Fantasy News & Analysis

NFL Week 15 Recap: Immediate fantasy football takeaways from Sunday's games

2TCB74J Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert (31) runs for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Monday, Dec. 11, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Raheem Mostert reaches 20 touchdowns: The Miami Dolphins dominated despite not having Tyreek Hill. Mostert scored twice to bring his season total to 20 touchdowns.

Chris Godwin posts his best numbers of the year: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver had been consistent while not putting up the same numbers as past years, but he helped turn that around this week with 10 receptions for 155 yards.

Rashee Rice keeps getting better: The Kansas City Chiefs rookie wide receiver posted a career-high nine receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown to help the team achieve a road victory.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

PFF's fantasy football recap focuses on player usage and stats, breaking down all the vital information you need to achieve fantasy success in 2023.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers

Bijan Robinson struggles: He played his lowest snaps share outside of his headache game in his career.

  • It was clear the Falcons planned to use Tyler Allgeier more than they in recent games from the first drive, as he ran four times to Robinson's three.
  • Robinson ran four more times after the first drive during the first three quarters, but he only gained 11 yards on those seven carries.
  • On his final carry of the game, he lost a fumble.
  • He was still on the field for six-of-11 fourth-quarter plays, but he wasn’t given the ball or targeted on a pass on any of those six plays.
  • This all came after his highest snap share in a Falcons' Week 13 win (75% of Atlanta's snaps) and his second-best snap share of his career last week at 78%.
  • The Falcons play the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears over the next two weeks, and they both rank in the top eight at allowing fantasy points to running backs. Chances are one of Robinson and Allgeier will put up big numbers in those games, but we might not know which back it is until it’s too late.

Falcons shenanigans continue at tight end: The Falcons added Tucker Fisk to the tight end rotation this week.

  • The Falcons had used a four-man rotation in recent weeks with Parker Hesse coming up from the practice squad. Last week, they used a three-man rotation that helped both Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith.
  • This week, the fullback/tight end hybrid Fisk was brought up for a third time. He played significantly in Week 9 but as a fullback with Keith Smith injured.
  • In this game, Fisk split his duties at both fullback and tight end.
  • Smith led the team in receiving with two receptions for 61 yards while Pitts finished second with three receptions for 37 yards, but neither was running enough routes to fully trust them in a rainy game.
  • On paper, the Falcons have two great matchups against the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears remaining, but we can’t trust Smith, who was running a route on 40% of Atlanta's pass plays and has been well under 50% of the team's offensive snaps in four of the last five games.
  • Pitts could be a borderline fantasy starter in those lineups but as always he will come with a lot of risk.

Panthers only have four active wide receivers: Both Mike Strachan and Terrace Marshall Jr. were healthy inactive, leaving them with only four options.

  • This was a game with a lot of rain, so it’s possible Carolina knew it would be running a lot all game.
  • Despite running on over half of their plays, the Panthers stayed in 11 personnel for almost the entire game.
  • Ihmir Smith-Marsette may have been given an edge because of his ability to run. He ran four times for 31 yards, making a positive contribution to the Panthers offense.
  • This was the fifth consecutive game where Marshall was inactive.
  • D.J. Chark Jr. was the player to lose some playing time to Smith-Marsette. He caught one pass for 18 yards and has been held to three or fewer receptions for 60 or fewer yards in every game since Week 3.
  • We could see several changes to the Panthers wide receiver room this offseason.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Falcons wide receiver Mack Hollins was playing over 70% of Atlanta's offensive snaps over the first four weeks, but then his role was reduced, and he missed three games due to injury. He returned last week but for only six offensive snaps. He was a healthy inactive for this game.
  • Panthers tight end Hayden Hurst, who missed the last four games due to a concussion, was placed on injured reserve this past week, ending his season. 
  • Backup tight end Ian Thomas also missed this game due to an ankle injury, so Carolina mostly relied on Tommy Tremble.

Chicago Bears @ Cleveland Browns

The Bears are back to a three-man backfield: D’Onta Foreman, Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson split the rushing workload pretty evenly.

  • Foreman started the game as the early-down back, but Herbert started mixing in on the second drive.
  • Foreman ran the ball six times in the game but lost six yards on those carries. His longest run went for two yards.
  • This likely opened the door for Herbert to be more involved, but he wasn’t any better with eight yards on his six carries.
  • Roschon Johnson was the clear best running back for Chicago. He remained the receiving back as he’s been all season, catching four passes for 24 yards. He was also able to run the ball five times and gain 36 yards on his carries.
  • A big reason Johnson had so many opportunities is because of how much time the Bears spent on third downs or in two-minute drills. He remains the third option on early downs.
  • Despite the dramatically different days for the running backs, Foreman might still be the player with the most fantasy points going forward because he’s the goal-line back.
  • This is clearly a situation to avoid these next two weeks.

David Njoku is playing like a league winner: Njoku caught 10 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown.

  • This is after catching six passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns a week ago.
  • This was the first time in his 93-game career that he reached double-digit receptions and was just the second time he surpassed 100 receiving yards.
  • His fantasy value has largely depended on his quarterback in recent seasons. He was a fantasy starter with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback last season, but his value dropped both at the end of last year and the start of this year with Deshaun Watson. Now, he has Joe Flacco.
  • His playing time has been incredibly consistent over the last six games.
  • The Browns play the Houston Texans next week, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season and then the New York Jets, who have been average.
  • Njoku could remain among the top fantasy tight ends over these last two weeks.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Equanimeous St. Brown was inactive for a second straight game due to a pectoral injury. This allowed Tyler Scott to be the third wide receiver and have his best game of the season with three receptions for 49 yards.
  • Jerome Ford has averaged 2.6 rushing yards or less in four of his last seven games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers

  • Chris Godwin: 10 receptions, 155 yards
  • Rachaad White: 21 carries, 89 yards; 2 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown

Packers adjust with A.J. Dillon out: Dillon’s being out coincided with Aaron Jones return after missing the last three weeks.

  • Jones ended up being a direct replacement for Dillon. Jones was the clear early-down and goal-line back while Patrick Taylor was the passing-down back.
  • This was at least a little surprising considering Jones has been Green Bay's best receiving running back over the last few seasons.
  • Jones ran 13 times for 53 yards and caught four passes for 16 yards.
  • Kenyan Drake also made his Packers debut, taking a few snaps on early downs and rushing once for no gain. Drake had spent time with the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns in the last five months.
  • The Packers backfield hasn’t been at 100% all season and it could look very different in 2024. Dillon will be an unrestricted free agent while Jones is 29 years old and could be released.

The Packers are also hurting at wide receiver: Green Bay didn’t have two of its top three wide receivers by the end of this game.

  • Christian Watson didn’t practice all week due to a hamstring injury and was ultimately inactive.
  • Dontayvion Wicks replaced him in the lineup as he’s done at several points during the season even though he never had a full day of practice this past week due to an ankle injury. Wicks was the Packers’ top wide receiver in this game, catching six passes for 97 yards.
  • Bo Melton was activated off the practice squad for the second time this season to be the fifth wide receiver while Samori Toure was a healthy inactive.
  • Jayden Reed went to the blue medical tent after a third-down catch late in the second half. He sat out the rest of the half but was back for the start of the third quarter.
  • Reed only played one snap in the fourth quarter and then was out due to a toe injury.
  • Malik Heath and Melton split snaps while replacing Reed in the slot. Romeo Doubs had some experience in the slot in 2022, but he remained in his usual role out wide.
  • The Packers have a matchup against the Carolina Panthers, who have generally done a good job at slowing down wide receivers, next week, so it might be best to avoid these backups for at least one game until we see who is healthy for Week 17.

David Moore gets a little more involved: The former Seattle Seahawk caught two passes for 68 yards and a touchdown.

  • The veteran receiver had spent the first half of the season on the practice squad but became part of the wide receiver rotation once rookie Rakim Jarrett landed on injured reserve.
  • His playing time has risen slightly in recent weeks, cutting into rookie Trey Palmer‘s playing time.
  • The sixth-round pick had two touchdowns over the first four weeks and two games with over 40 receiving yards from Weeks 6-9, but he has been held under 22 receiving yards with no touchdowns in each of his last six games.
  • Palmer played his lowest snap share in this game since Week 2 when he was still competing for the third wide receiver job.
  • It wouldn’t be surprising if Moore gets even more involved next week. It won’t be enough for him to be relevant in redraft leagues, but it’s worth noting for DFS.



Miscellaneous Notes

  • Rachaad White was held to fewer than 80 rushing yards in each of his first 10 games of the season but has gained more than 80 rushing yards in each of his last four games. This was also the first game of White’s career with 50-plus rushing yards and 50-plus receiving yards.
  • Tucker Kraft posted his second-straight game over 50 receiving yards and scored his second touchdown of the season. His next two matchups aren’t great, but he could still be worth considering with all of the other injuries to Packers' skill players. Had this been the middle of the season, Kraft would be among the top waiver options.

New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins

  • Raheem Mostert: 15 carries, 42 yards, 2 touchdowns; 2 receptions, 1 receiving yard
  • Jaylen Waddle: 8 receptions, 142 yards, 1 touchdown

De’Von Achane’s quiet game: The Dolphins won 30-0, which usually would have been great for Achane, but he was held under 10 PPR points.

  • Achane has been the primary receiving back when healthy but has also gained plenty of fantasy production in the second half of games when the Dolphins have been winning.
  • Raheem Mostert played 22-of-31 first-half snaps, leaving Achane with 10-of-31. Last week, the Dolphins ran several plays with both running backs on the field but that didn’t happen much in this game.
  • Miami was ahead 24-0 at halftime but Mostert still played in over half of the offensive snaps in the third quarter.
  • The Dolphins pulled their starters by the middle of the fourth quarter but at that point it was Jeff Wilson Jr. taking most of the snaps.
  • Achane was dealing with a toe injury which led him to miss practice for most of the week which likely had some impact on his role in the second half.
  • The Dolphins face the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens over the next two weeks, who are two of the top four teams in the NFL. We are unlikely to see a lot of garbage time Achane in those games, and both have been good at preventing receiving yards to running backs. We might not see Achane as a fantasy starter again in 2024.

Dolphins are fine without Tyreek Hill: The MVP candidate didn’t practice all week. He warmed up before the game, but they ultimately decided to be cautious, making him inactive.

  • Jaylen Waddle seamlessly took over as the top receiving option on the team, posting his best receiving numbers of the season.
  • Cedrick Wilson took over for Hill in the starting lineup in playing time only. He caught two passes for two yards. It was the most playing time he had ever received in his time with the Dolphins.
  • Robbie Chosen had been inactive for Miami in six of the last seven games, but he overtook River Cracraft and Chase Claypool as the primary backup receiver for this game although he didn’t see a target while Claypool was targeted on both of his routes.
  • Wilson would only be worth considering off the waiver wire at this point if both Hill and Waddle miss time due to injury.
  • Waddle left the game briefly on the first drive due to a chest injury, but he was able to return by the second drive.

Israel Abanikanda plays significant snaps for first time: The fifth-round rookie played more offensive snaps in this game than all other weeks put together.

  • Abanikanda started the season as a healthy inactive each of the first 10 weeks and started to be active once the team released Michael Carter.
  • Carter’s release allowed Breece Hall to play more in passing situations and Dalvin Cook to run the ball more, but Cook averaged less than three yards per carry over his previous three games.
  • The Jets continued their split of Hall and Cook in the first half, but Cook only ran the ball once for four yards.
  • Hall took all three plays on the Jets' first drive of the second half. After that point, Abanikanda started to play and took 22 of the remaining 28 snaps. Hall played three more snaps over the rest of the game while Cook didn’t receive a single snap over the second half.
  • Now that the Jets are eliminated from playoff contention, it’s possible we continue to see Abanikanda play over Cook.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Zach Wilson left the game late in the second quarter due to a head injury and was ruled out in the third quarter. Trevor Siemian replaced him in the lineup.
  • Jason Brownlee was inactive for a second straight game due to injury allowing Allen Lazard to be a starter and Randall Cobb to be active again. No Jets player had more than 30 receiving yards in this game.
  • Dolphins tight end Durham Smythe tied his season high in receptions at four.

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots

Clyde Edwards-Helaire leads the Chiefs backfield: Isiah Pacheco missed his second straight game due to a shoulder injury.

  • The running back rotation was basically identical to last week. The difference is the Chiefs ran 17 plays in two-minute drills last week and no two-minute drill plays this week. This meant the snaps between Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon were near-even last week while Edwards-Helaire dominated the snaps this week.
  • This left Edwards-Helaire with most of the rushing work as expected. What wasn’t expected was that Edwards-Helaire managed both a 48-yard reception as well as a touchdown reception. This left him with 20.1 PPR points.
  • Anyone who decided to stick with McKinnon over Edwards-Helaire wasn’t too disappointed. McKinnon also caught a touchdown pass. He also got credit for a passing touchdown from a slightly forward pitch to Rashee Rice.
  • If Pacheco misses another week, Edwards-Helaire should still be the player to target given his clear lead on early downs for the team. They have a favorable matchup next week against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Your weekly Chiefs wide receiver update: Rashee Rice’s fantasy value continues to improve week after week.

  • Rice was only off the field for five offensive plays as his playing time continues to improve. His playing time is no longer an issue like it was for the first two-thirds of the season.
  • He’s caught at least seven passes for 60 yards in each of his last four games, and he has a touchdown in three of those four.
  • Justin Watson and Kadarius Toney were the second and third wide receivers for a second-straight week in terms of playing time, routes run and targets.
  • That means both Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore have been getting phases out of the offense. They combined for one target in this game.
  • This is the second-straight game where Moore was playing noticeably fewer snaps than he was this time last year.
  • Rice is a must-start player for the rest of the season, and his draft stock for 2024 fantasy drafts just keeps getting higher.

Your weekly Patriots wide receiver update: The Patriots gained two of their top wide receivers back this week but didn’t have a third.

  • DeVante Parker was inactive last week due to a knee injury but was back for this game. He only took a few snaps off throughout the game and caught five passes for 44 yards.
  • Demario Douglas was also back after missing the last two games with a concussion. He played 100% of New England's 11 personnel snaps and 12-of-21 snaps in 12 personnel, which was fairly similar to other weeks. The Patriots ran eight plays out of 13 personnel, and he only played in two of those snaps.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was active last week, was inactive this week due to an ankle injury. Smith-Schuster played his best game of the season last week with four receptions for 90 yards against his former team the Pittsburgh Steelers. He missed a chance for a second-straight revenge game against another former team.
  • Jalen Reagor was ahead of Tyquan Thornton on the depth chart in the middle of the season. Over the last month, Thornton was ahead, but in this game, Reagor joined Parker and Douglas in 11 personnel more often than not. He also played significant snaps in 12 personnel.
  • Kayshon Boutte was inactive for a third straight game. He was ruled out the previous two weeks due to a shoulder injury, but he was off the injury report by Friday, wasn’t given a game designation and was still inactive.
  • Douglas is an intriguing option for 2024, but given the Patriots remaining schedule and how little he was involved in the passing game Sunday, it’s probably best to wait until 2024 to trust him again.

Add Hunter Henry: The Patriots lead tight end caught seven passes for 66 yards and a touchdown.

  • Henry started the season well with at least 50 receiving yards in three of his first four games and a touchdown in his first two.
  • He averaged 17 yards per game over his next 10 games with only one touchdown during that stretch.
  • He celebrated his 29th birthday on Thursday Night Football in Week 14, catching three passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns.
  • There is certainly a chance Henry reverts to the 17-yard-per-game player next week, but he is playing the Denver Broncos, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.
  • This gives Henry the clear top matchup among tight ends available off the waiver wire, so he is likely the best option for any fantasy manager looking for a tight end specifically next week.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Chiefs wide receiver Justyn Ross was eligible to return from his suspension but wasn’t brought back to the 53-man roster just yet.
  • Travis Kelce was noticeably in pain late in the game, and he wasn’t on the field for the last four plays when the Chiefs ran out the clock, but Andy Reid didn’t sound too concerned after the game, calling it a “little stinger”.
  • Ezekiel Elliott played nearly every offensive snap for a second-straight week with Rhamondre Stevenson out. Ty Montgomery was the backup last week, but he was released. This week, Kevin Harris was the backup and managed a touchdown run on one of his few snaps.

New York Giants @ New Orleans Saints

Rashid Shaheed returns to the Saints: New Orleans gained one of their starters back but also missed Chris Olave.

  • The Saints rotated their wide receivers a bit more than they had in recent weeks. No player played over 60% of the team's offensive snaps after Olave, A.T. Perry and Lynn Bowden Jr. all played more than 60% last week.
  • That’s because the Saints spent most of last week in 11 personnel, whereas in that game they only used 11 personnel on 39% of their plays. They were also OK with getting Marquez Callaway more involved this week than last week for run-blocking purposes.
  • This left Derek Carr spreading out his passes with 10 different players catching at least one pass and no one gaining more than 45 receiving yards.
  • The Saints face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fantasy championship round. Presumably, all three wide receivers could be healthy for that game and put up big numbers in a game that will be a must-win for both teams.

Saquon Barkley loses passing down role: Barkley only played 50% of offensive snaps despite presumably being healthy.

  • There have been weeks where Matt Breida would play almost half of the third-down and two-minute snaps, but in every game where Barkley has been healthy this season, he’s either played the majority of passing-down snaps or dominated those snaps.
  • This week, Breida ran as many routes as Barkley. This was happening as early as the first quarter when Barkley played seven snaps in the quarter compared to Breida's six.
  • The two continued to largely split snaps over the first three quarters.
  • Over the last five minutes of the game, the Giants mostly kept starters in the game, but they gave rookie Eric Gray a chance to be the receiving back. He caught three passes for six yards.
  • Barkley remained the primary rushing running back, but he only gained 14 yards on nine carries. He at least caught two passes for 23 yards, one of which will be on several highlight reels over the next 24 hours.
  • This ended up being the first game of his career where he played 50% of New York's offensive snaps or more but was held to 11 or fewer touches.
  • The Giants have been one of the best teams against running backs this season, but their next two opponents the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams have also been two of the best. Barkley might not win too many fantasy managers a championship this season.

Darren Waller limited in his return: The former All-Pro tight end was activated off injured reserve after missing the last five games.

  • Waller played only 25 of a possible 62 snaps. The Giants spent most of the day in 11 personnel. He played both snaps out of 12 personnel and none of the four snaps out of 21 personnel.
  • Daniel Bellinger was playing the majority of 11 personnel snaps on first and second down while Waller was playing the majority of snaps out of 11 personnel on third downs.
  • Waller was at least targeted on five of his 22 routes run, bringing in four passes for 40 yards. He finished second on the team in receiving yards.
  • The Giants play the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams the next two weeks, which should be two very good matchups for Waller. If he can be a full participant in practice all week, that will help reassure fantasy managers considering starting Waller. 

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Tommy DeVito left the first half early to be evaluated for a head injury, but he was able to return to the game for the second half.
  • Giants backup wide receiver Parris Campbell was inactive for a second straight game. Last week, it was presumably due to injury, but he was a full participant in practice all weekend wasn’t given an injury designation but remained still inactive.
  • Third-round rookie running back Kendre Miller has now missed five consecutive games due to an ankle injury. He’s yet to practice during that time.
  • This game seemed like a prime opportunity for Taysom Hill to dominate fantasy production, but he only lined up at quarterback four times. He threw one incomplete pass and ran the ball once for one yard.

Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans

Dameon Pierce phases out of Texans offense: Pierce only played four offensive snaps for Houston.

  • Pierce’s playing time has generally been declining for about a year now.
  • In Week 13, he was surprisingly the lead rusher with 15 carries despite Devin Singletary’s good play the weeks prior, but he only averaged 2.7 yards per carry.
  • This led Singletary to take the lead-back role again last week and dominated that role even further this week.
  • Singletary ran 26 times which was the second-most for him in a game in his career. The only time he ran for more was Week 10 this year where he ran 30 times.
  • At this point, Pierce can be dropped in fantasy leagues.

Noah Brown shines despite other Texans’ injuries: Brown was the clear lead receiver for Houston and favorite target for Case Keenum.

  • The Texans didn’t have quarterback C.J. Stroud or lead receiver Nico Collins this week due to injuries, leading many to speculate the Texans’ passing game wouldn’t be as explosive this week.
  • Brown and Robert Woods were heavy parts of the Texans’ wide receiver rotation while rookie Xavier Hutchinson joined as the third wide receiver for most of the game.
  • Brown received more than twice as many targets as any other Texan and caught twice as many passes.
  • Brown should be among the top waiver targets at wide receiver as the Texans play the Titans again in two weeks. Even if Collins is healthy for that game, Brown should stay a big part of the passing game.

Titans shift wide receiver strategy: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine went from leading the wide receiver room in offensive snaps last week to being a clear fourth this week.

  • Westbrook-Ikhine was consistently on the field in 11 personnel a week ago, but this week, it was more of a rotation with Chris Moore.
  • This allowed DeAndre Hopkins to play more in the slot than usual. He had a 36% target rate from the slot in 11 personnel but was only able to catch one of those passes.
  • The Titans also generally like getting Westbrook-Ikhine and Moore on the field a lot on early downs, but this week, both Hopkins and Treylon Burks played more on early downs than usual.
  • Burks ended up leading the team in receiving yards with 62.
  • Mason Kinsey was signed to the active roster this week with Kyle Philips inactive due to injury, but Kinsey only played two offensive snaps.
  • Considering how well the Texans shut down Hopkins in this game, it might be hard to trust Hopkins during the fantasy championship round when these two teams play each other again.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Dalton Schultz returned to the Texans lineup after missing the last two games. His playing time was normal, and he caught four passes for 58 yards.
  • Titans rookie quarterback Will Levis went to the medical tent late in the game after a sack. He was able to walk off the field, but it’s unclear at this point the extent of his injury. Given that the Titans have been eliminated from playoff contention, the Titans might not be in a rush for him to return.
  • Titans rookie tight end Josh Whyle missed another game due to injury, allowing Chigoziem Okonkwo to run a route on 25 of a possible 36 pass plays. He was only targeted three times but caught all three for 36 yards.

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

  • Christian McCaffrey: 18 carries, 115 yards, 1 touchdown; 5 receptions, 72 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
  • Deebo Samuel: 4 receptions, 48 yards, 2 touchdowns; 1 carry, 11 rushing yards

Monitor Marquise Brown’s health: Brown was questionable with a heel injury and was unable to play in the second half.

  • On the bright side, Michael Wilson returned after missing the last three games with a neck injury.
  • All the wide receivers rotated in and out more than usual in the first half. All of their wide receivers missed at least five plays in 11 personnel during the half, allowing Greg Dortch to play just as much as Brown, Wilson and Rondale Moore.
  • As expected, Brown and Wilson were the primary wide receivers in 12 personnel.
  • After the injury, there was much less rotation in 11 personnel, with Zach Pascal serving as the primary backup to all three receivers. The Cardinals rarely used 12 personnel, but Greg Dortch was Brown’s primary replacement in that personnel grouping.
  • The wide receiver rotation largely didn’t matter to the actual results of the game. All three tight ends finished first, second and third on the team in receiving yards. Dortch led the wide receiver room with two receptions for 15 yards.

Cardinals' backfield shines against 49ers run defense: All three running backs averaged at least 9.0 yards per carry.

  • Arizona started with their normal running back rotation, with James Conner taking early-down snaps and Emari Demercado taking third downs.
  • Michael Carter played just six snaps in the first three quarters. The Cardinals were down by a lot in the fourth quarter, so they used that as an opportunity to get Carter more experience in the offense.
  • While Demercado put up big numbers, it was almost all from a 49-yard touchdown run while the team was down by 19 in the fourth quarter. We shouldn’t expect an increased role for him going forward.
  • Conner is quietly having an excellent season. He’s averaged at least 4.2 yards per carry in all 10 of his games. No other starting running back is at 100%. Jahmyr Gibbs, Christian McCaffrey and James Cook are the only running backs who have averaged over 4.2 yards per carry in at least 60% of their games.
  • Conner can remain a fantasy starter over the next two weeks despite playing only half of the offensive snaps.

It was a quiet day for some 49ers: Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle combined for five receptions for 91 yards and no touchdowns despite the team scoring 45 points.

  • The 49ers' player usage remained unchanged — Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Aiyuk and Kittle usually play the vast majority of offensive snaps, and they all played over 80% of snaps in this game.
  • The problem was that the 49ers didn’t run that many plays. The Cardinals had three drives of 11 or more plays, and the 49ers didn’t have any. Arizona also had only two three-and-outs, so they won the time of possession battle.
  • Typically, three of the four 49ers stars can put up big numbers, but McCaffrey and Samuel combined for five touchdowns.
  • There isn’t much reason for concern about Aiyuk or Kittle.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Kyler Murray and Brock Purdy left for the medical tent at different points in the game, but both were able to return.
  • Trey McBride also left temporarily with a shoulder injury, but he was able to return. McBride gained 102 yards on 10 receptions. He is the only tight end with multiple 100-yard receiving games over the last six weeks.
  • Elijah Mitchell missed his second consecutive game with a knee injury. This allowed Jordan Mason to be the primary backup again. Ten of his 13 snaps occurred in the last 10 minutes of the game.

Washington Commanders @ Los Angeles Rams

Commanders adjust without Brian Robinson: The Commanders starting running back was inactive due to a hamstring injury.

  • The Commanders went with a three-man approach at running back. Antonio Gibson has served as the passing down back all season, but he became the early-down back and remained the two-minute-drill back.
  • Gibson ran the ball only four times and caught five passes. In the end, his stat line was not that different from what it usually is.
  • Rookie Chris Rodriguez Jr. also played significant snaps on early downs and in goal-line situations. He led the team in rushing attempts (10), gaining 35 yards. Despite all of the snaps at the goal line, he didn't end up with any touchdowns.
  • Jonathan Williams, who was activated off the practice squad, served as the team’s third-down back.
  • The three-man committee makes this a clear situation to avoid if Robinson continues to miss time.

Tyler Higbee returns but in a limited role: Higbee used to be one of the most consistent tight ends in terms of playing time, but that is no longer true.

  • The Rams traded for Hunter Long in the offseason as part of the deal that sent CB Jalen Ramsey to the Dolphins, but Long spent most of the season on injured reserve.
  • Long took some snaps from Higbee in Week 12, but almost all those snaps came in blocking situations. 
  • Higbee wasn’t rotated out as much in Week 13, but then he suffered a neck injury, keeping him out of Week 14, too.
  • Long started in Week 14 but suffered a season-ending injury. This left rookie Davis Allen as the next man up, and he caught four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown — the first time a Rams tight end gained at least 50 yards and a touchdown this season.
  • Higbee played 100% of snaps in the first quarter today, but it was a 50/50 split with Allen over the rest of the game.
  • Higbee caught four passes for 36 yards, while Allen caught his only target for 14 yards.
  • This will be a situation to avoid going forward. Higbee is under contract for two more years, and it might not make much sense to cut him this offseason. He turns 31 in two weeks, so this could become a committee for all of next year.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Sam Howell was benched for Jacoby Brissett late in the game, and Brissett put up much better numbers. Ron Rivera said after the game that Howell would remain the starter.
  • Terry McLaurin didn’t catch a pass despite playing 82% of offensive snaps last week. This week, his 141 receiving yards marked a career-high.
  • Tutu Atwell was inactive with a concussion. Demarcus Robinson completely took his spot (as expected), scoring a touchdown on one of his two receptions.

Dallas Cowboys @ Buffalo Bills

  • James Cook: 25 carries, 179 yards, 1 touchdown; 2 receptions, 42 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
  • CeeDee Lamb: 7 receptions, 53 yards; 1 carry, 3 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown

Bills players' workload is greatly skewed: Stefon Diggs and Dalton Kincaid’s snap counts fell considerably as the Bills focused entirely on running the ball.

  • The Bills ran 15 plays out of 21 personnel. Quintin Morris took most of the snaps at tight end, and Trent Sherfield and Khalil Shakir were the leading wide receivers in that personnel grouping.
  • Stefon Diggs played only half of the 12-personnel snaps. Buffalo passed four times and ran 18 times from that personnel grouping, and Diggs was on the field for all of the passing plays.
  • Buffalo ran nearly half the time from 11 personnel, too. Dalton Kincaid took 11 snaps out of 11 personnel, as did Dawson Knox. Even Morris played five snaps in 11 personnel.
  • There is probably nothing to worry about for Diggs, as this was probably a one-time thing. There might be some reason for concern for Kincaid.
  • Last week, Dawson Knox returned from injury, but that had little impact on Kincaid’s playing time. This week, it seemed like we saw more of Knox because of his run-blocking ability, but it’s also possible the team eased Knox back into action last week.
  • The Bills play the Los Angeles Chargers next week, so they might be inclined to spend all day running the ball again, considering how the Chargers have played recently.

Jake Ferguson sees an uptick in snaps: Ferguson played over 85% of the offensive snaps for the second time in his career.

  • While part of this was game-script-related, Ferguson played more than usual in both 12 and 21 personnel. He played 59% of 12 personnel snaps and 13% of 21 personnel snaps over the last four weeks. He played 100% of those snaps in this game.
  • He consistently played around 88% of snaps in 11 personnel in all those games.
  • He gained only 44 yards, but this was his third straight game with five or more receptions. He had only three games with five-plus receptions over his first 11 games of the season.
  • This is particularly noteworthy because it was the second game of Peyton Hendershot back from injured reserve. Hendershot played 28 or more snaps a game early in the season when he was healthy, taking a significant number of snaps in passing situations, but played only 15 snaps last week and seven today. He's now seen just one target over the last two games. 
  • Most expected that Ferguson’s fantasy value would be fine, even with Hendershot’s return, but it is surprising that his value is increasing.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • James Cook’s 179 rushing yards beat his previous career high by over 50 yards. This was also the first time in his career that he has scored multiple touchdowns.
  • Josh Allen’s seven completed passes were the fewest for him in a game where he played over 50% of offensive snaps.
  • Malik Davis was called up from the practice squad for the Dallas Cowboys for this game, but he didn’t play an offensive snap.

Baltimore Ravens @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Monitor Keaton Mitchell’s health: The Ravens' rookie running back suffered a knee injury early in the fourth quarter and was immediately ruled out.

  • Mitchell was the Ravens' clear leading running back before the injury, running nine times for 73 yards and catching two passes for 15 yards.
  • The other running backs averaged over 4.0 yards per carry, but Mitchell had more volume and was clearly more effective.
  • He couldn’t put weight on his leg and needed to be carted to the locker room. Given how quickly he was ruled out, there is a decent chance his fantasy football season is over.
  • The Ravens returned to their two-man rotation of Gus Edwards on early downs and Justice Hill on passing downs, as they did earlier in the season before Mitchell was involved.
  • This gives Edwards a better shot at being a fantasy starter these next two weeks, as he will likely see more volume. Unfortunately, he has matchups against the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins, which are not ideal.

Jamal Agnew returns to Jacksonville: Agnew was activated off injured reserve after missing the last four weeks with a shoulder injury.

  • He was still limited in practice all week and questionable.
  • If he were at 100%, he likely would have been the team’s slot receiver. Instead, he was in a heavy rotation with Parker Washington, Tim Jones and Elijah Cooks.
  • Agnew made a huge impact in his minimal offensive snaps, snagging a 65-yard touchdown reception.
  • He also returned as the team’s primary returner, taking three kick returns for 91 yards and one punt return for a 17-yard return.
  • It wouldn’t be surprising to see him receive more offensive snaps next week, although probably not enough for him to get picked up in fantasy leagues.

Monitor Zay Jones’ health: Jones left the game in the middle of the fourth quarter after grabbing his hamstring.

  • Jones played the clear majority of snaps before the injury. He was tied with Calvin Ridley in both targets (8) and receptions (5) before the injury. Jones gained 59 yards in that time, while Ridley was at 39 yards.
  • Tim Jones was the immediate replacement for Zay Jones on the outside.
  • Tim Jones had the fourth-most offensive snaps for Jacksonville heading into this week. He’s consistently played over 20% of offensive snaps and had two games with over 50% this season when the Jaguars had multiple wide receiver injuries.
  • He would likely be the starter if Zay Jones misses time, but Jacksonville would probably have a heavy rotation among wide receivers.
  • This means Ridley would be the only wide receiver on the roster who is fantasy-relevant and would generally lead to more targets for both Ridley and Evan Engram.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Odell Beckham Jr. had become a big part of the Ravens offense over the previous five weeks, but he caught only one pass for 14 yards in this game.
  • Travis Etienne Jr. has been held under 60 rushing yards in each of the last six games. This was the seventh time this season that he was held under 3.5 rushing yards per attempt.

Table Notes

  • Snaps include plays called back due to penalties, including offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.
  • Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown-away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.
  • Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.

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