Between the Lines: Week 12 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 four big takeaways from Week 12. For a look at all of last week's snap count data, numberFire has you covered.

1. Jonathan Williams, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Jonathan Williams may be appearing in this article for a second week in a row, but given his playing time jump and on-field performance, it's justified. When Marlon Mack got hurt in Week 11, the Indianapolis Colts turned to Williams, who saw his snap share increase from 10% to 46% with the added work.

Williams used that boost in playing time to accrue 116 yards on the ground, but heading into Week 12, it wasn't a sure bet that he had won the job as Mack's replacement. Jordan Wilkins was due to return from injury in Week 12, and he had been Mack's clear back-up heading into the week, which theoretically limited Williams' upside as a late-season waiver wire savior.

Any potential split in workload was cleared up pretty quickly, however. Wilkins was on the field for just one play, and Williams saw a 67% snap share, turning that opportunity into a McCaffrey-esque 29 touches, finishing with 121 yards from scrimmage, three receptions, and a score.

Mack is out at least for one more week, so Williams should have one more shot as a solid play. Given that he's rostered in just 29.4% of ESPN leagues, you may still have a chance to grab him to help your push into the fantasy playoffs.

2. Greg Ward,WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles are a hospital ward at the moment, so it's fitting that it was another Ward who stepped in to try and be a panacea. While he couldn't fix all of their woes, Greg Ward was more than serviceable given an ample amount of playing time.

The rookie played 49% of the team's snaps. While that was only the third-most out of Eagles' wide receivers, it's a number that could soon grow. Jordan Matthews, who led the Eagles in snap share and disappointment, was waived on Monday, opening up opportunity for the rookie.

While the Eagles' eschewance of Matthews could mean that either Nelson Agholor or Alshon Jeffery are going to be back this week, Philly may have the opportunity to give them less than a full workload in a matchup against the 2-9 Miami Dolphins.

If Jeffery and/or Agholor do miss, Ward has a chance at another solid game. His six receptions and seven targets led all Eagles receivers in Week 12, and the Dolphins, who are giving up the third-most and eighth-most standard and PPR fantasy points to wideouts, offer a much more enticing matchup than did the Seattle Seahawks.

While he's a bit of a dart throw at this point, your team may need a last-minute Hail Mary to get into the playoffs. Ward may not get you WR1 or WR2 numbers, but he has the potential to fill in as a decent flex play in a decisive week.

3. Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Russell Gage's opportunity this week all falls on the availability of one Julio Jones. Jones missed part of the second half of this week's blowout in the locker room. Jones' shoulder seems to be an issue, and he was estimated as a did-not-practice (DNP) for the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, leaving room for Gage to potentially make an impact on Thanksgiving.

With Jones ailing (and if it wasn't actually an injury, there was no need for him to play in what turned into a big loss), Gage saw a season-high 74% snap share in Week 12. It was enough to catapult him into a solid game. His 10 targets and 76 receiving yards trailed only Calvin Ridley, and his eight receptions led all Falcons players.

Those numbers were all career highs for the second-year player, and he could be in for another big workload on Thursday if Jones is unable to take the field in against the New Orleans Saints, a game which has a 48.5 total, tied for the second-highest of the week.

Assuming Jones plays, we have Gage projected for just 6.0 PPR points this week. That projection will jump in a hurry if we get word that Jones is out. You can follow numberFire's player news to watch Jones' status and see whether Gage becomes a useful fantasy addition or a flash in the pan.

4. Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Rashaad Penny has had to deal with injuries and playing second-fiddle to Chris Carson, but it looks like his opportunity for more work may have finally come. Given a bye week to recharge, Penny played a season-high 46% of the Hawks' snaps last week.

More importantly for a potential workload increase, however, Carson had a snap share of just 54% and may have gotten himself out of Pete Carroll's good graces. Carson fumbled on two plays in a row against the Eagles, and he's had fumbling issues all year.

Russell Wilson was actually given "credit" for the second fumble, but Penny got the remaining five carries for the 'Hawks after that fourth quarter snafu, and he finished the game with 14 carries to Carson's eight.

Penny totaled 129 yards and a score, and set himself up as a player who could pay big dividends down the stretch. Seattle gets the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals in Weeks 15 and 16. The Panthers and Cardinals are giving up the second- and fourth-most standard fantasy points per game to running backs over the past five weeks, so if Penny truly has taken over the backfield, then you may have a chance to pick up an RB2 for next to nothing. If Penny is still the backup to Carson, Carson's status as the lead dog seems to be on thin ice moving forward.