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Week 17 fantasy football best waiver wire pickups, DFS targets and start or sit roster decisions based on PFF routes run

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman (11) runs with the ball in the second half against the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Volume remains king in fantasy football, and chasing targets 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 run 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.

Last week's article highlighted the likes of Ja’Marr Chase, Rashod Bateman, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Justin Jackson as players whose receiving usage was likely to transform into fantasy production sooner than later.

This data does not include Monday Night Football featuring the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins.


Rate of routes run per dropback | Week 16
Player Routes run % of routes run per dropback
Davante Adams 35 100%
Cooper Kupp 38 100%
Michael Pittman Jr. 37 100%
Van Jefferson 38 100%
Justin Jefferson 43 98%
Darnell Mooney 42 98%
N'Keal Harry 38 97%
Odell Beckham Jr. 37 97%
Robby Anderson 53 96%
Josh Palmer 42 95%
Brandon Aiyuk 37 95%
Ja'Marr Chase 52 95%
Allen Lazard 33 94%
DeVonta Smith 30 94%
Laquon Treadwell 43 93%
Marquise Brown 42 93%
Terry McLaurin 37 93%
Jakobi Meyers 36 92%
Josh Reynolds 32 91%
Rashod Bateman 41 91%
Christian Kirk 40 91%
Damiere Byrd 39 91%
D.K. Metcalf 29 91%
Emmanuel Sanders 47 90%
Diontae Johnson 43 90%
Marvin Jones Jr. 41 89%
Tyler Boyd 49 89%
D.J. Moore 49 89%
Tim Patrick 24 89%
Jarvis Landry 39 89%
Donovan Peoples-Jones 39 89%
Amon-Ra St. Brown 31 89%

Michael Pittman Jr. is the key cog to the Indianapolis Colts passing attack. The second-year wide receiver ranks third in percentage of routes run per dropback and owns a league-leading 39% target share over his last four games

Simply put: Whenever Indy is forced to throw the football, Pittman is getting the rock.

Van Jefferson fell victim to unfortunate circumstances in Week 16, as production did not follow his heavy usage. Not only did he run a route on 100% of Matthew Stafford’s dropbacks, but the second-year wide receiver commanded six targets and a team-high 119 air yards. However, just one of his targets from an erratic Stafford was deemed catchable.

Jefferson is a strong candidate to bounce back against a decimated Baltimore Ravens secondary in Week 17.

If Mike Williams can’t return from the COVID/reserve list by the Los Angeles Chargers’ next game, Josh Palmer could be looking at another full-time role. The rookie led the squad in routes run in Week 16, going five for six on his targets and compiling 43 receiving yards and a touchdown.

He’s been productive in both starts he's made this year when Williams/Keenan Allen have missed time, averaging 6.5 targets, 54.5 receiving yards and 14 fantasy points per game.

Williams is not vaccinated, so he seems unlikely to play based on the 10-day quarantine protocol for unvaxxed players.

Without Marquez-Valdes Scantling in the lineup on Christmas Day, Allen Lazard ran a route on 94% of Aaron Rodgers’ dropbacks, operating as the clear-cut No. 2 receiver behind Davante Adams.

If MVS misses more time, Lazard can be trusted in fantasy in Week 17 with a plus-matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, who have allowed the most fantasy points per game to WRs this season. Valdes-Scantling should also be added once he is activated off the COVID/reserve list.

Rashod Bateman ran the most routes for the Ravens in Week 15 but finished with just one target and one catch for 5 yards. The high-end usage was a sign the rookie had earned a full-time role in Baltimore’s offense, which was very apparent in Week 16.

The 2021 first-rounder ran a route on 91% of Josh Johnson’s dropbacks, hauling in four of five targets for 26 yards and a touchdown. Bateman will be on the back-end fantasy WR3 radar versus the Rams, who rank fifth in receptions allowed to WRs over the last four weeks.


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