WATCH: NFL RECAP – PLAYOFF PICTURE
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 13. Hat-tip to ProFootballFocus for a lot of the snap info found below.
1. Patriots Turn to a 3-WR Base
The Patriots make a new gameplan each week based on opponent strengths, opponent personnel and their own personnel. It’s amazing this is a novel concept, but for whatever reason it is. Anyway, that new plan each week can make projecting Patriot players difficult. However, we have a unique situation now that Rob Gronkowski (back) is done for the year, Tom Brady is back under center and Danny Amendola (ankle) is out indefinitely. In the Week 13 game against the Rams, the Patriots played Chris Hogan on 68-of-79 snaps, Malcolm Mitchell on 67 and Julian Edelman on 54. Targets were Edelman 12, Mitchell 10, Hogan 5. Without Gronk, it looks like the Patriots will move forward with a 3-WR base which means Mitchell and Hogan will both be full-time players.
2. Sammy Watkins Not Coddled
A big red flag went up last week when Sammy Watkins again experienced soreness in his broken foot. But the Bills did not coddle him at all against the Raiders on Sunday. He was on the field for 36 of Tyrod Taylor’s 41 dropbacks and saw nine targets. Watkins only caught three of them and is likely still not operating at 100 percent, but this is an extremely talented player getting strong usage. He ranked ninth last year in PPR fantasy points per snap. Watkins is still priced down at $5,300 for this week’s game against the Steelers.
3. Michael Floyd Separates in Arizona
It’s been a trying year for talented contract-year WR Michael Floyd, who was playing so poorly at one point that he fell behind John Brown and J.J. Nelson. But with Brown’s sickle cell trait limiting him to around 20 snaps per game and the undersized Nelson regressing to a situational role, Floyd is back. He played on 92.1 percent of the snaps against the Redskins Sunday, his most since Week 1. Floyd only managed 3-18-1, but was third on the team with eight targets. At just $3,900 with a plus matchup at Miami this week, Floyd is at least in play for tournaments.
4. Ladarius Green Finally Breaks Out
It was only a matter time before the talented Ladarius Green had his big impact on the Steelers. This is a 6’6/240 freak athlete who the Steelers signed to a $20M contract. They also are getting scant production from the likes of Jesse James, Cobi Hamilton, Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Green’s snap rate bumped to 47.9 in Week 13 after being at 16.2, 11.6 and 25.9 in the previous three games. Obviously 6-110-1 lines aren’t going to be the norm for Green, but he will be a featured red-zone player and most importantly he’s on the field to catch passes. Ladarius has run a route on 81.1 percent of his 69 snaps this season.
5. No Shoulder, No Problem
Tyrell Williams said he’d be fine to play through a labrum tear in his shoulder and no one believed him. Perhaps we should have. The Gazelle actually set a season-high in snap rate Sunday, playing on 96.4 percent of them against the Bucs. He only saw four targets, but did turn one into a 40-yard TD. The biggest takeaway here is that Philip Rivers’ best receiver is going to play through this injury and it doesn’t appear it will affect him. Tyrell has a plus matchup in Carolina at $6,100 Sunday.
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.