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 7. Hat-tip to ProFootballFocus for a lot of the snap info found below.
1. Jack Doyle Rules the Usage
With Dwayne Allen (ankle) sidelined against the Titans Sunday, Jack Doyle played on 92.9 percent of the snaps, ran a route on 36 of Andrew Luck’s 39 dropbacks and saw 10 targets. It’s better usage than Allen saw in any game across his five-year career. Meanwhile, No. 2 TE Erik Swoope only played on 47.1 percent of the snaps and ran 17 routes. Doyle has an extremely difficult matchup against a Chiefs defense that has dominated tight ends thanks in part to SS Eric Berry, but Doyle’s price has only gone up to $3,500. Given this usage and the fact he has Andrew Luck at quarterback, Doyle still has a chance to rule.
2. Mike Wallace Continues Massive Role
As noted in Leverage last week, Mike Wallace has been a huge beneficiary of Steve Smith’s (ankle) absence. In the three games since Smith went down, Wallace has played on 87.3 percent of the snaps and averaged 11.0 targets per game. He’s also running more efficient routes, as evidenced by his dip in aDOT and reasonable 13.3 YPC over the last three weeks. We’ll have to check on Smith’s health when the Ravens get out of their Week 8 bye, but Wallace is being used in an elite way right now.
3. Latavius Murray Seizes Back Control of Backfield
I expected Latavius Murray (toe) to return as part of a committee with DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. That wasn’t the case. Latavius returned as a workhorse, playing on 57.5 percent of the snaps (his best rate since Week 1) and touching the ball a season-high 20 times. He also got two red-zone targets in the pass game and turned five red-zone carries into two TDs. Murray’s Week 8 matchup in Tampa against Gerald McCoy and the Bucs is not easy, but he’s again taken control of a run game working with one of the league’s best offensive lines.
4. Michael Thomas Not a Rookie Anymore
It’s obvious Drew Brees has just as much trust in rookie Michael Thomas as he does in Brandin Cooks or Willie Snead. Over the last four weeks, Thomas has played 80.1 percent of the snaps and leads the team in targets during that span with 38. Perhaps more importantly, the 6-foot-3 Thomas leads the team in red-zone targets on the season with six. That’s more than sub six-footers Cooks (5) and Snead (2). Much like the DeAndre Hopkins/Will Fuller and Marvin Jones/Golden Tate situations, the biggest difference between Thomas and his teammates is DK price. Their usage is very comparable.
5. Patriots Not Going 2-TE as a Base
I thought that New England would use a 2-TE base of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett to highlight its strength. And perhaps they will in certain matchups. But for now, Bennett’s role is shrinking with Tom Brady back and Gronk’s hamstring healthy. Over the last three weeks, Gronk has gone from 81 percent of the snaps to 89 percent and then to 91 percent on Sunday. Bennett has from 68 percent to 56 percent to 52 percent during that span. Gronk’s stock continues to rise as Bennett’s falls heading into a Week 8 game against the Bills.
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.