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Usage Notes: Week 9

By Kevin Scott | 11/10/20 |

Fantasy players can smell the playoffs just around the corner. Rosters need to be rounding into shape. For many, the return of key players like Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb, Raheem Mostert and Michael Thomas can give a boost. But for many teams, reinforcements to help with the playoff push have to be found elsewhere. We will take a look at snap and touch data for running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, and see if we can identify some players who could help your teams down the stretch.

Zack Moss

Running Back

  • In his first game back from a calf strain, Aaron Jones played on 61% of the snaps and got 20 touches. He will now get 10 days before his next game, so he should be back to normal usage going forward, assuming he stays healthy.

  • Melvin Gordon played on 60% of the snaps and received 7 opportunities, while Phillip Lindsay played on 38% of snaps and received 11 opportunities (although he didn’t catch any of his three targets). This appears to be a true 50-50 split in a bad offense that will likely continue to be heavily skewed toward the pass, so neither is a very good option moving forward unless one can emerge with 80% of the snaps.

  • Zack Moss played on 56% of the snaps while Singletary played on 46%, and Moss had 11 touches to Singletary’s 5. It definitely appears he has overtaken Singletary for the starting job. He should be on a roster in every league, and he is startable in good matchups.

  • With Ingram out again, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards split the snaps again, Dobbins with 56% of the snaps and Edwards with 38%. Dobbins got 14 touches and Edwards got 13, and neither did much against a strong Colts defense. The Ravens RBBC is undermining Dobbins’ pre-season value.

  • The Colts running back room is similar. Reich insists on giving all of them touches, making all of them fairly worthless for fantasy. They played on 34% of the snaps (Jordan Wilkins), 34% (Nyheim Hines), and 31% (Jonathan Taylor). You should avoid playing all of these players in this situation.

  • Duke Johnson played relatively well after David Johnson left with a concussion. He finished with 17 PPR fantasy points. If David Johnson were to miss Week 10, Duke Johnson could be a nice play against the Browns, so keep an eye on the practice reports.

  • Christian McCaffrey returned and played like Christian McCaffrey, scoring twice and catching all 10 of his targets. Unfortunately he was injured again (shoulder), so Mike Davis will likely get another game or two to be the featured option while McCaffrey heals.

  • Neither Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Le’Veon Bell is getting much of an opportunity to make an impact for the Chiefs. They could be avoiding running as much because tackle Mitchell Schwartz is out, but it could also just be game-plan specific. Edwards-Helaire remains the lead back and received 8 touches on Sunday, while Bell is the change-of-pace option and received 5 touches. Both should be avoided if possible until they start running it more, but Edwards-Helaire is the preferred option.

  • Although D’Andre Swift continues to be the clear-cut top back in Detroit, Matt Patricia and company continue to split the running back snaps fairly evenly between all three backs. This will continue to severely limit Swift’s upside, but at least Swift is getting the most opportunities (16 touches on Sunday, while Peterson had 11 and Johnson had 7).

  • J.D. McKissic played on 83% of snaps and received 14 targets in the passing game. He caught 9 of them for 65 yards. Gibson is more explosive, but they continue to use McKissic on most passing downs, giving him clear value in PPR leagues.

  • Josh Jacobs played on only 56% of the snaps and received only 15 touches. Devontae Booker received 8 carries and scored. This is an extremely disappointing development for those who invested early in Jacobs, as we expected him to get closer to 20-25 touches per game. His opportunities in the passing game have also dried up, which is very frustrating. You have to keep starting him, but expectations have to be decreased.

  • After an early injury to Justin Jackson, it was not Joshua Kelley who filled in but newly added Kalen Ballage, who finished with 17 touches for 84 yards and a score. I have no idea whether Ballage will continue to have any role in the offense, but keep an eye on this situation.

  • With both Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida out on Sunday, it was Salvon Ahmed who stepped in and played well at running back. He looked similar to Gaskin on the field, and had 38 yards on only 7 carries. If Breida must miss Week 10, Ahmed is a potential streaming option.

  • Tony Pollard (32%) out-gained Ezekiel Elliott (65%) on the ground, on half the carries. We could be seeing a shift toward a more equal committee, making Pollard a player who should be on a roster in every league.

  • Rex Burkhead played on 42% of the snaps, more than Damien Harris, and finished with 56 yards and a score. He got most of the red zone work as well, and also got three targets (while Harris got none). Burkhead, at this point, appears to be the Patriots back to own – especially since Harris got injured late in the game.

Wide Receiver

  • Don’t overreact to Richie James’ night on Thursday against the Packers. He only played a heavy dose of snaps because Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk (not to mention George Kittle) were out. Once Samuel and Aiyuk are back, James will go back to only playing a few snaps.

  • Jerry Jeudy received a ridiculous 14 targets on Sunday, as the Broncos hurried to try to come back against the Falcons. He caught 7 of them for 125 yards and a score. His march toward a breakout continues, and he should be started in all good matchups.

  • KJ Hamler was also active, receiving 10 targets and catching 6 for 75 yards. He would be an excellent pick up for those needy at wide receiver. Lock is not a great QB, but he will be throwing a lot, giving Hamler lots of opportunities.

  • It was Olamide Zaccheaus who replaced Calvin Ridley on Sunday, playing 73% of the snaps and getting 6 targets. I thought it might be Christian Blake, but they stuck with Zaccheaus. He caught 4 for 103 and a touchdown against a decent Denver secondary. If it is clear that Ridley will be out for a while, Zaccheaus is worth an add.

  • John Brown returned to relevance after many weeks off the fantasy radar. He received 11 targets, catching 8 of them for 99 yards. This was against a putrid Seattle secondary, but it is still notable because he played on 78% of the snaps and was heavily targeted. This offense is hard to pin down, but I’ll be starting him against average to poor secondaries.

  • Pick up alert! Michael Pittman Jr. played on 87% of the snaps in his return and received a team-high 7 targets. He caught 4 of them for 56 yards, and this came against a stellar Ravens defense. He is on a lot of wires and needs to be rostered in every league. He has a lot of upside despite how poorly Philip Rivers is playing.

  • I did not have much faith in Jake Luton producing in his first start, but he looked better than Minshew. He threw for 304 yards on 26-for-38 passing. He also enjoyed targeting D.J. Chark, who got 12 targets and caught 7 for 146 and a score. He also targeted Chris Conley, 8 times (7-52). Both are options in the right matchups if Luton continues as the starter.

  • Despite playing on 98% of the snaps, D.J. Moore received only 3 targets. His teammates Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel received 13 and 9 targets, respectively. It is time to bench Moore for the foreseeable future until he starts seeing 7 or more targets weekly. However, Curtis Samuel has now been very involved for three straight weeks and should be considered a nice flex option for as long as he stays so involved.

  • When the Lions are likely to be behind, Danny Amendola is a good fantasy option. He is Stafford’s main guy in hurry-up mode; he finished with 10 targets (7-77) on Sunday.

  • Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen were duds on Sunday, as Cousins only had to throw 20 passes in a blowout of the Lions. Both are excellent players, but keep in mind that in any game where the Vikings can get a lead or run with ease, they will not produce.

  • Anthony Miller played on an increased number of snaps on Sunday (69%) and received 8 targets. Although Foles is playing badly, Miller is trending up and worth an add in deep leagues.

  • Austin Mack is a name to keep an eye on in deep leagues. He played on 49% of the snaps for the Giants but caught 4 of 5 targets for 72 yards (Slayton caught his only target for 6 yards). If he continues to trend, he could be a very sneaky pick up for the stretch run.

  • Christian Kirk had his third consecutive good game, finished with 5 catches for 123 yards and a long score, on 8 targets. He played on 64% of the snaps. Because the Cardinals like to work in different personnel groups and Fitzgerald still has a big role, Kirk’s upside is capped. But if he is available in your league, pick him up.

  • The Steelers played all three of their top receivers on almost every snap (Smith-Schuster 91%, Johnson 86%, and Claypool 81%). They received 7, 10, and 13 targets, respectively. Although there will be ups and downs because all three are involved, all are good plays – particularly in challenging matchups.

  • Michael Thomas was quiet in his return, although he did lead the team in targets and receiving yards (5-51 on 6 targets). Bigger days are ahead.

  • Antonio Brown played on 78% of the snaps in his return to football, and caught 3 of 5 targets for 31 yards. He looks like the same dynamic player, so it appears those who picked him up will be rewarded.

  • Jakobi Meyers continued his ascension as the WR1 with Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry out, and I doubt he lets that spot go even when they are healthy. He is thriving with Newton, and got 14 targets on Monday night (12-169). While he’s playing like this, he not only needs to be rostered – he needs to be started.

  • Breshad Perriman returned and had a major role on Monday night, showing instant chemistry with Joe Flacco. He had two touchdowns and finished with 5-101-2 on 7 targets.

  • Denzel Mims, like Perriman, played virtually every snap (96%). He received a team-high 8 targets and caught 4 for 62 yards. He is a sneaky pick up if he is still on your wire, and could have decent value down the stretch.

Tight Ends

  • Ross Dwelley played on 74% of the snaps for the 49ers, and caught all three of his targets. Jordan Reed was also active but had just come off of IR, so it is difficult to know how things will shake out with George Kittle out for a while. I would hold both Dwelley and Reed for a couple weeks to see if one emerges as the clear No.1 tight end in Kittle’s absence.

  • Hayden Hurst led the Falcons in targets in Week 9, catching 7 of his 8 targets for 62 yards. He seems to have taken over the role filled by Austin Hooper and should be a top-five tight end the rest of the way.

  • Noah Fant played on 78% of the snaps but only received three targets. He seems to affected by the ankle injury he suffered over a month ago, which is concerning. Since there are so few good options at tight end, you likely have to keep starting him but keep in mind it will be up and down.

  • Jacob Hollister played the most snaps at tight end for the Seahawks (48%), and he got 7 targets, catching 5 for 60 yards. Olsen played on 40% and had 2 receptions and Dissly played on 32% and had 1 reception. I would consider adding Hollister in deep leagues, particularly tight end-premium leagues, in case this development continues.

  • Mark Andrews is one of the biggest fantasy busts this season. He played on 59% of the snaps, while blocking tight end Nick Boyle played on 78%. Boyle caught all 4 of his targets for 46 yards, while Andrews only caught 3 of his 5 targets for 22 yards. With how awful tight end is this season, you’ll keep starting Andrews, but it’s not going to be pretty.

  • Don’t overreact to Irv Smith’s two touchdowns on Sunday. He is a role player who will have some nice games, and plenty of games where he doesn’t score a point. The only player on the Vikings assured of a workload is Dalvin Cook, and Smith is not one to depend on. He played on only 38% of the snaps on Sunday.

  • Logan Thomas only had 3 receptions for 28 yards on Sunday, but he received 6 targets and played on every snap. He remains a high-upside option at tight end since he’s always on the field.

  • Darren Waller more than tripled the next highest player in targets for the Raiders (he got 10 targets and no one else had more than 3). He only went 5-22-1, but with his level of involvement he is a top-3 option at the position.

  • Dalton Schultz had a nice rapport with Garrett Gilbert in their first week together. Schultz received 7 targets and caught 4 for 48 yards. If you are desperate for a tight end and Schultz is back on your wire, he might be a nice pick up.

  • Adam Trautman outplayed Jared Cook on Sunday Night Football. He caught all three of his targets and scored, while Cook had a bad fumble and a bad drop. As the night wore on, Trautman’s playing time increased (albeit in a blowout). We could see Cook phased out in favor of Trautman as the season wears on.

  • Rob Gronkowski played on 54% of the snaps and received 6 targets, but he only caught 1 for 2 yards. He has looked slow and clunky all season, and I anticipate he will get more and more worn down as the season wears on. I would sell him now if you can get a decent return.

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.