As we do every week, we go beyond the high-level box score to look at workload and usage, trying to make the most of workload distribution around the NFL to inform your roster for the week ahead.
Touches and Targets: Week 11 NFL Review
- Mark Ingram left early with a head injury, and Tim Hightower took full advantage this week as he has for much of the season. All told, Hightower picked up 69 yards on 12 carries and added eight receptions on nine targets for 57 yards. Since fumbling issues arose for Ingram, the backfield balance has been in question, and while he hasn’t done anything since to lose his job, Hightower continues to prove effective with the ball in his hands. As such, workloads in the 10-13 touch range are much safer projections for Ingram than the 16-18.
- A.J. Green went down on the second snap of the game this week, and all accounts suggest he is lost for the season. Behind him, Brandon LaFell led receivers with nine targets while Tyler Boyd was more effective (8/6/54/TD). All told, the injury to Green means more opportunities for both players. That said, Boyd has seen more consistent use overall (19-13 targets over the last three games) since the start of November and is getting looks in the red zone. Given that LaFell had been playing more frequently in two receiver sets (572-402 snaps coming into the week) Boyd is due for the greatest uptick in value and is likely the safer bet for regular production. Tyler Eifert may be the biggest beneficiary of the bunch, however.
Eli Rogers gets some work for the Steelers
- As expected, the Steelers’ offense ran through Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown on a windy day in Week 11, but it should be noted that Eli Rogers saw a healthy six targets on a day when Big Ben threw 36 passes overall and 27 to non-RBs. Cobi Hamilton saw five with Sammie Coates out of the lineup.
- Ezekiel Elliot had 25 carries and 29 touches (4/5 receiving) against the NFL’s best rush defense. You knew this, but in terms of workload and production (127 total yards) he’s as matchup proof as they come.
- Marqise Lee found the endzone for Jacksonville, and produced four receptions for 52 yards on eight targets. Meanwhile, Allen Hurns had one catch on two looks. The score was the first of the season for Lee, but his target-load is becoming more of a pattern. It marks three of the last five weeks in which he’s seen more opportunities than Hurns, and in fact he led the team in Week 11. WR desperate owners should look to him on the waiver wire this week, while those still hanging on to Hurns as a WR3 are wise to jettison the 2014/15 good news story.
Eric Ebron finds the endzone
- On a day where Matthew Stafford was largely held in check, and was ultimately held out of the endzone, Eric Ebron remained productive. He (tying Theo Riddick this week) led the Lions in receiving yards for the third straight game and found the endzone on an unconventional one yard carry. His five targets tied a season-low, but it’s clear that Ebron remains a significant part of the plan for a productive Lions’ offense.
- On a day where Tennessee’s recently impressive offense underwhelmed, and the Titans trailed early, DeMarco Murray stayed engaged throughout the game. He finished with 21 carries for 70 yards, and added three receptions while finding the end zone as a pass catcher. Derrick Henry didn’t touch the ball. His injury did not seem to be a factor as much as the fact that Tennessee was playing from behind – something to bear in mind as the 5-6 Titans look to close out the season in the tight AFC South race.
- Rishard Matthews was targeted heavily, meanwhile, with nine receptions on 13 targets. That workload marks his second double digit target game in his last three outings.
- Travis Kelce led the Chiefs with nine targets, while Albert Wilson found the endzone. Elsewhere, while WR-starved gamers and DFS value seekers debated Chris Conley and Tyreek Hill, it was Conley who saw eight targets to Hill’s five. The rookie remained Kansas City’s most effective wideout this week after a solid Week 10, but with Jeremy Maclin due to return to the lineup in short order, his utility is coming to an end.
- He didn’t really show up on your scoresheet after stringing together a series of strong games, but Stefon Diggs saw a healthy seven targets (or 25% of Sam Bradford‘s 28 pass attempts) despite drawing coverage against Patrick Peterson. Diggs and the Vikings play the much more generous Lions’ pass defense on the short week, and you can count on a similar workload distribution. Adam Thielen is likely to hang in around five, not seeing much of a boost despite teh fact that Peterson hung with Diggs for much of the day, while Cordarrelle Patterson, who had an impressive kick return this week, is unlikely to see eight targets on a regular basis.
- While Jeremy Langford scored the short-TD, Jordan Howard out carried him 17-6 and massively outproduced him (4.5 YPC vs. 1.3) which should put to rest any questions as to which is the Bears’ lead back. a 65-35 split seems reasonable moving forward, and I wouldn’t necessarily take Langford’s short plunge to suggest that he’s the goal line back of record. It’s worth noting, however, that Jay Cutler and Howard were incredibly out of sync in the passing game. Overall the rookie saw eight targets but secured just one, while this season’s presumed starters caught all three balls thrown his way. Again, there isn’t much reason to assume that Langord will get more passing down work moving forward but that inefficiency suggests that the situation is worth monitoring.
- In the first game of Alshon Jeffery‘s suspension, with Zach Miller suffering a season ending injury mid-way, Cutler simply distributed the ball among his receivers. Cameron Meredith and Marquess Wilson split four targets apiece, while Eddie Royal checked in with just three on 30 attempts from a conservative Cutler. While Meredith has the most recent run of sustained usage, I’ve got my eye on Wilson of the trio. In great likelihood, you’ll see the ball spread around the offense in similar fashion the rest of the way, but that he tied for the team league in targets in his first game active portends greater potential to come.
DeVante Parker featured again
- In an odd game script against a strong Rams defense, Miami didn’t do much on offense until halfway through the fourth quarter. Meantime, DeVante Parker finished with eight receptions on 10 targets, finishing with 79 yards and a score. That marks back-to-back games in which he’s had more passes thrown his way than Jarvis Landry. It also marks the third straight game in which Landry has had six or fewer targets. The formula, of leaning on Jay Ajayi and spreading the ball around to receivers has worked fora Dolphins team that has reeled off five straight wins. Parker warrants regular consideration, while Landry is more of a WR2/3 consideration despite his score than a solid WR2, even in PPR formats.
- It isn’t a huge surprise to see a rookie QB lean on his TE underneath, so Lance Kendricks‘ seven targets aren’t surprising. Still, Kenny Britt investors will be heartened to see that he tied Kendricks for the team lead in targets in Jared Goff‘s first start. The 43 yards on seven looks leave a lot to be desired, but Goff’s YPA should pick up over time. Britt is a hold at the moment, but a tough start until the QB of the future in Los Angeles starts taking some shots downfield.
- In Dion Lewis‘ first game active, he carried the ball five times and saw five targets. James White did not get a carry, but he was targeted six times, catching them all and finding the end zone. While it came in a game where Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan were unavailable, the pair still accounted for more than 25% of Tom Brady‘s 40 pass attempts. Julian Edelman had the bulk of the remainder with 17. While one game is too soon to make any broad sweeping assertions, their use is concerning, with the potential to limit one another’s weekly touch ceiling. Though, that was probably to be expected.
- Both Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles went down for Philadelphia, though the severity of the injury suffered by Sproles is unknown at this point. Still, Wendell Smallwood picked up 13 carries in their wake, adding four catches on five targets for 31 yards to make for 79 total on the day. That effort comes on the heels of a 13-70 rushing line the week prior. Smallwood is a priority add, and has shown he can handle a decent workload in recent weeks.
Thomas Rawls back to work
- With injuries on the other side of the Philadelphia/Seattle tilt, Thomas Rawls played 40 snaps and netted 14 carries in his return to action. He acquitted himself quite well, with 57 yards on the ground against a stout run D and an additional 31 yards through the air on three receptions (four looks). With C.J. Prosise looking unlikely for the week ahead, he should have plenty of work in Week 12. Alex Collins will be in the mix behind him with Troymaine Pope also banged up. Gamers who hung on to Rawls are set to be rewarded.
- The Packers found themselves in a second half hole and reliant on the pass, but it’s not a huge surprise that James Starks finished this game with single digit carries either way. He managed to find the endzone on 5/6 receiving, but without his 31 yard scamper for a score it was an underwhelming day. It isn’t looking like there will be enough volume here to trust Starks as an RB2 or Flex, despite his return as the team’s starting back. Christine Michael should be active in the weeks ahead, as well.
- Elsewhere for the Packers, Jared Cook led the team in targets in his return to the lineup. Jordy Nelson saw a lot of Josh Norman which had an impact on Cook’s workload, no doubt, but he looked good with the ball in his hands and should continue to see significant workloads with the Packers continuing to trail and lean on the pass.
- Matt Jones spent another week on the bench, while Rob Kelley mashed his way to three touchdowns on 24 carries. There simply isn’t much reason for Washington to look elsewhere right now, with the offense rolling.