Fantasy football is all about volume. Sure, the DeSean Jackson guy who takes two catches for two touchdowns and 100 yards will win you a couple of weeks, but you might never have the confidence (or desperation) to plug him into your starting lineup. . Betting on volume is safe – volume and efficiency is what I’ll be focusing on each week in Turn Up The Volume.
Every Wednesday I will be looking at a few players who were high volume but didn’t do much, or as much as they could have, with their opportunities as well as players who took advantage of limited volume.
Ineffective volume drives
RB Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
Can you say workaholic? Harris ’16 carries for 45 yards were not at all encouraging, but one statistic stands out from Sunday: He played 100% of the Steelers’ snaps. If this continues, or anything close to it, it may remain ineffective and still show better numbers than against the Bills. But I bet he stays on the field for the vast majority of Pittsburgh’s stats and capitalizes on his hits. His 2.81 yards per carry will improve and Harris feels he’s more involved in the passing game – he caught one of three targets against Buffalo.
Expect Harris to see similar or increased volume going forward, especially in games the Steelers win (they’ve lagged for the first three quarters). Both his yardage totals and scoring probability will increase with the upcoming fights against the Raiders and Bengals.
RB James Conner, Arizona Cardinals
The use was there for Conner against the Titans. He did not take advantage of it. Arizona’s addition in the offseason had the most runs (16) on the team in a blistering victory, but he only managed 53 yards. Chase Edmonds was on the court more often (38 snaps vs. 35), had more rushing yards (63) on fewer carries (12), and is the best receiving threat. The hope with Conner is that he runs around 50-60 yards and falls in the end zone.
Conner’s owners can only hope his volume stays roughly where it was on Sunday, but chances are it will drop. The Cardinals game script won’t always lead to 33 rushed attempts in NFC West shootouts. Without a reception floor, week-to-week production can be hard to come by for Conner.
WR DJ Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars
Chark probably doesn’t even make this list as he finished with a fantastic good outing, but he left even more on the table! He led the Jaguars in targets (12) in a game where Trevor Lawrence lifted the ball 51 times. Chark had just three to finish with 86 yards and one scoring. It was second in the NFL in aerial yards behind only Tyreek Hill and second among Jacksonville receivers in number of snaps.
Chark was efficient with the passes he caught (28.7 yards per), but it was not sustainable. Neither of them expects a score every week. But with the volume due to him, his overall efficiency will improve – as long as he catches better than 25% of the passes thrown.
TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
Pitts got off to a pedestrian start in a resounding loss. Atlanta was kept out of the end zone and Matt Ryan recorded his lowest yardage since October 2019. As such, Pitts caught four passes for just 31 yards. Still, he tied Calvin Ridley for the team lead in targets (8) and passed Hayden Hurst.
In terms of volume, it was a good start for Pitts. His eight targets were tied for third among all tight ends. Hopefully it can be used vertically like it was in Florida and creatively near the end zone by Arthur Smith in the coming weeks. Yard and goal opportunities should present themselves.
Limited volume efficiency
RB Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
Jacobs barely passed Kenyan Drake (45-41) against the Ravens, and a bad night of the race was saved by a pair of touchdowns at two and 15 yards. It looks like Las Vegas will at least get a return on its investment in Drake. Drake didn’t execute the ball well either, but he caught his five targets for 59 yards. The game’s script was not in Jacobs’ favor, and it was questionable before the game, but its use and efficiency (10 carries for 34 yards) is cause for concern.
Jacobs’ ranges may increase, but what are they worth behind that offensive line? We took a look on Monday night, and it wasn’t pretty – without Marcus Mariota’s 31-yard rush, the Raiders were averaging 2.55 yards per carry. These affected will not be there every week.
Ty’Son Williams, Baltimore Ravens
Williams watched Great against the Raiders. The only question is, why haven’t we seen more of him? He finished third on the team in races behind Lamar Jackson and Latavius Murray, who recently joined the active roster. It’s no surprise that Jackson ran more than the rookie, but Murray? There’s also the looming threat of LeVeon Bell and DeVonta Freeman.
On 12 touches, Williams nearly passed 100 total yards and found the end zone in his career debut. The efficiency you were looking for was there (7.2 yards per carry, 9.7 yards per catch). John Harbaugh must climb the rookie in favor of the veterans behind him on the depth board. If he does, expect more big weeks from Williams.
WR Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams
Take a big play off Jefferson, and he has a 13-yard catch. But his numbers beyond that 67-yard bomb tell the story of a booming potential flex in one of the league’s best attacks. Jefferson was on the field for 69% of the shots and ran more courses than Robert Woods. He finished third on the team for targets behind Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee and Woods. It’s a great hiding place that could explode if its volume increases.
The Rams didn’t have to pass much due to how quickly and easily they scored against the Bears. But Jefferson could benefit in high-scoring affairs where Matthew Stafford needs to aerate the ball more. The most positive takeaway is that Jefferson is clearly the # 3 and deep threat – DeSean Jackson only played 27% of the snaps.
TE Juwan Johnson, Saints of New Orleans
Johnson’s performance is the epitome of the focus of this article. He played 12 snaps. He caught two touchdowns. So when you go to waivers and say, “Wow, this guy has 16 points, I have to get him back”, know that the effectiveness will not be repeated, and there is no reason to think his volume will increase no more.
Johnson played the fewest snaps of the Saints’ tight three ends and the fewest of all skill position players. Yes, Chris Hogan passed him. That’s great for Johnson and Jameis Winston, who also had a super-efficient outing, but without the ability to increase the volume and efficiency of touchdowns that would put Jimmy Graham to shame, don’t buy this performance too much.
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