In fantasy football, usage and opportunity are king. Fantasy points can’t accrue on our teams unless our players accumulate the snaps, attempts, and targets that lead to yards and touchdowns. This weekly piece looks at usage trends from each NFL team from a fantasy angle. We will look at who is gaining and who is losing opportunities in order to make better future roster decisions.
If you have interesting usage notes, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter/X (@CableBoxScore) and let me know. Let’s dive into the NFL Week 12 usage!
NFL Week 12 Usage Trends
Moore is Less
Even with Michael Wilson missing the last two games, it’s clear Kyler Murray does not have Rondale Moore in his offensive plans. Moore had three targets in Week 12 after just one last week and now has three or fewer in four of the last five games. Greg Dortch is the Cardinals’ waiver wire receiver you want to target.
Here’s To You Mr. Robinson
At 20.5%, Bijan Robinson is second only to Christian McCaffrey in running back target share over the last three weeks. Add in the fact that he played more than 75% of running back snaps in Week 12 and we are now moving towards the work-horse role all fantasy managers were hoping for to start the season.
With Mark Andrews out, rookie Zay Flowers drew eight targets, his most since Week 5. On the season, Flowers now has a 24.2% target share, which is 18th-best among all wide receivers this year. He should have a huge role down the stretch with Andrews on IR.
Zay Flowers was running at 15.46 mph when he received the handoff on his 37-yard jet sweep TD.
Flowers had just a 0.7% chance of scoring a TD when he received the handoff, but a 70.8% chance of converting a first down.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 27, 2023
Khalil Shakir Ascending
The Bills are clearly moving into three wide receiver sets as their base offense and Shakir is the biggest beneficiary. He played 80% of snaps for the first time all season on Sunday afternoon and had at least four targets for the fifth time in six games.
Mingo Makes a Move
The entire offense in Carolina is a mess (so long Frank Reich!), but Jonathan Mingo is starting to make a move for more usage from Bryce Young. He is coming off six targets, which marks his third straight games with at least that many and Mingo has now played more snaps than Adam Thielen in each of the last two weeks.
Cole Train Keeps Running
According to Nathan Jahnke, Cole Kmet caught seven passes for the fifth time in his career on Monday night. Coming into 2023, he had caught that many passes twice, but has done it three times in 12 games. He is a clear top-seven tight end now in fantasy football.
One small glimmer of hope for the fantasy prospects after Cincinnati’s disappointing Week 12 game? Jake Browning led the league with 9.1% completion rate over expectation on Sunday. Was that a fluke or can he be accurate going forward? Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins’ managers sure hope it’s the latter.
Step Up to the Till, Man
Amari Cooper went down with an injury on Sunday, and if he misses time, it’s clear now who will be the next man up for the Cleveland wide receiver corps. Cedric Tillman has played more than 85% of snaps for three straight weeks and led the Browns in snaps with 89% on Sunday. It will be a low-efficiency offense without Deshaun Watson but Tillman should be free on the waiver wire.
Not only is CeeDee Lamb racking up catches and yards at a historic pace, but he is also doing it while getting targeted far downfield. Lamb was fourth in Week 12 with 16.9 average targeted air yards and he and A.J. Brown are the only wide receivers with more than 900 receiving yards who also have an average depth of target (aDOT) over 10 yards.
Dallas' PROE has jumped from -2.1% pre-bye to 8.9% post-bye, which has resulted in a 5 pass att/gm spike. Ceedee Lamb is the only pass-catcher whose target % hasn't dropped post-bye and he's averaging, you guessed it, about 5 tgts/gm more.
The extra volume is only going to Lamb.
— Sam Hoppen (@SamHoppen) November 27, 2023
Williams Levels Up
For the first time all year, Javonte Williams played in 70% of his team’s snaps. He turned it into 21 touches, his fourth time in the last five games to have at least 18. He is officially back as the Denver work-horse running back.
Lions’ Goal Line Distribution
Of the 11 red zone opportunities the Lions had on Thanksgiving day, five of them went to wide receivers and tight ends while six were distributed to David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. The Lions are becoming a team that pounds the ball into the end zone on the ground, making both running backs very valuable in fantasy.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
The most valuable fantasy asset on the Packers the last three weeks has been Jordan Love, but the biggest beneficiary of that in each of those games has been Jayden Reed. Reed has at least 50 yards and a touchdown in three straight weeks and has finished in the top 24 of wide receivers in each one.
Jayden Reed playing on 73% of the snaps in Week 12 with the Packers playing with the lead is a significant development
He also got a season-high 10 opportunities (8 targets + 2 carries) and scored a TD in his 3rd-straight game
Nice end-of-season schedule + no Luke Musgrave 📈📈
— Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler) November 27, 2023
Devin Still the Man…For Now
With Dameon Pierce returning after missing four weeks with injuries, Devin Singletary still played on 82% of the Texans’ snaps compared to 18% for Pierce. Singletary also had all five running back touches in the red zone against Jacksonville, but it remains to be seen if Houston is just easing Pierce back in slowly.
Taylor and Moss Conundrum
After back-to-back weeks where Jonathan Taylor had more than 74% of the snaps for the Colts, he played just 58% compared to 41% for Zach Moss on Sunday. It was a game that was essentially within 10 points the entire game, so there was no immediate blowout in this one that caused the timeshare. Taylor did out-touch Moss in the red zone five to one.
Zay Jones Is Ridley’s Power Stone
In the four games that Zay Jones has played this year, Calvin Ridley has 27 catches for 414 yards and four touchdowns. In the seven games Jones has not played, Ridley has 20 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. It’s one of the weirdest splits of the entire 2023 season.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Rice Rice Baby
According to Benjamin Solak, 59% of the throws that Patrick Mahomes made to wide receivers on Sunday went to Rashee Rice. Mahomes is clearly favoring the rookie when he is not throwing to Travis Kelce or Isiah Pacheco.
Three things Rashee Rice did yesterday that bode well for Mahomes' trust in him down the stretch:
-Picked up tough YAC (as he has all year)
-Found the soft spots in zone + got open when the play broke down
-Won at the catch point downfield pic.twitter.com/5cgXJ5T5Rj
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) November 27, 2023
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Davante Adams Target Monster
Even with only seeing seven targets on Sunday, Adams is fourth in the NFL over the last three weeks with a 34.7% target share. With Aiden O’Connell throwing him the ball, however, Adams has only one touchdown since Week 3.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Keenan Allen History
Keenan Allen now has 46 targets over the last three games for the Los Angeles Chargers. To put that in perspective, that’s more than Ja’Marr Chase and Tyreek Hill have combined in that same span.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Kyren Was Lyin’
So much for the “ease him back in” talk and not giving Kyren Williams a full workload. The Rams’ back fresh off the IR torched the Cardinals for 204 total yards and two touchdowns. He caught all six passes secured by Rams’ running backs and also saw seven of the 10 red zone opportunities.
Even after dropping from 83% of snaps to 66% of snaps in Week 12, Jaylen Waddle had one of his best games of the season with eight catches for 114 yards. He had a season-best 38 receiving yards over expectation as well.
Josh Dobbs Pumpkin Game
Only the two quarterbacks discussed below scored fewer fantasy points than Joshua Dobbs this week. With four interceptions, is it possible the clock struck midnight on the greatest story of 2023? Perhaps, but he gets the Raiders, Bengals, and Lions after his bye week, all teams that can be beat through the air.
Well, the “Joshua Dobbs is outscoring ________ in fantasy football this year” stats were fun while they lasted.
— Dave Kluge (@DaveKluge) November 28, 2023
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Quarterback Roller Coaster
I suppose if you play in a 3QB league you care about how the quarterback does in New England, and also who it is. On Sunday, Mac Jones played 51% of the snaps for threw for 89 yards and two picks. Bailey Zappe played 49% and threw for 54 yards and an interception. This team can’t go down the toilet fast enough this year.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Chris Olave left halfway through Sunday’s game with a concussion, but he still managed to put up seven catches for 114 yards and he was 10th in the league with 121 air yards.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Tommy DeVito Wise Guy
Don’t look now but Tommy DeVito now has four straight finishes within the top 24 quarterbacks (three in the top 18), so he is officially on the 2QB/Superflex radar now. The Giants will be behind a lot in the weeks to come, so there are worse 2QB options out there.
NEW YORK JETS
Garrett Wilson Volume Monster
They have mostly been terrible quality, but Garrett Wilson now officially leads the NFL in target share with just over 34%. He also leads the league in air yards share at 49% on the season. He isn’t set up for success with Tim Boyle and Zach Wilson, but he should still be fantasy relevant due to sheer volume.
Highest share of team end zone targets per TruMedia:
Courtland Sutton 50.0%
Calvin Ridley 48.0%
A.J. Brown 47.6%
Garrett Wilson 45.5%
DK Metcalf 44.8%
Josh Reynolds 41.7%
Gabe Davis 41.4%
Mike Evans 40.5%
DeAndre Hopkins 40.0%
CeeDee Lamb 39.0%
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) November 28, 2023
Hurts You in the Red Zone
The Eagles had 10 opportunities in the red zone on Sunday and Jalen Hurts had half of them. Once the Eagles get the ball past the 20, Hurts is taking that ball and is more likely than not to get the score himself.
New Coordinator, Who Dis?
Count Pat Freiermuth as someone who is exceptionally glad Matt Canada was fired last week. The Muth had his second-most targets (11), and the most receptions (9) and receiving yards (120 of his career). Those yards are 35 more than Freiermuth’s previous career high.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Deebo Red Zone Role
No wide receiver had more targets in the red zone in Week 12 than Deebo Samuel’s three. Somehow he caught all three but did not record a touchdown on those throws. He did, however, record a rushing touchdown as he moves back into the role of the most dangerous Swiss Army Knife in the NFL.
Week 12 WR Fantasy Usage 🤓
1. Gabe Davis (18.6 exp half PPR)
2. Keenan Allen (16.6)
3. Deebo Samuel (16.5)
4. Tyreek Hill (15.5)
5. Josh Downs (14.9)
6. Michael Pittman (14.5)
7. Elijah Moore (14.3)
8. Marquise Brown (14.0)
9. CeeDee Lamb (13.5)
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) November 27, 2023
Geno Giant Problem
Geno Smith, who signed an extension with Seattle in the offseason, has one finish inside the QB15 since Week 3, and that one game was against Washington, a historically bad pass defense. In his last seven games, he has exactly seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Evans and Godwin No Contest
Mike Evans’ 24.7% target share on the year doesn’t look too different from Chris Godwin’s 22.3%. But the last three weeks tell a different story. Evans has a 30.4% share while it’s 19.6% for Godwin. It’s Mike Evans and Rachaad White getting the love from Baker Mayfield and everyone else is fighting for the scraps.
Hopkins No Red Zone Targets?
DeAndre Hopkins now has a three-game streak of not seeing a single red zone target from Will Levis. This might be a problem of the Titans actually needing to reach the red zone more, but the long bombs for touchdowns are not nearly as sustainable for Hopkins.
Terry McLaurin leads the Commanders in target share, air yards share, receptions, and receiving yards. And he still doesn’t have a week inside the top-20 wide receiver since Week 8. The past three weeks? He has been outside the top 40 receivers.
Data Sources: Pro Football Focus, NFL Next Gen Stats, Football Guys Snap Summary, FTN Air Yards, Pro Football Reference, Team Rankings