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Usage Notes: Week 13

By Kevin Scott | 12/8/20 |

In what was the final push before most fantasy leagues enter the playoffs, there were many interesting and surprising results. The truly small sample size we are dealing with in the NFL makes it very difficult to predict precisely how a team will use a player. When compared to over 100 games in MLB and nearly 100 in the NBA, it is obvious why projecting for the NFL is a tall task.

Still, many of us give projections our best shot, and they are the most effective way to dive into what you believe will happen in a given season. This weekly review of usage is a great way to “check the score” and see how our target and touch projections are coming along. Hopefully you will find some great nuggets either for your playoff lineup or for players to grab in dynasty leagues for next season and beyond.

Myles Gaskin

Running Back

  • Alvin Kamara only received 3 targets from Hill in Week 13, but he returned to a heavier rushing workload, taking 15 carries for 88 yards and a score. His value certainly decreases without Brees peppering him with targets, and with Hill taking so many rushing attempts. But, he is still a must-start regardless.

  • Todd Gurleyís time appears to be up. In Week 13 he played on 33% of snaps, Ito Smith on 36%, and Brian Hill on 16%. Gurley and Smith received 9 touches, and Hill got 5. With Gurley on a 1-year contract, his time as a starter in the league may be over.

  • David Montgomery has been one of the only bright spots for the Bears lately. He played on 75% of snaps and took 17 carries for 72 yards and two scores. He also caught all 4 of his targets for 39 yards. Granted, it was against the Lions, but Bears fans should take whatever positives they can during this collapse.

  • Jonathan Taylor is seeing a surge as the season nears its end. He played on 48% of snaps, leading the Indy backfield, and took 13 carries for 91 yards. He also caught all three of his targets, going 3-44-1. Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines are both still playing plenty of snaps (19% & 33% respectively), but Taylor seems to have taken over the top spot for now. He is a risky play in the fantasy playoffs, but one with upside.

  • Myles Gaskin returned to the lineup and played on 71% of snaps. He produced 90 yards on the ground on 21 carries, and also caught both of his targets for 51 yards. He is a solid, if unspectacular, option for the fantasy stretch.

  • James Robinson is officially a stud. He is not a fluke, and if he continues to get the work he will continue to produce. He is incredibly skilled at finding room and creating angles, picking up whatever yardage is there. On 85% of snaps he went 18-78-1 and caught 6 balls for 30 yards. Start him weekly, and try to get your hands on him in dynasty.

  • The Raiders missed Josh Jacobs on Sunday, as Devontae Booker could not get much going against the Jets (16-50 on the ground). The simplest explanation is that Jacobs is significantly better, and he should be back soon for the Raiders playoff push.

  • Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt split the snaps 50/50, which is not great news for Chubb owners. Chubb has been far more effective on the ground of late (18-80-1 compared to 14-33 for Hunt), but Hunt continues to get opportunities. Still, Chubb is a must-start and is among the most skilled runners in the league. Hunt is fine as a flex option, but his upside is capped.

  • Derrick Henry typically gets stronger as the season winds down, but he never really got going on Sunday with the Titans falling behind big early. Look for better games in the fantasy playoffs, while the Titans make their own playoff push and are likely in better game scripts.

  • Cam Akers finally appears to have taken hold of the starting job at running back for the Rams. Since many fantasy owners invested an early pick in him, this is too-little-too-late. But still, if you have him on your roster, it presents an opportunity at a plug-in running back with good upside. He played on 63% of snaps, three times as many as either of the other backs, and finished with 21 carries for 72 yards and a score. This looks like a promising development for dynasty owners.

  • What a day for Wayne Gallman. Against a stout Seahawks run defense, he ran for 135 yards on only 16 carries! Alfred Morris vultured a touchdown, but Gallman is hot and is a great weekly start with the Giants offense starting to click. He did that on only 50% of snaps Ė if the coaches start to phase out Morris and give him extra carries, he has a very high ceiling.

  • Chris Carson took over bell cow duties on Sunday, playing on 58% of snaps and getting all but two of the rushes. He also got 6 targets and went 3-45-1 through the air. It looks like he is a nice, high-upside play the rest of the way.

  • I donít know if youíve realized this yet, but the Eagles are a mess. You simply cannot play any Eagles players the rest of the way, unless something changes drastically. Miles Sanders went 10-31 on Sunday, behind an awful offensive line and next to putrid quarterback play. Sit him on your bench.

  • Aaron Jones played on 66% of the snaps on Sunday, which is actually a good number for him. When the split gets closer to 50/50 with Jamaal Williams, his production takes a big hit. Ironically, he almost had a terrible day, until he busted a long TD run to ice the game. Without that, it would have been yet another poor outing. The Packers are more effective passing than rushing at the moment, making Jones a question mark in your fantasy playoffs. Still, he is an auto-start because you never know when heíll bust a long run.

  • Damien Harris was extremely effective running the ball (16-80), and again was unable to score because Cam Newton took two short rushes into the end zone. Sony Michel got into the mix as well, limiting Harris to 49% of snaps and taking away 10 carries. Harris appears to be a very good back, but in this situation, donít expect much.

  • Melvin Gordon was unstoppable on Sunday night, finishing with 131 yards on only 15 carries. Every time Phillip Lindsay carried the ball he was stuffed, and virtually every time Gordon touched the ball he got a big gain. It was very strange. Watch to see if Gordon can increase on the 53% of snaps he saw against the Chiefs Ė if so, he might offer big upside in the final fantasy weeks.

  • Antonio Gibson going down with a toe injury was a huge blow to many teams trying to make the playoffs. Peyton Barber took over rushing duties after he exited, but was very ineffective (14-23-1). Still, if you need a running back who will get carries the rest of the way, Barber is a decent candidate.

  • J.D. McKissic returned to a heavy receiving workload against the Steelers, catching all 10 of his targets for 70 yards. With Antonio Gibson likely out for the next few weeks, McKissic has a lot of upside in PPR leagues as a flex option.

  • Zack Moss was basically benched the rest of the way after an early fumble. Devin Singletary got a chance to lead the charge at running back (85% of snaps) and played well. He finished with 18-61 on the ground and 3-22 receiving. It is unknown whether he will get the chance to lead the backfield more going forward or if it will go back to a split.

  • Kyle Shanahan badly misused his backs on Monday night, giving his stud Raheem Mostert only 9 carries and insisting on heavy involvement for Jeff Wilson. I am not sure if Mostert had a bad week of practice Ė since Shanahan has been known to punish his players in such a way if they donít practice well Ė or if there was some other reason. But as a result Mostert could never really get rolling. You now have a serious quandary for the fantasy playoffs, as we arenít sure if we can trust that Mostert is the lead back or not. Good luck with that difficult decision.

Wide Receiver

  • Michael Thomas seems to have returned to his full role within the offense, garnering 11 targets in Week 13. He caught 9 of them for 105 yards, showing he can still be very effective with Taysom Hill at QB. However, he only played on 60% of snaps. It seems he is still dealing with a bit of soreness in his ankle.

  • With Kenny Golladay out, Marvin Jones continues to get his opportunity to shine. And Sunday was a good day for him against the Bears, as he received 12 targets and caught 8 for 116 yards and a score. Jones is 30 and is in the final year of his deal, so he may be playing for another contract.

  • T.Y. Hilton finally seems to be clicking with Philip Rivers. If you held onto him, you might get a chance for that pick to finally pay off. On only 62% of snaps, Hilton received 11 targets, catching 8 of them for 110 yards and a score. Many thought Hilton was done after his awful season to this point, but perhaps it was simply needing to get on the same page with his new quarterback. Either way, it looks like he is a worthwhile flex option for the fantasy playoffs.

  • Michael Pittman Jr. played more snaps than Hilton, but was not as involved. He still received 5 targets and caught them all (5-46), and this result could have been based on the coverage they were seeing. Pittman remains on the radar as a flex option in the playoffs, and has huge upside in dynasty.

  • With Will Fuller suspended, Keke Coutee had a breakout game. He played on 75% of snaps and caught 8 of 9 targets for 141 yards, Brandin Cooks also may have suffered yet another concussion, so Coutee could have serious value for the fantasy playoffs. Chad Hansen also jumped into the mix and produced 5-101 on 7 targets, and is a name to target if you are WR-needy. Playing with Deshaun Watson makes receivers very valuable, so donít ignore these guys.

  • Collin Johnson was effective for the second week in a row, catching 4 balls for 66 yards on 6 targets, despite only playing 55% of the snaps. He knows how to high-point passes and use his huge frame to gain an advantage. I donít know if Iíd have the guts to play him in the playoffs, but he is certainly one to keep an eye on for dynasty.

  • Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen both played over 90% of snaps and had 12 targets and 11 targets, respectively. They each caught a TD pass, and both are playing extremely well in this system. They are both auto-starts down the stretch.

  • Be cautious when considering the stats of Henry Ruggs III. Yes, he caught a game-winning touchdown and finished 3-84-1. But Carr threw the ball 47 times and only targeted Ruggs 4 times. Further, Ruggs seems unable to figure out how to contribute on a play-to-play basis. He is one to avoid for the rest of the season, and I do not think he is worth a pick up at this stage in redraft leagues.

  • Jamison Crowder surfaced again, catching 5 of 7 targets for 47 yards and two scores. Since it looks like the Jets are actively trying to lose games, I would avoid using him if at all possible. Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman were all but invisible with Darnold under center, even against the beatable Raiders defense.

  • It looks like Rashard Higgins is finally clicking with Baker Mayfield, and has taken over what Odell Beckham Jr. was doing in the offense. He finished with 6-95-1 on 9 targets. He should be picked up for your playoff run if heís available, and he is a decent start against beatable defenses.

  • Jarvis Landry is also playing well and clicking with Mayfield. He caught 8 of 10 targets for 62 yards and a score, and is also a nice start down the stretch in the right spots.

  • It was a frustrating day for A.J. Brown owners. He got banged up throughout the game, and fumbled just short of the goal line. He finished with 4-87 on 7 targets, but it could and should have been a better game in such an important week. Meanwhile, Corey Davis went off, catching 11 of 12 targets for 182 yards and a score. Brown is still the better weekly play, but he comes with risk as he is inconsistent at times.

  • Davante Adams is unstoppable. He went 10-121-2 on 12 targets, and no one has really been able to stop he and Rodgers all season.

  • Terry McLaurin was shut down by the Steelers on Monday night, catching only 2 of his 6 targets for 14 yards. He had a couple drops on good balls that should have been caught. He has been excellent, so we will forgive him a bad game here and there. But it certainly hurt his owners. He should remain a good play for the fantasy playoffs.

  • Diontae Johnson had a couple of bad drops but received 12 targets. That is his fifth consecutive game with double-digit targets; in every game where he has stayed healthy he has received 10 or more targets. He is the No. 1 receiver on the Steelers and should be started every week.

  • What a game for Cole Beasley. He finished with 11 targets and went 9-130-1. He also got a second look in the red zone. He has been consistently good this whole season, and he offers a safe floor due to his steady involvement in the passing game.

  • Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel each had 9 targets on Monday night, and each was effective overall. Both are good starts the rest of the way due to their heavy involvement, even with Nick Mullens under center.

Tight Ends

  • Hayden Hurst continues to be a disappointment due to his inconsistency. He played on 63% of snaps, but only got 4 targets. Worse, he only caught 1 of them for 9 yards. He has simply not been dependable this season, making him virtually unplayable.

  • T.J. Hockenson continues to be very involved and effective. He played on 78% of snaps and received 9 targets, catching 7 for 84 yards. He is on pace to be a top tight end for the next few years if the Lions can improve as an organization.

  • Cole Kmet seems to have replaced Jimmy Graham as the starter. He played on 78% of snaps and received 7 targets. He caught 5 for 37 yards and a score, while Graham did not have a reception on 49% of snaps. Kmet is a nice dynasty target.

  • Mike Gesicki has been impossible to get a beat on this year. He regularly has had 0 receptions, and then heíll throw in a week like he had in Week 13, when he caught 9 of 11 targets for 88 yards and a score. This unpredictability makes him incredibly frustrating to roster in fantasy, but he certainly has big upside if the Dolphins can find a way to incorporate him into the game plan weekly.

  • Darren Waller received 17 targets and caught 13 of them for 200 yards and two scores. You read that right. He is the No.2 tight end option behind Kelce, and heís nipping at his heels. Your time to try to acquire him is likely long past, but if you have him, enjoy.

  • Iím still as confused as ever by the Ramsí tight end usage. Tyler Higbee played on 84% of snaps in Week 13 and Everett played on 72%, which is about average of late. Higbee received 6 targets, but all close to the line of scrimmage, and finished 4-24-1. At least he caught his first TD since September. Everett, meanwhile, played fewer snaps but again got more targets (7), going 6-44. Both can be used, but neither should be counted on in these important weeks.

  • Robert Tonyan remains very involved in the weekly game plan for the Packers. He was the second-most targeted player on Sunday, catching 4 of 5 targets for 39 yards and a score. He is a must-start in the 2020 tight end landscape.

  • Logan Thomas balled out on Monday night, catching all 9 of his targets for 98 yards and a score. He has turned into an excellent weekly play who plays on every snap (100% of offensive snaps Monday). I am keeping him in my lineups over guys like Hayden Hurst, Mike Gesicki, and Tyler Higbee as a result.

  • Eric Ebron received a ridiculous 11 targets on Monday night and went 7-68. He has been up and down catching the ball, but he is very involved in a good offense, making him a great weekly option.

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.