Air Yards are the Gordon Ramsey of fantasy receiving stats. They tell us exactly what was right and clearly what was wrong with how a receiver performed in a given week. Often, it’s not easy to hear. But you as a fantasy manager need to pay attention to the under-the-hood numbers from your receivers instead of just blindly trusting the box score results, you donkey. 

Each week, this column will dissect air yards for actionable info in the weeks to come. For Week 10, we will do a quick analysis of the list of the 61 wide receivers who finished last week with at least 30 air yards.

Market Share of Air Yards: Top 5 in Week 8

These players received the five highest percentage share of their team’s total air yards in Week 9.

AJ Brown (84 air yards, 86.6%) – LOL. What kind of crazy number is that. I don’t know if I am more shocked by the 87% of air yards or that it only took 84 air yards to get to 87%. Ryan Tannehill was blessed with plenty of good field position opportunities on Sunday night and the plan from there schemed more run-heavy. Brown should undoubtedly lead this team moving forward but it remains to be seen if the Titans scheme more pass-heavy. Doesn’t matter anyway. He is universally owned and locked in now as a top-eight WR the rest of the way.

Zach Pascal (142 air yards, 60.2%) – Pascal had 31% of his seasonal air yards in this one game, so I am treating it (and Pittman’s output) as more of an outlier. Pittman has separated himself a dominant threat in this passing game, whereas Pascal still languishes below 20% target share on the year. 

Tyreek Hill (199 air yards, 60.1%) – Copy and paste from last week. Even with the offensive struggles by the Chiefs, Hill has 400 more air yards than any other two Kansas City wide receivers combined. With this performance, Hill is now leading the NFL in air yards with 1093. 

DJ Moore (95 air yards, 59.7%) – You have to laugh to keep from crying at this point. We know he is a target and air yards hog on his own team, but just three catches in seven targets for 32 yards? Perhaps most disappointingly, he had two (2!) yards after the catch on Sunday. His quarterbacks just aren’t getting him the ball in the right spot and now the threat of Cam Newton looms…

Davante Adams (162 air yards, 59.3%) – Perhaps the worst quarterback performance of the year led Adams to only securing six of his 14 targets for 42 yards. Hopefully Aaron Rodgers gets his horse tranquilizer this week and can make it back on the field. 

Market Share of Air Yards: Highlights from the Bottom 20

These are intriguing highlights from the bottom 20 wide receivers with at least 30 air yards.

Courtland Sutton (25 air yards, 12.9%) – Four Denver players saw more targets than Sutton in this game, so that is a major problem. I think we need more evidence with this team full healthy, but if Sutton is just a small piece of a mediocre-sized passing pie, he is going to be bench-worthy. 

Diontae Johnson (38 air yards, 25.9%) – Still led the Steelers in air yards share and target share, but only one player out of nine who got a target in this game had an aDOT over six yards. Big Ben’s noodle arm is going to drag this passing offense down to the depths before too long and a potential absence for Chase Claypool doesn’t help. 

Michael Pitman (24 air yards, 10.2%) – Like I mentioned before, not much to see here. Just an unusually low aDOT in Week 9 (4.0 yards) for a player who has a strong seasonal number (10.97 before Sunday). Six targets and a 21% target share tell me there’s nothing to worry about.

Positive Regression Candidate

CeeDee Lamb (212 air yards, 23 receiving yards) – I have been tracking air yards for a few seasons now, and I don’t ever remember seeing a receiver have almost 200 more air yards than receiving yards. 
Lamb had a solid nine targets and 23% target share (all leading the team), but only pulled in two passes likely because his aDOT was more than double in Week 9 (23.56) what it is the rest of the season (10.47). Part of this is likely due to Dallas falling behind so big so early. They needed to make big plays to get back in the game.
But Dak Prescott did not play well, plain and simple. With this kind of involvement, we need not worry about Lamb moving forward and he is one of the top wide receiver options in fantasy and DFS in Week 10. 

Negative Regression Candidate

Elijah Moore (87 air yards, 84 receiving yards) – I do think Elijah Moore is a fantastic dynasty prospect and a talented wide receiver, but we can’t expect many weeks like this for Moore. With the three-headed suck-monster of Zach Wilson, Mike White and Josh Johnson at quarterback, there may not be many games with 84 receiving yards and two touchdowns. 

Moore didn’t even separate himself from the pack in terms of usage. There were five Jets players who saw between 10%-15% target share and four who saw between 16%-20% air yards share. 

This is a messy offensive situation with an unknown quarterback path moving forward. If you can trade high on Moore in redraft leagues and get a solid piece, I would do it. 

Kupp Check

This is the weekly place where we check how Cooper Kupp is breaking the air yards model.

Didn’t reach 100 yards? Didn’t score?? An aDOT back down to 4.2 yards??? He must be broken. Actually, not close.

Kupp was once again doing his dominant thing, but the Tennessee pass rush and choppy offensive game flow prevented Kupp from getting in the end zone. He was second in the league in targets (13), second in receptions (11), second in yards after the catch (71), and sixth in receiving yards. 

All of this while having just the 58th-most air yards in Week 9. 

Notable Players Under 30 Air Yards

Julio Jones (14 air yards, 35 receiving yards) – I’m pretty much out on Jones being an every-week starter at this point. Just four targets and 14 air yards? He is a third or fourth option on a team that likes to use just their top two offensive pieces. 

Robby Anderson (11 air yards, 2 receiving yards) – There was no resurrection after Anderson’s fantasy funeral last week. One catch for two yards. You see the 3.67 aDOT next to his name and you can’t help but think there is no way this is the same guy who averaged over 14 yards per reception four straight years. 

Hunter Renfrow (24 air yards, 49 receiving yards) – Not quite what fantasy managers wanted after they invested in Renfrow following the Henry Ruggs disaster. But it’s indicative of a larger pattern developing in Las Vegas. In their five wins, they threw for over 300 yards each time. Their three losses, all under the 300-yard threshold. With Desean Jackson now in the fold, it’s time to take the passing training wheels off and let Derek Carr chuck it.