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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 are 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: If you needed more than -0.6 fantasy points from Rondale Moore on Monday Night, it turns out that you were out of luck as the short-field threat injured his groin on the first series of the game. Did this mean Robbie Anderson would finally be featured? No sir. Next man up - Greg Dortch, who looks to be the 1:1 replacement for Moore for as long as he is injured. Dortch handled a 93% snap rate and was second on the team in targets.
- Atlanta Falcons: Caleb Huntley saw a notable role decrease as the team hones its focus in on Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier, which helps improve the projectable upside of both players.
- Baltimore Ravens: Gus Edwards was ruled out early Sunday morning, opening the door for another week of Kenyan Drake as lead back. Drake, however, split playing time with Justice Hill (51% to 41%), which of course, lowers Drake's ceiling. The Ravens have not offered a lot of fantasy firepower lately, but at least Mark Andrews was back to a full workload in his return from injury with a 97% RR rate.
- Carolina Panthers: In a game where the Panthers were trounced, DOnta Foreman predictably took a back seat as Chuba Hubbard led the running back group in snaps. The game scripts will continue to define expectations for these running backs who, dare I say, might welcome the return of Sam Darnold as soon as he is healthy.
- Chicago Bears: Justin Fields played the full game here but injured his shoulder late, which is something to keep a close eye on. With ambiguity in the backfield over whether Trestan Ebner might step into the Khalil Herbert role, David Montgomery quickly nipped that in the bud with an encouraging 80% snap share.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon exited early with a concussion which led to a career day for Samaje Perine. Perine commanded the offense, ceding only a few snaps to Trayveon Williams. The Bengals starting RB job is a valuable one for fantasy purposes, and Perine should be trusted if he gets the nod with Mixon sidelined. Trenton Irwin continues to get viable usage with JaMarr Chase out.
- Cleveland Browns: David Njoku was eased back in cautiously for the Browns, who nearly executed a come-from-behind victory against the Bills. Njoku handled only a 37% snap rate in his first game back from injury.
- Dallas Cowboys: The Tony Pollard experiment continues as Ezekiel Elliott is eased back from a multi-week injury, and Pollard has been an absolute star. While Elliott and Pollard split carries down the middle, Pollard was a star in the passing game on a 55% RR rate.
- Denver Broncos: Melvin Gordon has been cut, and Chase Edmonds has a sprained ankle which means that Latavius Murray will have a backfield to himself and likely a sprinkle of Marlon Mack.
- Kansas City Chiefs: With in-game injuries to Kadarius Toney and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Skyy Moore and Isiah Pacheco both stepped into additional opportunities. Pacheco now forms a locked-in two-man committee with Jerick McKinnon, while Skyy Moore joins Justin Watson and Marquez Valdes-Scantling for as long as JuJu Smith-Schuster is sidelined.
- Los Angeles Chargers: With Mike Williams re-aggravating his ankle injury, the path is cleared for Joshua Palmer to anchor the perimeter while Keenan Allen and DeAndre Carter complete the three-wide set.
- Los Angeles Rams: An injury to Matthew Stafford led to the Rams showcasing their third quarterback of the season - Bryce Perkins. At running back, Cam Akers and Kyren Williams formed a new thunder-lightning combination, respectively, with Akers leading the team in carries while Williams led the unit with a 64% RR rate.
- Philadelphia Eagles: In the Eagles' first game without Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll was the next man up at tight end with an 81% snap rate. He, however, was only able to garner a 4% TMS.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaylen Warren tweaked his hamstring in this contest, leading to a familiar alpha role for Najee Harris.
- Washington Commanders: Antonio Gibson led Brian Robinson in all usage statistics, including snaps, rush attempts, targets, and routes run, all in a game that Washington controlled from wire to wire.
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