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Usage Notes: Week 12

By Kevin Scott | 12/1/20 |

Week 12 was fascinating, as teams either pushed toward a playoff berth or fizzled completely. After another poor Lions showing, Matt Patricia was fired. Adam Gase and Matt Nagy seem to be close on his heels. The Packers and Titans seem to be gaining steam as we head toward the playoffs. It will be a fascinating ending, assuming we can get the ending in amidst all of the Covid-19 drama.

Below, as always, I will try to provide insights for each of the three most important positions for fantasy football. As we dive into the usage data, I hope it will help you as you push toward your own playoff berth.

Antonio Gibson

Running Back

  • Duke Johnson was more involved in the passing game in Week 12. He received 4 targets (out of only 25 passes thrown), catching 3 for 43 yards and a score. He also carried the ball 9 times. The Texans wonít get to play the Lions every week, but as long as David Johnson remains out it seems Duke will be a decent starting option.

  • Antonio Gibson played on 65% of snaps, while J.D. McKissic played on only 41%. It is the first time the split has been so largely in Gibsonís favor. Gibson rewarded Washington by going off (20-115-3 on the ground, as well as 5-21 through the air). McKissic had only 2 catches for 21 yards and a single carry for 6 yards. The coaches said his role would grow over the course of the season, and it has. Start him every week, no matter what.

  • The Cowboys are a bad football team and dealing with a lot of injuries. Their offensive line is decimated and they cannot block effectively. As a result, they are choosing to throw more often. Ezekiel Elliott only had 10 carries, for 32 yards. It is painful, but I would bench him the rest of the way unless you have no one else. The only other game of the fantasy season where heís playable is against the Bengals, and I am not even confident heíll produce then.

  • Josh Jacobs laid an egg in what should have been a matchup he could win against the Falcons. They are not terrible against the run, but they are beatable. Jacobs sprained his ankle after just a 7-27 line on the ground. It remains to be seen if heíll play next week, and if he does, he is very difficult to trust. Grab Devontae Booker if heís on your wire, as heíd get a chance to start against the Jets if Jacobs is out.

  • Austin Ekeler played on 72% of snaps in his return, and received an incredible 16 targets! He caught 11 of them for 85 yards, and also added 44 yards on the ground. He has instantly become a top-10 back the rest of the way.

  • Although Devin Singletary ended up with more carries (14 to Mossís 11), he played on only 40% of snaps while Zack Moss played on 60%. Neither is a good play down the stretch, since they are splitting the snaps so evenly and since Josh Allen is always a threat around the goaline.

  • Wayne Gallman has finally taken over the Giants backfield, after the coaching staff seemed to not trust in him fully, week after week. He played on 63% of snaps and received 24 carries, going for 94 yards and a score. The Giants have not looked good and face some tough games coming up, potentially without Daniel Jones. So, I would not trust Gallman unless you are very RB-needy. But if you are, you could do a lot worse.

  • Derrick Henry did Derrick Henry things on Sunday. As we get to cold weather, this guy becomes a force. He went 27-178-3 on the ground, on 64% of snaps. The first-round pick is now being rewarded, in the most important weeks.

  • Jonathan Taylor had to sit out due to Covid-19 in Week 12, but he could be a key player down the stretch, with Jordan Wilkins suffering an injury this week. Nyheim Hines will still get about half the work if trends continue, but if you have Taylor donít rule him out of your lineups yet.

  • Nick Chubb is squeezing out Kareem Hunt a bit, due to his incredible efficiency. Chubb played on 61% of snaps while Hunt was down at 42%, and Chubb received 22 touches to Huntís 10. Both were effective, but Chubb is the superior runner and should continue to see plenty of volume. This pushes Hunt into more of a boom-bust flex play.

  • James Robinson played on an incredible 97% of snaps on Sunday. That is unheard of for running backs in todayís NFL, and makes him an absolute must-start for the rest of the season. He has also been incredibly efficient, and went 22-128-1 on the ground on Ė and also caught 5 of 6 targets for 31 yards.

  • Kyle Shanahan chose to go with a three-way committee at back in Week 12. Raheem Mostert played on 40% of snaps, Jeff Wilson on 35%, and Jerick McKinnon on 25%. This was likely due to both Mostert and Wilson being rusty after being on IR, and I anticipate Mostert will see the majority of the rushing touches every week moving forward. He didnít do much on the ground against a good Rams defense (16-43-1), but he gets some beatable run defenses over the next few weeks.

  • Sean McVay continued his silly usage of the Rams backs on Sunday, playing Malcolm Brown on 40% of snaps, Darrell Henderson on 32%, and Cam Akers on 27%. Akers was by far the best on the ground, going for 84 yards and a score on only 9 carries. But it remains to be seen whether McVay will shift his plan, even with Henderson looking worse each week (only 10-19 on Sunday). It would seem to be wise to give Akers an opportunity at 50% of the snaps to see what he could do, but I am not holding my breath.

  • Ronald Jones needs more touches. When he touches the ball, he is gaining yards. Arians says he now sees it, but weíll have to wait and see. If he indeed starts playing more than the 36% of snaps he saw on Sunday, he could be a very nice flex play.

  • David Montgomery looked very good on Sunday night, rushing for 103 yards on only 11 carries, also catching 5 passes for 40 yards and a score. The Packers rush defense is bad, so take this with a grain of salt. But Montgomery is an option for you, depending on the matchup.

  • Chris Carson returned in Week 12, but only played on 37% of snaps. Carlos Hyde played on 61%. Hyde also received 18 opportunities compared to Carsonís 10. This was likely just easing Carson back in, and these numbers should switch moving forward.

  • Miles Sanders played on 61% of snaps but only touched the ball 8 times. That is simply not enough. However, remember that this Eagles offensive line is terrible, and the Seahawks have been much more beatable through the air than on the ground. With how terrible the offense has been, Sanders is no longer a must-start every week. Look at the matchup and consider your options.

Wide Receiver

  • The Texans got Will Fuller going in Week 12, as he caught 6 for 171 and 2 scores, on 7 targets. It turns out that was his last game since he has been suspended for the next 6 games due to a PED violation. Itís a sad ending to a disappointing season for the Texans.

  • I am not sure what the situation is with Kenny Golladay, but if he continues to miss games and you are desperate at wide receiver, consider picking up Mohamed Sanu. He caught all 4 of his targets for 32 yards and a score, and the Lions are desperate for decent receiving options. Marvin Jones has not made the most of his opportunity, so Sanu could be a sneaky add for your playoff push if you desperately need help.

  • Henry Ruggs III continues to disappoint, but Hunter Renfrow continues to be Carrís security blanket. He played on 65% of snaps and received a team-high 9 targets, going 7-73. In PPR leagues he is a decent play down the stretch.

  • With John Brown out for a few weeks, Gabriel Davis is a must-add. He played Brownís snaps (ending with 97% of snaps) and received 4 targets. He caught 3 for 79 yards and a score. He has shown to be a dynamic and consistent player, and I am willing to trust him in the playoff push if heís my best option.

  • A.J. Brown received only 6 targets, but that led the team easily. He went 4-98-1 due to a long 69-yard touchdown. He continues to produce incredibly well on very limited opportunities, which his naysayers after last season said was impossible.

  • It was a frustrating game for those who roster Colts pass-catches. T.Y. Hilton caught his first touchdown of the season, going 4-81-1 on 5 targets. Likely he was on the wire or a bench in your leagues. Michael Pittman Jr., meanwhile, received 9 targets but only caught 2 of them for 28 yards. The player with the most targets was Nyheim Hines, who caught 8 of 10 for 66 yards. I do not want to play anyone in this offense, as the entire offense seems to be based on keeping any one player from becoming too important. If you have to use Hilton or Pittman, hope for the best, but donít plan on getting much.

  • Jarvis Landry finally showed up in the stats column, indicating many of his slow games had a lot to do with the poor weather in Cleveland. He received 11 targets and went 8-143-1. I will be hesitant, but I think I will end up starting him down the stretch in the playoffs. It is hard to find players with his ceiling, even if he can be maddening on such a run-heavy team.

  • With D.J. Chark out on Sunday, it was not Shenault who stepped up but Collin Johnson. Johnson was highly thought of as a tall, athletic player coming out of Texas, and he had his first big game on Sunday with the extra opportunities. He played on 80% of snaps and went 4-91-1 on 8 targets. He is a guy to keep in mind for dynasty players, but unless Chark is out for several weeks, he has limited upside moving forward.

  • D.J. Moore injured his ankle on Sunday, but before that he remained very involved, playing on 91% of snaps and leading the team with 9 targets. Unfortunately, he caught only 4 for 61 yards, and Bridgewater missed him on a touchdown when Moore was wide open in the end zone. Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel were also involved, and it seems that it will be hard to tell who is going to score the most points on a week-to-week basis. If Moore misses Week 14 after the Panthersí bye, Anderson and Samuel get a bump up in the receiver rankings.

  • Devante Parker again became a target hog with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. He received 14 targets and went 8-119. As long as Fitz remains under center, Parker is a must-start.

  • Denzel Mims again received 8 targets, and played on 95% of snaps. He only went 4-67, with Sam Darnold playing terribly. But, the targets have been there over the past 3 or 4 games. He is a desperation option down the stretch.

  • Deebo Samuel jumped right back into the clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver role on Sunday, catching 11 of 13 targets for 133 yards. Although I do not think much of Mullens, Deebo will be relied on heavily for their playoff push and is difficult to not start due to his upside.

  • Sammy Watkins played on 72% of snaps in his return, catching 4 of 7 targets for 38 yards. It was a quiet day with Tyreek Hill going off, but it looks like Watkins will be a nice potential flex down the stretch.

  • Allen Robinson enjoyed having Trubisky back at quarterback. Foles consistently looked in other directions, but Trubisky locked onto Robinson, targeting him 13 times. Robinson went 8-74-2. The Bears skill players are not recommended, but Robinson is an excellent receiver and should provide great upside for your fantasy playoffs.

  • Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf continue to trade off games. Apparently Wilson wanted to pepper Metcalf with targets on Monday night, and threw it his way 13 times. He finished with 10 catches for 177 yards. Lockett, meanwhile, only received 4 targets (3-23). Both need to be in your lineups, but with his size and speed advantage, Metcalf is the superior weekly play.

Tight Ends

  • The Washington Football Team has a three-man group of relevant skill position players. Antonio Gibson is quickly becoming a stud in the backfield. Terry McLaurin is a top receiver already, and Logan Thomas. Thomas again played virtually every snap (97%) and again was involved (caught all 4 of his targets for 20 yards and a score). This isnít a dynamic offense, but Thomas is one of the best options at tight end in the league due to his consistent involvement.

  • Hayden Hurst returned to relevance with Julio Jones out of the lineup, receiving 8 targets and catching 4 for 48 yards. This is a pretty bad Falcons team, but Hurst is always a decent start in the current tight end landscape. Although he is difficult to trust, Iíll play him if needed through the playoffs.

  • Hunter Henry received 10 targets on Sunday against the Bills, catching 7 for 67 yards. He did not get in the end zone, but he has consistently been one of the top targets for Herbert over the course of the season. He is a great weekly start.

  • Evan Engram had his best week of the season, going 6-129 on 9 targets. He has these blow-up games in him, but his inconsistency has made him a very frustrating fantasy asset. With Daniel Jones injured, I would stay away for your stretch run.

  • Jonnu Smith is a perfect example of why tight end is such an ugly position this season. On Sunday he played on 75% of snaps and received 0 targets in a blowout of the Colts. They scored 45 points and he had not one opportunity. Because of the way the Titans want to play offense, I would look in another direction if possible.

  • Just when it seems like Trey Burton will be less involved, he receives 6 targets on Sunday and goes 3-42-1. But he only played on 36% of snaps. As I said above, it is very difficult to trust any Colts. But if youíre desperate at tight end, heís at least an option.

  • Tyler Higbee played on 61% of the snaps and Gerald Everett played on 47%. Both received only 2 targets. I canít start either one the rest of the way, and that is extremely frustrating. I would advise finding another option since McVay seems incapable of committing to either one.

  • Rob Gronkowskiís hot stretch continued on Sunday, as he caught 6 of 7 targets for 106 yards. He looked awful early in the season and he still looks clunky out there, but any tight end receiving so many opportunities is a must-start every week.

  • Robert Tonyan had a game on Sunday, catching all 5 of his targets for 67 yards and a score, on 58% of snaps. He can be started the rest of the way. He will have weeks where he is not involved at all, but these boom weeks will also be there occasionally.

  • With Greg Olsen out for a while, I expected Will Dissly to be involved. Instead he was not targeted once, and fellow tight end Jacob Hollister was targeted 5 times. I think this situation is one to avoid, as you simply will never know which tight end will get the biggest workload.

  • The Eagles have not been able to get any of their receivers going this season, but Wentz continues to look for his tight ends. Dallas Goedert finished with 10 targets and went 7-75-1, and Richard Rodgers also scored on a Hail Mary, going 3-53-1. The tight ends are about the only Eagles worth starting until this team improves drastically.

Kevin Scott is a fantasy pro who is the co-host for The Lowdown Fantasy Football Podcast. He plays in over 40 leagues annually and has made over $100,000 playing fantasy football. You can follow him @kevinscottff.