Volume is king in fantasy football, and this report will help you understand which players are due more or less according to their roles. It is a great way to know who is overperforming (sell high) and underperforming (buy low) based on historical data tied to metrics we know drive volume.

  • Overall offense: Which teams are enabling winning volume and efficiency across game scripts
  • Quarterbacks: How involved is each QB in the running game, and who is unlocking upside for their weapons
  • Running backs: Which backs are handling early downs, short-yardage and passing downs
  • Tight ends: Who is running enough routes and meeting critical targets per route thresholds
  • Receivers: Which receivers are in the most routes and operating broadly within the offense

For this season, Fantasy Life has partnered with PFF to collaborate on the Utilization Report.

Get access to the full Utilization Report, all the data tables, and team-by-team analysis by subscribing to PFF+

Divisional Round Takeaways


WR – DeVonta Smith

Smith pulled even with A.J. Brown in target share (28%) thanks to a dominant 43% outing against the Giants. He secured six of 10 targets for 61 yards and a TD in a game where the Eagles didn’t need to throw much.

WeekRoutesTPRRTargetsADOTAir YardsEZ Tgts3rd/4th Down TargetsPA TargetsPPR

The former first-rounder averages 20.9 points per game over the last four outings. Smith hasn’t let playing opposite a high-end WR1 keep him from demanding elite-level targets, which bodes extremely well for his long-term outlook. 

Smith is a low-end WR1 with high-end WR1 upside.

WR – Kadarius Toney

Travis Kelce posted a massive 35.8 fantasy points on the back of an astounding 17 targets (50%). Despite still being limited in route participation (30%), Toney had the second-most targets at six.

The second-year WR demonstrated an elite ability to demand targets as a rookie on limited routes, and that trend has continued in year two with an elite 26% TPRR. Target rates on limited route participation can be tricky, especially when players see a large portion of their targets come on screens and trick or gadget plays around the line of scrimmage.

While Toney benefits from those looks, he has a 22% TPRR over the last two seasons on non-screen/trick play routes. Additionally, he has a 23% TPRR against man coverage, where 92 of 99 routes have been non-gadget plays. Our sample size is small, but the data suggests Toney is more than a gadget player.

Deebo Samuel has made a living off low-ADOT targets as a yards-after-catch threat. Like Samuel, Toney can contribute to the run game. While he doesn’t have the same lower body build as Samuel, the shifty playmaker has eight carries for 96 yards and a TD.

The biggest red flag for the former first-rounder is that he couldn’t carve out a larger role despite the Chiefs’ lack of target-earners behind Kelce. Typically, coaches want their best playmakers on the field and for Justin Watson to take reps ahead of Toney is troubling. However, if that is the case, Toney still has time to correct those issues, and his ceiling is a WR1 if everything clicks into place.

One thing is for certain; Toney is a polarizing player where opinions typically fall to one side or the other.

For now, Toney is a boom-bust WR3 with WR2 upside.

Kadarius Toney

TE – Hayden Hurst

Hurst has 17 targets over the last three contests. Ja’Marr Chase has led the team in each of those games, but the rest of the targets have been distributed fairly evenly across Hurst, Tee Higgins (17), and Tyler Boyd (12).

WeekRoutesTPRRTargetsADOTAir YardsEZ Tgts3rd/4th Down TargetsPA TargetsPPR

With Higgins struggling to take a step forward over the second half of the season, the tertiary Bengals options have added appeal.

Hurst has a low-end TE1 profile.


RB – Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey continues to register sub-50% rush-share outings when Elijah Mitchell is active. CMC averages only 34% of attempts in six games with Mitchell versus 58% in contests without. 

WeekSnapsRush AttRoutesTargetsTPRRSDD Snapsi5 AttLDD Snaps2MIN SnapsPPR

The stud RB has averaged 25.8 points in San Francisco during games without Mitchell, but that drops to 16.7 points in games where the second-year RB is active.

CMC is the top RB option heading into the Conference Championship Weekend, but he isn’t the every-down back we have grown used to over the years.

WR – Tee Higgins

Higgins’ 19% TPRR and 1.80 YPRR put him in WR3 territory based on data since 2011. He could bounce back with a huge game, but the 2022 season represents a red flag when considering his 2023 outlook. 

Brandin CooksJuJu Smith-Schuster, and Corey Davis are Higgins’ closest career arch comps since the 2011 NFL Draft. Each demonstrated a similar ability to demand targets over the first two seasons, but leveled off in Year 3 below 20%.

PlayerYear 1 TPRRYear 2 TPRRYear 3 TPRR
Brandin Cooks18%20%18%
Corey Davis19%22%17%
JuJu Smith-Schuster18%24%18%
Tee Higgins21%22%19%

Cooks has enjoyed multiple seasons averaging 15-plus points per game as a high-end WR2, which would be a nice outcome for Higgins. At the other end of the spectrum, Davis hasn’t played on as many quality offenses or in situations without much target competition as Cooks. Those factors have kept him outside of the WR3 conversation in recent seasons. Higgins could land anywhere in this range depending on how things shake out in his final contract year in 2023.

Higgins drops to low-end WR2 territory and is toeing the WR3 line.

Tee Higgins

WR – JuJu Smith-Schuster

Smith-Schuster hasn’t eclipsed a 9% target share in the last three games. The veteran still has upside thanks to the offense, but with Patrick Mahomes battling a high-ankle sprain, the offense could look average. 

The move to Kansas City ignited new intrigue around Smith-Schuster this offseason, sparking the age-old debate of target-earning ability versus playing in a high-quality offensive environment. However in this case, Smith-Schuster’s target-earning profile didn’t suddenly mutate in 2022 due to Mahomes, a great lesson to remember as free-agent WRs find new landing spots. While the quality of a target can certainly go up in a better offense, we can’t project players to suddenly become better at beating coverage to earn more looks.

The sixth-year slot receiver profiles as a high-end WR3 thanks to the offense, but his talent profile is in the low-end WR3 range.


RB – Jerick McKinnon

The Chiefs split the rushing workload evenly between McKinnon (39%) and Isiah Pacheco (43%) despite a season-high snap share for McKinnon (65%).

WeekSnapsRush AttRoutesTargetsTPRRSDD Snapsi5 AttLDD Snaps2MIN SnapsPPR

The veteran RB might be the Chiefs’ preferred option in crunch time, but he didn’t have a target after averaging 5.2 since the Week 8 bye.

We could see Kansas City design more looks for McKinnon next weekend to help out a hobbled Mahomes. However, Mahomes’ inability to move around could allow the defense to play underneath coverage more aggressively.

RB – Elijah Mitchell

Mitchell handled 44% of the 49ers’ rushing attempts in the Divisional Round matchup against the Cowboys, tying his season-high mark. He has accounted for 30% of the team’s rushing attempts in games with Christian McCaffrey, averaging 10.3 per game.

The second-year back is hardly in a high-end utilization role, but San Francisco ranks fifth in rushing attempts in non-overtime, and runs the ball above the NFL average in trailing, close, and leading game scripts.

  • Trailing by four-plus points: 35% (+3)
  • Within three points: 44% (+3)
  • Leading by four-plus points: 55% (+4)

This commitment to the ground game and the 49ers’ ability to get into scoring position regularly boosts Mitchell’s outlook despite a limited role. San Francisco’s offense converts 44% of their drives into scores, the second-most in the NFL.

Mitchell is a boom-bust RB2.

Elijah Mitchell

RB – Eagles RBs

The Eagles smashed the Giants’ run defense for 268 yards and three TDs. Kenneth Gainwell accounted for a season-high 28% of the rushing attempts, but much of it came in the fourth quarter, where he handled 69% of the RB rushing attempts. 

Miles Sanders remains the lead option, but his 49% rushing attempt average means he rarely has 20-touch upside.

TE – Dallas Goedert

Goedert delivered 16.8 fantasy points in his fourth game back from injury. He has target shares of 9%, 19%, 23%, and 22% since returning, and has bested an 85% route participation in each game.

WR – Zach Pascal 

Pascal surpassed Quez Watkins in route participation (41%), which wasn’t due to blowout conditions. Pascal registered 44% in the first half, while Watkins was at 22%.

Get access to the full Utilization Report, all the data tables, and team-by-team analysis by subscribing to PFF+

Data notes and acronyms:

  • 1st/2nd = First and second downs
  • LDD = long down and distance (third and fourth down with three or more yards to go)
  • SDD = short down and distance (second, third and fourth down with two or fewer yards to go)
  • i5 = inside the five-yard line
  • 2MIN = two-minute offense (hurry-up offense)
  • Close = score within three points
  • Lead = leading by four points or more
  • Trail = trailing by four points or more
  • Plays = penalties included for utilization splits and rates
  • Pass Play = all dropbacks (i.e., attempts, sacks and scrambles)
  • ADOT = average depth of target
  • Air Yards = ADOT multiplied by targets
  • TTT = average time to throw
  • PA = play action
  • PA Targets = percentage of player's targets that came using play action
  • Fantasy finishes = through Sunday night game
  • YPRR = yards per route run
  • TPRR = targets per route run
  • EZ = end zone
  • TOP = Time of possession
  • Pass vs. Run Splits = based on the percentage of time a team throws or passes
  • FAB = Free agent budget (based on home leagues; adjust percentages in more competitive formats)
Dwain McFarland
Dwain McFarland
Dwain is the Lead Fantasy Analyst and Director of Analytics of Fantasy Life. He is best known for the Utilization Report, which led to his first full-time role in the industry at Pro Football Focus. Dwain’s experience and background have helped him craft a unique voice in the fantasy football community. He has placed highly in multiple national season-long contests, including three top-five finishes at the FFPC. Before beginning his fantasy career in 2018, Dwain led product strategy and data and analytics teams for one of the largest healthcare improvement companies in the nation.