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: Kyler Murray is averaging 29% RMS over the past three weeks. Over the first five weeks, he only averaged 20%. An important piece to Murray's ceiling case will continue to be his willingness to run. There is no viable fourth pass-catcher in this offense despite the Robbie Anderson trade. Besides DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Zach Ertz, no receiver has topped 50% routes run since Marquise Brown went to injured reserve.
- Baltimore Ravens: A Rashod Bateman injury and a questionable Mark Andrews leads to plenty of pass-catching opportunities for the Ravens. Isaiah Likely filled in beautifully for Andrews, who went down in the first quarter and will be a high-upside tight-end option if Andrews misses time. Even if Andrews is "healthy" on the official injury report, Likely should continue to be involved. Behind Bateman, the wide receiver depth chart flows to Devin Duvernay, Demarcus Robinson, and then James Proche. Proche ran a season-high 70% RR in week eight.
- Buffalo Bills: NOTE: The Bills added Nyheim Hines and traded away Zack Moss
- Carolina Panthers: It's unclear how much time Chuba Hubbard will miss, but D'Onta Foreman may have already done enough to cement a hefty role in this offense as the team's most efficient rusher. Foreman played 68% of the snaps, where he handled a 72% RMS and a useful 55% RR for a modest passing game role.
- Chicago Bears: Khalil Herbert will continue to be subject to the weekly whims of the Bears coaching staff despite being far more efficient than David Montgomery. NOTE: Chase Claypool was traded to Chicago Tuesday.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon checks all the boxes on paper for a bell-cow back but has not shown remarkable efficiency in this pass-first offense.
- Dallas Cowboys: Dalton Schultz could be a second-half player to watch. For all the reasons we liked him in the preseason, Schultz is back to being healthy and is averaging a 23.5% TMS since he and Dak Prescott both returned. With Prescott back under center, Schultz's role is growing.
- Denver Broncos: Greg Dulcich further cemented his role as the starting tight end for Denver with an 80% snap rate. NOTE: Chase Edmonds was traded to Denver Tuesday.
- Detroit Lions: With D.J. Chark Jr on injured reserve and Amon-Ra St Brown at full health, the three-wide set is now firmly defined as St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, and Kalif Raymond. NOTE: T.J. Hockenson was traded from Detroit to Minnesota Tuesday.
- Houston Texans: Phillip Dorsett filled in as the WR2 for Houston with Nico Collins sidelined. He saw a 17% TMS and an 89% RR rate. Brandin Cooks was not moved at the trade deadline.
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