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. Latavius Murray Losing Market Share
In Week 1, Latavius Murray played on 60.0 percent of the snaps and received 55.5 percent of the Raiders’ RB touches. In Week 3, he was only in on 47.0 percent of the snaps and received just 42.3 percent of the RB touches. The 2-1 Raiders continue to get good production out of DeAndre Washington (6.5 YPC) and Jalen Richard (8.6 YPC), meaning we can expect them to continue to get reps at the expense of Latavius (4.8 YPC). The good news is Murray’s price on DraftKings has come down sharply ahead of a Week 4 game at Baltimore, as he’s now $4,900. He also remains the primary red-zone back with four of the Raiders’ six rushes there.
2. Hunter Henry an Every-Down TE Without Antonio Gates
Antonio Gates (hamstring) wasn’t close to playing on Sunday, making it unlikely he’ll be back for Week 4. In his absence, second-round rookie Hunter Henry played on 59-of-61 snaps in Indy and went 5-76-0 on five targets. Note that the Chargers host the Saints Sunday, who have been stout against tight ends so far this year but have only faced Clive Walford, Will Tye and Jacob Tamme. Last year, the Saints gave up more fantasy points to tight ends than any team in the league. Also note how narrow Philip Rivers’ target tree has gotten without Keenan Allen (ACL), Danny Woodhead (ACL) and Gates (hamstring).
3. Cameron Brate Takes Advantage of New Situation
The Bucs tried to make Austin Seferian-Jenkins a thing, giving him 52 snaps in the first two weeks. But he consistently disappointed on the field, making it easy for them to cut him when he had another off-field issue (DUI). Enter Cameron Brate, who played on 75.3 percent of the snaps against the Rams and piled up 10 targets. In the first two weeks, he totaled 40.0 percent of the snaps and seven targets. Working in Brate’s favor is the crumbling of 33-year-old Vincent Jackson, who is now unable to get open at the NFL level and has just 99 yards on 21 targets this season. Brate’s new usage doesn’t reflect his price ($2,800), although the Week 4 matchup agains the Broncos is far from ideal.
4. Jimmy Graham’s Remarkable Rehab
It’s still been less than a year since Jimmy Graham ruptured his patellar tendon, one of the most serious injuries an athlete can suffer. So it’s amazing to see how well he’s recovered. Graham was in on 78.6 percent of the snaps in Week 2 and then played virtually every passing snap with Russell Wilson in Week 3 until the game got out of hand. This week, the Seahawks figure to struggle to run against a Jets’ defense that ranked third in YPC allowed last year and are third this year. It sets up a potentially positive gameplan for Graham.
5. Redskins Doing WR by Committee
The Redskins are incredibly deep at wide receiver with DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant and Rashad Ross all very capable. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that they’ve devolved into a committee. Through three weeks, the snap rates are DeSean 71.7 percent, Garcon 67.4, Crowder 66.5. Targets are DeSean 24, Crowder 24, Garcon 20. Even with a plump matchup at home against the Browns, there’s not a lot of safety here for cash games. In a related note, Jordan Reed’s usage remains solid despite his disappointing box scores. Last year, he was in on 74.9 percent of the snaps and got 8.1 targets per game. This year, he’s playing 82.8 percent of the snaps and seeing 8.0 targets per game.
6. Chargers Show Faith in Melvin Gordon
Melvin Gordon’s usage as a rookie was extremely concerning. He didn’t play on third downs, didn’t play in hurry-up and didn’t play in the red-zone. It was unclear if the Chargers didn’t think he could do it or if they simply liked Danny Woodhead better. Now that Woodhead (ACL) is done for the year, we’re seeing that the Chargers do have increased trust in Gordon. He was the only RB to get a carry Sunday, playing on a career-high 83.6 percent of the snaps and running a career-high 27 pass routes. Gordon also piled up three more red-zone rushing attempts, moving him into third in the NFL with 14 on the season. He’s behind only Carlos Hyde (17) and Matt Forte (16).
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.