What a weekend of games. There was a lot of exciting football. Capped off by a walk-off punt return by the Jets on Monday Night Football after the Jets lost Aaron Rodgers after just four snaps. Of course, we also had to pay attention to the usage of these players, which is why I'm here with the Week 1 version of the 2023 Fantasy Football Usage Report.
I mean who expected Kenneth Gainwell to get 62% of the snaps, take all but two carries and even run more routes than D'Andre Swift? This is just a taste of what we will be diving into all season long in this article.
Now, we can't super overreact to just one game. If you've played Fantasy Football or even just watch the NFL for as long as I have, you know things change quickly. Coaches might do one thing one week just because of the matchup and then never do it again all season. The one thing you learn quickly, is they don't care about your fantasy team. But we do, so let's get into things.
2023 Fantasy Football Week 1 Usage Report
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Let's continue the conversation here. So if I have this correct, this offseason the Eagles didn't resign Miles Sanders. Then signed D'Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny to contracts. Week 1 rolls around, Penny is a healthy scratch and Swift is left with just one rushing attempt and two targets on the day. Meanwhile, Gainwell dominated the backfield work with 14 rushes and four targets.
This is definitely something to watch to see if the trend continues. To be honest, I'm not super confident the Eagles stick with one back the whole season like this. I find it very hard to believe they will make Penny a healthy scratch all season. Gainwell is fine, but Penny, when healthy, has proven to be one of the better running backs in the league.
Regardless, any back in this system will be risky to start each week, mostly thanks to Jalen Hurts running so much.
*Update - With Gainwell likely to miss the Thursday Night Game due to a rib injury. I expect Penny to be active. My previous point still stands about this backfield being unpredictable. Especially with their coaching saying...
"He’ll [Swift] be in that role sometimes where he carries the load for the game, and he’ll be in the role sometimes like he was in last game".
Los Angeles Rams
This was one of the more shocking usage lines all week. Cam Akers is supposed to be the primary back and if you looked at the box score you would see he got more carries and think that is right. He did outcarry Kyren Williams 22-15.
A closer look and you see Wiliams was on the field 67% of the snaps, compared to 33% for Akers. Even a closer look, and this is what tells me that we are likely to see this trend continue is Willams ran routes on 28 plays (72% of his snaps), compared to just two routes for Akers. With the Rams likely being a very pass-heavy team, mostly due to gamescript, expect to see a lot of Williams going forward.
Los Angeles Chargers
This just in, Austin Ekeler is still really good. His final stat line of 16-117-1 rushing and 4-47 and I bet there isn't much more digging into this backfield most Fantasy Managers are doing. Well they should.
Joshua Kelley also saw 16 carries and took those for 91 and a touchdown. I was pretty shocked to see that Kelley got 45% of the snaps too. Ekeler routinely saw snaps count percentages over 60 and even got into the upper-60s and 70% range a couple times last season.
Add in the fact that Ekeler is now dealing with an ankle injury, Kelley is a no-brainer waiver add. Especially for those who roster Ekeler.
Other Running Backs
- Steelers - Najee Harris was on the field for eight more snaps than Jaylen Warren. Out carried him 6-3, but was out-targeted 6-2. Stay tuned.
- Browns - Nick Chubb 34 snaps, 18 rushes. Jerome Ford 30 snaps, 15 rushes. What!? We need to pay more attention to Ford. Maybe like we did Kareem Hunt?
- Bears - This is just a mess. No thanks.
- Lions - I know its just one game, but I warned you about Jahmyr Gibbs, especially early on. He definitely got the Swift role, maybe even worse. 19 snaps, 7 carries, 2 targets. He is electric with the ball in his hands, but David Montgomery dominated this backfield.
- Jets - This is a pretty even split workload... for now. Breece Hall looked gooooood.
- Atlanta - Take Bijan Robinson No. 4 overall and have Tyler Allgeier out carry him 15-10, makes perfect sense.
- Titans - Why did Tyjae Spears outsnap Derrick Henry? Henry got a massive workload in comparison, but if this continues it will limit the upside of Henry.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Los Angeles Rams
With Cooper Kupp placed on IR, there was a lot of speculation as to who would reap the benefits. Van Jefferson seemed like the obvious choice since he was deemed the WR2 before the season started. Five targets, four receptions, for 80 yards... not too bad.
Puka Nacua was the real winner here though. He saw a whopping 15 targets, catching 10 for 119 yards. His adot was the lowest of the three main receivers though, but that makes sense due to the route tree he ran this game.
Don't forget about Tutu Atwell though, who saw eight targets, catching 6 for 119.
Both Atwell and Nacua are going to be heavily targeted on waivers this week, but for me it's Nacua. Looks like he is taking over the Cooper Kupp role and will be gold until Kupp returns.
Rookie Zay Flowers became the first Ravens receiver to receive 10 targets in a game since Marquise Brown did it in 2021. What surprised me most was the snaps he saw. He was second on the team only behind Odell Beckham Jr., more than doubling any other receiver on the team, even Rashod Bateman.
Now we know this was without Mark Andrews, so take the targets with a grain of salt, but this is great to see for the start of Flowers' career. It looks as though those two could be the two receivers you want to trust moving forward.
I do want to mention that I was very disappointed in the usage of Isaiah Likely. He only ran 23 routes on 46 snaps. Was only able to get a single target, which he caught for a whopping four yards. A far cry from the usage we saw
Oh boy this was ugly on so many levels. The receivers and tight ends saw a combined nine targets all game. Ridder attempted 18 total passes, so half of his attempts went to Bijan and Allgeier.
Not only that of those nine targets, the only receiver to catch a pass was Mack Hollins. That's right, that means Drake London did not catch a pass the whole game. He ran routes 20 times, but Desmond Ridder just did not look his way.
I have to mention Kyle Pitts, who also disappointed. The good news is he ran the same number or routes as London so maybe this is a sign that they aren't going to use him as a blocker as much as they did last season.
Other Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
- Jaguars - Calvin Ridley is the man. He and Trevor Lawrence will be something fun to watch this season. Christian Kirk was not on the field as much as Zay Jones and saw only two targets.
- Raiders - Really surprised to see Davante Adams be out-targeted by Jakobi Meyers. Yes 10-9, but that doesn't happen very often. Adots were a tad low for both, hopefully, Jimmy G can correct that.
- Cardinals - Wide Receivers, no thanks. Zach Ertz, 10 targets. That I like to see.
- Steelers - Injury to Diontae Johnson opens up some targets for, sigh... Allen Robinson (7 targets), maybe Calvin Austin (6 targets). Ok maybe don't bother.
- Saints - Michael Thomas looked solid in his return. Chris Olave is of course the man here, but don't sleep on Rashid Shaheed, who had a whopping 16.5 adot Week 1 on six targets.
- Houston - Robert Woods, aka Bobby Trees going to be a thing again. 10 catches on 10 targets. Only 74 yards, but you like the volume. Oh and Team Nico Collins! IYKYK.
Hope the 2023 Fantasy Football Week 1 Usage Report was helpful. Don't miss out on the rest of the great Fantasy Football content here at Fantasy Six Pack!