Snap Count Observations: Week 1

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I will not mention ADP much in this article. ADP will be an important tool to reflect on what went right and wrong while preparing for the season, but to win now, every player on your team has to be viewed as an equal commodity. You must not be afraid to drop a player you drafted early if the data tells you to. Stats and information shall be your best friend for the next 16 weeks, not preseason perceptions.

The percentages (%) below represent the percent of total offensive plays each player was on the field. Here are my main takeaways based on Snap Count Observations:

Kelvin Benjamin 71% / Devin Funchess 52%

The stat line for the Carolina Panthers Twin Towers more closely resembles DeVito and Schwarzenegger:

Snaps Targets Receptions Yards TD
Benjamin 52 12 6 91 1
Funchess 38 4 1 9 0

Was the Funchess over Benjamin preseason hype completely out of control? Head Coach Ron Rivera had predicted 35 snaps for Benjamin and admitted that he played “about 15 more snaps” than he would have liked. After seeing how much Cam Newton depended on Benjamin and his big play capability back to full form, I will believe what I see rather than coach speak.

Devonta Freeman 55% / Tevin Coleman 49%

Opinions varied on this RB tandem for the last few months. Considering that Freeman was drafted as RB7 in the early-mid 2nd round, an apparent RBBC approach in week 1 is quite troubling. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan has admitted that he will use a hot-hand approach at RB. Coleman owners can rejoice while Freeman owners fidget uncomfortably after this week 1 stat comparison:

Snaps Rushes Yards TD Targets Receptions Yards TD
Freeman 36 11 20 0 4 4 20 0
Coleman 32 8 22 0 6 5 95 0
Odell Beckham Jr. 100% / Sterling Shepard 95% / Victor Cruz 89%

The Giants ran 22 fewer plays than Dallas, clearly attempting to maintain balance and efficiency, running 43% of the time. With 16 total pass attempts to WRs on the day, I find it odd that all three players would have such high snap counts. The Giants felt unpredictable on offense. I see this as a big positive for all three WRs. They were able to contribute on a low volume day and will certainly have bigger roles when the game plan shifts to the passing game.

Snaps Targets Receptions Yards TD
Beckham Jr. 56 8 4 73 0
Shepard 53 4 3 43 1
Cruz 50 4 4 34 1
Kevin White 98% / Alshon Jeffery 95%

What?  Wait, what? I understand that the Chicago Bears want Kevin White to be good, but from what we have seen in preseason and heard from camp, he just isn’t. Not to say he can’t improve, but as of now, you have a top flight WR in Jeffery who can help you win games, while White appears confused and out of place. Not only did White out snap Jeffery, he also had 1 more target. The discrepancy is not drastic but remains relatively shocking to me. Jeffery clearly out-produced White even with fewer opportunities. Jeffery should maintain WR1 status all year and if Week 1 teaches us anything, the Bears clearly hope White can do the same.

Snaps Targets Receptions Yards TD
White 55 7 3 34 0
Jeffery 53 6 4 105 0
Danny Woodhead 68% / Melvin Gordon 32%

Melvin Gordon owners are happy today, but a closer look may leave them feeling uneasy. 2 early TDs had Gordon owners doing somersaults, but a clear shift by the offense once Keenan Allen went down with injury is not a good sign for Gordon moving forward. In the 2nd half of the game, in which San Diego started with an 18 point lead, Gordon took a backseat to Woodhead (19 targets/carries to 5). Logic would have the bigger back carrying the load in an attempt to salt the game away. Rather, the Chargers utilized the smaller Woodhead almost 4 times as much! Both players had productive fantasy days, but I feel a lot more confident in Woodhead based on these findings. I don’t want to sound any fire alarms, but if trading Gordon now on the back of his 2 TD day is possible, you may want to explore it.

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Snaps Rushes Yards TD Targets Receptions Yards TD
Woodhead 50 16 89 0 7 5 31 1
Gordon 23 14 57 2 0 0 0 0
Chris Hogan 77% / Danny Amendola 27%

The Chris Hogan era in New England has begun!  Or has it? In general, I suggest avoiding role players in New England. Head Coach Bill Belichick infamously provides as little information as possible and player roles change consistently. The oddity, in this case, is the wide gap in snaps, but 4 targets each. Amendola, coming off of injury, was no sure bet to play. As for the small sample we have, Hogan owners have visions of glory in sight as he did look good. I would like to trust him going forward, but until more data presents itself, I will wait and see.

Snaps Targets Receptions Yards TD
Hogan 55 4 3 60 1
Amendola 19 4 3 48 0
Jeremy Hill 51% / Gio Bernard 49%

Sometimes expected results are as surprising. Both players were given 9 targets/carries in this game.  The RBBC split we were told to expect, came to fruition.

Tajae Sharpe 96%

The hype was real.  Tajae looked sharp in his first NFL regular season game. Not only was he in the game more than any other WR, he was also targeted on 41% of all WR targets.

Darren Sproles 49% / Ryan Mathews 48%

Don’t over think this one. Mathews was on the field less but was still the focal point of the offense. He more than doubled Sproles’ target/carries by a 22 to 10 count.

LeSean McCoy 86%

That is an incredibly high snap count for an RB. I actually hope to see this lowered in coming weeks, so teams aren’t forced to gameplan against McCoy. He needs support if he is going to remain healthy and productive in 2016.  This may be a challenge with limited depth at RB and a possible Sammy Watkins injury.

Justin Forsett 50% / Terrance West 44%

Both players were looked at as potential workhorses, but the RBBC split most predicted came true in Week 1. Javorius Allen was a healthy scratch and Kenneth Dixon will remain out for the next few weeks. I want no part of the Ravens RB situation.

Christine Michael 63% / Thomas Rawls 27%

This was expected based on reports of Rawls health. I will take a wait and see approach with this situation. If the snap counts don’t start to even out in the next two weeks, Rawls’ owners may need to look elsewhere for fantasy production.

Larry Fitzgerald 97% / Michael Floyd 95% / John Brown  57%

The Arizona Cardinals are a predominantly 3 WR set offense. The fact that the offense did not change, yet John Brown was essentially the only one of the Big 3 to be substituted, is troubling. Jaron Brown participated in 28% of the snaps and routinely played in place of John Brown. The next few weeks will be very telling for John Brown’s 2016 prospects. Perhaps his preseason concussion contributed to his limited participation. Most importantly, I hope he is recovering from the head trauma.

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