The 2022 season offered plenty of surprises in its traditional metrics. Geno Smith threw for 758 more yards than the man he replaced in Seattle, Russell Wilson. Jonathan Taylor scored just four touchdowns, a total he bested with five touchdowns in Week 11 of 2021 alone. And Christian Kirk lived up to his publicly ridiculed $72 million contract with 84 catches, 1,108 yards and eight touchdowns in his first season in Jacksonville.

 

But fantasy football perceptions tend to follow those traditional narratives. If you want to beat the market on potential sleepers and busts in 2023, you need to dig deeper. And with its tapestry of charting data, FTN makes that easy for subscribers. What follows are 22 leaderboards to celebrate the 2022 season that I pulled from our myriad tools and FTN Data API. And the surprising inclusions should put you on a path toward sharper fantasy decisions in 2023.

Turnover-Worthy Pass Rate 

Turnover-Worthy Pass% Leaders
Quarterbacks, 2022
PlayerTO-Worthy%
Jalen Hurts2.60%
Justin Herbert2.90%
Kenny Pickett3.10%
Joe Burrow3.10%
Daniel Jones3.40%
Patrick Mahomes3.40%
Matthew Stafford3.60%
Kyler Murray3.90%
Trevor Lawrence4.10%
Andy Dalton4.20%
Minimum 200 pass attempts
Source: FTN Data
Kenny Pickett Fantasy Football Stats from 2022

Kenny Pickett did not make the immediate fantasy impact some modern stars at the position like Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray have made in recent seasons. Pickett combined for just 10 passing and rushing touchdowns in his 11 rookie starts. But much like last year’s No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence, Pickett paced the position in expected touchdown shortfall, a metric that can point to poor luck as much as ineffectiveness in the red zone. And with a low 3.1% rate of turnover-worthy plays, Pickett avoided the mistakes that subjectively seem to characterize the careers of early-round quarterback busts and landed in some pretty incredible fantasy company at his position. He may not have been the same caliber of NFL prospect as Lawrence, but I’m as optimistic for a Year 2 Pickett fantasy breakout as I was for Lawrence.

Inaccurate Pass Rate 

Inaccurate Pass% Trailers
Quarterbacks, 2022
PlayerInaccurate%
Zach Wilson18.60%
Lamar Jackson13.80%
Baker Mayfield13.70%
Marcus Mariota13.50%
Davis Mills13.20%
Jacoby Brissett12.70%
Russell Wilson12.40%
Carson Wentz12.30%
Josh Allen12.10%
Taylor Heinicke11.60%
Minimum 200 pass attempts
Source: FTN Data

Jets head coach Robert Saleh has at least pretended to remain bullish on former No. 2 draft pick Zach Wilson. And later-career breakouts from Ryan Tannehill, Josh Allen and now Daniel Jones have made me more open-minded to those once-elusive turnarounds. But in his second season, Wilson did not look like an NFL starter. His 18.6% inaccurate pass percentage wasn’t just the worst among regular quarterbacks. It was an outlier, with the rest of the bottom 10 at the position falling between 11.6% and 13.8% rates. And Wilson can’t blame his circumstances — teammates Mike White and Joe Flacco were twice as accurate as Wilson with 9.7% and 9.5% inaccurate pass rates on their 175 and 147 respective attempts. I’m not sure who it will be. But I feel certain that a quarterback other than Wilson will be the Week 1 Jets starter in 2023.

Broken Tackle Rate 

Broken Tackle Rate Leaders
Running Backs, 2022
PlayerBroken Tackle%
Dameon Pierce28.20%
Nick Chubb27.50%
Josh Jacobs26.50%
Travis Etienne25.90%
Aaron Jones24.90%
David Montgomery24.60%
Tyler Allgeier24.30%
Jonathan Taylor21.90%
Raheem Mostert21.50%
Tony Pollard21.20%
Minimum 150 attempts
Source: FTN Data

It is difficult for a running back to overcome a poor passing offense and find fantasy success. And Dameon Pierce fell short of the latter in a predictable way with just five total touchdowns in his rookie season. But Pierce excelled by my favorite measure of rushing proficiency independent of his circumstances with a 28.2% broken tackle rate. That was the best among heavy-volume rushers at the position and could point to a quick fantasy ascension if the Texans can make the right coaching hire and hit on their likely quarterback draft selection with the No. 2 pick.

Broken Tackle Rate, Rookies

Broken Tackle Rate Leaders
Rookie Running Backs, 2022
PlayerBroken Tackle%
Zonovan Knight34.10%
Dameon Pierce28.20%
Jaylen Warren24.70%
Tyler Allgeier24.30%
James Cook21.30%
Kenneth Walker21.10%
Breece Hall20.00%
Brian Robinson15.60%
Isiah Pacheco11.80%
Rachaad White11.50%
Minimum 75 attempts
Source: FTN Data

In Zach Wilson, the Jets may have missed on the most important piece of their rebuild. But Garrett Wilson looked like a worthy top wide receiver pick in his 1,100-yard rookie season. And the team may have hit on a pair of rookie running backs as well. Breece Hall was the top prospect there and showed off his high-level traits with a 20.0% broken tackle rate before he tore his ACL. But the undrafted Zonovan Knight bested Hall and every rookie running back with an outlier 34.1% broken tackle rate. Michael Carter may be a very close cautionary tale of the dangers of trusting standout broken tackle rates from small rookie samples — he was the 2021 class silver medalist with a 24.5% rate on 147 rookie carries and lost his starting job twice in his sophomore season. But Knight is nine pounds heavier than Carter and seems to have an early-down build if he can prove he also has the skill. If Hall makes it back for Week 1, then Knight may not have much of a September role. But I wouldn’t jump ship in dynasty formats unless Knight demonstrates a flukiness in his rookie season with poor performance in 2023.

Breakaway Yard Percentage

Breakaway Yard Percentage Leaders
Running Backs, 2022
PlayerYardsBreakaway YardsBreakaway%
James Cook50724748.70%
Kenneth Walker105148145.80%
Tony Pollard100744043.70%
Breece Hall46319943.00%
Kenyan Drake48220141.70%
D'Andre Swift54221840.20%
J.K. Dobbins52020940.20%
Travis Etienne112545140.10%
Rhamondre Stevenson104037636.20%
Jeff Wilson86030034.90%
Minimum 75 attempts
Source: FTN Data
James Cook Fantasy Football Stats from 2022

Pending the result of their current playoff run, the Bills seem likely to face another offseason of public pressure to add a top-end running back prospect. But while I wish the team would stop risking their franchise quarterback Josh Allen’s health with so many designed regular-season runs, I would also tell them to keep their backfield status quo. That’s because Devin Singletary is a consistent broken tackle rate leader. And rookie James Cook injected new explosiveness in their rushing offense, with 48.7% of his yards coming from breakaway runs (15-plus yards), the highest rate among regular backs. Typically, I would fear small-sample breakaway rate leaders for fantasy more than I would fear small-sample broken tackle rate leaders. But because Cook scored just two breakaway touchdowns and three touchdowns in general in 2022, he avoided the top-20 fantasy status that can overinflate expectations for players like Tony Pollard. Assuming his average draft position remains low, I would target Cook as a 2023 sleeper. The explosiveness he teased in his rookie season makes him a candidate to be the next Pollard or Jerick McKinnon, even if his size and split workload continues to restrict him to 15 or fewer touches per game.

 

Yards After Contact Per Attempt

Yards After Contact Per Attempt Leaders
Running Backs, 2022
PlayerYACon / Att
Tony Pollard3.82
Rhamondre Stevenson3.81
Derrick Henry3.6
Tyler Allgeier3.58
Raheem Mostert3.52
Nick Chubb3.48
Josh Jacobs3.4
Dameon Pierce3.28
D'Onta Foreman3.26
Aaron Jones3.21
Minimum 150 attempts
Source: FTN Data

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith did not make Derrick Henry a star when he became the Titans offensive coordinator in 2019. Henry had broken out the year before with 1,158 total yards and 12 touchdowns. But Smith did recognize how Henry’s powerful north-south running style could help his quarterback Ryan Tannehill with a heavy reliance on play-action passing. And although Tyler Allgeier does not measure up to Henry’s mammoth proportions at just 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, he did match his coach’s backfield predecessor with 3.58 versus 3.60 average yards after contact in his rookie 2022 season. Allgeier may never catch 40 passes in a season. But he teased a path to RB1 fantasy value nonetheless.

Yards After Catch, RBs

Average Yards After Catch Leaders
Running Backs, 2022
PlayerYAC
Travis Etienne10.1
Jerick McKinnon9.7
D'Andre Swift9.2
Tony Pollard8.9
Dalvin Cook8.5
Samaje Perine8.4
Alvin Kamara8.2
James Conner8.2
Christian McCaffrey8.1
Austin Ekeler7.9
Minimum 35 receptions
Source: FTN Data
Travis Etienne Fantasy Football Stats from 2022

For wide receivers and tight ends, average yards after the catch often tells you as much about typical target depth as it does player power, speed and shiftiness. But at running back where most players see a similar character of targets, YAC reflects skill. And while I may be a parody of myself for my insistence of his fantasy potential, Travis Etienne fueled my continued optimism with a position-leading 10.1 YAC in addition to the red zone touches I will discuss in a few paragraphs. It has not fully translated into top tier fantasy productivity. But Etienne has demonstrated the diversity of talents that made him an increasingly rare first-round draft selection at his position. And I plan to rank him as a top-10 fantasy pick in 2023, assuming the Jaguars don’t telegraph a transition to a red zone committee with the addition of a power back in the draft or free agency.

Contested Catches, Rookies

Contested Catch Leaders
Rookie Wide Receivers, 2022
PlayerCont Recs
Alec Pierce11
Drake London10
George Pickens9
Garrett Wilson8
Romeo Doubs7
Treylon Burks7
Chris Olave7
Christian Watson6
Jahan Dotson5
Tyquan Thornton4
Source: FTN Data

It didn’t take long for George Pickens to become the preeminent contested catch specialist in the league. And I would have heavily bet that either he or one of the overall rookie target leaders Garrett Wilson (147), Chris Olave (119) or Drake London (117) led the rookie class in contested catches in 2022. But instead, it was second-round Colts rookie Alec Pierce who made a contested catch on an incredible 11 of his 41 total catches. Blame a diminished offensive line or aging quarterback with declining arm strength — with evidence from teammate Michael Pittman’s silver-medal total of 19 contested catches. But also consider that Pierce is 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds and measured in the 93rd percentile with a 40.5-inch vertical jump at the combine. Pierce scored just two touchdowns in his freshman season. But he flashed the traits of a potential positional touchdown leader and would be a compelling sophomore fantasy sleeper if the Colts made some offensive improvements around him.

Contested Catch Rate, Rookies

Contested Catch% Leaders
Rookie Wide Receivers, 2022
PlayerCont TgtsCont RecsCont Rec%
Romeo Doubs77100.00%
Tyquan Thornton44100.00%
Jahan Dotson6583.30%
Treylon Burks9777.80%
Chris Olave9777.80%
Drake London131076.90%
George Pickens12975.00%
Garrett Wilson13861.50%
Alec Pierce231147.80%
Christian Watson14642.90%
Minimum 4 contested targets
Source: FTN Data

After his barrage of eight touchdowns in Weeks 10-13, the 6-foot-5 Christian Watson was more than his class touchdown leader. He was a younger, better Mike Evans in the eyes of his dynasty drafters. But while I am bullish on his long-term touchdown prospects, Watson saw a modest total of five red zone targets in that streak and nearly doubled Davante Adams’ second-place total (2.74) with a 4.59-touchdown surplus over 2.41 opportunity-adjusted receiving touchdowns. Meanwhile, his now-forgotten rookie receiving mate Romeo Doubs lapped Watson with a 100.0% versus a 42.9% catch rate on 7 versus 14 contested targets and teased exceptional touchdown potential with 20 touchdowns in his last two seasons at Nevada. Watson and Doubs may make a formidable 1-2 receiving punch for the next Packers decade, and they may score at more similar clips than their current public expectations.

Catchable Target Rate, WRs

Catchable Target Rate Trailers
Wide Receivers, 2022
PlayerCatchable%
Drake London43.60%
Marquise Brown51.50%
Christian Kirk56.40%
Mike Evans57.50%
Courtland Sutton57.80%
Garrett Wilson57.80%
A.J. Brown58.90%
Davante Adams58.30%
Joshua Palmer59.80%
Justin Jefferson60.30%
Minimum 100 targets
Source: FTN Data
Drake London Fantasy Football Stats from 2022

I suspect most fantasy players have at least a vague understanding that Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder and a run-oriented Falcons offense held receiver Drake London back from his full rookie potential. But a 43.6% catchable target rate should hopefully slam that restriction into focus. London wasn’t just the regular receiver with the least help from his quarterbacks. He saw a ridiculous 12.8% less of his targets catchable than the third-least fortunate player at his position, Christian Kirk. London may never repeat his 29.3% freshman target share that tied him with maybe the best player at his position Ja'Marr Chase for fifth overall — not if his teammate Kyle Pitts can return healthy from his torn MCL. But London won’t need a top five target share encore to make major fantasy strides. He just needs a competent quarterback and the pass/run balance that passer would promote in even head coach Arthur Smith’s atypically run-oriented offensive scheme.

Catchable Target Rate, TEs

Catchable Target Rate Trailers
Tight Ends, 2022
PlayerCatchable%
Kyle Pitts44.10%
Tyler Higbee46.30%
Cade Otton55.20%
Zach Ertz59.40%
Juwan Johnson61.50%
Gerald Everett62.10%
Hunter Henry66.10%
Cole Kmet66.70%
Pat Freiermuth68.40%
Noah Fant69.80%
Minimum 58 targets
Source: FTN Data

Kyle Pitts may have as founded a pass-catchability complaint for his sophomore fantasy slump as his teammate London. But at least Pitts had an outlier of a deep average depth of target of 13.8 yards for his position. Pitts will likely continue to trade a trailing rate of accurate passes for his explosiveness even when the Falcons find their franchise quarterback. But with a last-place 3.0-yard aDOT, Tyler Higbee had no such silver lining. He owes the full of his second worst 46.3% catchable target rate to poor quarterback play, from Matthew Stafford playing hurt to overmatched placeholders John Wolford and Bryce Perkins. The fact that Higbee enjoyed his best fantasy stretch with Panthers castoff Baker Mayfield under center is all you need to know. I expect a dramatic Higbee rebound in 2023 even if the now three years of distance from his apparent late-2019 breakout extinguishes the hope that he will ever become a top five fantasy scorer at his position. 

Red Zone Pass Attempts

Red Zone Pass Attempt Leaders
Quarterbacks, 2022
PlayerRZTDs
Patrick Mahomes12841
Kirk Cousins11529
Justin Herbert10925
Tom Brady10825
Joe Burrow9935
Josh Allen9735
Jared Goff9429
Trevor Lawrence8725
Aaron Rodgers8626
Geno Smith8430
Source: FTN Data

Whatever Chargers fans may exist may not be happy that the team retained Brandon Staley as their head coach. But I didn’t need Sean Payton to spur my optimism for a bounceback 2023 Justin Herbert season. I just needed some combination of a new offensive scheme and improved fortune in the red zone. And the team checked that first box by firing coordinator Joe Lombardi earlier this week. Herbert may have the best arm talent in football. His second lowest 6.8-yard average depth of throw took away his greatest strength, and it likely contributed to the dissonance between his 109 red zone pass attempts (third most) and modest 25 passing touchdowns (tied for eighth most). Herbert should return to the top five in touchdown passes in a healthy 2023 season.

Red Zone Opportunities, QBs

Red Zone Carry + Target Leaders
Quarterbacks, 2022
PlayerRZTDs
Jalen Hurts4312
Justin Fields298
Josh Allen277
Daniel Jones257
Joe Burrow215
Marcus Mariota194
Lamar Jackson193
Trevor Lawrence155
Patrick Mahomes144
Kenny Pickett113
Tyler Huntley111
Kyler Murray112
Jacoby Brissett112
Tom Brady111
Source: FTN Data
Daniel Jones Fantasy Football Stats from 2022

Daniel Jones’ proficiency as a scrambler was on full display in the Giants’ upset win over the Vikings on Wild Card Sunday. But don’t take his dramatic leap from a previous career high of two rushing touchdowns to seven in 2022 as an unsustainably fluky spike in his scramble-drill touchdown total. In his fourth professional season, Jones jumped up to 25 red zone carries, just two fewer than his new head coach Brian Daboll’s former versatile quarterback pupil, Josh Allen. And those seven touchdowns match the expectations of a quarterback with that rushing workload near the end zone.

Red Zone Opportunities, RBs

Red Zone Carry + Target Leaders
Running Backs, 2022
PlayerRZTDs
Austin Ekeler7618
Jamaal Williams6017
Dalvin Cook5310
Kenneth Walker529
Joe Mixon529
Christian McCaffrey5113
Najee Harris4910
Miles Sanders4911
Travis Etienne495
Josh Jacobs4712
Source: FTN Data

I intended to cover a different player for all 22 leaderboards in this article, but I couldn’t resist doubling up on Travis Etienne. Etienne scored just five touchdowns in his sophomore season. And while his breakaway skills could lead to ebbs and flows in his long-distance touchdown totals from season to season, Etienne also made the top 10 at his position with 49 red zone opportunities and suffered the second biggest expected touchdown shortfall at the position. Perhaps Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson will add a bigger back with a plan to limit Etienne’s volume and keep him fresh for future postseason runs. But expected touchdown research has consistently shown that running backs regress back to the league touchdown averages for their touch proximities to the end zone no matter their builds. And I expect Etienne to double his 2022 touchdown total in 2023. 

Red Zone Opportunities, WRs

Red Zone Carry + Target Leaders
Wide Receivers, 2022
PlayerRZTDs
Justin Jefferson319
DK Metcalf286
Ja'Marr Chase279
Amon-Ra St. Brown266
Stefon Diggs2411
Christian Kirk238
Adam Thielen226
Davante Adams2214
Deebo Samuel215
Zay Jones215
Diontae Johnson200
Garrett Wilson204
Source: FTN Data

Wide receivers exercise a bit more control over their touchdown rates than running backs do. And so I don’t think it’s a complete coincidence that the 5-foot-10, 183-pound Diontae Johnson fell short of the league average touchdown rate with his modest 10.2-yard average depth of target. But a low touchdown rate is one thing. And Johnson setting an NFL record for the most targets without a touchdown is something else. Johnson was one of 12 wide receivers with at least 20 red zone targets in 2022. And the other 11 scored a minimum of four touchdowns. Johnson, too, had scored five or more touchdowns in his first three professional seasons. And I would have expected a return to that standard in 2023 even if I weren’t so bullish on his sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Red Zone Opportunities, TEs

Red Zone Carry + Target Leaders
Tight Ends, 2022
PlayerRZTDs
Travis Kelce3312
Taysom Hill219
T.J. Hockenson206
David Njoku204
Mark Andrews185
Gerald Everett174
George Kittle1611
Dalton Schultz165
Tyler Higbee163
Cade Otton162
Source: FTN Data
George Kittle Fantasy Football Stats from 2022

By virtue of reaching the top 10 in tight end red zone opportunities, George Kittle earned at least some of the current optimism for his touchdown potential. But while Kittle may match positional standard-bearer Travis Kelce in terms of real-world value to his team — with both blocking and receiving considered — Kittle fell dramatically short of Kelce with 16 versus 33 red zone looks and paced the positional in expected touchdown surplus. It’s possible a real change motivated Kittle’s late-season touchdown renaissance. His seven December scores followed the 49ers’ transition to Brock Purdy at quarterback. But they also coincided with Deebo Samuel’s three-week absence, and Samuel is back with the team. And four of those late-season touchdowns came from outside the red zone where even the best YAC players tend not to score consistently. Kittle had never scored more than six touchdowns in his five previous professional seasons. And while I would take the over on six scores in 2023 with my expectations for continuing better quarterback play, I do not expect an encore of 11 touchdowns and would not take Kittle in the first few rounds of typical fantasy drafts.

Route Participation Rate, RBs

Route Participation Rate Leaders
Running Backs, 2022
PlayerRoute%
Jerick McKinnon57.40%
D'Andre Swift53.90%
Leonard Fournette52.50%
James Conner51.00%
Rachaad White50.70%
Jonathan Taylor48.10%
Aaron Jones47.60%
Devin Singletary47.00%
Samaje Perine46.90%
Austin Ekeler45.50%
Minimum 350 offensive snaps
Source: FTN Data

Tom Brady paced his position and set a new all-time record with 733 pass attempts in 2022. And with that sort of volume, every skill player will see some targets, no matter his position. But I wouldn’t write running back Rachaad White’s 50 rookie catches off as solely a product of his circumstances. White also ran routes on 50.7% of his pass snaps, the fifth-highest rate at his position and barely less than the 52.5% rate of his veteran teammate Leonard Fournette. After their blowout Wild Card loss to the Cowboys Monday night, the Bucs enter the offseason with a lot of uncertainty. And if Brady decides to move on or retire, the team’s skill talent will likely lose fantasy value. But with or without Brady, White is an attractive fantasy sleeper with exceptional PPR potential. And he could threaten RB1 value if the team decided to move on from Fournette, a move that would save the team $3.5 million in cap space and relieve at least some of the their $57 million effective cap deficit, the second-highest total in football.

 

Route Participation Rate, RBs

Route Participation Rate Trailers
Running Backs, 2022
PlayerRoute%
Brian Robinson12.80%
Cam Akers17.20%
Jamaal Williams17.20%
Tyler Allgeier17.30%
D'Onta Foreman19.50%
Derrick Henry22.70%
Nick Chubb23.00%
Cordarrelle Patterson24.30%
David Montgomery25.40%
Dameon Pierce26.60%
Minimum 350 offensive snaps
Source: FTN Data

With six touchdowns in the last six weeks, Cam Akers undoubtedly led some rosters to 2022 fantasy titles. And with less competition since the Darrell Henderson release and with the Rams poised to rebound from a down year with Sean McVay back at head coach and Matthew Stafford hopefully back healthy at quarterback, Akers could best even his optimistic top-40 average draft position from last September, before his mysterious monthlong absence from the team. But I would fade Akers at that steep of a draft price, and it isn’t for the latter concern. It’s because Akers ran routes on just 17.2% of his pass plays in 2022. Jamaal Williams tied Akers with that rate and demonstrated a path from it to top-10 fantasy value. But Williams also enjoyed an unusual and likely unsustainable volume of 33 carries inside the 5-yard line, 14 more than the rest of the field at his position. A healthy Stafford should promote at least an upper half total of those close-in touches. But a 10-touchdown, 20-catch season for Akers might still fall short of RB2 value. And I would rather chase top-10 ceilings with more versatile backs like Travis Etienne with my early-round draft picks.

Yards Per Route Run, WRs

Yards Per Route Run Leaders
Wide Receivers, 2022
PlayerYPRR
Tyreek Hill3.27
A.J. Brown2.90
Jaylen Waddle2.72
Justin Jefferson2.71
Stefon Diggs2.64
Rashid Shaheed2.57
Davante Adams2.57
Amon-Ra St. Brown2.52
Rashod Bateman2.52
Chris Olave2.51
Minimum 100 routes
Source: FTN Data

Yards per route run isn’t a perfect proxy for wide receiver talent. And I suspect both Rashid Shaheed and Chris Olave owe some of their top-10 rates in the metric to veteran teammate Michael Thomas’ foot injury. But I can’t help but see the other leaders at the position and be bullish for Shaheed’s professional future. The rookie did not receive a combine invitation and went undrafted out of Weber State. But Shaheed suspects he runs a sub-4.4-second 40. And he set the FCS record with seven kick return touchdowns. I haven’t done any comprehensive research on the matter, but Steve Smith and Tyreek Hill are anecdotal examples of standout special teams players who dramatically outperformed their respective third- and fifth-round draft selections. And while I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from Shaheed’s just 28 career catches, I wouldn’t leave the rookie on my dynasty waiver wires, either.

Yards Per Route Run, TEs

Yards Per Route Run Leaders
Tight Ends, 2022
PlayerYPRR
Chigoziem Okonkwo2.92
Travis Kelce2.30
Mark Andrews2.16
Dallas Goedert2.10
George Kittle1.98
Kyle Pitts1.95
Pat Freiermuth1.80
Jordan Akins1.76
Colby Parkinson1.72
Darren Waller1.68
Minimum 100 routes
Source: FTN Data
Chigoziem Okonkwo Fantasy Football Stats from 2022

Chigoziem Okonkwo wouldn’t be the same rags-to-riches story as his wide receiver counterpart Shaheed. Okonkwo was a fourth-round draft selection with first-round athletic ability. But he had just 77 catches in four seasons at Maryland and was scouted to be raw as a route-runner. Given his immediate success, I would risk a top 10 tight end fantasy draft pick. For whatever reason, teams cannot always identify the best future receiving tight ends on draft day. Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews and George Kittle were notably third-, third- and fifth-round picks.

Yards Per Route Run in Coverage

Yards Per Route Run in Coverage Leaders
Cornerbacks, 2022
PlayerTeamYPRR
James BradberryPHI0.78
Sauce GardnerNYJ0.92
Pat SurtainDEN0.96
D.J. ReedNYJ1.03
Tyson CampbellJAX1.04
Darious WilliamsJAX1.07
Tariq WoolenSEA1.11
Trevon DiggsDAL1.15
L'Jarius SneedKC1.18
Patrick PetersonMIN1.20
Minimum 500 routes in coverage
Source: FTN Data
Sauce Gardner Fantasy Football Stats from 2022

Sauce Gardner was the first rookie All-Pro cornerback in 41 years, and his silver-medal rate of 0.92 yards per route run allowed supports that selection. Former Jets defender and four-time All-Pro Darrelle Revis introduced a generation of fantasy players to the importance of cornerback matchups with his Revis Island. And Gardner seems poised to deserve that fantasy matchup consideration in his sophomore season.

Shadow Coverage Leaders

No. 1 Wide Receiver Shadow% Leaders
Cornerbacks, 2022
PlayerTeamShadow%
Trevon DiggsDAL44.70%
Pat SurtainDEN42.90%
Tyson CampbellJAX40.00%
Xavien HowardMIA39.40%
Stephon GilmoreIND38.20%
Darius SlayPHI36.20%
Charvarius WardSF35.50%
Jalen RamseyLA35.30%
Tariq WoolenSEA33.90%
Marlon HumphreyBLT33.80%
Minimum 500 routes in coverage
Source: FTN Data

Of course, there are two components to cornerback matchup considerations for fantasy. The first is coverage skills. And the second is shadow tendency. Gardner has obvious shutdown corner skills, but he spent the bulk of his rookie season defending the left side of the field, an approach that head coach Robert Saleh told reporters he took to make life easier on his less talented defenders. That doesn’t make the Jets a plus matchup for opposing wide receivers. But to me, it does make Broncos corner Pat Surtain the No. 1 cornerback to consider for fantasy matchups in 2023. Surtain ranked top three with both his 0.96 yards per route run and 42.9% shadow rate — based on my own classification of No. 1 wide receivers by their projected target shares. And his back-to-back seasons of standout defensive play reinforce his standing as one of the very few lockdown corners in the modern game.