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Staff Writer

Usage Notes - Week 11

Each week we’ll 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 doesn’t 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 11:

Miles Sanders

Running Back

  • Kenyan Drake continues to be the starting running back for the Cardinals, despite David Johnson apparently being healthy. Drake played on 88% of snaps in Week 11, while David Johnson played on only 13%. It is a very unfortunate turn for Johnson owners, while Drake owners should ride him for as long as it lasts. He didn’t score in Week 11, but did run for 4.2 ypc (16-67) and had 6 receptions.

  • In the absence of Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders was the workhorse as expected. He played 85% of snaps, but had a hard time producing against a stout Patriots defense (11-38, 2-9). If it had been a better matchup he might have excelled, but if Howard returns in Week 12 Sanders should go back to a change-of-pace role.

  • Todd Gurley played on 75% of snaps and also saw heavier usage than normal. He received 28 touches and produced 133 yards and a touchdown. He was also vultured by Malcolm Brown on another touchdown. If the Rams choose to go back to relying on Gurley as the weather gets cold, he could be a top fantasy option down the stretch.

  • Devin Singletary saw his highest snap share of the season at 74%, and received 16 touches. While he didn’t get in the end zone, he did average 5 ypc (15-75), which doubled Frank Gore’s ypc of 2.5. He should continue to see big usage down the stretch and eventually will produce a big fantasy day as a result.

  • The Broncos coaching staff was telling the truth when they said they wanted to lean on Phillip Lindsay a bit more, and he played on 64% of the snaps (he had been in the 40s for the previous 6 games). He had 16 carries to Freeman’s 8, and produced nicely with 67 rushing yards against a stout Vikings rush defense. (Freeman saw his lowest snap share of the season, at 30%). If Lindsay continues to get the majority of the carries he too could carry some teams in the fantasy playoffs. He plays the Chiefs and Lions in the fantasy finals (Weeks 15 & 16).

  • The Saints coaches made an effort to get Latavius Murray more snaps, and his snap count rose from 25% to 41%. Correspondingly, Kamara saw his snap share fall from 78% to 61%. Kamara received 13 carries (75 yards) and Murray received 10 carries (27 yards). Kamara saw 10 targets to Murray’s 3. If the split continues, Murray could have flex value down the stretch.

  • Tarik Cohen’s snap share has risen each of the past few weeks (21%-36%-53%-59%). He has been the more effective player than David Montgomery, and in Week 11 he rushed for 4.3 ypc to Montgomery’s 2.2. He also caught 5 passes for 35 yards and a score. While no Bears offensive players are easy to count on, he is a flex option in the right matchups, particularly if his snap shares continue to rise. With Montgomery’s snaps decreasing each of the past three weeks, he should be benched until he starts producing.

  • Kareem Hunt played on 55% of the snaps in Week 11. He received 6 carries and had 6 receptions. While Chubb played on 71% and received 27 carries, it was Hunt who scored more in PPR due to his receiving prowess. He is a PPR flex option for the rest of the season.

  • After Mack was hurt, Jonathan Williams played virtually all of the snaps except for the passing downs where Nyheim Hines came in. Williams totaled 46% of the snaps for the entire game. He also produced nicely (13-116, 1-31). If you have FAAB left, he’s worth an add, but note Jordan Wilkins (ankle) could be back for Week 12.

  • Jaylen Samuels, even with Conner out for the majority of the game, saw his snap share decrease again (to 34%). The coaching staff doesn’t view him as a run between the tackles guy making him nothing but a dart-throw flex play in PPR leagues.

  • After a week where many thought he had broken out, Ronald Jones played on only 31% of the snaps and received only 4 carries. He also had 4 targets but only caught 2. He is not worth owning given the Bucs refuse to commit to the run.

  • Once again we see that all Lions backs should be avoided at all costs. A week after seeing 70% of the snaps, J.D. McKissic received 23%, for no apparent reason. Instead, newly signed Bo Scarbrough received 14 carries. Next week it is likely to be a different player just signed off the street.

Wide Receiver

  • Although Kenny Stills only produced 4-27 on Sunday against the Ravens, he played on 98% of the snaps. If that usage continues, the big game will happen.

  • Similarly, Zach Pascal played on 97% of the Colts snaps and received the most targets (6) for any receiver. But now that he is matched up with the top corner of the opposing team, he is finding it hard to produce (2-17).

  • Kelvin Harmon’s highest snap share coming into Week 11 was 57%. In Week 11 he played on 93% of the snaps, leading the Redskins. He also received a team-high 6 targets (5-53). He seems to be on the same page with Dwayne Haskins, and if the offense ever starts clicking he should benefit. Keep an eye on him as a sneaky add in dynasty leagues.

  • Although he only received 4 targets (4-38), Cole Beasley played his highest snap share of the season, 90%. The coaching staff seems to trust him, and his presence on the field should produce more in games where the Bills trail.

  • Allen Hurns again played a big role in Sunday’s game, playing on 87% of snaps for Miami. He was also signed to an extension during the week. He saw 6 targets and produced 4-53 making him a great add for the stretch run.

  • Anthony Miller saw his highest snap share of the season, playing on 86%. He also received an incredible 11 targets and produced 6-54. Taylor Gabriel received 14 targets and produced 7-57. Allen Robinson received only 6 targets (4-15). When the Bears trail, they seem to go to more 11 personnel (3 wide receivers), allowing all three receivers to be active. But with Trubisky under center, it is difficult to play any of them with confidence.

  • James Washington, after producing in Week 10, saw his snap share increase from 50% to 85%. He led the team in receiving with 3-49 on 5 targets, but like the Bears’ receivers, it is almost impossible to trust a Steelers receiver with Rudolph at QB.

  • Dede Westbrook returned from injury and played on 84% of snaps (4-32 on 6 targets). He should be a nice flex option down the stretch with Nick Foles under center, particularly in softer matchups.

  • The Jets seemed to want to establish the run in Week 11, running the ball 33 times to only 31 passes. This is likely the only reason Jamison Crowder saw his snap share decrease to 58%. He still produced (5-76-1), and has been the most dependable receiver on the Jets. He remains a solid WR2 or flex down the fantasy stretch.

  • Amari Cooper played on only 55% of snaps and produced 3-38 on 8 targets. Meanwhile, Michael Gallup played on 82% of snaps and produced 9-148 on 13 targets. This is likely due to Darius Slay shadowing Cooper, and Cooper is also struggling through a knee injury. Still, it was very discouraging for Cooper owners and very encouraging for Gallup owners. Keep an eye on Cooper’s practice participation, and what happens with snap counts for the pair in Week 12.

  • Emmanuel Sanders played on only 47% of snaps due to his injury, but as he heals he is likely to see that snap share (and his production) increase.

  • In his return, N’Keal Harry played on 43% of snaps. He saw 4 targets and produced 3-18. You never know which week he will play a huge role, making him an inconsistent fantasy option. Welcome to the Patriots for fantasy. The only receiver who is certain to play most of the snaps is Julian Edelman.

Tight ends

  • Ross Dwelley played the George Kittle role in Week 11, playing on 90% of the snaps and producing 2 touchdowns (4-14 on 5 targets). He is not anywhere near the caliber of Kittle as a player, but when Kittle misses, Dwelley is a fine dart throw.

  • Zach Ertz played on 89% of snaps and Dallas Goedert played on 81%, as the Eagles played with two tight ends the majority of the game with Alshon Jeffery out. Both produced nicely as well. If the Eagles would keep them both on the field even with Jeffery available, they can both be fantasy relevant.

  • Mike Gesicki continues to see his usage increase, as he played on 86% of the snaps in Week 11. However, he struggled to produce (4-18 on 6 targets). He’s difficult to trust in this Miami offense, but he is a nice hold in dynasty.

  • So is Noah Fant, who played on 86% of snaps, receiving an astounding 11 targets! He produced only 4-60 with Brandon Allen at QB, but he flashed his skills and will be a great tight end for years to come.

  • Irv Smith played on 81% of snaps for Minnesota with Thielen being out as the team shifts toward more 2-tight end sets. In Week 11 he produced 3-20-1.

  • Cameron Brate played on 75% of snaps and led the team with 10-73 on 14 targets. After O.J. Howard dropped a pass he was benched, and Brate took advantage. It is impossible to predict what happens in Tampa in any given week, so don’t bother picking him up.

  • Although Jack Doyle did not have a target in Week 11, he again played his normal allotment of snaps (65%). The Colts just chose to attack the Jaguars with the run (only threw 24 passes, and ran 36 times).

  • Mark Andrews played on only 35% of the Ravens’ snaps and it didn’t matter. He still led the team in receiving with 4-75-1. He will have weeks where he doesn’t catch a pass if his snap share teeters this low, but despite that danger he is one of the few tight ends you should play every week.