Snap Count Observations: Transactions to Make for Week 14
Outside of injuries and guys returning from injury, not much is changing from a playing time perspective at this time of the year. This isn’t an injury post, so I won’t discuss every player who got nicked up this week (Aaron Jones, Courtland Sutton, Treylon Burks). Nevertheless, there are a few interesting situations to monitor, which I’ll discuss below.
Jameson Williams Being Brought Along Very Slowly
Jameson Williams 11%; Amon-Ra St. Brown 87%; D.J. Chark 84%; Josh Reynolds 79%
Jameson Williams managers who have been holding onto him all year in hopes that he is, indeed, a big play waiting to happen, were very excited to hear that the Lions activated him a week ahead of schedule (Dan Campbell admitted that the Vikings game in Week 14 was always the injury timeline goal for Williams). Still, Williams never practiced in pads leading up to the Week 13 game, so it was always highly unlikely that he would play big snaps. That turned out to be the case, as he only played eight snaps on offense. He did see a target: a 22 air yards deep pass. The play was clearly designed to let Jamo blow past a defender and go get a deep shot. That’s fun and all, but he will need to run a more diverse route tree that simple “Go” routes to be fantasy relevant.
In truth, the Lions didn’t need to bring back Williams in this game. The Lions’ three primary receivers were all healthy for the first time since Week 1. D.J. Chark played very well in a revenge narrative, and Amon-Ra continued to dominate targets (he’s so freaking good). Even D’Andre Swift looked healthy and played his most snaps since before his injury.
There was some criticism about Williams potentially playing “gunner” in punting situations this week. That turned out to be a moot controversy, as the Lions never punted (every series, other than the final knee-downs, resulted in a TD or FG). The Lions took a lot of flack for this decision (even though it turned out to be a moot issue), but you have to understand that an NFL team needs all 53 active guys to contribute in meaningful ways (outside of backup QBs). Playing Jamo over another special teams specialist, who isn’t coming off a major knee injury and isn’t a 1st round pick, probably would have been a safer play, but the decision to activate Jamo was likely a bit of fan service and also a reward for Williams’ fantastic attitude during his rehab. To be fair, Williams was a spectacular gunner at Alabama.
Also wouldn't ignore Williams's gunner tape. Often times gunner work shows off a WRs release package. Translates to press-man. Terry McLaurin is a name that comes to mind where that was also the case. pic.twitter.com/N2UgFkTUzz
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) January 28, 2022
All that said, I am not sure Jameson Williams has a path to big-time snaps in 2022 without an injury to Chark or Reynolds. There is no doubt he’s a special talent, but he’s behind those other guys because of everything else they do. Also, it’s not like the Lions are hurting on offense – Goff just threw for over 400 yards and the team scored more than 40.
Conclusion: Jameson Williams is nowhere near startable.
Deshaun Watson Returns
As little as I want to write about Deshaun Watson, he made his first start of the season, which is notable. He looked very average, which is to be expected because he basically hasn’t played football in two years.
Still, it should be noted that the Browns didn’t suddenly change their identity with their new quarterback. The Browns still ran far more than they passed – 38 rushes compared to 22 passes. Watson had seven of those rushes, so that is somewhat notable if you are holding him for fantasy purposes.
I didn’t see a massive upgrade to the pass catchers in Cleveland in view of the quarterback change. Only attempting 22 passes isn’t exactly a big enough sample size to be able to make strong conclusions. Plus, the Browns returned a punt and scored two touchdowns on defense, so again, we didn’t really get the full “Watson on the Browns” experience. I’ve been holding on to Donovan Peoples-Jones all season trying to see what type of connection he develops with Watson, but Week 13 was not enough to make any judgments about that either. The Texans are terrible and the Browns didn’t need to do anything different – just hand the ball off to Nick Chubb and call it a day. The Browns play the Bengals next week, and we should get a better understanding of the Browns’ passing attack in that game.
Conclusion: Wait and see what the Browns look like with Watson.
Kenneth Walker Injured – Who’s The Next Man Up?
DeeJay Dallas 48%; Tony Jones 34%
Ken Walker is going to miss a few games, but who is the next man up? A lot of people will probably tell you that it’s DeeJay Dallas, and the snap numbers do suggest that he’s the next guy. But I am not so sure. We already fell for the DeeJay Dallas once trap earlier in the season, plus, despite playing nine fewer snaps, Tony Jones carried the ball only three fewer times and got four targets to Dallas’s one. Tony Jones may not get Kenneth Walker usage, but his presence means that DeeJay Dallas isn’t worth much of your FAAB budget.
Conclusion: Put in only low bids for Dallas and Jones.
Is Jahan Dotson Finally Healthy?
Prior to his hamstring injury, Jahan Dotson saw a healthy target share and had a nose for the end zone. In his first two weeks back from injury, he could claim neither as true, and he was playing only about 60% of the snaps – far lower than pre-injury. However, something changed this week – he played 91% of the snaps and saw a healthy nine targets (second on the team – only behind Terry McLaurin). He also found the end zone on this spectacular play.
Jahan Dotson is only a rookie.
This was NASTY!!!pic.twitter.com/uPrTFKBTC0
— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) December 4, 2022
Watching this play is all I needed to conclude he’s healthy again. I am not 100% sure that Taylor Heinicke can support two fantasy-relevant receivers, and he clearly prefers Terry McLaurin so far, but Dotson’s increased usage and health give me some hope.
Conclusion: Jahan Dotson is healthy again and worth starting consideration given his nose for the endzone.