Snap Count Observations: Five Transactions for Week 7 (Fantasy Football)
The onslaught of bye weeks has begun, which means fantasy anarchy has also begun. It should go without saying that the top moves you should be making are the ones you need to make in order to have a full lineup, but those are a bit too obvious for me to cover here. I’m the type of guy who likes to think outside the box, because it’s not fun to produce content that tells someone what they likely already know. Sneaky moves can produce unexpected results, so it’s important to keep your head on a swivel when it comes to in-season roster moves. From day one this series has been about identifying underlying trends before they become mainstream. I may sound like a fantasy football hipster saying that, but that’s just like, your opinion man. In honor of said hipster thought process, I will introduce the content of this article and close this introduction with a completely-irrelevant-to-fantasy-football joke:
How did the hipster burn their tongue?
They drank their coffee before it was cool.
Now, some less hilarious but very informative Week 6 snapcount data:
The Baltimore Ravens Running Backs
The Baltimore situation has gone from bad to worse, then from worse to annoying. Early in the offseason Gus Edwards was the darling of managers who drafted way ahead of time, and then Ty’Son Williams became the bell of the ball a couple weeks in. Since then, it has been a complete mess of a committee and now it’s simply turned into a 2017 running back reunion as all three veteran players are in a full-blown timeshare. Le’Veon Bell made an appearance this week and was promoted to the 53 man roster just this morning. This means that we can expect to see this type of split week in and week out until someone steps up, but the odds of that happening on such limited carries for aging vets are very small. Add Lamar Jackson into the mix, and this entire situation is a must-avoid. The Baltimore running game as a whole should continue to produce, but this past week showed that John Harbaugh plans on letting everyone get in on the fun near the goal line, which dries up all potential value for everyone. You can safely drop any of these guys, with Latavius Murray being my personal favorite if you’re in an absolute pinch.
Conclusion: DROP any and all of the Ravens Running Backs
The San Francisco 49ers Running Backs (Week 5 Statistics)
Keep in mind that these snap counts are from Week 5. Prioritizing any moves last week for teams on bye wouldn’t have made much sense from a game theory standpoint. The entire backfield in San Francisco has been a mess this year, but Eli Mitchell has been the clear winner from a film standpoint, and has quietly dominated snaps when he’s in the lineup. Trey Sermon had his shot when Mitchell was out, but he didn’t do enough with it to warrant much more playing time now that Mitchell is back. Mitchell dominated Week 5 backfield touches despite only seeing a 32% team rush share on the week. That number was so low because Trey Lance was behind center, and commanded a ridiculous 62% rushing share on his own. Those are Lamar Jackson numbers. Lance should be added in all formats even when Jimmy G returns, because the rushing upside there has league winning potential. The reason you want to prioritize acquiring Mitchell as well is because he’s the clear lead back in a great rushing attack. He saw 36 attempts and dominated the snaps in his first two games with Jimmy G and was the lead back with Lance on the field too. The managers who roster him are likely disappointed or at the very least bored with him, so now is the time to strike. Mitchell is a legitimate Raheem Mostert clone, and we know how well Mostert has performed in this same scheme. Trey Sermon is a non-factor when everyone is healthy, and the Niners are going to find some stability soon. Mitchell doesn’t have enough hype in the 2021 running back wasteland, simply because his production has been mediocre. Touchdowns have always carried 49er running backs, and Mitchell is due for some serious touchdown regression soon. George Kittle should be back in Week 9 which will boost the outside zone scheme immediately and open up lanes for the speedy Mitchell. The stars are aligning for a potential second half league winning performance, so he’s worth acquiring now.
Conclusion: Trade FOR Eli Mitchell
The Baltimore Ravens Wide Receivers
Rashod Bateman was well on his way to being named a member of the all-preseason hype team before he was injured, and it looks like the train is back on the tracks. Bateman played in his first NFL game this week and immediately commanded a 22% target share in an offense that produces fantasy studs every single week. Despite only playing 65% of snaps, the rookie instantly drew more targets than his WR1 teammate Brown and he didn’t look too much like a rookie. The biggest takeaway is the trust that both John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson appear to have in Bateman, because he was on the field constantly and Lamar looked his way plenty of times. Brown is never going to command a massive target share like other alpha receivers do, but his olympic level speed and explosive play ability should allow him to continue producing at a high level even if it’s not top ten production. Bateman appears to be the real deal, and he’s worth a speculative add through these bye weeks. Keep in mind that rookie receivers typically take some time to produce for fantasy purposes, so I wouldn’t be starting him right away. Keep him stashed on your bench and monitor the metrics outside of the box score to see how they’re trending going forward. It’s not often you can find a potential WR2 in the middle of the season, and Baltimore lacks a true possession receiver. If you play in full PPR leagues, Bateman should be a priority add this week.
Conclusion: Add Rashod Bateman
The Cleveland Browns Pass Catchers
Full disclosure: this may be a bias recommendation since I am a lifelong Michigan Wolverine fan. I was screaming at every NFL team for letting DPJ slip to the sixth round on draft night, and I have plenty of receipts to show for it. He dominated the combine, he was a top recruit out of high school, and his production was minimal at Michigan because he played in an offense with Nico Collins and Tarik Black, with a brand new OC in transition mode and a gun-shy quarterback. Peoples-Jones never had a full opportunity to utilize his ridiculous skillset, but his talent is undeniable. Thankfully he is getting his shot in Cleveland, and this past weekend he made the most of it. Not only did he truck stick a cornerback on his way to his first touchdown, he also secured a ridiculous hail-mary catch for another right before halftime. He led all receivers in snaps, and commanded a fairly healthy target share albeit on a run-first offense. The reason he’s worth an add is because he shouldn’t be someone that people bid too heavily on, and the status of OBJ is up in the air. The often-injured veteran looked like he was in plenty of pain in the second half on Sunday, so it’s possible it’s something serious. With Jarvis Landry also sidelined, DPJ could potentially become the top option for an offense that desperately needs a downfield threat. If Peoples-Jones and Mayfield continue to build chemistry, he’s talented enough to become a fantasy relevant wide receiver in this league very quickly. Bye weeks can make fantasy teams do crazy things, but there are far crazier options than DPJ on the waiver wire this week.
Conclusion: ADD Donovan Peoples-Jones
The Green Bay Packers Wide Receivers
Davante Adams: 84% Snap Share, 23% Target Share
Allen Lazard: 84% Snap Share, 23% Rush Share
Davante Adams is the alpha of all alphas, but Allen Lazard is quietly becoming the….. beta? I’m not really sure how to refer to Aaron Rodgers‘ WR2 in that analogy, but I know Lazard’s usage has been interesting as of late. Through the first three weeks, Lazard played roughly 65% of snaps for the Packers and was an afterthought fantasy wise, but the past three weeks he’s hardly come off the field. Lazard played 79%, 85%, and 84% of snaps in Weeks 4, 5, and 6. No other Packer receiver even hit the 40% mark this past week, and all signs point to Lazard being the locked in WR2 for this team. Adams will command an insane target share all year long, but his target totals are all but guaranteed to come back down to earth when compared to the first few games. That target share regression has already started here, and Lazard was the benefactor. His production wasn’t anything special, but he’s playing more and more each week and appears to have the stamp of approval from the man behind center who owns the Chicago Bears. Just being on the field with Rodgers gives Lazard potential to produce, and being on the field as often as Davante Adams has lead to lots of big games from guys like MVS in the past. Lazard is someone I’d be keeping an eye on in 10 and 12 team leagues, and would potentially stash in deeper formats in case Rodgers continues to look his way.
Conclusion: ADD Allen Lazard in Deeper Formats (14+ Teams)