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Fantasy Football Week 3 Usage Report

Are you upset that the stud you drafted to be just that, a stud, is not getting the looks or touches he needs to succeed? Or on the flip side, are you wondering why some schmuck or washed up old guy is still getting all the action? In the Usage Report, we take a look at the trends as they turn into realities, and determine whether or not we expect this to end or continue to drive you nuts! Carefully color coordinated to resemble our beloved stop light system: Green means GO GO GO while Red means don’t you dare.

Week 3 saw some big plays, many multi-touchdown days, and even a couple over-time tilts! Let’s get to what you really wanna know, who was keeping busy, and who was taking a knee even during the game.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Michael Thomas

8 targets, 7 receptions, 87 yards, 1 touchdown

This is what we expect from Drew Brees and the Saints every week. The interesting point here isn’t that Thomas had back to back productive games, it’s that Brees only attempted 29 passes. So Thomas had approximately a 28% target share in a game that could’ve seen more throws if the Panthers weren’t struggling to move the chains with the likes of Greg Olsen out and Kelvin Benjamin leaving early. Of Brees’ 22 completed passes, over one third of them were to Thomas. Expect the attempts to increase back to the norm, and thus the targets and receptions to do the same.

A.J. Green

13 targets, 11 receptions, 111 yards, 1 touchdown

Owners rejoice, the Bengals looked competent! And that is all it will take for A.J. to be relevant again. Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis have never had this squad looking like Super Bowl contenders, but they always seem to make their skill position players fantasy relevant. With Tyler Eifert down, targets were thrown down Green’s throat, and he capitalized. Expect the run game to eventually get going (and it finally be handed over to Joe Mixon), which will free up one of the best jump ball winners to get a shot at a big play at least once a game while accumulating many targets in between. Side note: It would be weird to have had to make Green’s name red.

Brandon Marshall

11 targets, 8 receptions, 66 yards

Just so you all know, we said Marshall was a lock to be a dud last week, but now we have some more clarity on what the problem was. Sure, we could throw Odell Beckham Jr. in green every week injury or not because you’re never really thinking of trading him (although that celebration of his may paint it yellow), but his counterpart likely just needed Odell to be on the field to get some better quality looks. In Week 3, he was given two more targets than the first two weeks combined (in which he totalled 2 catches). Having such a dynamic receiver opposite you truly works wonders, and Marshall has thrived when he has talent on the other side (remember Eric Decker and Alshon Jeffery?). Looks like the Giants are going to be forced to sling it quite a bit with a horrendous run game, so looks for Marshall to continue to be targeted as long as Odell is healthy.

Eric Decker

5 targets, 4 receptions, 49 yards

What a great segue! Don’t get us wrong, Decker is a great football player and is a perfect fit for the team, but his influence comes more so as a veteran presence for a young up-and-coming team. With receivers such as Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews, while having a major focus stay with the run game, it just doesn’t seem to result in any games in which you can truly trust Decker to go out and get you those touchdowns he used to pile up. Tennessee is already one of the best red zone teams, so maybe Decker’s greatest skill isn’t always needed.

Rashard Higgins

6 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards

This isn’t going to work out. Don’t trust a Browns receiver to get the job done ever. The one potential coming into this year was Corey Coleman, and now he’s gone. Higgins was unknown coming into the year for a reason.

TIGHT ENDS

Jimmy Graham

11 targets, 7 receptions, 72 yards

Jimmy had a great game, and there are simply only so many tight ends you can hang your hat on. With Doug Baldwin going down with a groin injury (timeline TBA), perhaps Russell Wilson will have to send more targets Graham’s way.

Evan Engram

7 targets, 5 receptions, 45 yards

This may be the only rookie that can be semi-trusted. We say “semi” because outside of the top two or three, you really can’t trust too many tight ends. The passing game is all the Giants have, so as other rookies have a harder time adjusting to the NFL due to run-blocking assignments, Engram is just rolled out as a receiving threat play after play.

Julius Thomas

5 targets, 3 receptions, 13 yards

It’s going to take a major injury for Thomas to crack into the Dolphins offense. Between Jay Ajayi, Devantae Parker, and Jarvis Landry, that’s just about all the team can afford to support. It’s also alarming that the offense couldn’t score on the Jets until the last drive of the game when the Jets were just glad to have gotten potentially their only win of the season.

O.J. Howard

1 target, 12 yards

Everyone loves high upside tight ends, that’s literally one of the only things to look for in the streamable tight ends. What people shouldn’t like, tight ends sharing almost exactly half of the snaps with their tight end teammate counterpart. As is the case with Howard and Cameron Brate. Howard has a slight edge in playing time, but it was Brate who came down with the touchdown this past week. It’s going to take a Brate injury to make Howard even considerable. Howard just isn’t distancing himself enough.

RUNNING BACKS

Todd Gurley

28 carries, 113 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns & 7 targets, 5 receptions, 36 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Even without the 3 touchdowns, you could make the case for trading Gurley for the likes of any of the top picks from the beginning of the year. There were 32 Rams’ carries out of the backfield in Week 3. The quarterback Jared Goff rushed once, the gadget wide receiver Tavon Austin rushed 3 times, and the other 28… all went to Gurley. On top of that, he was active again in the passing game, catching the third most passes on the team in a high scoring affair (and also turning one of those into a touchdown). Sure, everyone will remember his three touchdowns, BUT HE SHOULD’VE HAD 5!

Dalvin Cook

27 carries, 97 yards rushing, 1 touchdown & 5 targets, 5 receptions, 72 yards receiving

Perhaps the biggest reason why this stat line won’t turn any heads is because Cook didn’t stroll for multiple touchdowns like Gurley, when in all seriousness, he played just as well if not better. It was expected that Case Keenum was going to drastically hurt this team’s offense in every aspect, but this was the best we have seen from Cook. This was a game that was absolutely dominated from start to finish by the Vikings, but it may help that this rapport has been formed with Keenum and Cook in case it has to last any longer with Bradford sidelined. Don’t expect Keenum to always have this offense rolling, but at least Cook is locked in as the every down back and is extremely efficient in the passing game.

Devonta Freeman

21 carries, 106 yards, 1 touchdown & 3 targets, 3 receptions, 32 receiving yards

Wow. It is hard to explain how impressive it is to hold off such a competent runner in Tevin Coleman with such ease. Freeman has perhaps the most pressure in any backfield in terms of the backup pressuring for touches (outside of perhaps Demarco Murray) but doesn’t seem to be affected whatsoever. He may just be the safest running back out there. In a high powered offense, with a capable quarterback in Matt Ryan, a legitimate stud at receiver in Julio Jones, the trust of his teammates, and coach to make big plays when it matters, consider Freeman as safe as they come.

Wendell Smallwood / LeGarrette Blount

WS: 12 carries, 71 rushing yards & 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards vs. LB: 12 carries, 67 yards, 1 touchdown

While you may think Blount had a good day and that this performance saved his job, you’re missing one simple fact, Blount signed a one year contract and will be 31 in a couple months. Meanwhile, Wendell Smallwood (57% snap share, highest on team in Week 3), who was decent and is a more versatile pass catcher, is 7 years younger. Darren Sproles went down with a broken arm and a torn ACL to boot, so expect Smallwood to start filling in. It could end up, however, that Blount will start losing touches to a player the Eagles have under contract until the end of the 2019 season. Why not development young talent if you have it and it doesn’t cost your team? At the very least, the capital you spent on Blount is turning into a timeshare with Smallwood and other backs mixing in for touches here and there.

Isaiah Crowell

12 carries, 44 rushing yards & 3 targets, 2 receptions, 10 receiving yards

We figured this may be the get right game for Crowell, but to no avail. He only touched the ball 14 out of the 68 offensive plays ran, while Duke Johnson made much more of his 8 touches, garnering 104 total yards and a touchdown. One of the biggest criticism’s of Crowell was his low usage rate in the passing game, and with the Browns often playing from behind (even when they are favored to win apparently), this criticism likely holds weight. Some believed he would be more of an impact in the passing game (like many other backs who’s offseason focus was to be involved here), but Duke is just too good and used to his job.

To leave off…

Our “Use It or Lose It” usage stats of the week:

Through three weeks, Ty Montgomery has logged 205 snaps. This is 32 more than any other back in the league!

Marshawn Lynch’s total snaps/carries/percent of teams offensive snaps have decreased each week this season…

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