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 12. Hat-tip to ProFootballFocus for a lot of the snap info found below.
1. Doug Martin a Quiet Workhorse
Over the last two weeks, the Bucs have faced the Chiefs (in Arrowhead) and the Seahawks. They aren’t impossible matchups for a running back, but they’re certainly difficult. So Martin’s production has been scant despite a massive role that includes 78.4 percent of the snaps and 26.0 touches per game during those two weeks. The good news is that Martin’s lack of box-score results has him flying a bit under the radar despite the unique three-down plus goal-line role. This kind of usage doesn’t come around often for $5,700, Martin’s price for the Week 13 game at San Diego.
2. Sammy Watkins is Back
Watkins’ return from his latest foot issue went swimmingly. He played on 25-of-55 snaps against the Jaguars, catching all three of his targets for 80 yards. Most importantly, he came out of the game healthy and now has a matchup with a Raiders secondary which ranks 26th in pass yards allowed. Beat writer speculation has Watkins kicking up toward 35-40 snaps this week. It’s not a full workload, but getting Watkins in there on a vast majority of Tyrod Taylor’s dropbacks is going to lead to production. Watkins ranked ninth last year in terms of PPR fantasy points per snap.
3. Jordan Howard Appears in Control Again
The Bears are hosting the 49ers this week. So instead of being able to safely ignore a bottom-barrel, talent-deficient team with Matt Barkley at quarterback, we have to take a look. In Week 11, Jordan Howard played on 73 percent of the snaps and handled 66.6 percent of the Bears RB touches. In Week 12 Howard played on 66 percent of the snaps and handled 87.5 percent of the RB touches. Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey are healthy, so there’s always going to be some John Fox risk here. But if Howard can play well from the outset in this home game against the 49ers’ league-worst rush defense, he has an excellent shot at 20 touches.
4. Josh Hill vs. Coby Fleener
The Lions are arguably the worst team in the NFL against TEs, giving up the most fantasy points per game to the position and nine TDs to tight ends on the year. Of course, the Lions at Saints game also projects as one of the highest-scoring of the entire year. So it was very interesting that Josh Hill out-snapped Coby Fleener 58-18 in Week 12. Hill responded with a 6-74-0 line on six targets while Fleener added 4-59-0 on four targets. However, I’m not certain that Hill’s pass-game usage is certain to continue. He ran 21 routes last week – right around his average of 18.5 routes over his previous six games. During that six-game stretch, he totaled eight catches for 72 yards and one TD. We’ve also seen wild fluctuations in Fleener’s role before. One week after playing 33.7 percent of the snaps against the 49ers in Week 9, he played 62.7 percent against the Broncos in Week 10. So I’d project Hill’s floor at literally zero points despite the dream matchup and price ($2,500). Fleener has a slightly higher floor/ceiling combo despite his troubling snap rate.
5. Bears Doing WR by Committee
As mentioned above, I wish we could ignore the Bears. But given the matchup and pricing situation in Week 13, that’s not an option. So here’s how they used their WRs from a snap perspective in Week 12 with Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White out: Cam Meredith 69-of-80, Marquess Wilson 47, Josh Bellamy 46, Deonte Thompson 42, Eddie Royal 12. The targets were Wilson 11, Thompson 9, Meredith 9, Bellamy 9. Note that the Bears were behind 21-7 at halftime and 27-7 with 14 minutes left in the game, creating a ton of inflated passing numbers. Wilson is the most talented player here, but Meredith remains the one with the most secure role. He’ll be a desperation value option at $4,100.
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.