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 8. Hat-tip to ProFootballFocus for a lot of the snap info found below.
1. Donte Moncrief Hits the Ground Running
Moncrief missed six weeks, but was able to stay in shape as the injury was to his shoulder. That allowed him to hit the ground running in his return as he played on 89.4 percent of the snaps and handled a team-high 28.1 percent of the targets Sunday. Perhaps the target share was skewed a bit by T.Y. Hilton’s early-game hamstring injury, but the fact that Moncrief was able to handle such a big workload after such a long layoff is a great sign. It’s also not a fluke that he scored a touchdown, his seventh in his last 10 games with Andrew Luck. At 6’2/222, Moncrief is a more optimal red-zone target than the undersized Hilton or Phillip Dorsett. Moncrief will be firmly in play at $5,800 against the Packers on Sunday.
2. Melvin Gordon’s Reign Via Volume Continues
I’ve been among the many that have criticized Gordon for his inefficiency (3.55 YPC this year, 3.48 YPC last year). But we can’t deny that the season-ending injuries to Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen have have created elite usage. Since Woodhead went down, Gordon has played on 83.2 percent of the snaps. He’s third in the NFL in touches, first in TDs and seventh in rushing yards. He leads all RBs in red-zone rushing attempts with 37 and has added five red-zone targets. Gordon remains underpriced at $6,300 heading into Sunday’s game against the Titans.
3. Tyler Eifert Returns to Full-Time Role
Eifert (back, ankle) was eased back in as he made his season debut in Week 7, playing just 15 snaps. He returned to a full-time role in Week 8, playing on 84.1 percent of the snaps and running a route on 47 of Andy Dalton’s 48 dropbacks. Eifert looked like the fantasy difference-maker he was last year, ringing up a 9-102-1 line on 12 targets against the Redskins. Of course, the red zone is where Eifert does his best work – he scored from there Sunday and turned 16 red-zone targets last year into 11 TDs. I think he’ll be a tremendous play when the Bengals come out of their bye in Week 10 against the Giants’ poor interior defense.
4. Tim Hightower Takes Over for Benched Mark Ingram
Ingram fumbled on his sixth snap of Sunday’s game against the Seahawks and never saw the field again. It suggests the Saints weren’t too happy with Ingram anyway, as evidenced by his meager 53.1 percent snap rate through the first six games. They were likely happy with Hightower’s performance as he handled 27 touches and the Saints won the game. We’ve seen this scenario play out before, as Ingram was hurt for the final four games of last season and the Saints went 3-1 with Hightower touching the ball 24.0 times per game. Considering he’s just $4,000 and facing the Niners Sunday, there’s at least GPP appeal here.
5. Rishard Matthews’ Role on the Rise
Andre Johnson mercifully retired this week, ending a dominant career that shouldn’t be soiled by hanging around three years too long. It locks in the Titans’ top three WRs as Tajae Sharpe, Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews. Sharpe, the fifth-round rookie, has somewhat predictably fallen off sharply and his snap count shrunk to 55.2 percent in Week 8. Meanwhile, Matthews’ snap count has gone from 40.3 percent to 66.2 percent to 88.1 percent across the last three weeks. There are still a lot of mouths to feed here once we throw in Delanie Walker and the offense skews run-heavy, but we’re starting to get some more clarity.
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.