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Usage Notes: Week 13

By Kevin Scott | 12/7/21 |

Tony Pollard

Running Back

  • Ezekiel Elliott played on more snaps than Tony Pollard (64% to 40%), but Pollard once again looked like the better back. Pollard went 7-71-1 on the ground, while Elliott went 13-45. As long as Elliott is playing more than half the snaps he can be started, but it seems like the Cowboys might rest him soon, since his limp looked pronounced on Thursday. Keep your eye on the practice reports.

  • In what could be a sign of things to come for the Saints, Taysom Hill had the most rushes on the team (11), while Mark Ingram went only 10-28. Even when Alvin Kamara returns, his rushing upside will be reduced, if Hill remains under center. Kamara is likely in your lineups regardless; if he’s active, but his upside will be more limited if Hill starts.

  • In a surprise move, Mike Davis got more snaps than Cordarrelle Patterson in Week 13, playing on 54%. Patterson played on 48%. Still, Patterson got 16 touches and Davis only got 8. Those who roster Patterson would like to see him get more snaps, but it doesn’t look like they are going to let him be a true workhorse. Still, he is a nice starting option the rest of the way since he’s getting the most high-value touches and has been excellent this season.

  • James Conner played on 91% of snaps on Sunday, and finished with 20-75 on the ground, as well as 2-36-1 through the air. He has become a three-down workhorse for the Cardinals, and you should continue starting him the rest of the way. Chase Edmonds may return this coming week, but Conner is locked into valuable touches on this good offense, as he’s been the goal-line back all season. Keep an eye on the reports related to Edmonds, to see if he could also be a potential flex for the playoff run.

  • David Montgomery looked great on Sunday, playing on 70% of snaps. He finished with 21-90-1 on the ground, and also led all Bears in targets and receptions (8-51 on 9 targets). He could be a top back for the playoff weeks if this usage continues, even if the Bears continue to disappoint in the win-loss column.

  • Justin Jackson worked in on 25% of snaps, and was the only back involved besides Austin Ekeler for the Chargers. He got 6 carries and 2 targets. This is good to know, and Jackson should be rostered in case Ekeler gets injured in the next few weeks.

  • Without Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison was a three-down workhorse for the Vikings, playing on 86% of snaps and getting 25 touches. He finished with 124 yards and a score. If Cook remains out in Week 14, which seems likely, Mattison should once again have a very big opportunity.

  • Jonathan Taylor continues to dominate snaps and touches for the Colts. Even with sitting out much of the fourth quarter, Taylor finished with 76% of snaps and 32 carries (143 yards and two scores). He gets a bye in Week 14, so hopefully he will be fresh for the final few weeks of the fantasy season. Nyheim Hines has been relegated to very few touches each week and is not a starting option.

  • Miles Sanders finally got a big role in an Eagles game! He played on 58% of snaps and got 24 carries (120 yards) and 3 targets (3-22). While he did not find the end zone, the usage was very encouraging. Boston Scott was active but only got 3 snaps, and it was instead Kenneth Gainwell who worked into the rotation, getting 38% of snaps and 17 touches (12-54-1 on the ground, 5-33 through the air). The Eagles insist on having multiple backs very involved, but with all the injuries it is very likely that you will need to start Sanders for the playoffs, if you made it.

  • Sony Michel stepped in for Darrell Henderson and was very effective (24-121-1 on the ground). He played on 97% of snaps. If Henderson is out again for Week 14, Michel will be a very nice starting option again. Pay attention to the practice reports to see if Henderson is likely to play or sit.

  • Antonio Gibson played on 82% of snaps, the 8th-highest among backs in Week 13 and his highest of the season by far. Without J.D. McKissic, Washington really committed to him. He got 23 carries and a team-leading 6 targets on those snaps, finishing with 111 yards and a score. For as long as McKissic remains out, Gibson will be a top play.

  • It hasn’t helped in the win-loss column, but Josh Jacobs is finally getting his chance to be a three-down workhorse for the Raiders. He played on 85% of snaps and got 22 touches (13-52-1 on the ground and 9-38 through the air). It was Jacobs who seemed to soak up the targets that normally go to Darren Waller, not Foster Moreau. Meanwhile, Kenyan Drake (ankle) got only 7 snaps. He can be dropped.

  • Devonta Freeman is looking stronger each game he plays, and on Sunday got a season-high 69% of snaps. He got 14 carries and 8 targets, finished with 97 total yards and a score. He is the clear-cut starter the rest of the way, over Latavius Murray, assuming he stays healthy.

  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams split snaps on Sunday night (51% to 46%). Edwards-Helaire got more carries (14-5) but they both had 3 targets. Williams went 3-60 on his targets while CEH went 3-28. I would prefer not to start either player going forward, since they are both sharing the opportunities and the ceilings of both players are very limited.

  • With Damien Harris suffering an injury fairly early in the game, he ended up playing on only 25% of snaps, with Rhamondre Stevenson playing on 63%. If Harris misses time, Stevenson could have huge value over the next week or two. Watch the practice reports.

  • Zack Moss was active again for Week 13, and played ahead of Matt Breida (fumble). Moss finished with 41% of snaps and Breida with only 12%. But it was still Devin Singletary leading the way with 48%. None of these backs should be trusted unless you have no other options.

Wide Receiver

  • CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup both played around 90% of snaps on Thursday, with Amari Cooper still not feeling well (Cooper played on 34%). Lamb got 13 targets and Gallup got 8. The targets of each will come down some when Cooper is playing full snaps, likely in Week 14.

  • Deonte Harris played on only 40% of snaps for the Saints but led the team in targets (8), which was a 20% target share. He finished with 4-96-1, but most of that came on a garbage-time 70-yard touchdown. Harris begins a 3-game suspension this week making him droppable.

  • Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both played over 90% of snaps, and both had double-digit targets. With Antonio Brown out for a few weeks, and possibly beyond, both are must-starts every week.

  • It was a huge week for Russell Gage, who has established himself as the top option in the Falcons passing game. He finished with 11-130 on 12 targets, a 29% target share. It is hard to recommend any players on the Falcons for these most important weeks, but if he is your best option, I think you can start him confidently.

  • Mike Williams played on 88% of snaps, the most among skill players for the Chargers, and finished with 7 targets (25% target share). He finished with 5-110, but failed to score. Williams has been up and down this season, but on the whole it is clear the Chargers want him very involved, and his ability down the field at the catch point is elite. He will lay eggs sometimes, but he needs to be in most lineups for the playoffs.

  • Jalen Guyton played on 53% of snaps and caught all 4 of his targets, for 90 yards and a score. Guyton’s productivity will depend on catching a deep shot when he gets one, but with Herbert clicking right now, that’s not a bad bet. For those desperate at receiver, you could do a lot worse.

  • Tee Higgins looks like the top receiver for the Bengals the past couple weeks, and he finished Week 13 with a whopping 14 targets (a 35% target share). He caught 9 of them for 138 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Ja’Marr Chase got only 8 targets (20% target share), and finished 5-52. Chase dropped what would have been a long touchdown, and also had another drop. It would not be too surprising if Joe Burrow starts leaning more toward Higgins the rest of the way.

  • With Adam Thielen getting injured in the first quarter, Justin Jefferson had himself a game in Week 13, catching 11 of 14 targets for 182 yards and a score. He played on all but 7 snaps as well (91%). Whether Thielen can play in Week 14 or not (doubtful), Jefferson should see a bunch more targets.

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown had a bit of a breakout in Week 13, playing on 96% of snaps and getting 12 targets (29% target share). He caught 10 for 86 yards and the game-winning touchdown. If he is on your wire and you lost a player like Thielen to injury, St. Brown could be a nice addition to your roster.

  • Michael Pittman Jr. didn’t do much in Week 13 (6-77 on 8 targets), but the 8 targets were a 36% target share! The Colts simply didn’t need to throw the ball, so don’t miss the fact that Pittman is still the centerpiece of the passing offense. When the Colts get into more challenging games, Pittman’s upside will increase.

  • Jaylen Waddle played on 77% of snaps on Sunday, and DeVante Parker played on 71%. But Waddle continued operating as the No. 1 option in the passing game, garnering 11 targets (27% target share). He caught 9 for 90 yards. Waddle looks like he will be a huge factor in the NFL for many years, based on how his rookie season has played out. As for Parker, he is a fine flex option for the rest of the season, since he is getting snaps and targets (5 on Sunday).

  • DeVonta Smith is one of the few Eagles who may be hoping for a return to Jalen Hurts after the bye. With Gardner Minshew under center, Smith faded into the background, getting only 4 targets (2-15). No matter who the QB is in Week 15, this was in many ways a lost season for Smith with the poor quarterbacking in Philadelphia. Those who roster Smith are hoping the Eagles find a better QB option in the draft or free agency.

  • Elijah Moore played on 86% of snaps, the most of all skill players for the Jets. He got a remarkable 12 targets (32% target share). While he only caught 6 of them (6-77-1), his involvement and status as the best offensive player for the Jets makes him intriguing for the rest of the season and beyond.

  • Laquon Treadwell played the most snaps of the Jaguars receivers, 93%. He finished with 4-62 on 5 targets, well ahead of the production of Laviska Shenault and Marvin Jones. That he can step onto this team from a practice squad and be their best receiver says a lot. Still, he is playing fairly well and can be started if you are totally desperate for a receiver.

  • It could have been due to Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury, but Van Jefferson played on more snaps on Sunday (78% to 53%). He also got more targets (8 to 5). Both scored, with Jefferson going 6-41-1 and Beckham going 2-28-1. Pay attention to Week 14 when Beckham is likely to be healthier. Whoever takes over more of Robert Woods’ role the rest of the way will certainly have more value.

  • Despite playing on 93% of snaps, Terry McLaurin only got 5 targets. He finished with 3 catches for 22 yards. This is simply not what you expect from a wide receiver with elite potential, and it is unclear if McLaurin is struggling or if Heinicke is simply not finding him when he’s open. Either way, you should avoid him for the playoffs if at all possible.

  • Diontae Johnson dropped a wide-open touchdown on Sunday and still finished with 8-105-2 on 11 targets. He has become one of the most highly-targeted receivers in the league and deserves to be in starting lineups every week, no matter the opponent.

Tight Ends

  • With Adam Trautman out, Nick Vannett seemed to take over his role, playing on 60% of snaps and getting 4 targets (3-48). He is a potential desperation play at tight end for those who lost Dan Arnold or Trautman, but he is a very low-ceiling option due to the poor quality of the Saints passing game.

  • Rob Gronkowski continues his throwback campaign, looking like a top tight end option for the rest of the season. He played on 83% of snaps and got 8 targets, finishing 4-58-2. He needs to be started everywhere the rest of the way.

  • Kyle Pitts played on 94% of snaps but only got 7 targets (17% target share). Those are still good numbers for a rookie tight end, but his talent is obvious and you wish they’d work to get him more involved. You likely need to continue starting him the rest of the way, though.

  • Thielen being out also helped Tyler Conklin, who finished the week with 9 targets (23% target share). He caught 7 for 56 yards. He should be a nice option for Week 14.

  • Mike Gesicki got a prominent role in the Dolphins passing attack in Week 13, as he got 11 targets (27% target share). He played on 67% of snaps, which was only nominally more than Durham Smythe (61%). But the roles were not close this week, with Smythe only getting one target. Gesicki only turned his 11 targets into 7-46, but the involvement is very appealing for the fantasy playoffs. Be aware that the Dolphins are on bye in Week 14, so you’ll have to find another option for one week.

  • It seems all Dallas Goedert needed to thrive was a new quarterback. With Gardner Minshew under center, Goedert got 6 targets, a 24% target share. He caught them all for 105 yards and two scores. If Minshew remains under center after the Eagles bye, Goedert makes an intriguing start for the playoffs. If the Eagles go back to Hurts, I’d avoid him if possible.

  • There isn’t much you can say in a positive light about any Jaguars offensive player today, but one thing to note from their blowout loss to the Rams was that James O’Shaughnessy led the team in targets with 6. He only caught 2 for 13 yards, but Trevor Lawrence continues to love to target the tight end. If you need a tight end for Week 14, O’Shaughnessy should at least get a few targets against the Titans.

  • With Logan Thomas likely done for the season, keep an eye on whether Ricky Seals-Jones will play in Week 14. If not, John Bates needs to be considered for a roster spot. Taylor Heinicke loves to throw to the tight end, and whoever starts will likely play almost every snap.

  • Those who roster George Kittle have been waiting for this kind of output all season, and he finally provided it. He had 9 receptions for 181 yards and two scores, on 12 targets (a 40% target share). If Deebo Samuel is out again in Week 14, that raises the ceiling for Kittle.

  • Noah Fant played on 75% of snaps but only got 4 targets (4-33). Albert Okwuegbunam played on 43% of snaps but also got 4 targets. When both players are active, I think you should avoid them both in your lineups if possible. They are sapping the potential from each other. You may not have another option to play other than Fant, but if you do, go that route.

  • Dawson Knox played on 97% of snaps. There wasn’t much passing able to be done in the wind of Buffalo, but the fact that he is playing virtually every snap on a very good offense makes him a top weekly tight end play.

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.