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I'm a projections guy. Every offseason, I build out projections for the upcoming season to see who has an immediate path to fantasy upside. It can be an extremely helpful exercise, not just for the results but for the process that it forces the projector to follow. The act of building projections can lead you to identify players and situations with ambiguous upside or clear pathways to volume.
Fortunately, I get to build projections during the season too! While I've added some shortcuts to speed up my process, I basically have to tear down last week's projections and rebuild them with the news and notes from the current week. While this can be a bit tedious, it forces me to go back through every data point from every team across the league to identify emerging trends. This article looks at some of the most interesting developments around the NFL.
*Note: We do not cover the teams where things went according to expectation.
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)
- Arizona Cardinals: Rondale Moore is back, which was terrible news for Greg Dortch despite a solid opening month. Even with A.J. Green inactive, the team simply preferred playing two tight ends instead of manufacturing touches for Dortch again. Marquise Brown remains the number one receiver.
- Atlanta Falcons: Drake London is averaging an insane 35% TMS on the season.
- Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman is banged up with a foot injury. Anticipate seeing more two tight end sets with Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely.
- Buffalo Bills: The Bills are falling apart behind Stefon Diggs. Gabe Davis "successfully" played a full game with a 98% snap rate but was held to a 9% TMS. Isaiah McKenzie is dealing with a head injury. Jamison Crowder's season is over after breaking an ankle. Even Jake Kumerow is dealing with an ankle injury. This could be a great opportunity for rookie Khalil Shakir.
- Carolina Panthers: Laviska Shenault remained a distant WR4 despite an explosive play in week three.
- Dallas Cowboys: Michael Gallup made his return and logged a 64% snap rate, a number that trailed CeeDee Lamb (95%) and Noah Brown (79%). Gallup, however, actually ran more routes than Noah Brown, who is now questionable with a neck injury. Jalen Tolbert was once again made inactive.
- Denver Broncos: KJ Hamler is quite officially playing behind practice squad veteran Kendall Hinton. Albert Okwuegbunam has completely lost favor with the coaching staff, playing only 2% of snaps despite being healthy. Rookie Greg Dulcich could return as soon as week five to provide depth.
- Detroit Lions: No Amon-Ra St. Brown? No problem. Josh Reynolds and Tom Kennedy led the way, while Kalif Raymond and Quintez Cephus played approximately half the snaps. The smash spot for TJ Hockenson did not disappoint.
- Green Bay Packers: Romeo Doubs is now, quite safely, the Packers wide receiver one with Allen Lazard working opposite.
- Houston Texans: The ever-explosive O.J. Howard led the banged-up tight end group in snaps. If Pharaoh Brown and Brevin Jordan miss time again, Howard is a tremendous DFS punt.
- Indianapolis Colts: Despite an amazing opener, Michael Pittman has struggled to find consistency. His route participation is fantastic but he goes missing too frequently to be in the WR1 conversation at this point.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Is that Skyy Moore's music? The Chiefs are leaving a light on for the rookie playmaker who saw a season-high 26% RR% which still trailed WR/TE hybrid Jody Fortson. Mecole Hardman looks to be getting phased out.
- New Orleans Saints: Without Michael Thomas, Marquez Callaway led this team in route participation at 97%. It looks like Callaway will be Thomas' fill-in for as long as he is out. This is good news for rookie Chris Olave who has shown an ability to earn targets.
- New York Giants: What an absolute mess. Avoid.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: George Pickens saw a whopping 32% TMS in this game as Kenny Pickett made his debut. The two may simply have a connection and Pickens certainly has the talent.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rookie tight end Cade Otton stepped up after Cameron Brate left with a concussion. He looks like the tight end of the future in Tampa.
- Tennessee Titans: Treylon Burks was carted off in this contest. Kyle Philips has not yet re-established himself post-injury, meaning he will need to compete with Nick Westbrook-Ikhine for starting wide receiver duties alongside Robert Woods.
- Washington Commanders: Terry McLaurin is being crushed by target competition, a problem which could change this week as Jahan Dotson deals with a hamstring injury. Look for Dyami Brown to fill in if Dotson misses time.
Running Back Rotations
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