Snaps and targets report: Week 5


You learn something new every week in fantasy football.

That is my main takeaway from doing this article every Tuesday afternoon. Players rise and fall so quickly in fantasy football but looking at just the box score doesn’t always tell the entire story.

Let’s look at the takeaways from Week 6.

Pittsburgh Steelers 39, Philadelphia Eagles 28

Diontae Johnson played just six snaps before exiting with a back injury. He did not return, which helped both Chase Claypool (more on him later) and James Washington play plenty of snaps. When we last saw the Steelers in Week 3, Claypool had already passed Washington as the WR3 in terms of playing time, though he did play one fewer snap than him Sunday. Meanwhile, James Conner dominated the Pittsburgh running back snaps, logging a 63% snap rate, while Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland combined for 20 snaps. Snell did carry the ball seven times in this game, but five of them came in the fourth quarter, three on the final drive of the game.

Let’s dive into Claypool, one of the top waiver adds for Week 5. He exploded for seven catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns Sunday, while adding a rushing score on three carries. Claypool became the first rookie wide receiver to score four touchdowns in a game since 1979 and is now firmly on the map in fantasy football. Yes, his huge game came with Diontae Johnson off the field, but keep in mind that the Steelers are operating out of three-receiver sets around 70% of the time this season, one of the highest rates in the NFL. That means that he is going to be on the field regardless. At 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds, Claypool has immense size but also rams a 4.42 40-yard dash, giving him a ton of potential. Pittsburgh drew up a ton of plays for Claypool in this game and he smashed.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, meanwhile, led the Steelers receivers with 34 pass routes but was only targeted five times. JuJu has yet to lead the Steelers in targets in any game this season and clearly isn’t being viewed as an alpha in this offense. Drafted as a top-15 receiver in most drafts during the offseason, Smith-Schuster is looking more like a WR3 going forward.

Not only did Claypool’s game come out of nowhere, but so did Travis Fulgham, who destroyed the Pittsburgh secondary to the tune of 10 catches, 152 yards and a score. He was impressive, though I’m not sure how much staying power he has. Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson will be practicing this week, while Jalen Reagor is eligible to return in Week 7. Fulgham warrants your attention but isn’t someone you have to spend a ton of FAAB on during the week.

Finally, what is going on with Zach Ertz? Despite the Eagles missing Dallas Goedert, DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffery, Ertz has just five catches for 14 yards over the past two weeks. Though never a field-stretcher, Ertz’s yards per route run is down to just 0.72 this season, the third-lowest mark among tight ends with at least 20 targets on the season.

Houston Texans 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 14

It was nice to see David Johnson’s snap rate climb up toward 80% in this game after it had dropped below 70% in Week 4. The production wasn’t fantastic until he ripped off a long run late in the game, but he did run more pass routes than Duke Johnson (23-10), while handling 17 of the 20 running back carries in this game. His production isn’t going to wow you most weeks, but Johnson has a pretty strong role going forward, making him a solid RB2.

Meanwhile, Darren Fells got the start with Jordan Akins in concussion protocol. He played 86% of the snaps, the most among Houston skill position players, ultimately finishing with two catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. Fells is often a popular target for Deshaun Watson in the red zone, though he did score from 44 yards out in this one. He’ll be a viable streaming option for as long as Akins is sidelined.

For Jacksonville, it was definitely underwhelming to see James Robinson’s snaps come down in this game. Despite chasing points in the prior two contests, Robinson was still on the field and catching plenty of passes. However, his snap rate dropped to 57% on Sunday, his lowest mark since Week 3. He’s still dominating the carries but hopefully Chris Thompson doesn’t eat into his snaps going forward.

Brandin Cooks followed his Week 4 goose egg with a massive performance this week, hauling in eight of a team-high 12 targets for 161 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps we will see more consistency from Cooks under a new Houston offensive scheme, but you definitely have to like what you saw from him on Sunday. Meanwhile, Will Fuller saw a healthy eight targets, turning them into four catches, 58 yards and a touchdown of his own. Fuller, who was a boom-or-bust fantasy option alongside DeAndre Hopkins, has transformed into a strong floor player, as he’s recorded either 100 yards or a touchdown in four-of-five games. The only game he didn’t accomplish the feat was back in Week 2 against an elite Ravens defense where Fuller played just 63% of the snaps. Continue to view him as a high-end WR2, low-end WR1 the rest of the way.

D.J. Chark wasn’t heavily involved in this game and then left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. Laviska Shenault should have been on your radar before this game, as he continues to see more targets each week, including a team-high eight Sunday. If Chark is forced to miss time, Shenault is going to propel towards WR3 status in fantasy, who is averaging around six yards after the catch per reception. Meanwhile, Keelan Cole becomes a viable flex option, as he led the team in routes in this game with 47, a number that also led all wide receivers in Week 5.

Baltimore Ravens 27, Cincinnati Bengals 3

The Baltimore backfield remains annoying. In games where the Ravens win big, Gus Edwards is going to lead the team in snaps, as they have been using him to salt away games and run the clock out. 21 of his 34 rushing attempts this season have come in games where the Ravens win by 15 points or more, which equates to nearly 62% of his carries. J.K. Dobbins is the guy they use when chasing points, which is cool and all except for the fact that the Ravens are rarely playing from behind.

A.J. Green played just 28 snaps, suffered a hamstring injury and continues to collect dust. Tee Higgins is a must-add in every format and someone who could approach must-start status in an offense that is averaging 41.4 pass attempts per game on the year, the second-most in the NFL.

Joe Mixon’s overall box score was bad. He touched the ball 30 times for just 94 total yards. However, I came away from this game encouraged, as he saw a career-high eight targets and has now caught six passes in consecutive games. He ran 19 pass routes to Giovani Bernard’s 10, and it appears that Zac Taylor and the Bengals are finally using him as an every-down back.

Marquise Brown flirted with touchdowns through the first four weeks of the season but finally found the end zone in this game. He was targeted 10 times, giving him a healthy 26.9% target share for the season. And look at his target shares by week and tell me you aren’t impressed: 27.7%, 240%, 260%, 22.2% and 34.7%. Hollywood also saw three end-zone targets Sunday, second-most among all receivers for the week. We’re getting strong floor games from Brown and the ceiling games are coming. He paces the NFL with 15 deep targets, though just four of them have been deemed catchable. Once Lamar Jackson starts connecting with Brown down the field, he is going to break some slates.

Las Vegas Raiders 42, Kansas City Chiefs 30

The biggest snap takeaway came from the Kansas City offense. Sammy Watkins scored a touchdown early in this game but ended up exiting with a hamstring injury that is reportedly going to sideline him for a few weeks. As a result of his departure, we saw Mecole Hardman play nearly 70% of the offensive snaps, though Demarcus Robinson did run two more pass routes. Still, we know the upside Hardman has on a per-touch basis and the Chiefs run three-wide sets 72% of the time, meaning Hardman will be a near every-down player. Pick him up if he has been dropped in your leagues.

Henry Ruggs returned from a two-game absence and immediately gave this Raiders offense a much-needed downfield threat. He logged a healthy 64% of the snaps on Sunday and after hauling in a 72-yard touchdown, Ruggs now leads the NFL with a massive aDOT of 21.5 yards. Derek Carr still isn’t going to force throws but Ruggs created a ton of separation on his touchdown catch this past week.

I know the Raiders have been without rookies Ruggs and Bryan Edwards for the majority of the season but I think I whiffed on Darren Waller this year. I worried about the receiver additions, but Waller has remained the focal point of this offense, sporting a 27.9% target share on the season, one of the highest marks among any pass-catchers in football. Waller has established himself as one of the four elite tight ends in fantasy football.

Red-zone usage

In Week 1 against the Texans, Clyde Edwards-Helaire saw six carries from inside the 5-yard line. Since then, he’s seen just one such carry. The way the Chiefs are using him in close is extremely frustrating, as they prefer to run him alongside Patrick Mahomes on college-style option plays, rather than just giving him the ball and letting him make a play between the tackles. Mahomes has also scored two rushing touchdowns already, which doesn’t help. His involvement in the passing game has increased, however, hauling in 17-of-25 targets since opening night. But if the red-zone usage doesn’t improve, he likely won’t pay off his offseason price tag.

Carolina Panthers 23, Atlanta Falcons 16

Olamide Zaccheaus was a popular value play in DFS with Julio Jones out and, while the overall numbers were bad, it’s worth noting that it wasn’t due to lack of opportunity. He played 97% of the snaps Sunday, while leading the Falcons with 39 pass routes, a top-10 number among receivers in Week 5. Just something to keep an eye on if Julio sits out again this week.

Another weekend, another great game from Mike Davis, who played 83% of the snaps in this contest, his highest rate since taking over as the starting running back. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the Panthers were without backup Reggie Bonnafon for this game. Since Week 3, Davis has been the RB3 in fantasy football, while ranking sixth in rushing yards (219), third in yards after contact per attempt (4.49), second in running back targets (24) and second in running back receptions (22). Christian McCaffrey doesn’t appear ready to return yet so we could get at least one more week of Davis being a top-10 fantasy option.

Let’s talk about Robby Anderson again, shall we? He saw another 13 targets this weekend, giving him 47 on the year, sixth-most in the NFL. Anderson is sporting a massive 27% target share on the season, while seeing double-digit targets in three of his five games. Anderson is being targeted on over 28% of his routes on the year, has reached the 100-yard mark in three of five games and was one yard shy of the century mark in Week 4.

Davis saw another 10 targets and should continue to catch plenty of passes in this offense. According to Ian Hartitz of PFF, 34% of Davis’ targets have come as the quarterback’s first read, which is a massive number. Teddy Bridgewater is also averaging just 6.8 intended air yards per pass attempt, the sixth-lowest mark among qualified signal callers.

Red-zone usage

Todd Gurley had three red-zone carries here, while Brian Hill didn’t record one. Gurley has also handled nearly 72% of Atlanta’s carries from inside the 5-yard line for the season. Quietly, he has scored five touchdowns already, which was always the lone appeal when drafting him in fantasy. He rushed for over 100 yards and a score Sunday, but anyone could have run through the holes he saw against a bad Carolina run defense.

Arizona Cardinals 30, New York Jets 10

The key takeaway from this game is the Arizona backfield, per usual. Kenyan Drake scored a touchdown for the first time since Week 1, but the disparity in playing time between him and Chase Edmonds continues to shrink. Edmonds logged 45% of the snaps in this game against the Jets, while running more routes than Drake. Edmonds continues to look like the more explosive running back and it seems to be only a matter of time until this is a split backfield.

Meanwhile, Le'Veon Bell returned from injured reserve and played 67% of the snaps in his first game back. He carried the ball 13 times, but Frank Gore still saw nine carries while playing over 30% of the snaps.

Los Angeles Rams 30, Washington Football Team 10

Trying to project the Rams backfield continues to be a headache. After Darrell Henderson was hardly involved in Week 4, he led this backfield with a 43% snap share, while handling 15 of the 32 running back carries. He scored twice and looked pretty good. However, Cam Akers got all of the run to salt the game away and head coach Sean McVay stated that he is going to get a bigger workload next week. Meanwhile, Malcolm Brown is the trusted third-down back for his pass-protection skills.

If it weren’t for that three-touchdown game against the Eagles, we’d be talking about Tyler Higbee as a massive bust in fantasy. He is 29th among all tight ends in routes run through five weeks (85) and is running a route on just over 51% of Los Angeles’ dropbacks, which is incredibly low. Both he and Gerald Everett are being targeted on over 18% of their routes and we know that Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp remain the focal points of this passing game.

The Washington backfield is now down to Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic. Gibson logged 56% of the snaps and touched the ball 16 times, while McKissic played 50% of the snaps and had seven touches. However, Gibson dominated the carries, seeing 11 of the 12 running back carries in this game.

After Kyle Allen exited the game, Alex Smith returned to action for the first time since 2018. It was a miraculous moment for sports fans, but it didn’t translate to success for the Washington passing attack. Smith posted an aDOT of just 5.8 yards Sunday, which resulted in McKissic seeing a team-high eight targets. For what it’s worth, Kyle Allen’s aDOT was even lower at 2.0 yards, though the Rams pressure had a lot to do with that. McKissic is worth a look in deeper PPR formats, while Gibson should continue to warrant flex consideration going forward.

Red-zone usage

Henderson saw two carries from inside the 5-yard line in this game, while also seeing two red-zone targets. He dominated the short-yardage work in this game, but it could change as soon as next week with Akers likely to be more involved.

Miami Dolphins 43, San Francisco 49ers 17

Jordan Howard was a healthy scratch for Miami in this game and Myles Gaskin continued to work as the lead back. He played 63% of the snaps and touched the football 21 times. His 112 routes run are the eighth-most among all running backs this season and he looks to be a trustworthy RB2 going forward.

Raheem Mostert (knee) returned to the lineup in this game and immediately dominated the backfield. He carried the ball 11 times for 90 yards, while adding three receptions. It was a bit surprising to see McKinnon only play 16 snaps and touch the ball three times after how well he’s played, especially considering the 49ers were getting destroyed in this game, which would make you think McKinnon would be on the field more. With Tevin Coleman set to return soon, McKinnon looks like someone you can drop in fantasy.

See if Deebo Samuel was dropped in your league. He returned to action last Sunday night against the Eagles and was eased back but jumped up to an 89% snap share in this game, while seeing a team-high eight targets.

Red-zone usage

Howard being inactive was huge for Gaskin. The big knock on him had been the fact that Howard was taking the touchdown-scoring opportunities away from him. Despite not playing Sunday, Howard ranks second in football in carries from inside the 10-yard line with eight. However, with Howard out on Sunday afternoon, Gaskin saw four red-zone carries, one carry from inside the 5-yard line and three red-zone targets. If Howard remains inactive, Gaskin will flirt with must-start status.

Cleveland Browns 32, Indianapolis Colts 23

In Cleveland’s first game without Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt operated as the true workhorse. He played 70% of the snaps and was responsible for 23 of the 32 running back touches. D'Ernest Johnson carried the ball eight times but four of them came in the final drive of the game where the Browns were forcing the Colts to burn their timeouts. Hunt was seen being stretched on the sideline during that time, but he appears to be fine.

Keep an eye on Trey Burton if you are hurting at tight end or are in a deeper league. Since making his season debut in Week 4, Burton leads the Colts tight ends in both targets and routes during that span and we know that Philip Rivers isn’t chucking the ball deep down the field. Tight ends have accounted for nearly 21% of the Colts targets through the first five weeks of the season.

Is Austin Hooper returning to fantasy relevance? To start the season, Hooper had just 10 targets through the first three games. However, he’s now seen 17 targets over the last two weeks, while being targeted on over 32% of his routes during that span. The tight end position has not been as advertised in fantasy this season, pushing Hooper back into TE1 territory.

Clearly, the Colts made an effort to get T.Y. Hilton going in this game. The veteran wideout paced the team with 10 targets and a massive 31.2% target share but once again could have had a much better day. He had another drop in this game while Rivers continues to look terrible.

Red-zone usage

To no one’s surprise, Hunt dominated the short-yardage work for the Browns. He had the lone carry from inside the 5-yard line, while converting his end zone target into a touchdown grab. Hunt remains a set-it-and-forget-it top-seven running back until Chubb returns to action.

Dallas Cowboys 37, New York Giants 34

For the Giants, Devonta Freeman continues to emerge as the lead back. He was eased into the game plan in his New York debut last week but with a full week of practice under his belt this week, Freeman played 54% of the snaps and handled 19 of the 27 running back touches. He recorded 87 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys and received the goal line work. Freeman has emerged as a solid flex play going forward.

Darius Slayton had a very good game, hauling in eight of a team-high 11 targets for 129 yards. He also had a touchdown called back due to a bogus offensive pass interference. Slayton is the only vertical presence in this offense right now, as his 12.9 yards before the catch per reception is good for 10th-best in the NFL.

It was a gut-wrenching scene in Dallas when Dak Prescott was carted off the field with tears streaming down his face. Not only was he on pace for a historic season but Prescott is simply a good man and leader. We’ll see how the Cowboys offense looks with Andy Dalton under center, but they at least have the best backup quarterback in football to fall back on. CeeDee Lamb led the way with 11 targets in this game, catching eight of them for 124 yards. Amari Cooper tends to struggle when facing above average cornerbacks and that was the case on Sunday as James Bradberry shadowed him and did a great job. Both Cooper and Lamb remain strong WR2 options with Dalton under center.

Seattle Seahawks 27, Minnesota Vikings 26

Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota ground attack were dominating this game in the first half. But Cook suffered a groin injury to start the third quarter, putting a halt on their success. He went straight to the locker room but did return shortly after. However, Minnesota kept him on the sidelines with his helmet on and ran with Alexander Mattison, who played 49% of the snaps and rushed for over 100 yards in basically two quarters. Cook is dealing with a minor groin injury; The Athletic’s Chad Graff reports that Cook will sit out in Week 6 with Minnesota having a Week 7 bye. If that is the case, Mattison would be a must-start running back.

Please, please let Irv Smith be a thing. After running 62 total pass routes combined between Weeks 1-4, Smith ran 31 pass routes on Sunday night, finishing with four catches for 64 yards. He still won’t be a trustworthy fantasy option with Kyle Rudolph in town but keep an eye on Smith going forward.

I still don’t understand why Adam Thielen wasn’t a consensus top-eight fantasy receiver in drafts. After a nine-catch, 80-yard, two-touchdown outing, Thielen is now the WR2 in PPR formats. His 33.1% target share leads the NFL, while his 48.3% of his team’s air yards is also the highest mark in football. He is incredible.

Chris Carson remains heavily involved in the passing game, which has been awesome for his fantasy prospects. He is averaging a healthy 4.6 targets per game on the season, while ranking 12th among running backs in routes run.

Red-zone usage

DK Metcalf is just dominating. He scored another two touchdowns Sunday night on 11 targets, four of which came in the end zone, the most among any player from Week 5. Metcalf is now fourth in the league with six end zone targets and with Russell Wilson cooking, appears to be a lock to finish as at least a top-10 wide receiver in fantasy football.

New Orleans Saints 30, Los Angeles Chargers 27

Keenan Allen was off to a huge start to this game, hauling in two passes and a 17-yard touchdown on the team’s second drive. However, he suffered a back injury and did not return after playing just 12 offensive snaps. The Chargers are on bye in Week 6, so you’d assume Allen will be good for their Week 7 contest. As a result, Jalen Guyton was a near every-down player.

With Austin Ekeler on injured reserve, the Chargers turned to a two-man backfield. While most assumed Joshua Kelley would lead the duo, it was actually Justin Jackson, who played 59% of the snaps to Kelley’s 35% clip. He also out-touched Kelley 20-12 and appears to be the preferred back until Ekeler returns.

Emmanuel Sanders is finding his groove with the Saints and with Michael Thomas out, they have needed it. He hauled in 12-of-14 targets for 122 yards Monday night and has now caught 18-of-23 targets over the last two games. The Saints are on bye in Week 6 — seemingly guaranteeing that Thomas returns in Week 7 — but Sanders’ emergence is great for Drew Brees and this offense going forward.

Red-zone usage

Mike Williams took advantage of the absence of Keenan Allen, catching five-of-eight targets for 108 yards and two touchdowns. He converted his end zone target into a touchdown and has now seen at least one end zone look in all but one game so far this season. With Allen seeing a 40% target share from Justin Herbert heading into this game, the Chargers passing attack was very concentrated. If he is forced to miss time, it becomes even more concentrated, benefiting both Williams and Hunter Henry.

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