For this first article, we need to know some trends that came from last season and some that we saw in pre-season. Remember, the most important thing in pre-season games is utilization, not production.
Let’s start with the passing and running trends for the entire 2022 season.
The five teams with the highest percentage of passes play in a neutral situation
- Cincinnati Bengals 70.3%
- Kansas City Chiefs 69.2%
- Buffalo Bills 65.7%
- Los Angeles Chargers 65.5%
- Minnesota Vikings 64.3%
The top three teams shouldn’t surprise us. Their use of the passing game stems from the talent they have as a QB and the talent that surrounds them. It’s not for nothing that Burrow, Mahomes, and Allen were among the top five quarterbacks picked in this year’s Fantasy Draft.
The percentage that draws the most attention is that of the Vikings. The transition to a mostly temporary attack could be the main reason to thank Dalvin Cook. Maybe with Alex Mattison, it’s also a kind of alarm. We shouldn’t expect more than 25 touches per game.
The five teams with the highest run rate play in a neutral situation
- Atlanta Falcons 53.2%
- Washington commanders, 50.6%
- New Orleans Saints 50.3%
- Chicago Bears 49.8%
- Carolina Panthers 48.6%
The team that took advantage of the game in progress the most chose an RB with the 8th pick of the NFL Draft. Bijan Robinso is going to have a great year right off the bat. I wouldn’t expect the same percentage for the Saints, which I expect will see more passing use with Derek Carr, second-grader Chris Olave, and a healthy Michael Thomas.
PRE-SEASON TRENDS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Dameon Pierce confirms his role as a workhorse
His pre-season engagement suggests that will be his role on the Texans offense. When attacking with the starters, he was 83% snapper, had 83% carry, and had 67% route participation.
This last percentage is the one that draws the most attention, as it represents a significant increase in the stakes in the passing game. Last year, the route share was 37.6%.
Will there be a committee for the Jaguars?
If preseason play is a sign of what’s going to happen preseason, it’s possible that if there’s a committee:
- Etienne 67% snaps, 65% att, 63% checks
- Bigsby 28% snatch, 35% that, and 19% checked
It seems Etienne’s value as a high RB2 is secure for now, even with a top-12 lead when used in the passing game. But Bigsby already has a role to play on that offense, and that role could grow as the season progresses.
I’m still on the ship named Roshon Johnson
Although Khalil Herbert’s appearance shows that he will be the main RB early in the season, I’m still confident that the rookie can play a significant role as the season progresses. We have to be patient.
Herbert played 55% of the snaps and had 67% of the carries. It’s also not like he’s mastered the running game. Johnson will be able to capitalize on chances, especially third chances, due to his ability to block and protect the quarterback.
The James Cook Show is about to begin.
At least, that’s what the Bills led us to believe by the effort they gave him preseason. He dominated this running game with:
- 74% snap
- 83% wear
- 54% of the routes
- 17% target share
Let’s see if this will be his regular appearance or if it was due to Damien Harris’ injury.
What can we expect from the Packers rookies?
In the case of WR Jayden Reed, he earned the title through the slot, developed chemistry with Jordan Love, and took advantage of Romeo Doubts’ absence. It is a very versatile WR that can not only be used indoors. In week 3 of the preseason, he was playing 75% of the snaps and had 72% route participation.
For his part, TE Luke Musgrave, with Jordan Love as QB preseason, had a 22% target share and 84% track participation. Just to illustrate, in 2022, all TEs with at least 80% route participation finished in the top 12. The same goes for another rookie TE, Sam LaPorta.
Calvin Ridley is back!
The biggest concern for Ridley was how much her prolonged absence would affect him. His preseason performance is an indicator that the Jaguars consider him a true alpha. It was the leader in distance traveled (100%), destination traveled (31%), and destination per distance traveled (31%).
Those were the fantasy trends; I hope they were useful. Good luck in your fantasy football championship games—unless you’re playing me!