Find fantasy sleepers, Week 2 waiver pickups using snap counts
Fantasy football owners are ready to overreact to anything and everything after Week 1. I get it — I’ve been there. You’ve got to make sure you’re reacting to the right things, though, and not just cutting real sleepers for no reason while hanging on to eventual busts. Carries tell part of the story; so do targets. But neither tell the whole story. Snap counts have become more publicly available in recent years because in case you haven’t heard, the Internet has everything. Players like Devin Singletary and Trey Quinn both have their arrows pointing up after being on the field frequently in Week 1, while Marquise and A.J. Brown (no relation) might both be less exciting than you think.
What follows is a look, for the most part, at one position group per NFL team where snap count told a bigger or unexpected story. Some teams didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Carolina, for one, operated almost exactly how we expected. But the majority of teams had at least one player out of place from what we would’ve thought heading into the season openers.
WEEK 2 NON-PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Take this data with a grain of salt because things can sometimes regress to the mean in Week 2. Game flow could’ve heavily determined certain snap counts as teams played catch-up or tried to run clock. That’s noted a few places below where it was especially relevant. In general, though, these numbers might be the start of trends that you’ll want to get out in front of.
Week 2 DFS: FD Cash | FD GPP | DK Cash | Y! Cash | Y! GPP
Wide receiver snaps (out of 89):Larry Fitzgerald (85), Christian Kirk (83), Damiere Byrd (78), KeeSean Johnson (68)
Byrd’s placement here may be the most unexpected, but the real notable thing here is how often Kliff Kingsbury uses four-wide sets. There’s probably not upside beyond Fitzgerald and Kirk, but there will be opportunity for the youngsters behind them on the depth chart.
RB snaps (out of 78):Devonta Freeman (39), Ito Smith (39)
Talk about a 50-50 split. Unless Freeman can grab a larger share of the snaps, he’s only a FLEX play most weeks.
TE snaps:Hayden Hurst (43), Nick Boyle (43), Mark Andrews (32)
These are skewed by the blowout, and Andrews’ eight receptions speak volumes about how often he’s used when on the field, but there will be weeks he’s quieter by virtue of a crowded position in a run-heavy offense.
RB snaps (out of 69):Devin Singletary (48), Frank Gore (19), T.J. Yeldon (2)
Feel free to discard Yeldon, even in PPR leagues. Singletary’s four carries masked how frequently he was out on the field. He’s the featured back in Buffalo.
WR snaps:D.J. Moore (63), Curtis Samuel (62), Jairus Wright (40)
Nothing unexpected here, as Moore and Samuel were slated to be the Nos. 1-2 wideouts for Carolina.
WR snaps:Allen Robinson (70), Taylor Gabriel (67), Javon Wims (21), Cordarrelle Patterson (20), Anthony Miller (16)
The expectation is that Miller rises up the depth chart as he gets healthy, but this isn’t encouraging for those who had him pegged as a sleeper. Gabriel might be a decent PPR option if he keeps playing this much, but, again, Miller’s ankle injury skews everything.
WR snaps:Damion Willis (69), John Ross (63), Tyler Boyd (61)
Two thoughts: You can buy into Ross for as long as A.J. Green is outbecause his playing time should stay strong. Willis’s playing time is also intersestingbecause the undrafted rookie out of Troy has the measurables to stand out. He’s a watch-list player and worth keeping an eye on in case he pops in the coming weeks.
Nothing much to see here. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry played every snap, while David Njoku was only off the field for seven. Nick Chubb received more than 70 percent of the RB snaps, too, which a normal share for most lead backs.
Notable snap counts (out of 65):Randall Cobb (48), Jason Witten (45), Blake Jarwin (27)
Both Witten and Jarwin caught touchdowns, with Witten showing he’s the TE to own in Dallas for now. Cobb was the obvious third WR (Michael Gallup actually outsnapped Amari Cooper by one), but at more than two thirds of the plays, Cobb could have some FLEX value once bye weeks hit.
RB snaps:Phillip Lindsay (34), Royce Freeman (30)
As expected in the preseason, this was very close to a 50-50 split. Lindsay had 11 carries and four catches on his snaps, while Freeman had 10 carries and a reception. Don’t expect either to exceed FLEX value while this split keeps up.
TE snaps (out of 88):T.J. Hockenson (64), Jesse James (51)
The two-TE sets are for real in Detroit, but the biggest worry was whether Hockenson would be limited by the presence of Jesse James. Considering the higher snap total and the 131 Week 1 yards, that question seems answered.
RB snaps:Aaron Jones (38), Jamaal Williams (26)
TE snaps:Jimmy Graham (35), Marcedes Lewis (34)
The running back breakdown will look like that any time Green Bay has to pass (and pass protect) frequently. That’s just something to be aware of when setting your lineup as a Jones owner week-to-week. Jimmy Graham looked revitalized in the opener, but he’s not even on the field more than half the time, so this doesn’t look likely to be a huge bounce-back year or anything.
RB snaps:Duke Johnson, Jr. (42), Carlos Hyde (25)
Both Houston running backs looked effective on Monday night. The Texans’ desire to pass early and often should lead to Johnson getting more snaps most weeks, but Hyde isn’t going anywhere.
TE snaps:Jack Doyle (43), Eric Ebron (25)
Part of this disparity is Doyle’s usage on running downs, but it’s still not encouraging for Ebron owners already reeling from Andrew Luck’s retirement. This was always going to be a split — Ebron should do better on a per-play basis — but repeating last season seems out of the question.
WR snaps:Dede Westbrook (48), Chris Conley (44), DJ Chark (41)
Westbrook remains the No. 1 wideout here despite the big Week 1 games from Conley and Chark. It might be hard to predict who has the best games on a weekly basis, though, especially as we wait to see what Gardner Minshew’s playing style means for the Jags. Marqise Lee and Keelan Cole both received 12 snaps, keeping possible preseason sleepers off the fantasy radar.
Secondary WR snaps:Mecole Hardman (53), Demarcus Robinson (43)
Hardman should be the replacement for Tyreek Hill as long as Hill is out. The former Georgia speedster was drafted to conceptually fill Hill’s role, so he’s a good speculative add on the waiver wire this week.
RB snaps:Austin Ekeler (48), Justin Jackson (16)
Jackson was good on his touches, but Ekeler was better, and he had a lot more opportunites. As long as Ekeler doesn’t slow down, Jackson isn’t much more than a handcuff for the Chargers’ new top back.
RB snaps:Todd Gurley (54), Malcolm Brown (21), Darrell Henderson (2)
Much has been made of this situation, and a lot of that is due to Brown finishing off his two most prominent drives with touchdowns. But the Rams counted on Gurley to start and finish the gameand on some passing downs, too. Gurley has more risk than most other top-15 backs, but he’s still an every-week start. Brown is his obvious handcuff, though, as Darrell Henderson only received two snaps.
WR snaps:Devante Parker (38), Allen Hurns (35), Jakeem Grant (30), Preston Williams (21), Albert Wilson (6)
Albert Wilson got hurt, so that skewed these numbers a bit, but Parker seems to be the No. 1 wideout here, and Ryan Fitzpatrick did trust him on a couple (terribly thrown) jump balls. One of my favorite touts, Preston Williams, does appear to have uphill sledding to the top of the depth chart, but he did catch a Week 1 touchdown.
TE snaps (out of 53):Kyle Rudolph (53), Irv Smith Jr. (26)
Rudolph had only one target, but that’s because Minnesota threw only 10 times. He remains a borderline fantasy starter, albeit an unexciting one. Smith could start to eat into Rudolph’s playing time as soon as the second half and is a great keeper-league target.
WR snaps:Julian Edelman (67), Phillip Dorsett (61), Josh Gordon (47), Jakobi Meyers (8)
Antonio Brown’s activation will obviously change this a bunch heading into next week, but given Dorsett’s usage, maybe it will be Gordon falling off more than people are expecting. You can’t drop him or Dorsett yet, but it might be pertinent starting next week.
Pass-catcher snap counts:Michael Thomas (59), Ted Ginn (49), Jared Cook (42), Tre’Quan Smith (42), Josh Hill (32), Keith Kirkwood (12)
The biggest value worry here might be Cook, who was off the field on more than 30 percent of the Saints’ total 66 offensive plays. New Orleans mixed it up a lot at tight end last year, and maybe the signing of Cook won’t change that. He only had three targets on Monday night. Ginn and Smith should trade off who has more value week-by-week, but it looks like Ginn is the slightly more used WR in the early going.
WR snaps:Sterling Shepard (68), Cody Latimer (61), Bennie Fowler (50), Russell Shepard (9)
With Sterling Shepard in concussion protocol, it seems like Broncos’ washout Latimer is the most likely to have receiving value for the Giants in Week 2. Latimer did receive eight Week 1 targets. In deeper leagues, Fowler could also be a desperation play if Sterling Shepard is out.
WR snaps (out of 72):Robby Anderson (69), Quincy Enunwa (66), Jamison Crowder (65)
This offense will support three-WR sets as it seeks to air Sam Darnold out. He probably won’t target Crowder 17 times again, either. Anderson is still the big-play threat of the group, and if he’s on the field for nearly every snap each week, he should hit more often than not.
WR snaps (out of 55):Tyrell Williams (55), Ryan Grant (41), Hunter Renfrow (16), JJ Nelson (8)
Grant looks to be the No. 2 WR in Oakland with Antonio Brown out of town. If Derek Carr looks as good as he did Monday night all season, that might be worth a fantasy roster spot.
Also worth noting: Darren Waller, like Williams, played all 55 of Oakland’s offensive snaps.
RB snaps:Miles Sanders (36), Darren Sproles (23), Jordan Howard (17), Corey Clement (3)
Sanders looks like he’ll get the first crack to seize the top job in Philly, but Sproles isn’t going anywhere. The diminutive scat back had 12 touches on his 23 snaps, a rate he could keep up in Doug Pederson’s offense. Barring injury, Howard looks like a waste of fantasy roster space.
WR snaps:JuJu Smith-Schuster (62), Donte Moncrief (62), Ryan Switzer (46), James Washington (36), Diontae Johnson (25)
As expected, Moncrief was the No. 2 WR in Pittsburgh, but he had drop after drop on Sunday night. Switzer was on the field enough that he should be a PPR asset, as his six catches on six targets showed. We’ll still be hoping Washington, or even Johnson, can eventually surpass Moncrief.
WR snaps:Deebo Samuel (60), Marquise Goodwin (50), Richie James (26), Kendrick Bourne (17), Dante Pettis (2)
Well, looks like Pettis isn’t the top WR in San Fran after all. The explosive rookie Samuel should turn into a fantasy weapon if he keeps playing that much. With Trent Taylor expected back soon, we’d wait to see what happens before making any moves aside from possibly adding Samuel.
WR snaps (out of 53):Tyler Lockett (48), D.K. Metcalf (41), Jaron Brown (41)
Metcalf looked good in his NFL debut, catching 4-of-6 targets for 89 yards. He’s probably more talented than Brown, so if the split continues like this, Metcalf will be the one to own in fantasy. Lockett’s one catch seems like a fluke.
RB snaps:Dare Ogunbowale (27), Peyton Barber (25), Ronald Jones (22)
As late-August suggested, Ogunbowale may be the back to own here in PPR leagues, after he caught 4-of-5 Week 1 targets. Jones looked better on his carries than Barber, but as long as the split is even or Tampa’s “riding the hot hand,” neither is that desirable as a fantasy starter.
WR snaps:Corey Davis (45), Tajae Sharpe (30), A.J. Brown (26), Adam Humphries (22)
Maybe Humphries won’t be the PPR assett we expected, while it looks like A.J. Brown will be boom-or-bust until he gets onto the field more. Davis is still the obvious No. 1 in an offense that won’t pass very frequently most weeks.
WR snaps (out of 67):Trey Quinn (65), Terry McLaurin (62), Paul Richardson (52), Kelvin Harmon (15)
Quinn is probably the only Washington wideout worth owning in PPR leagues, while McLaurin is the option to have in standard leagues as a bit more of a downfield threat. Both could have decent games spread throughout the season, but with Case Keenum slinging it, it won’t be too exciting.
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