It seems that this season has been extraordinarily difficult to
predict. It’s not that all of my predictions have been wrong,
and certainly the research for these weekly articles is helping
to give me (and hopefully you) a handle on how things are likely
to go. But still, the swings in player usage and role have been
wilder than I can remember.
When fantasy football feels out of control, the number one thing
that helps is to wade in to the data and figure out what has happened.
Still, the unpredictability will remain, and that is part of what
makes this game so interesting. I hope the data points below will
help you with some ideas about how to keep grinding toward success.
If you can grind out enough wins to make the playoffs, that’s
all that matters.
Henderson played on 66% of snaps and Sony
Michel on 34%. Henderson saw 18 touches to Michelís 12,
and Henderson had 99 total yards to Michelís 45. Both scored.
This looks to be how McVay wants to split the workload when
both backs are healthy. This makes Henderson by far the preferable
play, but both have value since it is so difficult to find productive
Patterson continues his upward ascent in Atlanta. He had
not seen above a 42% snap share through four weeks, and in Week
5 he played on 59% of snaps. Mike
Davis played on 64%. However, Patterson received more carries
than Davis, 14 to 13, and got a whopping 9 targets on top of
that. Davis scored the rushing touchdown this week so you cannot
drop Davis, but Patterson is by far the more preferable weekly
play. Keep an eye on whether Wayne
Gallman starts stealing more snaps from Davis.
Carter played on 52% of snaps and Ty
Johnson on 39% for the Jets. On a bad offense, Carter needs
to be up near 70% before he becomes an attractive weekly play,
but he has certainly moved into the role of lead back. He got
13 touches to Johnsonís 6. Tevin
Coleman got 3 touches on 5 snaps Ė if those go to Carter,
that could help give him a boost. Still, itís a bad offense
for now, so tread carefully.
played on 75% of snaps and got 11 carries and 6 targets. Itís
the most touches he has received since Week 1. He didnít score,
but he could have if they had given him the ball in the red
zone instead of Hurts running it in. His value is certainly
limited in this offense, but donít give up on Sanders. He is
a dynamic back and has not played under 60% of snaps all season.
Those who roster Aaron
Jones would be allowed a bit of concern after Sundayís game.
Jones played on 69% of snaps and got 19 opportunities, but AJ
Dillonís role is increasing. He played on 33% of snaps and
12 opportunities, including 4 targets. He caught them all and
also scored on a reception. Those who drafted Jones early were
not concerned about Jones losing any receiving work to Dillon,
but that appears to be an incorrect assessment. Both backs could
be good weekly starts if this split continues.
Perine played on 61% of snaps on Sunday, while Joe
Mixon played on only 28%. Perine got 11 carries (59 yards)
and Mixon only got 10 (33 yards). Perine was by far the more
effective back. This split will likely shift back toward Mixon
getting the vast majority once Mixon is healthy, but Perine
is worth holding in case his solid performance has earned him
more weekly touches.
Stevenson returned from the Belichick doghouse and in Week
5 he played on 34% of snaps and got 11 carries. He did not do
much with them, but this is still something to pay attention
Harris got more carries but played on one fewer snap than
Stevenson, mainly due to getting banged up throughout the game.
Harris was more effective (14-58-1), but Stevenson is worth
adding in case his workload increases.
played the most snaps among the Texans running backs (53%),
but he received only 2 carries. Mark
Ingram, who played on 44% of snaps, got 16 carries, and
Lindsay, who played on 22% of snaps, got 5 carries. They
seem to only use Johnson in the passing game, and Lindsay sparingly,
which makes both interesting trade targets if you are the Kansas
City Chiefs right now.
The split was back between James
Robinson and Carlos
Hyde. They played on 68% and 25% of snaps, respectively.
However, Robinson had another big day on the ground (18-149-1),
which should hopefully lead to more work and more snaps moving
Williams got more carries than DíAndre
Swift and ran well (13-57), it was Swift who played on far
more snaps (74% to 32%). Swift got 11 carries and scored on
the ground, but his value really comes through the air. He caught
all 6 of his targets for 53 yards. In PPR leagues, Swift is
likely a top-five back due to his receiving usage. Since the
Lions trail in most games, he should continue to get lots of
work. Williams can still be used as a flex and is a good player,
but Swift is the superior talent.
On to another frustrating split in Denver. Melvin
Gordon got 60% of the snaps to 42% for Javonte
Williams, but Williams was far more effective, finishing
with 11 touches for 86 yards. Gordon finished with 11 touches
for 43 yards. It will be interesting to see if this stat line
leads to more snaps for Williams, but I doubt it. The coaches
seem to like the split they have.
I hope you didnít give up on Myles
Gaskin. He led the way for the Miami backs on Sunday, playing
on 69% of snaps while Salvon
Ahmed played on 20% and Malcolm
Brown played on 9%. The Dolphins didnít run it much, but
Gaskin saw a whopping 10 targets and caught them all for 74
yards and 2 scores. It is hard to predict how the backs will
be used, but Gaskin is clearly their best option.
Fournette played on 62% of snaps on Sunday, and continues
to be their clear starter. He got 12 carries and 5 targets,
finishing with 110 yards and a score. He should be started weekly
for as long as this role continues.
Bernard played on only 17 snaps (23%), but got 4 carries
and 2 targets, going for 35 yards and a score. He will likely
only be a starting option in tougher matchups, and the Bucs
somehow have a ridiculously easy schedule. But keep your eyes
out for any matchup where they might trail.
and Kareem Hunt
continue to be the best rushing duo in the NFL, producing a
combined 259 yards from scrimmage in Week 5. Chubb played on
56% of snaps and Hunt on 44%, and Chubb got 22 touches to Huntís
17. Both are weekly must-starts.
Shocker special: Khalil
Herbert out-snapped Damien
Williams, 53% to 48%. I touted Herbert in my podcast as
a sneaky pick-up before Week 5, but I did not even envision
this kind of split. Both players ended up with 18 touches, with
fairly equal yardage (75 to 84). Herbert is a must-add in leagues,
and could be a nice option for those who lost Saquon
Barkley or Clyde
Edwards-Helaire, at least for a few weeks while David
Montgomery is out.
Mitchell returned from injury for the 49ers and jumped right
back into the role of starter, relegating Trey
Sermon to the bench. Mitchell played on 68% of snaps and
got 11 touches. Trey Lance took 16 carries himself, so Mitchellís
upside is limited until Lance starts sharing the carries more.
But if you have Mitchell on your roster, you have to like that
he is clearly the lead back. However, Shanahan does change on
a dime, so you should also consider adding Jeff
Wilson if you have Mitchell. When he is healthy, he could
immediately become the starter.
Booker played almost every snap after Saquon Barkley (ankle)
left the game, and finished with 19 touches for 58 yards and
two scores. He is not a dynamic back, but he is smart and a
tough runner. He is a nice add this week for running back-needy
teams, even though Barkley will likely only be out a couple
continues to play about 40% of the snaps, sharing the workload
Elliott. On Sunday he got 18 touches to Elliottís 23, reminiscent
of the split in Cleveland. Pollard is a great weekly option
due to his regular involvement in a great offense.
played by far his highest snap share of the season, 74%, meaning
Singletary saw his lowest, 26%. I donít know if this had
to do with how they wanted to attack the Chiefsí defense or
represents a shift in the timeshare, but it is something to
keep an eye on. Moss doubled Singletary in touches, 14 to 7,
and produced over 90 total yards. Still, both are risky weekly
plays due to how the work is usually split up.
Edwards-Helaire looked totally ineffective in his 7 rushes
in Week 5, which he took for 13 yards. His only reception of
the game ended with him being injured, and it sounds like he
will be out for a few weeks with an MCL sprain. Darrel
Williams can be added if you are desperate for a running
back, but he is not a very good player. He will at least likely
get 10 touches per game though, and that is something in this
running back desert.
Despite being incredibly good on the touches he received,
Taylor played on only 52% of snaps. He got 15 carries and
4 targets, and took them for a combined 169 yards and two scores.
The Colts played three backs, including Marlon
Mack on 14% of snaps and Nyheim
Hines on 38% of snaps. You have to keep playing Taylor weekly,
but this slight usage is incredibly frustrating.
The best thing we can say about the Ravens running back situation
is that at least itís an obvious ďavoid.Ē You know not to start
any of them, since three players are splitting snaps and they
are barely giving any of them carries. Latavius
Murray led with 49% of snaps, then Devonta
Freeman with 27%, then TyíSon
Williams with 19%. Murray got 8 touches, Williams 6, and
Freeman 4. Look in other directions for running back help.
Robert Woods rebounded in a major way, which we saw
coming thanks to the underlying data. He has been playing almost
every snap and we knew his day was going to come. He played
on all but one snap while Cooper Kupp played on all but 8 snaps
and still got 10 targets to Woodsí 14. Both are excellent
Elijah Moore played on fewer snaps than both Jamison Crowder (61%) and Keelan Cole (55%). Moore played on only
41% and didnít catch either of his 2 targets. In dynasty
leagues he is a hold, but in redraft leagues he can likely
be dropped. In my opinion heís far better than Cole,
but it might take him time to gain the No.2 role permanently.
Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore both played on 87%
of snaps, and both received 7 targets. Moore was again far
more effective (5-42 compared to 2-30), but both are very
involved. Darnold was bad on Sunday, but if he bounces back
both players have nice weekly upside.
returned on Sunday and played on 70% of snaps. He received 7
targets and caught 5 for 32 yards. When he is in the game, Boyd
is pushed more to the background, so that is something to keep
in mind. When healthy, Higgins is probably a weekly must-start,
depending on your leagueís settings. His big days are coming,
even with JaíMarr
Chase on the same roster.
Chris Moore had a breakout day for the Texans, with
Brandin Cooks getting the Belichick treatment. Moore played
on 63% of snaps and caught all 5 of his targets for 109 yards
and a score. This is likely a one-week thing, as the Texans
will target Cooks far more on a weekly basis. But if you are
in a very deep league, Moore is a name to keep in mind.
A.J. Brown played on 64% of snaps and led the team
in targets with 6. However, he caught only 3 for 38 yards.
He was working back from an injury, so Iíll excuse this
poor game. But he is going to need to start producing like
a top-30 fantasy pick very soon, or he is going to end up
on a lot of benches. Iíd suggest continuing to start
him, as I believe his talent is immense, and hope that the
big production is coming.
Those hoping D.J. Charkís vacated targets would
go to Marvin Jones or Laviska Shenault were sorely disappointed
on Sunday. Jones caught only 1 of 5 targets and Shenault caught
only 1 of 3 targets, despite the two playing on 93% and 73%
of snaps, respectively. Instead Tavon Auston got 5 targets
and Jamal Agnew got 8 targets, meaning no receiver had any
value for the Jaguars. Lawrence needs to start peppering his
best players with targets soon, but for now Iíd bench
Amon-Ra St. Brown led all receivers in snaps for
the Lions, playing on 69%. He also led in targets (8), catching
7 for 65 yards. This is the second consecutive week he has
been the best receiver for the Lions, making him a must add
in most leagues. They will trail most weeks and he is establishing
a nice rapport with Jared Goff.
Adam Thielen again played on almost every snap (93%),
but his involvement has trailed off. He received only 3 targets
(2-40). He remains a decent flex play with upside, but in
this offense he will likely remain a risky weekly start.
Justin Jefferson, meanwhile, continues to establish
himself as a dominant alpha receiver. He caught 7 of 8 targets
for 124 yards, on 90% of snaps.
Chase Claypool played on 55% of snaps and led the
Steelers in receiving, catching 5 of 6 targets for 130 yards
and a score. The Steelers fear JuJu Smith-Schuster is lost
for the season with a shoulder injury, which makes Claypool
and Diontae Johnson both no-brainer weekly starts, even with
the poor quarterbacking weíve seen from Ben Roethlisberger.
Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton dominated targets
for the Broncos. They both played over 90% of snaps, with
Sutton getting 11 targets (7-120-1) and Patrick getting 9
targets (7-89). Both should be solid weekly starts the rest
of the way.
With DeVante Parker (hamstring) out on Sunday, we
heard from old friend Preston Williams, who finished with
3 receptions for 60 yards on 5 targets, on 74% of snaps. With
Will Fuller and Parker out, Williams could have short-term value,
particularly while Fuller is on the IR with his hand injury.
Jaylen Waddle played the most snaps at wide receiver
for the Dolphins, and got 6 targets. But he only caught 2
for 31 yards. He will likely be helped by Tua Tagovailoa returning,
but needs to be benched until he can start producing.
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown are all
weekly must-starts, because you never know who is going to
produce the most yards or who is going to score. They are
all playing over 50% of snaps in this ridiculous offense,
and all are capable of spike weeks. This week it was Brown
and Evans each scoring twice, but it could be Godwin next
Marquez Callaway is heating up. Although his biggest
play was on a Hail Mary pass, he still finished with 4-85-2
on 8 targets. The Saints offense looks bad overall, but Callaway
is a player you can start if you are desperate for a receiver.
He played on 82% of snaps.
Curtis Samuel played only 5 snaps before leaving
again with his groin injury. He can be dropped or benched
for the long term, depending on the depth of your league.
I am unsure if he will get healthy this season, but you should
not start him until you see production for a couple weeks,
with no setbacks.
Odell Beckham Jr. led Cleveland skill players with
81% of snaps, but he was an afterthought for Baker Mayfield
and was only targeted 3 times (2-20). Both Donovan Peoples-Jones
and Rashard Higgins received more targets and were more productive.
It might be the end of the line for Beckham if he canít
start producing very soon.
On 58 snaps (77%) Mike Williams received 16 targets!
He caught 8 for 165 yards and two scores. He is clicking with
Herbert and is establishing himself as an elite receiving
option. You have to start him every week.
Meanwhile, Keenan Allen played on 91% of snaps and
caught 6 of 9 targets for 75 yards. This is still a solid
line, but it certainly seems that he is now behind Williams
in Herbertís progressions.
Rondale Moore saw his highest snap share of the season
(48%), and was second on the team in targets (6) behind DeAndre Hopkins. He finished with 5-59 and also rushed three times
for 38 yards. They are clearly trying to get the ball in Mooreís
hands, so he is worth an add if you are needy at receiver.
It is still likely to be frustrating, as you never know which
Cardinals will get touches aside from Hopkins.
Kadarius Toney continued his breakout party from
Week 4 in Week 5, taking over for the Giants and catching
10 of 13 targets for 189 yards. He also got a carry for 7
yards. He looks incredibly quick and dynamic in the open field.
Even though the Giants are not very good, Toney could become
a stud fantasy contributor and should be added everywhere.
Kenny Golladay left early with another injury, which just
give Toney added opportunity to establish himself as the top
option in the passing game. Just keep in mind that Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton will return soon. I think the coaches
should be smart enough to keep Toney in the game, although
we are talking about Jason Garrett. So just keep an eye on
how things shake out, but grab Toney wherever you can.
Those who roster Stefon Diggs are officially worried.
He saw only 5 targets on Sunday night and caught only 2 for
69 yards. Josh Allen seems to have a better rapport with Dawson
Knox and Emmanuel Sanders this season.
If you picked up Sanders late or off the wire, you are feeling
pretty good. He looks quick and healthy, and scored twice against
the Chiefs. The Bills spread the targets around, so he will
have quiet games, but in this great offense he is a nice weekly
Mecole Hardman had one of the best games of his career,
mainly because the Bills totally took Tyreek Hill and Travis
Kelce out of the game. Hardman finished with 9 catches for
76 yards and 12 targets, putting to bed for now the thoughts
that Josh Gordon would take over his role. If Hardman is on
your wire you can add him, but just know that most weeks he
will catch 2 or 3 balls for 30 yards.
Parris Campbell was second among the Colts receivers
in targets with 6, despite only playing 55% of snaps. Zach Pascal played on 86% of snaps, ahead of Campbell, and received
5 targets. They also mixed in Ashton Dulin on 33% of snaps.
Similar to the running back situation in Indy, this mix is
very frustrating and will zap the potential upside of all
the Colts receivers.
Marquise Brown continues to play like an elite wide
receiver this season. On 90% of snaps he got 10 targets, and
caught 9 for 125 and two scores. The Ravens are no longer
a heavy rushing team, so expectations should be adjusted for
Brown. He is an every-week start, even with Bateman returning
from IR soon.
Dallas Goedert (Covid-19 list) played on 67% of snaps
and Zach Ertz on 60%. Goedert caught 2 of his 3 targets for
28 yards, and Ertz caught only 1 of his 6 targets for 7 yards.
This frustrating timeshare continues, and I would suggest trading
away Goedert after his next big game. I believe they will sap
value from each other all season.
Robert Tonyan led Packers tight ends with 59% of
snaps, but he was outproduced by Marcedes Lewis. Tonyan received
only 2 targets and caught 1 for 8 yards. If you drafted Tonyan
to be your starter, it looks like it is time to search for
a better option.
Hunter Henry continues to look like the clear lead
option for the Patriots at tight end. While Henry and Jonnu Smith both played on 62% of snaps, Henry received 8 targets
to Smithsí 2. He caught 6 for 75 yards and a score.
He looks to be clicking with Mac Jones and is a solid weekly
I was surprised that Anthony Firkser played on only
42% of snaps on Sunday, behind MyCole Pruitt (59%). Firkser
had more targets (4), and caught 3 for 33 yards. but Pruitt
scored. Firkser needs to be benched until he is getting more
snaps, and can be dropped if you need a roster spot.
I was not surprised, however, to see Dan Arnold lead
the Jaguars in targets. It has been clear all season how much
Trevor Lawrence loves throwing to tight ends, and Arnold is
a receiver playing the role. He played on 73% of snaps and
got 8 targets, catching 6 for 64 yards. This sort of usage
makes Arnold a must-start in most leagues, assuming this trend
continues. Pick him up immediately if you need a tight end.
T.J. Hockenson played on 81% of snaps, leading Lions
skill players, but got only 3 targets (2-22). It has been
a few weeks since he has produced like a top tight end, which
is very concerning for those who roster him. For now, you
likely have to keep starting him and hope for the best, but
certainly be on the lookout for a player like Arnold who can
give you a boost in case Hockenson does not bounce back.
Tyler Conklin continued his streak of games over
70% of snaps to start the season. He played on 75% and got
3 targets (2-25). This can be a low-volume passing offense,
so there will be slow weeks for Conklin. But the underlying
data is still strong and he is worth holding, particularly
in TE-premium leagues.
Noah Fant got only 4 targets (3-20) but he played
on 97% of snaps. This is likely the Steelers doing a great
job taking him away, so donít worry. He is a top tight
end option every week.
Ricky Seals-Jones played on 99% of snaps for Washington,
and got 8 targets (5-41). He took over the role completely
for Logan Thomas, meaning he will have very nice upside for
as long as Thomas is out. I recommend starting him next week
against the Chiefs, as it is hard to find a tight end playing
David Njoku played on fewer snaps than Austin Hooper
(64% to 72%), but Njoku received 7 targets to Hooperís
0. He caught all 7 for 149 yards and a score. Perhaps they
have shifted Hooper into a blocking role and Njoku into a
receiving role, but itís more likely just the way this
game panned out. I still do not recommend starting any Cleveland
tight end, since theyíd prefer to run the ball and have
three tight ends who play significant snaps.
Jared Cook played on more snaps than Donald Parham
(67% to 53%), and got 3 targets to Parhamís 2. But Parham
was more productive catching both his targets for 29 yards
and a score. Parham is worth an add in tight-end premium leagues,
since heís playing around half the snaps and Herbert
likes to target him in the red zone.
Evan Engram could also benefit from the rash of injuries
for the Giants. He played on 74% of snaps in Week 5, his highest
mark of the season. He caught all 4 of his targets for 55
Dalton Schultz continues to widen the gap between
himself and Blake Jarwin. He again led the Cowboys in targets
with 8, on 73% of snaps, finishing with 6 receptions for 79
yards. He is among the best tight end options every week and
should be started with confidence.
Dawson Knox is officially a thing. He continues to
score most weeks, and led the team in receiving against the
Chiefs (3-117-1). He has a great connection with one of the
top quarterbacks in the league, so he is worth a weekly start
unless you have a top 5 tight end.
Mark Andrews won fantasy weeks for many managers
in Week 5, putting up 11 receptions and 147 yards, with two
scores and two 2-point conversions. He played on 77% of snaps.
Andrews is obviously a top tight end option and should be
started weekly, especially in this new pass-happy Ravens offense.
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.