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 7. Hat-tip to ProFootballFocus for a lot of the snap info found below.
1. Kenny Stills capitalizes on Will Fuller injuryFuller (hamstring) left after three snaps Sunday in Sunday’s loss to the Colts. That led to Stills operating as the primary outside receiver opposite DeAndre Hopkins for 59-of-63 snaps. Keke Coutee (44 snaps) stuck mainly in his slot role. With Fuller expected to miss multiple weeks, we know the Texans’ 3-WR sets will feature exclusively that trio going forward. Stills, a versatile talent who was already producing well in a rotational role, has the biggest up arrow.
2. Hunter Henry ascends to elite usageI hit on Henry last week because he had strong usage in his first game off injury. This week, he reached truly elite usage. Henry played on 92% of the snaps and over the last two weeks he’s lined up in the slot or wide on a massive 63% of his snaps. That’s led to a 20% target share and a 14-197-2 line. When we combine this kind of usage and Henry’s talent, he’s going to be among the best tight end options on a week-to-week basis.
3. Bisi Johnson the Adam Thielen backupThielen (hamstring) left in the first quarter Sunday and is not expected to play Thursday night against the Redskins. His direct backup was seventh-round rookie Olabisi Johnson, who stepped in for 52-of-73 snaps. Bisi lined up in the slot 18 times and tied for the team lead with eight targets. That’s exciting usage, but note that Thielen is not expected to miss much time and we can expect an extremely run-centric game plan from the Vikings against the lowly Redskins. Also note the Vikings will likely play a lot of 12 personnel featuring Irv Smith and Kyle Rudolph.
4. Opportunity in the Detroit backfieldKerryon Johnson (knee) went down 11 snaps into Sunday’s shootout against the Vikings. That allowed Ty Johnson to step in for 45 snaps and J.D. McKissic to stick in the strict pass-game role. Ty has an intriguing athletic profile and plays well in the pass game, but I’m still not certain they view him as a feature back. We’ll have to watch closely to see if the Lions activate Tra Carson next game (he was a healthy scratch Sunday) or if Paul Perkins gets called up from the practice squad.
5. Seahawks enamored with Chris CarsonIt’s grown increasingly clear that the Seahawks don’t believe in Rashaad Penny. That came to a head Sunday as the second-year man was healthy but played just two snaps while Carson was in on 63-of-71. Carson has now had at least 21 carries in four straight games and is averaging a healthy 3.1 catches per game on the year. He’ll almost certainly find better efficiency against the Falcons in Week 8.
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