Between the Lines: Week 14 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 those opportunities 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 14. For a look at all of last week's snap count data, numberFire has you covered.

1. DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders

If there were a movie written about the players who are in this article, it could be called The Replacements. While DeAndre Washington may not have Keanu's acting chops, he certainly helps fill out a fantasy roster more effectively, and he could be a piece that's a useful addition as we head into the last two weeks of the fantasy playoffs.

With Josh Jacobs out in Week 14 with a fractured shoulder, we knew that both Washington and Jalen Richard would see big upticks in play. Washington took the biggest advantage, seeing a 63% snap share to Richards' 38%, and if Jacobs' absence continues (Do the Raiders really want to risk further injury to Jacobs with the playoffs all but out of reach?), he should be at least a strong flex play going forward.

The most surprising thing about Sunday's game was Washington's involvement in the passing game. Coming into the game against the Tennessee Titans, Washington had 18 receptions on 19 targets compared to Washington's 26 and 31. Richard had four-plus targets in three out of his past five games, a mark Washington had yet to reach on the season. Despite that discrepancy, it was Washington who led the backfield-and his team-with six catches (tied with Darren Waller) on seven targets.

If Jacobs is out, then Washington's matchup is pretty ideal. He faces a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that is ranked 31st against the run, according to numberFire's Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per Play metric. The Jags have given up the most standard and PPR points to opposing backs over the past five weeks, which is all the more impressive as the Carolina Panthers (who have given up the second most) have played one more game in that span.

We currently have Washington projected for 10.1 PPR points. If Jacobs is confirmed to be out again, expect that number to rise.

2. Isaiah Ford, WR, Miami Dolphins

Both DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson suffered concussions in the Miami Dolphins' Week 14 nail-biting loss to the New York Jets, but despite those bad events, the team walked away with a silver lining: the play of wide receiver Isaiah Ford.

Ford didn't see the field for over a year after being drafted with the 237th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and his four appearances until this past week left a lot to be desired. He had caught just two of six passes thrown his way this year for a total of six yards.

With Parker and Wilson on the sidelines, however, Ford finally had a chance to shine. On the field for 76% of the teams plays (up from a then career-high 26% a week before), he led all Dolphins receivers with six catches on nine targets for 92 yards.

Whether he gets to see a similar amount of time this week will depend on Parker and Wilson's availability. If their concussions keep them off the field, Ford would get a matchup against the New York Giants, who rank 27th against the pass by our NEP metric.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has praised the young receiver, stating that “There are times when I ask Isaiah questions about the offense, that’s how smart the kid is.” If Parker and Wilson are out in Week 15, he could be singing Ford's praises once more.

3. Justin Watson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With Mike Evans likely done for the year with a hamstring injury, somebody needs to step up to complement Chris Godwin in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' receiving corps. It looks like the Bucs have already found out who that player will be.

With Evans out, it was the 6'3" Justin Watson who carved out a role for himself. The second-year player out of Penn saw his snap share increase from 14% to a career-high 55%. More important, however, is what he did with that jump in opportunity. Watson was second only to Godwin with eight targets. He caught five of those balls for 59 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown.

Breshad Perriman also clearly benefits from Evans' absence (and he also found the end zone in Week 14), and he certainly has had more opportunity to build a rapport with Jameis Winston. The targets speak volumes, however, and Watson's higher involvement despite seeing a 55% snap share to Perriman's 83% is an indication of who will be more involved going forward.

That could obviously change, and nobody here is a mind-reader, but with the Bucs out of the playoff race, it makes sense for them to get their young receiver more involved going forward.

4. Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers

While I talked about Raheem Mostert's rise to prominence in this article last week, my conclusions of likely lowered opportunity ended up being wrong. With the impending return of Matt Breida, I was not hopeful that Mostert would continue to see the type of work that led him to a monster 146-rushing-yard performance against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.

Come Sunday, head coach Kyle Shanahan decided that he'd throw all notions of an RBBC aside and stick with Mostert as his workhorse. Until this past Sunday, Mostert had seen no higher than a 32% snap share in games in which he, Tevin Coleman, and Matt Breida all played together. On Sunday, that number spiked to 60%, while Coleman and Breida saw just 16% and 18%, respectively.

Mostert's 12 touches easily outpaced Breida's seven, and "Call Him FedEx" ended up using those opportunities to score through the air and on the ground.

Rostered in just 23.7% of ESPN leagues heading into the fantasy semifinals, Mostert is at this point a must-have player who deserves a starting flex spot, if not better. We currently have him projected for 10.8 PPR points this week.