PFF's fantasy football recap focuses on player usage and stats, breaking down all the vital information you need to achieve fantasy success in 2021.
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- Snaps include plays called back due to penalties like 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.
- Duke Johnson Jr.: 22 carries, 107 yards, 2 TD, (10 avoided tackles), 1 reception, 20 receiving yards
- DeVante Parker: 4 receptions, 68 yards, 1 TD, (30% threat rate)
|New York Jets||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Miami Dolphins||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Duke Johnson Jr.||41||9||1||22|
The Dolphins crazy backfield: The Dolphins seemed like they would be in trouble at running back in the middle of the week, but they had both Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed return from the Covid-19 list on Friday. Miami still opted to make Duke Johnson Jr. the lead back on rushing plays. He put together the most impressive game by a Miami back on the ground this season. This is a backfield to avoid the rest of the season.
Phillip Lindsay remained on the Covid-19 list, but he could be back next week. Malcolm Brown is still on injured reserve, but he practiced all week. He could also be back next week. Miami could have any three of these five backs active in a difficult matchup against the Saints. Once we know who is active, we might not know who will start.
The quiet return of Michael Carter: Carter was activated from injured reserve earlier in the week, while Tevin Coleman returned to the team after suffering a concussion. Ty Johnson was surprisingly a healthy scratch after being part of the backfield rotation all season. The two healthy backs saw close to an even split in playing time, with Coleman breaking a 20-yard run giving him the more impressive stats. Chances are Carter can log a higher percentage of touches in a week once he’s even further recovered from his injury.
Return of Tyler Kroft: The Jets also had reinforcements in the form of their starting receiving tight end. He went right back into the role, taking it back from Ryan Griffin. Both tight ends had two catches for between 35-40 yards. This was enough to make them the second and third best receivers on the team for the day. Neither tight end is worth trusting in most formats with how much they can rotate, and the current quality of the offense.
- Gabriel Davis: 5 receptions, 85 yards, 2 TD, (19.0 aDOT)
- Devin Singletary: 22 carries, 86 yards, (62 yards after contact), 1 TD, 1 reception, 10 yards
|Carolina Panthers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Terrace Marshall Jr.||8||6||1||0|
|Willie Snead IV||1||1||1||0|
|Buffalo Bills||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Add Gabriel Davis: Emmanuel Sanders suffered a knee injury a week ago and was ruled out of this game on Friday. Davis took over as the every snap starter as expected. The second-year receiver led the Bills receiver in yards thanks to his big play ability. He’s worth a waiver wire target in case Sanders misses another game. This also helped his chances of winning a starting job in Buffalo in 2022, as two of their three starters are 32 or older.
Drop Matt Breida: The Breida experiment seems to be over in Buffalo. He scored three touchdowns and ran for over 100 yards from Week 10-12. He’s gained 16 yards on the ground on five carries over the last three weeks. His playing time has also decreased significantly. He certainly can’t be trusted next week, and even if he has a big play or two, it will be hard to trust him in Week 17.
Tommy Tremble trending up: The third-round rookie tight end seemed like a good breakout candidate once Carolina traded Dan Arnold early in the season. He has hovered around 50% of offensive snaps since that point and has rarely been involved in the pass game. This game was promising for both his playing time and his targets. This was just the second time all season he saw over 60% of offensive snaps. It was also his fourth game with three or more targets, with two of them occurring in December. This isn’t enough to pick him up this year, but he could take a step forward and be the Panthers receiving tight end in 2022.
- D’Onta Foreman: 22 carries, 108 yards, (3.5 yards after contact per carry), 2 receptions, 27 receiving yards
- Diontae Johnson: 5 receptions, 38 yards, (17 yards after contact), 1 carry, 10 rushing yards
|Tennessee Titans||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Ray-Ray McCloud III||33||22||2||0|
Monitor the Pat Freiermuth injury: The rookie tight end took a scary hit that left him with a concussion. Zach Gentry was the only other tight end on the active roster. Eric Ebron is on injured reserve, and he is eligible to return — although he might not be ready. If neither Freiermuth nor Ebron is available next week, this should mostly just leave more fantasy points for the wide receivers.
Monitor the Julio Jones injury: Jones has missed most of the 2021 season with various injuries. He returned to the Titans last week on limited playing time. He saw an increase in time over the first half, running a route on 18 of 21 pass plays before suffering a hamstring injury, which kept him out of the second half. He was targeted only once on those routes. Chester Rodgers took over most of his snaps in the second half. It’s fine to drop Jones at this point.
Don’t start Chase Claypool: Claypool had been playing at least 80% of offensive snaps in games he was healthy in during October and November. His playing time started to decline to around 60% each of the past three weeks. He had been on the injury report with a toe injury, which could have contributed, but he wasn’t on the injury report this past week. He has made headlines recently for celebrating while the clock was running late last week, as well as suggesting the Steelers need to have more fun at practice. It’s possible this has also contributed to him not playing as much.
He didn’t catch either of his targets today and played on only three of 16 snaps in the fourth quarter. James Washington played when Claypool was off the field. At this point, it would be hard to trust him unless head coach Mike Tomlin suggests he will go back to 80%-plus of snaps.
- Christian Kirk: 9 receptions, 94 yards, 1 TD, (2 avoided tackles)
- Amon-Ra St. Brown: 8 receptions, 90 yards, 1 TD, (2-for-2 on contested targets)
|Arizona Cardinals||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Detroit Lions||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Amon-Ra St. Brown||45||27||10||1|
Add Craig Reynolds: The Lions were once again without running backs D’Andre Swift (shoulder) and Jamaal Williams (COVID-19), leaving Reynolds as the lead back for the second straight week. The game script fell in the Lions' favor this week, which gave Reynolds plenty of work on the ground. He gained 112 yards on 26 carries. There is no guarantee that either of the Lions' backs will be back next week. And with how well Reynolds is playing, they should be in no rush.
Add Amon-Ra St. Brown: The Lions' rookie wide receiver has been on fire in recent weeks, with a league-leading 26 receptions since the start of Week 13. He’s achieved this with a combination of a 30% target share and solid play. He not only is a waiver wire target but can go straight into starting lineups. Detroit has one of the most favorable schedules for wide receivers over the last two weeks, with games against the Falcons and Seahawks.
The return of Chase Edmonds: Edmonds had missed over a month of football while on injured reserve, but was able to return today. This should have been a game script where Edmonds led the backfield in snaps, but Arizona limited him. He looked fine on his carries with 53 yards on six carries but didn’t catch a pass. The backfield should be back to normal by next week.
Arizona without DeAndre Hopkins: The former All-Pro wide receiver is out at least for the rest of the regular season. Arizona utilized a similar strategy to other games Hopkins has missed, with Antoine Wesley taking over as one of the outside receivers. He only caught three of his seven targets for 19 yards. The Hopkins injury just allows the other three Cards receivers to be more trustworthy the rest of the season. All three tallied over 60 receiving yards.
- Brandin Cooks: 7 receptions, 102 yards, 2 TD (3.52 YPRR)
- James Robinson: 18 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD (2 explosive runs); 3 receptions, 13 receiving yards
|Houston Texans||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||65||38||4||0|
|Laviska Shenault Jr.||47||28||6||1|
Jaguars changes at receiver: The Jaguars utilized 12 personnel at a much higher rate than they have in weeks past. And because Laviska Shenault Jr. stopped being used in this personnel group at the midpoint of the season, he played a lot less than usual. Marvin Jones Jr. served as an every-down receiver but tied his season-low in targets at three.
The Jaguars also rotated their tight ends a little more than usual, leaving less playing time for James O’Shaughnessy. It will be even harder to trust the Jacksonville receivers the rest of the season after the coaching change.
James Robinson’s big game: Robinson’s playing time and usage were a big topic of discussion in recent weeks, and things were definitely different in this game. He played in 84% of offensive snaps, which is more than any game he’s played in the last two months. He also tied his season-high in rushing attempts despite the game script. This was all promising, but it’s worth noting Carlos Hyde missed this game with a concussion. Robinson needs to be started next week, but it’s no guarantee he clears 80% of offensive snaps when Hyde is back.
Monitor the Brevin Jordan hand injury: The 21-year-old tight end didn’t practice on Friday and was questionable coming into the game. He was active, but Houston only needed to declare four players inactive. The Texans never ended up using him on offense, returning to Jordan Akins playing the primary receiving role. This was unfortunate for anyone who trusted the rookie today since he was active, but chances are he will get his job back once he’s 100%.
- Ezekiel Elliott: 16 carries, 52 yards, (45 yards after contact), 1 TD, 3 receptions, 20 receiving yards
- Dalton Schultz: 8 receptions, 67 yards, 1 TD, (22.2% threat rate)
|Dallas Cowboys||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|New York Giants||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
The Cowboys trio of wide receivers at full health: The Cowboys wide receivers have dealt with injuries or Covid issues all season. This was the second straight game Dallas had all three receivers healthy for the entire game. Dallas’ strategy around CeeDee Lamb has reverted back to 2020. He was a clear third in offensive snaps for the second straight game. Lamb had played significantly on the outside for most of the season, but he’s also shifted to playing almost exclusively in the slot. This is all similar to what Dallas did at wide receiver last season. He was a clear leader in targets but only gained 50 yards. He is still a must-start wide receiver each week, but this will limit his upside.
Monitor the Sterling Shepard injury: Shepard had an excellent start to the season with 16 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown in his first two games. This was only his fifth game since that point as his season has been hampered with injuries. He suffered another one late in the fourth quarter with a non-contact Achilles injury that didn’t look good. If Shepard misses time, it would lead to more playing time for Collin Johnson. It is hard to trust any of the Giants receivers until Daniel Jones is back.
The return of Tony Pollard: Pollard missed last week and was a game-time decision today with a foot injury. He ended up seeing his usual amount of playing time. He out-performed Ezekiel Elliott in the rushing game albeit on fewer carries — something that has been a trend all season. Pollard remains a safe flex option the rest of the season.
- Tyler Boyd: 5 receptions, 96 yards, 1 TD, (2-for-2 on contested targets)
- Tim Patrick: 3 receptions, 42 yards, 1 TD, (18.0 aDOT)
|Cincinnati Bengals||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Stanley Morgan Jr.||2||0||0||0|
|Denver Broncos||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Melvin Gordon III||31||10||1||15|
Monitor the Teddy Bridgewater injury: The Broncos quarterback suffered a serious-looking injury in the third quarter and needed a cart to exit the field. Drew Lock took over as the starter. The Broncos have one of the easiest schedules remaining for quarterbacks, so Lock can be a waiver wire target in Superflex leagues.
Start Tyler Boyd: Boyd has spent this season as a low-floor, high-ceiling player. He’s talented, but he is the clear fourth option in the offense in neutral situations. He surpassed 50 receiving yards for the third consecutive game, and these next two games should be solid, as well. The Bengals face the Ravens and Chiefs — both teams where Cincinnati will likely need to pass a lot. Baltimore’s defense has been hurting recently, particularly in the secondary, which should make Boyd a safer play than usual next week.
Monitor the Joe Mixon injury: The Bengals star running back hurt his left ankle in the fourth quarter. He went to the locker room, returned, and had his ankle rolled up on again. It’s unclear if he would have been able to return to the game had Cincinnati needed him. Samaje Perine is a good option to have on your bench in fantasy football leagues in case Mixon misses time as he has the upside to see 20 carries if the Bengals are winning.
- Russell Gage: 8 receptions, 91 yards, 1 TD, (32.4% threat rate)
- Jeff Wilson Jr.: 21 carries, 110 yards, 1 TD, (3.3 yards after contact per carry), 2 receptions, 9 receiving yards
|Atlanta Falcons||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|San Francisco 49ers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Jeff Wilson Jr.||50||15||2||21|
49ers changed RB strategy: San Francisco has consistently used one running back on first and second down and a different back on third down all season. Typically, it’s been Elijah Mitchell on early downs and Jeff Wilson Jr. when Mitchell is out, as was the case today. On third downs, it’s been JaMycal Hasty or Kyle Juszczyk.
Wilson played on both early downs as well as third downs in Week 15. This removes any fantasy value Hasty had and means Wilson will likely continue to see playing time once Mitchell is healthy again.
Start Russell Gage: The fourth-year receiver has been the focal point of the Falcons' passing game in recent weeks. This was his fourth straight game with at least 60 receiving yards. It was also his second time with double-digit targets in the past three weeks. Atlanta has one of the easiest schedules remaining for wide receivers.
- Mark Andrews: 10 receptions, 136 yards, 2 TD (All first downs or touchdowns)
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 5 receptions, 98 yards, 1 TD (21.6 aDOT)
|Green Bay Packers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Baltimore Ravens||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Devonta Freeman trending down: The Ravens running back had consistently been handling double-digit carries and a clear majority of offensive snaps. But this week, we saw a backfield similar to early in the season, where two backs would be very close to one another in carries and routes run. Freeman had the lead in routes run but took fewer carries and was less effective on his runs. The Ravens have two difficult opponents remaining on the schedule, so Freeman might not have the opportunity to reach double-digit carries again this fantasy season.
The Ravens without Sammy Watkins: Watkins landed on the COVID-19 list less than 24 hours before the start of this game. This led to less of a rotation at wide receiver, with Rashod Bateman and Marquise Brown in for almost every pass play while Devin Duvernay played his three-receiver sets like usual. The combination of Lamar Jackson not playing and the Packers cornerbacks held all of the Ravens receivers to under 20 yards each up until garbage time. Watkins is a free agent after the season, so this could be how the Ravens distribute their wide receiver snaps in 2022.
Aaron Jones trending up: The Packers' starting running back led the team in carries for the first time since Week 9. A.J. Dillon had led in every other game either due to Jones being hurt or because Dillon was playing better. Jones put together a solid game with 58 yards on 12 carries, as well as a touchdown catch. This will make it easier to start Jones over these last two weeks.
- Marquez Callaway: 6 receptions, 112 yards, (3 explosive plays)
- Chris Godwin: 6 receptions, 49 yards, (46.7% threat rate)
|New Orleans Saints||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Easop Winston Jr.||1||1||0||0|
|Mark Ingram II||30||15||2||9|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Monitor the Buccaneers wide receiver injuries: Tampa Bay came into the game without Antonio Brown (injury and suspension) and Breshad Perriman (COVID-19). Tyler Johnson had been splitting snaps as the Buccaneers' third receiver but started this game as a clear third on the depth chart.
Both Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (knee) suffered injuries in the first half and were ruled out by halftime. Scotty Miller was the next man up, followed by Jaelon Darden. It wouldn’t be surprising if both wide receivers missed some time. Brown will likely be the top wide receiver next week, with Perriman and Johnson also playing a very high percentage of snaps. Perriman and Johnson both need to be waiver wire targets.
Monitor the Leonard Fournette injury: Fournette suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter and was very quickly ruled out for the rest of the game. Ronald Jones took over as the early-down back, while Ke’Shawn Vaughn served as the third-down back. This will likely be how the Buccaneers use their backs if Fournette misses any time.
Jones is a quality waiver wire option, and he should dominate carries. He can go straight into fantasy starting lineups for both Week 16 and 17. Tampa Bay plays the Panthers and Jets over the last two weeks, which should be favorable games scripts even with all of the injuries.
The return of Mark Ingram II: The Saints had their top two running backs on the depth chart for the first time since Week 9. In the two previous games where both Alvin Kamara and Ingram were healthy, Kamara played roughly twice as many offensive snaps as Ingram. The two backs were even closer together in snaps tonight, which was terrible news for Kamara’s fantasy managers. He will still be a must-start, but his upside is much more limited with Ingram also on the roster.
The return of Adam Trautman: Before landing on injured reserve back in Week 12, the second-year tight end was improving with each passing game and consistently playing over 80% of offensive snaps. New Orleans eased him into action with a heavy rotation of tight ends, including Juwan Johnson getting most of the receiving work. It’s unlikely a fantasy manager can trust Trautman this season, but it would still be good for him to build momentum heading into 2022.