Snaps, targets, and opportunities (rushing attempts + targets) tell us a story. It’s up to us to decipher the meaning of that story. Anyone can just read data, and everyone has the same access to it, so we must interpret this data, add some context, and determine the meaning of the story told to us. Every week, that will be my goal with this article, and I’ll try to highlight the most critical takeaways from the week. All data below is pulled from either@JordanBackes33 Destination Devy Utilization stats, Dave Wright’s (@FFSpaceman) 2023 Weekly NFL Database, Fantasydata, Pro-Football-Reference, Sleeper, PFF, DLF, Playerprofiler, or ESPN. After two weeks, we can see trendlines in the data and hopefully not faultlines in our dynasty roster foundation.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
I’m not going to dive deep into Puka Nacua‘s stats. By now, I assume you know what he’s doing is unprecedented for any rookie wide receiver.
Instead, I want to focus on how to trade for Nacua if you’re trying to add him to your roster. The perfect trade bait to lure Nacua is Cooper Kupp or a Kupp-like player. Kupp is an aging asset with a recent history of injuries. Kupp won’t score points for at least two more weeks, which is significant to note when you consider that Kupp’s value primarily comes from production, not trade value. I’d be more willing to risk selling a player like Kupp rather than future draft capital, but if you do want to move future draft capital, make sure it’s, at best, a future mid to late rookie first-rounder.
Stop worrying if you’re concerned with A.J. Brown‘s relatively quiet start. His underlying peripherals are still fine. Brown has a 30.8% target share, compared to a 28.8% share for Devonta Smith. Brown also leads in targets per route run with a 25% share compared to 22% for Smith. It might feel like Smith has seen all the big play opportunities thus far, but that’s not the case, as Brown is averaging 14.1 air yards per target to Smiths’ 14.9. Smith has the advantage with deep receptions (20+ yards) two to zero over Brown, but it’s too early in the season to be overly concerned with that.
Don’t look now, but Michael Pittman is now third among wide receivers with a 32.9% target share (or 33% if you’re rounding up).
Coming into the season, there was some concern that a mobile rookie quarterback could spell doom for Pittman’s volume, but Pittman also ranks fourth in total targets among receivers with 21. Even after Anthony Richardson was forced from the game early in the second quarter with a concussion, Pittman didn’t miss a beat with nine targets from Gardner Minshew in about three-quarters of play. With no other Colt garnering more than a 17.1% (hello, Josh Downs) target share so far this season, Pittman could be a sneaky hammer this year.
Last week, we checked in on the rookie wide receivers; this week, let’s check in on the second-year guys. Three second-year receivers have captured a 20% or more target share: Chris Olave (32%), Garrett Wilson (30%), and George Pickens. What’s truly encouraging for Pickens is that he captured a 34.5% share Monday night in the Steelers’ first game since Diontae Johnson was placed on the IR. Last season, when handed a similar advantageous situation with Chase Claypool being dealt away, Pickens’ target share didn’t increase, staying stagnant at 16%. Targets are earned, and it’s encouraging to see Pickens earning targets in Johnson’s absence.
Cooper Neill | Getty Images
Jahan Dotson is a regression cautionary tale. Last year, Dotson averaged 10.9 PPG on a 15.1% target share, while this year, he’s seen his average scoring dip to 7.1 PPG despite his target share increasing to 19% and despite his average targets per game increasing from 5.03 to 6.0 this year. So why has Dotson’s scoring dipped significantly? Touchdown regression. In 2022, Dotson’s 20% touchdown rate (touchdowns per receptions) ranked second amongst all wide receivers with 20 or more targets. This year, Dotson has zero touchdowns. Dotson will probably not rock a 0% TD rate the rest of the year, so we should expect some positive regression to his fantasy scoring.
One rookie wide receiver, other than Puka Nacua, caught my attention last week. Jayden Reed put up 19.7 fantasy points and scored two receiving touchdowns. It’s not the receiving touchdowns that caught my eye, though, as it would be insane to expect anyone to maintain a two-touchdown-a-week receiving average. No, what I found most encouraging about Reed was that he had a 44% target per route run share this week with eight targets on 18 routes run. On the season, Reed is 14th overall among wide receivers, averaging at least two targets per game. His route participation is a little low at 66.7%, and if that sees an uptick, Reed could put up consistent WR3 numbers.
D’Andre Swift looked like a monster Thursday night with a 75.3% snap share while commanding 77.5% of the running back opportunities (rushing attempts + target). Swift capitalized on his high workload with 181 total yards and a rushing touchdown, but make sure you think about the context surrounding his night, as my DTi5 co-host Scott Conner noted in the DTi5 discord channel on Friday. Kenny Gainwell was inactive, and Boston Scott was forced to leave the game with a concussion after five rushing attempts (for 40 yards). While it’s reasonable to expect Swift will see more than the 13% opportunity share he saw in Week 1, it’s unlikely he’ll continue to see a 77.5% share when all Eagle running backs are healthy. I’m comfortable penciling in Swift as an RB2, assuming health.
Rachaad White is off to exactly the type of season you would hope for if you were buying in on him this off-season. He ranks 14th among running backs with a 68% opportunity share (rushing attempts % + target %). What’s truly encouraging is that White has had 17 rushing attempts in back-to-back games, and after a quiet Week 1 as a receiver (6.9%) target share, he was targeted five times (15.6% target share) this week. If White is going to put up RB2 numbers, he’s going to need the target volume to push him there.
Jenna Watson | IndyStar
Four running backs played on at least 95% of offensive snaps this past week. You could have guessed Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley were two of the four, but if you foresaw Kyren Williams and Zack Moss as the other two, you should start playing the lottery. A week after Deon Jackson got the start for the Colts due to Moss being out due to injury, Jackson didn’t see a single touch on Sunday. No other Colt running back saw a single offensive snap other than Zack Moss. This led to a league-leading 100% opportunity share for Moss in Week 2 on 22 total touches (18 rushing attempts + four receptions), and Moss capitalized, turning that into 107 yards and one touchdown for 22 fantasy points. Considering how well he performed, how poorly Jackson performed in Week 1, and the unknown return date of Jonathan Taylor if Moss is available on your waiver wires in redraft leagues, I’d place at least 20% of my available FAAB on him. One note of caution is that Moss did most of his damage this week after Anthony Richardson left the game with a concussion. Moss had one more rushing attempt (four to three) before Richardson left the game.
The Kyren Williams takeover is complete in Los Angeles. Cam Akers was a healthy scratch, and the Rams are looking to trade him (is this 2022?). Williams played on 95% of offensive snaps, captured every running back rushing attempt, and was targeted ten times. Williams is unavailable on any Dynasty League waiver wires and is likely unavailable on redraft ones; you can and should pick up his backup if you have a free roster space. Ronnie Rivers only had a 5% snap share and is the next man up with retread Royce Freeman and rookie Zach Evans (who has been inactive the first two weeks), the only backs on the Rams roster.
Thank you, as always, for reading! If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to let me know. You can follow me on Twitter/X @ShaneIsTheWorst.