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Usage Notes: Week 6

By Kevin Scott | 10/19/21 |

The grind continues as we begin this post-Week 6 look at usage, snap share, and the underlying data that helps us find which players we can depend on and which we should avoid.

At this point in the season, we have a fairly solid grasp on what teams are doing, what their intentions are on offense, and which players are likely to see ample opportunity. Another factor at play is the injuries that are piling up, so I will also focus on what players you might want to add to your roster, or keep on your radar, due to injury situations.

Leonard Fournette

Running Back

  • Leonard Fournette continues to hog the running back work for the Bucs, getting 28 touches on Thursday night, while Ronald Jones and Giovani Bernard had 8 between them. With this usage in a great offense, Fournette is a must-start weekly.

  • Miles Sanders saw his highest snap share of the season on Thursday night, playing on 83% of snaps. His snap share the past four weeks has gone 60/64/75/83%. Kenneth Gainwell did not have a carry in this game. Still, Sanders only finished with 11 touches, on an offense that simply looks bad. He is a starting option for many, since there are so few good options at running back, and he has looked dynamic at times. But, it is hard to trust any Eagles at the moment.

  • A week after Myles Gaskin seemed to be moving up the ranks of the Dolphins running backs, he returned to an equal three-way timeshare with Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed. Brown and Gaskin both played on 36% of snaps, and Ahmed played on 27%. This made (and makes) all three players unusable. I will not start any of them moving forward unless totally desperate, or until one back starts getting a majority of the snaps.

  • Carlos Hyde played on only 9 snaps for the Jaguars, and did not get a single carry. James Robinson has apparently returned to his workhorse role from 2020, and he looks good doing it. He finished with 20 touches for over 100 yards and a score, and needs to be in lineups every week. Still, those who roster him might not realize how good heís been, so making trade offers for him this week is a shrewd move.

  • The Ravens continued to use their many-headed timeshare at running back. Latavius Murray led the backs with 38% of snaps, LeíVeon Bell had 32%, and Devonta Freeman had 30%. They all had 8 or 9 carries, and they all scored. Murray likely would have played more snaps if it hadnít been a blowout, so donít worry too much about him. Still, Freeman looked good, so if you are in desperate need at running back, he might be worth an add.

  • Dalvin Cook returned and looked great, playing on 74% of snaps and taking 29 carries for 140 yards and a score. He also caught both of his targets. The Vikings like to commit to one back, meaning you should always start Cook if heís active, and Mattison if heís not.

  • Chuba Hubbard dominated the backfield touches, even though he only played on 64% of snaps. He only got 17 touches on the day, though. Matt Rhule said after the loss that the Panthers need to run the ball more, so Hubbard may be in line for more work (and McCaffrey once he returns from IR), if he stays true to these comments.

  • Aaron Jones played on only 59% of snaps on Sunday, and AJ Dillon played on 42%. Jones got 17 touches, including 4 targets, and outproduced Dillon 110 yards to 59 yards. But still, it looks like the Packers want the split to be much more even than earlier in the season. This adds risk to Jones as a starting option, and makes Dillon interesting for those hurting at running back. Dillon took his 11 carries for 59 yards against a good Bears defense, so he is playing well. He is an interesting trade target since he has not had a blowup week, but the usage looks like it will be solid the rest of the way.

  • Khalil Herbert played on 89% of snaps and looked the part of an elite back. He finished with 19 carries for 97 yards and a score, and caught 2 of 3 targets for 15 yards. Damien Williams will likely be back next week from his Covid-19 absence, but I would keep this in mind if you play dynasty. Herbert looks like he could become a very good player in this league.

  • Joe Mixon played on only 62% of snaps on Sunday, but got a very heavy workload with Samaje Perine out. He got 18 carries and 6 targets, finishing with 155 total yards and a score. The excellent yardage per touch is likely due to the Bengals playing the Lions, but it is still encouraging for those who roster Mixon. Chris Evans did received 4 carries and 3 targets, and was effective, so keep an eye on how the backfield touches are split in the coming weeks. Evans and Perine might have value if things break right for them.

  • DíAndre Swiftís snap share continues to tick up each week, settling on 78% of snaps on Sunday, his highest of the season. Jamaal Williams was down at 30% of snaps. Swift also got 18 touches to Williamsí 5, so a full-blown shift might have occurred in this backfield. Still, Swift only took his 13 carries for 24 yards, so the optimism needs to be tempered. I am starting Swift everywhere I have him due to his receiving upside, but Iíd sure like to see the Lions have a more effective offense overall. For those who roster Williams, you likely need to wait and see how things shake out.

  • Phillip Lindsay played on only 11 snaps, but got 7 carries (39 yards) and 2 targets (2-15). I do not know why the Texans are using Mark Ingram so much (18-73 on Sunday), but Lindsay is a potential trade target for RB-needy teams due to his lack of involvement.

  • Antonio Gibson played on a season-low 39% of snaps. 55% had been his previous low. This is likely due to the shin injury heís struggling with, and also because Washington likes J.D. McKissic when they are in obvious passing situations, or in comeback mode. Regardless of why, itís extremely concerning for those who drafted Gibson. McKissic looks like the better back right now, and played on 61% of snaps. He got 16 touches to Gibsonís 12, and produced 73 yards of offense to Gibsonís 44. You should strongly consider benching Gibson until this situation improves.

  • Chase Edmonds played on only 37% of snaps, his lowest of the season. 58% had been his previous low. He also only got 7 touches, while James Conner, who played on 55% of snaps, got 17. This is concerning for those who have Edmonds on rosters, but it is likely due to the shoulder injury heís been dealing with. I would bench him until we see him getting more work, and Conner should be upgraded for as long as Edmonds is limited.

  • Kareem Hunt suffered a calf injury in Week 6 that could keep him out a few weeks. If Nick Chubb returns in Week 7 and beyond, he gets a huge bump in value. But if not, you should strongly consider adding DíErnest Johnson or Demetric Felton. They each played on 20% of snaps on Sunday and would probably split snaps if Chubb and Hunt are out. Behind an excellent offensive line, either could be effective.

  • We finally saw some signs of life out of Kenyan Drake, but donít miss the underlying data. He played on only 12 snaps (21%). He just happened to get a touch on 6 of those snaps and scored twice, gaining 73 yards! I donít know whether this will lead the new head coach to give him more opportunities, but it should. Keep a close eye on what happens moving forward in this backfield.

  • Snap share trended toward Ezekiel Elliott and away from Tony Pollard in Week 6, with Elliott playing on 71% of snaps. He received 17 carries and 9 targets (7-50), while Pollard (29%) got 10 carries and 3 targets (3-22). Pollard remains a good flex option or desperation play at RB, but just know that weeks like these can happen.

  • Damien Harris played on 26 snaps and Rhamondre Stevenson played on 18. Harris got 19 touches and Stevenson only got 8, but keep a close eye on this split to see if Stevenson starts getting more work. Most interesting was that Stevenson got 3 targets, catching all 3 for 39 yards. This perhaps signifies that he is going to push for the James White role and push Brandon Bolden (1 target) out.

  • DeeJay Dallas played on 34% of snaps and was the primary passing-down back for Seattle on Sunday. He got 4 carries and got all 5 targets for 33 yards. With Chris Carson out for an undetermined amount of time, Dallas is a nice addition this week.

Wide Receiver

  • Despite the fact that Antonio Brown only played on 49% of snaps, while Chris Godwin and Mike Evans both played over 90%, Brown saw by far the most targets (13). That is a ludicrous 31% target share, while playing less than half the snaps. I honestly donít know if that has ever been done before. If you have Godwin and Evans on your roster (5 and 4 targets, respectively), you just have to let it go. If you have Brown, you are excited but a bit nervous that it cannot happen weekly when heís only playing half the snaps. If I could trade away any of the three for a great price, Iíd strongly consider it.

  • The Bucs took DeVonta Smith out of the game on Thursday night, limiting him to 2 catches on 4 targets, for 31 yards. He is not elite to the point that he can regularly beat double teams, and he is at risk for being taken out of the game against any good defense. I would recommend starting him against weak defenses, and checking your other options against good ones.

  • Jaylen Waddle played on 93% of snaps and received 13 targets (a 28% target share). He is still mainly seeing short passes (finished 10-70-2), but has incredible speed and will certainly break a long one soon. His targets might decrease significantly when DeVante Parker and Will Fuller return, but he is likely to still be their best weapon. Youíll have to watch carefully how the targets are split up moving forward, but Iíll be starting Waddle whenever possible.

  • Both Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault received 10 targets on Sunday, and both played over 75% of snaps. Jones is getting the targets further down the field and finished 7-100-1, while Shenault is getting the lower aDot targets and finished 6-54. Still, both being involved and effective is encouraging, especially since Trevor Lawrence looks like he is figuring out the pro game a bit more each week.

  • Mike Williams was struggling with an injury and played on only 20 snaps (36%). He still saw 5 targets, but caught only 2 for 27 yards. The Ravens dominated this game, and the Chargers looked bad across the board. Williams remains a must-start in a good offense, despite this stinker.

  • In his first game of the season, Rashod Bateman played on 65% of snaps and tied for the team-lead in targets, with 6. He caught 4 for 29 yards, so he didnít do much. But he instantly pushed Marquise Brown for the No. 1 receiver role in this offense, and he should be taken seriously. He should be instantly added if he is available in your league.

  • Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson both played virtually every snap, and they received 13 and 14 targets, respectively (a 27% and 29% target share). Thielen had the better game, catching 11 for 126 yards and a score, while Jefferson caught only 8 of his 14 targets for 80 yards. Both players should be in lineups weekly due to their heavy involvement.

  • Sam Darnold was terrible for the second straight week, completing on 17 of 41 passes. This is why D.J. Moore only caught 5 for 73 yards, despite receiving 13 targets, and why Robby Anderson only caught 3 of his 11 targets for 11 yards. I have to recommend you continue starting Moore, since he can go off for big numbers in any week, but you will likely be much less confident starting him until Darnold gets back on track.

  • Allen Lazard played on 85% of snaps on Sunday, and caught 3 of 5 targets for 27 yards and a score. Randall Cobb only played on 39% of snaps and did not receive a target. This is something interesting to note, but both are likely poor plays moving forward, especially once Marquez Valdes-Scantling returns.

  • Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson both played on over 90% of snaps on Sunday. Mooney got 8 targets and Robinson 7, a 29% and 26% target share. Mooney caught 5 for 45 yards and a score, while Robinson caught 4 for 53 yards. Both could become nice weekly plays if Fields keeps improving, but for now they are very risky options.

  • Tyler Boyd played on 62% of snaps, Tee Higgins on 57%, and JaíMarr Chase on 79%. Higgins and Chase both received 6 targets, but Boyd only got 3, catching 1 for 7 yards. There will be nice weeks for Boyd still, as heís playing lots of snaps. But this is what many were afraid of coming into the season, with two excellent young receivers who click with Burrow. Boyd should not be started when both players are healthy and active, unless you are desperate.

  • Brandin Cooks was again the centerpiece of the passing game for Houston, getting 13 of 43 targets (30% target share). He caught 9 for 89 yards, again making him an excellent play in PPR leagues. He is a solid weekly start, but just keep in mind that against excellent defenses that can take him away, you might need to bench him.

  • In his first action of the season, T.Y. Hilton played on 50% of snaps and led the team with 4 targets (4-80). The Colts only threw 20 passes and dominated the game, so this could have been a much bigger game for Hilton. It looked like Hilton might need to retire due to a neck issue, and now he looks to be the No. 1 option in the passing game again. This is terrible news for Michael Pittman Jr., who despite playing on 96% of snaps only caught 2 of 3 targets for 35 yards. Donít go crazy on bids for Hilton, since the Colts offense is still slow and often infuriating for fantasy, but he should be rostered everywhere in case he really does take over the top receiver spot.

  • The Giants just canít have nice things. A week after Kadarius Toney looked fantastic, he didnít even last a quarter after aggravating an ankle injury. He looked like he could be on the way to another big game, catching 3 for 36 in the early going. He is definitely still a player Iíd be trying to get if possible, and perhaps someone will want to trade for depending on his health.

  • After Toney went down, it was Sterling Shepard and Dante Pettis who moved into the top two roles in the offense. Shepard finished with 14 targets (10-76) and Pettis with 11 (5-48). Neither is worth much at this point unless Toney is out for an extended period of time.

  • It was a very disappointing day for Josh Gordon. Many, myself included, thought he might have a breakout day on Sunday. Instead, he played on only 11 snaps and did not receive a target. He was in on almost all rushing plays. It looks like he is not going to play a role for this team unless he can clearly beat out Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson in practice.

  • Tyreek Hill played on only 57% of snaps as he seemed to be struggling with his quad injury, but he still led the Chiefs in targets (12) and receptions (9). He must be in lineups every week he is active.

  • Terry McLaurin had a tough Week 6, despite playing on 95% of snaps in a game where Washington needed to try to mount a comeback. He finished with 8 targets, behind only McKissic, but caught only 4 for 28 yards. He is struggling with Taylor Heinicke under center, and Ryan Fitzpatrick returning would really help his value the rest of the way.

  • DeAndre Hopkins led the Cardinals receivers with 89% of snaps, but he was third on the team in targets, behind both Christian Kirk (8) and A.J. Green (6). Hopkins saved his fantasy day with two scores, but only went 3-55. This is concerning for those who drafted Hopkins early, even if many will only see the points. Keep a close eye on the targets the next few weeks, and if he stays moderately involved, I might consider moving him.

  • Donovan Peoples-Jones led all Cleveland skill players in snaps on Sunday, playing on 78%. He also scored both of their touchdowns, finishing 4-101-2 on 5 targets. With Odell Beckham Jr. banged up, Peoples-Jones is a flier worth considering on a short week.

  • Courtland Sutton saw a 29% target share on Sunday, and caught 8 of 14 targets for 94 yards and a score. It could have been a much bigger day as well. He needs to be started weekly and is clearly the No.1 option in this passing attack.

  • Chase Claypool played on 84% of snaps but did not click with Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday night, and caught only 2 for 17 yards. Perhaps he is not ready yet to have a big role in this offense. For now, hold him and hope he can figure it out.

  • Emmanuel Sanders continues to be one of the strongest values in drafts this season. He led all receivers in snaps share Monday night, playing on 92% of snaps. He got 8 targets and caught 5 for 91 yards. He is not a weekly must-start, but he is an excellent flex option in most leagues.

  • Cole Beasley bounced back from a couple bad games, playing on 87% of snaps and catching 7 of 9 targets for 88 yards and a score. He is a boom or bust option every week, but he does have this potential and is worth rostering because of it.

  • It looked like another lost week for A.J. Brown until the second half, when he exploded for 7 receptions for 91 yards. He looked slower than in years past when he got in the open field, as he could not break a long one. But he still looked good. If he gets fully healthy you should still expect some very nice games the rest of the way. Most encouragingly, he played on 79% of snaps, his highest mark since Week 2.

  • Julio Jones, however, only played on 66% of snaps and still did not look like himself. I would not start him until he looks fully healthy and is incorporated into the offense more.

Tight Ends

  • O.J. Howard had his first good game in years, catching 6 of 7 targets for 49 yards and a score. He played on 65% of snaps, while Cameron Brate played on 59%. Both will likely be pushed down the depth chart once Rob Gronkowski returns, but if you are desperate for a tight end in deep leagues, Howard is a name to keep in mind.

  • With the trade of Zach Ertz from the Eagles, they have put their tight end position into the hands of Dallas Goedert. He has been playing over 65% of snaps, and that number should jump to near 100% going forward. Jalen Hurts also is not good at reading the field deep, so he should see a very large target share. If you can trade for him for a reasonable price, it would be a very nice move.

  • Both Durham Smythe (83%) and Mike Gesicki (70%) played on the vast majority of snaps, and both were productive. Gesicki is the premier receiving option among the two, and caught 8 of 9 targets for 115 yards. Smythe was also involved, catching 5 of 6 for 59 yards. The 47 pass attempts the Dolphins threw are higher than average, but without a solid running game, they will likely have to keep throwing it. Smythe is mainly a blocking tight end but could be an option in deep or tight end-premium scoring. And Gesicki should probably be in your starting lineups weekly due to the volume he is seeing.

  • Dan Arnold saw his snap share decrease a bit on Sunday, down to 62% from 73% in Week 5. He also struggled, catching only 2 of his 5 targets for 27 yards. Better days are ahead for Arnold, and I will not be dropping him anywhere.

  • Tyler Conklin played on 85% of snaps and received 5 targets, finished 3-71. He is a solid starting option for those without a must-start option at tight end.

  • Robert Tonyan continues to be a non-factor most weeks. He played on 63% of snaps, a good number for a tight end, but only received 3 targets (2-10). However, keep in mind that Aaron Rodgers only threw 23 passes on Sunday, so better days are ahead for Tonyan. He shouldnít be dropped in this poor tight end landscape, but I would advise only playing him in games where the Packers face strong opponents.

  • Cole Kmet finally got some targets on Sunday, and caught 4 out of 5 for 49 yards. He has been playing almost every snap and simply hasnít been getting an opportunity in this vanilla offense. This is a good sign, and if Fields keeps improving he could be a very nice play down the stretch.

  • T.J. Hockenson returned to a dominant target share on Sunday, getting 11 targets on 83% of snaps. He caught 8 for 74 yards, but did not score. Still, it was a nice game for those who had been waiting for him to get more involved again, as he saw a 26% target share.

  • Even with the Giants without their top wide receivers and in furious comeback mode, Evan Engram could do almost nothing in the passing game. Daniel Jones threw 51 passes an Engram only got 5 targets, catching 3 for 24 yards. He just doesnít seem to be earning targets, and he is a drop in all but the deepest leagues.

  • Travis Kelce has not been scoring touchdowns, but he caught 8 of 11 targets for 99 yards and remains the top tight end in the game. The Chiefs are also resting him on most running downs to keep him fresh, which should only help him produce over the course of the rest of the season.

  • As expected, Ricky Seals-Jones played on every snap and got a good number of targets (6). He went 4-58-1, scoring the only Washington touchdown. He is a solid start while Logan Thomas is out.

  • I continue to maintain that no Browns tight end should be started in any league. They are just too inconsistent and they are canceling each other out. Austin Hooper played on 75% of snaps, David Njoku on 44%, and Harrison Bryant on 29%. They totaled 2 catches for 11 yards between them.

  • Noah Fant exploded in Week 6, catching 9 of 11 targets for 97 yards and a score. The Broncos were furiously trying to come back in this game, which led to them throwing 49 passes to help Fantís line. But it is also the case that he is playing great and is becoming one of the top tight end options in the league. Start him with confidence, especially when Albert Okwuegbunam is out, as he was this week.

  • Dalton Schultz played on 84% of snaps in Week 6, and caught 5 of 6 targets for 79 yards. On this explosive offense, playing almost every snap, he needs to be started every single week.

  • Pat Freiermuth broke out on Sunday night, catching all 7 of his targets for 58 yards. He played on 60% of snaps. He looks to have a nice connection with Ben Roethlisberger, and for those in tight end-premium leagues or in need of a tight end option, you could do a lot worse than Freiermuth.

  • Dawson Knox came back to earth on Monday night, which he was bound to do. His efficiency was not sustainable, and even when players are hot they will not score touchdowns every week. Still, he remains a nice mid-range option due to his involvement in a great 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.