With week three in the books, depth charts are solidifying around the league. There are still some fragile roles, some injury opportunities, and some young talent who continue to grow. But overall, today will be more of a depth chart status update here in Unexpected Observations.
Routes run and dropback data in this article is from Pro Football Focus. I prefer to focus on the percentage of routes run which is simply a player's routes divided by the team's total dropbacks. Terms: RMS = Rushing Market Share, TMS = Target Market Share, RR% = Routes Run percentage (of dropbacks)
- In a game where DeAndre Hopkins was clearly not 100 percent, he still rarely came off the field (97% RR).
- Rondale Moore (34% snaps, 38% RR) is still clearly the WR4 in this offense.
- Despite a two-touchdown day for James Conner, he still split carriers down the middle with Chase Edmonds for the second straight week.
- In fact, Conner's snap rate has decreased back-to-back weeks while Edmonds has increased in that same timeframe.
- Mike Davis' snap rate has decreased every week this season (75%, 64%, 60%) as Cordarrelle Patterson gets more involved.
- With Russell Gage out, Kyle Pitts and Olamide Zaccheaus set season highs in snaps and routes run. They combined for just five catches and 57 yards.
- The big story for Baltimore is that Latavius Murray took over as the leading rusher ahead of Ty'Son Williams (41% to 29%) all while Devonta Freeman mixed in for 18% RMS.
- Also, Marquise Brown had three brutal touchdown drops in this game but is still averaging a 30% TMS on the season.
- Week 4 will be the first week that rookie Rashod Bateman and veteran Miles Boykin are eligible to return from IR which could throw limit the ceiling of Brown.
- After starting the season inactive in Week 1, Zack Moss has emerged as a viable red-zone weapon for the Bills and saw over half (56%) the snaps in Week 3.
- This game turned into a romp, but Emmanuel Sanders continues to have very encouraging usage as the Bills have adopted a very clear three-wide set of Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, and Cole Beasley.
- A multi-week injury to Christian McCaffrey opens the door to Chuba Hubbard (55% snaps week 3) and Royce Freeman (15% snaps).
- Robby Anderson continues to get absolutely ignored by Sam Darnold (10% TMS on the season from 87% RR).
- Dan Arnold has been traded to the Jaguars which opens the door for Tommy Tremble (19% RR and a rushing touchdown) to emerge in this offense.
- In Justin Fields' first start of the year, the Bears showed little desire to get him outside the pocket, leading to an underwhelming 17% RMS.
- David Montgomery missed a couple of drives in week one nursing a hand injury in-game. Ever since, he has made Damien Williams a non-factor (23% and 16% snaps last two weeks).
- Damiere Byrd has run away with the WR3 job ahead of Marquise Goodwin.
- In a game without Tee Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase (28% TMS) and Tyler Boyd (33% TMS) predictably took over.
- Auden Tate played ahead of Mike Thomas as the WR3.
- The pendulum swung back to Nick Chubb on the ground as he out-rushed Kareem Hunt 58% to 26%. Chubb, however, was not targeted.
- Jarvis Landry OUT - Odell Beckham Jr IN. Beckham picked right up where Landry left off, commanding 32% of team targets on 85% RR.
- Ezekiel Elliott got his groove back in a two-touchdown performance, but the workload split was still pretty stable between him and Tony Pollard.
- Amari Cooper did not have many limitations from his rib injury, running 100% of routes.
- The team utilized more two-tight-end sets with Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin which limited the upside of Cedrick Wilson as the de facto WR3.
- In a one-sided effort, Melvin Gordon III looks to be the clear 1a for now over Javonte Williams. Williams, however, saw an encouraging 17% TMS.
- K.J. Hamler was lost for the season in this game. With him and Jerry Jeudy out for the foreseeable future, expect Diontae Spencer to grow into the WR3 role behind Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick.
- The ridiculous passing game role for D'Andre Swift continues as he soaks up 25% TMS in an offense deprived of talented pass-catchers.
- Darren Fells saw a big bump in routes as Kalif Raymond and Quintez Cephus operated as the base two-wide set.
Green Bay Packers
- Aaron Jones continues to command a big lead over A.J. Dillon in this backfield despite some initial steam from Dillon in Week 1.
- Davante Adams commanded an insane 58% TMS which of course did not leave much for anyone else.
- In Davis Mills' first start, Brandin Cooks was joined by Chris Conley and Anthony Miller in the three-wide set.
- There is a four-headed hydra operating as the starting running back (not a single player topped 40% snaps).
- Parris Campbell returned and immediately got a big workload (87% RR), which came at the expense of Jack Doyle.
- Nyheim Hines out-snapped Jonathan Taylor (56% to 48%). Hines will need Nick-Chubb-esque efficiency to deliver a ceiling performance.
- James Robinson is back? Despite Carlos Hyde continuing to be highly involved (34% snaps, 31% RMS), Robinson flashed and soaked up 20% TMS.
- Marvin Jones Jr continues to be the WR1 in this offense, averaging an enviable 26% TMS through three weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs
- An unusual dip in playing time for Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman opened up some opportunities for Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle.
- The DFS darling Clyde Edwards-Helaire posted a big day despite even more involvement from Darrel Williams (27% RMS, 6% TMS) than usual.
Las Vegas Raiders
- Peyton Barber ran buck wild, filling in nicely for the absent Josh Jacobs on 66% RMS.
- Bryan Edwards has led the wide receiver room in routes for three straight weeks.
Los Angeles Chargers
- Mike Williams is here to stay. Through three weeks, Williams (26% TMS) and Keenan Allen (27% TMS) are dominating targets.
- Larry Rountree III relieved Austin Ekeler at the goal line, soaking up some high-value touches from Ekeler.
Los Angels Rams
- Cooper Kupp stays hotter than fish grease posting a season-low 32% TMS.
- DeSean Jackson got loose multiple times in Week 3 and posted a season-high 41% RR.
- In the absence of Darrell Henderson, Sony Michel (83% RMS) handled all but one of the team's running back rushes.
- Will Fuller V returned for Miami, playing 61% of snaps in his debut.
- Jaylen Waddle (30% TMS) and Mike Gesicki (28% TMS) dominated targets.
- Myles Gaskin posted a season-high in RMS with 62% of the team's carries. Salvon Ahmed did not log a rush attempt.
- Without Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison ran roughshod through the Seahawks with 76% RMS and 19% TMS - pretty much a normal Cook workload.
- Tyler Conklin has seen his target share grown in back-to-back games.
- Justin Jefferson has topped 30% TMS twice this year as he continues his ascent as an elite wide receiver.
New England Patriots
- Unfortunately, James White went down in this game as the Patriots were upended by the Saints. This led to a big role for Brandon Bolden (46% snaps, 36% RR) ahead of J.J. Taylor.
- Jakobi Meyers led the team in targets for the third straight week. It's time we start thinking of him as a viable option.
- Hunter Henry has far better routes run data than Jonnu Smith, yet Henry has yet to out-target Smith.
New Orleans Saints
- Alvin Kamara has the most enviable usage role of his career with back-to-back weeks of 84% snap rate. Tony Jones is not playing the Latavius Murray role.
- Kenny Stills was added this week and immediately became the WR2 behind Marquez Callaway.
- Tre'Quan Smith and Michael Thomas are eligible to return from IR any time now.
New York Giants
- Saquon Barkley's usage rates look great (21% TMS in Week 3 on 84% snaps).
- Injuries to Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard could open the door for Kadarius Toney (66% snaps in Week 3) and Collin Johnson (49%).
- Evan Engram was quiet in his return (12% TMS) but ran an encouraging 71% of routes. He could soak up Shepard's middle-of-the-field targets.
New York Jets
- In another week without Jamison Crowder, Corey Davis resumed his role as target leader (30% TMS).
- With Tevin Coleman out, Michael Carter II handled 69% RMS, most of which came in garbage time.
- On Monday night against Dallas, Zach Ertz showed glimpses of his old self, handling 17% TMS.
- Jalen Hurts looked out of sorts but still cobbled together a decent fantasy day on the back of a 40% RMS effort.
- Without Diontae Johnson, all eyes were on Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Unfortunately, Smith-Schuster walked away with an injury of his own.
- James Washington stepped in to handle 80% of snaps.
- Najee Harris handled an incredible 33% TMS in the absence of Johnson and Smith-Schuster.
San Francisco 49ers
- Brandon Aiyuk returned to a full-time role (89% RR) but was still dwarfed by Deebo Samuel 27% to 16% in the targets department.
- Mohamed Sanu saw a huge bump in usage, working as the WR3 and seeing 80% RR.
- The real starting running back without Elijah Mitchell was... Kyle Juszczyk? He handled 69% of snaps and 11% TMS while Trey Sermon doubled him up in carries (48% to 24% RMS).
- Trey Lance continues to be used in high leverage scenarios by the redzone.
- DK Metcalf is averaging north of 30% TMS this year in a featured role. Tyler Lockett is obviously the number two (25% TMS), but don't forget Freddie Swain who has turned into a full-time player too (86% RR).
- As the Seahawks started to trail, Chris Carson ceded time to Travis Homer and Alex Collins. Homer saw 11% TMS.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- The Bucs got down big to the Rams in week 3, which opened up a featured role for Giovani Bernard who led the backfield in snaps, targets, and routes. Bernard's usage was largely game-script based.
- Rob Gronkowski did NOT have two touchdowns - what?!
- Without Antonio Brown (COVID protocol), Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson split work evenly. However, Miller appears to have also suffered an injury.
- In a game where A.J. Brown injured his hamstring, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine got the boost, leading the skill players in snaps, routes, and targets.
- Julio Jones was mysteriously "load managed" down the stretch as he played on 50% of snaps.
Washington Football Team
- This game got ugly for Washington but Antonio Gibson salvaged his day with a huge screen reception for a touchdown.
- Logan Thomas' peripherals - alarmingly consistent - finally paid off.
- Curtis Samuel is eligible to return from IR in Week 4 which could help bolster this wide receiver depth chart and stretch the field horizontally.