% 6.8 25% 0% 38% 44% 13.3 32
2 75% 10% 9% 4.8 7% 25% 8% 0% 15.5 21
YTD 84% 16% 17% 6.2 16% 14% 20% 31% 14.4 20
Zach Ertz TE 1 63% 11% 9% 5.7 7% 33% 13% 33% 9.4 13
2 92% 23% 25% 5.8 25% 50% 25% 9% 15.5 3
YTD 79% 19% 18% 5.8 16% 43% 20% 14% 12.5 5
  • Buy low: Brown has two top-36 fantasy finishes in two games, but he ranked much higher in weekly rankings thanks to a funnel opportunity. That has left some fantasy managers with a bad taste in their mouths, but the utilization remains elite, and Brown has two 22%-plus target share seasons on his resume.
  • Waiver/Monitoring: Rondale Moore remains sidelined (hamstring), but he could be heavily involved upon return. Dortch has posted two top-36 finishes filling in for Moore. He could be worth the stash if he is on your waiver wire and you have an easy cut. FAB: 2-3%

Rest of season:

  • Hopkins: mid-range WR2 upon return
  • Brown: low-end WR2
  • Rondale Moore: upside WR4 upon return
  • Ertz: low-end TE1

ATLANTA FALCONS

Regulation play ranks:

  • Plays per game: 63.5 (16)
  • Dropbacks per game: 34.5 (25)
  • Rush attempts per game: 29 (5)
  • Plays per minute: 2.2 (18)

Pass-play rate by game script vs. 2021 NFL average:

  • Trailing by four or more points: 51% (-19)
  • Within three points: 58% (-4)
  • Leading by four or more points: 55% (+4)

The Falcons utilize 12 or 21 personnel the most (54%) in the NFL and are No. 4 in play-action rate (41%).

Pass-volume environment: Poor

Run-volume environment: Good

Quarterbacks
Player Week Snaps Dropbacks Pass Att ADOT Adj Comp % TTT YPA Play Action Designed Rush Att Scrambles Sacks i5 Att Checkdown PPR Rank
Marcus Mariota 1 75 37 33 8.7 63% 2.91 6.5 49% 22% 11% 0% 100% 3% 3
2 75 32 26 8.4 75% 3.19 7.5 31% 8% 9% 9% 0% 0% 15
YTD 75 69 59 8.6 68% 3.04 7.0 41% 16% 10% 4% 100% 2% 7

Rest of season: high-end QB2

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