The NFL season has hit its halfway point and this is a good time to look at our current snaps leaders. At RB, Leonard Fournette has played 706 downs, 60 more than any other RB, though he only has one TD to show for his effort. From a % standpoint, Christian McCaffrey has played almost 94% of Carolina’s plays this year and leads all RBs in fantasy scoring. For the WRs, DeAndre Hopkins is your leader in total snaps, logging 559 downs played. That is 97.2% of the total plays for the Texans, which puts him 2nd to only Odell Beckham in the % lead. OBJ has played 97.7% of Cleveland’s downs in this disappointing season. Finally, no TE has played more snaps than Zach Ertz this year. While fantasy owners will find that hard to believe, Ertz has been on the field for 491 snaps, 17 more than any other TE and 211 more than Dallas Goedert. Much less surprising is that Darren Waller has played 91.4% of the Raiders plays this season. With all of their WR issues, he has been the focal point of that offense.
These numbers show the challenge of comparing snaps and fantasy success. Beckham and Ertz have largely disappointed fantasy owners this year, while owners of McCaffrey and Waller couldn’t be happier. And somewhere in the middle, you have Hopkins and Fournette, who are both playing well, just not quite to their potential. Week 8 gave us a few similar situations, though it was mostly highlighted by owners’ disappointment with the snap counts of guys filling in for injured players.
Every week I like to highlight any RB/WR/TE that played 100% of the offensive downs for their team. Week 8 gave us three such players, two superstars and one TE that has played every snap in each of the last three weeks. Travis Kelce and Odell Beckham were on the field for every snap in each of their team’s Week 8 losses. In San Francisco’s win, Daniel Brunskill became the first “skill position” player this year to play every snap in three consecutive weeks. He has scored exactly zero fantasy points during that run, but it’s still impressive…sort of.
Week 8 Snap Count Observations
Buffalo Bills RBs (Devin Singletary 42, Frank Gore 18)
It would appear that two weeks removed from his hamstring injury, a king might be emerging in Buffalo. Singletary was on the field more than twice as much as Gore, though Gore out-touched the rookie 9-7. The weather was pretty suited to a Gore type game, but it is clear that Buffalo trusts their young RB. Singletary was targeted six times in the passing game, Gore had no targets, and he was able to take one of those passes to the house from 28 yards out. If Singletary starts to get more carries, he will be a serious fantasy threat to end the season.
Chicago Bears RBs (David Montgomery 60, Tarik Cohen 17, Mike Davis 11)
Speaking of emerging rookie RBs…David Mopportunity seems to have finally arrived. Montgomery played 73% of the snaps, handled almost all of the running game work, and was more involved in the passing game than both of his counterparts combined. This marks only the 2nd time this season that Montgomery has played 50 or more snaps and it was by far his best fantasy day, rushing for 135 yards and a TD. Fantasy owners are left scratching their heads about Cohen, who is still involved in the passing game but can’t seem to break any big plays. Low ceiling/low floor is not what you want out of your pass-catching fantasy back.
Detroit Lions RBs (Ty Johnson 25, Tra Carson 19, JD McKissic 16, Paul Perkins 6)
For the 2nd straight week, fantasy owners are crying “foul” on an NFL backfield. This time around, it’s Detroit receiving their scorn. After Kerryon Johnson went down in Week 7, Ty Johnson got all the work and was the recipient of many a FAAB bid. After long-time fantasy deep sleeper, Zach Zenner was released from New Orleans and did not resign with the Lions, it looked like Johnson was anointed in Detroit. Instead, he was out-carried by Tra Carson, who was not even on the team two weeks ago, out-caught by McSmooches, and ended the day with fewer yards than he had in Week 7. If only Detroit head coach Matt Patricia had come out and said he was going to use a committee approach…oh wait, he did say that immediately following Kerryon’s injury. As of now, there is no viable fantasy RB in Detroit.
Los Angeles Rams RBs (Todd Gurley 32, Darrell Henderson 30)
Much has been made of Henderson out-touching Gurley in this game and, putting it bluntly, I don’t buy it. The Rams were never in danger of losing and knew they had their bye week coming after this long trip to London, they rested their guy. Gurley still played two more snaps than Henderson and scored the only RB touchdown. Gurley will still be a solid RB2 coming out of the Rams bye next week, just as he has been this entire season.
San Francisco 49ers WRs (Emmanuel Sanders 55, Deebo Samuel 47, Dante Pettis 20)
A classic trope for movies and shows set in high school is the new guy showing up and being better at everything. That’s the San Francisco WR room. Sanders scored the game’s first TD and led the team in snaps, targets, catches, and yards. He was only with the team for five days! Now that only equated to four receptions for 25 yards, so there is room for improvement, but it was an exciting first game. Dante Pettis is officially no longer a thing and can be safely dropped by those still rostering him.
Los Angeles Chargers WRs (Mike Williams 43, Andre Patton 37, Keenan Allen 31)
I only highlight this game to drive home a point: Go buy Keenan Allen. His current owner is undoubtedly frustrated and you need to take advantage. Allen hasn’t hit double-digit fantasy points since Week 3 but there is a reason for optimism. Allen still had seven catches for 53 yards in this game despite playing fewer snaps than he has this entire season. He has 10+ targets in each of the last two weeks and has an upcoming Week 12 bye to get healthy for your fantasy playoffs. After the game, Allen told fantasy owners on Twitter ” I owe you one”. Huge. Game. Incoming.
Houston Texans WRs (DeAndre Hopkins 80, Kenny Stills 80, Keke Coutee 0)
When Will Fuller got hurt, fantasy owners scrambled to get a piece of this passing game. There were essentially three options: Kenny Stills, Keke Coutee, and TE Darren Fells. After one week, only one of those options looks right (Fells had a day, more on that later) and one looks very, very wrong. Coutee was healthy, active, and played as many snaps this week as you or I did. Stills was disappointing but I don’t expect that to continue. If a guy plays 80 snaps with one of the best QBs in the league, you will typically get more good than bad. It will be interesting to see how the Texans use Coutee moving forward but Fuller will be back in a couple of weeks so all of this may be mute.
Atlanta Falcons WRs (Calvin Ridley 64, Julio Jones 62, Russell Gage 47)
Matt Ryan missed this game so there is not a lot to take away fantasy-wise but, after the Falcons traded Mohamed Sanu, I wanted to see how they used their WRs. Sanu led the team in snaps played before being traded, so there might be room for a new third WR to step in, and if that is going to happen (a big if in this offense) that appears to be Russell Gage. Gage had more targets and catches than Ridley, but again, that was without Matt Ryan. Once Ryan returns, it will be anybody’s guess on what this offense will look like. The hope is that Sanu’s absence means more playing time and targets for Ridley, who has been relatively quiet in 2019. After one week, the playing time is there. Ridley played more snaps in Week 8 than he has in any other game this season.
Green Bay Packers TEs (Marcedes Lewis 43, Jimmy Graham 42)
In an already disgusting TE landscape, we may have lost another one. Now that the Packers are getting all of their WRs back, Graham was out-snapped by the better blocking Lewis in Week 8. As the weather starts to turn and the Packers run the ball more, this may become the norm. Graham is nothing more than a low-volume, TD dependent, bye week fill-in for fantasy purposes. Another one bites the dust.
Houston Texans TEs (Darren Fells 75, Jordan Akins 43)
Owners looking for a TE may have found their answer in Week 8. Fells has emerged as the TE leader for the Texans and has been a solid fantasy option in three of the last four weeks. In Week 8, he reeled in six catches on six targets and scored two TDs in a game for the second time this season. The Texans have one more game before their Week 10 bye and the likely return of Will Fuller. It remains to be seen if Fells can be consistent, but he has as good an opportunity, playing with Watson, as just about any other TE.
Los Angeles Rams TEs (Tyler Higbee 34, Gerald Everett 30)
Similar to the Graham situation, Everett looked like he might end up being a weekly play at one point but it is simply not on the field enough to be trusted. Even with Brandin Cooks getting hurt, Everett only saw three targets and finished with two catches for 15 yards.
Philadelphia Eagles TEs (Zach Ertz 66, Dallas Goedert 55)
As mentioned in the intro, Ertz leads Goedert in snaps played by a large margin, but we don’t get fantasy points for downs played. Goedert has outscored Ertz in fantasy in each of the last 3 weeks and is only 24 points behind him for the entire season. Ertz is still the TE7 on the year, but that says a lot more about how bad TEs are performing in fantasy in 2019.