Opportunities are close to the Holy Grail of fantasy football. After all, if a player isn’t being given the ball, he won’t provide much value in your quest to win the championship trophy. But a player also needs to make the most of his situation, and that means racking up fantasy points on as many carries, targets and drop backs they can throughout the football season.
Here are the players projected to be the most and least efficient at their position during the 2017 fantasy football season. Rookies were awarded the average points per opportunity at the position.
Most efficient QB (per dropback): Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady is the epitome of passer efficiency. He finished the 2016 regular season with the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history, 28 to 2, and now has two of the three best seasons in touchdown to interception ratio (minimum 300 attempts).
He also is the only quarterback to rank in the top five for most fantasy points per drop back in each of the past three seasons, having ranked No. 4, No. 5 and No. 2 in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Least efficient QB: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco is not elite, at least not in fantasy football. The 32-year-old threw a career-best 4,317 yards last season, but he has thrown 12 or more interceptions every year since 2013 — with just one of those seasons having more than 20 touchdown passes.
He’s also terrible under pressure. According to the game charters at Pro Football Focus, his passer rating dropped from 93.9 to 57.5 under pressure last season, with his completion percentage plummeting from 71.3 to 48.7 percent in those situations.
Most efficient RB (per opportunity): James White, New England Patriots
White benefited when Dion Lewis missed nine games with a knee injury, ending the regular season with 717 yards from scrimmage with and five touchdowns on 146 targets and carries, producing 1.3 PPR points per opportunity. He also led the position in yards per route run last season and figures to be this season’s passing-downs back the Patriots love to utilize.
The challenge for White is he is one of three running backs — Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead are the others — who are likely to make the roster, which may limit the number of touches he gets on a week-to-week basis.
Least efficient RB: Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints
Peterson is 32 and coming off an injury-filled season which limited him to 37 carries and six targets in three games. The year before looked good on paper — 1,707 yards from scrimmage with seven touchdowns — but that production came as a result of a league-high 327 rushes with 36 targets in the passing game, placing him 18th overall among running backs in efficiency.
Plus, with Mark Ingram in the fold, Peterson’s production will most likely come from touches inside the red zone, making him too dependent on scoring touchdowns for his fantasy points.
Most efficient WR (per target): Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
Baldwin was targeted a career-high 125 times last season, catching 94 passes for 1,128 yards and seven touchdowns. The year before he caught 78 of 103 passes for 1,069 yards and a league-high 14 receiving touchdowns.
The current second-round pick in fantasy drafts is projected to have a third consecutive season among the NFL’s top wideouts, producing 2.1 PPR points per target in 2017, the highest at the position.
Least efficient WR: Tavon Austin, Los Angeles Rams
Austin set career highs in targets (106), receptions (58) and receiving yards (509) in 2016, yet managed to score just three touchdowns through the air. Among receivers with at least 100 targets last season, none had a lower rate of first downs or touchdowns per play than Austin.
Perhaps new Coach Sean McVay can maximize the skills Austin brings, but those expectations need to be tempered with quarterback Jared Goff, the top pick in the 2016 draft, having just seven pro games under his belt.
Most efficient TE (per target): Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
When healthy, there might not be a more prolific scoring threat than Gronkowski. The 6-foot-6, 256-pound tight end has produced a touchdown on one of every nine targets during his career — the highest among the 10 tight ends having at least 500 passes thrown their way since 2010 — and his chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady is undeniable.
Over the past three seasons, Brady has a 118.4 passer rating on passes thrown to Gronkowski with a 25-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio, both higher than when Brady targets someone else.
|Tom Brady since 2013||Yd/Att||TD/Int||Passer Rating|
|Passes to Gronkowski||9.9||6.3||118.4|
|Passes to everyone else||7.1||5.1||99.9|
Least efficient TE: Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders
Cook caught 30 of 51 targets with Green Bay last year but scored just a single touchdown for the Packers all season. The year before, he didn’t score at all despite seeing 75 targets as a member of the St. Louis Rams.
In 2017, he will try to reverse that futility as a member of the Oakland Raiders, but quarterback Derek Carr threw to his tight ends just 14 times in the red zone last season, making Cook an unlikely fantasy threat in 2017.