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Usage Notes: Week 12

By Kevin Scott | 11/30/21 |

So no one can claim I am not fully transparent, let me say this has been the worst fantasy football season I’ve ever had. And I am actually okay with that. This season has been so silly, so utterly unpredictable, that if I were crushing it in all my leagues I’d wonder how I messed things up so badly.

There is no way to plan for the constant injuries, Covid-19 lists, strange coaching decisions, and upside-down results we have seen. The only way to plan for it is to build in variance in your projections so that you have exposure to a wide group of players – and are not overexposed to any one player. I might have failed at this, but for the most part I was as diversified in my rosters as I’ve ever been. Still, it’s been awful. So I’ll find a way to own my poor results this season without losing confidence. You should too. This season is as bizarre as any I’ve seen in 25 years of playing this game. So shake it off if you’ve struggled, and hope next year is less wacky and more predictable.

If you find yourself in the playoffs at this point, that doesn’t mean you got lucky, either. It means that perhaps you made some key pickups that have really altered your season – maybe even due to this article. I hope you’ll keep going and take down the championship(s)! Make us all proud. I’ll keep grinding this data and giving you ideas for players to grab moving forward.

Jamaal Williams

Running Back

  • David Montgomery was again given a workhorse role by the Bears, playing on 84% of snaps – while Khalil Herbert played on only 14%. Montgomery also got 20 touches, which he took for 74 yards. His efficiency was not there, which was disappointing since he played the Lions. But he is getting the work.

  • After D’Andre Swift was knocked out of the game in the first half, Jamaal Williams became the workhorse for the Lions, playing on almost every snap. He finished with 63% of snaps for the game and went 15-65, with 5 receptions for 18 yards. If Swift misses time, Williams could provide some very nice games for your stretch run.

  • Josh Jacobs is getting more work of late, making him a solid starting option for the stretch. He got 22 carries (87 yards and a score), and also received 4 targets (2-25). He also dropped a pass that would have been a very big gain. The Raiders look like they want to commit to him for now, so start him with confidence.

  • Devin Singletary got a legitimate shot at a starting role on Thanksgiving. Zack Moss was inactive, and Singletary got 68% of snaps and got 16 touches. Unfortunately, he only went for 48 total yards. Matt Breida worked in as the change-of-pace back (32% of snaps) and got 11 touches for 55 total yards and a score. Will we see the Bills give Breida a shot to lead this backfield? Breida should be rostered in case that does happen.

  • In a shocker, it was not Ty Johnson who led the backfield for the Jets with Michael Carter out, but rather Tevin Coleman. Coleman played on 45% of snaps to Johnson’s 34%, and received 12 more opportunities. Johnson has been more effective all season, so I’m not sure what the Jets coaches are doing. But I’d avoid this whole backfield moving forward.

  • Leonard Fournette is on his way to finishing this season as a top-five running back for fantasy. He played on 82% of snaps and went 17-100-3 on the ground. His weekly involvement in the passing game is what is keeping him as a top option. He got 8 targets and finished 7-31-1 through the air. He is a must-start every week.

  • Cordarrelle Patterson continued his incredible efficiency in Week 12. On only 48% of snaps, he took 16 carries for 108 yards and two scores. He also caught 2 of 3 targets. Patterson has become one of the most productive and dependable fantasy football running backs in the league. Even though he’s not playing every snap, he needs to be started everywhere due to his incredible ability to rack up yards on a bad offense.

  • In the strange Panthers-Dolphins game, it was Ameer Abdullah who replaced Christian McCaffrey after he left with another injury. By the end of the game, Abdullah had played on 49% of snaps, while Chuba Hubbard had played on only 20%. Abdullah also got lots of work in the passing game, garnering 6 targets (2-20). This might make Abdullah worth an add in your leagues, assuming this offense does anything positive over the rest of the season.

  • D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard split snaps on Sunday, pretty much down the middle (51% for Hilliard and 49% for Foreman). They were both effective on the ground, with Foreman going 19-109 and Hillard going 12-131-1. Both had one reception. Both are nice players to grab off the wire if they are available, as they should stay involved the rest of the way.

  • It was an even three-way split in snap share for the Patriots backs, with none of the three playing more than 37% of snaps. None can be trusted for fantasy as a result, and all are desperation plays in the hopes that they score that week.

  • I’ll take “Coaches who don’t know what they’re doing” for $500, please. Answer: Nick Sirianni! Boston Scott got 12 more snaps than Miles Sanders (ankle) on Sunday (51% to 33%), and took 6 extra carries for the same number of yards (64). It’s not that Scott is bad, but the Eagles coaches simply refuse to utilize Sanders as a cornerstone of the offense. When he touches the ball he is effective, but they just don’t seem to trust him. You must avoid the situation for now, but I don’t say that with any confidence that I know what is going to happen next.

  • Saquon Barkley played on 87% of snaps for the Giants, but finished with only 13 carries (40 yards) and 4 receptions (13 yards). He is involved, which is a good sign. It’s just that the Giants are not able to move the ball consistently, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Barkley also seems to lack some of his normal explosiveness. You likely can’t consider sitting him with how few good options there are at running back, so you’ll just have to hope he hits on some explosive plays down the stretch.

  • We are perhaps seeing the tiniest shift toward Javonte Williams in the Broncos backfield. He played on 58% of snaps, his highest mark of the season, after playing on 57% in the Broncos last game, his previous high. Melvin Gordon played on 42% in Week 12, after playing on 43% in their last game. Still, Gordon got 17 carries in this game and was effective again (83 yards). Williams only got 14 carries (54 yards and a score), but he did lead the team with 4 targets (3-57). It still looks to me like they want to equally use both backs the rest of the way, making it impossible to know which one to use in fantasy.

  • With the Packers likely protecting Aaron Jones after his knee injury, AJ Dillon got twice as many carries on Sunday. He finished 20-69 on the ground, while Jones went 10-23. Surprisingly, it was Dillon who got the receiving work, catching all 5 targets for 21 yards and a score. I could be wrong, but I think after the bye Jones will go back to getting more snaps and touches than Dillon.

  • With Dalvin Cook likely out for a while with a shoulder injury, Alexander Mattison could see significant volume for the Vikings. He took over Cook’s role and finished with 7 carries and 3 targets. He is a must-start if he is on your roster, until Cook returns.

  • If there was any doubt about Elijah Mitchell’s status as a favorite of Kyle Shanahan, on Sunday Mitchell played on 49 snaps (70%). Jeff Wilson played on 10. Mitchell got 27 carries (133 yards and a score) and also tied for the team lead in targets, with 6 (5-35). Mitchell looks like a locked and loaded top back the rest of this season, and possibly beyond.

  • It was a huge week for Antonio Gibson, who saw his highest snap share of the season on Monday night (68%). This says he is probably feeling healthy and ready to pull his weight in Washington’s push for the playoffs. His usage gives that impression too, as he received a career-high 29 carries (111 yards) and also got 7 targets (7-35). J.D. McKissic only saw 39% of snaps and received 12 touches. However, he scored twice. McKissic was injured late, so check the practice reports this week. If he is out, Gibson could have another very big day, and Jaret Patterson might also be worth an add.

Wide Receiver

  • Darnell Mooney again dominated among the Bears wide receivers, playing on 87% of snaps and garnering 8 targets (5-123). Mooney has become the No. 1 option in this offense, so I’d recommend starting him the rest of the way – unless you have comparable options on better offenses.

  • With Allen Robinson out, Damiere Byrd played the second-most snaps among the Bears wide receivers (76%). He also got 5 targets and went 4-42. If Robinson is out again and you are desperate in a very deep league, you could consider Byrd. Otherwise, avoid him as his usage will be very difficult to predict.

  • Josh Reynolds has taken over as the primary outside receiver for the Lions. He played on 88% of snaps and led the team with 5 targets (3-70-1). He still won’t produce much because Jared Goff and the whole Lions offense is not good, but if you are desperate for a receiver in a deep league, consider adding Reynolds.

  • With the injury to Darren Waller, it looks like Hunter Renfrow will get even more of the short to intermediate targets to himself. He finished Week 12 with 9 targets, catching 8 for 134 yards. He also played on 74% of snaps, his second-highest mark of the season. Renfrow is not exciting to watch, but he is getting the opportunities. Start him for now, until something changes.

  • Zay Jones may also be an option for those really hurting at wide receiver. He played on 69% of snaps and got 7 targets (5-59). Just keep in mind that it will be hard to predict which receiver to play besides Hunter Renfrow as Jones, DeSean Jackson, and Bryan Edwards are all getting snaps.

  • Michael Gallup played on 96% of snaps and caught 5 of his 8 targets, for 106 yards. His role will likely diminish with both Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb expected back for Week 13(?), but Gallup should continue playing a good number of snaps. He can remain a flex option, but be cautious since he will have games where he is not involved.

  • Emmanuel Sanders played on 77% of snaps and Cole Beasley played on 70% of snaps. Beasley only went 5-46 and Sanders only went 3-28. Josh Allen was efficient, but defenses are trying to take away the pass, especially the long pass, from this offense. It’s very similar to what they are doing to the Chiefs. So for your playoff push, I’d avoid these secondary Bills options until something changes.

  • Both Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool played almost every snap. Johnson got 14 targets (9-95) and Claypool got 8 targets (3-82). Neither player was efficient mostly because Ben Roethlisberger looks totally done. You probably have to keep starting Johnson due to his huge target volume, but I am very hesitant to trust any Steelers players for now.

  • Tee Higgins saw by far the most targets in the Bengals passing game, despite playing on fewer snaps (63%) than both Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase (both 76%). Higgins saw 8 targets, a 33% target share, and went 6-114-1. Meanwhile, Ja'Marr Chase caught all 3 of his targets and Boyd caught both his targets. The highest target share per week is likely going to rotate among these three players, with both Higgins and Chase having some very big games. But, it will remain hard to predict when one will happen, especially if the Bengals continue to be able to run the ball so effectively.

  • Elijah Moore played on 88% of snaps, his highest of the season. He garnered a 33% target share (8 targets), though he only caught 4-46. For him to provide value for the rest of the season, Zach Wilson must improve as a passer. But, the heavy snaps are still encouraging.

  • Interestingly, with Corey Davis out it was Keelan Cole who seemed to take over his role. He led the Jets receivers with 96% of snaps. However, he only got 2 targets (2-24). This is a bad offense and should be avoided if at all possible.

  • It was a terrible day for Bucs receivers, with Mike Evans going 3-16 and Chris Godwin going 4-24. They both played almost every snap, so it must have just been that the Colts defense found ways to take them away. Continue to start them with confidence. When Antonio Brown returns, each will certainly lose some opportunities.

  • Michael Pittman Jr. played on 94% of snaps and got 10 targets. Unfortunately, he only caught 4 for 53 yards. On a day when Carson Wentz threw it 44 times, this was a very disappointing result. Hopefully they will get on the same page for the playoff weeks, because you likely have to keep starting him.

  • Laquon Treadwell replaced Jamal Agnew in the starting lineup for the Jaguars, and played on 86% of snaps. He received 8 targets and caught 4 for 53 yards (the most yardage on the team). Laviska Shenault moved back to the slot and finished with 9 targets, leading the team. He went 5-33. No Jaguars receiver should be trusted in these crucial next few weeks unless you are truly desperate.

  • Jaylen Waddle had a bit of a breakout in Week 12, finishing with 9 receptions on 10 targets, for 137 yards and a score. He was the best player on the field for Miami the whole game, and makes an excellent flex play for the rest of the season.

  • DeVonta Smith played on 91% of snaps and got only 4 targets (2-22). You simply must avoid Eagles players for the foreseeable future.

  • Kenny Golladay was the No. 1 receiver for the Giants in Week 12, and finished with 3-50 on 7 targets. I think this offense will run much better when Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Sterling Shepard are all active and have their roles figured out. Until then, it seems like it’s anyone’s guess what we will see week to week. For now, Golladay is a fine flex play, but has fairly low upside.

  • Justin Herbert continues to have a very narrow target distribution, throwing 26 of his 44 passes to Keenan Allen (10), Austin Ekeler (8), or Mike Williams (8). Allen and Williams both played on 86% of snaps. However, even with getting so many opportunities on Sunday, Allen only went 7-85 and Mike Williams only went 4-39. The Broncos defense played well, but this Chargers offense has to find another threat when teams are able to minimize their primary options.

  • Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, and Odell Beckham Jr. all played on basically every snap. Kupp got 10 targets (7-96), Jefferson got 9 (3-93-1), and Beckham got 10 (5-81-1). This sort of usage makes all three potential plays for the fantasy playoffs. Kupp is definitely the strongest play, with Beckham likely second due to his speed. But all three can be started if you need a receiver, especially in games where the Rams might trail.

  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling continues to work toward becoming the No.2 option in the passing game. He played on 70% of snaps and got 9 targets, the same as Davante Adams. He went 4-50 but could have had a much bigger day if he and Aaron Rodgers had been able to connect on a deep ball. MVS could see significant usage down the stretch, especially if Randall Cobb has to miss time.

  • Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel (groin) continued their new roles on Sunday, with Aiyuk playing the most snaps (90%) and getting the most targets (6), while Samuel worked into the rushing rotation (6-66-2 on the ground). This makes both players usable over the rest of the season, assuming this new reality sticks.

  • Despite playing 100% and 94% of snaps, respectively, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf did not get much going on Monday night on the poor Seahawks offense. Lockett did take one pass for 55 yards, but otherwise both did almost nothing. I would avoid all Seahawks players for your playoff push if possible, since this offense looks awful.

Tight Ends

  • Cole Kmet is becoming a target hog for the Bears. On Thursday he played on 86% of snaps and received a team-leading 11 targets (28% target share). Kmet is also playing well and producing on his targets (8-65 this week), so he is likely to continue to get work. It is still frustrating that the Bears insist on using Jimmy Graham in the red zone, but Kmet is still a nice play due to the high volume he’s getting (and is a very nice hold in dynasty leagues).

  • Dalton Schultz continues to play a major role in the Cowboys’ offense, playing on 96% of snaps and getting 7 targets (3-46-1). He should be in starting lineups in most leagues.

  • With Eric Ebron out, Pat Freiermuth (concussion) played on 76% of snaps and caught all 4 of his targets, for 40 yards and a score. He is a TE1 for as long as Ebron is out, and should be in lineups. He seems to have excellent rapport with Roethlisberger and is perfect for what Ben is able to do at this point of his career.

  • Rob Gronkowski looks like he will again be an elite option at tight end for the stretch run. He played on 82% of snaps and received a team-high 10 targets (a 29% target share). He caught 7 for 123 yards. Play him with confidence.

  • It could have only been because the Dolphins got out to a huge lead, but it was very concerning for those who roster Mike Gesicki that fellow tight end Durham Smythe played on more snaps (89% to 80%) and got more targets (5 to 3). Smythe’s presence and involvement is really hampering the upside for Gesicki, and might mean you need to think twice before starting him in these crucial next few weeks.

  • Dallas Goedert played on 96% of snaps but only got 3 targets, catching 1 for zero yards. Jalen Hurts is simply playing terribly, on top of the Eagles coaches not having a clue how to use their players. This team is a giant, neon AVOID sign.

  • Despite playing on 85% of snaps, most among skill players, Noah Fant only went 3-12 on 4 targets. Then again, the Broncos only threw the ball 25 times for 155 yards, so it’s not too surprising. This is a run-first team that wants to win with defense, so I’d advise managers to avoid playing any Broncos receiving weapons the rest of the way.

  • Even though George Kittle played on 93% of snaps, he only got 2 targets (1-13). I cannot figure out this 49ers offense, or tell why Kittle is not involved. If you have him on your roster and you’re still in the playoff picture, congratulations. I will continue to play him unless I have another top tight end on the roster, simply because he can put up a big week any time they decide to include him in the game plan.

  • Logan Thomas returned from his IR stint and played on 79% of snaps. He looked like his old self, and almost caught a game-clinching touchdown. He got 6 targets, catching 3 for 31 yards. He is a nice start the rest of the way, if he can stay healthy.

Kevin Scott is a fantasy pro who has made over $100,000 playing fantasy football. Catch his podcast "Grinding the Data" and you can follow him on Twitter @kevinscottff.