Snap Count Observations: Transactions to Make for Week 17
We made it, team: Week 17, a.k.a. championship week. If you are reading this article, you’re likely gearing up for your championship round, ready to meet your destiny as a #FootClanTitle winner. Like you, I also recently met my destiny.
For the past two weeks, my wife, my newborn daughter, and I stayed with my parents in their spare downstairs bedroom for Christmas and for some free babysitting/help. My parents were nice enough to put up with my new family for a very long time, basically to the point where we moved in. So, yes, I finally became a fantasy writer living in my mom’s basement, just like you assumed all along.
Kidding aside, at this time of year, there are basically two classes of teams: teams competing for a playoff spot with players remaining in roles that are carved in stone, and teams who have been eliminated from playoff contention giving shots to unheralded players to “see what they have.” Along these lines, Greg Dortch comes to mind, as the Cardinals gave him a big chance to earn a spot on the roster moving forward, and he looked pretty good. Somehow, Trace McSorley was able to complete passes to Greg, unlike those passes thrown to DeAndre Hopkins, who could only catch one of the ten balls that Trace threw his way.
In truth, there aren’t a ton of guys who fall into that second category that matter much. Indeed, you won’t win a fantasy championship because you know that the Cardinals are regularly giving more snaps to rookie tight end, Tre McBride. So, I’ve got a few insights for you, but my main bit of advice is: don’t get cute now. One more victory to go. You’ve got this!
Kenneth Walker “Limited” in Return
It’s silly to say that Seattle only gave Walker 40 snaps (53%), which technically is below his recent averages that hang around mid-to-upper 70%, but Walker still touched the ball 28 times. Basically, if Walker was on the field, they gave him the ball. That means that Walker is on track for a monster workload in Week 17 against the Jets.
The Jets’ defense is pretty stout, but that won’t stop the Seahawks from force-feeding the ball to Walker. Just consider that Seattle was losing against Kansas City from the 6:41 mark in the first quarter, and losing at some points by as many as 17, and they still gave Walker 26 carries.
Conclusion: Walker is primed for a huge workload in the fantasy championship.
New York Giants
It’s Time to Acknowledge that Isaiah Hodgins is a Thing
Truthfully, I’ve been ignoring Isaiah Hodgins for a few weeks now. He’s not a name, and Darius Slayton was playing a lot more than him. Now they are basically equal in playing time, and more importantly, Hodgins is actually earning targets. After previously peaking at six targets, Hodgins exploded with 11 targets in Week 16, and he converted those 11 targets into eight catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.
That does seem pretty exciting, but it should be noted that all the Giants’ offensive pieces basically had above-average days. Slayton had 79 yards, Richie James had 90, and even Daniel Jones, uncharacteristically, threw for over 330 yards. Playing Minnesota likely had something to do with it, as this defense hasn’t stopped anybody lately (even the Colts put up points for 30 minutes against them).
Conclusion: Hodgins is interesting, but likely still a desperation play.
New England Patriots
Rhamondre Stevenson‘s Dud is Inexplicable
If I told you Rhamondre Stevenson would finish the game healthy and play 91% of the snaps, you’d play him, right? Of course you would. 91% is actually his second-highest playing-time percentage this season! This dud is even more shocking when you consider how much he played.
Even from a workload perspective, he was fine. Five targets are about average, maybe a little below average, for him, but it was more than he saw last week (three) when he still dominated. Generally, he was just very ineffective in his rushing attempts and did very little through the air.
I am not trying to rub salt in the wound here. If you somehow survived this fantasy letdown, you can still feel confident in Rhamondre Stevenson. He should be fine moving forward. Some players just have down weeks.
Conclusion: All the peripheral numbers suggest that Stevenson will be a fine play in the fantasy championship.
J.K. Dobbins: No Change in Playing Time
Since returning from injury, Dobbins has hovered around 40% snaps (43% in Week 14, 38% in Week 15, and 42% in Week 16), so Dobbins’ Week 16 playing time and workload generally match what he has seen in the three weeks since his return. The only difference in this game was his efficiency (8.0 yards per attempt in Week 14, 9.62 in Week 15, and 4.92 in Week 16).
Admit it, we have all known that Dobbins has been a risky play this entire time. His volume isn’t earth-shaking; he’s part of a three-way timeshare, and he doesn’t catch passes out of the backfield. The only way he maintains major fantasy relevance is through extreme efficiency. Even 4.92 yards per carry is pretty darn good. I mean, Jamaal Charles holds the record for best career YPC at 5.4, just a bit higher than Dobbins’ average in Week 16. But still, even with a very strong yards per attempt average, he was still disappointing in Week 16 because of his mediocre volume.
But the fact is, a Ravens’ ball carrier can be hyper-efficient in this offense, especially with mobile QBs Tyler Huntley or Lamar Jackson. This week, that hyper-efficient runner was Gus Edwards, whereas Dobbins was the far more efficient runner in Weeks 14 and 15.
I thought maybe Dobbins was just superior, but apparently not. That means both Edwards and Dobbins are super risky plays in your fantasy championship. 10 touches and 40% of the snaps are not what I’d like to rely on heavily in the fantasy championship. It’s probable that you have better options.
Conclusion: Dobbins can be started in the fantasy championship, but understand that it’s a very risky play that will only pay off with extreme efficiency. The Steelers just shut down Josh Jacobs, so extreme efficiency may be hard to find against a stout defense.
Los Angeles Rams
Tyler Higbee Back Involved in the Passing Game
Tyler Higbee didn’t play a ton more snaps than normal, but he started running routes with regularity again. For a while, during these worst stretches, Higbee actually played some snaps as an ineligible receiver on the offensive line because the Rams’ OL problems got so bad.
Tyler Higbee reported as an ineligible receiver for today's game, playing offensive line most of the time.
34% route participation
0% target share
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland) November 28, 2022
Such was not the case in Week 16. Against Denver, Higbee ran 27 routes, which amounted to 96%. With that level of participation, it’s no surprise that Higbee broke out with 11 targets, nine catches, and two touchdowns.
The Rams are thin at a lot of places due to injury, poor play, etc. For a while, they needed help for the offensive line and now their receiver corps is decimated. Higbee goes where he’s needed, and right now he’s needed as a pass catcher. With Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, and Ben Skowronek all out for the year, I see no reason to doubt that Higbee will remain involved as a pass catcher, and he’s probably Baker Mayfield‘s best, most reliable target.
Conclusion: Higbee can be started again.