Earlier in the NFL season, the hope was that looking at snap counts would help us find some waiver wire gems. That could be true this week with Bo Scarbrough, but who really knows with that Lions' backfield at this point? As we head into Week 12, there's more data, which means that when something happens outside the norm, it's either a more drastic outlier or it means a whole lot more. That happened with some different fantasy weapons this week, including Phillip Lindsay and Amari Cooper, and has us thinking one is about to break out in the fantasy playoffs while the other could be a disappointment.
Let's start with Lindsay. Sunday morning reports held true, as he dominated the work in the Denver backfield for the first time all season. In some sense, it's about time he pushed Royce Freeman aside. Then you have Cooper, who's battled injuries all season and had a concerningly depressed workload Sunday. Might it be a sign of something more?
We mentioned Scarbrough, too -- you should try to pick him up on waivers if you need a running back. It's just not obvious whether Detroit will just switch everything up on us again. That's the concern we have with make any rash judgments off the Gerald Everett usage for the Rams, too -- his playing time is down, but could it be a gameplan-based aberration?
And then of course there's Derrius Guice. We've been writing about him on this site for weeks, anticipating his return. His playing time in his first game back from injury was enough to have us feeling pretty confident about what's to come for the former LSU star.
Broncos Snap Counts: Phillip Lindsay vs. Royce Freeman
The reports on Sunday morning were curious: Lindsay was expected to get "much more work" than Royce Freeman, according to reporters on NFL Network. We sat there in our office and wondered why that would be. All season, this has been a nearly 50-50 split, and Freeman hasn't really struggled.
Yet by the end of Sunday's games, those reports were spot on. Lindsay carried the ball 16 times to Freeman's eight. Lindsay was on the field for 52 offensive plays, while Freeman played for just 24 snaps. That's the widest gap, by a lot between the two of them this season.
Because Lindsay also had a slightly better yards per carry, he didn't squander away this opportunity. It looks like Denver may be looking to revert to the usage of last year where Lindsay was one of the league's best rookies and Freeman was an afterthought. It's probably time to start viewing Lindsay as an RB2 going forward.
If this continues another week, Freeman will become basically unusable in fantasy once we're past the bye weeks. You can't really drop him this week -- a Lindsay injury or return to earlier season usage would keep Freeman having value. But if Lindsay doubles him up in touches and playing time again, it'll be obvious that Denver has finally handed the keys fully back to Lindsay.
Lions Snap Counts: Bo Scarbrough vs. Ty Johnson vs. J.D. McKissic
It's probably foolish to count on anything too concrete from the Lions' backfield. Matt Patricia obviously likes messing with fantasy owners. But at least Sunday, it was Scarbrough who had the lead in carries and snaps (32). Johnson played 19 snaps and McKissic saw 15 plays. Scarbrough got the first-drive touchdown, too, just to really hammer home that it was his day. He'll be one of the top waiver wire adds this week.
It's probably warranted. We really have nothing else to go on besides the fact that this has fluctuated a bunch already this season. So, maybe it's fair to be cautious with Scarbrough, but he should still be added by fantasy owners in need of an RB.
It might be worth it to hold Johnson for one more week, no matter how frustrating it may be to own him at this point. There's a chance, albeit a small one, that Johnson's workload was limited in part because he'd been less involved in the week's gameplan with his return from a concussion not certain until Saturday. No one would be surprised if he and Scarbrough flipped places in Week 12 against Washington.
Redskins Snap Counts: Derrius Guice vs. Adrian Peterson
Guice and Peterson actually both trailed Wendell Smallwood in snaps Sunday. It broke down 31 to Smallwood, with 20 to Guice and 17 to AP. Garbage time likely had something to do with that breakdown, but it's notable nonetheless. Peterson outcarried Guice, 9-7. Guice did have a 45-yard gain on a short pass that he turned upfield for a touchdown.
Washington plays the Lions in Week 12, with Detroit allowing more fantasy points to running backs in 2019 than any other defense. It'd be nice if we could just point to one Redskins' back and be done with it.
The good news is that Guice already played more than Peterson despite Sunday being just Guice's first game back from injury. You'd figure that, if anything, the younger RB's workload would rise as the veteran's would fall. That would favor Guice.
If we had to speculate, Guice would see about 10 more snaps and maybe four or five more carries. A day with 12 carries against a bad defense, to go with a catch or two, puts Guice firmly in FLEX consideration. And that could always be conservative -- maybe after a week of working him in, his workload will double in Week 12.
Cowboys Snap Counts: Michael Gallup vs. Amari Cooper vs. Randall Cobb
Cooper played just the third-most snaps among Cowboys' receivers Sunday as Gallup and Cobb both exceeded 100 yards. Because Cooper has battled injuries all season, that's a bit concerning.
For reference, Gallup played 61 snaps, Cobb played 46 and Cooper played 41. Gallup was the star of the day, as we've expected but not necessarily seen in games Cooper has missed altogether. It was also the third straight productive outing for Cobb.
These snap counts seem to solidify Gallup as a solid fantasy WR3; it also shows that Cobb truly is a worthwhile FLEX play; and it should give a bit of worry to Cooper owners, who may want to spend a waiver claim on a WR as an insurance policy if Cooper's health is getting worse and not better.
Rams Snap Counts: Gerald Everett vs. Tyler Higbee
I'm writing this section mostly because of how I did a double take when I looked at the Rams' numbers. I'd written the tight end rankings earlier Monday morning, saw that Tyler Higbee had no targets, knew he had been battling injury and figured that he hadn't played. But then I saw he, in fact, played -- and a lot more than Everett.
A week after seeing 12 targets, Everett played 14 snaps Sunday night. Higbee played 42.
I don't know what to make of this. No, I wouldn't rush to pick up Higbee -- and I definitely wouldn't drop Everett -- but another week of this at such a fickle position will leave you stuck with an unreliable TE in the fantasy playoffs. If nothing else, it's time to grab an insurance policy like Jacob Hollister or even David Njoku (wrist), who should be back within a couple of weeks here.
For snap count reactions for every team, click here.