Find Week 14 waiver pickups, fantasy sleepers using snap counts
The fantasy playoffs start in Week 14 for most leagues, and it's not the time to get cute. Waiver pickups are still valuable, sure, and you still need to make the right start 'em, sit 'em calls. We're back with another look at NFL snap counts to try and find some insight to push you over the top.
The only problem here is that some NFL coaches are getting cute. Week 13 was finally the time Kyle Shanahan chose to let one running back carry the load in San Francisco -- and it was Raheem Mostert, no less. In Washington, despite the prowess of Derrius Guice, he was the third-most played back and didn't receive the most carries on the Redskins. The Falcons have introduced some guy named Christian Blake to the equation, while Bruce Arians decided it was a Peyton Barber week.
The last thing you want to do is overreact to these things, like use a top waiver claim and put someone in your starting lineup who regressed the following week. But you also can't just assume that everything is going to be fine with Tevin Coleman or Ronald Jones.
Snap counts are only one piece of the puzzle. Sadly, we can't read a coach's mind to know who will play more in Week 14, but at least we'll make you aware of some trends that might be important heading into the biggest time in the fantasy year.
Note: Snap counts via pro-football-reference.com.
1 Arizona Cardinals
RB snaps (out of 64): Kenyan Drake (51), David Johnson (15)
Chase Edmonds was active but only saw time on special teams, so we can feel pretty secure that this is primarily Drake's backfield down the stretch.
2 Atlanta Falcons
WR snaps (out of 93): Calvin Ridley (87), Christian Blake (83), Russell Gage (63), Justin Hardy (26), Olamide Zaccheaus (7)
With Julio Jones (shoulder) out, Blake was an out-of-nowhere revelation, catching six-of-nine for 57 yards. Gage produced as expected, catching five-of-nine targets for 52 yards and a score, while Ridley led the wideouts in catches, yards and targets. It will be interesting to see if Blake goes back to irrelevance upon Jones' return, which seems likely.
3 Baltimore Ravens
Brown hasn't topped 62 percent of snaps since Week 4. It's a similar spot that Mark Andrews finds himself in, as both come off the field a lot on rushing downs. Brown's one catch for one yard against San Francisco stinks, but we knew that was a tough matchup. Brown will continue to have upside going forward, but a tough matchup against the Bills awaits in Week 14, making him likely to bust again.
4 Buffalo Bills
Prior to Week 11, Beasley had only played 80 or more percent of Buffalo's snaps once. In Weeks 11-13, Beasley has topped that threshold in all three games. The Bills have realized how extremely valuable Beasley is to their offense, and in his Week 13 revenge game in Dallas, he topped 100 yards with a score. It's time to stop talking about Beasley as a low-ceiling PPR option and recognize that he can have value in all fantasy leagues down the stretch.
5 Carolina Panthers
TE snaps (out of 75): Greg Olsen (39), Ian Thomas (32), Chris Manhertz (19)
Thomas has rarely played with Olsen on the field this season, but once Olsen left Sunday with a concussion, Thomas took over. He caught all four of the targets that went his way, and after being productive down the stretch in 2018, Thomas could be a solid Olsen replacement if the veteran is forced to miss time.
6 Chicago Bears
WR snaps (out of 65): Allen Robinson (60), Javon Wims (58), Anthony Miller (56), Cordarrelle Patterson (27), Jesper Horsted (7), Riley Ridley (4)
With Taylor Gabriel (concussion) out, it was Miller who starred with nine grabs for 140 yards on a team-high 13 targets. Wims contributed, too, catching all but one of his six targets for 56 yards. Miller will remain in the weekly WR3 conversation if Gabriel remains out, and if Gabriel returns, Miller can still be a solid FLEX play, albeit with a bit of week-to-week risk.
7 Cincinnati Bengals
WR snaps (out of 66): Tyler Boyd (55), Auden Tate (53), Alex Erickson (43), Stanley Morgan (22), Damion Willis (11)
With Andy Dalton back, maybe a WR or two here can have some fantasy value down the stretch. Boyd's the favorite, especially in PPR leagues, while Tate should continue to be the consistent and occasional end-zone target that made him a sleeper for much of the season. Of course, with John Ross (clavicle) coming back in Week 14, it's unclear how targets will shake out here after Boyd.
8 Cleveland Browns
RB snaps (out of 69): Kareem Hunt (45), Nick Chubb (41), Dontrell Hilliard (1)
Chubb continues to get a hefty volume of carries, and we'll continue to tell you that Hunt's double-digit touch average per week is enough to give him value in standard leagues along with the obvious PPR utility.
9 Dallas Cowboys
Cooper has been off the pace of Michael Gallup's snap total each of the last three weeks, and in two of the past three he's been behind Randall Cobb, as well, including Week 13. Cooper's raw Week 13 snap total (64) was the most he's played since Week 2, so to suggest he's seriously hurting would be silly. But there are obviously slight wear-and-tear concerns about Cooper's nagging injuries that have kept him off the field just enough to slightly limit his fantasy upside.
10 Denver Broncos
RB snaps (out of 57): Royce Freeman (32), Phillip Lindsay (25)
After Lindsay's Week 11 backfield domination, the past two weeks have been back to same old, same old. Lindsay still is the preferred play each week here as long as it's a split in snaps (Lindsay had 20 toucches compared to nine for Freeman), but why the Broncos feel the need to cap his upside by playing Freeman so much is beyond me.
11 Detroit Lions
TE snaps (out of 76): T.J. Hockenson (43), Jesse James (27), Logan Thomas (18)
Less than a week after Hockenson was dinged up and played less than his backups, he was the top TE again in Detroit on Thanksgiving. He parlayed that into 11 targets, of which he caught six, although he gained only 18 yards. It's a sample size of one game, but maybe David Blough will look to get Hockenson involved more if Blough retains the QB job.
12 Green Bay Packers
WR snaps (out of 67): Davante Adams (52), Geronimo Allison (42), Allen Lazard (37), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (18), Jake Kumerow (14)
The starters were pulled early again this week, but we've definitely seen a trend now of Lazard playing more than MVS. The youngster caught all three of his targets for 103 yards and a score Sunday, too, and maintains the trust of Aaron Rodgers as we head down the stretch.
13 Houston Texans
RB snaps (out of 56): Duke Johnson Jr. (38), Carlos Hyde (21)
Once Houston realized Hyde wasn't going anywhere against New England's defense, Johnson got the bulk of the work despite the Texans' lead. It was the most snaps for Johnson since Week 7. It could mean a slight shifting of the guard here due to effectiveness more than anything else, but it could also simply be a matchup thing.
14 Indianapolis Colts
RB snaps (out of 72): Jordan Wilkins (32), Nyheim Hines (31), Jonathan Williams (16)
Apparently the Colts just decided to ride the hot hand here, but it's especially disappointing for those of us figuring Williams would just keep his commanding role in the backfield. Nyheim Hines' one-yard TD run added insult to injury. With the Bucs' strong run defense up next and Marlon Mack (hand) possibly returning, none of these guys are very appealing.
WR snaps: Zach Pascal (72), Marcus Johnson (67), Ashton Dulin (41), Chester Rogers (1)
If T.Y. Hilton (calf) remains out and misses a matchup with Tampa's leaky pass defense, Pascal could capitalize finally on his high level of playing time while Johnson and Dulin will both see the field a ton with Rogers (knee) hurt now, too.
TE snaps: Jack Doyle (68), Mo Alie-Cox (15), Ross Travis (12), Matt Lengel (5)
Alie-Cox didn't step into Eric Ebron's vacated playing time -- instead, it was all the Doyle show Sunday.
15 Jacksonville Jaguars
In all seriousness, Gardner Minshew is probably a slight upgrade for the Jacksonville offense, especially DJ Chark. We'll see if Doug Marrone lets the rookie keep the starting job.
16 Kansas City Chiefs
RB snaps (out of 67): Darwin Thompson (24), LeSean McCoy (24), Darrel Williams (18)
Thompson essentially took over for Darrel Williams (hamstring) after he exited the game, and the rookie from Utah State finished with a team-high 11 carries (McCoy had five runs). If Darrel and Damien Williams (ribs) are both out in Week 14, we could continue to see McCoy in a secondary role while Thompson holds down the main job. If you own one of the Williams, picking up Thompson as insurance isn't a bad idea. Of course, we need to point this game was in a garbage-time situation, so it's entirely possible McCoy would dominate carries over Thompson if the game was close.
17 Los Angeles Chargers
RB snaps (out of 66): Melvin Gordon (43), Austin Ekeler (35),
This has been the norm for weeks now as Gordon continues to get more playing time and many more rushes. Ekeler has maintained PPR value, although that's fluctuated more than the Gordon carries, as you'd expect.
18 Los Angeles Rams
TE snaps (out of 79): Tyler Higbee (72), Johnny Mundt (23)
Higbee played the same amount of snaps as Jared Goff and reached his game total of 107 receiving yards (a career high) in the first half. The Cardinals' terrible TE defense was a big factor, but Higbee has had Goff and Sean McVay's trust of late regardless of the health of Gerald Everett (knee).
19 Miami Dolphins
RB snaps (out of 72): Patrick Laird (43), Myles Gaskin (16), Kalen Ballage (11)
Laird will see more playing if Ballage is forced to miss time with his leg injury. Laird is especially appealing in PPR leagues after six targets Sunday. Gaskin is also interesting, as he was considered more of a "lead back" than Laird. For now, it looks like Laird will get the bulk of the work.
20 Minnesota Vikings
RB snaps (out of 55): Alexander Mattison (27), Dalvin Cook (24), Ameer Abdullah (3), Mike Boone (2)
Cook said after the game he'll be fine for Week 14, but he missed a bunch of time due to injury, leading to the heavy usage for the rookie Mattison. If Cook is out, Mattison would be a RB2 play in the run-heavy Minnesota offense.
21 New England Patriots
WR snaps (out of 87): Julian Edelman (80), Phillip Dorsett (62), Jakobi Meyers (61), N'Keal Harry (22), Mohamed Sanu (19)
This either means Sanu (ankle) is more injured than his active status would've indicated, or that Meyers has just made a move up the depth chart. Catching three-of-seven targets for 46 yards show Meyers will be productive if he can get on the field. Sanu did see five targets in his limited action, though, and because this is New England, it could always swing back in the other direction.
22 New Orleans Saints
WR snaps (out of 50): Michael Thomas (40), Tre'Quan Smith (37), Ted Ginn (27), Krishawn Hogan (11)
For the fourth-straight week, Smith outsnapped Ginn. Ginn didn't catch a pass while Smith caught both of his targets. It's not a super interesting trend anymore because we haven't seen Smith produce in the superior playing time, but New Orleans is pretty straightforward besides the occasional fluctuations of those two.
23 New York Giants
TE snaps (out of 67): Kaden Smith (61), Scott Simonsen (22)
Smith caught six-of-eight targets for 70 yards in his second straight game filling in for Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion). If those two remain out, Smith becomes a decent deep-league option due to his playing time and target floor.
24 New York Jets
RB snaps (out of 74): Le'Veon Bell (63), Bilal Powell (11), Ty Montgomery (4)
A week after Bell's snaps were lower due in part to a blowout, he was back to his normal heavy playing time in Week 13. The problem now is that he hasn't been that productive with all the action he's gotten.
25 Oakland Raiders
As Oakland was blown out again, they again didn't provide us much information to work with besides Zay Jones being the No. 2 WR behind Tyrell Williams with Hunter Renfrow (ribs) out.
26 Philadelphia Eagles
RB snaps (out of 71): Miles Sanders (62), Jay Ajayi (9)
As long as Jordan Howard (shoulder) remains out, this is fully Sanders' backfield, which makes him a RB2 each week he gets to start without Howard.
27 Pittsburgh Steelers
RB snaps (out of 62): Jaylen Samuels (34), Benny Snell Jr. (23), Kerrith Whyte (9), Trey Edmunds (3)
This is a bit odd because Snell had 17 touches to Samuels' 9. That's an awesome rate of touch-to-snap for Snell, and he'll continue to have a solid fantasy floor as he looks at 15 carries again in Week 14 (assuming James Conner remains out). Samuels is more of a PPR flier in the hopes the Pittsburgh game plan includes lots of gadget plays and dump downs.
28 San Francisco 49ers
RB snaps (out of 57): Raheem Mostert (42), Tevin Coleman (10), Jeff Wilson Jr. (5)
Mostert took control of this backfield in a way basically no one has done all season. He finished with 20 carries to Coleman's five and looked like a rising star. With Matt Breida (ankle) back soon and the backfield more crowded, it's hard to say Mostert whether can do it again. But he certainly looked the part Sunday.
29 Seattle Seahawks
RB snaps (out of 75): Chris Carson (39), Rashaad Penny (35)
Carson was actually hurt here slightly be spending time early in the game on the sideline as he was evaluated for a potential head injury. Both backs were effective, with Carson finding the end zone once and Penny twice, and both can be counted on as RB2/FLEX plays in the fantasy playoffs.
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RB snaps (out of 76): Peyton Barber (30), Dare Ogunbowale (23), Ronald Jones (21)
Right when we thought this backfield had stopped being annoying, it frustrated fantasy owners some more Sunday. Barber had 17 carries to Jones' six, and Barber scored two touchdowns. The playing time is rarely that different, although it had swung in Jones' favor prior to this game. This is a nearly impossible committee to trust week-to-week.
(Update: Bruce Arians said Jones sat out due to a pass-blocking error, so this situation could still shift in either direction, it seems.)
31 Tennessee Titans
As much as you want to play a Tennessee receiver against the Raiders in Week 14, it's tough to like a team where the high in targets was four. By virtue of snaps, it'd be A.J. Brown at WR and Jonnu Smith at TE you'd go after, as they both played at least 10 more snaps than the next closest player at their position on the Titans.
32 Washington Redskins
RB snaps (out of 64): Chris Thompson (23), Adrian Peterson (23), Derrius Guice (19)
Guice broke two long runs to finish with 129 yards on 10 carries Sunday, but he still hasn't seized control of this backfield by any means. Peterson carried 13 times for 99 yards himself. Washington obviously wants to run the ball to ease the load on Dwayne Haskins, so both AP and Guice should continue to see runs on about half of their snaps -- it just won't ever carry massive upside if they continue to split snaps.
Also worth noting for keeper/dynasty leagues: Kelvin Harmon played 54-of-64 snaps at WR and looks to have created a future role for himself in D.C. after starring in college at North Carolina State.
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