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Week 18 fantasy football dynasty pickups, DFS targets and start or sit roster decisions based on PFF routes run

Seattle, Washington, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) rushes for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Opportunity is king in fantasy football, and chasing target volume has always been a winning strategy — especially in PPR leagues. PFF premium stats offers proprietary data that goes well beyond the box score, including routes run for every player on the depth chart.


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Targeting players who are running a high percentage of routes is a good strategy for identifying breakout candidates, DFS targets and the best waiver wire pickups. This weekly report will look at the previous week's rate of routes run per dropback compared to larger samples to find sleeper running backs, wide receivers and tight ends who are garnering more or less opportunities in the passing game heading into Week 17.

Injuries are piling up for players like Michael Carter, Michael Gallup, MyCole Pruitt, Ronald Jones, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Kyle Pitts and Ricky Seals-Jones, which will open opportunities for replacements to step up in Week 18. Same goes for playoff teams like the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles potentially resting their starters.

Last week's article highlighted the likes of Devin Singletary, Darrel Williams and Tyler Higbee as players whose receiving usage was likely to transform into fantasy production sooner than later.

This data does not include the Monday Night Football game featuring the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Rate of routes run per dropback | Week 17
Player Routes run % of routes run per dropback
Marvin Jones Jr. 31 100%
Odell Beckham Jr. 37 100%
Robby Anderson 36 100%
Cooper Kupp 37 100%
David Sills 17 100%
DeVonta Smith 29 100%
Justin Jefferson 44 100%
D.J. Moore 35 97%
Tyler Lockett 33 97%
Olamide Zaccheaus 32 97%
Michael Pittman Jr. 31 97%
Tee Higgins 49 96%
Ja'Marr Chase 49 96%
K.J. Osborn 42 95%
Terry McLaurin 42 95%
Jeff Smith 34 94%
Tyler Boyd 48 94%
Kenny Golladay 16 94%
Mike Williams 31 94%
Amari Cooper 46 94%
Brandin Cooks 38 93%
Amon-Ra St. Brown 38 93%
Deebo Samuel 25 93%
Brandon Aiyuk 25 93%
Rashod Bateman 37 93%
CeeDee Lamb 45 92%
Gabriel Davis 33 92%
Christian Kirk 43 91%
DeVante Parker 42 91%
Jaylen Waddle 42 91%
Courtland Sutton 31 91%
Chris Conley 37 90%
Stefon Diggs 32 89%
Kristian Wilkerson 32 89%
Jakobi Meyers 32 89%
Zay Jones 30 88%
Darnell Mooney 37 88%
Tyreek Hill 35 88%
Marquise Brown 35 88%
A.J. Green 41 87%
Davante Adams 40 87%
Braxton Berrios 31 86%
Keelan Cole 31 86%
A.J. Brown 18 86%

Braxton Berrios ran a route on 88% of the Jets' dropbacks and commanded a 23% target share in Jamison Crowder‘s absence last week. With Crowder out again in Week 17, the plucky Berrios stepped up big once again, commanding a 35% target share without even leading the New York Jets in routes run. He finished the day catching eight of 12 targets for 65 yards to go along with two touchdowns (one rushing and receiving).

He’s worthy of a Week 18 addition or dynasty stash because of his ability to command targets at a high rate. Berrios’ 24% target rate per route run over the last two seasons ranks 14th among WRs with at least 100 targets.

The Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants were forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel for wide receivers this week due to injuries at the position. David Sills and Olamide Zaccheaus both ran a route on at least 97% of their team’s dropbacks, but neither did anything with their increase in playing time. Stay away from these bad offenses.

The Giants are about as dysfunctional as any offense in 2021. Their prized free-agent acquisition, Kenny Golladay, ran a route on 94% of dropbacks and saw just one target from Mike Glennon. He still hasn’t scored a touchdown for his new team. Woof.

Amon-Ra St. Brown will not be denied. The Day 3 rookie silenced the haters in Week 17 by continuing his scorching streak of fantasy production with Lions backup quarterback Tim Boyle under center for the second straight week.

St. Brown commanded a 31% target share en route to nine catches for 91 yards plus a touchdown. The first-year WR has a 30% target share in his past five games — 11 per game — which ranks top-five in the NFL.

The Baltimore Ravens’ playoffs hopes are on life support as they look to try and sneak into one of the final wild card spots. They need a lot of help, but they will surely be full-go in Week 18 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And that means that Rashod Bateman is firmly in play in DFS and Week 18 lineups. The rookie wideout has finally earned a full-time role on the Ravens offense, running a route on 88% of dropbacks over the last four weeks. In Week 17, Bateman led the Ravens with a 31% target share and continued to be more efficient than fellow wideout Marquise Brown.

Bateman has more receiving yards than Brown over the last four weeks despite the latter seeing 12 more targets. Come this time next season, I expect Bateman to supplant Brown as the Ravens’ No. 1 wide receiver.

Without Emmanuel Sanders in Week 17, Gabriel Davis ran a route on 92% of Josh Allen‘s dropbacks and ran more routes than Stefon Diggs. Davis is a surefire bet to a breakout third-year season, with Sanders a 2022 impending free agent. It will be interesting to see if Buffalo just opts to use Davis over Sanders in Week 18 against the New York Jets even if the longtime veteran is healthy.

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