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Usage Notes: Week 9

By Kevin Scott | 11/9/21 |

With every NFL week feeling like a shock to the system, we need to come to grips with the fact that unpredictability is what we should expect. The huge popularity of the league is due in part to how difficult it is to predict the outcome of any given game, and certainly that week-to-week variability extends to fantasy football.

The ineptitude of the Cowboys offense, the Bills offense, and the Chiefs offense all made huge impacts in the fantasy football landscape. More than ever, it is important to study the underlying data (as we do here), but also the opposing defenses and the situation. Even then, we will be surprised sometimes but it will help mitigate some of the uncertainty.

With that, let’s dive into some underlying snap and usage data from Week 9.

Christian McCaffrey

Running Back

  • Michael Carter saw his snaps dip a bit, from over 70% of snaps, down to 58%. Ty Johnsonís snap share was up to 42%. They seem to like using Johnson in the passing-down role, which is unfortunate for Carter since heís not only great in the receiving department but also since the Jets will trail most weeks. For now, both are flex options, but watch the snap share carefully. Also, if Mike White is under center again in Week 10, that should help both backs, since he has a preference for checking down to his running backs.

  • Jonathan Taylor (69%) still played on around 70% of snaps, as he has been doing the past few weeks, and was very effective. Nyheim Hines saw his snaps jump to 45%, his highest snap share since Week 3. Hines also received 6 targets and 6 carries, and went for over 100 yards and a score. I think much of this was due to the Jets poor defense, but keep an eye on Hinesí snap share next week to see if this usage increase is sticky.

  • Devonta Freeman played on 58% of snaps and got 13 carries (79 yards). LeíVeon Bell played on 23% of snaps and got 11 carries (48 yards and a score). TyíSon Williams played on 18% of and did not get a touch. Williams should not be rostered. It looks like itís Freemanís job until Latavius Murray returns, and then we will have to watch to see who gets most of the work. Itís a situation to avoid if possible due to the uncertainty.

  • Another ugly running back committee is in New England, where Brandon Bolden led the backs with 47% of snaps, then Damien Harris with 39%, and then Rhamondre Stevenson with 27%. Both Harris and Stevenson left with head injuries, so it is unclear what will happen next week. But in this game, Bolden got 10 touches, Harris got 16 touches, and Stevenson got 12 touches. Stevenson was the most effective (106 total yards), but Harris got the touchdown. It is impossible to predict this backfield and Bill Belichick doesnít care. Stevenson is still a good hold, in case he pushes past Harris into the starting role.

  • Christian McCaffrey played on 49% of snaps in his return from the IR, but totaled 19 touches and was effective (106 yards of offense). He should work into a larger role as we move along, and should be a weekly start in all leagues.

  • Nick Chubb played on only 56% of snaps, around his average, but he dominated the backfield production. He got 16 touches and went for 163 total yards and two scores, while DíErnest Johnson played on 33% and only finished with 8 carries for 16 yards. When Kareem Hunt returns, he will slot right back into his complementary role and will push Johnson to the bench.

  • Joe Mixon played on 63% of snaps and was very productive, even with Cincinnati trailing the entire game. He finished with 13 carries for 64 yards and two scores, and also caught all 5 targets for 46 yards. There will be some quiet games, but Mixon is being used on all three downs and must be started every week because of the potential for big games like this. Samaje Perine still played on 33% of snaps and produced 37 yards of offense, but the Bengals will need to be playing with a lead for him to have much of an impact.

  • It looks like, barring injury, Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams will evenly split snaps for the rest of the season. They remain at almost exactly a 50/50 split, and both have been effective. In Week 9, Williams rushed for 111 yards on 17 carries, while Gordon rushed for 80 yards and a score on 21 carries. Gordon got the work in the passing game (2-15). Neither is an attractive start with the split duties, but both can be nice options in a pinch.

  • Devin Singletary played on 72% of snaps and Sunday, while Zack Moss was down at 28%. They continue to flip-flop who is getting most of the work, making it fairly impossible to start either. Neither did anything on the ground in Week 9, but Singletary did catch 7 of 8 targets for 43 yards. Avoid both if you can.

  • All Houston backs should also be avoided. David Johnson led in snap share with 45%. Rex Burkhead played on 30%, Phillip Lindsay on 20%, and Scottie Phillips on 6%. Lindsay was the most effective on the ground, but only rushed for 28 yards.

  • We finally saw Myles Gaskin get a starterís level of snap share, playing on 72%. That was his highest of the season, and he dominated backfield touches. He finished with 26 touches, while Salvon Ahmed finished with 4. Unfortunately Gaskin only totaled 34 yards on 20 carries, so it was a terrible rushing stat line. He salvaged his fantasy day with a score, and also by catching all 6 of his targets for 23 yards. Despite the poor output, Gaskin makes an intriguing start over the next few weeks with Malcolm Brown on IR.

  • Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis both played on 56% of snaps, and they both got 9 carries. Neither could get anything going on the ground against the Saints, but Patterson shined in the passing game again, catching all 6 of his targets for 126 yards. He should be in lineups every week because of his heavy passing-game involvement. Davis is a desperation play if you need a running back, but cannot be trusted in any week.

  • Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were both involved and fairly effective. Kamara rushed 13 times for 50 yards and a score, and had 4 receptions for 54 yards. Ingram rushed 9 times for 43 yards, and had 5 receptions for 21 yards. While Kamara played on twice as many snaps as Ingram (52 to 26), Ingram produced nicely and got 14 touches to Kamaraís 17. Make sure Ingram is rostered in your leagues.

  • Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake split snaps on Sunday, with Jacobs playing on 34 snaps and Drake on 31. Jacobs got 13 carries (76 yards) and Drake got 4 (30 yards). Jacobs got 4 targets (4-19) and Drake got 8 (6-70). Drake has finally moved into the role most of us envisioned for him when he signed with the Raiders, as a pass-game specialist. If his involvement in the passing game continues, he will provide nice value the rest of the way, particularly since the Raiders are down a prominent target (Ruggs).

  • Devontae Booker continued playing the Saquon Barkley role on Sunday, rushing 21 times and logging 3 receptions. He totaled 122 yards. However, he should move to a small role once Barkley returns.

  • Boston Scott played on 44% of snaps for the Eagles and Jordan Howard played on 40%, but Howard led the team in rushing attempts again, with 17. Scott had only 10. Kenneth Gainwell got 2 carries on 11 snaps. This is another backfield that is best avoided, particularly since Miles Sanders will be re-entering the mix in a couple weeks. At least the Eagles are running the ball more, but we need one back to emerge.

  • Aaron Jones played his regular snap percentage (63%), but could not do much with the anemic offense under Jordan Love. He rushed 12 times for 53 yards an did not catch either of his targets. AJ Dillon took his 8 rushes for 46 yards and did produce in the passing game, catching all 4 of his targets for 44 yards. I am not reading anything into the stats here, since Jones played his regular snaps and Love really struggled to effectively move the offense.

  • With the injury to Chase Edmonds, James Conner moved into a workhorse role, and played on 77% of snaps. He logged 21 carries (96 yards and two scores) and 5 receptions (77 yards). Eno Benjamin did work in, playing on 24% of snaps and logging 9 carries for 39 yards and a score. It sounds like Edmonds will be out a few weeks, so Benjamin is a nice addition if you are desperate while Conner should put up some nice weeks as the lead back.

  • Elijah Mitchell played on 66% of snaps but got only 8 carries (36 yards) in this pass-heavy game plan. He did catch all 5 of his targets, providing some value, but those who roster him were hoping he would be more involved.

  • Missing Derrick Henry did not cost the Titans in Week 9, as they got a big win against the Rams. But the challenge of replacing Henry was evident. Jeremy McNichols got 45% of snaps, Adrian Peterson 33%, and DíOnta Foreman 21%. McNichols got 10 touches for 35 yards, Peterson got 11 touches for 26 yards, and Foreman got 5 touches for 29 yards. None of them can alone or collectively replace Henry, so from a fantasy perspective we must wait until one emerges and then hope for the best.

  • With the Rams trailing most of the game on Sunday night, Darrell Henderson got only 11 carries. He went for 55 yards on the ground and was effective, but the Rams simply would prefer to pass. Still, he remains a top-10 running back option most weeks due to his upside in this good offense. One thing to keep in mind is that Sony Michel is working into a bigger role lately. He played on 40% of snaps, after playing on 30% in Week 8. If his snap share remains that high, it will zap a good portion of Hendersonís upside. Michel finished with 9 touches for 26 yards, but he scored the Ramsí only touchdown.

  • David Montgomery returned from the IR and played on 85% of snaps on Monday night. He got 13 carries and was effective, rushing for 63 yards, and also caught both of his targets for 17 yards. With Justin Fields under center, this run game could get going over the rest of the season, and Montgomery could benefit. Khalil Herbert is still a nice dynasty stash, but it looks like he will not be involved when Montgomery is healthy.

Wide Receiver

  • Elijah Moore finally had a breakout game on Thursday night, on only 60% of snaps. He was targeted a team-leading 8 times and caught 7 of them for 84 yards and two scores. He is clearly the best wide receiver on the Jets, and he needs to be on the field for every snap. However, that is unlikely to happen, at least for now with Corey Davis expected back this week. As soon as Moore moves into a full-time role, he deserves weekly starting consideration. Youíll also have to watch carefully the situation at quarterback, since the offense could not score with Zach Wilson under center.

  • Adam Thielen played on 89% of snaps and got 7 targets, a 25% target share. But he only caught 2 balls for 6 yards. One did go for a score, but he has not been the same player overall this season. He should be benched if you have other comparable options until this offense starts clicking more.

  • Meanwhile, Justin Jefferson played on 80% of snaps and caught a 50-yard touchdown, but other than that was quiet. He only caught 3 of his 5 targets for 69 yards and a score. Better days are likely ahead, but this whole passing game needs to improve.

  • Rashod Bateman continued to look like a potential difference-maker for the fantasy stretch. He played on 66% of snaps and received 8 targets, a 20% target share. He caught only 5 for 52 yards, but some big days are coming if he stays this involved. Watch to see what happens with his snap share once Sammy Watkins is active. Either way, he has not negatively impacted Marquise Brown, who saw 12 targets and caught 9 for 116 yards. He remains a must-start every week.

  • D.J. Moore played on 85% of snaps and got 7 targets, a 21% target share. He caught only 3 for 32 yards, however. His target share should be higher, but defenses are scheming to take him away since he is the only effective receiver on the roster at the moment. Those who roster Moore will need Sam Darnold to start playing better in order to see Moore post weekly WR1 numbers.

  • Donovan Peoples-Jones played on 60% of snaps and scored on a 60-yard touchdown reception, but he only received 3 targets (2-86-1). Remember that this team wants to be a very low-volume passing offense, so the receivers are best avoided unless desperate.

  • It was a tough game for Joe Burrow, but Tee Higgins (6-78 on 8 targets) and JaíMarr Chase (6-49 on 13 targets) were still heavily involved. Continue to start them every week. However, Tyler Boyd (1-11 on 2 targets) is behind C.J. Uzomah in the pecking order it appears, and should be avoided unless desperate.

  • Courtland Sutton played on 83% of snaps and got a measly two targets, catching 1 for 9 yards. Albert Okwuegbunam and Tim Patrick both got 5 targets, and Jerry Jeudy got 8 (going 6-69). With so many potential options in the passing game, and a team who would prefer to run the ball, Sutton is likely a player to avoid if possible.

  • CeeDee Lamb played on 71% of snaps and got 9 targets, and Amari Cooper played on 58% of snaps and got 5 targets. Both caught 2 passes for under 40 yards. Meanwhile, Malik Turner played on 29% of snaps and got 7 targets, catching 5 for 33 yards and two scores. I have no explanation for this, and it likely wonít happen again. Continue to start Lamb and Cooper, and root for this passing game to get going.

  • Emmanuel Sanders played on 99% of snaps and got 8 targets, catching 4 for 65 yards. Stefon Diggs played on 88% of snaps and got 8 targets, catching 6 for 85 yards. Cole Beasley played on 67% of snaps and got 11 targets, catching 8 for 33 yards. It was simply a terrible offensive day for the Bills, but the underlying data is still very strong on all three. Continue to start them weekly, particularly Sanders and Diggs.

  • Jaylen Waddle continues to be the primary target for the Dolphins. With backup Jacoby Brissett under center, Waddle continued producing, catching 8 passes for 83 yards, on 10 targets.

  • Falcons receiver snap share: Russell Gage 81%, Tajae Sharpe 80%, and Olamide Zaccheaus 49%. Gage led the way with 8 targets (7-64), then Zaccheaus with 3 targets (3-58-2), and then Sharpe with 1 target (1-12). In Week 8, Gage did not have a reception, so this is going to be very difficult to predict. The main Falcons you want for fantasy remain Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts.

  • The only receiver you should consider playing for now on the Raiders is Hunter Renfrow. Despits Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones playing on almost every snap, they combined for 1 reception on 8 targets. The only receiver clicking with Carr is Renfrow, who finished with 9 targets (7-49-1).

  • Daniel Jones only threw it 20 times, and only tallied 110 passing yards. Even though Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Darius Slayton all played on 55% of snaps, none did very much. Golladay went 2-38, Toney 1-9, and Slayton didnít have a reception. The offense needs to start throwing the ball more, or all of these players will be irrelevant for the second half.

  • DeVonta Smith had a nice game in Week 9, but look closely at the data. He played on 44 snaps (77%) and got a 35% target share and that equated to only 6 targets, as Hurts threw only 17 passes. This team is avoiding the pass at all costs, making Smith a very risky weekly start. He is a talented player, but I will avoid him where possible until I see the Eagles show an interest in the passing game.

  • With DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green out for Week 9, Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore played heavy snaps (96% and 81%, respectively). With Colt McCoy under center, there were perhaps fewer big plays, but both were effective. Kirk caught all 6 of his targets (91 yards) and Moore caught all 5 of his targets (25 yards). Moore will need to be used downfield more often if he is going to provide value this season.

  • Brandon Aiyuk played on one more snap than Deebo Samuel in Week 9, and produced more for the first time this season. He had 6 receptions for 89 yards and a score, on 8 targets, while Samuel went 5-63 on 9 targets. It is hard to trust Aiyuk after the first half of this season, and I might recommend waiting to see if he does it again before putting him in your lineups. But itís encouraging. Either way, Samuel will stay very involved as both Shanahan and Garoppolo love him.

  • A.J. Brown got 11 targets on Sunday night (a 41% target share), but only caught 5 for 42 yards. He was facing Jalen Ramsey for much of the night and the Rams are a tough defense, but he looked good. He did, however, have two costly drops. Either way, he needs to be started everywhere.

  • Julio Jones returned to 74% of snaps in Week 9. He only got 4 targets (4-35), but he looked healthy and effective. Unfortunately, in this low-volume passing offense he is simply not going to get a huge number of targets. He can be started in a pinch, but otherwise is best left on your bench.

  • Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp played every snap on Sunday night, and finished with 10 targets and 13 targets, respectively. Woods went 7-98 and Kupp went 11-95, but neither scored. Still, itís a positive to see both so involved. Third receiver Van Jefferson played on 96% of snaps himself, and caught 3 of 7 targets for 41 yards. All can be started, but Jefferson will have very quiet weeks since Woods and Kupp demand a high target share.

  • Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson played on 81% and 77% of snaps, respectively. They each got 6 targets and were effective, and they could finally return some value on the draft capital down the stretch if Justin Fields continues his improvement.

  • Ben Roethlisberger is increasingly having a hard time throwing out wide to his receivers. His best reception to Diontae Johnson on Monday night was up the seam, which seems to be where he wants to throw it. This has hurt both Johnson and Chase Claypool, and although both played over 80% of snaps on Monday night, neither did much. Johnson finished with 5-56 and 6 targets, and Claypool finished with 3-30 on 5 targets. Johnson should be started due to his typical high number of targets, but Claypool likely needs a stronger armed QB to return much value.

Tight Ends

  • Tyler Conklin tied for the team-lead in targets, and was a favorite of Cousins on several important downs. He finished with 5 catches for 45 yards on 7 targets, making him a viable starting option.

  • Hunter Henry scored again, but he only got 3 targets and caught 2 for 19 yards on 56% of snaps. He should be avoided due to the light passing volume of this New England offense.

  • Dalton Schultz played on 95% of snaps and caught 4 of 5 targets for 54 yards. With another injury to Blake Jarwin, Schultz looks poised to continue to be a top option at tight end for the rest of the season. Start him with confidence.

  • On only 57% of snaps, Dan Arnold led the Jaguars in targets with 7 (27% target share). He finished with 4 catches for 60 yards. The Bills are a tough defense, so the poor output for the offense was not surprising. Arnold should remain a solid weekly option for the rest of the season, especially against weaker defenses.

  • Mike Gesicki played on 79% of snaps and was second on the team with 8 targets. He caught only 4 for 54 yards and till needs to be started in every league due to his heavy involvement in the passing game.

  • Adam Trautman played on 88% of snaps and tied for the team-lead in targets (7). He caught 4 for 47 yards. He has been on the field a ton, and now he is finally seeing the targets. He should be added in any tight end-premium leagues, and has some nice upside the rest of the way.

  • Darren Waller had another game where he led the Raiders in targets, with 11. He finished with 7 receptions for 92 yards. He only has two touchdowns on the season, limiting his upside, but heís still one of the best tight ends to roster. This was also the first time since Week 1 that he had double-digit targets, perhaps due to Ruggs being off the team. Waller should be an excellent option the rest of the way.

  • George Kittle returned with a bang on Sunday, catching 6 of 8 targets for 101 yards and a score. He looked healthy and played on 73% of snaps. He is a must-start the rest of the season, pending his health.

  • Tyler Higbee returned to a greater involvement in Week 9, garnering 10 targets. He caught only 5 for 51 yards, but itís still a positive. He also caught a touchdown pass that was overturned due to his foot stepping on the line, so he almost had a much bigger game.

  • Cole Kmetís role continues to increase, as he shows off a great rapport with Justin Fields. Kmet played on 77% of snaps and led the team in targets, with 8 (28% target share). Those are numbers currently held by the top tight ends, and thatís how he produced on Monday night, with a 6-87 line. If the Bears would use him in the red zone instead of Jimmy Graham, Kmet could be one of the most productive tight ends down the stretch.

  • Pat Freiermuth also continues to look better and better each week. This week he played on 71% of snaps and received 6 targets, leading the team along with Diontae Johnson. He caught 5 of them for 43 yards and two scores. He is quickly also becoming a top option at the position. Watch to make sure he continues to get this same snap share once Eric Ebron returns from injury.

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.