The NFL is a game of not only inches but also numbers. Though you’ve likely already looked at the box score stats, other numbers – more specifically, the advanced numbers – often provide more insight into every performance. We’re taking a run through the Week 3 NFL player stats position by position.

The Wide Receivers

When he first joined the Silver and Black last season, Davante Adams had a long history with then-quarterback Derek Carr dating back to their time together at Fresno State.

But the former Green Bay Packers star wide receiver has already been targeted 37 times – the fourth most in the NFL – by new Las Vegas Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo. That’s three more than he was targeted by his old Bulldogs running mate through three games last season.

Adams was difficult to pin down Sunday night, though it wasn’t enough in a 23-18 home loss to T.J. Watt and the Pittsburgh Steelers that dropped the Raiders to 1-2. He finished with 13 receptions on 20 targets – both one away from career highs – for 172 yards and two touchdowns.

Those numbers are great for any fantasy football team, but a closer look shows that he also led the NFL with 14 burns and was second behind only A.J. Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles with 6.0 big plays in Week 3.

A burn occurs when a targeted receiver does his part to achieve a successful play – that is, a significant gain towards a first down or touchdown – regardless of the quality of the throw by the quarterback. The big play metric is calculated using a weighted formula that shows how often a receiver generates “big plays” (20+ yard burns or touchdown burns).

Davante Adams
Davante Adams signals for a first down during the first half against the Broncos on Sept. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

On the season, Adams is fourth in the league in burn percentage (75.7%) among those with at least 20 targets. And only Tyreek Hill (five) of the high-flying Miami Dolphins and Calvin Ridley (four) of the Jacksonville Jaguars have more touchdown burns (three).

Most Total Burns Through Week 3

  • 1. Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams (34)
  • 2. Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders (28)
  • T-4. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers (27)
  • T-4. Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins (27)
  • T-6. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (23)
  • T-6. Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints (23)

Perhaps just as impressive was that Adams was not charged with a drop despite the heavy volume of passes thrown his way.

But just think about the numbers Adams might have put up if Garoppolo had been a little sharper against the Steelers. Jimmy G ended up with a 70.5 well-thrown percentage that ranked sixth from the bottom among those with at least 20 attempts and a 6.82 pickable pass percentage that was the third worst in the league.

For some perspective, Dak Prescott (87.8), Geno Smith (87.5) of the Seattle Seahawks, Trevor Lawrence (87.3) of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sam Howell (86.8) of the Washington Commanders, Kirk Cousins (86.8) of the Vikings and Jared Goff (85.6) of the Detroit Lions are the league leaders in well-thrown percentage.

Keenan Allen matched Adams with a career-high 20 targets on Sunday, but he was able to haul in 18 of them for 215 yards – both career highs – in a critical 28-24 road win over the Vikings. Oh yeah, he also threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams on a trick play that gave the Chargers a 21-10 third-quarter lead.

Allen finished second in the NFL with 12 burns and third with 5.7 big plays in Week 3. He’s done a nice job getting open for LAC QB Justin Herbert with an open percentage of 94.7 that ranks second behind Josh Downs (95.5%) of the Indianapolis Colts among those with 20 targets.

Allen’s 8.2 average depth of target is below the 10.2 league average (making it easier for him to get open). However, among the five wideouts with at least a 90.0% open rate, only Tank Dell (12.0) of the Houston Texans has a higher average depth of target.

The Quarterbacks

Much has been made of Justin Love’s positive performance over his first three games after replacing a legend with the Green Bay Packers.

The third-year passer from Utah State led the Packers back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at Lambeau Field. He found Romeo Doubs from 8 yards out for the go-ahead score with 2:56 remaining as Green Bay moved to 2-1.

But how much of Love’s early success can be attributed to luck? He’s thrown seven touchdowns and one interception for a TD-to-INT ratio that ranks fifth in the NFL among those with at least 80 attempts. However, Love had the second-worst pickable pass percentage (6.98) in Week 3, ahead of only Sam Howell’s brutal 14.29 percentage.

So far this season, Love is third behind Howell (6.59) and rookie Bryce Young (6.45) of the Carolina Panthers with a 6.32 pickable pass percentage.

2023 Worst Pickable Pass Percentage

  • Sam Howell, Washington Commanders (6.59)
  • Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers (6.45)
  • Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers (6.32)
  • Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (6.17)
  • Justin Fields, Chicago Bears (5.95)
  • Zach Wilson, New York Jets (5.48)

Part of this might be because Love has been aggressive downfield, which is typically unusual for an inexperienced signal caller. He ranks second in the league behind Derek Carr (10.83) of the Saints with 10.77 air yards per attempt.

And part of it might be because his receivers aren’t getting open. Love ranks dead last in the NFL with a 67.4 open target percentage (how often a receiver he’s targeting is open). Tua Tagovailoa (87.8) of the Dolphins, Lamar Jackson (86.9) of the Baltimore Ravens and C.J. Stroud (86.8) of the Texans lead the NFL in open target percentage.

Green Bay’s three primary receivers – Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks – have a combined open percentage of 63.5 while the league average through Week 3 is 75.7.

Love has been playing with fire, but he hasn’t really been burned yet this season.

The Running Backs

Miami’s passing game with Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill gets much of the attention, but the Dolphins churned out 350 rushing yards in their 70-20 rout of the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane combined for 285 of those yards and five touchdowns over 31 attempts, which comes out to a ridiculous 9.2 yards per carry. Miami now leads the NFL with 188.3 rushing yards per game, ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles (185.7) and the Christian McCaffrey-led San Francisco 49ers (162.7).

We get a good sense of the holes the offensive line is creating by looking at the team’s yards before contact. Among those with at least 15 carries, Achane leads the league with 9.32 average yards before contact after his 203-yard performance and Mostert ranks ninth with 3.39. 

Heck, even third-stringer Chris Brooks has averaged 4.67 yards before contact on his nine carries this season.

Overall, the Dolphins rank first in run yards per play (6.3), second in yards before contact (4.1) and third in run success percentage (42.0). But yes, they’re also first in pass success percentage (58.7), passing yards per play (10.7), burn percentage (75.0) and open percentage (88.0).

It all adds up to a team averaging 43.3 points and seeking its first 4-0 start since 1995 on the road against the team that finished on top of the AFC East standings last season. The Buffalo Bills have allowed a combined 13 points and 160 rushing yards over their last two games.    

The Tight Ends

Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs has played in one fewer game than everyone else, but he’s already doubled every other tight end in one category.

Sorry to let you down with no Taylor Swift punchline here in favor of an actual stat: With a pair of touchdown burns (both TD receptions from Patrick Mahomes) in Sunday’s 41-10 win over the Chicago Bears, Kelce now has four TD burns on the season.

Zach Ertz of the Arizona Cardinals, Hunter Henry of the New England Patriots, Dalton Schultz of the Houston Texans, Kylen Granson of the Indianapolis Colts, T.J. Hockenson of the Vikings and Jake Ferguson of the Dallas Cowboys all have two.

After some disappointing years with the New York Giants, Evan Engram seems to have found a home in Jacksonville. After recording career highs in catches (73) and yards (766) with the Jaguars in 2022, Engram leads the team with 18 receptions and is tied for the lead with 173 yards this season.

The data backs Engram’s strong start as he’s totaled the most overall burns among tight ends with 16 (Ertz, Henry, Hockenson and Sam LaPorta of the Lions are next with 12) and he ranks third in the league among TEs with 10 targets with a 76.2 burn percentage.

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