Imagine if, in one year in the near future, candy wasn't handed
out on Halloween, turkey wasn't served on Thanksgiving or gifts
weren't placed under the tree for Christmas. Pick one. Now imagine
thinking "this is the new normal" because of that one
singular incident in one year. In a nutshell, this is how owners
tend to react after Week 1.
Thankfully, my loyal readers either know better than to overreact
after Week 1 or simply don't bother to reach out to me to panic.
That's good. (Thank you.) As hard as it is for most people in
a compressed season, each week is little more than a series of
data points that we hope tell a more complete story by season's
end. Sometimes we know 30 minutes into a movie or a couple of
episodes into a TV series that it is time to bail. How many times
have you not bailed and glad you stuck it out? This is the fine
line owners walk sometimes in this hobby.
It is my intention to spend the first four weeks trying to lay
the foundation for this season. Snap counts and targets are a
nice starting point, but I want to go a bit deeper. In particular,
I think it will be helpful for owners to know how much of the
backfield pie their backs are getting, their receivers' target
shares and how often their tight end is getting the ball when
he is on the field, etc.
Snap % - The percentage of plays the player was
on the field
Target Share - The percentage of team targets
Activity - How often the receiver was targeted when he
was on the field
Note: Receivers who failed to play at least
40 percent of their team' snaps and/or did not receive more than
one target were not included. (Robby Anderson and Michael Gallup
were left on because they were notable exceptions.
The receivers that played 90 percent of their team's
snaps: DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald,
Davante Adams, T.Y. Hilton, Tyler Lockett, Brandin Cooks, Cooper
Kupp, Robert Woods, Jordy Nelson, Allen Robinson, Adam Thielen,
Odell Beckham Jr., A.J. Green, Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas, Chad
Williams, Zay Jones, Nelson Agholor, Kenny Golladay, Amari Cooper,
Mike Wallace, Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins, Chris Hogan, Corey
Notable receivers that did not play more than 75 percent
of their team's snaps: Keelan Cole, JuJu Smith-Schuster,
Kelvin Benjamin, Danny Amendola, Demaryius Thomas, Tyreek Hill,
Geronimo Allison, Chris Godwin, Quincy Enunwa, Michael Crabtree,
John Ross, Jamison Crowder, John Brown, Allen Hurns, Robby Anderson
Takeaway #1: The Rams led the league in three-wide
sets last season at 93 percent. So it should come as no surprise
that Woods, Kupp and Cooks all saw exactly 61 snaps (and were
on the field 97 percent of the time) in Week 1. Much like last
season, owners should expect a different set of two receivers
producing each week, making each one a low-end WR2 (and more like
a high-upside WR3) most weeks.
Takeaway #2: Golladay led the Lions' wideouts
with 65 snaps and a 93 percent snap share while recording a 23.1
percent target share. Tate actually saw the fewest snaps (57,
81 percent) but had the highest target share (28.8). Obviously,
the Lions can't be expected to play as poorly as they did in the
opener, but it appears Golladay could very well absorb the targets
left behind by Eric Ebron and eat into Marvin Jones' target share
Takeaway #3: Don't panic too quickly on Watkins,
although the fact his draft stock nosedived as the summer progressed
should mean he isn't being counted on too heavily at the moment.
It's impossible to know whether or not the Chiefs are willing
to force Watkins to become a thing since it seems Patrick Mahomes
hasn't embraced him yet. Still, playing 91 percent of his team's
snaps - 20 percent more than Hill - in the opener suggests Kansas
City is going to give him plenty of opportunities - as it should
- to find better chemistry with his young quarterback.
Takeaway #4: Along the same lines of Watkins,
owners of Tyler Lockett have to be thrilled. Not only did he play
98 percent of the snaps, he ran 26 of his 39 routes from the slot.
He was already a candidate to see more work this season as a result
of the mass exodus that Seattle has experienced lately, but the
expected multi-week absence of Doug Baldwin may give Lockett's
owners a taste of high-end WR2 production.
Takeaway #5: Slightly more than half of the
sub-75 percent receivers were involved on one end or the other
of blowouts or subject to unusual circumstances, so we need more
time to evaluate their role properly. The most surprising names
on this list include Smith-Schuster, Thomas, Hill and Godwin.
Each player was plenty productive with their "limited"
action, but the lack of playing time relative to some of their
teammates needs to be noted.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.