Between the Lines: Week 6 Snap Count Analysis
In fantasy football, one way to gain an edge over opponents is digging into weekly snap counts. While a quick scan of box scores can tell us who actually performed and produced, snap count data can give us an indicator of guys who are seeing the field on a consistent -- or inconsistent -- basis.
After all, opportunity is the creator of fantasy points.
First, a player needs to get meaningful snaps. Then, they need meaningful opportunities. And lastly, they must actually convert that opportunity into fantasy production. This weekly article addresses the first and most critical portion of the opportunity funnel: playing time.
we will look at four big takeaways from Week 6. For a look at all of last week's snap count data, numberFire has you covered.
1. Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cleveland Browns
In his rookie year with the Arizona Cardinals, Ricky Seals-Jones was a bit of a fantasy tease. In Weeks 11 and 12 that year (2017), Jones put together two big games, combining or seven receptions on 11 targets for 126 yards and three scores. Needless to say, people thought that they might have struck tight end gold toward the end of the fantasy regular season.
It was not to be, however. Seals-Jones caught just five passes combined for 75 yards and no scores the rest of the way. Fantasy owners were distraught; up was down; left was right; and Armageddon fell upon the land. One hopes that his third year will not follow the same trajectory.
Now with the Cleveland Browns, Seals-Jones was an afterthought when the season began. That changed when David Njoku was sent to IR with a wrist injury. Seals-Jones immediately became part of the game plan, catching three passes for 82 yards and a score in his first start. Hopefully you didn't write him off the next week in catchless game against the San Francisco 49ers, because he bounced back in Week 6, and it looks like he's headed for more opportunities.
After seeing the field for just 30% and 31% of the Browns' snaps in Weeks 4 and 5, respectively, Seals-Jones had a snap share of 68% in Week 6. His six targets were his most of the season and tied for second on the team behind Odell Beckham. And this was a game in which Cleveland had a fairly neutral game script for much of the contest.
Seals-Jones could be exactly what Baker Mayfield needs to help his season rebound. Short-to-mid-range passes to a big body like Seals-Jones might actually start making Mayfield look like he can play quarterback at an NFL level, which doesn't look to be the case right now with his Blake Bortles-esque 56.6% completion percentage and 5.6% interception rate (Actually, that's not fair to Bortles; his career interception rate is only 3.9% and he's never finished a season below a 58.6% completion rate.).
On only 1.7% of ESPN league rosters (Njoku is still on 26.3% of rosters), Seals-Jones should be available in your league(s) and could be an add that helps you in the weeks to come.
2. Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington
When interim Washington head coach Bill Callahan took over for Jay Gruden after Week 5, there were rumblings that the he was going to focus more heavily on the run. If the team's Week 6 game against the Miami Dolphins was any indication, that plan has already come to fruition.
Heading into Week 5, Washington was running 2.22 pass plays to every rush play, the fourth-highest pass-to-rush ratio in the league. While the team had slowly increased their rushing percentage every week, Week 6 was the first time this season that they ran more than they passed the ball.
This obviously has a lot to do with the game script and their opponent, whose 169.6 rushing yards allowed per game are the second-most in the league this year, but it's encouraging nonetheless that Callahan followed through and focused on running the ball. The big beneficiary was Adrian Peterson, whose 25 touches were 12 more than his previous high this year.
Peterson was on the field for 63% of the team's snaps, blowing away his 27% from the week before and easily eclipsing the 47% in Week 2 that was his previous high. Peterson's 118 rushing yards were 10 more than his first four games combined.
Unfortunately for Peterson, even if Callahan wants to continue feeding him the ball, he's almost certainly not going to come through for fantasy owners. His upcoming schedule is about the worst possible slate one could put together for opposing backs, with the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, and Buffalo Bills on tap over the next three weeks. Keep him in reserve for spot starts, but he has no business starting for you in the immediate future.
3. Luke Willson, TE, Seattle Seahawks
While we don't yet know it for certain, there are rumblings that Seattle Seahawks star tight end Will Dissly could be done for the year with a torn Achilles tendon. While everyone obviously hopes that's not the case and that Dissly can get back on the field soon, we need to think about how the Seahawks will start to compensate for a breakout player who had already scored four times this season.
Fortunately for the 'Hawks, they already have a replacement, but it probably won't assuage Dissly owners' woes. Ready to step into Dissly's shoes is Luke Willson.
The long-time Seahawk -- who came back to the team after a one-year stint in Detroit -- played a season-high 67% of the team's snaps during their Week 6 win over the Cleveland Browns. Unlike Dissly, however, it didn't turn into fantasy output. Dissly had at least a touchdown or 80 yards receiving in each of his previous four games. Russell Wilson only looked Willson's way three times on Sunday for a total of 16 yards.
While Dissly owners might want to hope Willson can turn into a fill-in for their injured star, his history doesn't make that seem like much of a reality. His best season was in 2014, when in 15 games he caught 22 passes on 40 targets for 362 yards and three scores. Dissly had more catches and touchdowns than that through the first five weeks of this year.
It's hard to pinpoint where Dissly's targets will go. Willson will certainly pick up a few, but it's hard to imagine he'll see enough to make him fantasy worthy (I'd be happy to eat my words, as I love seeing players succeed.). It wouldn't be surprising to see the team just run the ball more; despite being down 20-6 against Cleveland this week, the 'Hawks rushed the ball 38 times to 33 passes. Willson is a pickup for only the deepest leagues or for those wanting to make a dart throw in hopes he turns into a player he hasn't been for the first six years in the league.
4. Tavon Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys
It doesn't thrill me to have to write about Tavon Austin, but here we are. He looks to be relevant, at least for the upcoming Week 7 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Dallas Cowboys were already without Randall Cobb in Week 6, and during the game, they lost star wideout Amari Cooper to a thigh bruise.
With both receivers lost, in stepped Austin, the former West Virginia star whose promise has never really been fulfilled on the NFL stage. Dak Prescott looked Austin's way six times in their 24-22 loss to the New York Jets. That was just one fewer than the team lead, and his 64 receiving yards paced the team.
Cobb's status is still up in the air for this week, and the Cowboys are already planning to be without Cooper. If they both miss, Austin will be in a prime position to have another solid game this week.
As stout as the Eagles are against the run, they are just as bad against the pass. Philly is giving up the most fantasy points to wide receivers in both standard and PPR leagues this year. They've already allowed six 100-yard receivers, 11 touchdowns to the position, and 14 receivers have caught at least five passes in a game against them this year.
Austin was on the field for 93% of Dallas' offensive snaps in Week 6, a massive jump over his previous season high of 37%. If his teammates are once again out, expect to see him replicate that number and get all of the opportunity he can handle. Keep your eyes tuned to Cobb's and Cooper's statuses this week. If they are out and you need wideout help, Austin could be a great fill-in play.
5. Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants
While Darius Slayton has been an OK flex play over the past few weeks, his time in the spotlight will quickly be coming to an end. Often when a player's snap share jumps from the mid-40% range to 98% in just a few weeks, there is reason for excitement. In this case, we may have just seen a peak.
The New York Giants have been decimated by injuries recently, which, along with Golden Tate's suspension, was the reason Slayton started to see significant work in the first place. With Tate back on the field along with the potential return of Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley this week, Slayton's eight targets in Week 6 are likely to vanish almost completely.
With all of those guys back, Slayton could end up being the fifth option on the field for Daniel Jones, which is not a recipe for any type of fantasy success. If you hold onto him on your roster, it's only because you think more injuries are bound to happen. Because, without those, Slayton will have a hard time returning any significant fantasy value going forward.