Snaps and targets report: Week 8


Week 8 was an interesting one around the NFL and fantasy football. Weather impacted a handful of games, more injuries are changing the outlook on players going forward, and rookie running backs are beginning to find their footing.

Well, most rookie running backs, anyway.

Buffalo Bills 24, New England Patriots 21

In Week 7, rookie running back Zack Moss played a season-high 35 snaps, while Devin Singletary played a season-low 40, so it already appeared that Moss was beginning to cut into the backfield. The plan heading into the season was for Moss and Singletary to split work, but Moss’ early-season toe injury hindered that. However, Moss is now healthy and outsnapped Singletary for the first time all season. Both backs carried the ball 14 times and eclipsed 80 yards, though Moss found the end zone twice. For the first time this season, Buffalo’s running game was a factor, which led to just 18 pass attempts for Josh Allen. Moss has flex value going forward and has the touchdown equity in this backfield.

The Patriots were without both Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry in this game, which led to a spike in playing time for Jakobi Meyers. Damiere Byrd is always an every-down player, so that is nothing new. However, Meyers could be a sneaky waiver wire target in deeper leagues, as he hauled in six of a team-high 10 targets for 58 yards. With Edelman sidelined, Meyers lined up in the slot over 57% of the time Sunday.

As for the backfield, since New England was mostly trailing in this game (but never by a ton), Rex Burkhead paced the team with 32 snaps, with James White right behind him. Damien Harris, however, led the team with 16 carries, turning them into 102 yards and a touchdown. He’s now rushed for 100 yards in two of the four games he has played this season. Like Sony Michel before him, when Harris is on the field, he’s getting the football. Only the Ravens are calling run at a higher rate than the Patriots this season (50.1%), while the offensive line is creating plenty of running lanes, as Harris is averaging 5.0 yards before contact per rush, the highest rate in football. Harris has 51 touches on 76 offensive snaps this season, good for a massive 67% touch rate.

Again, the Bills only attempted 18 passes in this game, but Stefon Diggs still saw nine targets. Over the course of the season, we’ve seen Josh Allen really stare down Diggs, who is inside the top-seven among all receivers in target share through the first half of the year. Diggs has been such a solid player this season and should remain a low-end WR1 going forward.

Red-zone usage

Although Allen scored another rushing touchdown, Moss still scored twice, converting two of his three goal-to-go carries into touchdowns. He had four carries from inside the 10-yard line Sunday, as well as three from inside the 5-yard line. Despite missing a few games, he still has two more such carries than Singletary on the season.

Miami Dolphins 28, Los Angeles Rams 17

Jordan Howard was once again a healthy scratch for the Dolphins Sunday, which continues to bode well for Myles Gaskin, who logged 43 of the 49 snaps. He touched the ball 21 times and found the end zone from a yard out. Over the last three weeks Gaskin has played, he is third in rushing attempts (52) and third in running back targets (15), recording at least 20 touches in each game during that span. Gaskin remains an every-week RB2.

The Rams ran a whopping 95 offensive plays Sunday, as their defense kept Miami’s offense off the field all day long. Darrell Henderson was in line for a monster game before leaving with a thigh injury in the first half. He did not return. As a result, Malcolm Brown played 57 snaps and touched the football 12 times, while rookie Cam Akers was finally made an appearance on an NFL field, logging 20 snaps and 10 touches of his own. Because Brown is the more trusted pass-catcher and pass-blocker, it makes sense that he played so much in a game where the Rams were chasing points. Los Angeles is on a bye next week but if Henderson is still sidelined when they return, both Brown and Akers will be viable plays, simply due to how much the Rams run the football.

Meanwhile, Tyler Higbee played 60% of the snaps, while Gerald Everett was right behind him at 55%. However, the latter ran more pass routes (28-24), which has been the issue for Higbee all season long. He is running fewer than 19 pass routes per game, while his 198 run-blocking snaps lead the NFL, despite missing a game.

The Rams attempted 61 passes in this game, which surely wasn’t something they wanted to happen. As a result, Cooper Kupp saw a whopping 21 targets, tied for the ninth-most by any player in NFL history. The 21 looks were shocking, but it wasn’t shocking to see him lead the team in targets against a Miami defense that was allowing the fifth-most targets per game to slot receivers entering the week.

It was encouraging to see Gaskin lead Miami in targets in Tua Tagovailoa’s first career start. He didn’t have to do much in this game but I’ve voiced my concerns about these receivers, because Tua isn’t going to force passes like Ryan Fitzpatrick has over the last two years — more than 20% of Fitzpatrick’s pass attempts have been into tight windows, one of the highest rates in the league during that span.

Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Baltimore Ravens 24

Mark Ingram was ruled out with an ankle injury, turning a three-headed backfield into a two-headed one. J.K. Dobbins played 54 snaps to Gus Edwards’ 26, though it’s worth pointing out that Edwards missed most of the second quarter with a knee injury. He did return to the game, however, and still led the duo with 16 carries to Dobbins’ 15. Edwards also scored the short-yardage touchdown and got the start, but it was Dobbins who turned heads in this game, rushing for 113 yards. He is the first running back to run for 100 yards against the Steelers this season, which is impressive when you consider they have faced the likes of Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley, Kareem Hunt and Miles Sanders. The Ravens are running the ball over 51% of the time, which would create enough opportunities for both Edwards and Dobbins to be used as low-end RB2 options in fantasy if Ingram is out again.

It was nice to see Chase Claypool involved again after disappearing back in Week 7. JuJu Smith-Schuster has also quietly hauled in 16-of-23 targets over the last two weeks, making me question everything I’ve ever said about the Pittsburgh receiving corps. Diontae Johnson suffered an injury in this game but returned and still played over 70% of the snaps. It has been tough to peg for the most part. But the good news? The Steelers play the Cowboys this week, making all three wideouts top-30 options.

Marquise Brown was clearly frustrated with his lack of targets after the Ravens loss Sunday. Brown, who had seen at least a 20% target share in every game prior to Week 8, saw a 7.6% target share against the Steelers. He did have two end zone targets, converting one into a touchdown. The Baltimore passing game has been out of sorts this season, especially the deep ball. Hollywood is third in the NFL with 16 deep targets on the year, though just five of them have been deemed catchable. Brown is still 10th in the league with a 26.4% target share and I still think he’s a solid buy-low candidate.

Indianapolis Colts 41, Detroit Lions 21

Let’s talk about this Colts backfield. Despite coming off the bye, Jonathan Taylor was not more involved to start this game, as both Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines were getting touches early. Taylor looked awful, constantly running into the back of his offensive line, while Wilkins and Hines made plenty of plays. Wilkins ended up seeing a career-high 20 carries, while Taylor only saw one touch in the second half. Taylor is currently 47th among all running backs in avoided tackles per attempt (0.07) so it is possible (and likely) that the Colts continue to use all three running backs. Wilkins is one of the top waiver adds heading into Week 9.

Kenny Golladay left this game early with a hip injury and did not return. As a result, it was a Marvin Jones day, which is essentially every day on my personal calendar. Jones hauled in three of seven targets for just 39 yards but scored two touchdowns. Golladay is week-to-week and expected to miss Week 9’s contest, making Jones a strong waiver wire add, especially considering he is rostered in less than half of leagues at the moment. He wasn’t great in Weeks 1-2 without Golladay, ranking 40th among receivers in fantasy points during that span. However, there is a path to 7-10 targets a week with touchdown potential.

Meanwhile, T.J. Hockenson led the team with 10 targets and while he didn’t find the end zone, he still recorded 65 yards. Hockenson has either scored or reached 50 yards in every game this season. I’d love to see the Lions stop running the football so much but Hockenson remains a borderline top-five fantasy tight end.

Red-zone usage

Jones saw three end-zone targets Sunday, accounting for nearly 43% of Detroit’s targets from that area of the field. We know Jones gets plenty of end zone looks alongside Golladay so he could pop off in the touchdown department in his absence.

For the Colts, both Wilkins and Taylor saw a carry from inside the 5-yard line, though Wilkins converted his into a score. Meanwhile, Trey Burton also scored a rushing touchdown from the wildcat formation, his second rushing score of the season.

Cincinnati Bengals 31, Tennessee Titans 20

For the second straight week, Giovani Bernard smashed in Joe Mixon’s absence. He played 64% of the snaps, and although he ceded 10 carries to Samaje Perine, Bernard still touched the ball 18 times and scored two touchdowns. In six games without Mixon since 2017, Bernard is averaging around 18 touches and 20 DK points per contest. The Bengals are on bye this week but if Mixon can’t return for Week 10, Bernard will remain a top-15 running back play.

Hey now, Corey Davis. The promising wideout turned a team-high 10 targets into 128 yards and a touchdown and is quietly enjoying a very nice season. He has recorded at least 60 receiving yards or a touchdown in every game this season and is actually hurting Jonnu Smith, who posted another dud Sunday. Smith was targeted twice and ran just three more pass routes than teammate Anthony Firkser. If Davis is going to continue to play (and play well), Smith will take a hit, as this Titans passing game doesn’t have enough volume to support Davis, Smith and A.J. Brown.

Las Vegas Raiders 16, Cleveland Browns 6

Not much to talk about from this game. We had awful, awful winds in Cleveland, which forced both teams to play very conservatively. The Raiders called run over 63% of the time on Sunday, giving Josh Jacobs a whopping 31 carries. Darren Waller once again led the team in targets with six but there just was no ceiling from this Las Vegas passing game. Hunter Renfrow scored the touchdown because, well, seemingly all slot receivers score against the Browns.

For Cleveland, Kareem Hunt definitely disappointed in this great matchup but the Browns offense didn’t possess the ball very much. Meanwhile, Jarvis Landry saw 11 targets and a massive 44% target share in his first game without Odell Beckham.

Kansas City Chiefs 35, New York Jets 9

Another game that is pretty cut and dry. The Chiefs are very good, while the Jets are very bad. Patrick Mahomes went off for over 400 passing yards and five touchdowns, while everyone on the Chiefs was involved… except for the running backs. In the two games since acquiring Le'Veon Bell, Kansas City has been involved in two blowouts, making it hard to really gauge the playing time between Bell and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. CEH played 33 snaps to Bell’s 17 on Sunday but both players saw just six carries, despite playing in a game where the Chiefs were ahead the entire way.

Minnesota Vikings 28, Green Bay Packers 22

In his first game back since injuring his groin, Dalvin Cook not only played 88% of the snaps, but he also absolutely, positively broke the slate. Cook destroyed the Packers to the tune of over 200 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns, becoming the third player in Vikings franchise history to score four touchdowns in a single game. He’s good.

Irv Smith didn’t have a huge game but played 75% of the snaps, just ahead of Kyle Rudolph. Minnesota relied on the run and ended up running 12 personnel 31% of the time, their second highest rate in a game this season.

Jamaal Williams once again operated as the clear lead back with Aaron Jones (calf) sidelined, logging 85% of the snaps. Over the last two weeks, Williams has handled 47 of the 55 running back touches for the Packers. Unfortunately, he won’t be available Thursday night due to COVID-19 close contact rules.

The Vikings attempted just 14 passes Sunday. Don’t worry about Adam Thielen or Justin Jefferson.

For the Packers, Davante Adams once again saw double-digit targets, and he has now reached that mark in every full game he’s played this season. His 33.1% target share leads the NFL, and he appears to be on his way to the WR1 finish.

Denver Broncos 31, Los Angeles Chargers 30

So I think Justin Jackson is the RB1 in Los Angeles for now. On Sunday afternoon, he led the backfield in snaps (41) and touches (20) and over the last three weeks, Jackson is averaging a healthy 5.6 targets per game. Joshua Kelley played less than Troymaine Pope, who was activated off the practice squad days before the game. Pope led this backfield with 15 pass routes and touched the football 15 times. Jackson appears to be a low-end RB2 until Austin Ekeler is able to return to the lineup.

Phillip Lindsay cleared the concussion protocol and once again played better than Melvin Gordon. He ran for 83 yards and a touchdown on just six carries compared to Gordon’s 26 yards on eight carries. Whenever these two have been active together, it has been a full-on split and likely will remain that way.

New Orleans Saints 26, Chicago Bears 23

The only takeaway I have from this game is the uptick in playing time for Anthony Miller. Maybe it had to do with the fact that Allen Robinson was doubtful all week., but Miller logged 75% of the snaps on Sunday, running a route on 85% of Nick Foles’ dropbacks. His 11 targets were the most on the team and if the playing time stays where it was in this game, Miller will be a viable PPR play in deeper leagues. Miller lined up in the slot over 92% of the time on Sunday, while Foles has targeted the slot at one of the highest rates in football over the last few seasons.

Oh. Alvin Kamara. Good at football.

Seattle Seahawks 37, San Francisco 49ers 27

With Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde both out, DeeJay Dallas operated as the clear lead back in Seattle. He played 79% of the offensive snaps and handled 23 of the 26 running backs touches. While Dallas didn’t wow me with his play, opportunity is all that matters, and that led to a pair of touchdowns. I expect one of Hyde or Carson to be back next week, which would push Dallas back to the bench. But if they can’t go, Dallas would be a top-20 running back option against Buffalo.

I’m not sure what is in the water in San Francisco but apparently it gets you hurt. After losing Jeffery Wilson and Raheem Mostert, the 49ers finally got Tevin Coleman back only for him to hurt his knee and leave the game after playing just six snaps. Jamycal Hasty operated as the lead back, carrying the ball 12 times and finding the end zone. San Francisco doesn’t want to give Jerick McKinnon and his tired legs many carries, which means Hasty is on the RB2 radar Thursday night against an awful Packers run defense.

With Deebo Samuel out, the 49ers passing game went through Brandon Aiyuk (11 targets) and Kendrick Bourne (10). It will continue to run through that duo now that George Kittle will miss eight weeks with a foot injury. Jimmy Garoppolo is also going to be sidelined for a while, which is probably a good thing for these receivers when you consider how he’s played this season.

Philadelphia Eagles 23, Dallas Cowboys 9

The Cowboys offense is a disaster. Ben DiNucci doesn’t have a prayer, especially against a Steelers defense in Week 9. His first read did appear to be Michael Gallup, who saw over 31% of Dallas’ targets on Sunday night. The Cowboys ran some wildcat, which was actually the first time in his career where Ezekiel Elliott played out of the formation.

Travis Fulgham continues to shine. He scored another touchdown Sunday night, hauling in six of a team-high seven targets for 78 yards. Since Week 4, Fulgham is second in the NFL in receptions (27), first in receiving yards (378) and third in fantasy points. Outside of James Robinson, Fulgham appears to be the waiver wire add of the 2020 season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25, New York Giants 23

Ronald Jones started Monday night’s game and touched the ball five times on the opening drive. However, he lost a fumble on the next drive and was benched for a handful of drives after. Hell, he seemingly didn’t play the remainder of the game, as Leonard Fournette outsnapped him 46-7 after the fumble. He ultimately finished the game with 18 touches to Jones’ 11.

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