We are wrapping up the first three weeks of the NFL season and the fantasy football landscape continues to shift on a dime. This happens every year thanks to some players surprising in specific fantasy football statistics. That is why it is important to keep yourself in the know on shifts in key stats that correlate to fantasy point production.
Let’s dive into these players and surprise fantasy football statistics!
The 4 Biggest Surprise Fantasy Football Statistics Heading Into Week 4
CJ Stroud – 2023 Rookie QB1?
As the 2023 NFL Draft approached the debate raged on about who would be the QB1 in this draft class. Bryce Young was picked first, but has struggled early. Anthony Richardson was being drooled over due to his athleticism and rushing upside. And then there was C.J. Stroud. Picked to lead the way for a new Houston Texans regime, and he has done well to lead through the first three games.
Only five quarterbacks are averaging over 300 passing yards per game in this young season. Only two of those five haven’t thrown interceptions yet this season. Stroud is one of those quarterbacks.
CJ Stroud is already turning heads.@CWilliamsNFL loves Stroud's career outlook and can see Stroud finishing as a top-12 QB this season
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— Footballguys | Fantasy Football (@Footballguys) September 29, 2023
Despite a banged-up offensive line and certainly less than elite offensive weapons compared to many other quarterbacks, Stroud is looking every bit what the Texans were hoping he would be with their pick. The Texans electric, and underrated, passing offense ranks 8th in yards per pass attempt and 10th in yards per completion.
A negative game script is playing into the passing offense’s favor, as they play from behind frequently. However, the point that Stroud is looking like this in such a negative game-type scenario in his rookie season is good news. I have already seen people give up two first-rounders to acquire Stroud. So it may be too late, but Stroud is the real deal and presents top-12 fantasy quarterback upside!
D’Andre Swift is Back
D’Andre Swift flashed with the Detroit Lions, but couldn’t stay healthy. Then the Lions took Jahmyr Gibbs in the 2023 draft with a top-15 pick and spelled the end of Swift in the Motor City. The move to the Philadelphia Eagles had fantasy managers buzzing, but the Eagles use of running backs created some concern about what ceiling existed.
A Kenneth Gainwell injury coming out of week one opened the door for Swift. And Swift kicked the door down in a homecoming in Philadelphia Week 2 where he went to high school. Swift, through essentially two weeks, is now second in rushing yards with 308 yards behind only Christian McCaffrey. He and McCaffrey are the only two running backs that have over 300 rushing yards. Swift is also second in yards per attempt with 6.8, behind Devon Achane.
With Gainwell’s return in Week 3, Swift split snaps near 50/50, Swift played 54% and Gainwell 46%. You shouldn’t sell the farm to acquire him as a bell cow or near-guaranteed 20-plus point performer every week like McCaffrey. However, he is certainly a surprise revelation early at a banged-up and frustrating position for fantasy managers.
Marvin Mims: The Big Play Bronco
I know what you are thinking. How after losing 70-20 and starting the season 0-3 with quarterback Russell Wilson looking like a shell of himself can you positively talk about a Denver Bronco for fantasy managers? Well, Marvin Mims is the first draft pick of the Sean Payton era and Jerry Jeudy trade rumors seem to be slowly starting back up. Any window to get in on the ground floor with Mims maybe closing.
Mims through three games has only run 27 routes. Yet, of wide receivers who have run at least 20 routes, Mims ranks No.6 in targets per route run at 33%. He is also No.2 among wide receivers who have run 20 routes in average depth of target at 24.7 yards. His 26% of the Broncos air yards or 222 air yards is second to only Courtland Sutton. Of all the major fantasy football statistics, total air yards are the fourth strongest correlator of wide receiver fantasy points.
The Broncos need Marvin Mims on the field more.
28% route participation (6th on the team)
46% targets per route (1st)
32% air yards (1st)
3 catches for 73 yards on 5 targets.
Also returned a kick for a 99-yard TD.
Major fantasy upside if ever earns a full-time role.
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland) September 25, 2023
He currently seems to be just a big play threat, but as he continues to make big plays, his snap count and opportunity are going to rise. Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Brandon Johnson will only be able to hold him off for so long. Yes, shockingly, those two are out snapping Mims weekly. It will be interesting to see how and when they ramp up Mims usage and if the targets will continue at the rampant pace they currently come at when he is on the field. Buy while you can, but the price is rising and the Mims breakout is coming.
Luke Musgrave the Most Underrated TE?
Seeing Luke Musgrave go down Thursday was no fun, because he has been flying to start the season with Jordan Love and the new-look Green Bay Packers offense. While Musgrave has been overshadowed as far as rookie tight ends go thanks to Sam Laporta, he should not be as overshadowed as he is or forgotten about.
Musgrave ranked No.8 among tight ends in routes run. So he is out there being provided with an opportunity to be targeted. And while his target rate may not be as nice as other tight ends, ranking No.22 among tight ends, he is seeing significant air yards and target depth. He is No.5 among tight ends in air yards with 159 but unfortunately has a No.2 unrealized air yardage. This is due to a disappointing No.26 catchable target rate among tight ends.
Musgrave is an uber-athletic tight end who is earning his quarterback’s trust. Who doesn’t love an athletic tight end, who is playing 80% or more of his team snaps and running this many routes? He is top ten in almost all ten key correlating stat categories for fantasy points and tight ends. Despite not being your standout top three specifically, that shouldn’t deter you.
He may not be a big name, yet. He might not be a top-three tight end, yet. But he’s doing enough to have top-ten upside in a volatile tight end market. And he just isn’t being talked about enough.
There are players who surprise every year in fantasy football statistics. It is important to understand the key fantasy football point-producing metrics at each position and making sure you are finding the players and understanding what to do with them.
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