Week-to-week player performance can be very volatile. The worst thing we can do is miss out on a fluky big day and then chase it the following week, when that player is both more expensive and more owned.
So by examining usage instead of performance, we can cut through some of the noise and figure out what’s sustainable. Here are the most important usage notes I saw in Week 1. Hat-tip to ProFootballFocus for a lot of the snap info found below.
1. Darren Waller a ballerThe Raiders have been hyping up Waller since February and his usage actually matched that rhetoric. On Monday night, Waller was in on 55-of-55 snaps, was slot or wide for 22 of them and handled a 30.7% target share. A former college WR with freak measurables, Waller will continue to patrol the middle of the field, where the Raiders desperately need playmakers. Antonio Brown’s departure obviously raises the target floor of Waller each week and I’d expect him to be among the highest-owned TEs in Week 2 at just $3,300.
2. Fears confirmed on KerryonMatt Patricia’s RB usage continues to confound. Johnson played on just 48-of-84 snaps in the overtime tie at Arizona, giving way to CJ Anderson for 24 snaps, Ty Johnson for eight and JD McKissic for five. Patricia still has no interest riding Kerryon for 20-plus touches a game or giving him the full Theo Riddick role. Given that the Week 1 spot at Arizona was among the best Kerryon will see all year in terms of pace/matchup, we have to have concerns here. In games where the Lions only run 60-65 plays (which will likely happen against LAC in Week 2), it’s tough for him to find a true ceiling.
3. Bills go with the rookieDevin Singletary only got four carries in Week 1. But a closer look reveals a much more exciting usage profile. He played on 45 snaps compared to just 19 for Frank Gore and two for TJ Yeldon. The fact that the Bills gave Singletary all the hurry-up and pass-down work over Yeldon is huge and it resulted in a 5-28-0 receiving line on six targets. Singletary obviously has more juice than both Gore/Yeldon, but seeing the coaches identify that immediately in Week 1 and put it into practice is extremely encouraging. He gets a cake matchup against the Giants in Week 2.
4. Mecole Hardman has his opportunityTyreek Hill (shoulder) is out for at least multiple weeks, opening up a ton of opportunity on the best offense in the NFL. Second-round rookie Hardman – who presumably was drafted in case Hill got suspended – stepped in to play 53-of-59 snaps in Week 1 and was in the slot for 22 of those. That’s elite usage, but he somehow ended up with zero catches on one target. I’m optimistic Andy Reid will scheme things to the ball into Hardman’s hands this week, as the only other WR options behind Sammy Watkins are Demarcus Robinson and D’Anthony Thomas. Hardman has freak speed and went 6-88-2 in limited preseason action.
5. Marquise Brown wows on limited actionMarqusie “Hollywood” Brown may have had the best game of any wideout to ever play 14 snaps in a game. He torched the Dolphins for 4-147-2 on five targets in those snaps. Of course Brown was likely limited as he comes off the foot injury and the Ravens were up 42-10 at halftime. He’ll likely play more going forward. But he also won’t get many better matchups and he’s not going to be a full-time player. Even as Lamar Jackson’s throwing progresses, he’s still going to be at the bottom-end of passing yardage at the end of the season. So Brown will continue to have to make waves on limited volume.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is adamlevitan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.