NFL Air Yards Tool, Week 8: Leaders of Week 7


Each week in this space, I’m going to take a trip through the FTN air yards tool to find some of the most interesting and actionable takeaways for fantasy football.


Air yards represent the distance the ball travels from the line of scrimmage to the intended target. Regardless of whether a pass was complete or incomplete, air yards measure the amount of ground covered from passer to pass catcher. It does not account for the yards after catch on a completed pass. When calculating air yards, it’s important to keep in mind that not all air yards are created equal. An on-target throw is much more valuable than an uncatchable ball, even if the air yards are greater. Although air yards are not inductive of fantasy success, it’s a great way to calculate opportunity. The Weighted Opportunity Rating incorporates players’ share of team targets and the percentage of team air yards. Fantasy scoring is difficult to predict; however, opportunities are usually a stick stat and can translate to current and future output. Every week I will go position by position, highlighting the leaders in air yards. You can access the free air yards tool at FTN Fantasy.

Week 7 Air Yards Leaders


Brett Rypien, Denver Broncos

(486 air yards, fantasy QB24)

Russell Wilson, aka “Mr. Unlimited,” was, in fact, limited all week after partially tearing his hamstring in a Week 6 divisional loss to the Chargers. Head coach Nathanial Hackett initially designated Wilson as a game-time decision before ruling him out Saturday. As a result, Brett Rypien got the start against the Jets, the last team he faced as a starter, back in Week 4 of the 2020 season. The Broncos fell into a deficit early, leading to Rypien attempting 46 passes for 225 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception, and a league-high 486 air yards. Rypien kept the Broncos competitive but came up just short, losing 16-9 at home. The Broncos face the Jaguars in London next week, with Wilson trending toward playing.

Runner-Up: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars (473 air yards, QB7)
Season Leader: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2,138 air yards, QB12)

Wide Receiver

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(217 air yards, fantasy WR10)

Tom Brady Mike Evans Week 8 Fantasy Football Air Yards

The Buccaneers’ offense continued to struggle in Week 7, losing 21-3 to the Panthers despite being 13-point favorites in the upset of the season. One week after seeing just four targets, it was clear Tom Brady wanted to feature Mike Evans early and often. Brady went deep to Evans on the opening drive, who had a brutal drop on a wide-open 75-yard touchdown. Evans was targeted heavily all game long and saw a season-high 15 targets, catching 9 of them for 96 scoreless yards. He’s in a get-right spot in Week 8, facing the Ravens Thursday night, who are allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers (38.5).

Runner-Up: Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins, (171 air yards, WR23)
Season Leader: Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints (912 air yards, WR19)


Tight End

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

(96 air yards, fantasy TE1)

George Kittle put on a show on tight end day facing the TE1 overall on the other side, Travis Kelce. Kittle came out on top in the battle of the TEs and finished as the TE1 in Week 7. He saw nine targets and caught six of them for 98 yards and a touchdown. After missing the first two games and being held to under 50 yards in Weeks 3-5, Kittle has had 80-plus receiving yards in back-to-back games. He’ll have a much tougher matchup in Week 8 against a Rams team allowing the fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season (4.3).

Runner-Up: Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers (117 air yards, TE6)
Season Leader: Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens (651 air yards, TE2)

Running Back

Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders

(23 air yards, fantasy RB16)

Antonio Gibson lost his starting job in Week 6 to Brian Robinson in his second game back from the injured reserve. To make matters worse, Gibson got relegated to the RB3 on the depth chart, getting out-snapped by both Robinson and J.D. McKissic. He saw just 26% of the Commanders’ offensive snaps and had eight total touches. Things got a little better for Gibson in Week 7, who handled 39% of the backfield snaps and saw double-digit carries (10) for a season-high 59 rushing yards. What was more encouraging is Gibson looked to take over the passing downs from McKissic, who played on just 16% of offensive snaps. The Commanders’ backfield will likely be a three-headed committee all season long, creating headaches for fantasy managers.

Runner-Up: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints (16 air yards, RB13)
Season Leader: Breece Hall, New York Jets (147 air yards, RB7)

Previous Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 8 Next Fantasy Wins Added and Gradebook: MVPs Through Week 7