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 11. Hat-tip to ProFootballFocus for a lot of the snap info found below.
1. Noah Fant showing up for Brandon Allen
Fant’s role has been solid all year, but he’s gaining confidence down the stretch. In two games with Allen, Fant has played on 86% of the snaps, seen 25% of the targets and run 59 routes on 67 dropbacks. That 25% target share is a massive number for a tight end, especially one with Fant’s athletic ability. And with Emmanuel Sanders gone, something near there is sustainable. Fant nearly broke the Combine by running a 4.50 at 6’4/249 with a 39.5-inch vertical. This week’s matchup at Buffalo is rough, but the Broncos finish up softly with the Chargers, Texans, Chiefs, Lions and Raiders.
2. Ryan Griffin continues ascent
Griffin quietly has 15 catches, 225 yards and three TDs in the past three games Chris Herndon has missed. The usage backs that up. In those games, Griffin has played on 90% of the snaps, run 94 pass routes on 113 Sam Darnold dropbacks and seen a 17% target share. With Herndon out of the year, Griffin projects to continue holding this solid role in matchups against the Raiders, Bengals and Dolphins. Darnold clearly has eyes for Griffin in this short-area pass game.
3. Miles Sanders turns into workhorse
The box score was ugly for Sanders on Sunday as he finished with just 6.7 DraftKings points. But the usage was spectacular. With Jordan Howard (shoulder) out and Darren Sproles on IR, Sanders played on 85% of the snaps, ran 43 routes on 48 Carson Wentz dropbacks, handled 61% of the RB carries and 10% of the total targets. Wentz declined to check down to Sanders and the gameplan oddly shifted to the air, but Sanders is going to have big games in softer matchups with this kind of work. Of course, he needs Howard to remain sidelined and Jay Ajayi to remain in an emergency-only role. Ajayi played zero snaps Sunday.
4. Brian Hill plays the Devonta role
The Devonta Freeman role has not been a productive one this season. So the best argument for Hill on Sunday was that with Ito Smith out, Hill would see a true feature role ahead of Kenjon Barner/Qadree Ollison. That didn’t happen. Hill only played on 39-of-65 snaps and gave way in hurry-up sets. He did get 15 carries plus three targets, but that was in a game the Falcons surprisingly led 20-0 at halftime. Hill’s role is solid going forward, but it’s no different than the one Freeman was in all year.
5. 49ers not changing Tevin Coleman’s role
The absence of Matt Breida didn’t change anything for Coleman. The 49ers clearly have no intention of giving any of their backs a workhorse role, regardless of injuries. In Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, Coleman only out-snapped Raheem Mostert 37-35 and only handled 66% of the RB carries. In a game Jimmy Garoppolo unexpectedly threw it 45 times, Coleman saw just four targets. It’s a reminder that a player being out is only important if it results in a role change for someone else. In the case of the Niners, the role change went to Mostert.
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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.