Snap Count Observations for Week 1 (Fantasy Football)

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Each week, I will be taking a look back at the snap counts of the dicier depth chart battles and trying to help shed light on players’ usage. Keeping in mind that certain situations can skew the importance of snaps played, such as blowout wins or an injury, we’ll try to determine the fantasy relevance of a player’s snap count.

In a blowout win, like the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, you will sometimes see outlandish performances, like Marquise Brown finishing as the fantasy WR4 despite only playing 12 snaps. You could also see starters play far fewer snaps than normal, like Mark Ingram only logging 25 snaps (33% of plays), so it is best to take the data provided with a grain of salt.

How a player is used after an injury, either to himself or a teammate, can be an indicator of how they will be used in the near future, especially if the injury is severe. A good example would be how the Chiefs WRs shake out after losing Tyreek Hill, who will miss at least a month. We’ll get into that situation, and others, in the Week 1 Snap Count Observations.

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Every week, I will highlight the non-QB players that manage to play every snap of their game. In Week 1, six players pulled it off, five of which were not very surprising, one was a shock. At RB, Christian McCaffrey and Le’Veon Bell played every snap for the Panthers and Jets, so much for easing Bell back in or lessening McCaffrey’s workload. In the Browns blowout loss, both Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr logged every snap and were the only WRs to do so in Week 1, though you likely couldn’t care less based on the performance of the entire Browns team. Finally at TE, new darling in Oakland, Darren Waller played all 58 offensive snaps and, surprisingly, Kyle Rudolph in the Vikings thumping the Falcons…Irv Smith who?

Week 1 Snap Count Observations

Chicago Bears RBs – Tarik Cohen 51, Mike Davis 41, David Montgomery 28
The first game of the season gave us one of the backfields that added a rookie in 2019. The Bears RB snap counts were interesting, to say the least. Cohen saw the most snaps but did not see a single carry. He did, however, line-up in the slot for 70% of his snaps, which lines up with last years usage. He looks like he will be a solid PPR back again in 2019, despite being non-existent in the run game. Davis and Montgomery split carries evenly and neither looked great against a solid Green Bay defense. This will take at least another week of “wait and see”.

Los Angeles Rams RBs – Todd Gurley 54, Malcolm Brown 21, Darrell Henderson 2
Before the game, McVay said that Gurley would not be limited and his snaps show that to be true. His usage, however, has owners nervous, as he split carries 14-11 with Malcolm Brown. Which brings us to our 2nd worry…did we all draft the wrong handcuff? Darrell Henderson saw almost no PT and Brown vultured two TDs. Gurley may be a buy-low candidate right now, because as long as he is on the field, he is dangerous, as proven by his 6.9 yards per carry.

Buffalo Bills RBs – Devin Singletary 48, Frank Gore 19, TJ Yeldon 2
The rookie RB that shot up the boards most recently was Devin Singletary. After the trade of LeSean McCoy, the thought process was that he would eventually become the featured back. While Gore did out carry him 11-4, Singletary gained 70 yards on his four carries to Gore’s 20. Singletary also took all of the passing game work on top of almost tripling his snap count. Singletary is the back to own in Buffalo and his breakout may come sooner than expected based on his usage in the passing game.

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Philadelphia Eagles RBs – Miles Sanders 36, Darren Sproles 23, Jordan Howard 17
Speaking of rookies playing more snaps than veterans, I bring you, Miles Sanders. Sanders is a supreme buy-low candidate, he was in a nearly 50/50 split with the veterans but finished with fewer fantasy points than both of them. Things are going to get better, he is talented and the Eagles clearly trust him, so this may be the best time to try to get the rookie. Sproles outplaying Howard is far more concerning and Howard looks like he may not even be worthy of a bench spot.

Los Angeles Chargers RBs – Austin Ekeler 48, Justin Jackson 16
Melvin Gordon will be out until at least Week 6 and after this week it is clear, Austin Ekeler is “the guy”! Ekeler out-touched Jackson 19-9 on top of tripling his snap count. Combine those numbers with Ekeler’s three TDs and you have a fantasy RB1.

Kansas City Chiefs RBs – Damien Williams 45, LeSean McCoy 20, Darwin Thompson 2
DO NOT PANIC Damien Williams owners. He carried the ball more than Shady and was on the field for more than twice as many plays. Haters will tell you he was saved by a TD but the Jags defense is no joke and the going will get easier. Shady will have some streaming value and Darwin is officially dead, outside of an injury or dynasty.

Houston Texans RBs – Duke Johnson 42, Carlos Hyde 25
After the Lamar Miller injury, the Texans added 2 new RBs and nobody was quite sure how it would shake out. Hyde started the game, but Duke saw the field the most. It seems that both will be game-flow dependent. In high scoring games, Duke will be the guy. In games where the Texans are big favorites, lean on Hyde.

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Kansas City Chiefs WRs – Sammy Watkins 65, Mecole Hardman 53, Demarcus Robinson 43, Tyreek Hill 12
Tyreek Hill went down early in this one and will miss a few weeks. Clearly, Sammy Watkins will be the team’s WR1 and his performance against a more than competent Jags defense proves that he has overall WR1 potential. Hardman and Robinson find themselves in a very advantageous position for the next 2-4 weeks but will need to do much more than they did in Week 1.

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Arizona Cardinals WRs – Larry Fitzgerald 85, Christian Kirk 83, Damiere Byrd 78, Keesean Johnson 68
Kliff Kingsbury‘s high volume offense is definitely shown in his WRs snap counts. All four of the Cardinals starting WRs finished in the top 15 among WR snap counts. Outside of Larry Fitzgerald, the results weren’t quite what you were looking for but, as Kyler Murray improves, all of these guys could provide value. Michael Crabtree will steal the role away from either Byrd or Johnson

San Francisco 49ers WRs – Deebo Samuel 60, Marquise Goodwin 50, Dante Pettis 2
We are in “full-panic” mode for Dante Pettis. At his post-game presser, Kyle Shanahan said that his lack of playing time was due to his injury and lack of practice but this offense does not look good enough to have a WR clogging up one of your bench spots.

Oakland Raiders WRs – Tyrell Williams 55, Ryan Grant 41, Hunter Renfrow 16, (Darren Waller 58)
The loss of Antonio Brown played out pretty much exactly as expected. Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller will lead this offense in receiving this year. Those with high hopes for Hunter Renfrow may want to temper those expectations.

Indianapolis Colts TEs – Jack Doyle 43, Eric Ebron 25
Last year’s TE4 was nearly doubled up in snaps by Jack Doyle. Both of these TEs had one catch and no fantasy value but only one cost you a mid-to-late round draft pick.

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