Snap Count Observations: Five Decisions to Make for Championship Week (Fantasy Football)

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All of the marbles. All of them. On the line, right now. This is it, FootClan! The only thing that matters is Week 17, and scoring more fantasy points than your opponent. No trading options left, and very few waiver wire targets to comb through. It’s simple: win, or spend the offseason questioning your decisions. Anyone who said second place is admirable, didn’t win a lot. I’m keeping it fairly straight-forward this week, focusing more on matchups than actual snap counts. Let’s do this.

The Los Angeles Rams Tight Ends

Tyler Higbee: 91.4% Snap Share, 16% Target Share

The tight end position is one of the few spots in fantasy football that may require waiver wire assistance on a week to week basis. If you don’t have a top-tier tight end, then you’ve probably been streaming most weeks. Tyler Higbee hasn’t lived up to the potential he once seemed to possess in the Rams offense, but he’s flirted with fantasy relevance a few times this season. He’s essentially a touchdown-or-bust option now, but there is a strong chance this week he could deliver a championship winning performance. The Rams square off with the Baltimore Ravens who have rolled out an NFL JV team defense this year. They’re fifth worst against the tight end position, and dead last against the quarterback position. They allow quarterbacks to sling it, and pretty much every pass catcher to catch it. C.J Uzomah even cashed in 8.5 fantasy points last week, despite being the sixth highest fantasy point scorer on his own team. Higbee should have a very high floor this week, and a touchdown could help him deliver a championship ceiling.

Conclusion: Start Tyler Higbee 

The Jacksonville Jaguars Running Backs

Dare Ogunbowale: 82% Snap Share, 54.8% Rush Share, 11% Target Share
Nathan Cottrell: 1.4%
% Snap Share, 3.2% Rush Share

James Robinson going down was such a bummer. 2021 has taken a lot of really good fantasy players from us, but Robinson was just unleashed from the Urban Meyer prison only to turn around and watch his achilles give out. He’s done for the year, and Dare Ogunbowale is up next. When I say up next, I only mean for the Jaguars. Please do not start Ogunbowale in the fantasy championship game. Volume is typically king, but this type of volume will be insignificant and immediately gamescripted out. The Jaguars will go down early, and they will be forced to throw. Or at least, attempt to throw. Dare may not even get the bulk of the carries given his background as a pass catching specialist. He may see some work in the passing game once they go down big, but there are too many unknown factors and too many terrible Jaguar games to trust this situation. This is a wild card that’s pretty clearly a land mine, and you don’t want your championship to rest on the shoulders of a Jacksonville Jaguar against Bill Belichick.

Conclusion: Bench Dare Ogunbowale

The New England Patriots Running Backs

Damien Harris (Week 16): 48% Snap Share, 66% Rushing Share
Rhamondre Stevenson (Season): 22% Snap Share, 25% Rush Share

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On the flip side of this same game, we have Damien Harris, or should I say Tre-Mien Harris. Get it? Okay, maybe you don’t. His three touchdowns in Week 16 helped a lot of managers reach this week, but they may be questioning what to do with him now that Rhamondre Stevenson is back. Stevenson has accumulated 22% of the snaps this year, and both him and Harris have had their moments in the New England sun. I would be avoiding Stevenson this week, and firing up Harris with confidence. He’s been the primary goal line back all season long, and he’s done too good of a job to lose that role. Stevenson has been impressive for a rookie, but he’s the less talented pure runner. Even if they split the work 50/50 this week, I expect Harris to have no issue whatsoever accumulated fantasy points against the lowly jags. I will be hammering his 2TD prop line and not looking back. It’s possible we see the same thing from Stevenson, I just don’t want to roll the dice during the championship week. I trust Harris’ role, but I question Stevenson’s.

Conclusion: Start Damien Harris 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Running Backs

Ronald Jones: 52% Snap Share, 64% Rushing Share, 10% Target Share
Ke’Shawn Vaughn: 35% Snap Share, 22% Rushing Share, 3% Target Share

Ke’Shawn Vaughn was once highly touted by the fantasy community, but he has completely flopped in this Tampa Bay backfield. He had an awesome 55 yard touchdown scamper in Week 16, which was cool to see. What wasn’t cool to see were the other 6 carries that went for only 15 total yards. Vaughn does not look prepared for this level of play, and I don’t expect him to eat into Jones’ time whatsoever. A 60%+ snap share in a Tom Brady lead Bucs offense is worth its weight in gold, even if you don’t believe in Jones as a player. This week they square off with the Jets, who are dead last against the running back position in fantasy. Jones is going to eat the Jets alive, and he should be fired up in all formats. Vaughn may get some garbage time work, but I’m not relying on that type of scenario in a championship game.

Conclusion: Start Ronald Jones and Bench Ke’Shawn Vaughn

The Dallas Cowboys Wide Receivers

Amari Cooper: 71% Snap Share, 27% Target Share
CeeDee Lamb: 74% Snap Share, 12.5% Target Share
Michael Gallup: 65% Snap Share, 12.5% Target Share

This may fall into the ‘duh!’ category, but the Cowboys receivers should all be started aggressively. The Cardinals defense was once a terrifying matchup for opposing passing games, but they’ve had a broken wing or two in 2021. They’re fifth worst against the wide receiver position this year, and they’re second to last over the past four weeks. When we combine this with a Dallas passing attack that appears to be hitting all the right notes at the right time, this is a recipe for another explosion from Dak and his Cowboy rat pack. Amari Cooper is still the alpha in Dallas even if no one wants to admit that (except myself, in the preseason), and CeeDee Lamb has been excellent. Both of these monsters should continue to feast for your championship teams, and Michael Gallup is a worthwhile WR3 option for deeper leagues.

Conclusion: Start Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and potentially Michael Gallup 

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Steve Larson says:

Just picked up Dare Ogunbowale to start in the Championship game……. other choices at RB….and no not because of injuries or COVID….true RB0

RB1 – Connor (if Healthy)
RB2 – Dare Ogunbowale

Other Options:
Hubbard vs NOS
Duke Johnson vs TEN
C Reynolds vs SEA
M Davis vs BUF
D Booker vs CHI

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