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Fantasy Football Utilization Report: Week 8 waiver, trade and drop candidates

  • Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins returned with a vengeance with an eye-popping 50% target share in Week 7 against the Saints. 
  • Travis Etienne was slowly expanding his workload ahead of the James Robinson trade, which speaks to the coaching staff’s confidence in their young back.
  • Chris Olave has a 26% targets per route run on the season and has reached a 25%-plus target share in five out of six games — including one game he didn’t finish.

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 7 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 upward in utilization or performance and are over that threshold, they will be found under the upgrade or buy-low section.

QB – Justin Fields

Fields had 14 carries for 82 yards and a TD. Importantly, 28% of those carries were designed plays — something we have been begging the Bears to do all season. 

The second-year QB already leads the league in scramble rate at 18%, so if Chicago is serious about integrating Fields into the designed-run plans, this role is going to be juicy. He had attempt totals of 7, 8 and 12 in the three previous games and eclipsed 45 yards in each. He is averaging 10.3 carries per game over the last four contests.

Jalen Hurts averaged 9.3 rushing attempts per game with only 3,144 yards and 16 TDs in 2021 and finished as the QB9 in 15 games in 2021. Fields is on pace for 2,545 and 12 via the air — which is terrifying — but probably enough to get him inside the top 12 given how poor QBs are performing. If he improves in the passing game, there is an untapped upside.

Fields is a high-end QB2 with QB1 upside moving forward.

  • FAB: 10-20%
RB – Gus Edwards

Edwards took over the J.K. Dobbins role in Week 7 and posted 18.6 fantasy points. However, the backfield remains a three-way RBBC, with Lamar Jackson also poaching touches.

Player Snaps Rush Att Routes Targets TPRR SDD Snaps i5 Att LDD Snaps 2MIN Snaps PPR
Lamar Jackson 100% 19% 0% 0% 0% 100% 0% 100% 0% 10.6
Gus Edwards 36% 38% 18% 0% 0% 43% 100% 18% 0% 18.6
Kenyan Drake 27% 26% 14% 0% 0% 0% 0% 27% 0% 0.5
Justice Hill 31% 12% 32% 0% 0% 29% 0% 45% 0% 2.6

The Ravens ran the ball on a whopping 66% of plays in Week 7 despite trailing by four-plus points on 38% of plays. If Baltimore renews their old-school commitment to the run game, Edwards could see 13 to 15 touches per game. However, if this was a blip on the radar, he will likely be more around 10. 

Justice Hill and Kenyan Drake took most of the passing-down work. Consider Edwards a high-end RB3 until Dobbins returns.

  • FAB: 10-20%
RB – Isiah Pacheco

Pacheco got the start on Sunday and bested Clyde Edwards-Helaire in snaps (30%) and rushing attempts (36%), but the backfield remained a three-way rotation. However, this is a step in the right direction for the rookie, and we could see another bump coming out of the bye. 

Pacheco should be rostered in all formats as an RB4 with upside in an explosive offense. He is rostered in 50% of Yahoo leagues.

  • FAB: 10-20%
RB – Chuba Hubbard

Hubbard suffered an ankle sprain in the fourth quarter. Before that, he was the lead option for the Panthers with 55% of snaps and 67% of rushing attempts. 

The second-year back split work with Foreman in LDD and short-yardage situations and didn’t participate in the two-minute offense. The team said his sprain was minor and he could have returned if needed. It is hard to say if this split will continue, but Hubbard looks like the lead option for now. 

Things went really well in Week 7 for the Panthers, never trailing against the Buccaneers by four or more points. That isn’t likely to repeat often, leaving little margin for error. Hubbard is a mid-range RB3.

  • FAB: 10-20%

Sell High

RB – D’Onta Foreman

Technically, Foreman is an upgrade this week thanks to the Christian McCaffrey trade, and he just missed the waiver wire section because he is rostered beyond the threshold. However, the overarching takeaway remains — he is the definition of a sell-high candidate for three reasons:

  • Foreman is the No. 2. He worked behind Chuba Hubbard with only 35% of the snaps and 33% of the rushing attempts. Half of his work came in the fourth quarter after Hubbard left with an ankle injury. This could bed a fluid situation, but the first data point tells us he is behind a younger option the team drafted.
  • The Panthers aren’t a good offense. The heavens aligned and the seas parted against Tampa Bay in Week 7 to allow one of the most unlikely 118 yards rushing you will see from any team all year. The Panthers rush the ball 20.1 times per game in non-overtime play — last in the NFL. They score a TD on 13% of drives — 30th in the NFL.
  • The market is in need. Fantasy managers are hurting at running back after injuries to Breece Hall, J.K. Dobbins and Rashaad Penny, and the disappearance of early-season luck boxes like James Robinson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Find that RB-needy team and see what you can get for Foreman, who has the cards stacked against him in Carolina.


Buy Low

RB – Kareem Hunt

Hunt continues to see similar utilization to previous seasons, but the production has not followed. He remains the primary passing-down back and continues to take about 30% of the rushing attempts — the same exact number we saw in healthy games with Nick Chubb in 2021.

Week Snaps Rush Att Routes Targets TPRR SDD Snaps i5 Att LDD Snaps 2MIN Snaps PPR
1 56% 30% 58% 13% 18% 83% 0% 94% 71% 23.0
2 46% 38% 39% 7% 17% 20% 0% 89% 100% 9.4
3 44% 32% 50% 14% 24% 58% 67% 80% 0% 9.1
4 49% 30% 43% 7% 13% 56% 0% 60% 89% 8.8
5 49% 38% 50% 10% 17% 60% 33% 80% 100% 14.7
6 43% 22% 38% 2% 6% 80% 0% 72% 82% 1.2
7 47% 23% 47% 8% 13% 86% 50% 100% 76% 7.8
YTD 48% 31% 46% 8% 15% 63% 33% 82% 83% 10.6

The primary difference for Hunt has been his 15% target rate (TPRR), which is down from his three-year average of 22%. 

Amari Cooper is demanding a lot of looks (27%), which is something Hunt hasn’t had to deal with in the past. However, the team still sees him as the pass-down option, and no one behind David Njoku (19%) and Donovan Peoples-Jones (19%) is demanding significant looks in this offense. This drop-off could easily be due to variance, given the team still prefers him on passing downs.

Additionally, the rumor mill is churning around Hunt over the past few days which opens up additional outs. The all-purpose RB would immediately leap-frog to the No. 1 position on many teams not led by super-human Chubb. If he lands with a high-end offense where he is the top option or even gets half of the rushing work plus passing downs, he will have RB1 upside.

Hunt has outs whether he stays or leaves the Browns, making him a great RB to target low after only one top-12 finish so far in 2022.

RB – Khalil Herbert

Herbert had 12 rushing attempts on Monday Night after the Bears told us they would go to a hot-hand approach moving forward. Unfortunately, in this instance, it wasn’t due to a heavier rushing workload (28%). The Bears led by four-plus points on a whopping 52% of plays, allowing the team to run the ball on 61% of play calls. 

Justin Fields poached 28% of the designed attempts, which held Harbert’s underlying rush share in check. However, relatively speaking, Herbert closed the gap on David Montgomery, who had a season-low of 35%. The closeness in the RB-splits plus Herbert’s superior PFF rush grade (73.4 vs 60.0) are the two factors that make Herbert an interesting buy-low option.

Herbert is outperforming Montgomery, and their playing time is tightening. Fields could hinder his upside, creating more of a three-way committee, but the Bears finding their identity as a run-heavy team could offset those concerns.

Herbert is an upside RB3 trending in the right direction, making him a great player to target before a blowup game.


Upgrades

RB – Travis Etienne

James Robinson was traded to the Jets on Monday evening. We could see Snoop Conner or another back help ease the early-down burden, but Etienne took over an every-down role in Week 7 with Robinson nursing a knee injury. 

He scored 18.9 fantasy points on 80% of snaps and 58% of the rushing attempts and he continued to dominate passing downs as he has done since Week 1. Etienne was slowly expanding his workload ahead of this trade, which speaks to the coaching staff’s confidence in their young back.

Week Snaps Rush Att Routes Targets TPRR SDD Snaps i5 Att LDD Snaps 2MIN Snaps PPR
1 51% 20% 48% 11% 18% 67% 0% 75% 93% 8.5
2 37% 21% 45% 10% 21% 17% 0% 71% 0% 8.3
3 43% 37% 34% 8% 21% 40% 0% 82% 0% 10.5
4 51% 42% 50% 0% 0% 0% 0% 86% 100% 3.2
5 55% 43% 57% 11% 19% 29% 0% 67% 92% 14.4
6 51% 32% 56% 8% 15% 27% 25% 83% 100% 12.6
7 80% 58% 45% 12% 25% 57% 25% 91% 82% 18.9
YTD 53% 35% 48% 9% 18% 36% 18% 78% 90% 10.9

Etienne has also played better as of late and now ranks ninth in missed tackles forced per attempt (0.25) and explosive-rush rate (15%). 

The former first-round NFL draft pick is a low-end RB1 heading into Week 8.

RB – Michael Carter

Carter moves to high-end RB3 status with Breece Hall out for the season. James Robinson will push for early-down work, but he isn’t near the competition Carter faced from Hall.

The second-year-back should handle passing duties and could carve out a larger role. There is a chance that is the plan with Robinson as the change of pace option. At a minimum, in Week 8 we should expect more of Carter than Robinson.

Carter is a high-end RB3 with upside moving forward.

WR – DeAndre Hopkins

Hopkins returned with a vengeance with an eye-popping 50% target share in Week 7 against the Saints. 

Last season, Hopkins registered his worst TPRR (18%) since his rookie campaign while battling through multiple injury issues. This was a sharp contrast from his 27% target share over the 2019 and 2020 seasons, which left fantasy managers wondering which Hopkins we would see in 2022. 

The first data point suggests the 30-year-old still has plenty of gas in the tank, and with Marquise Brown out, Hopkins is a high-end WR2.

WR – Chris Olave

Olave has a 26% TPRR on the season and has reached a 25%-plus target share in five out of six games — including one game he didn’t finish.

Week Routes TPRR Targets ADOT Air Yards EZ Tgts 3rd/4th Down Targets PA Targets PPR
1 83% 9% 10% 12.3 12% 0% 33% 0% 7.1
2 84% 33% 33% 24.6 62% 33% 56% 23% 13.0
3 93% 31% 34% 15.3 40% 0% 36% 0% 23.7
4 78% 29% 26% 19.4 45% 100% 33% 14% 16.7
5 59% 38% 25% 12.7 39% 100% 25% 33% 15.4
6 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0
7 94% 24% 28% 14.3 44% 0% 36% 17% 17.6
YTD 73% 26% 23% 17.4 38% 19% 29% 15% 15.6

It looks like the Saints had good reason for trading up to grab the Ohio State product in the first round of the NFL draft — he is averaging 8.8 targets per game. Even once Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry return, Olave has shown enough to be the No. 1 option for the Saints.

Olave is a mid-range WR2 with upside the rest of the way. 

WR – Wan’Dale Robinson

Robinson pushed his route participation from 35% to 81% in his second game back. He led the Bears with a 25% target share and has a 27% TPRR on the season. 

The Giants’ offense needs a leader in the passing game, and Robinson is stepping up. He has operated from the slot on 77% of routes and has an aDOT of 4.6. 

Robinson might not score a ton of TDs in a so-so offense as an underneath option, but he is officially in the low-end WR3 conversation.


Downgrades

RB – David Montgomery

Montgomery saw his lowest snap (56%) and rushing attempt (35%) shares of the season. Last week, the Bears coaching staff told us they would move to a hot-hand approach. 

We saw Khalil Herbert reach 41% of snaps — a season-high for a game with Montgomery, but it was Justin Fields who stole the rushing attempts. The second-year QB bogarted a season-high 28% of designed rushing attempts.

We could see more of a three-way split moving forward, and despite the Bears’ run-heavy identity, game scripts have gotten away from them more often than not. With Herbert continuing to nip at the veteran RB’s heels, there are just too many bad run-outs to remain confident in Montgomery. 

He downgrades to low-end RB2 status and is teetering on an RB3 rest-of-the-way outlook. 

RB – Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Andy Reid announced Isiah Pacheco as the starter on Sunday. While the Chiefs backfield remained a rotation, Clyde Edwards-Helaire saw a season-low in snaps (27%) and rushing attempts (27%). 

According to Next Gen Stats, only 32% of Edwards-Helaire’s rushing attempts go for more rushing yards than expected — seventh worst in the NFL (minimum 35 attempts). This might have been a catalyst behind the move. There is still a chance CEH regains some of his workload, but this is a three-way committee that likely needs an injury to move the needle for the veteran.

After the first few weeks of the season, the 2020 first-rounder was a top-six RB thanks to insane TD efficiency. Now, he is merely a high-end RB4 that shouldn’t be near lineups.

WR – Drake London and Kyle Pitts

Arthur Smith’s refusal to open up the passing attack even when getting skunked creates a downgrade scenario for London and Pitts. 

Atlanta trailed by seven-plus points on every offensive snap against the Bengals. They dropped back to pass 45% of the plays. That is 27 percentage points below the NFL average in 2022 (72%).

Talent always has outs, but the coaching staff is going out of their way to decrease our chances of hitting. The Falcons are averaging 18 pass attempts over the last four games.

London and Pitts are fine dynasty options but in season-long, they fall to WR4 and boom-bust TE2 status.


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

Team ranks:

Scoring Drive % TD Drive % Plays (Non-OT) Dropback (Non-OT) Rush (Non-OT) Plays per Minute Neutral Play Clock TOP Trail Pass Close Pass Lead Pass
20 19 2 4 14 3 15 7 21 21 25

Pass-volume environment: Above Average

Run-volume environment: Average

Quarterbacks
Player Week Snaps Dropbacks Pass Att ADOT Adj Comp % TTT YPA Play Action Designed Rush Att Scrambles Sacks i5 Att Checkdown PPR PPR Rank
Kyler Murray 4 76 35 32 7.3 82% 2.82 6.5 14% 28% 6% 3% 50% 6% 23.9 7
5 69 45 42 7.0 76% 2.24 6.0 29% 12% 2% 2% 0% 0% 17.2 11
6 71 47 37 9.4 71% 2.85 6.0 15% 25% 9% 13% 50% 3% 17.9 12
7 65 32 29 7.9 75% 2.57 7.0 28% 24% 3% 6% 50% 3% 14.8 14
YTD 508 310 281 7.1 76% 2.53 5.9 18% 18% 4% 5% 36% 3% 18.4 10

Rest of the season: 

  • Kyler Murray: mid-range QB1 with high-end upside
Running backs
Player Week Snaps Rush Att Routes Targets TPRR SDD Snaps i5 Att LDD Snaps 2MIN Snaps PPR
James Conner 4 66% 42% 53% 11% 15% 78% 50% 80% 100% 10.7
5 34% 36% 31% 3% 7% 20% 0% 42% 25% 7.3
6 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0
7 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0
YTD 37% 30% 28% 7% 19% 49% 27% 37% 23% 10.1
Eno Benjamin 4 14% 14% 13% 4% 20% 0% 0% 0% 0% 5.5
5 53% 32% 56% 11% 16% 50% 0% 50% 46% 14.3
6 87% 58% 83% 9% 8% 100% 50% 95% 81% 9.4
7 74% 41% 78% 18% 21% 50% 0% 91% 0% 21.3
YTD 46% 31% 42% 9% 17% 27% 9% 47% 44% 10.3
Keaontay Ingram 4 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0
5 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0
6 13% 13% 11% 0% 0% 0% 0% 5% 19% 0.7
7 29% 28% 25% 7% 22% 50% 25% 9% 0% 12.1
YTD 5% 6% 4% 1% 14% 2% 9% 2% 3% 6.4

Rest of season:

  • James Conner: mid-range RB2 upon return
  • Eno Benjamin: high-end RB2 while Conner and Williams are out
  • Keaontay Ingram: low-end RB3 while Conner and Williams are out
  • Darrel Williams: stash RB6
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 4 93% 27% 32% 11.4 50% 100% 50% 11% 20.8 11
5 98% 23% 26% 9.1 34% 0% 11% 60% 21.8 10
6 94% 20% 26% 16.6 47% 0% 15% 11% 11.8 33
7 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
YTD 85% 23% 24% 11.3 37% 25% 31% 20% 18.3 8
Rondale Moore WR 4 95% 15% 18% 10.4 25% 0% 20% 0% 3.7 78
5 91% 20% 21% 2.3 7% 100% 11% 38% 13.1 24
6 98% 20% 26% 3.3 9% 0% 31% 22% 10.9 35
7 94% 7% 7% 16.0 14% 100% 20% 0% 4.1 67
YTD 47% 16% 9% 5.5 7% 17% 10% 21% 8.0 84
DeAndre Hopkins WR 4 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
5 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
6 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
7 92% 48% 50% 9.2 58% 0% 40% 50% 20.3 8
YTD 10% 48% 5% 9.2 7% 0% 3% 50% 20.3 109
Greg Dortch WR 4 43% 6% 4% 6.0 3% 0% 0% 0% 1.6 97
5 4% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 150
6 9% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 122
7 50% 6% 4% 4.0 2% 0% 0% 0% 7.6 50
YTD 55% 14% 10% 5.0 7% 8% 6% 24% 7.9 58
Robbie Anderson WR 4 98% 13% 16% 12.0 29% 0% 0% 0% 5.6 65
5 81% 13% 13% 15.4 24% 50% 0% 0% 4.2 82
6 35% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 124
7 22% 14% 4% 42.0 19% 0% 0% 100% 0.0 96
YTD 2% 15% 0% 42.0 2% 0% 6% 100% 5.7 76
Zach Ertz TE 4 93% 19% 21% 5.8 17% 0% 30% 17% 16.7 6
5 91% 24% 26% 8.3 31% 0% 33% 0% 10.8 11
6 91% 21% 26% 12.0 34% 0% 23% 22% 14.0 8
7 89% 10% 11% 10.3 14% 0% 20% 33% 4.1 25
YTD 87% 19% 20% 7.8 22% 33% 19% 13% 11.6 4
Trey McBride TE 4 23% 50% 11% 4.0 6% 0% 0% 0% 5.4 29
5 20% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 90
6 19% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 73
7 39% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 51
YTD 13% 7% 1% 4.0 1% 0% 0% 0% 1.1 83
  • Upgrade: DeAndre Hopkins returned with a vengeance with an eye-popping 50% target share in Week 7 against the Saints. Last season, Hopkins registered his worst TPRR (18%) since his rookie campaign while battling through multiple injury issues. This was a sharp contrast from his 27% target share over the 2019 and 2020 seasons, which left fantasy managers wondering which Hopkins we would see in 2022. The first data point suggests the 30-year-old still has plenty of gas in the tank, and with Marquise Brown out, Hopkins is a high-end WR2.
  • Monitoring: Robbie Anderson got on the field for a handful of routes (22%) and should see his role expand in the coming weeks while Brown recovers.
  • Chill: Zach Ertz and Rondale Moore had their worst outings of the season, but both retained healthy route participation.

Rest of season: 

  • Marquise Brown: high-end WR2 upon return
  • DeAndre Hopkins: high-end WR2 while Brown is out
  • Rondale Moore: high-end WR4
  • Robbie Anderson: boom-bust WR4 while Brown is out
  • Zach Ertz: mid-range TE1

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
10 12 29 32 2 28 28 21 32 29 30

Atlanta trailed by seven-plus points on every offensive snap against the Bengals. They dropped back to pass 45% of plays. That is 27 percentage points below the NFL average in 2022 (72%).

Even trailing game scripts can’t force Arthur Smith to shift to a pass-friendly script, which dampens the outlook of Drake London and Kyle Pitts moving forward. Both are talented players, but we are running out of outs in this offense.

At this point, we might be better off when the Falcons are leading and playing efficiently since the volume isn’t coming either way.

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 PPR Rank
Marcus Mariota 4 55 20 19 13.0 41% 3.69 7.3 55% 14% 0% 5% 0% 5% 4.9 32
5 66 34 25 8.8 63% 2.68 5.9 47% 10% 12% 15% 0% 0% 16.0 14
6 58 17 14 6.1 93% 2.39 9.2 41% 13% 6% 12% 100% 0% 24.2 5
7 47 19 13 9.5 73% 3.34 9.5 32% 12% 16% 16% 0% 0% 12.1 19
YTD 419 185 151 9.9 67% 3.05 7.8 46% 14% 9% 9% 43% 2% 16.1 11

Rest of season: 

  • Marcus Mariota: mid-range QB2

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