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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)
- Buffalo Bills: Cole Beasley signed onto the Bills practice squad this week, and the veteran drew a start over Isaiah McKenzie in the slot. McKenzie, however, held a significant advantage in snaps, routes, and targets. The future looks murky for Beasley, but in this potent offense, he could be a factor in their playoff run.
- Carolina Panthers: DOnta Foreman continues to play a very game-script-dependent role in the Panthers offense. Unfortunately for Foreman, the Panthers fell behind early against the Steelers while Pittsburgh's defense snuffed out the run early. Foreman should be saved for favorable matchups where the Panthers can build a lead in the first half.
- Chicago Bears: The Bears are falling apart at wide receiver. With Darnell Mooney on IR and Chase Claypool out, Equanimeous St. Brown also went down in the first quarter. Dante Pettis and Byron Pringle would be the Bears' starters if Claypool and St. Brown remained sidelined. Velus Jones becomes the de facto WR3.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon has yet to return to his bell cow role since returning from injury two weeks ago. Samaje Perine has played well enough to carve out a role for himself as the Robin to Mixon's Batman. Perine puts a significant cap on Mixon's ceiling in this fun offense. Despite the return of Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd after a questionable week of practice, JaMarr Chase once again dominated targets as the clear alpha for now.
- Detroit Lions: DAndre Swift continues to ride a roller coaster of usage. As he did two weeks prior, Swift led the backfield in snaps. And for the second time in a month, Swift topped 20% TMS. In a hard-fought win against the Jets, Swift has an opportunity to excel when playing from behind in faster-paced contests. Jamaal Williams is the team's preferred option in the green zone and when leading.
- Houston Texans: With Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins sidelined once again, Chris Moore continued to be the team's target hog. Moore has shown an ability to earn targets that Phillip Dorsett simply has not displayed. Playing under similar conditions over the past two weeks, Moore has 46% and 33% TMS while Dorsett has earned 13% and 4% on similar snaps and routes.
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