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Usage Notes: Week 5

By Kevin Scott | 10/13/20 |

This season is by far the most difficult to succeed in fantasy football that Iíve ever seen. Games are postponed on short notice, injuries are happening at a higher-than-normal rate, and it seems like a good team can become a bad team overnight as a result. Nevertheless, I continue to say that the key to winning in any season, whether crazy or more typical, is to continue grinding at this craft Ė identifying players to pick up before they go off like Chase Claypool. Thatís a large part of what Iím trying to do with this article: to help you identify players to add to your teams based on their usage (snaps and opportunities).

Justin Jackson

Running Back

  • Ronald Jones was extremely effective on the ground again (17-106), and was the only RB to receive a carry with Leonard Fournette still injured. Jones may remain a flex option even when Fournette is healthy, although it is very difficult to trust Arians to make the right decisions in this area.

  • David Montgomery was predictably poor on the ground against the Bucsí stout front, but he has taken over a huge chunk of the receiving work (7-30 on 8 targets) with Tarik Cohen done for the year. This makes him a much more intriguing weekly start.

  • Although Todd Gurley had his first excellent day of the season, he played on only 55% of the snaps, while Brian Hill played on 31%. Gurley received 18 touches and Hill received 8, and both were effective against this poor Panthers defense. This is a reminder that if Hill is available, he should be picked up. He is playing well and Gurley is fragile.

  • Giovani Bernard played on only 16 snaps and did not get a carry. The Bengals are working to get Mixon more involved (6-35 through the air on 8 targets), which is good news for his owners. Bernard can be dropped.

  • The Ravens continue to do their darnedest to make sure none of their RBs have value. Gus Edwards played on 40% of snaps, Mark Ingram on 30%, and J.K. Dobbins on 29%. Ingram received 11 touches, Edwards 7, and Dobbins 4. Avoid all of them until this split changes (which it may not).

  • James Robinson played on only 57% of snaps, but he dominated the RB touches. He got 13 carries to Chris Thompsonís 2, and 7 targets to Thompsonís 3. The 7 targets in the passing game means that his prior work there was not a fluke and cements his value as a top-20 back on a weekly basis.

  • It seems it is officially time to be concerned about Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He looks fine, but is not getting an opportunity to shine in this offense. When he gets carries, they are often straight into the line, and this offensive line is not playing well at the moment. The positive is that he received 8 targets, but they donít seem to be designed targets and often happen when Mahomes is under pressure, resulting in several that are incomplete. Reid needs to do a better job of designing plays for CEH so he can get going. You have to continue to start him when heís getting 60% of snaps in this offense, but it might continue to be a struggle until they figure out how to use him.

  • Kenyan Drake played on 67% of the snaps and Chase Edmonds played on 45%. Drake received 19 touches and Edmonds received 8, but Drake went for 62 total yards and Edmonds went for 92 total yards. This efficiency gap keeps occurring which could lead to more work for Edmonds. So far Drake is still the lead back, but I would definitely pick up Edmonds if he is available.

  • Miles Sanders received only 13 touches, but played on 85% of the snaps against the vaunted Steelers defense. Donít worry about him; he is locked in as a top-10 RB if he stays healthy.

  • The Ramsí backs are a full-blown RBBC again. Darrell Henderson played 29 snaps, Malcolm Brown played 26 snaps, and Akers played 13. Henderson received 18 touches and the other two received 9 each. So Henderson appears to be the one to own at the moment, although Akers looked explosive on the ground (9-61). I am avoiding when possible, until I get some clarity on how they will be used.

  • Antonio Gibson played on 56% of the snaps and J.D. McKissic played on 50%. McKissic led the team in targets (8), receptions (6), and receiving yards (46). The team desperately missed Haskins, as both Kyle Allen and Alex Smith struggled mightily. McKissic saw so much action due to Washington being in catch-up mode, but he is worth an add if you are desperate.

  • Myles Gaskin played on 63% of the snaps and Matt Breida played on 31%. Gaskin received 21 touches and Breida received 10. This is encouraging if you own either player. Gaskin is still entrenched as the starter and is producing nicely, but Breida is at least getting a few more touches and is doing something with them. Iíd hold them both for now.

  • Raheem Mostert returned from injury and was again the workhorse, rushing 11 times for 90 yards and also adding 3 receptions for 29 yards. He is an explosive player and needs to be in lineups when active. He did all of that on only 48% of the snaps, and McKinnon played on 25% of snaps (Wilson also played on 23%). Wilson got only 4 touches and McKinnon only 3, but it is hard to know how much of that was because of game script.

  • With Dalvin Cook (groin) forced from the game because of injury, Alexander Mattison entered and was very effective (20-112, 3-24). If Cook misses Week 5, Mattison will have huge upside against the Falcons.

  • It appears that Justin Jackson is the back to own for the Chargers while Ekeler is out. He played on 59% of the snaps, while Joshua Kelley played on only 35%. But the usage was more striking, as Jackson received 15 carries and 6 targets, while Kelley only received 11 carries and 1 target. Jackson was also far more effective. It may only last a few weeks, but for those who picked up Jackson it looks like they will be rewarded.
Robby Anderson

Wide Receiver

  • Allen Robinson received a 38% target share in Thursdayís game (16 targets out of 42 attempts). He finished with only 10-90, but it could have been a significantly bigger stat line. His value is spiking like we thought it would once Foles took over.

  • Tyler Johnson led the Bucs in receiving yards (4-61 on 6 targets). He also played on the second-most snaps among WRs, at 79% (Evans played on 85%). This is an interesting development, even with Chris Godwin coming back in a few weeks. There is a good chance Johnson will grab a hold of a permanent role on the team, replacing Scotty Miller in three-WR sets even when Godwin returns. He is worth an add.

  • While D.J. Moore played the most snaps among WRs and scored a touchdown, the usage trends for the entire season suggest that Robby Anderson is the WR1 in Carolina. While it pains me to say that, it is the truth. On Sunday he again far outpaced Moore in targets, 13 to 5! He turned those 13 targets into 8-112, while Moore turned his 5 targets into 4-93-1. If Moore hadnít scored his 57-yard touchdown, it would have been yet another poor day. If you drafted him in the third round you likely have to keep playing him, but we just canít expect high-end production until he starts seeing more targets.

  • Tee Higgins led all Bengalsí WRs in snaps, at 81%. He also led the group in targets, with 8. He ended with 4-62 against a very good defense. At this point, it seems like he has leaped ahead of A.J. Green on the depth chart, and he should have legitimate value the rest of the way.

  • Laviska Shenault led all Jags WRs with 8 targets. He turned those into 7-79, a very impressive line. He played on 69% of the snaps, and is certainly worth a waiver claim if heís still available in shallower leagues.

  • Brandin Cooks went from a donut in the box score in Week 4 to a huge Week 5. He played on 83% of the snaps (as did Will Fuller) and received 12 targets. He turned those into 8-161-1. Fuller received 8 targets and finished with 4-58-1. The Jags are a bad defense, so keep an eye on whether this usage continues. For now, they are both boom-bust plays.

  • Donít overreact to the big plays for Henry Ruggs III. He definitely has speed and skills, but on 64% of the snaps he only received 3 targets. He certainly needs to be on a roster, but donít start him until you see him receiving 5 or more targets on a weekly basis.

  • Tyreek Hill played on 88% of the snaps and looked great. But he received just 6 targets and only caught 3 of them, for 78 yards. He salvaged his day with a rushing score, but it could have been much bigger - he had a 60-yard receiving score wiped out by a holding penalty. It would be nice to see Mahomes give him double-digit targets more often.

  • Apparently Kliff Kingsbury still hasnít figured out what the rest of us see: itís time to give Larry Fitzgeraldís snaps to Andy Isabella. Instead, Fitzgerald played on 80% of the snaps, behind only DeAndre Hopkins, and received 7 targets. He went for 4-35. Meanwhile, Isabella played on only 31% of the snaps and produced 2-30 on 3 targets. I recommend holding Isabella in case this coaching staff does figure it out, but it might be hard once byes start hitting.

  • Jeff Smith only had 3-23 with Flacco under center, but he played all but one snap and had 11 targets. If you are in dire need of help at WR, consider picking Smith up for cheap and watching him for a week or two. He could certainly pay off if he starts turning those targets into receptions.

  • Many will excitedly bid on Travis Fulgham after he went for 10-152-1 on 13 targets. Just remember that he is playing because Jeffery, Jackson, and Reagor are all injured. Once those guys return, I do not see Fulgham getting too many snaps. There is always a chance the coaching staff decides to elevate him and he continues to play the majority of snaps, but his targets would come down regardless when more weapons are available.

  • Similarly, many will go nuts trying to get their hands on Chase Claypool. While this one seems more sustainable than Fulgham, he only took off because Diontae Johnson went down early with an injury. Because of how great Claypool has looked, though, it is possible he will continue to play the majority of snaps and push Johnson and Washington to the bench more often. He makes a nice speculative add, he is not worth more than 10% of your FAB in my opinion.

  • Preston Williams looked good in Week 5, and most assumed it might take a few weeks for him to get acclimated after his knee injury in 2019. He led WRs in targets with 5, and produced 4-106-1. They also led the whole game so they didnít need to pass much in the second half. If Williams is on your wire, Iíd grab him.

  • Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel both played virtually every snap in Week 5. Neither produced much, but they received 6 and 8 targets, respectively. They appear to be the clear-cut starting WRs, and should be in lineups once this offense starts clicking.

  • T.Y. Hilton finally showed some signs of life, playing on 95% of snaps and receiving 10 targets. He only went for 6-69, but thatís his best game of the season. Still, it seems like Philip Rivers needs to take a significant step forward for Hilton to have much value.

  • Darius Slayton is the only Giants player popping off the screen. He played on 94% of the snaps and produced 8-129 on 11 targets Ė and he looked great doing it. If you can still acquire him at an affordable price, that is a sneaky move.

  • Cowboys WR snap percentages: Gallup 97%, Cooper 64%, Lamb 55%. Targets: Gallup 4, Cooper 4, Lamb 11. This is remarkable, and speaks to how often Lamb is able to shake coverage and get open. He is a special player and needs to be in lineups every week, even with Andy Dalton under center.

  • Keenan Allen started hot but tweaked his back, and then it was Mike Williams who took over WR1 duties. He logged 77% of the snaps and received 8 targets, posting 5-109-2. He may be on your wire and would be a nice pick up, but do not expect such huge weeks very often. This was due to Allen exiting. Still, with an upgrade at QB Williams does have some nice upside for the rest of the season.

  • Emmanuel Sanders took over the Michael Thomas target share in Week 5. He appears fully acclimated to the offense now, and received a whopping 14 targets, catching 12 of them for 122 yards. He also narrowly lost out on a touchdown. Sanders is likely not available anywhere, and his targets will certainly come down going forward with Thomas on the field. But he is a very nice flex option for the rest of the season.

Tight Ends

  • Jimmy Graham played on 76% of the snaps and received 5 targets (3-33-1). He continues to be a surprisingly steady option at TE, and if you need someone at this bleak position, he is at least being targeted in the red zone and is playing lots of snaps.

  • Matt Ryan is playing poorly right now, which ironically makes Hayden Hurst a trade target. He had another poor day on the stat sheet, only catching 2 balls for 8 yards. However, he received 6 targets and played on 83% of the snaps. If the offense improves (which is the hope now that Dan Quinn is out as head coach and things should be shifting in Atlanta), Hurst retains a lot of upside.

  • Although he only caught 2 balls and had 2 targets, Drew Sample played on 94% of the snaps. This was a tough matchup against the Ravens and the offense did very little, but Sample is a hold in TE-premium leagues, as better days are ahead.

  • Though he couldnít do much with them, Tyler Eifert did receive 7 targets (3-16). He played on 61% of the snaps. While James OíShaughnessy has been more effective overall this season (3-20 on 3 targets in Week 5), Eifert continues to get opportunities and might be worth a look in TE-premium leagues.

  • Zach Ertz played on 95% of the snaps. He got 6 targets and caught 1 for 6 yards. Since Goedert, DeSean Jackson, Jeffery, and Reagor are all out with injury, the Steelers just focused on taking him out of the game. You likely have to keep playing him unless you have another good option but do not drop him, since he should get freed up when some of those players return.

  • Eric Ebron played on 77% of the snaps for the Steelers (more than any of the receivers), and received 6 targets (5-43). He has been a very steady option at TE in a year when itís very difficult to trust anyone at the position.

  • Tyler Higbee played on nearly twice as many snaps as Gerald Everett (56 to 30). Yet Everett went 4-90 and Higbee went 2-12. Higbee is shaping up as one of the most disappointing draft picks of this fantasy season, and the most frustrating part is that he looks great when he is allowed to run routes. McVay simply wants to keep him in to block, likely because the offensive line needs the help. Everettís lack of blocking skill likely helps him in fantasy, ironically.

  • Mike Gesicki is another TE itís difficult to know how to handle. He continues to bob up and down in targets and production. In Week 5 he led the team in targets with 6, and produced 5-91. Yet he played only 45% of the snaps, behind Adam Shaheen (57%). He is likely the best option you have if heís on your team, but he is anything but dependable at the moment.

  • Trey Burton played on 45% of the snaps for the Colts but was the only tight end with a catch for the team. He received 6 targets and went 5-33. Apparently the answer to the Coltsí pass-catching TE was neither Doyle nor Mo Alie-Cox. Burton is worth an add in TE-premium leagues, in case this becomes the new normal.

  • Austin Hooperís usage did not decrease with the addition of David Njoku to the offense. In fact, he saw his season-high in targets with 10. He produced 5-57. This is very strange, since both Njoku and Harrison Bryant seem better suited to be running routes. Keep an eye on this situation, and if Hooper was dropped in your league, he should be added.

  • Although Greg Olsen only had one reception, he played on 83% of the snaps and is a decent option in deep leagues. He seems to get more targets when the game plan calls for it, though that is admittedly difficult to predict.

  • Irv Smith finally had a productive day. He played on 68% of the snaps and produced 4-64 on 5 targets. This offense wants to be run-heavy that he should still not be a priority add.

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.