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Kevin Scott | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Usage Notes - Week 3

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 3:

Kerryon Johnson

Running Back

  • Nick Chubb was on the field for 97% of snaps in Week 3. It appears the coaches realized taking him off the field on third downs was only limiting their upside on offense. Leonard Fournette was on the field for 100%. While neither had a big game, the potential is there for both as true three-down backs.

  • Devonta Freeman, Alvin Kamara, and David Johnson all saw healthy increases in their snap percentages on Sunday, when compared to Week 2. They all went from 60-65% of snaps to 87-90% of snaps. That is excellent news for their potential touch counts moving forward.

  • Kerryon Johnson also jumped from 57% of snaps in Week 1 and 54% in Week 2 to 75% of snaps in Week 3. It did not lead to a ton of production (20-36-1; 1-7), but it is a good sign that the release of C.J. Anderson could lead to more touches and stats moving forward.

  • Rex Burkhead played an amazing 74% of snaps for the Patriots. It is hard to know whether this is a trend or just because the Patriots got an early 20-0 lead on the Jets, but it is something to watch moving forward.

  • James Conner’s snaps increased to 68% in Week 3 (up from 46% and 54% in weeks 1 and 2). Although he did very little with those snaps (13-43, 4-14), it shows the coaches prefer him to be on the field. If the Steelers ever get their offense going, Conner is in line to turn things around.

  • Ezekiel Elliott fell to 67% of snaps, but it was only because the Cowboys had a signicant lead heading into the fourth quarter. Don’t read into Tony Pollard’s usage, even though he was very effective with those touches.

  • Jamaal Williams played 61% of the Packers’ snaps in Week 3, to only 39% for Aaron Jones. He also out-touched Jones 14 to 11. So, Matt LaFleur was not blowing smoke when he said he wanted to get Williams more snaps. Most analysts believe Jones is a superior back, although Williams did produce more per touch on Sunday. In the end, the coach is showing you what he thinks, so until his mind is changed lower your expectations for Jones and move Williams on to your radar as bench depth.

  • Dalvin Cook played on only 60% of snaps, mainly due to game script as the Vikings blew the Raiders out. Cook has been phenomenal so far ranking as fantasy’s No.2 PPR back through three weeks.

  • Joe Mixon looked better on Sunday, but his potential was limited since he played less than 60% of snaps (57%). Until the coaching staff realizes he needs to be on the field more, his upside is capped.

  • The Seahawks running back with the most snaps was C.J. Prosise (55%). Chris Carson saw only 44%. This was likely due to the fact that the Seahawks got down 28-7 in the game and went into hurry-up mode along with Carson fumbling again… the third time three games. Watch next week carefully, in what should be a very nice game script for the Seahawks against the Cardinals. If Carson does not 60% or more of snaps, it might be time to hit the panic button.

  • The 49ers backs played 41%, 30%, and 27% of snaps (Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson respectively). It is a true three-back committee and should be avoided.

  • Josh Jacobs notched 42% of snaps in Week 3, after 46% in Week 2 (74% in Week 1). Jacobs was under the weather this week but Gruden apparently does not see him as a three-down back and prefers to use Jalen Richard in passing situations. Since the Raiders project to be behind a lot and Jacobs’ role is dependent on game script, he is a risky weekly play.

  • Darrel Williams of the Chiefs was one of the biggest surprises of the week, gaining 55% of the snaps! Rookie Darwin Thompson only had 8%, and McCoy got 38%. The Chiefs limited McCoy’s snaps in the fourth quarter due to his injury issue, but Williams was relied upon heavily in this close game, which is something to watch going forward. Likely it is a moot point when Damien Williams comes back, but it means Darrel Williams is likely the handcuff to own.

  • Peyton Barber ping-ponged back down to 36% of snaps (Week 2 was 65%). This means Week 2 was an anomaly due to the short week, as Week 3 matched Week 1. All Bucs backs should be avoided until they commit to using only two of them.

  • Miles Sanders has had his snaps cut each week, from 48% to 43% to 34%. Until the coaches trust him more, he must be benched in fantasy.

  • Latavius Murray’s snaps fell to 21%. He is not viable until he gets more snaps.

Wide Receiver

  • John Ross played in 100% of the Bengals snaps. Auden Tate and Tyler Boyd were on the field for 89-90% of snaps, making up the three permanent receivers in Week 3. When A.J. Green comes back, he would presumably kick Tate back to the bench, but it is likely the Bengals are sticking with 11 personnel (3 wide receivers) as their base package. This means Ross and Boyd should not be overly affected from a fantasy perspective when Green returns.

  • Mack Hollins and Nelson Agholor played 99% of snaps for the Eagles. Hollins appears to be above rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside (73%) on the depth chart, although both should return to the bench when DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery return.

  • Damiere Byrd of the Cardinals continues to rack up the snaps (96% in Week 3). Still, he had only 4 targets, with 2 receptions for 11 yards.

  • Mike Williams of the Chargers saw his snap count jump from 64%/61% in weeks 1 and 2 to 93% in Week 3. Still, he could only manage 3 receptions for 45 yards on the day. However, he was targeted 7 times, including several deep shots so better days may be ahead.

  • James Washington played 92% of snaps for the Steelers but was only targeted 4 times (2 catches for 14 yards). Rookie Diontae Johnson played in 79% of snaps but was targeted 6 times (3 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown). Johnson’s snaps will likely continue to climb. Donte Moncrief was inactive for the game and appears done in Pittsburgh.

  • Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson were the two receivers for the Chiefs on the field for virtually every snap (95% and 91%). Mecole Hardman played 61% but made them count. When Tyreek Hill returns, its likely Robinson and Hardman will split snaps depending on the play call.

  • Damion Ratley was the third receiver for the Browns on Sunday night, playing in 79% of snaps. This just means Ratley is fourth on the depth chart as Rashard Higgins was out with an ankle injury.

  • Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore saw their snap count fall from an average of 95% to 76% and 73%, respectively. This appears to be due to Chris Hogan receiving 30% of snaps in Week 3, and is concerning. What is more concerning for Moore owners is that QB Kyle Allen only targeted him twice. Watch to see if they establish some chemistry moving forward, or you must consider benching Moore.

  • Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen both saw their snap count go down in Week 3 (70% and 87%), but that is likely due to the Vikings again blowing out their opponent. For Diggs and Thielen to reach their potential, the Vikings need to get in some shootouts.

  • For the Texans, Hopkins and Fuller played on 97% of snaps. Kenny Stills (53%) and Keke Coutee (28%) split reps. Neither can be relied upon.

  • T.Y. Hilton received 10 targets in Week 3. No other Colts receiver got more than three. The snap counts of the other receivers who played were Deon Cain (56%), Parris Campbell (45%), Zach Pascal (44%), and Chester Rogers (41%). Until the Colts coaches commit to a player opposite Hilton, none can be played in fantasy. Even if Hilton is out for Week 4, the snap count situation might remain the same, limiting the upside of any of these players.

  • The same situation is playing out in San Francisco. In Week 3 the snap counts for their receivers wereMarquise Goodwin (67%), Deebo Samuel (52%), Dante Pettis (42%), Richie James (35%), and Kendrick Bourne (28%). Kyle Shanahan seems to be preventing any of his receivers from getting into a rhythm. If he stopped playing James and Bourne, it would help the top three wideouts considerably. Until he does, none can be started with confidence.

Tight ends

  • Mike Gesicki’s snap percentage has fallen each week (68% - 56% - 42%). Meanwhile Durham Smythe (2018 4th rounder) has seen his snap percentage increase each week (24% - 40% - 56%). Neither is viable right now with the Dolphins a mess, but this is a trend to keep an eye on.

  • Jimmy Graham’s snap count percentage fell to 42% in Week 3 (73% in Week 2). He seems to have fallen out of favor a bit with the coaching staff, or his quad/groin injury is limiting him.

  • Vance McDonald fell from 91% to 28% of snaps due to a shoulder injury. It is fair to wonder if he was going to be featured in the passing game with how anemic the offense looked without him.

  • James O’Shaughnessy seems to have taken over the starting tight end job for the Jaguars. He played in 78% of snaps, while Geoff Swaim played in only 39%. The tight end is not featured in this offense, but if you are in a pinch O’Shaughnessy is almost certainly available on your wire.

  • Texans’ tight ends caught all three touchdown passes that Deshaun Watson threw on Sunday. Jordan Akins was in for 45% of snaps and Darren Fells in for 65% of snaps, as they received 5 and 6 targets respectively. This was likely a game-specific plan for how to beat the Chargers. But keep an eye on it moving forward.

  • T.J. Hockenson received 4 targets but could only catch one for 1 yard. He was in on 66% of snaps and Jesse James was in for his usual 50-55%. However, it’s concerning that Logan Thomas jumped to 30% of snaps (10% in Week 2), likely taking snaps from Hockenson. It appears Week 1 was an anomaly for Hockenson.