Snap Count Observations: Transactions to Make for Week 13
Happy Thanksgiving Footclan!
This is a special year that has me especially thankful due to the recent birth of my daughter and a healthy, happy wife. This is a big change to my life, but let’s be honest, you don’t read this article to learn about my life. So rather than wax poetic about all the ways becoming a father changes your perspective, I’ll simply say this: I am also thankful for you, Footclan! A job like this becomes a grind around this time of the year. A lot of people tune out because their teams didn’t live up to expectations, others simply move on to the holiday season or other hobbies. But the Footclan is always gracious, smart, dialed in, and kind. You, dear reader, are why I write this article, why I offer what little help I can, and why I love being part of this community.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that has the ability to block negative emotions from reaching your heart and mind. I encourage you to seek gratitude in all aspects of your life and during all parts of the year – not just around Thanksgiving.
With that said, let’s get to fantasy football! Now is the time of year to start positioning yourself for the playoffs. Grab a second defense (a team with great matchups in Week 15 or 16), grab your lead running back’s backup, and plan for those last remaining bye weeks. It’s time to claim some #FootClanTitles!
Tony Pollard Now Consistently Plays More than Ezekiel Elliott
Tony Pollard 59%; Ezekiel Elliott 51%
The difference isn’t staggering, but the Cowboys have finally come to their senses and figured out the thing everybody else figured out over a year ago – Tony Pollard is a better running back than Ezekiel Elliott. As a result, Pollard is consistently playing more than Zeke. Of course, Zeke had a good game on Thanksgiving, which will surely be used as justification to give him more playing time and work. I don’t know if it’s a pride thing or what, as if Jerry Jones has to justify the outrageous contract he gave to Zeke, but whatever. Pollard is playable because he’s explosive. Zeke won’t go away, and he probably never should, but with Pollard now consistently seeing more work than Zeke, the confidence in starting Pollard is high heading into the fantasy playoffs.
Conclusion: Pollard can be started with confidence.
Latavius Murray Logs Bell-Cow Snaps
Latavius Murray 82%; Marlon Mack 10%
Latavius Murray had a decent game and has a workload that we rarely see in the NFL at the RB position. He dominated both snaps and carries and even logged a target. That’s great, but what isn’t great is the offense on which he plays. The Broncos have entered the territory where they are lucky if they score a single touchdown in a game. Odds are, given the uneven RB workload, that the TD will go to Murray if that one touchdown happens to be a rushing touchdown. Murray has a decent floor considering his workload and the lack of any real competition for touches, but his ceiling is pretty low given the offense he plays on. Murray might be a decent play to get you through a bye week or two, but I can’t imagine too many top-seeded fantasy teams are relying on him heavily. The Broncos aren’t going to magically turn this around in the 13th week of the NFL season – not with Russell Wilson‘s play, the injury situation, and the dearth of talent on the field. Play Murray as a flex for now, but if you are going against a juggernaut fantasy team in the playoffs, I would shoot for the moon with a higher-ceiling player, like an Isiah Pacheco or something, rather than Murray.
Conclusion: Murray has a solid baseline but a low floor that must be considered when the fantasy playoffs roll around.
David Njoku Returns to Typical Workload
Njoku 81%; Harrison Bryant 27%
Davin Njoku played last week but was limited in his first week after injury. He continued to be limited in practice leading up to Week 12, but he came off the injury report before the game. Coming off the injury report was an indicator that Njoku was ready to play a full snap-share, and he did. He played pretty well, seeing seven targets and scoring a touchdown. His next game will be with Deshaun Watson, so he could improve on an already pretty good season.
Conclusion: Get Njoku in those lineups!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rachaad White Handles the Load
With Leonard Fournette out, Rachaad White took over the Buccaneers’ backfield, and he played really well. He carried the ball 14 times and caught all nine of his targets. In a lot of ways, he looked better than Fournette. He even graded out really well in pass protection (86.3 from PFF), so there is really no reason not to let the kid run with this job. Of course my “no reason not to” logic almost certainly falls for the dreaded Fallacy of Logical Coaching. I’d bet that Fournette regains the lead role upon returning from injury because “veterans earned it” and “men stuff” and all that antiquated nonsense that ignores everything our eyeballs are telling us.
Is there a lesson here? Maybe. At the very least we know that White handles the load when Fournette is out, so maybe the Bucs decide to bring him back slowly.
Conclusion: Rachaad White is capable of handling the load when Fournette misses.
Jamycal Hasty is the Clear Backup
Travis Etienne 8%; Hasty 78%; Snoop Connor 16%
Travis Etienne got dinged up in this game, but he’s apparently okay. Still, without Etienne, almost all the running game responsibilities fell on Hasty. That’s valuable knowledge to have, especially for the Etienne managers. A 78% snap share is notable for any player, even if Hasty wasn’t superb in this game. He still saw five targets and did pretty well with them, so he would have value in any format. He’s worth an add anywhere if you have the bench space, just in case Etienne is overly optimistic about his ability to heal quickly. Players tend to be more optimistic about their injury severity immediately after a game than they should be. I suggested Samaje Perine as a speculative add last week, and that worked out pretty well.
Conclusion: Hasty is worth a speculative add should Etienne miss any time.
New York Jets
Zonovan Knight Introduces Himself
Michael Carter 30%; Zonovan Knight 48%
A name a lot of fantasy players are likely unfamiliar with is Zonovan Knight, but get to know him. He saw increased snaps in view of Michael Carter‘s ankle injury, which may keep him out for a few weeks. Knight stepped in and did quite well – 14 carries for 69 yards and three catches for 34 yards. Ty Johnson got the touchdown, but it was Knight who played more. The Jets suddenly look like a competent offense with Mike White replacing Zach Wilson, so the primary running back on this team is a lot more valuable than two weeks ago. Knight is definitely worth an add.
Conclusion: Add Zonovan Knight.
You like to say that Pollard is so obviously better than Zeke and there’s no justification for Zeke’s utilization, but you’re wrong. Pollard is more explosive and has unbeatable speed. He’s great around the edge or catching passes in open space. But he severely lacks power. He is very inefficient and not really effective between the tackles. He’s not powerful enough for the tough yards. He’s had several goal line attempts and been repeatedly stuffed. He is far less effective in pass protection. Simply put, Pollard is lightning but Zeke is the thunder. They are a great complimentary tandem. And while Pollard is the better fantasy option, he’s not the every down back you proclaim him to be. He even said so himself after his first game sans Zeke. He was sore and he was gassed. Give Zeke a little respect.
If you’ve got R. White and Uncle Lenny (and assuming Lenny is healthy and active this week), do you start R. White and bench Lenny? I assume that’s the play given how things were looking in Germany prior to his hip injury?