Air yards are an important factor when it comes to a wide receivers ability to produce, yet many football fans are not aware of what this football statistic means.
Air yards in football is the total distance a ball travels in the air on passes to a specific receiver. When calculating total air yards it does not matter if the pass has been caught or not. This statistic measures the opportunities a receiver gets over a period of time.
Air yards are a personal statistic that is kept on all receivers, running backs, and tight ends. Air yards is often used in fantasy football in order to get a better understanding of the opportunities that player has in their offense.
In the air yards statistics are three separate stats that are kept, completed air yards, incomplete air yards, and total air yards.
Completed Air Yards
Completed air yards is going to refer to the total distance the ball was in the air on passes that were caught by the receiver.
Remember this only includes the yards that the ball travelled to get to the receiver. If a wideout takes a five-yard screen pass and runs it all the way to endzone the receiver will only be credited with five air yards.
Incomplete Air Yards
Incomplete air yards refer to the depth of the passes that are thrown to but not caught by the wide receiver. This may seem like a pointless statistic but it has some great value in determining the opportunities a player is receiving.
For example, if a player is getting a large number of incomplete air yards it means that the coaching staff and quarterback are trying to get them the ball.
Opportunity is one of the most important factors in being a productive receiver and incomplete air yards is one way you can see if a player is part of a teams offensive plans.
Total Air Yards
Total air yards as you may have already guessed combines a players complete and incompleted air yards.
Looking at total air yards is going to show you exactly how many opportunities a wide receiver is getting to produce in their system.
Air yards can also be referred to as depth of target.
How To Use Air Yards In Fantasy Football
If you are looking to do some fantasy football homework then air yard is a great place to get an edge. By reviewing a players air yards you may be able to find players that are undervalued.
Oftentimes when fantasy football managers are researching receivers they will simply look at players targets to determine their role in the offense.
The issue with this is that not all targets are created equal. If a slot receiver is targeted three times on slants this is not equivalent to a deep ball receiver getting three deep passes during the game.
By viewing air yardage you will be able to get a better understanding of what opportunities a player may have.
Additionally, you may be able to use air yards to your advantage when their is a specific reason a player’s stats may be misleading.
For example, let’s say a team’s starting quarterback gets hurt. The next week the backup only throws for 150 yards and the top receiver only gets 40 receiving yards. It’s easy to look at this game and think this receiver is less than productive.
But if you check out his air yards you may find that this receiver got a large number of targets on intermediate and deep routes. This shows that this receiver is still a part of the offensive game plan with the new quarterback.
Despite the low numbers these players could have simply not found their chemistry. But without checking out the air yards a fantasy manager may assume that this player will not produce with a backup QB.