Leveraging Hog Rate: Finding Three 2022 Breakout Wide Receivers

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The fantasy football offseason would be so boring without analysts talking about opportunity and speculating player landing spots. It is an unhealthy fallacy of fantasy analysts. Generating hot takes every year.

Remember Mike Davis last offseason? Oh baby, the golden opportunity. There is nobody unearthing their Davis takes to brag about that opportunity.

Or look back a couple years ago at the amazing opportunity Clyde Edwards-Helaire got landing in Kansas City.

It has become apparent that landing spot takes are not a very effective measurement of opportunity. Sure, landing spots or new coaches can smell like fantasy gold, but there are better advanced metrics that offer a closer look at who is really getting golden opportunities for your fantasy roster.

Let’s find some 2022 breakout wide receivers using one of the ultimate tools of opportunity: Hog Rate.

What Is Hog Rate?

Hog Rate is the passing game utilization of a player on a per-play basis. It calculates the total number of targets per snap. This helps us to really bring those players with specific roles or low snap counts onto an equal playing field with the high snap count receivers.

We are not looking specifically into Target Share or Target Rate that can skew numbers thanks to a player being on the field more, running more routes or seeing more targets. We are getting a fair adjusted look at the opportunity a receiver gets to play a part in the offense on a per snap basis. Opportunities, means chances to produce more fantasy points for your rosters!

If you want to dive deeper into Hog Rate, check out Neil Dutton’s piece on Meeting the Metric:

Meet the Metric – Hog Rate

Look back to 2020 and a couple key names who ranked in the top 30 for Hog Rate and exploded in 2021 to be top 12 wide receivers for fantasy: Deebo Samuel and Hunter Renfrow.

Sure, you can find flaws in utilizing Hog Rate to find breakout names. This could include concerns over how much a player is on the field, diving deeper into where and why those touches happened. As we know, not all touches are created equal. Despite that, it’s more realistic and paints a better picture than pointing to a landing spot or potential depth chart position.

I dug through the top 30 in Hog Rate in 2021 to find some names to consider acquiring before they explode in 2022. I took those with a Snap Share of 40.-percent or more to help those concerned about how much an individual maybe on the field.

Kadarius Toney (Giants)

Hog Rate: 19.1-percent (No. 7 among qualified wide receivers)
Snap Share: 48.1-percent (No. 106)

Kadarius Toney has a couple things working in his favour beyond the exceptional Hog Rate that ranked No. 7 among qualified wide receivers. Including the complete dysfunction of the offense around him, as well as struggles from threats to his targets. There’s Sterling Shepherd, who very well could be on his last leg with the team, literally and figuratively. There’s the bust factor of high-priced free agent Kenny Golladay. And there’s impending free agent, who has really failed to live up to expectations, Evan Engram. Plus a brand new coaching staff and clean bill of health.

Toney has the first round draft pedigree, sexy athletic profile including 4.40 speed, but struggled to stay on the field with a multitude of unrelated and downright unlucky injuries. The fact he saw a target on just shy of 20-percent of snaps, and shares the leaderboard with those names above, is an incredible rate and a testament to the Giants wanting to get him involved. It’s a shame his 53.2-percent (No. 95) Route Participation and 48.1-percent (No. 106) Snap Share were so low.

Toney was one of the most trusted and effective weapons for Daniel Jones in that putrid offense. He generated 2.13 (No. 17) Yards Per Route Run. Take that type of production, pair it with that Hog Rate opportunity and a new offensive mind like Brian Daboll, the brains behind the explosive Bills passing offense, and we have a recipe for major fantasy breakout brewing.

Russell Gage (Falcons)

Hog Rate: 16.6-percent (No. 20)
Snap Share: 72.2-percent (No. 55)

For the second year in a row, Russell Gage lands in the top 30 in Hog Rate, but there is a big decision looming. Free agency. Gage is an unrestricted free agent, but initial reports have him returning to Atlanta.

Gage will either come back to a WR1 role in Atlanta or be signed away to be a team’s WR2. Either way, this is priming him for a fantasy breakout.

Gage was thrust into the WR1 role after Calvin Ridley stepped away from football. And Ridley’s return could be met with a change of scenery away from Atlanta. Ranking No. 20 in Hog Rate seeing a target on nearly 17-percent of snaps, Gage was the WR16 overall for the final eight weeks of the fantasy season.

He has safe hands with a career 67-percent Catch Rate. Including a 2021 that saw him as one of only 18 wide receivers to have a 70-percent Catch Rate or better on 50 or more targets per Pro Football Reference.

His progressive improvement across key efficiency metrics with greater responsibility should have alarms going off for fantasy managers.

Elijah Moore (Jets)

Hog Rate: 16.2-percent (No. 23)
Snap Share: 68.1-percent (No. 67)

I think the punny Moore versus Moore debate of the 2021 offseason is officially over. Both Rondale and Elijah actually ranked in the top 30 among wide receivers for Hog Rate, but Rondale’s usage is very suspect in Arizona. While in New York there are no doubts about how to use Elijah.

Elijah Moore had three top 12 finishes, two top three, in his last five weeks prior to a quad strain prematurely ending his season. There were a number of underwhelming finishes despite the out-of-control preseason hype. He ultimately finished the season with a 12.6 (No. 30) Fantasy Points Per Game average.

Seeing a target on over 16-percent of his snaps was impressive for the rookie, but just the start. With Braxton Berrios and Jamison Crowder headed for free agency, he is due for even more opportunity next season. His 6.36 (No. 20) Unrealized Air Yards Per Targetย is a sign of all the potential volume on the table.

Love his quarterback Zach Wilson or hate him. The next couple years will see a lot of the Wilson to Moore connection. And nobody was hating on Wilson those last five games of Moore’s season when he was carrying fantasy teams. In 2022, we should see a lot more of him carrying teams with a breakout in the making.

In Conclusion

Hog Rate alone can’t solely predict a breakout. It can certainly point you in the direction of wide receivers who have their offense’s attention while on the field. Which means more opportunities to produce fantasy points.

In past seasons, top Hog Rate guys have emerged to be fantasy assets. The best example this year was Deebo Samuel. Yes, he got touches out of the backfield which helped, but his receiving numbers alone were impressive. He was a top 20 Hog Rate guy in 2020, who people discounted in drafts due to injury and Brandon Aiyuk‘s emergence.

It is no coincidence that these elite-tier guys have significant Hog Rates. So as you start drafting for 2022 and looking at trade targets don’t forget these three names.