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Usage Notes: Week 2

By Kevin Scott | 9/22/20 |

Week 2 might be known as the week of the injury, with huge names like Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Davante Adams, Raheem Mostert, and Courtland Sutton all being forced from action. For some, like Barkley and Sutton, their seasons are over already, forcing owners to scramble and try to salvage their season.

The purpose of this article is to help you understand in a granular way how teams are using their players. This can enable you to see a breakout before it happens and add players before there is a bidding war. We will consider the usage for running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.

Aaron Jones

Running Back

  • Kareem Hunt played on 34% of snaps while Chubb played on 62%, and Chubb had 22 carries to Hunt’s 10. But Hunt averaged 8 yards per carry and had a touchdown through the air and on the ground. If you are a Chubb owner you are fine with this split – you just don’t want it to be 50/50. For Hunt owners, this result is beautiful for a 5th or 6th round pick. The difference between this week and Week 1 was game script, so you want to start both of these guys in games they are likely to win.

  • Joe Mixon played only 49% of the snaps. He got 16 carries and 4 targets, which is fine, but until he starts getting more snaps in garbage time and more third-down snaps, his upside is limited. Gio Bernard played on 45% of snaps and received 7 targets; you should consider adding him if you are desperate for running back help.

  • With Barkley done for the year, many will add Dion Lewis off the wire. I’d keep your bid low. He was not good on the ground (10-20), and I think it’s more likely they bring in a veteran like Devonta Freeman or turn to Wayne Gallman for early-down duties.

  • David Montgomery had a brief injury scare but was very effective for the Bears. Although he only played on 54% of snaps, he notched 19 touches and went for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Tarik Cohen played on only 32% of snaps and only got one target and five carries. If you’re playing a Bear, it should be Montgomery.

  • Todd Gurley got 21 out of 30 called rushes for the Falcons, but produced only 61 yards. He again was left out of the passing game, which is extremely concerning. His 21 touches and 64% of snaps is in line with what his drafters were hoping, but it has simply not led to production. You likely cannot bench him in this landscape, but don’t expect much.

  • D’Andre Swift got only 5 out of the 20 running back carries, but he salvaged some value with 5 receptions on 5 targets for 60 yards. All of the Lions’ running backs should be avoided due to the timeshare (snap share was 34% Swift, 32% Kerryon Johnson, and 25% Adrian Peterson), but Swift has the most upside due to his receiving ability. Tread lightly.

  • Aaron Jones is amazing. He played on only 48% of snaps and got only 22 touches, yet produced 236 yards of offense and 3 touchdowns. Jamaal Williams got 42% of snaps and went 8-63 on the ground. You can pick him up if he’s available and you’re desperate for a back.

  • Nyheim Hines went from potential league-winner after Week 1 to getting only 9 snaps and 1 touch. His lack of usage is concerning if you spent big on him last week, but don’t panic. He should see a lot of work in games where the Colts are not up big and do not lead throughout.

  • Alexander Mattison’s usage fell off in Week 2, down to 19% of snaps and 4 touches. He will need the Vikings’ offense to be better than terrible to have relevance.

  • Myles Gaskin again appeared to be the starter for the Dolphins, over Matt Breida and Jordan Howard. He played on 65% of snaps, while Breida was at 21% and Howard at 11%. Gaskin also received 7 carries and 7 targets. He is not exciting, but he should be owned until this split changes.

  • Jerick McKinnon played on 21% of snaps, but that’s about to go to around 75%. He should be the starting running back this week with both Raheem Mostert (knee) and Tevin Coleman (knee) out. McKinnon has looked explosive, so if he happens to still be on your wire, grab him now and bid fairly aggressively. Just remember that he will return to his change-of-pace role once Mostert is healthy.

  • Cam Akers went out with a rib injury, so Darrell Henderson took over his role and rushed for 81 yards and a score on 12 carries – his best game as a pro. He also had 2 receptions for 40 yards. It is a complete mystery how McVay will use these backs each week, so while I would make a bid on Henderson, I would not be overly aggressive.

  • It is unknown who will be the starter now that Christian McCaffrey is out for a while, but it’s most likely Mike Davis. He received 8 targets and caught them all for 74 yards, and is worth an add. He was the only other back who played besides McCaffrey. It is possible they bring up Reggie Bonnafon from the practice squad and give him a shot, but he is not worth much of a bid even if so. It will likely take a healthy bid to land Davis.

  • Ronald Jones’ chance at fantasy relevance may be over in Tampa after Brady blamed him for a failed handoff that led to a fumble. Fournette entered and basically played the rest of the way, producing 103 yards on 12 carries, with two touchdowns.

  • James Robinson played on 51% of snaps and got almost every rushing attempt in Week 2. He produced very nicely (16-102-1) and looks to be their 2020 feature back. Keep an eye on whether the usage remains the same once Devine Ozigbo and Ryquell Armstead return.

  • We were likely seeing the beginning of the Antonio Gibson show in Week 2. He played on 65% of snaps and produced 55 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Peyton Barber was phased out. It is a great time to try to acquire Gibson if you’re able to.

  • All of the Ravens’ running backs are risky plays on a weekly basis due to the snap share and usage data. Ingram played on 42% of plays, Edwards on 31%, and Dobbins on 31%. They received 9 rushes, 10 rushes, and 2 rushes respectively. Until even one of these backs is phased out, none are desired options.

  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire played on 62% of snaps and got 16 touches, including 6 receptions. I was correct that we’d see Darwin Thompson as the second player getting carries in Week 2, and he received 4 carries. He is a better player than Darrel Williams and should be owned in all but very thin formats. Darrel Williams can likely be dropped as he’s just not a special player.

  • Joshua Kelley had another week where he was very involved, playing on 52% of snaps to Ekeler’s 57%. Kelley received more carries (23 to Ekeler’s 16) and also received 3 targets to Ekeler’s 4. This is a fairly even timeshare, and if Kelley is still on your wire, make an aggressive bid. He is in the Melvin Gordon role and will have significant value all season.

Wide Receiver

  • Although Odell Beckham Jr. only received 6 targets (4-74-1), that was a 26% target share since the Browns only threw 23 passes. He will have much bigger days when the Browns are not thoroughly controlling the game.

  • A.J. Green had 13 targets, good for a 21% target share. He only produced 3-29, but it could have been a much bigger day. He might be phased out of the offense a bit toward the backend of the season, but for as long as he gets that target share, he’s a good start.

  • Rookie Tee Higgins played on 65% of snaps. They clearly want to get him involved over John Ross, so consider a low-cost speculative add if you need help at receiver.

  • Sterling Shepard suffered turf toe during Week 2 and will be out a while. If Golden Tate is available on your wire he is a nice add – he played on 62% of snaps and received 5 targets.

  • Rookie Darnell Mooney is a deep sleeper receiver who makes a sneaky pick up. He is playing on the outside opposite Allen Robinson and saw 60% of snaps (well ahead of Anthony Miller, who was in on 40%). He caught all three of his targets for 36 yards and a touchdown.

  • Russell Gage had a nice game for the second week in a row (6-46-1), and played on 83% of snaps (even higher than Julio Jones at 79%). With how much the Falcons like to pass (and are also forced to pass due to a poor defense), Gage is looking like a good weekly option moving forward.

  • Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb all played 83% of snaps or more on Sunday. Lamb’s usage stuck out the most, as he received 9 targets and caught 6 for 106. He appears to be more dynamic than Gallup and is a very good weekly option on a great offense.

  • With Davante Adams getting injured, Marques Valdes-Scantling led the Packers receivers with 7 targets, producing 3-64. Allen Lazard led in snaps at 84%, and got 5 targets (3-64). Both are very usable in Week 3 against the Saints, as both should see plenty of opportunities.

  • Michael Pittman Jr. is worth an add after leading the team in snaps (92%) and targets (6) in Week 2. T.Y. Hilton looks like he might be done, and Zach Pascal is not special. With Parris Campbell landing on IR, Pittman could become very valuable and can likely be had for a moderate bid.

  • John Brown again led Bills’ receivers in snap share, playing on 92% of snaps. He also caught 4 for 82 and a touchdown. Diggs played on 79% and had a huge day (8-153-1 on 13 targets), and Beasley played on 67% and also had a nice day (5-70). The Bills are passing more often than last season, making all of these players intriguing. Keep an eye on whether that changes against tougher opponents.

  • Isaiah Ford is a player to consider adding as a deep sleeper. He is playing as Miami’s third receiver, always in the slot. He played on 64% of snaps on Sunday and received 9 targets (caught 7 for 76 yards).

  • Jalen Reagor played the most snaps at receiver for the Eagles, 85%. He only received 4 targets, but as he gets acclimated those numbers will rise. He is a great buy-low option at the moment.

  • With Courtland Sutton lost for the season with an ACL tear, the door is wide open for Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. Jeudy is likely not on any wires, but Hamler makes a wonderful add this week. He is likely to see a load of targets on a team that will be trailing most weeks, and he is a dynamic player.

  • Diontae Johnson is, in my opinion, the best overall receiver on the Steelers. He is consistently open and is getting peppered with targets (13 in Week 2 after 10 in Week 1). He caught 8 of them for 92 yards and a score in Week 2, and is a weekly must-play going forward.

  • If Robby Anderson is still available in your league, he is a must-add. He again was the second-most targeted player on the Panthers with 10 targets, and caught 9 for 109 yards. He has a nice chemistry with Bridgewater and should be owned ahead of Curtis Samuel.

  • Keelan Cole should also be added if you need a wide receiver. He played on 68% of snaps, the second-most among Jaguars’ receivers, and received 7 targets (6-58-1).

  • Adam Humphries again was heavily targeted in Week 2 (6 targets) even though he only played on 55% of snaps. While A.J. Brown is down, he is a solid play.

  • Steven Sims only received 5 targets (3-53), but he played on 91% of snaps. Hold him, as better days are ahead.

  • Will Fuller had 0 targets, despite playing on 63% of snaps. He remains an enigma and is best avoided due to his boom-bust nature, particularly against tough defenses. Brandin Cooks took over as the No.1 option, caught 5 for 95 yards on 90% of snaps.

  • Tre’Quan Smith played on 88% of snaps with Michael Thomas out, and received 7 targets (5-86). He is a dart throw while Thomas is out, as it could be Emmanuel Sanders or Jared Cook next week.

Tight Ends

  • Drew Sample will likely be the No. 1 tight end pick up this week, as it’s clear that Joe Burrow likes to throw to the position (and since C.J. Uzomah went down with an Achilles tear). Sample produced 7-45 on 9 targets.

  • Harrison Bryant looked explosive for the Browns on Thursday night. He only caught one ball but played on 51% of snaps and could be their “move” tight end, at least for as long as David Njoku is out. He may end up catching more balls than Austin Hooper this season with the way the Browns are using Hooper.

  • Hayden Hurst should be started weekly, as he finished with 8 targets (5-72-1) on 65% of snaps. He is running routes on the vast majority of his snaps for a pass-heavy offense, and that’s what you want.

  • Dalton Schultz surprised in Week 2, getting a whopping 10 targets and finished with 9-88-1. That won’t be a regular occurrence and could be his biggest game of the season, since the Cowboys were in furious comeback mode for most of the game. If you’re desperate for a tight end, he will be on the field and proved he can be effective. Blake Bell also played on 40% of snaps and may get more work as the receiving tight end going forward, so keep him on your radar as well.

  • Robert Tonyan again led the Packers’ tight ends in snaps (60%) and got 3 targets (2-25-1). The Packers don’t use their tight ends much so don’t bid much on him, but he is an option if you are desperate.

  • Mo Alie-Cox had what could have been a breakout game with Jack Doyle out this week. He played on 67% of snaps and got 6 targets, producing 5-111-1. If he earned himself additional playing time, he could be a potential league-winner since Philip Rivers loves to throw to big tight ends. I would definitely make a bid on him, but just be aware that he might return to the bench when Doyle is healthy.

  • Mike Gesicki had a huge day in Week 2, leading the team in targets with 11 and producing 8-130-1. He only played on 55% of snaps, making it even more impressive. It seems to be impossible to know when he will be featured in a game and when he’ll be invisible, making him a tricky player to own.

  • Jordan Reed returned to relevance with George Kittle out, producing 7-50-2 on 8 targets. He may have secured more playing time moving forward even when Kittle returns. Since he’s a huge injury risk I’d advise extreme caution when bidding on him.

  • Chris Herndon had 1 reception for 5 yards on 4 targets, despite playing 74% of snaps. Avoid all Jets.

  • Tyler Higbee keeps showing us that he’s a top tight end, producing 5-54-3 in Week 2 and playing on 86% of snaps. He is a weekly must-start.

  • Both Dallas Goedert and Zack Ertz played 89% of snaps or more on Sunday, and they had 8 and 7 targets, respectively. The Eagles are looking like a bad offense so far, but they both are solid weekly plays.

  • With Courtland Sutton out, Noah Fant will likely receive even more work. He also is a weekly must-start and would make a nice trade target.

  • Rob Gronkowski should either be dropped or should be pushed to the very last spot on your bench and given one more chance. He had 0 catches on 1 target, and Arians said there was no need to get him more involved. He is unfortunately looking like a wasted pick.

  • Tyler Eifert may be available in some leagues and is playing well. He played on 60% of snaps and received 6 targets (3-36-1). On a surprising Jaguars’ offense, it looks like he will be relevant this season.

  • Logan Thomas did not produce much in Week 2 (4-26), but he received 9 of Washington’s 33 targets, over a 25% share. With that target share, he is a decent play in any decent matchup.

  • Dan Arnold should be picked up in tight end-premium leagues. He played on 73% of snaps and their other tight end, Maxx Williams, was placed on IR. The Cardinals have been raving about Arnold, and he received 4 targets (2-26). He is still under the radar, but could become valuable moving forward.

  • Greg Olsen is hard to trust after playing 71% of snaps but only getting 1 target. He should be benched or dropped in favor of a tight end getting more opportunities.

  • Darren Waller received a crazy 16 targets and caught 12 for 103 yards and a touchdown. It appears that he will again be the centerpiece of the Raiders’ passing attack and is rewarding his fantasy owners, at least so far.

Kevin Scott is a fantasy pro who is the co-host for The Lowdown Fantasy Football Podcast. He plays in over 40 leagues annually and has made over $100,000 playing fantasy football. You can follow him @kevinscottff.