In a way, it's fitting that I've unretired from fantasy football writing mere months after hanging up my calculator and spreadsheets. After all, I grew up idolizing the play of Brett Favre, and if anyone knows how to unretire, it's that guy.
I'm back for the rest of the season here at NFL Fantasy, with my primary focus being this revamped Targets and Touches column, as well as Trade Calls (which you can read on Wednesday!). But back to this article. We're focusing on different stats for 2018, as you'll see below. This column will no longer be a restatement of catches, yards, and receptions (If you want those, check the box score). Instead, I hope to bring you some more actionable data. For running backs, that means looking at total touches and playing time. I'll give you their touch total this week, their touch totals from the past few weeks, as well as the percentage of offensive plays during which they were on the field in the given week (per Next Gen Stats). Here's what that will look like:
Got it? Good. Now, for the passing games, I'll provide you with two key stats: target share and air yards share. The target share (TS) represents the percentage of the team's targets that player saw in the given week. Air yards, if you aren't familiar with the term, represent "the total number of yards thrown toward a receiver on a play in which he is targeted, both complete and incomplete. If you add them up over a game or a season, you get a receiver's total Air Yards." As such, the air yards share accounts for the receiver's percentage of the quarterback's total intended air yards. The perfect marriage for a fantasy wideout is a healthy target share and plenty of air yards. For more on why you should care about air yards, read this. But if you're too lazy and trust us that air yards matter (#respect), here's how the pass-catchers will look below:
Our hope is this data will give you more actionable information to use when contemplating your starting lineup, adds/drops, and trades. But feel free to give me feedback on Twitter @AlexGelhar. Now, let's dive into what Week 3 had to offer:
percent TS = percentage of total team passing targets player received
percent AY = percentage of total team air yards player received
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns
Crowell and Powell split work pretty evenly, as has been the case all season. This was Crowell's second game with two touchdown... but also his second-consecutive game with 35 or fewer rushing yards.
It's quite clear through three weeks that Enunwa is Sam Darnold's favorite target. Enunwa owns a 31 percent target share on the season and trails only Terrelle Pryor in air yards... by a single yard. Robby Anderson is still a big-play threat but isn't seeing the volume to be trusted with a weekly lineup spot.
This is Carlos Hyde's backfield. He's handled 75 percent of the backfield touches through three weeks.
Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers
As expected, Bernard was the workhorse back with Joe Mixon sidelined. We should expect nothing less until Mixon returns.
This is the second week in a row where Boyd has both cleared 100 air yards and led the team in air yards share. His third-year breakout season remains on track and he looks like a weekly flex/WR3 option moving forward. This could be a turning point for Eifert, who set season-highs in air yards and target share. Those looking for a streaming option next week could consider Eifert against Atlanta in Week 4.
Run CMC's usage was a shocking, but a pleasant turn of events. He rushed the ball 28 times against the Bengals, obliterating his previous career high of 15. C.J. Anderson's playing time and touches have dropped with each passing week. The offense only threw the ball 24 times, which may have contributed to McCaffrey's decreased passing volume (career-low two targets).
Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins
What a mess. Aaron Jones' returned completely muddied this backfield. He looked the most explosive but saw the field the least. Ty Montgomery led the way in touches for the first time this season as he was used as an outlet for Aaron Rodgers in the passing game (Rodgers was under siege all afternoon). Proceed with caution with this group until a leader emerges.
Drops killed this unit in Week 3, as both Randall Cobb and Davante Adams missed catches they normally make. Geronimo Allison turned his modest air yardage share into big production, scoring on a 64-yard catch-and-run play. Jimmy Graham looks to be finding his place in this offense after a disappearing act in Week 1, with target shares of 19 percent and 16 percent in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively.
This game got away from Chris Thompson almost immediately. Washington jumped out to a big first-half lead, creating an Adrian Peterson-friendly game script for pretty much the rest of the game. Alex Smith only threw 20 passes, and will likely target Thompson more heavily in closer or come-from-behind situations.
This was the first game for Washington where Chris Thompson didn't lead the team in target share. Alex Smith, ladies and gentleman. Among the wide receivers, Paul Richardson looks like the best bet in fantasy. He leads the team in air yards by a wide margin through three weeks, so the big play is at least in the realm of possibilities.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
With Devonta Freeman sidelined nursing a knee injury, Coleman has been the de facto workhorse, with mixed results. HIs 47 total yards today don't inspire a ton of confidence, but he did catch a touchdown to even things out.
Have a day, Calvin Ridley. The rookie saw seven targets combined in Weeks 1-2, then exploded for 7-146-3 on eight targets against the Saints on Sunday. He nearly tripled his air yards from Weeks 1 and 2 as well. Is this a new phase of the Atlanta offense, or a one-week blip? We may have to wait and see how Ridley is deployed next week before getting too excited about the rookie's weekly viability. He's averaging 60 percent of the offensive snaps per game.
Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles
The Colts backfield has done very little fantasy-wise, but Hines' 71 percent snap share is worth watching. He's a dual-threat running back, who could become a flex option if his playing time and opportunities rise.
This was supposed to be Eric Ebron's week, and the fact that he led the Colts in target share and air yards is proof that the process was right in starting Ebron. However, the results just didn't hit. The Colts passing attack was held extremely in check by the Eagles, resulting in this overall lackluster showing.
Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings
I could write some words about this group, but I think the box score itself speaks volumes:
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins
Having not seen much of this game as I write this article, I have no explanation for what happened in this backfield. But through two weeks anyone trusting either of these backs regularly was playing with fire.
Stills is the only constant in this passing attack through three weeks. Five separate players saw 12 percent of the targets in this game, with Stills and Drake being the only two players to see more. Don't get cute and add Jakeem Grant or Albert Wilson just yet. Unless they connect on another wide receiver-option next week, THEN we can consider them.
Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens
Philip Lindsay's ejection for throwing a punch shifted the workload in this backfield quite a bit. Freeman found the end zone and Booker picked up some slack in the passing game, but there's not much else to take from this game.
Sanders found paydirt on a 35-yard rushing score, but otherwise the passing game faltered. It seems Sanders and Thomas will go as Case Keenum goes. Today was not one of Keenum's better outings.
Collins was a favorite of the fantasy industry heading into this season, so it was nice seeing him handle a sizable workload and get into the end zone. Allen doesn't appear to be going anywhere, though, and will serve mostly as a cap on Collins' ceiling. If Allen starts receiving more opportunities he'll merit some flex consideration in PPR.
New York Giants at Houston Texans
This is Saquon Barkley's backfield. He left briefly with a minor injury but returned shortly thereafter.
It's encouraging that Miller is seeing the field so often and seeing plenty of touchdowns, but his yardage totals are suffering with the Texans offense currently lost at sea. He found the end zone this week on a garbage time reception, though.
San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs
Breida dodged what initially appeared to be a serious injury and came back to rip off a few nice runs. Unfortunately, this backfield is a full-on committee between Breida and Morris. Breida's home-run ability gives him a slight edge for fantasy.
The biggest story in this backfield is Hunt's disappearing act in the passing game. He has three targets and one catch through three weeks. Last year, he averaged just under four targets per game.
All hail Patrick Mahomes. He's shown a remarkable knack for spreading the ball around in the end zone (nine different players have caught a touchdown) but the vast majority of his targets work through these three players. All three own 21-plus percent of the team's targets on the year, and no other player on the team has seen more than 6 percent.
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams
Williams' usage is tough to gauge right now, but he's caught three touchdowns in the last two weeks and set a season-high with seven targets this week. He could be a name to add and stash off waivers if he's still available.
Brown took some carries during garbage time. This is Gurley's backfield.
What a blessing Sean McVay is to the fantasy football world. His receivers all have consistent roles and share the spotlight. Through three weeks each has north of 46 PPR points, with the leader clocking in at just 55.1. Until this offense shows signs of slowing down it'll be hard to sit anyone from this trio.
Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks
Ezekiel Elliott is the only dynamic player on this offense and it's honestly surprising he hasn't seen even more volume given the struggles in the passing game.
On the season, Beasley leads this team with 132 receiving yards and Tavon Austin leads the team with two receiving touchdowns... the only two receiving touchdowns on the entire team. This is a group to avoid.
Last week, we were told that Carson was "gassed" from special teams work which was why he didn't receive any second-half touches. Well, looks like Carson's conditioning paid off this week! (/sarcasm). For the record, Carson played as many special teams snaps this week as he did last week (per Next Gen Stats).
Doug Baldwin doesn't appear close to returning quite yet, which could put Lockett on the weekly flex radar. He leads the team in nearly every receiving category, most notably air yards and touchdowns.
Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals
Howard is averaging a paltry 3.4 yards per carry on the season, but he's the clear-cut featured back for Matt Nagy. He's received over 74 percent of the total backfield opportunities (carries and targets) thus far.
Perhaps it was a matchup the coaching staff liked, but 76 percent of Gabriel's air yards on the season came in this game alone. Robinson remains the No. 1 and most reliable fantasy asset.
David Johnson, RB - 16 touches (Wk 2: 19, Wk 1: 16), 73 percent snap share
Chase Edmunds, RB - 5 touches (Wk 2: 1, Wk 1: 4), 15 percent snap share
Seals-Jones could find himself in consistent streaming territory soon. Kirk is a name to potentially circle for the waiver wire in deeper leagues. Larry Fitzgerald deserves better than this.
New England Patriots at Detroit Lions
The combination of Michel returning to health and Burkhead piling up injuries seems to be giving the rookie a chance to run away with this battle for touches. Nobody would judge you if you dropped Burkhead for a position of need this week.
Coming into this game, it felt like a Riddick game-script as the Lions were likely to be playing catch up early. Whoops. Instead, rookie Kerryon Johnson asserted himself early and gave the Lions their first 100-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. Fingers crossed this is a genie-out-of-the-bottle moment and Johnson can be the lead back the rest of the way. He looked special on Sunday night.
The Lions didn't take to the air as frequently as we've come to expect, as they controlled this game from the outset. That said, Jones found himself some positive regression in the touchdown department while Golladay's breakout campaign stayed on track.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have a problem in the backfield. Barber, the team's lead back, has just 131 total yards on 44 touches through three weeks.
The Fitzmagic disappeared at times on Monday night, but overall got the job done. Evans had a monster day in terms of air yards, seeing 256 by the time the final whistle blew. It's hard to say what will happen to this group if Jameis Winston returns under center next week, but this group is too talented to fall completely flat.