Every couple of weeks I’ll take a look at various stats to try to determine if any trends stand out. These trends could relate to specific players or situations. I’ll be looking at targets, snap shares, and airyards among other metrics to help formulate opinions on players and how you as a dynasty player should be interpreting this data. Data is compiled via Pro Football Reference, Airyards.com, Football Outsiders, the Sleeper app, Fantasy Data and other any other place that stats may be housed. The sample size is small so none of these takes are set in stone, and are subject to change.
How Much is Matt LaFleur going to rotate the Green Bay Running Backs?
In the Packers opening Thursday night win against the Bears Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams split the snaps 37/24. The snap share broke down as 59% for Jones and 41% for Williams. Jones out-touched Williams 14/7. Jones took 72% of the Packers rushing attempts from running backs while Williams took just 28%. Even though the production stats didn’t show, due to the minimal rushing attempts, Jones dominated the backfield in week one. Week two saw Jones play on 57% of the offensive plays while Williams checked in with 47%.
Though Williams did have 12 touches, including a receiving touchdown Sunday, he only accounted for 51 yards. Jones, on the other hand, balled out. He turned a bell-cow like 23 rushing attempts into 116 yards rushing, including a touchdown. He was also targeted on six passes, with four receptions for 34 yards. Jones again took 72% of running back rushing attempts. After being out-targeted 2/1 against the Bears, Jones secured 60% of the running back targets in week two. If you bought into Aaron Jones before the season you have to feel really good right now. Through two games he’s been a workhorse and any fears that LaFleur would split the running back work should have subsided.
Winds blowing Montgomery towards bell-cow status
David Montgomery (27) seeing fewer snaps than Tarik Cohen (51), in week one wasn’t the worst thing in the world. But him seeing with fewer snaps than Mike Davis‘s 40 is maddening. Montgomery secured 40% of Chicago’s rushing attempts in the Bears loss to the Packers, which is not great. Davis took 33% while Mitchell Trubisky had three rushing attempts for himself. The Bears only ran the ball 15 times total in a game where they were within one score most of the game, so there isn’t any explanation for the lack of rushing attempts.
Montgomery was only targeted once and pulled it down for a beautiful 27-yard reception where he had to adjust to make the catch. Cohen saw 10 targets, which makes sense with Trey Burton unable to play and Anthony Miller seemingly not completely healthy. What makes less sense was Davis being targeted seven times. Davis turned that heavy volume into six receptions for 17 yards. If your yards per carry is 2.8, that’s really bad. When that’s your yards per reception, it’s flat out embarrassing. If you have children you know, it’s a bad idea to reward bad behavior. Similarly, it’s a bad idea to reward bad coaching. Matt Nagy’s poor coaching led the Bears to a 10-6 loss.
Thankfully Nagy seemed to have learned his lesson from a usage perspective in Week two’s win against the Broncos. Montgomery had a 62% share (18) of the rushing attempts, though he again only had one reception, on three targets. Though he only turned his 18 rushing attempts into 62 yards he did score a touchdown.
Tarik Cohen had four rushing attempts and five targets. Cohen being involved in the offense is to be expected, Nagy would be foolish not to utilize him. Mike Davis is not a player that should be taking snaps or touches from Montgomery though. Week two saw Davis take just three rushing attempts for one yard. Montgomery led the Bears running backs in snap share with 44% of offensive snaps played. Cohen was still involved and played on 38% of offensive snaps while Davis saw his snap share plummet to 25% after playing on 56% of offensive plays in week one.
It’s just one game but his lack of involvement this week is a hopeful sign that Montgomery won’t be forced to yield touches to Davis going forward. Montgomery also has some ceiling left to reach when it comes to targets. The Bears backfield is trending in the right direction and you have to feel good if you own Montgomery.
Is Todd Gurley still a top-five fantasy RB?
Entering the season there was a ton of mystery surrounding how Todd Gurley would be used. After monopolizing the snap share in the Rams backfield since his rookie season would Gurley be reduced to a part-time role? Was all the concern in the offseason much ado about nothing? The answer seems to lie somewhere in the middle. He kicked off the 2019 season with a 70% snap share. While this a steep cut in playing time compared to last season’s 89% snap share, 70% is still a healthy snap share. What was of major concern from week one was Gurley ceding 11 carries to Brown including all the goal line carries, which Brown turned into to two touchdowns. Gurley’s 11.1 fantasy points left him as an RB3 on the week, finishing as the RB27 overall.
Gurley share fell to 64% in Sunday’s win against the Saints. Gurley’s backup is clearly Malcolm Brown, in case there was any doubt. Brown played 28% of snaps opening week with Darrell Henderson playing on 2% of the offensive plays. Henderson didn’t play one offensive snap against the Saints while Brown picked up the remaining 36% of offensive snaps. Though Gurley’s snap share decreased from week one his usage increased with 16 rushing attempts, compared to 14 in week one, and four targets compared to just one target the week prior. Gurley didn’t cede any goal-line work this week and he rushed for one touchdown. This helped him score 15.7 points on the week, which entering Monday night’s game has him as the RB11 for the week. Gurley appears to be a running back two with RB1 upside on weeks that he can score a touchdown.
Miles Sanders Struggling
Miles Sanders hasn’t seen bell-cow usage but he’s been the lead back through the first two weeks of the season. Through two games Sanders leads the Eagles with 44% of the running backs rushing attempts and his 37.5% running back target share is tied with Darren Sproles. In week one Sanders led the running backs with a 49% snap share, compared to Sproles 30% and Jordan Howard’s 23%. That gap closed significantly in week two, at least between Sanders and Sproles. Sanders saw his snap share dip to 43% and Sproles increased his snap share to 35%. Howard saw a modest decrease to 22% of snaps played in week two. Sanders is also the only running back on the roster to see any rushing attempts inside the five-yard line, with two, though he converted neither.
While Sanders usage is encouraging his results have not been. It should be noted that the Eagles run blocking has not been great, ranking 27th in Stuffed % per Football Outsiders. in week one. That should work against all of the Eagles running backs though and Sanders yard per carry of 2.5 is significantly below both Sproles (5.2) and Howard (4.4). Sanders YAC/ATT (yards after contact per attempt) of 1.0, which ranks 29th in the league, lags behind both Sproles and Howard as well.
Table courtesy of Pro Football Reference
If you believe in Sanders now may be an opportune time to buy him. His early career struggles could push open a buy-low window to pounce on. Usage is a predictive and the Eagles have shown a commitment to Sanders as their lead back, even if he hasn’t yet provided the results that they, or his fantasy owners, would have hoped for.
Who is The Green Bay Packers WR2?
Geronimo Allison truthers had to be a tad concerned with the results of the Packers opening game win. Allison was out-snapped by Marquez Valdes-Scantling 41 to 30 playing on just 50% of the offensive snaps. Alarmingly, Allison wasn’t targeted once. Valdes-Scantling had four receptions for 52 yards on six targets.
Week two was much better for Allison, when viewed through the prism of fantasy scoring. Though he only had 25 yards receiving, he was targeted five times bringing in four receptions including a touchdown. Valdes-Scantling saw six targets again but was much less successful compared to week 1. His was only able to corral three of his targets converting them into 19 yards. Valdes-Scantling again out-snapped Allison in week two. Allison played on 45% of snaps while Valdes-Scantling rarely left the field and played on 87% of snaps. Valdes-Scantling is clearly the WR2 on the Packers.
Dante Pettis Is Missing In Action
Whether you believed Kyle Shanahan was trying to motivate Dante Pettis by leaving him in with the deep reserves deep into preseason games, you might want to believe him now. Pettis was targeted just once in the 49ers opening week loss and played only two snaps. Shanahan placed part of the blame for this usage on Pettis’s calf injury even though Pettis practiced fully in the days leading up to the opening game.
Week two saw Pettis on the field much more with 35 offensive snaps. Pettis saw no targets. The only proof of his existence on the stat line was a pass completion for 16 yards. Deebo Samuel is running ahead of him on the depth chart, and coming off a week where Samuel put up 87 yards and a touchdown on five receptions things might not change anytime soon. If you believe that Pettis will eventually work his way into the offensive mix send out offers to acquire him. His price is as low as it has been since his week eight breakout last year.
D.J. Chark is a thing
In the season-opening loss to the Chiefs, D.J. Chark announced himself with 146 yards on four receptions, one of which included a 69-yard touchdown. While production is always great, the fact that produced at that level on just four targets left some room for doubt. His 71% snap share was the third-highest of Jaguars wide receivers behind Dede Westbrook (83%) and Chris Conley (76%) while seeing significantly more than Keelan Cole’s 21%. His snap share increased to 82% in week two’s loss to the Texans. He still trailed Westbrook (87%) and Conley (85%), but he picked up ground on both.
Chark was targeted a team-high nine times in Sunday’s loss to the Texans. His seven receptions also led the Jaguars and included another receiving touchdown. Chark leads the Jaguars receivers in every counting stat: targets, receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. His 49 yards after the catch leads the wide receivers as well, as does his 20% target share. If you don’t like counting stats, more advanced metrics also favor Chark. As tracked by airyards.com, Chark leads in target share, air yards, aDOT, market share of air yards, WOPR and RACR. Chark’s draft pedigree and athleticism (as shown by his MockDraftable spider graph), point to this being a legitimate year two breakout and I’m buying in any league that the price is palatable
Thank you for reading. As the season progresses I’ll check back in on the players discussed in this article. I’ll be on the lookout for other situations that deserve a deeper dive.
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