Between the Lines: Week 11 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 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 11. For a look at all of last week's snap count data, numberFire has you covered.

1. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

What is going on in the desert (that is, besides the rain that's supposed to hit Phoenix for the next three days and ruin my commute)?

David Johnson, a one-time fantasy stud and a player who had looked back in form early in the season by posting more than 18 PPR points in five of the Arizona Cardinals' first six games, ended Week 11 with nary a touch.

Johnson's response? Welp...

Now, that tweet may have just been referencing Johnson's frustration with the Cardinals' 10-point loss to the San Francisco 49ers (after they were leading by three with less than a minute to go), but it's hard to not read into it as frustration with his workload.

Johnson saw a limited workload and 43% snap share in Week 10, which wasn't all that unexpected for a player returning from injury. Week 11 was a different story. If you expected him to have seen more work, you could not have been more wrong. Either DJ is still injured or has lost favor with head coach Kliff Kingsbury, because he saw a snap share of just 13% against the Niners (compared to Kenyan Drake's 88%) and, as stated above, didn't touch the ball.

At this point, it's hard to know what to do with him. Dropping him seems rash (assuming he's actually droppable in your leagues), but it may be a necessary evil at this point if you are RB-thin and need to pick up a stop-gap option off of the waiver wire. If it were me, I'd try to keep him on my roster in the faint hopes that his situation turns around, but you need to take a step back and assess if he's still useful or just a hindrance.

2. Jonathan Williams, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Already on his third team of his young and uneventful career, Jonathan Williams, out of nowhere, put up a breakout performance and has positioned himself as one of the top waiver wire pickups for Week 12. On the field for 46% of his team's snaps, the former Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints player ripped off a 48-yard run and finished with 116 rushing yards on just 13 carries in the Indianapolis Colts' 33-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11.

Willams got his opportunity to shine because of a plethora of injuries in the Colts' backfield. Indy was already without Jordan Wilkins, who missed Week 11 with an ankle injury, and they lost Marlon Mack to a fractured hand during their win over the Jags.

That presumably leaves Williams as the Colts' starter in Week 12, but we'll have to wait and see. Mack is definitely out. Wilkins' status is more up in the air. He says he'll "be ready to go" against the Houston Texans, but the game is on Thursday, so he won't have a lot of extra time to heal up. It's a situation well worth monitoring, as Wilkins could easily be the RB1 if he does indeed suit up.

You obviously don't want to blow your remaining FAAB on Williams and them see him not play, so hopefully we'll get word on Wilkins' status before tomorrow night.

3. Bo Scarbrough, RB, Detroit Lions

Are we finally starting to clear the air from the miasma that is the Detroit Lions' backfield? While Bo Scarbrough's performance on Sunday certainly makes me think it's a possibility, for now I'm still holding my breath.

The 236th pick in the 2018 draft played his first NFL game on Sunday, and he did it with aplomb. Scarbrough went from having never played to a 49% snap share, which easily led the Lions' backfield ( Ty Johnson: 29%, J.D. McKissic: 23%).

He used that time on the field wisely, picking up 55 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. It was the first rushing touchdown by a Lions running back since Week 6 (yikes), and his carries and rushing yardage were the most since Kerryon Johnson picked up 125 yards on 26 carries in Week 4.

It certainly looks like Detroit could finally have found their answer at the position, but it's honestly just guesswork until we see him do it again. In the three previous weeks, the Lions' leading carriers were Ty Johnson, McKissic, and Tra Carson. Heck, even Paul Perkins got in the mix.

Scarbrough will have a great opportunity to prove himself this week when the Lions take on the Washington Redskins, who have given up 504 rushing yards to the position in their past four games and have allowed a rushing score in four of their past five. The lead opposing back has scored at least 15.2 standard points against them in each of the past thee weeks.

He's worth using this week, but if you're looking for a long-term addition to your team, Scarbrough may not be for you, as he faces a gauntlet of the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Denver Broncos in Weeks 13 through 16. The Bears have shown some weakness to the position, but I wouldn't bet against them facing a raw rookie like Scarbrough, and the other three have been top-seven defenses against opposing backs over the past five weeks.

4. Trey Edmunds, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Trey Edmunds entered the fantasy spotlight after a 73-yard rushing performance in a Week 9 win over the Colts. With James Conner still on the sidelines the following week, Edmunds' name circulated in waiver wire talk, but that was fairly quickly quashed after he put up just 15 total yards and a pair of catches in a Week 10 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

With Conner back for last week's battle royale against the Cleveland Indians, his prospects began to look even dimmer. Conner, however, reinjured himself, and Edmunds was a beneficiary. While his 38 yards from scrimmage and 3 receptions aren't worthy on their own, they are when you take into account his 47% snap share.

Entering the week, Edmunds' previous snap share high was 28%. Not only was this a big jump for him, but he ended up easily outpacing both Jaylen Samuels (34%) and Conner (18%). Samuels is still likely to get the lion's share of the work this week if Conner misses, but given Edmunds' recent jump in playing time and the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the Cincinnati Bengals (who have given up the fourth-most standard and PPR fantasy points to opposing backs), there is potential for Edmunds to hold flex appeal.

5. Cameron Brate/OJ Howard, TEs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

O.J. Howard owners can't have nice things, apparently. Howard pleased fantasy owners in Week 10 when he returned from injury to catch four passes for 47 yards and a score against the Arizona Cardinals. The 2017 first round pick, however, got shutout on Sunday, failing to catch his only target.

If that wasn't enough to tell you what head coach Bruce Arians thinks of Howard, Arians benched Howard after just 16 snaps, according to Adam Levitan. Enter Cameron Brate.

Brate, who is actually the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' third-leading receiver, stepped up and put together one of the best games of his career. On the field for 75% of the team's snaps (compared to Howard's 25%), Brate saw 14 (!) targets, catching 10 of them for 73 yards. His previous career highs in receptions and targets were 7 and 10, respectively. To put Brate's big game more in perspective, the former Harvard player only had 15 catches and 20 targets heading into Week 11.

The 75%/25% snap share split between him and Howard was very telling. The week before, it was Howard who dominated snaps with a 99%/18% split. The closest that Brate had been to Howard previously was in Week 3 when he saw a 42% snap share to Howard's 75%. Given the huge shift, it seems clear that the writing is on the wall and that Howard could struggle to be involved much going forward.

Brate clearly isn't going to get you double-digit receptions every week, but his performance was eye-opening, and if Howard is really on the outs with Arians as he seems to be, then Brate could hold some value for the rest of the fantasy season.