If there's one thing I love, it's creating fantasy football player projections.
(My social life is doing just fine, thank you.)
The process requires a deep dive into every team:
That lays the groundwork for draft season.
I just wrapped up our initial 2023 projections, which will be constantly tweaked and updated from now until the season opener, and jotted down interesting, noteworthy, or surprising tidbits I dug up throughout the process.
Draft Smarter Than Your Competition
1. James Conner played 55+% of Arizona’s offensive snaps in 11 games last year. In those games, he averaged:
2. Marquise Brown averaged 7.5 targets (19.7% share), 4.3 catches, 39 yards, and 0 TDs in four games with DeAndre Hopkins last year. In eight games without Hopkins, those numbers spiked to 9.6 targets (23.8% share), 6.3 catches, 69 yards, and 0.38 TDs.
3. Trey McBride ranked 42nd in Pro Football Focus receiving grade and 40th in yards per route run among 43 TEs with 30+ targets last season.
4. Desmond Ridder ran 16 times in his four starts at the end of last season. But just five of those were designed runs. (Marcus Mariota, by comparison, averaged 4.5 designed runs per game last year.)
5. Tyler Allgeier ranked sixth in Pro Football Focus rushing grade and third in elusive rating among 42 RBs with 100+ carries last season.
6. Drake London’s numbers climbed across the board from the first half of his rookie season to the second:
|Weeks 1-8||weeks 9-18|
|Targets Per Game||6.1||7.6|
|Receptions Per Game||3.8||4.7|
|Yards Per Game||43.3||57.8|
|Yards Per Target||7.06||7.65|
|Yards Per Route Run||1.90||2.19|
|PPR Points Per Game||9.6||11.8|
7. Kyle Pitts went from a 19.2% target share and 10.8-yard average depth of target as a rookie to a 26.2% target share and 13.8-yard average depth of target in his nine healthy games last year.
8. New Ravens OC Todd Monken has averaged a +1.8% Pass Rate Over Expected across four seasons as an NFL OC. The Ravens averaged a -5.5% Pass Rate Over Expected under former OC Greg Roman over the past four seasons.
9. Rashod Bateman garnered a 20.3% target share in his five healthy-ish games last year – up from a 15.3% target share in 12 games as a rookie.
10. Mark Andrews has ranked top 6 among TEs in yards per route run in all five of his NFL seasons, including a third-place finish last year.
11. Damien Harris has beaten Devin Singletary -- the man he’s replacing in Buffalo’s backfield -- in rush yards over expected per attempt in each of the last three seasons.
12. James Cook saw just 3.5% of the Bills’ targets over his first 10 games last year, but 9.5% over his final six.
13. Stefon Diggs’ 89.0 Pro Football Focus receiving grade last season was the second-best mark of his career. His 2.40 yards per route run was his third-best mark
14. Dawson Knox drew a 12.1% target share in 15 games last year – down slightly from his 12.6% share in 15 games in 2021.
15. Miles Sanders ranked dead last in Pro Football Focus receiving grade last year among 60 RBs with 20+ targets.
16. Terrace Marshall ranked third in yards per target (10.4) among 96 WRs with 40+ targets last year. (Although he ranked 44th in yards per route run.)
17. Justin Fields ranked third among QBs and tied for 12th league wide with 10 carries inside the 5-yard line last season.
18. Khalil Herbert beat D’Onta Foreman last year in:
19. Herbert and Foreman both ranked 86th or worse among 114 qualifying RBs in yards per route run and Pro Football Focus receiving grade. Travis Homer finished 15th in yards per route run and 71st in PFF grade.
20. The 2022 Bengals ranked first in situation-neutral pass rate and second in pass rate over expected last year – up from 13th- and 12th-place finishes in 2021.
21. Joe Burrow averaged just 6.8 air yards per attempt last year, way down from 8.1 and 8.5 yards in 2021 and 2020, respectively.
22. Ja’Marr Chase went from 7.5 targets per game on a 23.1% share as a rookie to 11.2 targets per game on a 28.6% share last year.
See where Burrow, Chase, and the rest of the Bengals landed in the 2023 fantasy football PPR rankings.
23. Nick Chubb earned a career-best 90.7 Pro Football Focus rushing grade last year – 2nd among 48 qualifiers. He also ranked second in elusive rating and rush yards over expected per attempt.
24. Elijah Moore has averaged 5.4 yards per target from Zach Wilson. He’s averaged 8.2 yards per target from all other QBs. (Those QBs: Joe Flacco, Mike White, Josh Johnson, and Chris Streveler.)
25. David Njoku averaged 5.9 targets on an 18.4% target share in 13 games with a 60+% snap rate last year. His target share ticked up to 18.8% in five games with Deshaun Watson.
26. The Cowboys ranked top 2 in situation-neutral pace in each of the past three seasons under former OC Kellen Moore. New OC Brian Schottenheimer’s last three Seahawks offenses finished 18th, 24th, and 22nd in neutral pace.
27. Dak Prescott's yards per attempt (7.3), adjusted yards per attempt (6.7), and Pro Football Focus passing grade (68.6) last year were all his lowest marks since 2017, his 2nd NFL season.
28. Tony Pollard has topped a 50% snap rate in 11 career games (including playoffs). His averages in those games:
29. CeeDee Lamb set career highs last year in target share (28.1%), yards per route run (2.39), and PFF receiving grade (87.0).
30. Michael Gallup’s target shares in healthy games:
31. Russell Wilson ranked 24th in both Pro Football Focus passing grade and adjusted completion rate last year. The PFF grade was a career worst. The adjusted completion rate was his fourth worst mark among 11 NFL seasons.
32. Sean Payton had at least two RBs average 10+ touches per game in 11 of his 15 seasons as Saints HC. (And in three of the other four, his No. 2 RB averaged 9+ touches per game.)
33. Jerry Jeudy handily beat Courtland Sutton in yards per target (9.7 to 7.6), yards per route (2.18 to 1.55), and PFF receiving grade (77.9 to 69.7) last year.
34. Lions RBs totaled 23 rushing TDs on 21.4 expected rushing TDs in 2022 – way up from their 11 TDs on 10.5 expected in 2021.
35. D'Andre Swift has topped 15 carries in one of 27 games under HC Dan Campbell, averaging 9.3 carries per game.
36. Over his last 20 healthy games, Amon-Ra St. Brown has averaged 10.3 targets on a 29.6% target share
37. Aaron Jones beat A.J. Dillon last year in Pro Football Focus rushing grade, elusive rating, rush yards over expected per attempt, PFF receiving grade, and yards per route run.
|PFF Rushing Grade||90.7||88.1|
|PFF Receiving Grade||64.6||50.6|
|Yards Per Route Run||1.25||0.82|
38. Christian Watson’s averages in six games with an 80+% snap rate last season:
39. Dameon Pierce and Devin Singletary both ranked 32nd or worse among 43 qualifiers in yards per route run and Pro Football Focus receiving grade in 2022.
40. Nico Collins went from a 13.4% target share in 13 healthy games as a rookie to 20.1% in nine healthy games last year. He also improved his PFF receiving grade (65.1 to 72.0) and yards per route run (1.24 to 1.68).
41. Michael Pittman drew 24.6% of Colts targets last year, down a tick from his 24.8% target share in 2021.
42. Alec Pierce averaged 5.0 targets on a 14.4% share over the final 13 games of his rookie season.
43. Jelani Woods’ 1.51 yards per route run ranked second among seven rookie TEs with 30+ targets last year and sixth among 22 rookie TEs with 30+ targets over the last five seasons.
44. Trevor Lawrence’s numbers improved across the board from the first half to the second half of last season:
|weeks 1-8||weeks 9-18|
|Yards Per Attempt||6.6||7.4|
|Adjusted Yards Per Attempt||6.4||8.1|
|Yards Per Game||230.0||252.6|
|Pro Football Focus Passing Grade||54.5||87.1|
|Fantasy Points Per Game||18.8||22.0|
45. In 10 full games without James Robinson (including playoffs), Travis Etienne averaged:
46. In the last two years we saw Calvin Ridley (2020 and 2021), he drew 24.7% and 25.9% target shares.
See how Calvin Ridley is valued in YOUR fantasy league
Get customized rankings with the Draft War Room
47. Patrick Mahomes’ intended air yards per attempt has declined across each of his five seasons as Kansas City’s starter, from 9.1 yards in 2018 to 7.2 yards last year. That 2022 mark ranked 22nd among 33 qualifiers.
48. Mahomes has still managed to average 8.1+ yards per pass attempt in four of those five seasons, including 8.1 last year.
49. Isiah Pacheco ranked 8th among 48 qualifiers in rush yards over expected per attempt last year.
50. 33-year-old Travis Kelce tallied his second-best PFF receiving grade and fourth-most yards per route run last season.
51. Kadarius Toney drew a target on 24.6% of his routes with the Chiefs last year. None of the team’s other WRs topped an 18.2% rate.
52. Josh Jacobs’ 160 career catches without a receiving TD are the second most in NFL history.
53. Davante Adams’ 55.6% catch rate last year was his worst since 2015. His 11.8-yard average depth of target and 15.2 yards per catch were both career highs.
54. Justin Herbert's 6.4 intended air yards per pass attempt last season ranked 31st among 33 qualifiers. (Dak Prescott under new Chargers OC Kellen Moore registered 9.3, 7.9, 7.7, and 8.2 intended air yards per pass attempt.)
55. Herbert's 3.6% TD rate last year ranked 20th among 30 qualifiers. He tossed a TD on 5.4% of his attempts over his first two seasons.
56. Austin Ekeler's 107 catches last season tied for the second most by a RB in NFL history.
57. Mike Williams averaged 8.4 targets, 5.3 catches, 70.7 yards, and 0.4 TDs in seven games before his high-ankle sprain. He averaged 5.7 targets, 4.3 catches, 66.7 yards, and 0.2 TDs in six games after the injury.
58. Keenan Allen has averaged 6.1+ catches per game (a 104-catch pace) in six straight seasons.
59. The Rams ranked 30th in situation-neutral pace and averaged 58.9 plays per game last season. They ranked top 4 in pace in four of McVay’s first five seasons, averaging 65.0 plays per game.
60. Cam Akers played 70+% of Los Angeles’ offensive snaps in five of the final six games last year, averaging 17.3 carries and 2.0 targets per game.
61. Cooper Kupp averaged more targets per game (11.6 to 11.2), catches per game (9.0 to 8.5), and yards per route run (3.12 to 2.59) through eight healthy games last year than he did in 2021.
62. Tua Tagovailoa’s 8.9 yards per pass attempt last year was the 18th-highest mark in NFL history (min. 300 attempts).
63. Tyreek Hill averaged 10.2 yards per target in Tagovailoa’s 12 healthy games vs. 9.6 in the other five.
64. Jaylen Waddle averaged 12.1 yards per target in Tagovailoa’s 12 healthy games vs. 9.9 in the other five.
65. Opportunity distribution in Jeff Wilson Jr.'s and Raheem Mostert’s five healthy games together last year:
66. Dalvin Cook’s 15.5 carries per game last year were his fewest since 2018; his 2.3 catches per game were a career low.
67. Among 48 RBs with 90+ carries last year, Cook ranked 38th in Pro Football Focus rushing grade, 18th in elusive rating, and 41st in rush yards over expected per attempt.
68. Justin Jefferson scored on just 6.3% of his catches last year – down from his 8.7% TD rate over his first two seasons.
69. From Week 9 through 17, T.J. Hockenson ranked 2nd among TEs in both expected PPR points per game and actual PPR points per game.
70. The Patriots ranked 22nd in rushing TDs last season, their first time outside the top 12 since 2003.
71. Rhamondre Stevenson ranked 11th in rush yards over expected per attempt, sixth in elusive rating, and 10th in PFF rushing grade among 48 RBs with 90+ carries last year.
72. Tyquan Thornton ranked 95th among 96 qualifying WRs in both PFF receiving grade and yards per route run as a rookie last year.
73. Hunter Henry’s 1.21 yards per route run and 61.4 Pro Football Focus receiving grade last year were both career lows.
74. Derek Carr's 65.4 Pro Football Focus passing grade and 70.8% adjusted completion rate last year were his worst marks since his 2014 rookie season
75. Alvin Kamara has posted his two biggest carries-per-game averages in the last two seasons (18.5 and 14.9) – but also his two worst yards-per-carry averages (3.7 and 4.0).
76. Jamaal Williams’ former team, the Lions, produced 21.4 expected rushing TDs for RBs last year. His new team, the Saints, produced just 7.0.
77. Chris Olave’s 2.42 yards per route run last year ranked 7th among 80 WRs with 50+ targets, first among nine qualifying rookies, and fifth among all qualifying rookies over the last 10 seasons (behind Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, and Odell Beckham Jr.).
Check out where Olave sits in the 2023 fantasy football WR rankings.
78. Daniel Jones' 81.1% adjusted completion rate last year was a career high and led all 31 QBs with 300+ dropbacks.
79. Jones ranked fourth among QBs with 120 total carries and fifth with 65 designed carries.
80. Saquon Barkley averaged just 1.19 PPR points per target last year. He averaged 1.49 over his first four NFL seasons.
81. Among 52 RBs with 80+ carries last year, Breece Hall ranked:
82. Garrett Wilson averaged 1.85 yards per route run last season. All other Jets WRs combined to average just 1.10.
83. Jalen Hurts improved his completion rate, adjusted completion rate, yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, and Pro Football Focus passing grade from 2021 to 2022.
84. Hurts led all QBs and ranked second league wide with 11.2 expected rushing TDs last year.
85. Rashaad Penny's career 5.7 yards per carry ranks 2nd among 96 RBs with 200+ carries since 2018.
86. DeVonta Smith averaged 8.4 targets in five games without Dallas Goedert last year vs. 7.7 in the other 15 games (including playoffs).
87. Kenny Pickett led the league with an 88.9 Pro Football Focus passing grade over his final five games.
88. Najee Harris' splits from his first eight games of last season to his final eight (omitting Week 12 when he left injured):
|First 8 games||final 8 games|
|Carries Per Game||13.5||19.3|
|Targets Per Game||3.5||3.0|
|Pro Football Focus Rushing Grade||66.5||78.0|
|PPR Points Per Game||11.2||15.9|
89. Allen Robinson has ranked 86th out of 101 qualifying WRs and then 90th out of 96 in yards per route run the past two years.
90. Christian McCaffrey averaged 15.1 carries and 6.2 targets in 12 full games with San Francisco (including playoffs). But he averaged just 11.4 carries and 5.8 targets in five games with Elijah Mitchell.
91. After setting career highs with 2.93 yards per route run and 11.6 yards per target in 2021, Deebo Samuel posted career lows with 1.85 yards per route and 6.7 yards per target last year.
92. Brandon Aiyuk registered a 22.3% target share last season. But that dipped to 20.1% in 14 games with a healthy Deebo Samuel and 17.9% in seven games with Samuel and Christian McCaffrey.
93. George Kittle sunk from a 21.9% target share in 2021 to 18.7% last year. He drew just 15.6% of 49ers targets in seven games with a healthy Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey.
94. Geno Smith ranked third among 35 qualifiers in Pro Football Focus passing grade over the first half of last season but sunk to 24th out of 37 over the second half.
95. In 11 healthy games without Rashaad Penny (including playoffs), Kenneth Walker III averaged 19.7 carries and 2.5 targets.
96. In their 15 healthy games together (including playoffs), D.K. Metcalf averaged 9.2 targets on a 27.0% share vs. Tyler Lockett's 7.7 targets on a 22.5% share.
97. Metcalf tied for 19th among WRs with six TDs last year but ranked third with 10.5 expected TDs.
98. Lockett tied for fourth among WRs with nine TDs but ranked 24th with 5.8 expected TDs.
99. Among 51 RBs with 90+ carries last year, Rachaad White ranked 46th in Pro Football Focus rushing grade, 41st in elusive rating, and 45th in rush yards over expected per attempt.
100. Chris Godwin drew a 21.3% target share from Week 4 on last year (including playoffs), identical to his 21.3% target share in 13 healthy games in 2021.
101. Derrick Henry registered a better Pro Football Focus rushing grade, elusive rating, and rush yards over expected per attempt in 2022 than in 2021.
102. Henry has averaged 2.5 targets, 2.1 catches, and 23 receiving yards per game over the last two years – up from 1.6 targets, 1.1 catches, and 8.9 receiving yards per game over the previous three.
103. Brian Robinson was more effective over his final six games last season than his first six. (Remember that he was shot on Aug. 28.)
104. Antonio Gibson ranked fourth in PFF receiving grade and 11th in yards per route run among 43 RBs with 30+ targets last year.
105. Terry McLaurin’s 21.7% target share last season was a career low.
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