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Usage Notes: Week 8

By Kevin Scott | 11/3/20 |

Below we will cover some important usage data from Week 8, helping you sift through what happened in this interesting (weather-filled) week of football. As we go through notes on running back, wide receiver, and tight end, my goal is to give you some solid, actionable insights based on what played out this week. Picking up the right players as we head for the stretch run is as crucial as it’s ever been, so let’s dive in.

Todd Gurley

Running Back

  • Todd Gurley played on 51% of the snaps Thursday but still got 18 touches and scored, but received no targets. Brian Hill played on 36% and got 11 carries and 3 targets, and was more effective on the ground. If Hill is available, he remains a high-value handcuff.

  • J.K. Dobbins finally got his chance to lead the Ravens backfield, playing on 66% of the snaps (Gus Edwards played on 32%). They split the carries, with Dobbins getting 15, Edwards getting 16, and Lamar Jackson also taking 16. Dobbins was the most effective (15-113) and has earned a chance to be the starter, even when Ingram is healthy. We will see if he gets it.

  • The puzzle that is the Patriots backfield continued on Sunday. Rex Burkhead played on 32 snaps, James White on 31, and Damien Harris on 20. Yet Burkhead got 7 opportunities, White got 6, and Damien Harris got 16 (all carries). This offense continues to want to use one back as the early-down runner. That severely limits Harris’ upside, yet he turned his 16 carries into 102 yards and a score. So while he is showing he deserves more snaps, don’t count on the Patriots to change a thing.

  • Zack Moss played on 53% of the snaps and Devin Singletary played on 48%. They split the carries evenly and both were effective. We are seeing a true 50/50 split right now. However, Moss got the carries in the red zone and scored twice, making him the more valuable player. If you have him, he is a decent option down the stretch. If he is somehow available in your league, get him now.

  • We saw D’Onta Foreman return to action for the Titans, after an extended period out of the league. He was effective and they wanted to get him some touches (6 snaps, 5 carries, 5-37). Keep an eye on this, as he could become the No. 2 behind Henry if he remains effective. He is a big, bruising back, more similar in style to Henry than the other backs on the roster.

  • Jordan Wilkins appears to be the running back to own in Indy, at least in the short term. He turned 20 carries into 89 yards, while Jonathan Taylor turned 11 carries into only 22 yards. He also played more snaps, 39 to 26. Some are saying Taylor was injured on Sunday, but he has been ineffective all season, leaving the door wide open for Wilkins. Make him your top-priority add.

  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire played on 50% of the snaps and Le’Veon Bell played on 26%, but they both received exactly 9 touches. CEH was more effective on the ground while Bell was more effective through the air. I have no idea how this will play out, but I am benching them both if possible. If you need CEH, you can play him and hope he scores, but I would not be too optimistic week to week.

  • Darrell Henderson was injured during Week 8 (thigh), so keep an eye on the practice reports coming out of their bye in Week 9. After he left, Cam Akers was able to get involved (21% of snaps), although Malcolm Brown played far more snaps (60%). Likely Henderson will be back by Week 10, but if not, Akers may finally get a shot.

  • Myles Gaskin’s grip on the starting gig in Miami appears to be completely cemented. He played on 88% of the snaps, received all but 5 of the carries, and also led the team in targets (6). He is a good option for the rest of the season, even behind a sub-par offensive line.

  • Justin Jackson is definitely the Chargers back to own while Austin Ekeler remains out, but second on that list looks to now be Troymaine Pope. He played on 4 more snaps than Joshua Kelley and was far more productive (10-67 on the ground, 5-28 through the air). He is likely not worth a pick up unless we hear that Ekeler is going to be out a lot longer.

  • Phillip Lindsay played on 29 snaps and Melvin Gordon played on 36. Gordon received more opportunities (8 carries, 7 targets) than Lindsay (6 carries, 3 targets), but Lindsay was again the far more dynamic back. He broke a long 55-yard touchdown run and has been outplaying Gordon all season. We will have to wait and see whether the coaching staff decides to give him more opportunities, but if he is available, I’d go get him.

  • Wayne Gallman was the best running back for the Giants again, and continues to deserve more snaps. They limited his snaps (43%), this time in favor of Alfred Morris straight off the practice squad. For some reason they don’t want to give Gallman a shot at a workhorse role, even with Devonta Freeman out.

  • Ronald Jones started but was given the Bruce Arians treatment after he fumbled (though it wasn’t really his fault and was due to a poor pass thrown by Brady). He finished with only 24% of the snaps, while Fournette played on 73%. While they finished with similar stat lines, Jones has looked far more impressive than Fournette overall this season. The coaching staff simply will not commit to one player, so each should always be started with serious reservations.

Wide Receiver

  • When Calvin Ridley left with a foot injury mid-game, it was Christian Blake who mainly filled in. Blake ended up playing on 54% of the snaps and received 2 targets (2-14). He is not an exciting player, but he may get a chance in a pass-happy offense for those who are desperate at the position.

  • The Steelers wide receiver situation is a tough one to figure out. Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Chase Claypool all played on exactly 41 snaps (77%), but their usage was very surprising. JuJu received 8 targets (7-67), Claypool received 9 targets (5-42-1), and Johnson received 3 targets (1-6). A week after having a great game, Johnson really let his owners down in Week 8. It is difficult to trust any of them down the stretch, since it appears their weekly usage will fluctuate.

  • Marquise Brown played on 94% of the snaps yet he received 2 targets and caught 1 for 3 yards. Lamar Jackson is struggling, but easier matchups should yield better results for both of them.

  • Jakobi Meyers played all but one snap on Sunday, and received a whopping 10 targets! He seemed to take over for Julian Edelman, who is likely out for a few weeks with a knee injury. Meyers turned those 10 targets into 6-58 on a windy day in Buffalo, but bigger days are ahead if he continues to play every snap.

  • Corey Davis again received a huge target share (10 targets, 33% target share) in Week 8. Teams are scheming to take away A.J. Brown, leaving Davis against lesser coverage. He is worth an add if you are in need of a receiver, even on a run-first team.

  • Auden Tate returned to action on Sunday and instantly jumped into the action, playing on 45% of the snaps. While he played behind Higgins, Green, and Boyd, he still received 7 targets, catching them all (7-65). There is a possibility he begins to take over some of A.J. Green’s snaps, as he looked fresh and dynamic. He may be worth a speculative add in deep leagues.

  • It was a blustery, nasty day in Cleveland, making it very difficult for both the Raiders and the Browns to throw. But notable is that Jarvis Landry received 11 of Baker Mayfield’s 25 targets with Beckham out, a 44% target share. If this offense can improve, Landry should have some big games down the stretch.

  • T.Y. Hilton (groin) went down with another injury, and it appears his time is up. Rookie Michael Pittman was back and should take over Hilton’s role moving forward, at least eventually. Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson have not done much with their opportunities, so I would pick up Pittman if he is available on your wire.

  • With Kenny Golladay going down with an injury (length of time he’ll be out is still up in the air), Marvin Jones becomes a solid add in any leagues where he is available. He received 7 targets Sunday and went 3-39-2. He has yet to produce in a big way this season, but this team has to throw it a lot since their defense is not good, so he could be in line for some big games coming up. Marvin Hall took over for Golladay when he exited and can also be added if you need receiver help.

  • Either Denzel Mims is not ready or Sam Darnold is just that bad. Either way, I’d avoid using Mims if at all possible this season. He played on 96% of snaps but only received 3 targets (2-42). The Chiefs have been pretty good at limiting opposing receivers, but in a blowout this should have been a better game. He needs to be benched in the deep leagues where he is owned until he shows something.

  • With Sammy Watkins still out with a hamstring injury, both Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson have been playing well. Keep an eye on how the snaps are split when Sammy returns (which should be soon). None are worth a start if the snaps are split three ways, except in easy matchups like they faced this week.

  • In comeback mode, Cooper Kupp received a silly 21 targets (11-110). In any game where the Rams figure to be behind, Kupp is an excellent start.

  • Mike Williams has turned into a great option with Justin Herbert under center. He played on 87% of the snaps, and turned 8 targets into 5-99-1. If you have him, I recommend starting him weekly moving forward.

  • DaeSean Hamilton played on 94% of the snaps with Tim Patrick out on Sunday, and got 5 targets (4-82-1). If Patrick remains out, he is a one-week option in Week 9 against the Falcons.

  • Anthony Miller finally had the kind of game many of us assumed we’d see this year. He played on 76% of the snaps (he’s been averaging around 50%) and received 11 targets, a team high. He went 8-73. He is worth a pick up just in case this trend of more playing time continues. He has always been capable of good production if he gets the opportunities.

  • Darnell Mooney again produced nicely, going 5-69-1 on 6 targets. He and Allen Robinson are playing virtually every snap. If Foles and this offense can keep improving, all three of these receivers could be viable.

  • Brandon Aiyuk is the No.1 WR in San Francisco with Deebo Samuel out, but it was Kendrick Bourne whose snaps increased. He played on 86% and received 10 targets, going 8-81. He is a streaming option while Samuel is out.

  • Michael Gallup has been playing around 90% of the snaps all season, but it was his usage that saw a huge spike with Ben DiNucci under center. He saw 12 targets while Lamb and Cooper each only saw 5.

  • Jalen Reagor returned from IR and was instantly involved, getting 6 targets and scoring a touchdown in the red zone. This was an ugly game for both sides, but it is encouraging if you held or scooped up Reagor.

  • Jaydon Mickens seemed to pick up most of the slack for Chris Godwin, playing on 63% of snaps and receiving 8 targets. He finished with only 5-36, but he is a player you can start if desperate in Week 9 against the Saints.

  • Sterling Shepard looked good in Week 8, receiving 10 targets and going 8-74. He is not getting targeted on any deep balls as that seems to be Slayton’s role, but in PPR leagues he is a valuable option.

Tight Ends

  • Mark Andrews has been a big disappointment this season. He played on 62% of the snaps and received 6 targets, and those are healthy numbers. But he went for only 3-32, which has become a standard week. Touchdown regression was inevitable, and general statistical regression was also inevitable for Jackson, so this shouldn’t be surprising. If you have Andrews, though, you have to keep starting him.

  • The tight end situation in Indy is really difficult to decipher. Mo Alie-Cox returned on Sunday and played on 42% of the snaps, while Doyle played on 58% and Burton played on 51%. Alie-Cox and Burton received 4 targets, while Doyle received 3 (but scored a receiving touchdown). I would avoid the whole situation if you can, but if not I still like Burton the most of the three, since he has been most heavily involved in the game plans.

  • T.J. Hockenson continues to blossom. He played on 74% of the snaps on Sunday and received 10 targets (7-65). If you can acquire him without overpaying, now is a good time.

  • Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger split snaps on Sunday 61% to 37%. Tonyan received 7 targets and Sternberger 4, and both were effective (5-79 for Tonyan, 3-46 for Sternberger). That both of them are involved means neither is worth as much for fantasy, but both are usable if you are desperate. Tonyan is still the much-preferred option as of now.

  • Although Tyler Higbee returned to action in Week 8, and played 5 more snaps than Everett, and was again a non-factor (2-14 on 4 targets). It appears he was a wasted pick in the middle rounds this year, but virtually all of the mid-round tight ends are in the same boat.

  • Mike Gesicki is another disappointment at the position. He played on only 57% of the snaps, behind Durham Smythe (65%), and received only 2 targets (1-8). He will be dropped in many leagues this week. With how shaky Tagovailoa looked on Sunday, his value the rest of the season looks to be very low.

  • Hunter Henry – yet another disappointing mid-round tight end. Although Henry played on 97% of the snaps, he received only 4 targets on Sunday (4-33). He remains a decent option at the position, mainly because of the total lack of good options aside from Kelce in 2020.

  • Noah Fant looks to be past his ankle injury. He received 9 targets on Sunday and went 7-47. If he can get more action near the goal line, he could turn into a top-five option the rest of the season.

  • Jared Cook has become the main receiver in the Saints’ offense (other than Kamara) with Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders out. On only 54% of the snaps he got 7 targets and went 5-51-1. I look for his targets to be slashed in a big way with Thomas and Sanders playing, but he should retain a role.

  • Ross Dwelley and perhaps Jordan Reed, are worth a priority add if you need a tight end. Dwelley replaced Kittle very admirably last season and it looks like he’ll need to do it again. This offense likes to utilize the positon, so he could become a valuable option, particularly in tight end-premium leagues.

  • Greg Olsen received 4 targets but didn’t have any receptions. He played on only 54% of the snaps, so it seems they might be phasing him out. Will Dissly played on 63% and only got 1 target, but caught it. Watch this closely, as Dissly is worth a pick up if they make him the starter.

  • Dallas Goedert wasn’t incorporated into the game plan in his first week back (only 1 target), but he looked healthy and played on 84% of the snaps. He should become more of a factor in the next few weeks.

  • The Giants are working to get Evan Engram involved. He received 10 targets and also had a carry on an end around, and came close to a touchdown. While he has not lived up to his ADP, there is at least hope for some big games down the stretch.

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.