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 2. Also, hat-tip to ProFootballFocus for a lot of the snap data found below.
1. DeVante Parker Playing Nearly Every Snap
New Dolphins coach Adam Gase has installed a 3-WR base now that DeVante Parker (hamstring) is healthy. The physically imposing 2015 first-round pick played on 59-of-65 snaps in Week 2 while target magnet Jarvis Landry was in for 60 and Kenny Stills played 63. The production was a bit inflated by the Dolphins falling behind 24-0 in Foxboro, but we have to heavily bump expectations for this pass game in Week 3. After playing at Seattle and at New England in the first two weeks, Miami now gets a home game against the talent-deficient Browns.
2. Dennis Pitta Back from the Dead
Pitta’s recovery from multiple career-threatening hip injuries is nothing short of remarkable. I’ve held him on my Dynasty League roster for a couple years, but wasn’t overly optimistic he’d get back to the unique pass-catching form he once had. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Pitta play on 68.7 percent of the snaps through the first two weeks and pile up a whopping 12 targets in Week 2. That was nine more than Crockett Gillmore (who played 49.3 percent of the Wk 2 snaps) and 12 more than Maxx Williams (who played 30.6 percent of the snaps).
3. Past Time to Take The Outlaw Seriously
Through two weeks, Jesse James has been in on 142-of-144 snaps. The production hasn’t been outstanding (8-60-1), but he’s seen 12 targets and remains a primary red-zone target at 6’7/261. Antonio Brown, Eli Rogers and Markus Wheaton (once healthy) are all relatively undersized. James is third on the team in total targets but leads the way in red-zone targets (3).
4. Matt Forte Way Ahead of Bilal Powell
Through two weeks, Matt Forte has out-snapped Bilal Powell 114-34 and out-touched him 59-8. It’s a massive gap that I didn’t anticipate, especially after the Jets gave Powell an $11.2M contract in March. But Forte has earned the heavy usage by showing light feet at age 30 and fitting perfectly into Chan Gailey’s spread offense. Given Forte’s pass-catching ability and three-down plus goal-line role, we can’t ignore him – even in tough matchups like the one at KC on Sunday.
5. Trey Burton Plays Strict Pass-Catching Role
Zach Ertz (rib) is questionable at best for Week 3. People that followed the offseason and preseason closely knew what athletic Trey Burton can do, and the third-year man out of Florida flashed it on the big stage Monday night. He hit the Bears for 5-49-1 on seven targets. Meanwhile, Brent Celek saw zero targets. The Eagles have correctly identified Burton as a primary pass-catcher with Ertz out, trotting him out there on 26 of Carson Wentz’s 39 dropbacks. So it doesn’t matter very much that Burton was only in on 41.7 percent of the overall snaps – he’s going to be out there when Wentz is throwing. Burton is the minimum $2,500 in Week 3.
6. Jordy Nelson Back to His Old Ways
In his first game off the August 2015 ACL tear, Jordy played on 79.4 percent of the snaps. In Week 2, he was back up at 94.4 percent and saw a team-high 11 targets. That’s the kind of usage that made Nelson one of the most consistently dominant fantasy WRs from 2011-2014. The Week 3 date with Darius Slay and the Lions will be bandied about as a tough spot, but note the Lions were 24th in DVOA against No. 1 WRs last year. Nelson is likely to go underowned even though he appears to be all the way back.
7. Don’t Be Fooled by Danny
Danny Amendola’s Week 2 line was impressive: four catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns. But a closer examination reveals he only saw four targets and only played on 19-of-80 snaps (23.7 percent). He also played on just 20-of-74 snaps in Week 1. Meanwhile, Chris Hogan got 56 snaps in Week 1 and 63 in Week 2. He’s the guy I want if playing the Monday-Thursday slate on DraftKings.
8. Mike Wallace Continues to Pace Ravens WRs
Yes, the Ravens are using four wideouts and three tight ends in every game. But it’s clear Dennis Pitta (see above) and Mike Wallace have moved to the forefront for fantasy purposes. Through two weeks, the WR snaps are Wallace 97, Steve Smith 98, Kamar Aiken 67 and Breshad Perriman 52. And although Smith has out-targeted Wallace 15-12, Wallace is the one with 132 yards and three TDs because he’s the far better player at this point in their respective careers. He’ll be getting a bunch of deep chances against the Jaguars this week at $5,000.
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.