Snap Count Observations: Five Transactions for Week 13 (Fantasy Football)
Football gods – please take my shoulder, but not Dalvin Cook‘s. Take my foot, but not CMC’s. Even though injuries always happen this time of year, it really stinks to see the consensus top two picks in fantasy football go down in the same week. We already lost King Henry, so the whole first round has been a bit of a disaster. It’s absolutely cuffing season, so please take a look at my suggestions surrounding Tony Pollard and Darrel Williams from previous articles if you’re curious about my thoughts there. In addition to those two guys and the obvious top option this week in Alexander Mattison, the other handcuff’s I’d make sure I have rostered are Sony Michel, Samaje Perine, and Jamaal Williams. Guys like Marlon Mack and Kenyan Drake deserve consideration, but the situations in those backfields are much less clear and may not be a true ‘next man up’ situation. The waiver wire can decide fantasy championships early in the season, but they can secure fantasy championships late in the season. Don’t waste a bench spot on someone that will never start. Some of the suggestions below may be useless for you, but all of them have the potential to give you a last-minute edge. Trading this late in the year is an overlooked strategy for teams at the top. It’s worth it if you can secure someone ascending at the perfect time.
The Baltimore Raven Wide Receivers
This is a repeat suggestion because we’re getting another chance at it this week. Rashod Bateman may have a bright future in this league, but right now he’s not really a factor in our fantasy lineups. Marquise Brown is a bonafide number one receiver from a target share and production standpoint, but it seems like no one cares very much. Brown is a fantasy WR1 and has been through this entire season, and he has the potential to explode for 25+ fantasy points at any moment. There aren’t a lot of receivers who can do that consistently, but Hollywood can. He’s essentially a lighter version of Tyreek Hill, but he can be acquired in plenty of leagues for much less than he’s worth. This is the type of player I LOVE to roster during the fantasy playoffs because he can end a matchup for you on a moment’s notice, but still has a decent floor when he doesn’t find the end zone. Brown is my favorite trade target right now, and it’s not really close.
Conclusion: Trade FOR Marquise Brown
The Carolina Panther Running Backs
Chuba Hubbard is the obvious add in this situation, but the usage during week 12 was a bit strange. Career journeyman Ameer Abdullah actually doubled the snap counts of Hubbard and saw an eye-popping 19% target share. The reason for this is beyond my understanding, but it may have something to do with the offensive scheme they’re running for Cam Newton. Abdullah may fit a certain role better than Hubbard in the passing game, so this was very likely a game script situation. If that’s the case, then it doesn’t bode well for Hubbard. The Panthers may be trailing in most of their games going forward and it could signal a lack of faith from the coaching staff in his ability to succeed in this area. Mike Davis was given the green light to be a CMC-esque feature back last season when McCaffrey went down, but I don’t expect Hubbard to be given the keys to the backfield this time around. I would be prioritizing Chuba on the waiver wire given his draft capital and pure talent, but Abdullah may be worth a bench stash in PPR leagues until we see how things unfold with a full week of planning. If you don’t have any FAAB left, then Abdullah is a decent freebie the morning after waivers run in your league.
Conclusion: Prioritize Chuba Hubbard, Consider a Flier on Abdullah
The Cleveland Brown Running Backs
Kareem Hunt came back with a roar, but his performance was more of a soft “meow”. He wasn’t on the field much, his target share was about as low as it can get for his role, and his rush share was healthy but not overwhelming. He looked great in the first half, then seemingly hit the bench in the second half until late in the game. All signs point to this being an “ease him back in” situation, and it’s an excellent time to trade for him. The people who have sat and waited for his return are potentially frustrated with a dud in their lineup and might think this is the time to jump ship on someone who isn’t the feature back. They may think Nick Chubb is the guy (which he is), and Hunt is simply a backup or a handcuff. This isn’t the case in Cleveland’s offense though, as Hunt is heavily utilized and their run-heavy scheme makes him more of a 1B that mirrors a 1A in other backfields around the league. Hunt can be a week winner on any given week, and playoffs can be won by someone like him in your RB2 or flex spot. Don’t be fooled by the deceiving snap counts in his first week back. He’s worth an RB2 price tag in a trade, and it’s potentially the last week to make it happen.
Conclusion: Trade FOR Kareem Hunt
The San Francisco 49er Pass Catchers
The Niner receivers have been staples of this column too, but I’ve never fully endorsed Brandon Aiyuk yet. I’m finally doing it, even though it scares me a bit. Aiyuk has had a steady target share for three straight weeks and Deebo Samuel may miss some time. Even if Deebo is good to go, Aiyuk is a near full-time player once again and appears to have fully exited the doghouse. With Samuel’s newfound role as the RB2 in the offense, Aiyuk assumes WR1 duties on plenty of play designs from Kyle Shanahan. We saw what Aiyuk did last season when Deebo missed time, so the added bonus here is the potential injury upside. Aiyuk is more of a risky flex play with touchdown dependency with Samuel around, but he’s worth an add this week just in case situations change at all in Niner country.
Conclusion: ADD or Trade FOR Brandon Aiyuk
The Tennessee Titan Wide Receivers
Things are getting ugly on the waiver wire if you can’t tell. Things are even uglier in Tennessee if you haven’t heard. AJ Brown is on IR in addition to Derrick Henry, and the starting receiving corps for the Titans looks like the roster list of a USFL tryout. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine has quietly led the team in targets since Brown went down, and his target share is solid enough to give him a decent floor in good matchups. This past weekend was not a good matchup, but he still gave us near double-digit fantasy points. If you’re in playoff contention you may have absolutely zero need for a low floor, low ceiling play like this, but some leagues and some desperate teams could use an 8+ point floor on a week-to-week basis right now. There are far worse adds on a thin waiver wire at the position this week, so he’s worth a panic pickup.
Conclusion: Reluctantly ADD Nick Westbrook-Ikhine