Between the Lines: Week 4 Snap Count Analysis
In fantasy football, one way to gain an edge over opponents is digging into weekly snap counts. While a quick scan of the box scores can tell us who actually performed and produced, snap count data can give us an indicator of guys who are seeing the field on a consistent -- or inconsistent -- basis.
After all, opportunity is the creator of fantasy points.
First, a player needs to get meaningful snaps. Then, they need meaningful opportunities. And lastly, they must actually convert that opportunity into fantasy production. This weekly article addresses the first and most critical portion of the opportunity funnel: playing time.
Today, we will look at five big takeaways from Week 4. As always, we then go division by division to take a look at the snap-count percentages from around the league. All percentages comes courtesy of Pro Football Reference's snap count data.
1. Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If Week 4 is any indication, we've finally seen a transition of power in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backfield. After playing second-fiddle to Peyton Barber for the first three weeks of the season, Ronald Jones looks to have finally usurped the former Auburn running back.
Those who have been watching should have seen this coming, and it looked like the transition would be complete by Week 2. Though the snap share was relatively equal in Week 1, Jones saw four more touches and 48 more yards from scrimmage than Barber. Bruce Arians, however, had other things in mind, looking Barber's way 24 times to just four for Jones in a Week 2 win over the Panthers. Jones saw just 12% of the team's snaps that week.
His snap share jumped to 30% in Week 3, however, when he and Barber both saw 15 touches. He saw an even bigger jump from Week 3 to Week 4. His 49% snap share was 21 and 23 percentage points more than Dare Ounbowale and Barber, respectively. He saw 20 touches, while Barber saw just 9, a season low.
Not only is he taking over, but Pro Football Focus has him as their highest-graded back through four weeks. He ranks as the 13th-best running back by numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, too. If he's available in your leagues (and he might well be, as he's rostered in just 41.3% of ESPN leagues), then make sure to add him if you can this week.
2. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week that he believed in his running back, Chris Carson. Judging from Carson's declining snap share, that comment felt like it needed to be taken with a grain of salt.
Carson's snap shares had been steadily declining from 77% in Week 1, to 54% in Week 2 and 44% in Week 3, where he was out-snapped by C.J. Prosise and had a fumble returned by the New Orleans Saints for a touchdown.
The 44% was somewhat deceiving, though. New Orleans was up 20-7 at half and 27-7 heading into the fourth-quarter, making the Hawks largely abandon the run. Russell Wilson threw the ball 50 times, and the Hawks' ball carriers combined to tote the ball just 26 times (including seven for Wilson).
In a much easier matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, there was ample opportunity to run the ball, and it became clear that the gum addict Carroll was telling the truth about believing in Carson. Carson saw 76% of the team's snaps, 81.5% of the team's carries, and four catches, tied for the second-most on the team.
While this performance certainly raises Carson's stock, you should temper your expectations somewhat. Rashaad Penny looks on track to play this week against the Los Angeles Rams. In 14 games played with Penny, Carson is averaging 13.19 and 11.55 PPR and standard points, respectively. In the four games he's played without Penny, he's averaging 18.23 and 15.48, respectively.
3. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Washington Redskins
This is a word of caution more than anything. Dwayne Haskins did, indeed, take over for Case Keenum during the Washington Redskins' Week 4 loss to the New York Giants. He even played 65% of the team's snaps. He also proved, however, that he's not ready to start in the NFL.
Blame it on first-game jitters, or a cold arm from coming into the game midway through, or the fact that he was down big and was forced into throwing the ball often. Any way you look at it, however, Haskins did not yet look the part of an NFL QB. He went just 9-for-17; his completion percentage looks much better if you include the three passes that Giants players intercepted.
Could you pick him up off waivers? Absolutely. Should you? Nope. Not unless you're in a deep league and ready to wait, that is. The Redskins could even start Colt McCoy this week, a Redskins veteran who is well-versed in Jay Gruden's system.
No matter if it's Haskins or McCoy, and no matter if Terry McLaurin is healthy this week, this is a team to avoid targeting in Week 5. The New England Patriots' defense is on a war path, and their next stop is D.C.
4. Jaylen Samuels, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jaylen Samuels seems like the type of handcuff who should be heavily owned in leagues. However, as of today, he's being rostered in just 19.2% of ESPN leagues. That's likely to change after his Week 4 outburst against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Samuels played a season-high 46% of the team's snaps, but what was more encouraging was how he was used. After a lackluster game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Pittsburgh Steelers used a lot of creative formations, many of which resulted in Samuels getting the ball.
Not only did he get catch all 8 of his targets for 57 yards, but he also received 10 touches in the ground game and completed 3 "passes" when taking snaps out of the Wildcat.
It's true that he was playing against the Bengals, a team that's allowing the most PPR points per game to running backs, but it was an encouraging jump in usage nonetheless. Samuels had seen a max of only four touches in a game heading into Week 4. While he may not get 18 and throw the ball several more times every week, he could turn into a flex play, and he'd be at least an RB2 if James Conner were to get hurt.
5. Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has never really been a sexy addition to fantasy lineups in his career, but his move from the Dallas Cowboys to the Bills has started to change that narrative and made him worth using on a weekly basis.
After a 7-catch, 12-target, 75-yard performance against the Patriots on Sunday, Beasley comes into this week as a player who needs to be considered to as a PPR flex play on a weekly basis. Beasley played a season-high 86% of his team's snaps this week after hitting just 70% once before.
He's scored at least 9.0 PPR points each week and comes into Week 5 as the WR40 in PPR leagues, right behind Adam Thielen, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Calvin Ridley, people obviously considered to be well out of Beasley's league, but who have been too inconsistent thus far.
Beasley's 36 targets through four weeks ranks 11th-most among all wideouts; his 24 receptions are tied for ninth at the position. Without scoring, he's not going to be more than a flex play or WR3 on bye weeks, but his consistency is proving invaluable. If you have the room, pick him up.
Quarterbacks: Josh Allen (71%), Matt Barkley (29%)
Running Backs: Frank Gore (63%), T.J. Yeldon (37%)
Wide Receivers: John Brown (93%), Cole Beasley (86%), Zay Jones (75%), Andre Roberts (10%)
Tight End: Dawson Knox (65%), Lee Smith (43%), Tommy Sweeney (11%)
Quarterback: Josh Rosen (100%)
Running Backs: Kenyan Drake (54%), Mark Walton (25%) Kalen Ballage (15%)
Wide Receivers: DeVante Parker (83%), Preston Williams (83%), Jakeem Grant (42%), Isaiah Ford (29%)
Tight Ends: Durham Smythe (71%), Michael Gesicki (500%), Nick O'Leary (46%)
New England Patriots
Quarterback: Tom Brady (100%)
Running Backs: James White (52%), Sony Michel (45%), Rex Burkhead (18%)
Wide Receivers: Julian Edelman (95%), Josh Gordon (89%), Phillip Dorsett (62%)
Tight End: Ryan Izzo (68%), Matt LaCosse (18%)
New York Jets (BYE WEEK)
Quarterbacks: Lamar Jackson (100%)
Running Backs: Mark Ingram (46%), Gus Edwards (29%), Justice Hill (23%)
Wide Receivers: Marquise Brown (81%), Willie Snead (75%), Seth Roberts (62%), Miles Boykin (300%)
Tight Ends: Nick Boyle (59%), Mark Andrews (42%), Hayden Hurst (22%)
Quarterback: Andy Dalton (100%)
Running Backs: Joe Mixon (61%), Giovani Bernard (33%)
Wide Receivers: Tyler Boyd (93%), Auden Tate (91%), John Ross (65%), Damion Willis (35%)
Tight End: Tyler Eifert (42%), C.J. Uzomah (41%), Drew Sample (30%)
Quarterback: Baker Mayfield (100%)
Running Backs: Nick Chubb (64%), Dontrell Hilliard (36%)
Wide Receivers: Odell Beckham (96%), Jarvis Landry (75%), Damion Ratley (67%), Taywan Taylor (13%)
Tight Ends: Demetrius Harris (67%), Pharaoh Brown (48%), Ricky Seals-Jones (30%)
Quarterback: Mason Rudolph (100%)
Running Backs: James Conner (64%), Jaylen Samuels (46%)
Wide Receivers: James Washington (76%), JuJu Smith-Schuster (73%), Diontae Johnson (63%), Johnny Holton (15%)
Tight Ends: Nick Vannett (75%), Zach Gentry (42%)
Quarterback: Deshaun Watson (100%)
Running Backs: Carlos Hyde (48%), Duke Johnson (65%)
Wide Receivers: DeAndre Hopkins (97%), Will Fuller (99%), Kenny Stills (16%), Keke Coutee (58%)
Tight Ends: Darren Fells (62%), Jordan Akins (48%)
Quarterback: Jacoby Brissett (100%)
Running Backs: Marlon Mack (36%), Nyheim Hines (45%), Jordan Wilkins (21%)
Wide Receivers: Deon Cain (73%), Chester Rogers (71%), Zach Pascal (68%), Parris Campbell (63%)
Tight Ends: Jack Doyle (73%), Eric Ebron (35%), Mo Alie-Cox (15%)
Quarterback: Gardner Minshew (100%)
Running Backs: Leonard Fournette (84%)
Wide Receivers: Dede Westbrook (62%), Chris Conley (78%), D.J. Chark (73%), Marqise Lee (29%)
Tight End: James O'Shaughnessy (59%), Geoff Swaim (48%), Seth DeValve (26%)
Quarterback: Marcus Mariota (100%)
Running Backs: Dion Lewis (28%), Derrick Henry (75%)
Wide Receivers: Corey Davis (88%), Adam Humphries (41%), A.J. Brown (44%), Tajae Sharpe (59%)
Tight End: Delanie Walker (31%), Jonnu Smith (51%), MyCole Pruitt (34%)
Quarterback: Joe Flacco (100%)
Running Backs: Phillip Lindsay (45%), Royce Freeman (62%)
Wide Receivers: Courtland Sutton (95%), Emmanuel Sanders (80%), DaeSean Hamilton (62%)
Tight Ends: Noah Fant (73%), Jeff Heuerman (53%)
Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes (100%)
Running Backs: Darrel Williams (51%), LeSean McCoy (46%)
Wide Receivers: Sammy Watkins (99%), Demarcus Robinson (91%), Mecole Hardman (63%)
Tight End: Travis Kelce (97%), Blake Bell (34%)
Los Angeles Chargers
Quarterback: Philip Rivers (91%)
Running Backs: Austin Ekeler (72%) Troymaine Pope (42%)
Wide Receivers: Keenan Allen (84%), Dontrelle Inman (75%), Geremy Davis (40%), Andre Patton (36%)
Tight Ends: Sean Culkin (58%), Lance Kendricks (57%)
Quarterback: Derek Carr (100%)
Running Backs: Jalen Richard (49%), Josh Jacobs (42%), DeAndre Washington (15%)
Wide Receivers: Tyrell Williams (93%), Trevor Davis (55%), Hunter Renfrow (42%), Keelan Doss (22%)
Tight Ends: Darren Waller (91%), Foster Moreau (46%), Derek Carrier (10%)
Quarterback: Dak Prescott (100%)
Running Back: Ezekiel Elliott (97%)
Wide Receivers: Devin Smith (79%), Amari Cooper (97%), Randall Cobb (81%), Tavon Austin (19%)
Tight End: Jason Witten (79%), Blake Jarwin (29%)
New York Giants
Quarterback: Daniel Jones (100%)
Running Backs: Wayne Gallman (600%), Jonathan Hilliman (35%), Elijhaa Penny (18%)
Wide Receivers: Sterling Shepard (90%), Bennie Fowler (63%), Darius Slayton (44%), Cody Latimer (35%)
Tight Ends: Evan Engram (73%), Rhett Ellison (53%)
Quarterback: Carson Wentz (100%)
Running Backs: Darren Sproles (11%), Miles Sanders (35%), Jordan Howard (53%)
Wide Receivers: Nelson Agholor (98%), Alshon Jeffery (81%), Mack Hollins (65%), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (10%)
Tight End: Zach Ertz (76%), Dallas Goedert (69%)
Quarterback: Dwayne Haskins (65%), Case Keenum (35%)
Running Backs: Chris Thompson (53%), Adrian Peterson (39%)
Wide Receivers: Paul Richardson (88%), Trey Quinn (76%), Kelvin Harmon (57%), Robert Davis (43%)
Tight Ends: Vernon Davis (75%), Jeremy Sprinkle (41%)
Quarterback: Chase Daniel (92%), Mitchell Trubisky (8%)
Running Backs: David Montgomery (69%), Tarik Cohen (39%)
Wide Receivers: Javon Wims (94%), Allen Robinson (88%), Anthony Miller (62%), Cordarrelle Patterson (10%)
Tight Ends: Trey Burton (58%), Adam Shaheen (44%), J.P. Holtz (24%)
Quarterback: Matthew Stafford (100%)
Running Back: Kerryon Johnson (70%), Ty Johnson (14%)
Wide Receiver: Marvin Jones (96%), Kenny Golladay (90%), Marvin Hall (38%)
Tight Ends: T.J. Hockenson (55%), Jesse James (48%), Logan Thomas (31%)
Green Bay Packers
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers (100%)
Running Backs: Jamaal Williams (61%), Aaron Jones (39%)
Wide Receivers: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (86%), Geronimo Allison (79%), Davante Adams (70%), Darrius Shepherd (19%)
Tight Ends: Jimy Graham (70%), Robert Tonyan (23%), Marcedes Lewis (22%)
Quarterback: Kirk Cousins (100%)
Running Backs: Dalvin Cook (79%), C.J. Ham (15%), Ameer Abdullah (11%), Alexander Mattison (10%)
Wide Receivers: Adam Thielen (95%), Stefon Diggs (84%), Chad Beebe (22%), Bisi Johnson (58%), Laquon Treadwell (15%)
Tight Ends: Kyle Rudolph (84%), Irv Smith Jr. (47%)
Quarterback: Matt Ryan (100%)
Running Backs: Devonta Freeman (62%), Ito Smith (38%)
Wide Receivers: Mohamed Sanu (79%), Julio Jones (79%), Calvin Ridley (75%), Russell Gage (18%), Justin Hardy (18%)
Tight End: Austin Hooper (82%), Luke Stocker (30%)
Quarterback Kyle Allen (100%)
Running Backs: Christian McCaffrey (100%)
Wide Receivers: Curtis Samuel (90%), D.J. Moore (88%), Jarius Wright (69%), Chris Hogan (12%)
8Tight End: Greg Olsen (97%), Chris Manhertz (15%), Ian Thomas (15%)
New Orleans Saints
Quarterback: Teddy Bridgewater (97%)
Running Backs: Alvin Kamara (77%), Latavius Murray (25%)
Wide Receivers: Michael Thomas (97%), Ted Ginn Jr. (70%), Austin Carr (62%), Lil'Jordan Humphrey (15%), Deonte Harris (10%)
Tight End: Josh Hill (58%), Jared Cook (56%)
Quarterback: Jameis Winston (100%)
Running Backs: Ronald Jones (49%), Dare Ogunbowale (28%), Peyton Barber (26%)
Wide Receivers: Chris Godwin (95%), Mike Evans (91%), Jesus Wilson (47%), Scott Miller (11%)
Tight Ends: O.J. Howard (88%), Antony Auclair (31%), Cameron Brate (24%)
Quarterback: Kyler Murray (100%)
Running Back: David Johnson (87%), Chase Edmonds (12%)
Wide Receivers: Christian Kirk (94%), Larry Fitzgerald (84%), Trent Sherfield (84%), KeeSean Johnson (57%)
Tight End: Maxx Williams (35%), Charles Clay (27%)
Los Angeles Rams
Quarterback: Jared Goff (100%)
Running Backs: Todd Gurley (76%), Malcolm Brown (24%)
Wide Receivers: Robert Woods (98%), Cooper Kupp (94%), Brandin Cooks (90%)
Tight Ends: Gerald Everett (57%), Tyler Higbee (45%)
San Francisco 49ers (BYE WEEK)
Quarterback: Jimmy Garoppolo(-%)
Running Backs: Matt Breida (-%), Raheem Mostert (-%), Jeff Wilson (-%)
Wide Receivers: Marquise Goodwin (-%), Deebo Samuel (-%), Dante Pettis (-%), Richie James (-%), Kendrick Bourne (-%)
Tight Ends: George Kittle (-%), Levine Toilolo (-%)
Quarterback: Russell Wilson (100%)
Running Backs: Chris Carson (76%), C.J. Prosise (22%)
Wide Receivers: Tyler Lockett (97%), D.K. Metcalf (63%), Jaron Brown (56%), David Moore (40%), Malik Turner (16%)
Tight Ends: Will Dissly (79%), Luke Willson (25%)