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Snaps and targets report: Week 7

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Week 7 of the NFL season was the highest-scoring week of the season. A handful of players broke the slate in fantasy football, while a few more unfortunate injuries are now creating opportunities for some high-upside players that can help you make that push to win your fantasy league.

Cleveland Browns 37, Cincinnati Bengals 34

With Joe Mixon sidelined with a foot injury, Giovani Bernard stepped in as the clear lead back. He played nearly 80% of the snaps while handling 93% of the running back carries and 90% of the running back touches. Mixon is listed as week-to-week and for as long as he’s out, Bernard will remain a strong RB2 play. Since 2017, Bernard is averaging just under 18 touches, 19.6 DK points and nearly 40 receiving yards per contest.

The Browns were without Austin Hooper (illness) Sunday, opening up the door for both Harrison Bryant and David Njoku. When both have been active, Bryant has had the slight edge in snaps and routes over Njoku, which was the case again in Week 7. Both found the end zone, however, with Bryant scoring two touchdowns. Cleveland is running 12 personnel around 30% of the time, which is above the league average. And when you consider their head coach is Kevin Stefanski, it isn’t too surprising. 40% of Baker Mayfield’s touchdown passes this season have gone to tight ends.

Odell Beckham suffered a torn ACL in this game, ending his season. It is a brutal loss for the Browns but someone needs to step up in his absence. Enter Rashard Higgins, who ran a route on every one of Mayfield’s dropbacks Sunday afternoon, while his 84% snap share led all Cleveland wide receivers. Higgins needs to be added in all formats, especially if you just lost Beckham.

Red-zone usage

Tyler Boyd was one of my favorite DFS plays of the week and he smashed, hauling in 11 balls for 101 yards and a touchdown. He saw three end-zone targets in this game, tied for the most among any player for the week. Eight of his 11 targets came in the red zone, too. Meanwhile, Bernard finished the game with five red-zone carries and one red-zone target, which he converted into a short touchdown.

Buffalo Bills 18, New York Jets 10

Let’s break down these backfields, shall we? For Buffalo, we finally started to see them somewhat establish a ground game and it was sparked by rookie Zack Moss. He carried the ball seven times for 47 yards, while adding 25 yards on three receptions. Moss battled a toe injury in the beginning of the season but is healthy now and played a season-high 35 snaps, while Devin Singletary played 40 snaps, a season-low. Buffalo really turned to Moss in the second half of the game and it appears we might be back to the 50/50 split we all envisioned before the season started.

Meanwhile, the Jets also shifted their backfield in Week 7. In their first game without Adam Gase calling the plays, rookie La'Mical Perine logged 70% of the snaps to Frank Gore’s 28%. Perine touched the ball 13 times for 55 yards and a touchdown and with the Jets sitting at 0-7, it makes no sense to give Gore 15 touches a game going forward. Perine had already been the third-down back but now he appears to be emerging as the early-down back, too, giving him flex consideration in deeper leagues.

Don’t look now, but Cole Beasley is on pace for career-highs in both receptions (90) and yards (1,075) this season. He paced the Bills in targets (12), catches (11) and yards (112) Sunday, the receptions being a career-best for the veteran slot man. Buffalo changed their approach on offense in this game, as Josh Allen posted a 7.1-yard average depth of target, down from his 8.7 mark for the season. John Brown was out for this game, but Beasley remains an important piece of this offense and will be a viable flex play in deeper PPR leagues.

Green Bay Packers 35, Houston Texans 20

The Packers offense put on a show in this one, which was to be expected. Davante Adams is absurd, torching this Houston defense to the tune of 13 catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns on 16 targets. Adams had a whopping 47% target share in this game and has seen double-digit targets from Aaron Rodgers in 10 of his last 11 healthy games. His 34% target share leads the NFL, and he should be ranked as the top receiver in fantasy the rest of the way.

Aaron Jones was ruled out of this game with a calf injury, opening the door for one of the more underrated players in football, Jamaal Williams. No, he’s not as explosive or talented as Jones, but he’s a strong player and the Packers trust him. In Jones’ absence, Williams played 89% of the snaps, while handling 23 of the 28 running back touches. Rookie A.J. Dillon really didn’t see an expanded role, logging just 23% of the snaps and touching the ball five times. In five games without Jones since 2018, Williams is averaging a healthy 14.6 carries, 3.2 receptions and near 14 fantasy points per contest. Jones’ injury isn’t believed to be serious but if he is forced to sit again, Williams is a low-end RB1.

For the Texans, David Johnson continues to play a ton of snaps, logging 79% of the snaps Sunday. His efficiency has been less-than-stellar, as he’s averaging 0.28 fantasy points per touch, which ranks 37th among all running backs this season. Luckily, the volume has been there, as Johnson is averaging nearly 17 touches per game and dominating the short-yardage work. He was the only running back to see an end zone target on Sunday, which he converted into a score, while his seven goal-line carries on the season are fourth-most in football.

Finally, it is nice to see this Houston offense doing what I expected them to do in the offseason. Will Fuller scored again Sunday, giving him 100 yards or a touchdown in six-of-seven games on the year. He’s now found the end zone in four consecutive games, is top-10 in end-zone targets (5) and is the WR11 in fantasy. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks continues to thrive and actually leads the Texans in targets (50) and is just ahead of Fuller in routes run (245). Averaging over seven targets per game, Cooks is the WR23 in fantasy through seven weeks of play.

Washington Football Team 25, Dallas Cowboys 3

This game was pretty ugly, but not for Washington. We saw the breakout game from Antonio Gibson, as the rookie torched Dallas for 128 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 20 carries. He looked fantastic and has looked the part all season long, ranking inside the top-10 in both evaded tackles (33) and juke rate (32%). Here is the concern with Gibson, however, He was still outsnapped by J.D. McKissic 34-33, while the veteran ran 11 pass routes to Gibson’s eight. Meanwhile, Washington dominated this game from the kickoff, a trend that won’t continue for a football team that is still below average. When they are trailing, McKissic plays more, especially in the two-minute drill and hurry-up offense. Gibson is impressive but if you can sell high after this game, I’d strongly consider it.

Terry McLaurin is a star. We knew he’d produce against Dallas (7-90-1), but he had 11 more targets on Sunday, which was a 52% share for the game. McLaurin now ranks fifth in the league with 69 targets, while his 29.7% market share is also fifth. He also has 49% of Washington’s air yards, the highest rate among any receiver in the NFL. Even with Kyle Allen under center, McLaurin has proven to be a low-end WR1 each week.

Detroit Lions 23, Atlanta Falcons 22

For the second straight week, rookie D'Andre Swift paced the Detroit backfield in snaps. The problem is that Adrian Peterson still outcarried him 11-9 as the Lions continue to run the ball a lot more than anyone would prefer, especially on early downs. Swift is still running far more pass routes than anyone else in this backfield, as his 16 routes on Sunday were more than both Peterson (16) and Kerryon Johnson (0) combined, which keeps him as a decent flex play but he isn’t suddenly an RB2 like many thought after his breakout performance in Week 6.

The Lions are really spreading the ball around this season, while the emergence of second-year tight end T.J. Hockenson is hurting the overall ceilings of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Golladay has still been great, reaching 100 yards or scoring a touchdown in all four of his games this season. However, he’s yet to reach double-digit targets in a game, as Detroit’s passing rate is down about 3% this season.

Red-zone usage

Hockenson scored another touchdown Sunday, the game-winner with seconds remaining. He has now found the end zone in three consecutive games, while recording 50 yards or a score in every game this season. Hockenson converted his lone end-zone target against Atlanta and now leads all tight ends with seven end zone looks on the season. His 22.6% end-zone target share leads all tight ends with at least 15 targets on the year.

New Orleans Saints 27, Carolina Panthers 24

Not much stands out from this game, to be honest. D.J. Moore scored twice and has now posted 93 receiving yards in three straight games, for whatever that is worth. Robby Anderson once again led the Panthers with eight targets while Mike Davis had his worst game of the season. Christian McCaffrey is eligible to return this week, though the Panthers play on Thursday night so it might be more likely that he returns in Week 9.

The Saints were without both Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas for this game, which led to a breakout game from Marquez Callaway. He paced the team with 10 targets, hauling in eight of them for 75 yards. It was an impressive game, especially when you consider that a lot of his connections with Drew Brees were on timing routes where the two were clearly on the same page. Sanders likely returns this week, but the Saints could once again be without Thomas, which makes Callaway someone to keep your eye on.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Tennessee Titans 24

He’s had touchdowns stolen more times than anyone would like this year, but James Conner is still dominating the snap count in Pittsburgh, while he handled 20 of the 24 running back carries Sunday afternoon. Conner also had a short touchdown catch called back and dropped another, which kept him from having a great day.

Once again, Diontae Johnson appears to be the WR1 in Pittsburgh. He has seen double-digit targets in every full game he’s appeared in this season and paced the team with a whopping 15 targets Sunday, hauling in nine of them for 80 yards and a touchdown. JuJu Smith-Schuster, meanwhile, had himself a nice day, too, catching nine of 14 targets for 85 yards. It was strange to see Chase Claypool targeted just once on nearly 50 pass attempts, but I expect his numbers to climb in the coming weeks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 45, Las Vegas Raiders 20

If Ronald Jones can’t take over this backfield after three consecutive 100-yard outings, I don’t know what it will take. In Leonard Fournette’s first game back, he played 56% of the snaps to Jones’ 43 percent, while out-touching him 17-13. Jones had another drop in this game and Fournette ended up running 25 pass routes, tied for the sixth-most among any running back from Week 7. After it appeared Jones was on his way to RB1 status, both Tampa Bay backs are now flex options going forward.

It was another down game for Mike Evans with Chris Godwin in the lineup. Evans now has just 12 total targets in four games alongside Godwin, giving him a target share under 20%. He is also barely a top-60 fantasy receiver in those four games. That is concerning but even more worrisome when you consider that Rob Gronkowski is back, having scored in two straight games, seeing 16 targets during that span. He is also averaging 2.69 yards per route run over the last two weeks. And oh, by the way, the Buccaneers also signed Antonio Brown, who will be with the team in Week 9. Godwin has been ruled out for Monday night’s game against the Giants, perhaps giving Evans one more week of great production.

Nelson Agholor has quietly scored in three straight games and appears to be the No. 2 option in this passing game behind Darren Waller. At least for now.

Red-zone usage

Not only did Fournette play more than Jones, but he also saw more high-value touches. Fournette saw three red-zone carries and one tote from inside the 5-yard line Sunday, compared to Jones’ three such touches. Fournette also saw a red-zone target that he nearly converted into a touchdown. He also played over 70% of Tampa Bay’s snaps when they were from inside the 5-yard line.

San Francisco 49ers 33, New England Patriots 6

This game was pretty gross. The 49ers dominated throughout the afternoon, especially with their running game. With both Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman sidelined, many expected Jerick McKinnon to return to his early-season role where he averaged 19 touches per game. However, it was Jeffery Wilson who assumed the lead back role, playing 57% of the snaps and touching the ball 19 times for 120 yards and three touchdowns. After the game, head coach Kyle Shanahan stated that the team rested McKinnon because of his heavier workload the first few weeks of the season. Unfortunately, Wilson suffered a high ankle sprain which put him on injured reserve. If the 49ers are without Coleman again, their backfield would come down to McKinnon and Jamycal Hasty, who has really impressed over the last two games. He got nine carries against the Patriots and ran for 57 yards, showcasing tremendous lateral agility. In a limited sample, Hasty is averaging 4.1 yards before contact per rush attempt, which is right behind Mostert’s 4.4 mark.

Deebo Samuel also suffered an injury in this game (hamstring) that will sideline him for at least the next two games. Brandon Aiyuk is the main beneficiary here, who is starting to come on. He hauled in six passes for 115 yards in this game and is going to get high percentage looks in this offense. Remember, Samuel is averaging -1.3 yards before the catch per completion this season and while Aiyuk’s mark won’t be that low, he will definitely see a handful of those screens and touch passes that Samuel got.

Kansas City Chiefs 43, Denver Broncos 16

Underwhelmed with the Chiefs offense in this game? I get it. However, because Kansas City scored a touchdown via kick return and defense, it took possessions away from Patrick Mahomes and company, as they only had 51 offensive snaps in this game. The backfield was the biggest question heading into the game, as recently acquired Le'Veon Bell was active. He played 17 snaps to Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s 27, but he did carry the ball six times, while CEH finished with eight totes. The good news? CEH had all the red-zone touches in this game … though this was also Bell’s first game with his new team.

Phillip Lindsay got the start for the Broncos in this game and once again looked like the better player, ripping off 79 yards on just nine carries. However, a hit to the head late in the first half forced him out of the game and he never returned. As a result, Melvin Gordon finished the game with 17 carries and two receptions, while playing nearly 60% of the snaps. He scored a late garbage time touchdown from two yards out and lost two fumbles. If Lindsay can’t clear the concussion protocol, Gordon will return to his RB2 status, likely seeing 20 touches. However, if Lindsay is good to go, expect a 50/50 split, which is what we’ve seen from these two in a limited sample this season.

Los Angeles Chargers 39, Jacksonville Jaguars 29

The Jaguars didn’t have a backup running back available in this game. Chris Thompson was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and Devine Ozigbo didn’t play a snap. As a result, James Robinson dominated, logging 90% of the snaps and seeing all 22 running back carries in this game. He turned them into 119 yards and a score, while also adding a receiving touchdown. Jacksonville’s offense ran through the undrafted rookie, who now trails only Alvin Kamara among running backs in PPR fantasy points on the season. He is also top-10 in rushing yards (481), receiving yards (225), carries (107), targets (32) and receptions (27). Robinson has been a league-winner in fantasy football this season.

It appears the Chargers backfield is going to be a committee after all. Back in Week 5, Justin Jackson appeared to be the lead back. However, Joshua Kelley led the backfield with a 47% snap share on Sunday afternoon, while seeing 12 carries to Jackson’s five. The Chargers have been using Jackson as more of the pass-catching back, while Kelley has operated as the between the tackles and short-yardage back in this offense. That tells me that until Austin Ekeler returns, you are likely going to want to use Jackson in games you expect the Chargers to be chasing points and Kelley when they are ahead.

Another game, another double-digit targets for Keenan Allen. He now has double-digit targets in every full game he’s played alongside Justin Herbert this season and is fourth in the NFL with a healthy 30.9% target share. Herbert being under center has vaulted Allen back into the WR1 range for fantasy.

D.J. Chark, meanwhile, is not a WR1. A week after catching just seven of 14 targets, Chark was limited to just one catch for 26 yards on seven targets against the Chargers. You can visibly see how frustrated Chark is each week, as he now has seen just three catchable deep targets from Gardner Minshew all season long. Just 75.3% of Minshew’s passes have been deemed catchable, which is just 21st in football. Chark also is just barely inside the top-20 in end zone targets this season, one year after finishing inside the top-10.

Arizona Cardinals 37, Seattle Seahawks 34

Chase Edmonds continues to play much better than Kenyan Drake, as many fantasy players are shouting for him to take his job. However, Drake suffered an ankle injury Sunday night that will sideline him for a few games, boosting Edmonds into RB1 status. He played 61% of the snaps in this game (Drake left in the fourth quarter) and, per usual, he produced, carrying the football five times for 58 yards, while adding seven receptions for 87 yards. Edmonds, who is already third among all running backs in fantasy points per touch (1.45) and 15th in fantasy points per snap (0.40), is now in line for 18 touches per game in a very good offense. Wheels up.

The Seahawks backfield is suddenly really banged up, too. Chris Carson left this game toward the end of the first half with a foot injury and although he came back out of the locker room, he never returned to the game. Carlos Hyde stepped in and played 49% of the snaps, carrying the football 15 times but he is dealing with a hamstring injury. And to complete the hat trick, Travis Homer suffered a knee contusion, which means Seattle could theoretically be without their top three running backs for Week 8.

Los Angeles Rams 24, Chicago Bears 10

Once again, Cam Akers hardly played. The rookie logged three offensive snaps against the Bears, while Malcolm Brown played 40% of the snaps and Darrell Henderson flirted with the 60% mark. Henderson carried the ball 15 times for 64 yards, but Brown was also productive, carrying it 10 times for 57 yards and a one-yard touchdown plunge. Henderson is a low-end RB2 going forward but even if Brown steals some touches, there should be enough to go around in a Los Angeles offense that is calling run just over 49% of the time this season, one of the highest rates in the NFL.

The Bears offense is bad.

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