Find Week 12 waiver pickups, fantasy sleepers using snap counts
An inquisitive mind might ask where Ty Johnson is in the photo at the top of the article. A fair question. Once Johnson was cleared for concussion protocol, everyone expected him to resume his role in the Lions' backfield. But just as your fantasy scoreboard surely showed you, our snap counts showed us the same thing: Johnson was an afterthought for Detroit and very well could be again in Week 12. Instead, Bo Scarbrough saw more work than Johnson (who was nearly even with J.D. McKissic), with Scarbrough being a potential waiver wire add this week.
There was no way to see Scarbrough coming. He'd been activated from the practice squad only on Saturday. The snap count report wouldn't have saved you last week, as Scarbrough hadn't taken an NFL snap this season before Sunday. But we will try to save you from missing out on other things like that.
There are other running back situations taking new shapes. In Denver, Phillip Lindsay might be taking over much like Devin Singletary did a few weeks ago. In Washington, Derrius Guice is back while Wendell Smallwood made a surprisingly large impression in his Week 11 playing time.
WEEK 12: Top waiver pickups
Wide receiver is actually pretty quiet this week. Both Tennessee and Green Bay, which have had two of the more fluid WR situations in the league this season, were on bye in Week 11 and will bear watching when they come back in Week 12.
There were two large tight end developments in Week 11. The Rams played Tyler Higbee way more than Gerald Everett, although Higbee didn't do anything. The Buccaneers played Cameron Brate a lot more than O.J. Howard, and Brate caught 10 passes. That comparison shows you everything you need to know -- playing time isn't the magic formula, but it can back up what already happened.
Ideally, we won't get blindsided by another Scarbrough-esque performance this season. It's one thing not to see a strong performance coming; it's another not to see any playing time coming at all. Hopefully our team-by-team breakdown will prevent any such surprises.
Note: Snap counts via pro-football-reference.com.
1 Arizona Cardinals
RB snaps (out of 69): Kenyan Drake (61), David Johnson (9)
No idea why they keep having DJ active if he's obviously not healthy enough to really play. As soon as Chase Edmonds (hamstring) returns, Johnson could get phased out entirely if he's not healthy. If you're really in need of production the next two weeks to squeak into the playoffs and need to drop someone, Johnson is a legit candidate, although perhaps the Cardinals are just waiting until after their Week 12 bye to give him regular touches again.
2 Atlanta Falcons
TE snaps (out of 65): Luke Stocker (43), Jaeden Graham (34)
Graham caught both of his targets for 23 yards, while Stocker caught his lone target for 18 yards. With the Buccaneers up next for these two, one could have a good game against a TE-friendly defense, but it's hard to say which.
Also of note: Brian Hill was on the field for 39 offensive plays, compared to 14 for Kenjon Barner and 12 for Qadree Ollison.
3 Baltimore Ravens
TE snaps (out of 72): Nick Boyle (55), Hayden Hurst (30), Mark Andrews (25)
This has sort of been the case all season -- and the blowout didn't help us really figure anything out -- but that's a massive gap between Boyle and Andrews. Obviously Andrews comes in the game to catch the ball, so we're not worried about him. It's just about the only fascinating takeaway from a blowout that skews all the playing time numers.
4 Buffalo Bills
TE snaps (out of 72): Dawson Knox (51), Tyler Kroft (24), Lee Smith (7)
After it looked like Kroft was making this job his again, the rookie Knox reasserted himself. Knox caught two-of-three targets for 32 yards and a touchdown, and if he maintains this playing time, he could have some fantasy utility heading toward the fantasy playoffs.
5 Carolina Panthers
At this point, we could remove the Panthers from this report and no one would notice. Ron Rivera, for all the funky stuff he does, doesn't mess with his lineups at all.
6 Chicago Bears
WR snaps (out of 76): Allen Robinson (75), Taylor Gabriel (69), Anthony Miller (65), Javon Wims (15), Cordarrelle Patterson (2)
So with Jalen Ramsey shadowing Robinson, Gabriel saw 14 targets and Miller 11. It's hard to say that either is a great option going forward, although we've already been recommending Gabriel as a fine PPR play. The more three-WR sets in Chicago, the better for week-to-week fantasy sleepers.
7 Cincinnati Bengals
John Ross watch
It will be rare for Bengals to hold fantasy value down the stretch, especially with Auden Tate leaving Sunday with a rough-looking neck injury. But this is a lookahead to the idea that John Ross can return from IR in Week 13 (and A.J. Green remains out). Ross was on the field for at least two-thirds of snaps in the first four games of the season.
8 Cleveland Browns
RB snaps (out of 71): Nick Chubb (51), Kareem Hunt (39)
Chubb saw about a 10-percent decline in snap usage this week, while Hunt's remained nearly constant -- that suggests there were more plays with just Hunt on the field without Chubb. Chubb received 27 carries, though, so there's no reason to worry about him or Hunt, who had six carries and six catches on eight targets.
9 Dallas Cowboys
WR snaps (out of 74): Michael Gallup (61), Randall Cobb (46), Amari Cooper (41), Tavon Austin (30), Ventell Bryant (4)
Cooper has been dinged up all season, and not counting Week 6 where he was injured at the outset, this is the least Cooper has played in a game. Gallup took advantage by catching nine passes for 141 yards, and Cobb also surpassed the century mark. Keep an eye on Cooper this week, and if he remains at all dinged up, Cobb is a good add.
10 Denver Broncos
RB snaps (out of 81): Phillip Lindsay (52), Royce Freeman (24), Devontae Booker (5)
Before Sunday's game, reports were that Lindsay would get much more work than Freeman, but that didn't make tons of sense based on what we'd seen through 10 weeks. Yet that's exactly what happened. It was the biggest workload split between the two all year, and Lindsay had 16 carries to Freeman's eight. It's no guarantee this continues, but if it does, their values will break down much the same as they did last season.
11 Detroit Lions
RB snaps (out of 65): Bo Scarbrough (32), Ty Johnson (19), J.D. McKissic (15)
Scarbrough came out of nowhere to be the top dog here, and against Washington in Week 12, Scarbrough will be a fantasy-relevant RB as a borderline RB2/FLEX play as long as no reports indicate otherwise.
12 Green Bay Packers
What to watch coming off bye:
Marquez Valdes-Scantling's usage. He was the fifth-most played Green Bay receiver before the bye, but there's a chance that was attributable to snow at Lambeau Field.
13 Houston Texans
Keke Coutee update
After not playing for two-straight weeks even with Will Fuller V (hamstring) out, Coutee was back on the field as Houston's third WR behind DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills on Sunday. That could change very soon when Fuller does return, though.
14 Indianapolis Colts
RB snaps (out of 68): Jonathan Williams (31), Nyheim Hines (24), Marlon Mack (21)
With Mack (hand) set to miss at least Thursday night, Williams will take over early-down duty (assuming Jordan Wilkins is still out because of an ankle injury). Williams rushed for 116 yards in his playing time Sunday, so he's worth a fantasy start against Houston. Hines will be usable in PPR as he'll see about half the plays himself. If Wilkins is active, there's no telling how this backfield will shake out.
15 Jacksonville Jaguars
Tight end situation
Nothing unusual happened here, so we'll just let you know that Josh Oliver is set to miss the rest of the season due to a back injury. With James O'Shaughnessy, Geoff Swaim, and Seth DeValve all hurt, any TE production in Jacksonsville will have to come from Nick O'Leary and Ben Koyack.
16 Kansas City Chiefs
Backup RB snaps (out of 68): LeSean McCoy (27), Darrel Williams (12)
McCoy becomes the option to own here if Damien Williams misses time with his injury, although McCoy was being worked in early on and it truly appears Week 11 was a load management week for him.
17 Los Angeles Chargers
WR snaps (out of 80): Keenan Allen (74), Mike Williams (71), Andre Patton (59), Jason Moore (15)
Patton continues to play a ton as the third wideout, although that hasn't necessarily translated to production. It's worth keeping an eye on with two injury-prone WRs in front of him.
18 Los Angeles Rams
TE snaps (out of 55): Tyler Higbee (42), Gerald Everett (14)
This makes no sense. Brandin Cooks (concussion) and Robert Woods (personal) were out. Everett had 12 targets in Week 10, yet the Rams only played their second-best healthy pass-catcher on 14 plays. This gives us a ton of pause about playing Everett going forward, although we'd probably need to see another week like this to totally go away from him. If the Rams stick with their run-heavy game plan, Everett falls into the "TD-or-bust" TE camp like so many others.
19 Miami Dolphins
RB snaps (out of 69): Kalen Ballage (53), Patrick Laird (16), Myles Gaskin (7)
Ballage picked up 17 total yards on 14 touches, yet he continues to be the leading man in this backfield. If nothing else, it's a good way for the Dolphins to tank. As long as Ballage keeps getting that many touches, he should at least be on fantasy rosters, although recommending him to start in any given week seems odd.
20 Minnesota Vikings
TE snaps (out of 63): Kyle Rudolph (55), Irv Smith Jr. (51), Tyler Conklin (9)
Heading into the Vikings' bye, the two tight ends continue to each see the high majority of playing time. They'll see less targets coming out of the week off with Adam Thielen (hamstring) presumably back, but both will remain on the field enough to have fringe fantasy value.
21 New England Patriots
WR snaps (out of 74): Julian Edelman (66), Mohamed Sanu (41), Phillip Dorsett (34), N'Keal Harry (32), Jakobi Meyers (19)
Dorsett left the game with a concussion, which helped boost Harry's and Meyers' snap counts. But all that excitement about Sanu never coming off the field in the previous game was met with the harsh reminder that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will gameplan individually each week and that one week's usage isn't always indicative of the next week's playing time.
22 New Orleans Saints
WR snaps (out of 70): Michael Thomas (57), Tre'Quan Smith (42), Ted Ginn Jr. (38), Krishawn Hogan (13)
Smith again played more than Ginn, but it was TGJ who caught the short-yardage touchdown. The playing time for Smith is encouraging, but he has to do something with it. Until he does, he's not worth owning.
23 New York Giants
What to watch for coming off bye
Health and usage of Saquon Barkley.
24 New York Jets
Ryan Griffin watch
Griffin was the most played Jets' skill position player Sunday, and he turned it into a career day of five catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. With the Jets taking on Oakland in Week 12, Griffin should remain a valuable and frequently used piece of the New York offense.
25 Oakland Raiders
TE snaps (out of 70): Darren Waller (66), Foster Moreau (41), Derek Carrier (20)
This actually isn't Moreau's highest snap total this season, but he was targeted inside the 10-yard line for the third time - all three of which have turned into touchdowns. He's not quite in the Dallas Goedert realm yet, but Moreau is a potentially useful backup to Darren Waller and probably would be a great fantasy option if Waller were to get hurt.
26 Philadelphia Eagles
RB snaps (out of 75): Miles Sanders (64), Boston Scott (14)
With Jordan Howard (stinger) out, this was the Sanders show. Newly signed Jay Ajayi dressed but didn't play. Sanders and the Eagles struggled to put anything together against New England, but if Howard remains out, bet on Sanders having better days ahead.
27 Pittsburgh Steelers
WR snaps (out of 74): James Washington (63), Johnny Holton (44), Diontae Johnson (38), Tevin Jones (36), JuJu Smith-Schuster (22)
Johnson and Smith-Schuster both sustained concussions on Thursday night. If they both miss Week 12, Washington becomes Pittsburgh's top target against Cincinnati. Holton is a deep threat and only a boom-or-bust possibility in the deepest of leagues.
28 San Francisco 49ers
WR snaps (out of 77): Deebo Samuel (61), Kendrick Bourne (42), Emmanuel Sanders (36), Marquise Goodwin (23), Richie James (10), Dante Pettis (2)
Sanders (ribs) obviously isn't fully right, and it led to another 100-yard game for Deebo and another touchdown for Bourne. Deebo is owned in about half of leagues, but that ownership should keep rising. And oh, what a fall it's been for Pettis.
29 Seattle Seahawks
What to watch coming off bye
Health of Tyler Lockett and playing time of Josh Gordon.
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
TE snaps (out of 68): Cameron Brate (51), O.J. Howard (17)
We barely heard from Howard again after he basically handed an INT to the Saints early, and Brate went on to have 10 catches. This still seems like a fluid situation, but Brate is currently holding the edge.
31 Tennessee Titans
What to watch coming off bye
Health of Corey Davis and Delanie Walker.
32 Washington Redskins
RB snaps (out of 68): Wendell Smallwood (31), Derrius Guice (20), Adrian Peterson (17)
I didn't look at these numbers expecting to see Smallwood first (likely a result of garbage time), but I'm going to take encouragement out of Guice being ahead of Peterson. The Lions surrender a lot of rushing yards, so Guice should be ready to take advantage in Week 12.
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