The fantasy football season has come to an end and hopefully you took home the title. For those of you crazy enough to play into Week 17 in season-long leagues or dabble in DFS, you can still find some key takeaways from Week 16’s action and apply it.
New York Jets 23, Cleveland Browns 16
The Browns were essentially missing all their receivers for this game, as Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones were all out of the lineup after being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. As a result, we saw Ja'Marcus Bradley log 95% of the snaps, seeing 11 targets. Marvin Hall, formerly of the Lions, played 91% of the snaps but was targeted just twice. With all of their wideouts missing, the Browns really focused on making the tight ends a larger part of their game plan, as Austin Hooper, who averages just over 23 pass routes per game on the season, ran 43 pass routes and saw 15 of Cleveland’s 30 targets (30%). Harrison Bryant was also heavily involved, hauling in three of seven targets for 37 yards, while his 51 routes run were the second-most of any tight end from Week 16. Of course, assuming Landry and company are back next week, the Browns will still use plenty of two-TE sets, but the targets will return to normal in Week 17.
Baltimore Ravens 27, New York Giants 13
Mark Ingram was a healthy scratch for the second straight week for the Ravens and, while J.K. Dobbins once again started, he didn’t exactly separate himself from Gus Edwards. Dobbins played 51.4% of the snaps and carried the football 11 times for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Edwards played 50% of the snaps and carried the ball 15 times. Still, Dobbins has now scored a touchdown in each of the last five games, though Edwards outcarried him 6-3 in the red zone, while both players saw a carry from inside the 5-yard line. Meanwhile, Mark Andrews saw 11 of the 24 targets in this game (45.8%) and is now fourth among all tight ends with a 22.5% target share.
The Giants fell behind in this game and were forced to throw the football 41 times. That helped propel Sterling Shepard to 12 targets, hauling in nine of them for 77 yards and a touchdown. New York’s offense has been bad for most of the season but very quietly, Shepard has been a strong floor option most weeks. With Daniel Jones under center, Shepard has been a high-end WR3 for fantasy purposes, as he’s averaging just under eight targets per game with Jones at quarterback since last season. He is also averaging nearly two more fantasy points and receptions per game alongside Jones.
Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Indianapolis Colts 24
It was another productive day for Jonathan Taylor, who shaped out to be a league-winner in fantasy after all. He carried the ball 18 times for 74 yards and a pair of touchdowns against a strong Steelers run defense, while logging 58% of the snaps. He out-touched Nyheim Hines 18-13, while Jordan Wilkins didn’t play an offensive snap for the second consecutive game. Taylor’s workload was strong, despite only seeing four second-half carries, though it wasn’t due to game plan.
Meanwhile, T.Y. Hilton led the team in targets again with seven, catching three of them for 60 yards. Even though Philip Rivers certainly has his limitations at quarterback, it is nice to see the Colts use Hilton down the field again. In 2019, his average depth of target was at 10.3 yards, but that number has climbed to 13.0 in 2020. That has helped him average nearly 14 yards per catch and 6.5 air yards per target, giving him a higher ceiling. Just 9.6% of Jacoby Brissett’s passes from a season ago traveled 20 yards or more down the field, which was one of the lowest marks in all of football. We saw a nice game from Zach Pascal, who caught three of six targets for 64 yards and a touchdown. He led the Colts wideouts with an 88.4% snap share, while Michael Pittman played 50 snaps. However, the rookie has entered the league’s concussion protocol. If he can’t play this week, Pascal becomes a viable DFS play, especially against a Jaguars defense that has allowed 100 yards to a receiver in 10 of their last 11 games.
The Steelers once again had no interest in (or success when) running the football, resulting in 49 pass attempts for Ben Roethlisberger. Of course, Pittsburgh fell behind, which certainly played a role. Diontae Johnson once again led the Steelers in targets with 14, hauling in eight of them for 75 yards and a touchdown. It was even more encouraging to see the target totals when you consider that Johnson (once again) dropped his first two targets of the game. Johnson has seen at least 10 targets in each of his last seven full games (he was benched against Buffalo), while his 126 targets rank seventh in all of football.
Cincinnati Bengals 37, Houston Texans 31
For the second week in a row, the Texans were without both Duke Johnson and C.J. Prosise, allowing David Johnson to maintain his every-down role. He logged a whopping 96% of the snaps and handled all 15 running back touches in this game. Johnson found the end zone on the ground and through the air and over the last two weeks, he has played 105 of the Texans 121 offensive snaps.
Like most teams have done against the Texans this season, the Bengals ran all over Houston Sunday. Giovani Bernard once again operated as the lead back, logging 58% of the snaps and touching the ball 23 times. However, Samaje Perine played nearly 40% of the snaps and carried the ball 13 times for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also outcarried Bernard in the red zone 5-1.
Chicago Bears 41, Jacksonville Jaguars 17
David Montgomery likely won you your fantasy league. He had another great game Sunday, rushing 23 times for 95 yards and a touchdown, while hauling in both of his targets for 26 yards. Over the last five weeks, Montgomery is the RB1 in all of fantasy; he’s reached 100 total yards and a touchdown in every game during that span. Meanwhile, the Bears tight end position continues to be annoying. Cole Kmet played 65 snaps to Jimmy Graham’s 33, while running 28 routes to his 17. However, Graham caught four of his five targets for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Kmet caught just two passes for 18 yards on six targets. The process has been right in rolling with Kmet, who is averaging 24 pass routes per game since Week 10, while Graham is averaging 15 routes run per game during that span.
James Robinson missed this game with an injury, thrusting Dare Ogunbowale into the starting lineup. The veteran third-down back became the every-down back, as he played 39-of-55 snaps on offense, while handling 17 of the 21 running back touches for the Jaguars.
Kansas City Chiefs 17, Atlanta Falcons 14
If you went all in with Le'Veon Bell this week, you were definitely disappointed. He got the start at running back with Clyde Edwards-Helaire sidelined but he was outsnapped by Darrel Williams 47-20, while Williams also out-touched him 14-8. With Kansas City having the top seed in the AFC locked up, they will be resting their starters in Week 17, though it’ll be interesting to see who they view as the starting running back now with CEH out.
Calvin Ridley once again dominated for the Falcons, catching five balls for 130 yards. He was targeted a team-high nine times, as Ridley continued to run as the clear top option with Julio Jones sidelined. In six games with Julio out this season, Ridley is averaging 118.8 receiving yards, seven receptions, 11.1 targets and 24.3 DraftKings points per game.
Los Angeles Chargers 19, Denver Broncos 16
The Broncos were without Phillip Lindsay for this game, who was also recently placed on injured reserve. As a result, Melvin Gordon dominated the playing time, logging nearly 71% of the snaps. He also handled 16 of the 21 running back rushes and while the overall production wasn’t the greatest, Gordon should once again get 17-20 touches next week against an awful Raiders run defense. In four games with Lindsay out of the lineup this season, Gordon is averaging 4.2 more carries, 9.4 more rushing yards and nearly three more fantasy points per game.
Keenan Allen didn’t suit up for the Chargers, resulting in more playing time and targets for Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson. Guyton played over 91% of the snaps on Sunday afternoon and led the team with 35 routes run. Mike Williams, however, paced the team with 10 targets, as he also benefited from the absence of Hunter Henry. He saw two end zone targets and would be the unquestioned red-zone target if Allen and Henry can’t return for the Week 17 finale.
Carolina Panthers 20, Washington Football Team 13
Antonio Gibson returned from a two-week absence with a toe injury Sunday and was a bit limited, playing just 21 of the 71 offensive snaps. Washington was trailing for basically the entire game, which always leads to more usage from J.D. McKissic, who was targeted 10 times and played nearly 70% of the offensive snaps. Gibson was still the early-down back, leading the team with 10 carries. Washington is in a must-win scenario next Sunday night against the Eagles so hopefully Gibson didn’t suffer any setbacks.
While Washington got Gibson back into their offense, they lost Terry McLaurin, who sat out with an ankle injury. Cam Sims led the team with 53 routes run, the fourth-most among all receivers on the week. He was targeted nine times, while Logan Thomas once again saw a ton of usage, hauling in seven of 12 targets for 63 yards. Over the last two weeks, Thomas has 27 targets and leads all tight ends in routes run for the season.
Dallas Cowboys 37, Philadelphia Eagles 17
Ezekiel Elliott returned to the lineup for the Cowboys, though he and Tony Pollard essentially split playing time. Elliott played 36 snaps to Pollard’s 34, though Elliott out-touched Pollard 23-10. Despite how good Pollard has been this season, Elliott has still operated as the workhorse running back, as he’s averaging right around 20 touches per game alongside Pollard this year.
Miles Sanders continues to run as the clear lead back for the Eagles, though Jordan Howard was active for the first time in a few weeks. Still, Sanders played 57 of the 73 offensive snaps (78%), while handling 19 of the 24 running back touches. Over the last three weeks, Sanders has absolutely dominated the snaps and touches, while the Eagles continue to run a ton of RPO, helping him find more running lanes.
Seattle Seahawks 20, Los Angeles Rams 9
The Rams offense has really been struggling over the last two weeks and things might not get better next week with Jared Goff out. As for Week 16, Los Angeles was without Cam Akers, resulting in a two-man backfield between Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. Henderson was the early-down back with Brown once again playing on third downs and in hurry-up situations. However, Henderson exited the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury of his own, resulting in Brown logging 44-of-75 snaps. Henderson suffered a high ankle sprain and is unlikely to play, meaning Brown is the last man standing for the Rams for Week 17’s game against the Cardinals.
Green Bay Packers 40, Tennessee Titans 14
Jamaal Williams was ruled out for this game, forcing us all to believe that Aaron Jones would dominate the workload and win us fantasy titles. However, Jones was dealing with a minor hip issue for the majority of the first half, which limited him to just 25 of the 66 offensive snaps (38%). Rookie A.J. Dillon took advantage of his uptick in playing time (62% snap rate), rushing for 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 21 carries. It is going to be really interesting to see what the Packers do with their running backs next season, as both Williams and Jones are set to become unrestricted free agents. Green Bay and Jones have reportedly been relatively quiet in terms of contract negotiations, so there is a real chance that Dillon is the RB1 for the Packers next season.
Buffalo Bills 38, New England Patriots 9
It was clearly all Buffalo in this game.
Going into the night, I thought the Bills would try running the football, and that was the case for most of the opening quarter. However, the playbook opened up the rest of the game and Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs simply did whatever they wanted to against the Patriots. As for the backfield, Zack Moss once again out-snapped Devin Singletary (though slightly). The rookie played 36 snaps to Singletary’s 35, while he carried the ball 12 times to Singletary’s 10. Buffalo continues to pass the ball at one of the highest rates in the NFL, especially on early downs, which limits the upside of both running backs in this offense.