Snap Count Observations from 2019 (Fantasy Football)
Throughout the 2019 regular season, I dug into the weekly snap counts of each NFL game and tried to pick out scenarios that might be interesting for fantasy players. It was fun seeing how guys were used in many different situations. We saw some rookie RBs get eased into action and others were thrown into the deep end. We saw very successful WRs only play a handful of snaps and few guys play almost every snap and still disappoint (looking at you OBJ). And of course, there was always the mess at TE to dig into.
All in all, 2019 was another great fantasy season and the snap counts for each team told great stories all year long too. Here is one interesting tidbit for each NFL team.
2019 AFC Snap Count Observations
New England Patriots- For the 2nd straight season, James White led the Patriots’ backfield in snaps played and fantasy points scored. White beat his RB27 ADP by five spots and was the RB13 over the last five games. It might be time to stop saying you don’t know which Patriots’ RB you can trust.
Buffalo Bills- Devin Singletary was hurt after Week 2, missed 4 games, and eased back into action. From Week 1 to Week 8, he only played four games, registered just 52% of snaps, and was the RB48. In his last eight games (Weeks 9-16), he was the RB17 while playing 75% of snaps. Draft Devin Singletary in 2020.
New York Jets- In his first season after a full year off, Le’Veon Bell was 5th among all RBs in total snaps played but finished the season as the RB17. The Jets were/are a mess but there have already been talks of him moving on to another team and he can still clearly handle the bell-cow role.
Miami Dolphins- For the first time in his career DeVante Parker led all Miami WRs in total snaps played. In fact, his 914 downs played were almost 200 more than he had registered in any season of his career and his WR7 finish is a much-needed sign of life.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Before you write James Conner off as a bust: No player with fewer than 400 snaps, (Conner had 335) scored more fantasy points than James Conner. A healthy season could mean big things for the RB.
Cleveland Browns- “The return of Kareem Hunt will destroy Nick Chubb‘s value” That was an actual thought heading into this season. Chubb before Hunt: 395 snaps, RB5. Chubb after Hunt return: 336 snaps, RB14. Hunt was the RB20 during those last eight games. These guys can coexist.
Cincinnati Bengals- Auden Tate: 666 snaps, 81.5 fantasy points. Alex Erickson: 628 snaps, 74 fantasy points. John Ross: 410 snaps, 81 fantasy points. A full season of John Ross could be a very fun thing to watch in fantasy football.
Houston Texans- The only thing that might be more annoying than a split backfield is a split TE…and Houston had both. Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson played 49.1% and 48.5% of the total snaps respectively. Darren Fells played 47 snaps per game and Jordan Akins played 42. At a position where the fantasy community needs stars, Fells or Akins could have been perfect if the Texans would have made up their minds.
Tennessee Titans- AJ Brown scored the most fantasy points of any rookie WR this season. For the Titans, Brown was 2nd in snaps to Corey Davis. Davis scored 98 fewer fantasy points while logging 38 more snaps than Brown.
Indianapolis Colts- The Colts could be a different team with a healthy T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron. Ebron missed the last five weeks but was the TE15 through 11 games despite playing 232 fewer snaps than Jack Doyle during that span. TY Hilton logged 324 fewer snaps than Zach Pascal but Pascal only scored 12 more fantasy points on the season.
Jacksonville Jaguars- In Leonard Fournette‘s first two years in the league, he logged a total of 844 snaps played. In 2019, he played 918 snaps, 3rd most among RBs.
Kansas City Chiefs- Travis Kelce was your #1 fantasy TE and played 30 more snaps than anyone else at the position.
Denver Broncos- At the beginning of the season, every time I brought up the Broncos’ backfield, it was to remark how equally Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman were being utilized. Their end of season snap counts? Lindsay had 516 to Freeman’s 514.
Oakland Raiders- No rookie RB rushed for more yards than Josh Jacobs but he was only on the field for 469 snaps, 28th among all RBs and 4th among rookie RBs. As his snap count rises, Jacobs could easily improve on his RB18 season.
Los Angeles Chargers- The talk of the early season was Melvin Gordon‘s holdout and how well Austin Ekeler benefited. But what would happen when Gordon returned? By the end of 2019, Ekeler played 2 more snaps per game and scored 100 more fantasy points than Gordon. After Gordon’s Week 5 return, Ekeler was the RB8 and Gordon was the RB13.
2019 NFC Snap Count Observations
Philadelphia Eagles- The Eagles had a lot of trouble staying healthy in 2019. Unsurprisingly, Zach Ertz led the team (RB/WR/TE) in downs played. Maybe a bit more surprising was that Dallas Goedert was #2. Both TEs finished as top fantasy options with Ertz at TE5 and Goedert at TE10.
Dallas Cowboys- Michael Gallup led all Cowboys’ WRs in downs played, despite missing two games. Gallup scored 179 fantasy points, only 28 fewer than Amari Cooper and was the WR22. With Mike McCarthy coming to town, there is no reason to expect a slowdown. McCarthy’s offense produced two 150+ fantasy point WRs in seven different seasons with Green Bay.
New York Giants- While Saquon Barkley was the RB10, most owners were still disappointed in his 2019. He missed three games and played 100 fewer snaps than he did in 2019. More concerning may be that his target rate dropped by 5% on the downs he did play. Hopefully, a new coach will change that up and get him the ball more.
Washington Redskins- At 34 years old, Adrian Peterson was on the field for 407 snaps, ranking 35th among all RBs. He also had 211 carries, 19th most in the league, and finished as the RB30.
Green Bay Packers- Another backfield marred by the dreaded 50/50 split. Aaron Jones did play 289 more snaps than Jamaal Williams, but 193 of those snaps came in games that Williams was injured. So throughout the season, the split was much closer than it seemed. More importantly, in this split, Jones still finished the year as the RB2, playing 377 fewer snaps than the RB1, Christian McCaffrey.
Minnesota Vikings- Dalvin Cook was the story of the season but this backfield was very effective all year long. Primary handcuff Alexander Mattison scored 63 fantasy points only playing 200 snaps and injury replacement Mike Boone scored 48 fantasy points despite only logging 82 snaps. Boone scored more points per snap than both Cook and Mattison.
Chicago Bears- Allen Robinson led all WRs in total snaps played in 2019. He overcame playing with Mitch Trubisky to finish as the WR11 in fantasy football.
Detroit Lions- Nine RBs played snaps and scored fantasy points for the Detroit Lions. Most teams only had five and no other team had more than seven. Kerryon Johnson played the 2nd most snaps and still scored the most fantasy points of any RB on the team, despite missing half the season.
New Orleans Saints- Alvin Kamara only logged 20 fewer snaps than he did in 2018 but scored 105 fewer fantasy points. Kamara finished the year as the RB12 but the season still felt disappointing.
Atlanta Falcons- Austin Hooper played the 13th most snaps and scored the 6th most fantasy points of any TE despite missing three games. In the season’s first eight weeks, Hooper was the TE1 and scored 24 more fantasy points than the TE2, Travis Kelce.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Buccaneers were the only team to give us two fantasy WR1s this season and they could have been better. Chris Godwin was the overall WR2, missing two games and ranking 12th in WR snaps played. Mike Evans was the WR12, missing three games and ranking 31st in WR snaps played.
Carolina Panthers- While there isn’t a lot of good to say about the Panthers’ 2019 season, Christian McCaffrey has nothing to be ashamed of. He led all RB/WR/TE in scoring and played more snaps (1056) than anyone at those positions too. 2019 was the year of Run CMC.
San Francisco 49ers- After very early offseason hype, Dante Pettis‘ stock began to plummet in the preseason, so much so that host Andy Holloway infamously removed Pettis from his My Guy list. Pettis only appeared in 11 games and only played 317 snaps, ranking 4th among 49ers WRs, and finished the season with 29 fantasy points. Good call, Andy!
Seattle Seahawks- Coming into the season, all anyone wanted to talk about was how Tyler Lockett‘s 2018 was too fluky to repeat and that he wasn’t trustworthy as the Seahawks’ WR1. Lockett ended 2019 as one of only eight receivers to play over 1000 snaps and was the fantasy WR14, scoring one more point than he did in 2018.
Los Angeles Rams- Despite the rumors of his demise, Todd Gurley played 807 snaps. That’s only 18 fewer than 2018 and 581 more than any other Rams’ RB.
Arizona Cardinals- Speaking of demise…David Johnson only played 445 snaps, 300 fewer than he did in 2018. To make matters worse, 338 of those snaps (76%) came in the season’s first six games.