Fantasy Football: 12 utilization stats to know from Week 1

Fantasy Football: 12 utilization stats to know from Week 1

Fantasy football draft strategy tips and advice

Fantasy Football: 12 utilization stats to know from Week 1

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NFL football is back!

Week 1 is in the books and fantasy football managers have to be careful to not overreact too much after the first weekend of football.

Before you make any roster cuts or waiver claims for Week 2, here are 12 utilization notes to know following Week 1.

12
New Orleans Saints: Taysom Hill has big "tight end" upside

(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

Hill is listed as a “tight end” on the Saints’ depth chart, but they still use him as a Swiss Army Knife. His biggest value comes on the ground as he rushed four times for 81 yards and a touchdown on Sunday while adding one reception for two yards. Obviously, fantasy managers shouldn’t expect 80 rushing yards from Hill every week, but he’ll be a threat to score on the ground every week. That makes him a valuable “tight end” in fantasy.

11
Los Angeles Rams: TE Tyler Higbee a favorite target?

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

The Rams fell far behind the Bills and L.A. had to throw to try to catch up. So we probably shouldn’t expect 11 targets for Higbee consistently, but the fact that he was Matthew Stafford’s second-favorite target behind Cooper Kupp (15 targets) is a trend worth monitoring.

10
Pittsburgh Steelers: TE Pat Freiermuth gets double-digit targets

(Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports)

It can be dangerous to read too much into a one-game sample size, but much like Higbee, Freiermuth was one of his QB’s favorite targets in Week 1. Mitch Trubisky targeted Freiermuth 10 times on Sunday (second-most on the team). If your TE1 is injured or under performing, Freiermuth might be available on the waiver wire.

9
Cleveland Browns: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones a favorite target?

(Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Peoples-Jones drew 11 targets in Jacoby Brissett’s first game with the Browns, nearly double the targets of Amari Cooper (six). But once again with the one-game sample size, it’s a situation to monitor rather than a guarantee of future usage.

8
Baltimore Ravens: WR Devin Duvernay breakout on the way?

(Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Duvernay averaged just under three targets per game last season. He was targeted four times on Sunday and scored twice. That’s only one more target than his 2021 average and it’s foolish to chase fluky touchdowns after Week 1, but he’s another WR worth monitoring early in the season as Baltimore seeks a downfield replacement for Hollywood Brown.

7
Tennessee Titans: WR Kyle Philips taking A.J. Brown's targets?

(The Tennessean, USA TODAY Network)

Following Brown’s departure this offseason, Phillips has an opportunity to help fill a void at receiver. The rookie was targeted nine times on Sunday, four more times than his next-closest teammate. Philips turned those targets into six receptions for 66 yards in his NFL debut.

6
Los Angeles Chargers: WR DeAndre Carter filling in for Keenan Allen?

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Allen suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday, which gives him an uncertain status for Thursday Night Football in Week 2. With Allen sidelined, the veteran Carter took advantage of his four targets on Sunday, totaling three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Playing in a productive offense, Carter will quickly become fantasy relevant if Allen misses any games.

5
Los Angeles Rams: RB Cam Akers a no-show

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Akers is a top usage storyline this week after after he tallied just three carries in the season opener and failed to gain any yards. Akers didn’t draw any targets in the passing game, either, as Darrell Henderson (55 snaps) dominated the backfield rotation. Akers (12 snaps) barely played, maybe in part because of his underwhelming pass blocking?

It’s not time to cut Akers just yet, and he won’t have any trade value, but this is certainly an alarming start to his season.

4
San Francisco 49ers: RB Jeff Wilson replacing Elijah Mitchell?

(Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports)

Mitchell suffered a knee injury in the 49ers’ season opener, and Wilson appears to be the next man up in San Francisco’s backfield. QB Trey Lance actually led the team in rushes (13), followed by WR Deebo Samuel (eight), but Wilson had the most snaps (40) and rushes (nine) among the team’s running backs.

3
Houston Texans: RB Rex Burkhead leading backfield

(AP Photo/Matt Patterson)

Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce was a preseason darling in fantasy circles, but it was the veteran Burkhead who led the team’s backfield in Week 1. Burkhead earned more snaps (50), carries (14) and targets (eight) than Pierce (20/11/1). Game flow will factor into their weekly usage (Burkhead is clearly the favored receiving back when Houston is trailing), but right now, Burkhead appears to have a much larger role than anticipated.

2
Baltimore Ravens: RB Kenyan Drake filling in for J.K. Dobbins

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

With Dobbins still working his way back from last year’s ACL injury, Drake led Baltimore’s backfield in snaps (33) and rushes (11) in Week 1 as Justice Hill (11/2) and Mike Davis (7/2) saw limited action. For however long Dobbins remains sidelined, Drake appears to be the top Ravens running back.

1
Jacksonville Jaguars: RBs James Robinson and Travis Etienne split time

(Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports)

Robinson (34 snaps) and Etienne (36 snaps) had similar usage in Week 1, but Robinson led the production. Robinson rushed 11 times for 66 yards and a touchdown while Etienne had four carries for 47 yards. Etienne had more targets (four), but Robinson (two targets) caught Trevor Lawrence’s only touchdown pass. Touchdowns can be fluky, so there’s no guarantee Robinson will be the better play on a week-to-week basis, but it’s clear that he will have value in fantasy this season.

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