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Staff Writer

Usage Notes - Week 4

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 4:

Running Back

  • Christian McCaffrey continues to play 100% of snaps. He received an incredible 37 touches (27 rushes, 10 receptions). If we re-drafted today, he would be the No. 1 choice in every league.

  • Ezekiel Elliott was second among RBs this week with a 97% snap share. No other running back was above 90%. However, Elliott faced a strong Saints defense on the road and was shut down on the ground (18 carries for 35 yards). He did, however, score a touchdown to go along with six receptions for 30 yards.

  • David Johnson played on 86% of snaps, receiving 19 touches. He was more effective through the air (8 receptions for 99 yards) than on the ground (only 40 rushing yards), because the Cardinalsí offensive line is atrocious.

  • Aaron Jones played a season-high 84% of snaps, but only because Jamaal Williams got hurt early. Jones was ineffective against the Eagles tough run defense but saved his fantasy day with a TD and 6 receptions for 37 yards.

  • Leonard Fournette was the definition of a workhorse running back, playing on 84% of snaps and receiving 29 rushes (also had 2 receptions). He ran for 225 yards, including an 81-yarder. Based on his touch volume and snap percentage, he is going to be a solid weekly fantasy play.

  • Dalvin Cook had a rough day facing the Bears defense, but he played on a season-high 79% of snaps and received a team-high 8 targets (6 rec for 35 yards). He is also a workhorse on a running team and is one of the premier running backs in fantasy so far this season.

  • Chris Carsonís snap count jumped from 44% in Week 3 to 76% in Week 4. Pete Carroll backed up his public support for Carson, showing he still believes in him. He responded with 4.7 yards per rush (22 for 104), and also caught 4 passes for 41 yards. It is unknown how things will shake out when Rashaad Penny returns in Week 5, but this was a positive step for Carson.

  • Todd Gurley was in on a season-high 76% of snaps, but only received 5 carries, likely due to game script. A snap percentage that high is a good sign for his future potential, and he also scored two touchdowns. Outside of his 13-yard touchdown run and his 5-yard touchdown run, his other three carries went for -2 yards. Gurley received an impressive 11 targets, finally getting involved in the passing game (7 receptions for 54 yards). Overall his involvement was a positive.

  • Derrick Henry was in on 75% of snaps, by far his highest of the season, likely due to the positive game script.

  • David Montgomeryís snap count was at 69% with Mike Davis being phased out of the offense. Although Montgomery could not get rolling against the Vikings, his heavy involvement is a great sign (21 carries, 5 targets). With the Raiders on tap for Week 5, a breakout could be on deck.

  • Nick Chubb (20-165-3) only played 64% of snaps, but got virtually all of the rushing work until the Browns were blowing out the Ravens. If you bought low on him, it looks like you will be rewarded.

  • Royce Freeman out-snapped Phillip Lindsay 34-to-25. He also received 6 targets to Lindsayís 1. It looks like this is a fairly even timeshare that has flip-flopped each week as far as who gets more touches and snaps. It is difficult to trust either player as a result.

  • Wayne Gallman played on 60% of snaps but that number would have been much higher if the Giants had not gotten out to a big lead on the Redskins. More importantly, he looked effective with the touches he received (18-63-1, 6-55-1). Next week against the Vikings will be a difficult matchup, but he should receive the vast majority of the snaps and can still be played due to volume.

  • Josh Jacobs played on 54% of snaps and was fairly effective, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, but until his snap percentage is higher, his upside will be capped.

  • Ronald Jonesí snap count jumped to 49%, his highest of the season (previous high - 31%). He also was the best running back on Sunday, rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown. He is one to keep an eye on; if his touch count rises up to around 60%, he could be a very useful fantasy asset.

  • Jordan Howardís usage jumped to 53% in Week 4. He was extremely effective, scoring three times. This may signify a shift in who will lead the team in running back touches going forward.

  • Marlon Mack (ankle) played only 36% of snaps after playing over 60% of snaps the first three weeks. This was due in part to the Colts falling behind and using Nyheim Hines (45% of snaps) in catchup mode. Mack also ceded 5 touches to Jordan Wilkins.

  • James White returned and played 52% of snaps at the expense of Rex Burkhead who went from 74% in Week 3 to 18% in Week 4. Michel played 45%. This is a backfield to avoid, outside of James White in PPR leagues.

Wide Receiver

  • Sammy Watkins played on 99% of snaps but only received 6 targets (3-54-0). Demarcus Robinson played on 91% and received 9 targets (4-35-0). The Lions defense did a magnificent job on the Chiefs receivers, and did so even without their top two corners for most of the day. That is concerning, but once Tyreek Hill gets on the field, things should open up for the offense.

  • Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins played on 99% and 97% of snaps and had similar stat lines (Fuller: 6 targets, 3 for 23; Hopkins: 8 targets, 5 for 41). The entire Texans offense struggled against Carolina with Deshaun Watson taking six sacks.

  • Adam Thielen played on 95% of snaps but only received 6 targets, which resulted in 2 catches for 6 yards. While Diggs had his first 100-yard receiving day, neither is easy to trust in this inept Vikings passing offense.

  • Arizona schemed to take away Tyler Lockett, and he was limited to 4 targets (4-51). He still played in 97% of snaps and is an every-week starter.

  • Similar story for Odell Beckham Jr., who played 96% of snaps and received 7 targets, resulting in 2 catches for 20 yards. The Ravens tried to take him away and succeeded.

  • All three primary pass-catchers for the Rams played 90% or more of snaps (Woods, Kupp, and Cooks). The Rams base 11 personnel (3 wide receivers), makes all three viable weekly starters.

  • With Taylor Gabriel (concussion) inactive on Sunday, Javon Wims jumped to 94% of snaps (rather than Anthony Miller). Wims received 5 targets (4-56). He is one to keep an eye on if Gabriel remains out.

  • Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore both caught 3 passes for under 45 yards. However, they were on the field for 90% & 88% of snaps, respectively. Better days are ahead for both, particularly if Cam Newton can get healthy.

  • Cole Beasley played on 86% of snaps for the Bills and received 11 targets. He caught 7 for 75 yards. He is becoming a must-start PPR receiver.

  • Marques Valdes-Scantling played on 86% of snaps and received 7 targets. He is a solid start if Davante Adams (toe) misses this weekís game.

  • With Damiere Byrd of the Cardinals out with a hamstring issue, Trent Sherfield was on the field 84% of the time. He had only 1 catch for 15 yards.
  • Although Marquise Brownís snaps continue to climb (81% in Week 4), he only caught 4 balls for 22 yards (on 7 targets). Teams seem to be refusing to let him beat them deep, so Brown will have to work on his intermediate game if he is going to be relevant in fantasy.

  • The Packers played a lot more 11 personnel in Week 4, with Geronimo Allison playing on 79% of snaps. If Davante Adams misses time, Allison will likely move to the outside and play virtually all the snaps.

  • With Mike Williams out, Dontrelle Inman played on 75% of snaps for the Chargers. He led the team with 5 receptions for 76 yards, on 7 targets. Watch to see if the coaches give him more playing time even when Williams returns, which could crush Williamsí struggling fantasy value.

  • Deon Cain played 73% of snaps, most of any Colts receiver but did not receive a target. It seems that he is either not getting open or Jacoby Brissett has a personal vendetta against him.

  • Dede Westbrook played only 62% of the snaps but led the team in receiving (5-66). I expect he will see a higher workload in the coming weeks.

  • Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon played virtually all of the snaps for the Patriots (95% & 89%). Phillip Dorsett played 62% of the snaps, and was the only other receiver who saw significant action. Dorsett did not produce (2-10) only seeing 9 targets. He is one to scoop up if an owner drops him out of frustration.

  • A.J. Brownís snap count did not go up (44%) for the Titans. He only received 3 targets so do not overreact to his two touchdown receptions. It is impossible to know when to trust Titans receivers, so they should be avoided.

  • Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee switched roles in Week 4, with Coutee playing 58% of snaps and Stills only 16% due to a hamstring injury suffered by Stills. Neither has been producing in this anemic Texans offense, but if they turn it around it appears Coutee has the current leg up for a role in the slot.

Will Dissly

Tight ends

  • Will Disslyís snap count jumped to 79% with Nick Vannett out of town. Dissly is now in TE1 territory, and should be started on a weekly basis.

  • O.J. Howard played on 88% of snaps but had only three receptions on three targets, likely because he stayed in to block against a good Rams pass rush.

  • Jimmy Grahamís targets through four weeks: 6-2-1-9. Not surprisingly, he has only produced in the first and fourth week.
  • Dallas Goedert is past his calf injury and played in 69% of snaps. He only received 3 targets but did find the end zone. He is a decent plug-in option if your tight end is on bye.

  • Donít overreact to Gerald Everettís 8 targets and productive game (5-44-1). The Rams threw the ball 68 times so everyoneís stats were pumped up. His snap % actually decreased in Week 4 to 57%.

  • Lance Kendricks played 57% of snaps for the Chargers, and received 3 targets (2-37). It appears he is the replacement for Hunter Henry for the moment. Monitor his target share going forward, as Rivers has shown he can make even an unathletic tight end useful for fantasy.

  • Jack Doyle played on 73% of snaps to Ebronís 35%. Doyle received 8 targets to Ebronís 5. Both caught a touchdown in Week 4, but Doyle seems to be the better fantasy play due to his higher snap percentage and heavier involvement.

  • Mark Andrews (f0ot) saw his snap count decrease to 42% in Week 4. His upside is capped until he begins playing 60% or more of the snaps. Still, he has been extremely useful to this point.

  • Delanie Walker (knee) played on only 31% of snaps, and only received 2 targets (1 reception). The Titans got up in this game and decided to let MyCole Pruitt jump in (59%) and help block for Henry while the Titans sought to run out the clock. In closer games where the Titans need to score, Walker will be much more active, so donít overreact.