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Staff Writer

Usage Notes - Week 5

Each week weíll review some interesting data points related to player usage; information I consider to be among the most predictive and actionable in fantasy football. The truth doesnít always lie in the stats but usage tells the story of how a coaching staff intends to utilize a player.

Here are some of the most important usage statistics for Week 5:

Running Back

  • Chris Carson has made a leap back into a workhorse role. His snap count percentages by week have been 77-54-44-76-84. He trended down when he was struggling with fumbles and inefficiency, but the coaching staff realizes he is the most effective back on the roster and returned his usage to almost an every-snap level. Start him with confidence.

  • Despite the lack of production from James Conner, he played 80% of snaps on Sunday. With Roethlisberger done for the season, expect Pittsburgh to lean heavily on Conner. Itís going to be tough sledding against most opponents as the Steelers are now down to their third-string quarterback after the concussion to Mason Rudolph. Defenses will likely stack the box against the running game but in the right matchup, Conner should still produce.

  • Alvin Kamara saw his snap count fall to 69% in Week 5. This is normal fluctuation for him; his low is 65% and his high is 88%, depending on game flow and situation. Latavius Murray did get 9 touches, which is more than Kamara owners want to see but not concerning moving forward. Although he did not score in this game, Kamara was effective and the scores will come.

  • Aaron Jones posted his monster game (19-107-4, 7-75) on just 68% of the snaps. If he can keep that sort of efficiency going he will end up as a top-10 running back this season. It was interesting that the Packers chose to give snaps to Tra Carson (6-14; 4-18) when giving Jones a breather, rather than rookie Dexter Williams.

  • Josh Jacobs saw his snaps jump to 68% (prior three weeks were 46-42-54). He seems to finally be healthy and a focal point of the offense. It may be too late to buy low, but his arrow is pointing up behind a good offensive line.

  • Austin Ekeler played 66% of snaps, even with Melvin Gordon returning. While he only received 3 carries (Gordon had 12), he received an incredible 16 targets, catching 15 for 86 yards. That sort of target share is an anomaly, but it speaks to the fact that the Chargers still want him involved in the offense, even with Gordon back in the mix. His snap count percentage should trend downward as Gordon gets fully into football shape, so after that huge output in the passing game it might be wise to flip Ekeler this week.

  • Melvin Gordon played 46% of snaps. He was being eased into the offense and that number will go up.

  • Jon Hilliman played 64% of snaps for the Giants after Wayne Gallman left with a concussion. He was ineffective, gaining only 20 yards on 9 carries, but it is clear he is third on the depth chart behind Saquon Barkley and Gallman. If both cannot play in Week 6 against the Patriots, Hilliman should get plenty of touches in a bad matchup.

  • Devonta Freeman saw his snap count percentage fall to 54%. Ito Smith had 11 touches to Freemanís 16. This is bad news for those hoping Freeman could return to the elite echelon of running backs. Either he no longer has the skill to be in that group or the coaches are trying to protect him from injury. Either way, he should be avoided as the Falcons running game is in a free fall.

  • David Montgomeryís snap counts fell from 69% in Week 4 to 52% in Week 5. When he did get the ball, he was not very effective (11-25-1) thanks to a weak offensive line.

  • Sony Michel played only 49% of snaps, but he made them count against the Redskins (16-91-1, 3-32). The fact that he received three targets in the passing game is also notable, as he had only received one target in the passing game during the first four weeks. As long as he is effective on the ground, he can be started in the right matchup, even only playing half the snaps.

  • Duke Johnson played 40% of the snaps but was far more effective than Carlos Hyde on his rushes (6.6 yards per carry, compared to Hydeís 2.9). If the coaching staff ever decides to give Johnson more carries, he could be usable as a flex option.

  • Each member of the Tampa Bay backfield played one-third of the snaps (34%/33%/32%). Avoid all of them!

  • Jaylen Samuels saw his snap share fall to 25% in Week 5. His high usage in Week 4 seems to have been game-plan specific but his early interception from the Wildcat formation may have doomed his usage. You should use him cautiously, in only the right kinds of matchups, until he is getting a higher number of snaps weekly.

  • With the return of Damien Williams, Darrel Williams barely played and LeSean McCoy played only 22% of snaps. When the Chiefs offense gets rolling again, both McCoy and Damien could be usable flex options but not until somebody is receiving a 50% snap share.

  • Reggie Bonnafonís snap share jumped to 17% in Week 5, and he also produced (5-80-1). While itís not very big usage, it is worth noting since Ron Rivera has mentioned a desire to get McCaffrey more rest during games.

Golden Tate

Wide Receiver

  • Allen Robinson (7-97-2) played 100% of the snaps. He has been great regardless of the quarterback and if the Bears had a better QB option, Robinson could be unstoppable.

  • Auden Tate (3-26-1) also played 100% of the snaps. He will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by A.J. Green when he returns, but for as long as Green remains out, Tate is viable.

  • Keenan Allenís lack of production (4-18) was not due to losing any snaps (99%) of snaps. Too much time against DB Chris Harris and a poor game from Philip Rivers led to miniscule production from Allen.

  • Will Fullerís high snap percentage finally resulted in production - one of the best games ever by a wide receiver (14-217-3). The output will be volatile but both Fuller and Hopkins are solid starts as they have been playing virtually every snap together all season.

  • Mike Evans played 97% of the Bucsí snaps but finished with 0 catches. Ouch.

  • KeeSean Johnson replaced Christian Kirk in the Arizona offense and played 95% of the snaps. He received 7 targets, catching 3 for 22 yards.

  • Diontae Johnson saw his snaps jump to 92% in Pittsburgh, and saw a team-high 8 targets. However, he was only able to catch 5 for 27 yards. This will likely be a trend while the Steelers deal with subpar QB play.

  • Demarcus Robinson again played over 90% of snaps, and again did very little with his opportunity. Look for his role to be diminished when Tyreek Hill returns, particularly with Byron Pringle outplaying him on Sunday.

  • Mike Williams returned from injury and played 89% of snaps. He received 13 targets and caught 6 for 74 yards, an encouraging sign.

  • Geronimo Allison played 86% of snaps with Davante Adams sidelined. However, he only produced 2 receptions for 28 yards. Keep in mind that none of the pass-catching options for the Packers produced in this game.

  • Michael Gallup returned and played 86% of the snaps, and received 14 targets (the same as Amari Cooper) and caught 7 for 113 and a touchdown. He can be started with confidence.

  • T.Y. Hilton returned and looked healthy playing 83% of the snaps. While he did not produce much (4-37) that was due to the Coltsí run-heavy game plan. He should be good to go for Week 6.

  • D.J. Chark appears to be a stud wide receiver. He played on 81% of snaps and received 11 targets (8-164-2). He and Minshew have a great connection making Chark a weekly starter.

  • Anthony Miller played a season-high 78% of snaps and received 7 targets (4-52). Keep an eye on Millerís usage, as he could quickly become a valuable piece.

  • Cooper Kupp played only 67% of the snaps and produced 9 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets. You canít ever bench him.

  • Golden Tate returned to play 67% of the snaps and also ran most of his routes from the slot, kicking Sterling Shepard to the outside. Tate had 6 targets (3-13). Better days are likely ahead.

  • Marquise Brown saw his snap count fall to 46% in Week 5, and received only 5 targets (3-22-1). This was due to injuring his ankle in the first quarter, but he did return after some time in the locker room. He should be fine and could be a good buy-low candidate this week.

Tight ends

  • Greg Olsen played all the snaps but did not record a target. I suppose this was related to the game plan, but is concerning nonetheless for Olsen owners.

  • Will Disslyís snap count continued to rise in Week 5, up to 89%. Without Vannett in town, Dissly is a weekly must-start at a weak TE position.

  • Gerald Everett played 81% of the snaps and produced nicely (7-136). Brandin Cooks left this game with a concussion which allowed Sean McVay to use more 2 TE sets.

  • Darren Wallerís snap count fell to 78%, which was his first time he was under 90% this season. Simultaneously, rookie Foster Moreau played 62% of snaps, his highest on the season. Both received 5 targets and produced similarly. This is a big concern for Waller owners and should be monitored.

  • Dawson Knox only recorded 2 catches for 12 yards, but he stayed involved (5 targets) and played a season-high 72% of the snaps.

  • Vance McDonald returned from his shoulder injury and played 62% of the snaps. He caught all three of his targets for 34 yards.

  • Delanie Walker stayed below 50% of snaps (44%), and caught only 1 pass for 10 yards. All Titans pass-catchers should be avoided.