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Fantasy Football Utilization Report: Week 9 waiver, trade and drop candidates

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) runs the ball after a catch from quarterback Jared Goff (not pictured) against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown finished as a top-24 receiver in his first full game since Week 2. Despite missing part of three games and all of one, he is the WR26 on the season and has an elite TPRR of 31% and a 1.86 YPRR.
  • Dameon Pierce took over 100% of the Texans' two-minute offense in Week 8, a development that could catapult his rest-of-season value into the top-six.
  • Garrett Wilson leads the Jets in TPRR (21%), target share (21%) and YPRR (1.76) — all positive signs for the first-round rookie.
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 8 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 – Rondale Moore

Moore has taken over the No. 2 role in Arizona with a 95% route participation since Week 5. Despite the return of A.J. Green and the arrival of Robbie Anderson, the second-year WR has secured an every-down role and has eight-plus targets in three out of four games. 

Marquise Brown will likely return sometime between Week 12 and 16, but that is a wide range of outcomes. Moore will feel the squeeze when Brown returns, but he is a talented young player who can help fantasy managers right now.

  • FAB: 15-25%
WR – Terrace Marshall Jr.

Marshall has carved out a significant role over the last three weeks since Robbie Anderson walked off the field on the Panthers. Over the last two games, he operated as an every-down WR.

Week Routes TPRR Targets ADOT Air Yards EZ Tgts 3rd/4th Down Targets PA Targets PPR
5 37% 21% 10% 4.5 6% 0% 0% 25% 7.0
6 65% 7% 5% 4.0 15% 0% 0% 0% 0.0
7 96% 13% 14% 21.3 36% 0% 17% 33% 5.1
8 95% 25% 26% 10.7 21% 60% 30% 0% 12.7
YTD 35% 18% 8% 10.7 11% 30% 8% 12% 5.0

The former second-round draft pick was a bust in his rookie season with only a 10% TPRR and 0.50 yards per route run (YPRR). However, he is showing signs of life in 2022 with an 18% TPRR and a 1.56 YPRR. Those aren’t amazing numbers, but they are signs of life for a WR many were very high on coming out of LSU in 2021.

The Panthers' offense has shown improvement with P.J. Walker under center. With Christian McCaffrey and Anderson gone, there is an opportunity for an extremely condensed target tree between Marshall and D.J. Moore in Carolina.

We don’t often get young high-draft-pick WRs suddenly playing in prominent roles available on the waiver wire. Don’t sleep on Marshall – he could be a huge season-long win off the wire. He is available in 99% of Yahoo leagues. If you play in a deeper format – don’t be afraid to be more aggressive than the FAB recommendation below.

  • FAB: 5-10%

Sell High

RB – Antonio Gibson

Gibson has three top-24 finishes over the last three games, but his utilization profile remains in no-man's land. Brian Robinson Jr. is the primary early-down option, and J.D. McKissic snipes over 80% of the passing-down work.

Week Snaps Rush Att Routes Targets TPRR SDD Snaps i5 Att LDD Snaps 2MIN Snaps PPR
5 32% 19% 28% 11% 33% 29% 0% 0% 0% 6.9
6 26% 17% 25% 19% 57% 0% 0% 20% 0% 8.3
7 39% 26% 36% 13% 33% 33% 0% 38% 0% 16.7
8 36% 32% 33% 24% 54% 17% 0% 0% 7% 20.7
YTD 43% 40% 33% 13% 32% 37% 75% 12% 5% 13.1

Gibson is the best back on the Commanders. His 32% TPRR is elite for a running back, but the 37% route participation is poor. The third-year RB averages more yards after contact (2.71) and creates more 10-plus yard runs (9%) than Robinson (2.48 and 4%).

Unless the Commanders move Gibson today or an injury strikes an RB teammate, Gibson is in a tough situation. He isn’t a player we want to give away because the talent profile is there, but his recent success isn’t sustainable with an RB4 utilization profile.


Buy Low (or Buy High)

RB – Dameon Pierce

Pierce has dominated touches on the ground all season (77%), which has been enough to keep his fantasy value in the high-end RB2 range despite a bad offense in Houston. However, something happened in Week 8 that could catapult his rest-of-season value into the top-six: he took over 100% of the two-minute offense.

Week Snaps Rush Att Routes Targets TPRR SDD Snaps i5 Att LDD Snaps 2MIN Snaps PPR
5 79% 81% 50% 22% 38% 100% 100% 20% 0% 20.3
6 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0
7 52% 87% 29% 10% 33% 50% 0% 9% 0% 15.7
8 78% 88% 59% 12% 16% 100% 0% 23% 100% 14.1
YTD 60% 77% 37% 10% 24% 68% 100% 10% 12% 15.4

In Week 7, we saw Rex Burkhead lose that role to Dare Ogunbowale, and it transitioned to Pierce in Week 8.

The change led to a 78% snap rate in a game where the Texans trailed by four-plus points on 61% of plays. We can’t say for sure that Pierce will keep this role, but it is the first time we have seen him in the two-minute offense. 

If this is a one-week fluke, you are getting a high-end RB2, thanks to his domination of rushing attempts. The rookie also sees 100% of the work inside the five-yard line on a team that runs the ball the second-most in that situation (71%). 

Whoever has Pierce on their roster won’t be willing to sell low, but he probably isn’t untouchable after RB18 and RB21 finishes. And they almost certainly don’t know about the possible role expansion since his fantasy points didn’t go up. Act now and pay the high-end RB2 price tag – that could be his floor the rest of the way.

WR – Amon-Ra St. Brown

St. Brown finished as a top-24 receiver in his first full game since Week 2. Despite missing part of three games and all of one, he is the WR26 on the season.

He has an elite TPRR of 31% and a 1.86 YPRR. The T.J. Hockenson trade to the Vikings won’t help, but if you can buy at his low-end WR2 price tag, there is much room for upside. 

Even if you pay a mid-range WR2 price, there will be plenty of profit remaining – Brown remains a low-end WR1 in the rest-of-season ranks thanks to his elite talent profile.


Upgrades

QB – Justin Fields

Fields already received an upgrade last week thanks to a mouth-watering 10.5 rushing attempts per game over the last four weeks. However, the frightening aspect of Fields' profile was in the passing attack, where he is on pace for only 2,547 yards and 15 TDs.

Now the Bears add Chase Claypool for a second-round pick, giving the young QB another option to go along with Darnell Mooney. Jalen Hurts finished as the QB9 in 2021 with only 3,200 yards through the air – that could be in reach now.

Fields was already a low-end QB1, but now he has a mid-range QB1 upside.

WR – D.J. Moore

Moore moves back into the low-end WR2 conversation after 27.5- and 19.6-point fantasy performances. His underlying data from the first six games is night and day versus the last two:

  • First-six games target share: 24%
  • Last-two games target share: 38%
  • First-six games catchable targets: 57% (-19 vs. NFL average)
  • Last-two games catchable targets: 76%

While playing the splits game in small samples can be dangerous, we know Moore is a high-quality talent – he has proven that in every underlying receiving metric over his career – and the departure of Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson leaves a lot of targets up for grabs. Yes, targets are earned; fortunately, Moore is someone we know can earn them.

The Panthers' offense won’t suddenly become a juggernaut, but in a potential funnel offense, all we need is someone to play at an average to below-average level. P.J. Walker is providing that right now – making Moore a low-end WR2 with upside moving forward.

WR – Garrett Wilson

Wilson has hit season-highs in route participation in the last two games with Elijah Moore in the doghouse, and Corey Davis sidelined.

Week Routes TPRR Targets ADOT Air Yards EZ Tgts 3rd/4th Down Targets PA Targets PPR
1 56% 23% 16% 8.8 24% 50% 13% 13% 9.2
2 72% 39% 34% 12.9 42% 100% 42% 14% 30.0
3 66% 19% 16% 7.7 13% 0% 18% 29% 12.0
4 86% 17% 19% 7.2 16% 0% 29% 0% 6.1
5 73% 17% 17% 4.3 7% 0% 20% 33% 5.7
6 64% 38% 31% 6.2 29% 0% 80% 20% 1.8
7 88% 14% 17% 1.8 6% 0% 0% 25% 6.5
8 98% 17% 21% 8.4 17% 0% 18% 29% 17.5
YTD 74% 22% 21% 8.5 21% 33% 24% 19% 11.1

Wilson leads the team in TPRR (21%), target share (21%) and YPRR (1.76) – all positive signs for the first-round rookie, who should continue to operate in a lead role even once Davis returns (14% TPRR).

The Jets’ offense has been problematic due to their ability to stick to the run game in leading scripts. However, as bad as Zach Wilson has been at real football, he showed the ability to put up counting numbers (355 yards and 2 TDs passing) when forced in a trailing scenario in Week 8.

He also makes a great buy-low option and is available in 48% of Yahoo leagues. Wilson is a low-end WR3 with WR2 upside in games where the Jets trail.

WR – Kadarius Toney

Toney managers will have to practice patience, but the Chiefs don’t have a dominant target option behind Travis Kelce (24%).

  • JuJu Smith Schuster: 18%
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 15%
  • Mecole Hardman: 10%

We don’t know that the former first-round pick can pull things together, but that is a lackluster WR corps begging for someone to take over. Toney only ran 201 routes as a rookie, but he was dominant with a 26% TPRR and 2.06 YPRR.

Toney is available in 42% of Yahoo leagues. The upside in a pass-first offense with an elite QB is too high. Toney is a high-priority WR5 with WR1 upside if things go right.

WR – Terry McLaurin

McLaurin registered back-to-back season-highs in target share (26% and 29%) with Taylor Heinicke under center. The veteran receiver also leads the team with a 1.74 YPRR.

McLaurin moves into low-end WR2 territory.

TE – Greg Dulcich

Dulcich saw a season-high 91% route participation in Week 8. He has back-to-back 20%-plus target share games, and his yards per route run (YPRR) sits at 1.96. 

Historically, these marks all correlate strongly to mid-range TE1 finishes. However, the Broncos' offense isn’t a high-powered attack, and the target competition is high.

Dulcich moves from high-end TE2 status to low-end TE1 and is available in 58% of Yahoo leagues.


Downgrades

RB – Damien Harris

Harris was the lead early-down back before his hamstring injury in Week 5, but since his return has operated behind Rhamondre Stevenson. 

Week Snaps Rush Att Routes Targets TPRR SDD Snaps i5 Att LDD Snaps 2MIN Snaps PPR
1 39% 43% 31% 7% 20% 67% 0% 9% 0% 7.8
2 40% 54% 25% 6% 22% 60% 100% 43% 0% 16.7
3 38% 46% 29% 9% 27% 40% 50% 40% 0% 12.6
4 45% 55% 24% 5% 17% 33% 0% 0% 0% 15.4
5 10% 12% 4% 5% 100% 33% 0% 0% 0% 2.2
6 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0
7 17% 19% 14% 8% 40% 0% 0% 0% 0% 2.0
8 42% 34% 38% 7% 12% 67% 0% 12% 0% 7.2
YTD 29% 33% 21% 6% 22% 35% 29% 15% 0% 9.1

Harris is a mid-range RB3 trending towards RB4 territory.

WR – Elijah Moore

Moore (16% route participation) operated behind Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios and Jeff Smith in Week 8. He is clearly in Robert Saleh’s doghouse. 

He flashed significant talent signals as a rookie, and things could turn around quickly, but the near-term outlook isn’t strong for Moore outside of a trade before the deadline.

Moore is only an upside WR6 stash option moving forward.

TE – Tyler Higbee

Higbee left the game briefly with a neck injury but ended up playing 69% of snaps. His route participation hit a season-low of 37%, with the veteran staying in to block on 24% of passing plays. 

Higbee’s routes have been in free fall for three weeks, and the Rams offense is struggling – making him a mid-range TE2 until we see something change.


JUMP TO A TEAM:

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ARIZONA CARDINALS

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
21 17 1 2 16 3 14 8 14 21 23

The Cardinals have trailed by four or more points on 75% of plays – the most in the NFL. When they are in close or leading situations, they run the ball more than the NFL average, they just haven’t had many of those opportunities.

Pass-volume environment: Above Average

Run-volume environment: Average

Quarterbacks
Player Week Pass Att ADOT Adj Comp % TTT YPA Play Action Designed Rush Att Scrambles Sacks i5 Att Checkdown PPR PPR Rank
Kyler Murray 5 42 7.0 76% 2.2 6.0 29% 12% 2% 2% 0% 0% 17.2 11
6 37 9.4 71% 2.9 6.0 15% 25% 9% 13% 50% 3% 17.9 12
7 29 7.9 75% 2.6 7.0 28% 24% 3% 6% 50% 3% 14.8 15
8 44 7.2 80% 2.5 7.4 23% 12% 8% 8% 0% 7% 26.6 5
YTD 325 7.2 76% 2.5 6.1 19% 18% 5% 5% 36% 4% 19.4 6

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 PPR Rank
James Conner 5 34% 36% 31% 3% 7% 20% 0% 42% 25% 7.3 40
6 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
7 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
8 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
YTD 32% 27% 24% 6% 19% 45% 27% 33% 19% 10.1 45
Eno Benjamin 5 53% 32% 56% 11% 16% 50% 0% 50% 46% 14.3 23
6 87% 58% 83% 9% 8% 100% 50% 95% 81% 9.4 21
7 74% 41% 75% 18% 21% 50% 0% 91% 0% 21.3 6
8 74% 53% 74% 12% 14% 75% 0% 75% 68% 8.5 35
YTD 50% 33% 47% 9% 16% 30% 9% 50% 48% 10.1 24
Darrel Williams 5 13% 12% 11% 0% 0% 30% 0% 8% 29% 0.9 73
6 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
7 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
8 27% 29% 25% 7% 20% 25% 0% 33% 32% 3.4 51
YTD 17% 11% 16% 2% 12% 25% 9% 20% 31% 4.2 77
Keaontay Ingram 5 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
6 13% 13% 11% 0% 0% 0% 0% 5% 19% 0.7 66
7 29% 28% 25% 7% 22% 50% 25% 9% 0% 12.1 25
8 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
YTD 5% 6% 4% 1% 14% 2% 9% 2% 3% 6.4 88
  • Monitoring: Keaontay Ingram didn’t play with Darrel Williams returning from injury. Eno Benjamin remained the lead option, but we could see James Conner back in Week 9.

Rest of season:

  • James Conner: mid-range RB2
  • Eno Benjamin: stash RB5; mid-range RB2 while James Conner is out
  • Darrel Williams: free agent
Receivers and tight ends
Player Pos Week Routes TPRR Targets ADOT Air Yards EZ Tgts 3rd/4th Down Targets PA Targets PPR PPR Rank
DeAndre Hopkins WR 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
8 100% 25% 32% 12.8 56% 50% 11% 38% 33.9 2
YTD 24% 33% 9% 11.0 14% 7% 3% 44% 27.1 65
Marquise Brown WR 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
8 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
YTD 72% 23% 20% 11.3 32% 21% 28% 20% 18.3 14
Rondale Moore WR 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 71
8 98% 15% 20% 1.4 4% 0% 11% 25% 23.4 6
YTD 55% 16% 11% 4.5 7% 14% 10% 22% 11.0 62
A.J. Green WR 5 76% 15% 13% 14.8 28% 0% 33% 40% 5.0 76
6 70% 12% 12% 10.3 13% 100% 23% 0% 2.7 76
7 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 0
8 39% 5% 2% 28.0 9% 50% 11% 0% 0.0 101
YTD 49% 12% 7% 11.8 12% 21% 13% 14% 2.6 125
Greg Dortch WR 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 54
8 33% 17% 7% 0.7 1% 0% 22% 33% 3.2 69
YTD 51% 15% 9% 4.6 6% 7% 8% 25% 7.3 57
Robbie Anderson WR 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% 0.0 103
8 10% 50% 7% 26.7 27% 0% 11% 0% 0.0 99
YTD 4% 16% 1% 30.5 6% 0% 7% 25% 5.0 82
Zach Ertz TE 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 26
8 93% 10% 12% 4.2 7% 0% 0% 40% 13.4 6
YTD 88% 18% 19% 7.4 20% 29% 17% 16% 11.8 3
Trey McBride TE 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 55
8 16% 0% 0% 0.0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0.0 67
YTD 14% 6% 1% 4.0 1% 0% 0% 0% 0.9 87
  • Downgrade: Robbie Anderson’s role didn’t expand in his second game with the Cardinals. The Cardinals trailed by four-plus points every snap – so this is a concerning development. For now it looks like the WR3 spot in Arizona is a rotational approach. When Marquise Brown returns, Anderson’s role could be completely blocked. He is dropable in most leagues.
  • Upgrade/Waiver: Rondale Moore has eight-plus targets in three out of four games. He has clearly taken over the No. 2 WR role with a 95% route participation since Week 5. While Marquise Brown is out, he is a mid-range WR3. Somehow, Moore is only rostered in 65% of Yahoo! leagues. FAB: 10-20%
  • Monitoring: Zach Ertz has 11% and 12% target shares in two games with DeAndre Hopkins back. The veteran TE remained involved with Marquise Brown bogarting targets earlier this season, but Hopkins has taken that to a new level with 50% and 32% target shares.

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: mid-range WR3 while Marquise Brown is out; upside WR4 after
  • Robbie Anderson: stash WR6
  • 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 30 32 3 30 26 19 32 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 5 25 8.8 63% 2.7 5.9 47% 10% 12% 15% 0% 0% 16.0 14
6 14 6.1 93% 2.4 9.2 41% 13% 6% 12% 100% 0% 24.2 5
7 13 9.5 73% 3.3 9.5 32% 12% 16% 16% 0% 0% 12.1 20
8 28 10.5 81% 3.1 9.0 61% 14% 3% 6% 0% 14% 24.4 8
YTD 179 10.0 69% 3.1 8.0 48% 14% 8% 9% 43% 4% 17.2 9

Rest of season: 

  • Marcus Mariota: high-end QB2

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