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 15.
Last week's article highlighted the likes of Amon-Ra St. Brown, K.J. Osborn, Laquon Treadwell, Breshad Perriman, Tee Higgins, Jalen Guyton, Chase Claypool, Darrel Williams and Saquon Barkley as players whose receiving usage was likely to transform into fantasy production sooner than later.
Rate of routes run per dropback | Week 14
|Player||Routes run||% of routes run per dropback|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||46||98%|
|Ray-Ray McCloud III||46||90%|
|Amon-Ra St. Brown||37||88%|
Donovan Peoples-Jones was a sneaky start in Week 14, and he came through against a very banged up Baltimore Ravens secondary. The second-year wideout caught five passes for 90 yards while running a route on 97% of Baker Mayfield’s dropbacks. That’s WR1 usage.
With Deebo Samuel operating more like a running back than WR, Aiyuk has become the de facto No. 1 wide receiver for the 49ers, as indicated by his 96% route participation and 11 targets in Week 14.
He’s an extremely strong fantasy WR2 option versus Atlanta, which has allowed the third-most fantasy points to WRs over the last four weeks.
Was the process behind Jamison Crowder correct in Week 14? Yes, it was. He ran 50 routes — top-10 on the week — and was in a plus-matchup against the Saints. However, the seven targets didn't translate to points with Braxton “Target Magnet” Berrios seeing 10 of his own while running a route on less than 50% of dropbacks.
It’s frustrating for sure, but with no Corey Davis or Elijah Moore, you could do worse than Crowder the next few weeks against the likes of Dolphins, Jaguars and Buccaneers. Miami ranks second in the NFL in completions to opposing slot WRs this season.
Ray-Ray McCloud’s increase in snaps is solely based on Chase Claypool getting benched last Thursday night. Don’t read too much into it unless we get confirmation Claypool will be limited. I can’t imagine that will be the case because Pittsburgh is still “alive” in the playoff hunt, and Claypool gives them a much better chance of winning.
With Adam Thielen sidelined for Thursday night football, K.J. Osborn ran a route on 88% of Kirk Cousins’ dropbacks and caught three of eight targets for 83 yards plus a touchdown for a second straight week. Be sure the second-year wideout is not available on waivers with Thielen’s status for Week 15 not guaranteed.
After a down week in usage, Odell Beckham Jr.‘s routes spiked fro 59% to 89%. The polarizing wide receiver is an essential every-down player in the Los Angeles Rams offense and has scored three touchdowns in his last three games. Both OBJ and Van Jefferson — 92% route participation in Week 14 — should be trusted throughout the fantasy playoffs with Seattle, Minnesota and Baltimore rounding out their playoff schedule.
Rate of routes run per dropback | Last four weeks