Week-to-week player performance can be 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 12. Hat-tip to ProFootballFocus for a lot of the snap info found below.
1. Colts saddle up Jonathan Williams
We’ve been clamoring for the Colts to give Marlon Mack true three-down plus goal-line usage all season. It hasn’t happened. So it was particularly interesting to see the Colts suddenly give Williams elite usage even though Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines were both healthy. Williams played on 67% of the snaps, ran 17 routes on 29 Jacoby Brissett dropbacks and handled a whopping 26 carries plus three targets. Williams, with back-to-back 100-yard games, is going to be the featured back in the Colts’ pivotal Week 13 game against the Titans.
2. Bo Scarbrough establishes the Blount role
We don’t often see true two-down pounders in the NFL anymore as hybrid backs are far more efficient. But the Lions don’t care about that, and it appears they’ve settled on Scarbrough as their new LeGarrette Blount. Since getting called up from the practice squad two weeks ago, Scarbrough has handled 76% of the Lions’ RB carries for a total of 32. He’s fared reasonably, turning those into 153 yards plus a TD. Of course, the issue is Scarbrough is strictly an early-down back. He’s run a total of 17 routes in two games and seen one target. In order to not sink a DraftKings lineup, he must get 100 yards or a TD.
3. Chris Carson can’t stop fumbling
Carson is on a ridiculous fumble streak. Per ESPN, he’s put the ball on the ground 10 times this season in just 11 games. That includes back-to-back fumbles against the Eagles on Sunday, which got him benched. That allowed Rashaad Penny to set season-highs in snap rate (49%), carries (14) and yards (129). We’ve seen the Seahawks stand behind Carson before through fumbles — they truly are committed to him. But even Pete Carroll admitted he expects to see both Carson and Penny on the field plenty in Week 13. We can no longer safely project Carson into the 20-touch range.
4. Kaden Smith plays the Evan Engram role
With both Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison out Sunday, the Giants chose to ride sixth-round rookie Kaden Smith. He played on 59-of-60 snaps, ran 41 pass routes and pass blocked zero times. That’s monster usage, but given Smith’s skill set, it only led to 16% of the targets. Still, if Engram and Ellison remain out, we can take shots on this kind of role because of the state of the tight end position. There simply aren’t many viable plays on a week-to-week basis.
5. Brian Hill’s usage doesn’t equal production
In two games since Devonta Freeman’s injury, Hill has played on 59% of the snaps, handled 63% of the RB carries and seen 64% of the RB targets. That’s strong usage, in line with most of the 1A runners like Aaron Jones and better than others like Tevin Coleman. However, this broken run game couldn’t support Devonta and Hill hasn’t stood a chance. He somehow has managed a total of 10.5 fantasy points on that workload. If Freeman misses again, rostering Hill would be taking a leap of faith that no running back can be this unproductive on his touches.
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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.