Snap Count Observations: Transactions to Make for Week 6
The NFL is rolling on with most teams finding steady trends. Most of the observations this week deal with injury situations, which is to be expected at this time of year. With that said, let’s just get right into the observations without my typical musings about the NFL and fantasy football at large.
Alec Pierce is a Man Among Boys
This game was not pretty, but Alec Pierce stood out to me as a player on the rise. Matt Ryan faced intense pressure from the Broncos’ defensive line all game, and under pressure, he often looked Pierce’s way. Pierce made a few amazing catches in traffic, and he received a lot of praise from both his quarterback and coach afterward.
Pierce is still playing behind Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman, but when he’s on the field, he’s seeing a lot of targets. Pierce saw nine targets on 39 routes run (23% TPRR, which is very strong). Meanwhile, Parris Campbell is running a lot of routes with almost nothing to show for it. It’s only a matter of time until Pierce passes him in playing time, but that may not matter because Pierce is demanding enough targets to be relevant even with less-than-ideal playing time.
Conclusion: Go get Alec Pierce.
Timeshare Status Continues
Melvin Gordon was expected to receive more work in the aftermath of Jamaal Williams‘ injury, and that’s exactly what we saw. Gordon played a season-high 56% snaps, but Mike Boone is still lurking, also seeing a season-high 41%. Gordon received 15 carries to Boone’s seven, and both running backs had three targets. So, essentially, Denver is running the same timeshare as before, they just elevated Boone and Gordon up one spot, respectively, on the depth chart.
Still, Denver’s offense looks awful. Gordon was not particularly effective, and Boone didn’t see enough volume to justify consideration into your starting lineup even though he was more efficient. I would like to avoid this offense entirely, but Gordon’s 18 opportunities are noteworthy. That at least puts him in flex consideration for most fantasy teams. At least Gordon didn’t fumble, I guess!
Conclusion: Don’t start Mike Boone, Gordon’s should be ranked low given Denver’s poor play.
Darius Slayton Returns from the Dead
It is Halloween season, so we’re bound to stumble across a few fantasy zombies. The Giants’ receiving corps shuffled again, while we await a healthy Wan’Dale Robinson and Kadarius Toney (and wait for Kenny Golladay to retire). This week, 2019 rookie darling, Darius Slayton, emerged. His first real action was last week where he ran 60% of the snaps, and this week he saw 54%. While that mediocre playing time isn’t all that interesting, Slayton did turn 21 routes into seven targets (33% TPRR).
I am not doing anything with this information though. Wan’Dale Robinson appeared close to a return because he practiced in a limited fashion leading up to Week 5. Still, take note of Slayton; he’s not a nobody wide receiver. We just don’t know if he can demand high targets with the imminent return of Wan’Dale Robinson.
Conclusion: Keep an eye on Slayton, stash him if you have a huge bench, but wait to see if he can still flash after Wan’Dale Robinson returns.
Dameon Pierce is a Monster
Dameon Pierce: 17 missed tackles forced on runs vs the Jaguars
That’s the most PFF has EVER recorded in a single game 🤯 pic.twitter.com/wXC8LZnEz8
— PFF (@PFF) October 10, 2022
His tackle-breaking skills were well-demonstrated in this awesome play, where he appears to break five tackles in one rush.
Dameon Pierce’s last three games:
Week 3: 20 rushes, 80 yards, TD
Week 4: 14 rushes, 131 yards, TD
Week 5: 26 rushes, 99 yards, TD
Pierce is now 4th in the NFL in rushing yards and this run ruled.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 10, 2022
Conclusion: With this workload and these playmaking abilities, Pierce is in RB1 territory.
David Montgomery Sees Full Snap-Share in Return
After removing injury-related games, David Montgomery‘s season average for playing time is 73%. In this game, he played 72%, so any concerns about a limited workload were unfounded. Those snaps turned into 16 opportunities, which is pretty good for a player returning from an injury. The Bears weren’t quite so run-heavy in this game (24:21 run/pass ratio), but they still lean run. That makes Montgomery usable when healthy.
Conclusion: the Bears won’t limit Montgomery’s workload when he’s active.
Alvin Kamara Finally Plays like Alvin Kamara
Alvin Kamara played a season-high snap share, showing he’s finally healthy. The proof of health was in the pudding as Kamara received 23 carries and six targets, which he turned into 194 total yards.
Unfortunately for Kamara managers, Taysom Hill stole all the touchdowns. This was clearly an outlier game for Hill, and the impending return of Jameis Winston likely helps Kamara’s ability to score touchdowns because the Saints will be less inclined to remove their starting QB near the goal line. It’s unfortunate that Kamara couldn’t get you a touchdown this week, but all the peripheral signs suggest he’s on the up-and-up.
Conclusion: Kamara is healthy and ready to dominate.
Rhamondre Stevenson Dominates Backfield Out of Necessity
Damien Harris suffered a hamstring injury early in the game, which necessitated Stevenson to play more snaps. Stevenson was actually the last man standing because the Patriots opted to activate only two running backs. Thus, this game is an outlier for Stevenson due to the fact that the Patriots had no other options at RB. Also, his extreme efficiency had a lot to do with playing the pathetic Lions’ defense.
Conclusion: Don’t expect this type of workload from Stevenson ever again.
Cam Akers Sees Every RB Carry
I’ve never seen anything like this before. Darrell Henderson led the Rams snap-share (by a lot) but didn’t have a single rushing attempt (Cam Akers handled all 13 carries). Meanwhile, Akers essentially wasn’t involved in the passing game at all. He ran just five routes, compared to Henderson’s 26. This perfect backfield division of labor renders both backs irrelevant to fantasy because you cannot expect any running back to see significant passing involvement while on the same team as Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee, and the Rams’ offensive line is not good enough to open holes for an exclusively ground-and-pound running back. Additionally, the defending champs’ offense looks pretty rough with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Conclusion: Sit both Henderson and Akers.
Tee Higgins Not Healthy Enough to Play
Despite being activated for the game, Tee Higgins didn’t activate himself.
Tee Higgins said last night about his ankle injury that he tried to run a route early in the game, he couldn't and he knew "I just wasn't ready."
"I don’t want to force myself out there, make it worse and be out for the season. But this is nothing major."
— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) October 10, 2022
This sucks for fantasy managers who started him in Week 5, but it sounds like he will be back in Week 6 ready to produce.
Conclusion: Start Tee Higgins in Week 6 even though he let you down in Week 5.
Cade Otton Playing Gronk Level Snaps
Cade Otton, when he was drafted, was described as the “Gronk Replacement.” As savvy fantasy managers, we tempered our expectations because rookie TEs so rarely produce. But Otton is getting enough of an opportunity that we need to take notice, despite being a rookie. In fact, his level of involvement in Week 5 mirrored Gronk.
Now, it is true that Cameron Brate didn’t play due to a concussion, so we don’t know whether Otton’s high playing time numbers will continue after Brate returns, but Otton played ahead of Kyle Rudolph, a player the Bucs went out and got after Gronk’s retirement.
Regardless, Otton flashed. He ran the most routes of any player on the Bucs (49), more than even Mike Evans (45). Also, he saw 7 targets, which is a pretty good TPRR for a TE (even though TPRR isn’t nearly as sticky for TEs as it is for WRs). Otton’s performance is noteworthy in the barren wasteland of TE fantasy options.
Conclusion: Stash Otton if you are TE needy, as he could be played if Cameron Brate misses more time.
Brian Robinson is Coming for All of Antonio Gibson‘s Carries
Brian Robinson didn’t play a ton in his first game back after being shot multiple times, but when he was in the game, he got work. Robinson saw nine carries, whereas Antonio Gibson only saw three (Gibson was targeted four times to Robinson’s zero, so make of that what you will). Still, for Robinson to triple Gibson’s carries is a sign of bad things to come for Gibson managers. I personally think Robinson was brought along slowly, and will eventually dominate the backfield carries and snaps.
Now, I doubt Robinson’s presence does much, if anything, to J.D. McKissic‘s role. In all likelihood, Robinson remains a low-value touch RB, but he might see work at the goal line. However, I have no data from Week 5 supporting that belief; it’s just a feeling (Note: Washington’s only trip to the green zone was at the end of the game with no timeouts remaining, so rushing the ball was not an option). Still, all of this is bad news for Gibson.
Conclusion: Antonio Gibson is about to become an RB insurance policy.