Snap Count Observations: Transactions to Make for Week 3 (Fantasy Football)
Offensive numbers picked up this week as the season starts to kick off in earnest. Roles are starting to get defined, but generally, the NFL is always in chaos. Let’s jump right into that chaos and see what we can learn.
Bijan Takes a Bigger Role
The playing time split is starting to separate, even if the ball-carrying opportunities remain rather even (19 carries for Bijan, 16 for Allgeier). Honestly, who cares? Tyler Allgeier is not a threat to Bijan Robinson in any way other than goal line carries. Bijan saw plenty of work, looked incredible, and unsurprisingly, saw all five of the RB targets. If the playing time remains a 2:1 split, with Bijan being the real pass catcher, he’s worth every bit of his draft cost.
— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2023
I mentioned goal line carries above, but it was actually Robinson who saw the only carry inside the Green Bay 10 in this game. Atlanta elected to pass (!!!) quite frequently near the goal line, and Desmond Ridder ran one in himself, so I can’t definitively say that the green zone work isn’t also some sort of timeshare, but based on this game and Week 1, Bijan is at least part of the plan near the end zone. Huzzah!
Conclusion: Bijan is a top-three RB with this workload.
James Cook Appears to Be a Strong Backfield Leader
I thought James Cook looked really good against the Jets, but the Jets’ defense held him in check a bit, and Josh Allen‘s propensity to turn the ball over in Week 1 really hurt Cook’s end-of-game numbers. In Week 2, he put it all together.
What a day for James Cook.
– 17 carries
– 123 yds (first career 100 yard game)
– 7.2 avg.
– 4 catches for 36 yds
Good week to be a former Georgia RB.
— J.C. Shelton (@JCShelton_) September 17, 2023
We’ve seen this before with Buffalo: when they find a running back they like, they tend to lean on him. It has happened each of the last two years with Devin Singletary, and now it’s James Cook‘s turn. Cook’s usage isn’t “bell cow” territory, but it’s really strong. In this offense, with his dynamic playmaking, he has the chance to become a consistent RB1. Cook actually ranks 2nd in the NFL in terms of the percentage of runs that result in a 10+ yard play.
All sounds great, right? Well, not exactly. James Cook might struggle for touchdowns under the current coaching strategy. When the Bills get near the goal line, they involve Latavius Murray…a lot. The Bills had a whopping 11 green zone carries in Week 2 against the Raiders. Of those 11, four of those runs went to Latavius Murray, who also saw a target from the one-yard line. That is, four of Murray’s six total carries in the game were within the 10-yard line. Damien Harris, himself, received three green zone carries, and Josh Allen took two. James Cook got two green zone carries, but both carries were from the Las Vegas eight-yard line. As we talked about last week, not all green zone carries are created equal.
There is some good news. Of the seven carries given to Murray and Harris, only two turned into touchdowns. Harris got blown up a few times, and so did Murray. Perhaps these ineffective rushes will lead to a chance for Cook, but for now, he’s a between-the-twenties, dynamic pass-catching back. Still solid, but he needs consistent goal line usage to convert touchdowns and level up.
Conclusion: James Cook is awesome, but not being used anywhere near the goal line.
Kenneth Walker III is the Clear RB1
Seattle invested a lot of draft capital into Zach Charbonnet, but it’s clear after two weeks that they prefer Walker. Walker is a much more dynamic running back, so this makes sense to me, the outside observer (but then again, I never would have spent a Round 2 draft pick on a running back a year after drafting Walker). Walker’s playing time and opportunities far exceed Charbonnet’s (17 to four carries; two targets each). The Seahawks may be bringing Charbonnet along slowly, as have many other NFL teams, including the Lions with Jahmyr Gibbs, but for now, Walker is the only running back you can start for fantasy.
Conclusion: Charbonnet is a drop candidate.
Zack Moss Plays the Entire Game
Zack Moss 98%
Other than one snap, Zack Moss played the entire game at running back for the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts did not play another running back in the game; the one snap that didn’t feature Zack Moss on the field was an empty set. That’s crazy usage for any running back.
Moss was pretty good. He received 18 carries in 56 snaps and saw four targets. His efficiency numbers were okay too – 88 rushing yards and a touchdown with four receptions for 19 yards. Jonathan Taylor will remain on IR until at least Week 5, so if you have Moss you can clearly play him for the next two weeks. Deon Jackson is firmly in the doghouse after fumbling twice last week.
Joshua Kelley Unimpressive in Featured Role
Joshua Kelley 79%
The Chargers gave Kelley every chance to succeed, but he could not deliver. Elijah Dotson and Isaiah Spiller played only 13 of 68 RB snaps, and Kelley received 13 of 18 RB carries. He was terrible only gaining 39 yards on those 13 carries. Seeing his mediocre performance, the Chargers more or less abandoned the run in an effort to beat Tennesee.
Tennessee is known for having a solid front line. A lot of fantasy experts warned that this was a trap game for Kelley given the strong defense Los Angeles was facing. Perhaps Kelley’s performance can be explained by the run defense simply overmatching the run offense of Los Angeles. But I kind of think that Kelley just proved that he’s just a guy. He brings none of the dynamic talent that Austin Ekeler has. For example, he only saw one target, and he didn’t catch it. Instead, the Chargers relied hard on Keenan Allen, and even mixed in some WR run plays to keep the defense honest.
We don’t know how long exactly Ekeler will remain sidelined, but I’d be dropping Kelley if Ekeler is on track to play.
Conclusion: Move on from Kelley, if possible.
Kyren Williams Dominant
We got the word that Cam Akers was a healthy scratch for this game, making time a flat circle. Just like last year, Akers apparently has attitude issues or something, who knows? The point is, it *seems* like Akers’ days in L.A. are numbered (something we said last year…), and the post-Akers world is dominated by Kyren Williams.
If you got Kyren off waivers last week, congratulations. 95% of snaps is a massive number, but he also was the only running back to receive a carry (14 total), and, most impressively, he earned ten targets. Williams looks like this year’s waiver wire darling. If he’s still somehow on your waivers, spend up big.
Conclusion: Get Kyren Williams if he’s still available.