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Staff Writer

Usage Notes - Week 10

Each week weíll review some interesting data points related to player usage; information I consider to be among the most predictive and actionable in fantasy football. The truth doesnít always lie in the stats but usage tells the story of how a coaching staff intends to utilize a player.

Here are some of the most important usage statistics for Week 10:

Jor Mixon

Running Back

  • Chris Carson played on 96% of Seattleís snaps in Week 10. Rashaad Penny came in for two carries and fumbled one of them, and never saw the field again. The coaches trust Carson and he has been the better player all year. Ride him confidently.

  • Kalen Ballage is a prime example of why usage isnít everything. He played on 82% of snaps, received 24 touches and gained 45 yards. Despite his heavy usage, he is still not worth a start in fantasy because he is simply not good enough to produce.

  • Interestingly Nick Chubb played more snaps than in recent weeks, despite the return of Kareem Hunt. Chubb played on 81% of snaps and received 22 touches to Huntís 11. However, Hunt received 9 targets and caught 7 passes for 44 yards, making him extremely relevant in PPR leagues. Perhaps they will continue to utilize Chubb in the early-down role and Hunt in the third-down role, in which case both should continue to be useful for fantasy, particularly in PPR leagues.

  • With Alvin Kamara returning, Latavius Murray played only 25% of the snaps. For Murray owners hoping he would retain a large role in the offense, it seems the only way he will be relevant is if the Saints are ahead since Kamara is the better receiving back (8 receptions for 50 yards in Week 10).

  • Joe Mixon played his highest snap percentage of the season in Week 10 (76%). He also received the most touches of the season with 32. Perhaps after shifting to Ryan Finley at quarterback, the Bengals have decided to be more committed to the run to protect him. If so, Mixon could return to relevance, since the Bengals face the Raiders, Browns, Jets, and Dolphins down the stretch.

  • Todd Gurley played on 74% of the snaps, his highest percentage since Week 5. However, he received only 12 carries and did not catch any of his 4 targets. Further, he was not used in the 4th quarter. The Ramsí usage of Gurley continues to confound owners. For dynasty owners, Gurley has gone from a bust to the best RB in the league to being difficult to trust. Until the Rams start giving Gurley 15+ carries, he is likely to be frustrating for owners.

  • When Ty Johnson went down with a concussion in Week 10, it was J.D. McKissic who played almost all of the snaps (70% overall). While Paul Perkins got 18% and 7 carries, McKissic received 16 touches. He is the back to own if you are desperate enough to start a Lions running back.

  • Devin Singletary played on 67% of the snaps, essentially the same as the past two weeks. He was again effective, but the coaching staff again did not hand him the ball enough. He only received 8 carries but produced 5.3 yards per carry. He also received 7 targets but was only able to catch 3 of them for 8 yards. If the Bills would lean on the run game more, Singletary could break out.

  • Even with David Johnsonís return, Kenyan Drake played on 64% of snaps. He also out-touched Johnson 16 to 6. It seems Drake has taken over the lead in this backfield, which is either a big shift in how the coaches view David Johnson or is due to his continued injury issues. Either way, Johnson should be avoided until he is utilized as the lead back. Drake can be played if the matchup is right, but he is also risky in this situation.

  • With Ito Smith on IR, it was Brian Hill who came in to replace Devonta Freeman when he left with a toe injury (Hill played on 50% of snaps). Hill did not do much on the ground (20-61), but he did have one reception for a touchdown. He is a nice addition during another week with several teams on bye, but it sounds like Freeman should only be out for a couple weeks.

  • Ronald Jones, despite being named the starter for the first time by Bruce Arians, still received the same number of carries as Peyton Barber. However, he did see an uptick in his snap count, to 47%. Barber and Ogunbowale each received 26%. In addition, Jones saw big work in the passing game, and caught all 8 balls thrown his way Ė for 77 yards. If he continues to see passing game work, he offers big upside for the stretch run.

  • Marlon Mack received 20 touches but only played on 46% of the Coltsí snaps. If he could see an increase to 60-70% of the snaps, and see more of the passing game work, he could be a top-10 back. For now, he will remain an RB2 who will mainly be useable when the Colts are in the lead and can lean on the run.

Wide Receiver

  • The Rams, as they typically do, played almost exclusively 11 personnel (3 wide receivers). Woods played 100% of snaps, Josh Reynolds played 95%, and Kupp played 92%. However, the Steelers decided to take away Cooper Kupp and it worked. He finished with 0 receptions, while Woods finished with 7-95 on 11 targets and Reynolds with 3-49.

  • Zach Pascal played on 99% on the snaps but could not produce with Brian Hoyer under center. He did receive 7 targets but only had 2-26.

  • D.K. Metcalf played on 97% of the snaps, and the upward trend does not seem to be nearing an end. He received 10 targets and produced 6-70, and he could have had a much bigger day. He is a must-start going forward, particularly when the Seahawks face quality opponents.

  • A.J. Brown played on a season high 94% of the snaps. Before Week 10, he had never played on more than 69% of snaps. Donít be fooled by his 1-17 on 4 targets. The Titans decided to try to beat the Chiefs on the ground, but Brown will benefit from his increased snaps moving forward.

  • Allen Hurns played on 89% of the snaps for Miami and was third on the team with 4 targets (2-32). He is an interesting speculative add for the playoff push, particularly in very deep leagues.

  • Calvin Ridley played on 89% of the snaps, his highest of the season. But in a strange offensive game, he received only 5 targets (3-28). The uptick in usage is encouraging, but the Falcons decided to play a conservative game against the Saints, and it worked.

  • Russell Gage played on a season-high 62% of the snaps for the Falcons, and received 5 targets (4-23). He is on the field whenever the Falcons are in a 3-wide set. He could be extremely useful in games that have a more offensive-minded game script.

  • Taylor Gabriel again played the second-highest percentage of snaps among receivers for the Bears, playing on 86% of the snaps. Anthony Miller played on only 58%. Gabriel received 6 targets and produced 4-39-1. He is a decent dart throw against poor defenses, but any Bears receiver is a risky start with Trubisky under center.

  • Deebo Samuel had a breakout game in Week 10. Some of that may have had to do with Emmanuel Sanders going out with a rib injury, but Samuel was impressive from beginning to end, and finished with 8-112 and 11 targets (on 83% of the snaps). He is an excellent add and a solid dynasty target.

  • Alex Ericksonís upward trend seems to have reversed course. From his 94% of the snaps in Week 7, he fell all the way to 51% in Week 10. He also doesnít seem to be a priority for new starter Ryan Finley, receiving only 2 targets.

  • Bennie Fowlerís usage is trending upward, as he played on 76% of the snaps on Sunday. The Giants are also playing a lot of 11 personnel, and Fowler was on the field with Tate and Slayton for most of the game. Until Sterling Shepard returns, Fowler is a desperation dart throw in deep leagues.

  • Albert Wilson played on a season-high 53% of the snaps. He didnít produce, but itís worth keeping him in mind for those desperate for receiver help. If he can get on the same page with Fitzpatrick, he could have value down the stretch.

  • Although James Washington played on only 50% of the snaps, he had his best game as a pro, producing 6-90-1 on 7 targets. This may result in more playing time, and with the Steelers pushing for playoff contention and with an easy schedule on the horizon, Washington may be an excellent add for the fantasy home stretch.

  • Behind Davante Adams (79% of the snaps), the Packers gave Allison 62%, Lazard 44%, Kumerow 34%, and Valdes-Scantling 16%. It seems they are unsure of their own receiver depth chart. All receivers should be avoided except for Adams until they figure out a tighter rotation.

  • Andy Isabella played on 37% of the snaps, up from 23% in Week 9. He again had a long reception (55 yards), and should continue to see increased playing time alongside Fitzgerald and Kirk. He is a worthy add in all formats.

  • Josh Gordon played on 38% of snaps in his first action with the Seahawks, and made several key catches. If Lockett (lower leg injury) misses significant time, Gordon could be a huge value for the next few weeks.

Tight ends

  • O.J. Howard played on 99% of the snaps, highest of the season. He received 7 targets and put up 4-47-1. It could be a one-week thing, since the Cardinals are the worst team in the league against the tight end, but watch his usage next week. If this continues, he is an excellent play for the rest of the season, in a league with very few difference-makers at the position.

  • Jacob Hollister continues to play TE1 snaps for the Seahawks (78%), and he continues to produce for fantasy as well (8-62-1 on 10 targets). He is a worthy start in all formats until something changes with his usage.

  • Gerald Everett played on 70% of snaps and was very involved (8-68 on 12 targets, a team-high). He seems to have become a permanent fixture of the Ramsí offense, making him worthy of starting on a weekly basis.

  • Eric Ebron played on a season-high 61% of the snaps, perhaps because the Colts are hurting offensively without Hilton on the field. Doyle played on 60% of snaps, and thatís the first time Ebron has out-snapped him. Ebron also received 12 targets, a team-high, and put up 5-56. Keep an eye on his usage in Week 11 to see if this continues. If so, Ebron returns to relevance.

  • Jared Cook returned from injury and played on 71% of the snaps, producing 6-74 on 10 targets. Those are very encouraging numbers for Cookís potential impact for the final six weeks of the fantasy season.

  • With Adam Thielen out with a hamstring injury, both Irv Smith and Kyle Rudolph have received additional action in the passing game. When Thielen returns, they should both return to risky weekly plays.