I don’t know if it was just me but there was some really ugly football on display in Week 12, and it filtered down to fantasy football as well. Awful, awful playcalling, bad turnovers, you name it, we saw it this weekend. Not to mention we had a game in Mile High where both teams combined to throw the ball 25 times. Going into the week, we know things were going to be strange.

Let’s break down what we saw.

Buffalo Bills 27, Los Angeles Chargers 17

Austin Ekeler returned Sunday, his first in-game action since Week 4. There were some concerns of possible limitations, but that clearly wasn’t the case, as Ekeler logged 72% of the offensive snaps, while handling 25 of the 34 running back touches. In fact, Ekeler’s 25 touches were a career-high, despite it being his first game back from injury. With Justin Jackson on IR and Kalen Ballage injured, the Chargers gave their Pro Bowl back a full workload and with no setbacks, Ekeler is back to being an every-week top-seven fantasy running back.

With John Brown (ankle) sidelined, rookie Gabriel Davis tied Stefon Diggs for the team lead in snaps (60). Davis is an every-down player when Brown is out and with the veteran receiver on injured reserve, Davis will have an opportunity over the next few weeks. All three wideouts will be on the field a ton, as Buffalo operates out of three-wide sets around 75% of the time, one of the highest marks in the NFL.

Finally, it was once again Zack Moss who led the backfield in playing time (37 snaps), while Devin Singletary played well in his 25, rushing for 82 yards on 11 carries. Moss also once again got the few short-yardage carries that these Buffalo running backs see but with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll favoring the pass the instant the ground game isn’t working, neither backs is anything more than a lower-end flex play.

More on Ekeler? Sure, why not? One of the premiere pass-catching backs in the NFL, Ekeler will always be a focal point of the passing game. He was targeted 16 times in this game and ran 37 pass routes, the most among any running back from Week 12. In four games alongside Justin Herbert this season, Ekeler is averaging eight targets, 6.7 receptions and nearly 57 receiving yards per game.

Red-zone usage

Ekeler and Joshua Kelley both had carries from inside the 5-yard line in this game, but it was the latter who found the end zone from a yard out. Of course, it came right after Ekeler got them to the 1-yard line on third down. Still, Ekeler played four-of-five snaps when the Chargers were inside the 5-yard line. Kelley was stealing Ekeler’s goal-line work in the beginning of the year, but the Chargers have shifted away from the rookie during Ekeler’s absence, so I’d guess he won’t be much of a factor going forward.

New England Patriots 20, Arizona Cardinals 17

Sony Michel was active for the first time since Week 3 but only played one offensive snap and didn’t receive a touch. With Rex Burkhead out for the year, I’d imagine Michel gets more involved in the coming weeks, but the Patriots stuck with Damien Harris (64% snap rate) and James White (38% snap rate) in this one. Harris remains the early-down back for New England, handling 14 of the 19 running back carries, though White ended up with a pair of rushing touchdowns. Harris is touching the football on around 58% of the snaps so when he is on the field, he is usually getting the ball, especially with the Patriots running the ball 51.3% of the time, the third-highest rate in football.

Kenyan Drake remained the workhorse for the Cardinals, meanwhile, outsnapping Chase Edmonds 41-33 and out-touching him 25-10. When he’s been healthy, Drake has been getting strong volume, averaging a healthy 18.3 touches per game. Meanwhile, the short-yardage work has belonged to him but more on that later.

In Week 11, the Patriots fell behind, resulting in 40 pass attempts from Cam Newton. Of course, that is not what they want their offense to look like and with the game script more in their favor this weekend, Newton dropped all the way back down to 18 pass attempts. Only four players saw a target from New England in this game, with Damiere Byrd leading the team in looks for the second week in a row.

Don’t look now, but Drake is starting to get more consistent looks in the passing game. Over the last two weeks, he has been targeted nine times, while quarterback Kyler Murray has just 10 rushing attempts during that span. I wonder if his minor shoulder injury is impacting him more than we think, forcing him to check it down and be more conservative as a passer. During the last two weeks, Murray ranks 26th among all quarterbacks in average depth of target at 7.1 yards.

Red-zone usage

Staying with the man of the hour, Drake scored two touchdowns Sunday and saw a league-leading five carries from inside the 5-yard line. Murray, meanwhile, shockingly didn’t record a single carry from that area of the field. If Murray’s shoulder continues to bother him, Drake will likely benefit by seeing more looks in the passing game and in the red zone.

For the Patriots, it was interesting to see White, not Harris, score two short touchdowns. Harris still saw one more carry from inside the 5-yard line during the game and handled nearly 30% of New England’s red zone carries but with Burkhead out and Michel still limited, White and Harris will both have flex appeal each week.

Miami Dolphins 20, New York Jets 3

You know, covering Jets games really isn’t very fun.

Sam Darnold returned to the lineup Sunday, but it didn’t really help Jamison Crowder, who was targeted just five times. Meanwhile, both Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims remained heavily involved in the offense, seeing eight targets each. In the running game, Frank Gore dominated the usage with La'Mical Perine out, logging over 58% of the snaps and handling 21 of the 25 running back touches. It isn’t sexy but Gore should demand 14-18 touches each week as long as Perine is sidelined, making him very fantasy relevant.

Miami was without both Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed in this game, opening up the door for Matt Breida to finally have a role in this offense. He started the game and played the majority of the snaps in the first quarter. However, DeAndre Washington took over and played around 60% of the snaps the rest of the way, ultimately outsnapping Breida 34-23 and out-touching him 15-10. Breida is someone that you should probably drop heading into Week 13, especially with Ahmed and Gaskin likely returning.

Finally, it was a great game from DeVante Parker, which was to be expected when you consider who the Jets are rolling out in their secondary. He hauled in eight of a team-high 14 targets for 119 yards and in three games without Preston Williams this season, Parker is averaging 70.3 receiving yards, 5.3 receptions, 10 targets and over 15 DraftKings points per game.

New York Giants 19, Cincinnati Bengals 17

This game mostly comes down to the Giants, as we expected the Bengals offense to struggle without Joe Burrow under center. New York continued to feed Wayne Gallman touches and he continues to deliver in fantasy. Gallman logged 63% of the offensive snaps and touched the football a whopping 27 times. He found the end zone again, giving him five straight games with a touchdown and six total scores during that span. In that five-game stretch, Gallman’s 10 carries from inside the 5-yard line are second in the NFL to only Dalvin Cook, handling 13% of the Giants carries from that part of the field during that span. Until further notice, Gallman is an every-week top-20 fantasy play. 2020, y’all.

Tennessee Titans 45, Indianapolis Colts 26

Derrick Henry absolutely dismantled the Colts to the tune of 178 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. He broke the slate, and if you didn’t have him in your DFS lineups, it was an early exit for you.

The Colts, meanwhile, were without Jonathan Taylor in this game. Nyheim Hines got the start and ended up playing 48 snaps, while Jordan Wilkins mixed in with 26. Hines touched the football 18 times to Wilkins’ nine. Taylor got the hot hand back in Week 11 and it’ll be interesting to see if the Colts stick with him assuming he’s back this weekend. Of course, if Indianapolis continues to use Jacoby Brissett in goal line packages it could be extremely tilting, as Brissett vultured two rushing touchdowns away from the Colts backs in this game.

Cleveland Browns 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 25

Another day, another great performance from James Robinson, who is now the RB4 in fantasy football. Robinson carried the ball 22 times for 128 yards and a touchdown against the Browns as he continues to dominate the work for the Jaguars. He’s carried the ball at least 20 times in four of the last five games, while Robinson has handled 100% of the Jacksonville running back carries in each of his last three games. He leads the NFL with an opportunity share north of 85% and the UDFA rookie ranks fourth in scrimmage yards (1,170), third in rushing yards (890) and sixth in receiving yards (280) among running backs.

Nick Chubb has been back for three games and all he’s done is rush for 126, 114 and 144 yards, scoring twice during that span. In that three-game stretch, Chubb ranks second in rushing yards (384), first in yards after contact per attempt (4.71) and second in avoided tackles per rush (0.30). On Sunday, he played 61% of the snaps and carried the football 19 times, while even adding three receptions, a nice bonus. No team in football is calling run at a higher rate than the Browns (52.07%) and Chubb should continue to see 20 carries each week. He’s a rock star.

The Browns finally played in some decent weather, allowing them to find some success in the passing game. Of course, they still didn’t exactly open up the playbook, as Baker Mayfield attempted just 29 passes in this game. Jarvis Landry shined in this game, catching eight of a team-high 11 targets for 143 yards and a touchdown. He saw over 40% of Cleveland’s targets and now has two 11-target games since Odell Beckham suffered a torn ACL. Landry should be viewed as a solid WR3 going forward but just know that there will be some underwhelming target games considering Mayfield hasn’t attempted 30 passes in a game since Week 5.

Red-zone usage

It turns out that the short-yardage usage from Cleveland last week was a bit of a fluke. Chubb missed time when the Browns were in close last week because he lost a contact lens and had a cleat issue. However, with his equipment in order, Chubb stayed on the field and handled two carries from inside the 5-yard line Sunday. Much better.

Minnesota Vikings 28, Carolina Panthers 27

Mike Davis operated as the lead back, possibly for the final time all season. He hasn’t received the workload we saw from him in the beginning of the season, as Davis played just 58% of the snaps on Sunday, though the 18 touches were solid. The Panthers once again mixed Rodney Smith in (seven carries) but after Carolina’s Week 13 bye, Christian McCaffrey should be back.

For the Vikings, Justin Jefferson benefited from Adam Thielen’s absence, catching seven of 13 targets for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Minnesota fell behind in this game, forcing Kirk Cousins to throw the football 45 times, resulting in four different players seeing seven targets. Thielen should be back in Week 13, while Irv Smith could return, too, but once again, whenever the Vikings are forced to throw, both Jefferson and Thielen are going to absolutely smash.

Atlanta Falcons 43, Las Vegas Raiders 6


This game was filled with bad interceptions, bad fumbles and all-around bad football, mostly from the Raiders side. Josh Jacobs only carried the football seven times, as the Raiders fell behind early, and he recorded 27 yards and lost a fumble. He suffered an ankle injury that doesn’t sound too serious but if he is forced to miss time, Devontae Booker would become a low-end RB2 in fantasy.

The Falcons, meanwhile, were without both Julio Jones and Todd Gurley for this game. Brian Hill got the start and once again proved to be a trap value play in DFS, as he rushed for 55 scoreless yards on 13 carries. Meanwhile, Ito Smith touched the ball 16 times for 75 yards and a touchdown, while playing 36% of the snaps. Hill logged 50% of the snaps.

New Orleans Saints 31, Denver Broncos 3

This was one of the strangest, most boring games of the year. With the Broncos not having a quarterback on their roster, both teams deployed a run-heavy approach. There were just 25 total pass attempts in this game, as the Broncos ran a ton of wildcat with their three running backs. Melvin Gordon led the skill players with 35 offensive snaps (which shows how many three-and-outs there were) and carried the ball 12 times. Phillip Lindsay suffered a knee injury and did not return, which is notable when you consider that Gordon is averaging around 19 touches per game with Lindsay out of the lineup this season.

How are you not worried about Alvin Kamara right now? He carried the football 11 times for 54 yards but once again wasn’t used in the passing game, hauling in one pass for -2 yards. Of course, the Saints offensive game plan changed once the Broncos quarterback situation was impacted, and Taysom Hill even said as much. For the second straight week, Kamara logged less than 50% of the snaps, which makes you wonder if his foot is bothering him, though Kamara barely played in the second half of this game because there was no reason for him to. Still, Hill is hurting Kamara, as he’s handled four carries from inside the five-yard line over the last two weeks, two more than Kamara during that span. We’ve yet to see the Saints play a competitive game since Hill took over, which makes me believe Kamara gets back to his usual 65% snap share in closer contests but if he’s losing pass-catching and red-zone work, you cannot view him as a top-five fantasy running back.

San Francisco 49ers 23, Los Angeles Rams 20

The 49ers are finally starting to get healthy. They got both Raheem Mostert and Jeffery Wilson back in their backfield, while Deebo Samuel returned from his hamstring injury. Samuel was essentially an every-down player in his first game back, playing 88% of the offensive snaps. San Francisco used both running backs in their first game back, as Mostert led the team with 16 carries but Wilson was right behind him with 12 carries of his own. I’d imagine Mostert continues to see 15-20 carries per game each week but Tevin Coleman is also going to return to this lineup, too.

Is Cam Akers finally starting to separate himself from the rest of this backfield? He once again finished third in snaps, but he and Robert Woods were really the only signs of life from this offense Sunday afternoon. Akers carried the ball just nine times for 84 yards and a touchdown, including an impressive 61-yard run. Akers also got the goal-line touchdown, and it feels like he is the best candidate to lead the backfield in playing time and touches going forward. Malcolm Brown ended up leading the backfield with 25 snaps, but he is mainly being used in pass protection.

Samuel saw 13 targets in his first game back, a 38.2% share of the 49ers looks. He is used in a way where the majority of his targets are highly convertible and, with George Kittle sidelined, Samuel should be a really, really strong option in fantasy every single week.

Kansas City Chiefs 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24

Are you kidding me, Tyreek Hill? 204 yards and two touchdowns would be a great two-week stretch for a player, but Hill posted that stat line in just the opening quarter of the game against the Buccaneers. He ultimately finished with 13 catches for 269 yards and three scores, which placed him inside the top-seven in terms of PPR fantasy points in a single game ever. Hill was targeted 15 times in this game and now leads all receivers in fantasy points and touchdowns.

The backfield for Kansas City remains pretty frustrating, however. Clyde Edwards-Helaire led the running backs with a 59.4% snap rate but he only carried the ball 11 times. He’s now been under 15 carries in each of his last five games, while CEH is only touching the ball on around 40% of his snaps over the course of the season.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s backfield isn’t exactly the easiest to peg either. Ronald Jones looked good in this game, touching the ball 10 times for 103 yards and a 37-yard receiving score. However, Leonard Fournette played more in the second half with the Buccaneers trailing and ultimately finished the game with 33 snaps compared to Jones’ 21. Head coach Bruce Arians stated that Jones needs 20 touches a game, but no one believes nor is counting on that going forward.

Green Bay Packers 41, Chicago Bears 25

Green Bay dominated this game from the opening kickoff. Davante Adams once again found the end zone, while Aaron Rodgers remained as efficient as ever. Both Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones carried the ball 17 times in a blowout, though 10 of Williams’ carries came in the final quarter of the game. Still, his presence has hurt Jones’ upside, as the snaps have been pretty much right down the middle over the last few weeks.

Seattle Seahawks 23, Philadelphia Eagles 17

Chris Carson returned to the Seattle lineup Monday night but was clearly limited. He logged 37% of the snaps, while Carlos Hyde played 61% of the snaps. Hyde also out-touched Carson 17-10, though Carson was the more productive player, accumulating 59 yards and a touchdown on his touches. More importantly, however, Carson didn’t appear to suffer any setbacks with his foot injury and his workload should get ramped back up to that 15- to 17-touch range in Week 13 against the Giants.

The Eagles offense, meanwhile, remains broken. Carson Wentz struggled again Monday night, while the offensive line remains an issue, as they used their 10th different combination in this game, the most in football. I just don’t get how the Eagles are so quick to abandon the run, especially with how much Wentz is struggling. Miles Sanders, in a game where Philadelphia’s largest deficit was 14-0, carried the ball just six times, which is honestly absurd. Until Doug Pederson mixes things up with his playcalling or Jalen Hurts takes over, it will be tough to have a ton of confidence in anyone from this offense outside of maybe Dallas Goedert, though Zach Ertz should be back next week.