Welcome, football fans, to the Razzball Air Yards Report. This is the place where we look at thrown footballs (both caught and NOT caught) to try and predict which receivers might have some positive and negative regression coming their way. Week 10 was another wild week in the 2023 air yards season, as you will see below.
If you want a refresher on what air yards are and how to best use them, here are my takeaways from 2022 air yards data. In this iteration of the air yards primer, we will look ahead to Week 10 of the fantasy football season and see who might be due for some positive or negative regression. I hope you will join me each and every Thursday during the regular season for our breakdown of the week that was in air yards.
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Week 10 Air Yards and Air Yards% Data
This list represents the top 65 wide receivers from most to least air yards. From Mike Evans’ 190 air yards all the way down to James Proche’s 36. I color-coded this to make the referencing easier to identify. If a wide receiver was closer to the top of a category, the darker green the number would be. The bottom of the list is primarily orange into red.
Just an easy eye test from the colors on this chart gives us a significant number of takeaways from Week 10. We will dig into the five biggest things that jump out to me from this dataset.
Top 5 Takeaways From Week 10 Air Yards Data
Mike Evans Has Still Got It
Six catches for 143 yards means 23.8 yards per reception in Sunday’s game against Tennessee for Mike Evans. For comparison, Noah Brown is the leader in yards per reception this year with 20.9, and no other player has more than 17.8 (Brandon Aiyuk). Evans was targeted early and often against the Titans as Baker Mayfield looked to exploit the biggest weakness on that defense – containing big plays from wide receivers.
We know Mike Evans is an elite, field, stretching wide receiver and nothing from Sunday changes that. My biggest takeaway from this Mike Evans game is to make sure you are playing your wide receivers against this Tennessee pass defense. They are 25th in the league over the last three weeks with 11.0 yards allowed per reception.
Davante Adams Dancing Again
Video surfaced on Monday of Davante Adams dancing in the Raiders’ locker room, seemingly very happy with the changes that have been made at head coach and at quarterback. After 13 targets and six receptions on Sunday, it’s clear we won’t see another one catch, 11-yard game again that Adams had three weeks ago. Aiden O’Connell is going to give Adams a massive target share for the rest of the season.
That number you see up there is correct. Aiden O’Connell threw for 197 air yards, and 175 of them went to Davante Adams. He knows where his bread is buttered. He knows who the guy is on his team who has the best chance of making O’Connell a sustainable starting quarterback. Adams is going to be a target monster for the rest of the season with this new regime, and now we just have to hope O’Connell’s throws are accurate.
Adam Thielen Downshift
This is now two weeks in a row where Adam Thielen has seen a basketful of targets but just can’t convert them into big plays and big yards. The reason? Bryce Young just refuses to throw him long passes (or the coaching staff has instructed him not to throw long passes). Thielen’s average depth of target (aDOT) was just 3.6 yards on Sunday after 4.8 yards in Week 9. It’s clear the team is trying to limit Young’s turnovers, and Thielen is suffering as a result.
From Week 3 to Week 6, Thielen finished top-five in half-PPR, scoring three times. The Panthers then had their bye, and Thielen hasn’t been able to crack the top 30 since then. Thielen may continue to be peppered with targets this year, but if they are low-value, he may start to become a fringe Flex option each week.
Levis/Hopkins Connection Back to a Pumpkin
After his magical debut in Week 8, when Will Levis threw for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns (three to DeAndre Hopkins), Levis’ Cinderella act has struck midnight, and that manifested itself in a big way on Sunday. Levis’ passer rating was just 53.3, and only Trevor Lawrence had a worse number. Lewis threw for under 200 yards and had one interception to zero touchdowns.
The biggest loser in all of this is DeAndre Hopkins and the fantasy managers who invested in him after Week 8. Hopkins still got eight targets in Week 10, which is great, but the value of those targets has been anything but great. After bombing away in Week 8, Levis has been the exact opposite in the last two games. His 6.5 yards per attempt would rank 25th among quarterbacks if he qualified. Hopkins should still be able to break one now and again based on talent, but Levis clearly has work to do to make Hopkins a consistent touchdown threat.
All Air Yards Are Bigger in Texans
C.J. Stroud’s 466 air yards in Week 10 broke his own personal record of 460 air yards set just last week. Only three other times in 2023 has a quarterback had more than the 460 air yards from Week 9 or 466 from Week 10. Simply put, Stroud is slinging it all over the field, and the receivers in the Texans’ offense are benefiting.
Two of the top 11 in air yards this week were Texans, and Dalton Schultz (81 air yards) was third among all tight ends. Houston is now second only to San Francisco at 12.5 passing yards per completion, and on Sunday, that number jumped up to 15.5 yards per completion. Add in the fact that Houston is now throwing the ball 58% of the time this year, and every single starting pass-catcher on this team could have fantasy value moving forward.