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Kevin Scott | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Usage Notes - Week 14
12/10/19

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 14:

Patrick Laird

Running Back

  • With the injury to Rashaad Penny early in the game, Chris Carson played on 82% of the snaps and received 18 touches. His usage numbers should be the same moving forward, since Penny has been declared out for the rest of the year with an ACL injury. With the Panthers and Cardinals on tap, Carson is one of the best options available for the fantasy finals.

  • Patrick Laird’s upward trend continues. He played on 82% of the snaps in Week 14. His past 5 games: 12%, 23%, 37%, 60%, and 82%. He received 15 carries and 5 targets, and produced 86 yards of offense against a tough Jets front. He is worth a start in Weeks 15 & 16 if you are RB-needy.

  • Todd Gurley played on 80% of the snaps in Week 14, and produced (23-79-1, 4-34). He’s gaining more opportunities as the season moves along as the importance of the games increase.

  • Filling in for Le’Veon Bell, Bilal Powell played on 79% of the snaps in Week 14 (19-74, 2-14). This should be a one-week opportunity, as Bell has reportedly improved.

  • Nick Chubb went back to playing the most snaps at RB for the Browns (70%). Hunt played on 62%. Chubb received more carries (15 to 9) and out-produced Hunt on the ground (106 to 28). But Hunt received 3 targets to Chubb’s 1, and Hunt was the RB who scored. This timeshare is frustrating for fantasy owners, but both players are useful flex options for the fantasy finals.

  • With Josh Jacobs out, surprisingly it was Deandre Washington who played the most snaps at RB for the Raiders (63%), and not Jalen Richard (38%). Washington also received double the carries (14 to 7) and triple the receptions (6 to 2). If Jacobs is lost for the season, it appears that Washington is the better dart throw.

  • James White played the majority of snaps for the Patriots for the second week in a row (61% this week). The Chiefs did a nice job against him (6-33, 5-27), but he is a worthy play over the next two weeks (vs. the Bengals & Bills).

  • Even with Breida and Coleman healthy, Raheem Mostert played on 60% of the snaps for the 49ers, showing that Shanahan truly wants to ride the hot hand out of the backfield. Mostert rewarded him, going for 109 total yards and two touchdowns. Ride him if you have him, for as long as he stays hot.

  • Joe Mixon had his best game of the season in Week 14, and he did it on only 59% of the snaps. Bernard spelled him frequently and on passing downs, but Mixon still went for 186 total yards and a score. The Patriots will be a tough matchup in Week 15, but the Dolphins in Week 16 presents a very nice finals opportunity for Mixon owners.

  • Aaron Jones’ exciting but somewhat confounding season continued on Sunday, as he again played about half of the snaps (58%). Unlike last week, this week he produced, leading the team in both rushing and receiving and putting up 192 total yards of offense. With that upside you must play him every week, but it would be nice if the Packers would stay committed to using him on a weekly basis.

  • As many expected, Dalvin Cook played but took a back seat once the Vikings were in control of the game. He ended up playing 47% of the snaps (Mattison played 37%), and received 18 carries to Mattison’s 14. Cook should be a solid start for the fantasy finals.

  • Interestingly Austin Ekeler played on 49% of the snaps and Gordon played on 46% in Week 14. Ekeler received 12 touches to Gordon’s 17, but Ekeler did a lot more with his opportunities, producing 213 yards of total offense to Gordon’s 88. It is unclear if the coaching staff will begin leaning on Ekeler more moving forward, since Gordon is a free agent after this season. Both are solid flex plays for the final weeks.

  • Marlon Mack was good to go for Week 14 but played on only 41% of snaps, while Nyheim Hines played on 56%. Neither was very good for fantasy, and Mack remains a frustrating fantasy asset since he is not utilized in the passing game. Until that changes, he is better left on your bench.

  • Shockingly Benny Snell only played 40% of the snaps, even with Conner out. Against a poor Cardinals defense he only managed 16 carries for 41 yards (2.6 ypc). He was not targeted in the passing game.

  • “Starter” Ronald Jones played on 35% of snaps in Week 14. Both he and Peyton Barber received 11 carries and neither did much with them. No Tampa Bay back should be started.

  • Andy Reid seems to like what Bruce Arians is doing with his backfield. He played newcomer Spencer Ware on 40% of the snaps, and then played LeSean McCoy on 31% and Darwin Thompson on 27%. It seemed that aside from one dropped pass, Thompson was the most effective and dynamic, but Reid seems to prefer those he has coached in past years.

Wide Receiver

  • Cole Beasley played his highest snap share of the season, at 97%. He remains on his sharp upward trajectory since playing on only 45% of the snaps in Week 9. He is worth a weekly start in PPR leagues.

  • With Will Fuller out, Kenny Stills saw his snap share increase to 96%, but saw only 2 targets. Meanwhile Keke Coutee saw 71% of the snaps and had 5 receptions for 68 yards (on 8 targets). Coutee is a dart throw for the next two weeks, but only if you are desperate for WR help.

  • Sammy Watkins saw his snap share increase from 61% in Week 13 to 91% in Week 14. He did receive 8 targets, as many as Tyreek Hill, but did not make much of an impact (4-50). Against softer defenses, there is always a chance for big games for Watkins in this offense, but he is extremely difficult to trust.

  • Marcus Johnson saw 89% of the Colts snaps in Week 14, and received 7 targets, producing 3-105-1. If you are in urgent need of a WR, you could do worse, as Johnson will likely continue to see starter’s snaps with Hilton out.

  • Julio Jones returned from injury and played on 81% of the snaps. He produced 5-66 on 8 targets. Meanwhile Calvin Ridley produced 5-76-1 on only 5 targets, but played a season-low 53% of targets after suffering an abdominal injury. He is out for the season, so Jones will have to carry the passing game the rest of the way. This is a big blow to Ridley owners who made it to the finals, and those owners should likely look beyond the Falcons for receiving help. If there is nothing else, you could consider Russell Gage or Christian Blake.

  • Alex Erickson saw his snap share jump up to 80%, and he produced nicely with Andy Dalton, receiving a team-high 7 targets (5-45). He is a decent dart throw in PPR leagues if you are desperate.

  • If DeVante Parker is unable to go after his concussion, consider Allen Hurns, who played in 79% of the snaps and produced 5-68 on 8 targets. Isaiah Ford also produced on 9 targets (6-92) and played on 76% of the snaps, but Hurns will be on the field either way, and could be the top option in the passing game against the Giants.

  • Demarcus Robinson saw his highest snap share since Week 7 (79%), but the snap counts fluctuate too much for the Chiefs wide receivers outside of Hill and Watkins. Robinson should be avoided.

  • DaeSean Hamilton has been playing as the second receiver behind Courtland Sutton the past few weeks. He played on 75% of the snaps in Week 14, and although he did not see many targets, his days are coming as Drew Lock learns to use the various areas of the field more. He is certainly worth a stash in dynasty.

  • The Rams went away from their bread and butter in Week 14 (11 personnel), instead choosing to go run heavy against the Seahawks, with only two receivers on the field in run sets. Surprisingly, those two receivers were Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds, who played 99% and 66% of snaps, respectively. That left Brandin Cooks to play 39% and Cooper Kupp to play only 29%. This is very concerning for Kupp owners and something to watch in the weeks to come, to ensure it was game-plan specific.

  • After Mike Evans left the game early with a hamstring injury, it was Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson who took over behind Chris Godwin. Of those, Watson is by far the more intriguing option for the final two weeks of the regular season. He is an athletic freak who blew people away at the Senior Bowl and at the Penn Pro Day before entering the draft. He saw 8 targets in Week 14 and produced 5-59-1 on only 55% of the snaps. He is certainly worth a high-priority add if you are fighting for the championship.

  • Robby Anderson is on a hot streak, and got 93% of the snaps in Week 14. He produced again, going 7-116-1 on 11 targets. Meanwhile Demaryius Thomas saw his snaps go down to 52%, although he did score (2-28-1). Anderson should be started until he cools off, although you may have better options in Week 15 since he plays the Ravens.

  • John Ross returned for the Bengals and played 51% of the snaps, kicking Auden Tate down to 39%. Neither is worth a start in these most important weeks.

  • Mecole Hardman played on only 18% of the snaps but still made an impact, catching a key 48-yard touchdown. You’d have to think he will start to get more snaps over Demarcus Robinson soon.

Tight ends

  • With Gerald Everett out, Tyler Higbee has become a top tight end. He played on 97% of the snaps and produced huge numbers for the second straight week (7-116). Until Everett is back, Higbee is worth a weekly start.

  • After Ryan Griffin went down with an ankle injury, Daniel Brown replaced him and played on 87% of the snaps. Unfortunately, he was only able to produce 2 catches for 14 yards. He should be avoided.

  • In Greg Olsen’s absence, Ian Thomas stepped in and produced (5-57-1 on 10 targets). Those are huge numbers for a tight end, and he should certainly be started if Olsen is remains out.

  • After back-to-back scoring weeks, many depended on Mike Gesicki to continue producing in Week 14. With Parker exiting early, it looked like a great opportunity. Instead, he caught 1 pass for 6 yards (on 5 targets). No one from the Miami passing game can be trusted.

  • Austin Hooper returned from injury and played on 65% of the snaps. He produced only 2-32 on 6 targets, but he could have a huge finish to the season with Calvin Ridley out. Start him with confidence.

  • Both tight ends for the Bears produced Week 14. J.P. Holtz had 3-56 and Jesper Horsted had 4-36. It appears both could have a sizable role against the Packers and Chiefs, while they struggle to keep up in the scoring column.

  • Noah Fant had a huge start to the day before leaving with injury (4-113-1 including a 48-yard grab). He ended up playing on only 49% of the snaps. If he is able to make it back for the final two weeks, he has become a must-play at tight end.

  • Hayden Hurst seemed to take over the Mark Andrews role when Andrews left with an injury, and scored on a long touchdown. Keep an eye on practice reports this week. If Andrews can’t play, Hurst is a solid fill-in option.