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 8. Hat-tip to ProFootballFocus for a lot of the snap info found below.
1. Jonnu Smith has mediocre role, big gameIn his first game without Delanie Walker (ankle), Smith’s traditional box scored looked good. He caught six passes for 78 yards with a TD on a strong 21% of Ryan Tannehill’s targets. But upon closer examination, his pass-game role was actually limited. He only ran 18 routes on Tannehill’s 36 dropbacks and was targeted an unsustainable seven times on those routes. Smith’s athleticism, size and red-zone role is intriguing. But the floor is lower than it seems even if Delanie misses more time. The Titans are using him as a blocker a ton and Anthony Firkser (33 snaps, 20 routes) is playing a big role.
2. Allen Lazard not going awayDavante Adams (toe) is tentatively expected back for Week 9. But his supporting wideouts may look quite a bit different. While Adams has been out, Lazard has surprisingly been Aaron Rodgers’ best wideout. On Sunday night, he played 45-of-67 snaps – outsnapping Geronimo Allison (42 snaps), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (41) and Jake Kumerow (34). It’s also worth noting that Lazard was in the slot for 23 of those snaps. When Adams returns, we can expect a rotation of Lazard/Geronimo/MVS. It’s going to cap the fantasy outlook of all three.
3. Keke Coutee falls behind DeAndre CarterThe most shocking development of the week was Coutee’s demotion. A valuable player for the Texans last year and highly-talented slot man, Coutee was expected to have a clear path thanks to Will Fuller’s injury. Instead, a healthy Coutee got zero snaps while Carter shockingly played 44 and drew three targets. After the game, coach Bill O’Brien said he should have done a “better job” of getting Coutee into the game. At this point, we can only assume something happened behind closed doors that got Coutee demoted.
4. Falcons slide Russell Gage into the slotI hoped that Mohamed Sanu’s departure would open up the slot for Calvin Ridley. Instead, Ridley played his usual role and was only in the slot 12 times. Gage slid in there for 33 snaps and Julio Jones got 17. In the end, Ridley did get a bump up to 80% of the snaps but Gage piling up nine targets rendered that small boost useless. It appears the Falcons don’t have an intention of expanding Ridley’s usage.
5. Eagles go to 2-TE base with Dallas GoedertPerhaps the weather in Buffalo had something to do with it, but the Eagles continue to give more work to Goedert. He played a season-high 55 snaps Sunday and also set a season high in snap rate (75%). Zach Ertz was in on 66 snaps. Over the last four weeks, Ertz has 13 catches on 26 targets and Goedert has 13 catches on 20 targets. Although their salaries are far apart (Ertz $4700 in Week 9, Goedert $3100), the usage is not all that different. The problem is they’re eating into each other’s upside a bit.
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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.