Snap Count Observations: Five Decisions to Make for Week 15 (Fantasy Football)
The fantasy playoffs are here. No more trades, half your league has checked out, and next week is not guaranteed. The way the 2021 season has gone, it’s a near-certainty that some crazy things will happen on a daily basis. There are a lot of moving parts right now regarding Covid-19 protocols and players testing positive, so keeping up on the news will be crucial. It’s important to plan for anyone and everyone to potentially miss their game this week. Your bench players may prove to be more important to your success than some of your starters, and the waiver wire is going to be somewhat of a wild wild west. If you play in a league that has first come, first serve waivers after the first run, then you should be glued to Twitter (and of course the Ballers podcast) to make sure you’re up to date. If you play in a league with daily waivers, then it’s crucial to have things lined up prior to every kickoff window, in case you aren’t allowed to grab someone from the waivers at the last minute. Tyler Higbee was ruled out right before the game on Monday Night Football, and I have a feeling he won’t be the last person to be randomly dropped into fantasy irrelevance right before he plays. I’ve identified some early decisions from the snap counts and usage this week, but there is an abundance of options outside of these. Don’t miss a single tweet, article, or podcast from the Fantasy Footballers team this week, they will be crucial.
The Baltimore Ravens Wide Receivers
The Ravens wide receivers have been in this column for what feels like ten years, but it’s important to discuss them once again this week. Rashod Bateman was ascending, then he wasn’t, and now…. well, I’m not falling for this again. Bateman had a huge game this week, eclipsing the 100-yard mark and hauling in 7 catches. Given Bateman’s obvious talent, this would normally be cause for excitement. I’m personally staying away from this situation because I’ve been duped multiple times. Not just by Bateman, but by rookie receivers in general after their first huge game. The truth is that he’s still running well behind Marquise Brown from a snap perspective, and even trailed Devin Duvernay in Week 13. It would be reasonable to expect an increased workload in the coming weeks based on his stat line, but there have been plenty of reasons for this all season long. The Ravens haven’t increased his workload significantly enough to warrant weekly lineup consideration, and I’m not going to overreact to this one game in the fantasy playoffs. I would expect a very mild output this week, and I wouldn’t want him anywhere near my lineup during the most crucial weeks of the season.
Conclusion: Bench Rashod Bateman
The Carolina Panther Wide Receivers
I am so terrified to make this suggestion, but I have to follow my process and trust the usage when it comes to potential surprises. With the positive tests hitting the entirety of the NFL this week, every relevant player is worth discussing. Robby Anderson is one of the biggest flops of the year, yet somehow he’s crept back into relevance with Cam Newton behind center. He saw a whopping 97% snap share and an even more impressive 34% target share against the Falcons this past weekend, and it seems like Robby and Cam have some chemistry built. Anytime a player sees 12 targets in a week it’s worth noting, but when that player has been successful earlier in their career, it’s worth a hard look. Anderson is not someone I’d be dying to start against Buffalo by any means, but his matchup with Tampa Bay in Week 16 could be volume-heavy enough to warrant lineup consideration. I have no idea who will be available, or which teams require someone of Anderson’s boom/bust potential, but he’s a better option than most receivers on the waiver wire. If you’re in an absolute bind, Anderson may just pull off a miracle for you during the semifinal week.
Conclusion: ADD Robby Anderson (44% Rostered in ESPN Leagues)
The Atlanta Falcons Running Backs
Cordarrelle Patterson being a relevant topic in Week 15 of any modern season is both awesome and surprising. He has been one of the stories of the fantasy year, yet somehow I still don’t understand his usage. He never plays full snaps at either the running back or the wide receiver position, but he seems to produce for our fantasy teams anyway. This past weekend he didn’t play a single snap in the fourth quarter, much to the dismay of fantasy players everywhere. Unfortunately, his confusing usage is just a part of his mythos at this point, but that doesn’t mean we should sit him down during playoffs. If you’re panicked about his lack of playing time, I’m here to keep you calm. The Falcons were ahead for most of the game, and there was never a real threat for the Panthers to take the victory from them in the fourth quarter. Patterson wasn’t used, because they didn’t need to use him. This is a rare occurrence for the 2021 Falcons, and we shouldn’t expect this type of straightforward gamescript during the fantasy playoff weeks. They face the Niners, Lions, and Bills over the next three games. Their matchup with Detroit could be a dice roll, but the other two are all but guaranteed to feature the Falcons playing from behind. Start Patterson with confidence, and hope for the best.
Conclusion: Don’t Panic, Start Cordarrelle Patterson
The Green Bay Packers Wide Receivers
Mr. Lazard, welcome back to the column. I have a bit of personal bias here because I’ve picked up and dropped Lazard in so many leagues this year that I am potentially trying to will another good game into existence. I just wanted to warn people of that. Jokes aside, Lazard has a pretty secure spot in an Aaron Rodger-led passing attack, and he’s right back into his WR2 role that he temporarily lost due to injury. Marquez Valdez-Scantling will be a factor each week, but Randall Cobb was the true threat to Lazard’s potential as a WR3 with touchdown upside. Sadly Cobb is now on the IR, so it’s Lazard’s job to lose during the next few weeks. His 81% snap share was well above MVS, and his target share was strong enough to stand out. He found the end zone once in Week 14, and nearly hit paydirt a second time but was interfered with. Aaron Rodgers has shown multiple times this year that he trusts Lazard in big spots, and his usage indicates a coaching staff that sees him as the second guy on the receiving totem poll. Now that both Bob Tonyan and Cobb are sidelined, Lazard is a worthwhile WR3 during the fantasy playoffs and is likely available on most waiver wires.
Conclusion: ADD Allen Lazard
The Seattle Seahawks Running Backs
Nope, this isn’t an article from 2018. Rashaad Penny is somehow leading the Seahawks backfield again, right now. The craziest part is…. he didn’t look half bad. Pete Carroll has stuck by Penny like someone who marries a prison inmate, and right now is the perfect time for the duo to show the world that Penny’s draft capital was worth it (hint: it wasn’t). Alex Collins has been a complete dud over the past few weeks, so Penny really has no competition if he continues to run like this. The Seahawks are committed to the run against all odds and analytics, so this could be a really under-the-radar league-winning situation. Flex spots that have Penny in them could be in for a real treat during the fantasy playoffs, so I’d be spending whatever I have left and using my top priority. Going for broke can lead to fantasy titles. Go for broke, Footclan.
Conclusion: Add Rashaad Penny