Between the Lines: Week 15 Snap Count Analysis

Several situations have changed with players returning from injury. What can snap counts tell us about how different players are being used?

In fantasy football, one way to gain an edge over opponents is to look beyond the box score and examine player snap counts. While a quick scan of player stats 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, opportunities breed fantasy points, and snap counts are one of the more predictive metrics for fantasy football performance. This makes sense, intuitively, as the more a player is on the field, the more opportunities he'll have to touch the ball, and the more opportunities he'll have to score fantasy points.

In each of these weekly articles, I'll evaluate each position by looking at snap count, opportunity, and efficiency trends. All data, unless otherwise noted, comes from numberFire's Snap Count page, where you can find more in-depth details about player snap usage.

Running Back

- After missing three games due to injury, it looks like D'Andre Swift has resumed his role as the lead back in the Detroit Lions' backfield. After a few frustrating red zone rushes from Adrian Peterson, Swift finished the game with 82 total yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 total opportunities. He did this with a season-high 65 percent snap share while Peterson had his seventh game under a 30 percent snap share in his last eight games. Kerryon Johnson similarly got phased out of the offense upon Swift's return with an 11 percent snap share, his lowest of the season. This should instill great confidence in those with Swift, even with a tough championship matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

- The Las Vegas Raiders backfield has largely been led by Josh Jacobs, but he hasn't been the only guy to see opportunities this year. On the season, Jacobs has held a solid 63 percent snap share, which is up from his 56 percent snap share from his rookie season. Regrettably, the presence of Jalen Richard and Devontae Booker has held him to just two games above a 70 percent snap share. Richard's snap share topped out at 41 percent just three weeks ago when Jacobs was out but fell to a season-low 4 percent on Thursday Night Football. Similarly, Booker's snap share has held steady around 30 percent throughout the season but only got a 12 percent rate on Thursday. The biggest issue for Jacobs (and what's capping his ceiling) is that Booker and Richard have combined for a staggering 33 percent of the backfield's opportunities on the season.

- Entering Sunday, Chase Edmonds had been dealing with an ankle injury, and Kenyan Drake looked like the better of the two in that backfield. That narrative flipped on a dime in the matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. Oddly enough, Drake and Edmonds had flip-flopped on leading the backfield in snaps since Drake returned from injury in Week 10. That trend continued with Edmonds leading Drake in snap share 53 to 50 this past week. The biggest sign of Drake's dominance, though, was that he was given 96 opportunities to Edmonds' 52 opportunities since Week 10. Edmonds made up the difference a bit on Sunday with four more opportunities than Drake. This may be the first sign that this backfield could return to a more even split.

Wide Receiver

- A.J. Brown and Corey Davis have been one of the best wide receiver tandems of the year, combining for 1,824 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns on 116 receptions. This is coming in large part due to the fourth-year breakout from Davis, who is on pace to set career marks in every major statistical category this season. He's doing so with a 77 percent snap share, having fallen below a 70 percent snap share in a game just twice this season. On the other hand, Brown has continued to dominate in his second year in the league. Brown is getting similar usage with an 81 percent snap share this year. Fortunately, we don't need to concern ourselves with any other part of the Tennessee Titans wide receiver group as nobody is getting over a 50 percent snap share this season.

- It's no secret that Davante Adams has been an alpha this season, not only for the Green Bay Packers but also for fantasy managers everywhere. Adams seemingly never leaves the field, with a snap share above 80 percent in 10 of the 11 fully-healthy games that he played. Behind him, it has been a combination of Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard. Lazard started the season off strong with three straight games above an 80 percent snap share but has failed to reach that mark since returning from injury in Week 11. Meanwhile, Valdez-Scantling has seen his playing time impacted a little bit with Lazard's return but had still recorded a snap share above 70 percent in 11 straight games before Week 15. It should be noted that Lazard has out-targeted Valdes-Scantling 23 to 15 in the last five games, a sign that Lazard is close to resuming his role as the WR2.

- Another team that has an alpha wide receiver is your AFC East champion Buffalo Bills, who are led by Stefon Diggs, the current league leader in receptions. Diggs is another player who rarely comes off the field, as he's had a snap share above 90 percent in all but two games this season. Thanks to the Bills utilizing his full skill set, he has already set career-high marks in both receptions and receiving yards. Once a forgotten slot threat, Cole Beasley has commanded the Bills' WR2 role while John Brown remains sidelined on a 68 percent snap share this season and an average of 7.3 targets per game. But we shouldn't forget about Gabriel Davis, who is actually seeing a higher snap share than Beasley at 72 percent but only averages 3.7 targets per game.

Tight End

- We're now two games into the Jalen Hurts era in Philadelphia, so it's time we examine how the tight ends are being used as they were always heavily targeted by Carson Wentz. Early indication is that Dallas Goedert has officially taken over the TE1 role with Zach Ertz getting dusted into fantasy football irrelevance. In the two games that Hurts has started, Goedert has out-targeted and out-snapped Ertz. Goedert's snap share hasn't fallen below 80 percent since returning from injury, while Ertz hasn't played above an 80 percent snap share in each of his past four games. For those pining for the Hurts to Ertz connection, I regret to inform you that it may not come to fruition as much as you would've liked.

- In a major let-down sport against the New York Jets, it looked like Tyler Higbee reclaimed his role as the number one tight end for the Los Angeles Rams. Prior to this game, Higbee had a slight edge over Gerald Everett by averaging 3.8 targets per game to his 3.6 targets per game despite a rather large discrepancy between the two in snap share. In Weeks 12 through 14, Everett saw his snap share rise in each game, peaking at 84 percent in Week 14, but that dipped all the way down to 46 percent in the loss to the Jets (his lowest rate since Week 5). On Sunday, Higbee saw a snap share above 80 percent for the third straight game and had his second-best fantasy outing of the season, scoring double-digit points for just the third time this season. Relying on Higbee in your championship game may be playing with fire, but you could do worse than a guy who has seen five targets and scored in two of his last three games.