The old adage goes “know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.” Basically, know when to keep hope alive and when to live to fight another day. This quote applies to life. It also applies to fantasy football. If only looking at the box scores after Week 1, the fantasy stock of players such as Tyler Higbee, Devin Singletary, and Mark Ingram appears to be on the decline. However, using PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats and metrics, we can unearth the truth. Higbee’s fantasy football value is fine. Singletary is a buy-low candidate. Ingram was a victim of Game Script. There are a few more players we should hold based on the data, so let’s get to the Week 1 Usage Rates.
Note: Holds are players suggested to stay in the starting lineup. Players not highlighted as holds are suggested to hit the bench – not waivers.
Tyler Higbee’s fantasy football emergence late in 2019 came like an RKO out of nowhere. However, he failed to keep his momentum going in Week 1, posting a 3-40 stat line on four targets. That said, let’s add much-needed context. He paced all Rams pass-catchers in snaps with an 87.3-percent Snap Share.
90% snap share for Tyler Higbee. The boxscore wasn't great for the Rams' pass catchers aside of Woods, but Higbee is still playing his late 2019 role. Good sign.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 14, 2020
In addition, his four targets tied for third on the team. Whereas Robert Woods paced the Rams pass-catchers with eight targets, six receptions, and 105 receiving yards. No other skill position player eclipsed more than five targets, four catches, or 40 yards. Lastly, Higbee’s 16 routes run, No. 18 among qualified tight ends, ranked No. 3 in the pecking order of Rams pass-catchers just ahead of Malcolm Browns’ 14 routes run. Those 16 routes run led to a 51.6-percent Route Participation mark for Higbee, which also ranked No. 3 among Rams pass-catchers. In the offseason, Higbee projected to be the No. 3 option in the LA pass offense. After Week 1, the advanced stats prove he is just that, the No. 3 option. Considering the context, Higbee is fine. If you’re fading him Week 2, it’s not because of usage.
Before the season, Devin Singletary’s fantasy football value entered into a quintessential touch squeeze. Basically, both Singletary and Zack Moss are capable of handling the majority of touches in the Bills backfield. This leads to both sharing it almost 50/50. Week 1 is proof. Singletary had a 60.3-percent Snap Share to Moss’ 39.7-percent.
In addition, Singletary handled 14 touches; nine carries and five receptions. Moss had 12 touches; nine carries and three receptions. Where Moss may have found an edge is inside the red-zone, totaling three carries from inside the five to Singletary’s zero. Both backs are no more than Flex plays (for now).
Most targets in Week 1 (RBs):
? Nyheim Hines – 8
? Alvin Kamara – 7
? Devin Singletary – 7 pic.twitter.com/g40k6jY0EX
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 14, 2020
That said, PlayerProfiler’s film analyst Grady Teske adds: “Singletary looking much more explosive than Moss and getting plenty of run, seems like carries are mainly split by drive. Although Moss was in closer to the endzone more frequently. Singletary also looked to offer more in the pass game than Moss.” In addition, Singletary was deployed out of the backfield for 28 routes run, tops among qualified backs. This mark guided him to a 60.9-percent Route Particpation showing, including a 15.6-percent Target Share. Moss, meanwhile, totaled 17 routes run, a 37.0-percent Route Participation mark, and an 8.9-percent Target Share.
If Singletary’s GM in your league is panicking, start a dialogue and see if you can buy low. Remember, Week 1 doesn’t erase our entire offseason projection of a player.
Mark Ingram was a disaster in Week 1. Coming off a 1,000-yard rushing campaign, Ingram managed a mere 33.9-percent Snap Share. In fact, J.K. Dobbins paced the backfield with a 42.9-percent number, though fullback Patrick Ricard managed a 32.1-percent share himself.
Discouraging Week 1 Snap Counts:
59% Joe Mixon
58% Julian Edelman
58% Dalvin Cook
48% Nick Chubb
46% Todd Gurley
45% Chris Carson
42% Anthony Miller
36% Mark Ingram
33% Cam Akers
29% Mecole Hardman
26% Antonio Gibson
24% Chris Thompson
23% Matt Breida
13% Leonard Fournette
— Jacob Gibbs (@jagibbs_23) September 16, 2020
That said, the Ravens controlled the game from start to finish and led 31-7 entering the final quarter. We need to see them in a competitive game to grasp Ingram’s 2020 role. He was a victim of Game Script and Dobbins scoring twice, once in the first half and again in the final quarter. In addition, Ingram paced the backfield with 10 carries to seven for Dobbins. Lastly, Gus Edwards handled four carries of his own. No back registered a target.
Whereas Dobbins’ second touchdown came after the game was decided, he still managed to lead the backfield with two Goal Line Carries, converting both. Ingram was not used at the goal line, which is potentially troubling after he registered 13 (No. 2) such carries in 2019. Ingram should be given one more week in starting lineups to prove himself before we consider other arrangements. He isn’t an appealing fantasy option without his high-volume touchdown opportunities.
Hold (for now).
Not that you asked, but interestingly enough, D’Andre Swift and I played on the same Pop Warner team many years ago (editors note: fun fact). Though Swift’s most notable Week 1 play is one he wishes he can have back. He dropped the game-winning reception in the endzone with less than 10 seconds left. That said, he managed a 40.8-percent Snap Share compared to newly-signed Adrian Peterson‘s 32.4-percent showing.
Rookie RB Snap Counts | Week 1
KC Clyde Edwards-Helaire – 45
BUF Zack Moss – 35
JAX James Robinson – 31
DET D'Andre Swift – 30
LAR Cam Akers – 24
BAL J.K. Dobbins – 23
IND Jonathan Taylor – 23
WAS Antonio Gibson – 18
LAC Joshua Kelley – 17
NE J.J. Taylor – 9
GB A.J. Dillon – 5
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 14, 2020
Wait. Listen closely. Swift pacing the backfield in Snap Share is why snap counts are not the only thing to look at. Swift played more than Peterson – both will increase snaps over the season since one’s a rookie and the other signed just last week – but the latter out-touched the former 17-6. Swift commanded two more targets, but Peterson being involved in the passing game at all limits Swift’s upside. Swift accounted for 18 routes run, a 42.9-percent Route Participation mark, and a 12.2-percent Target Share. Peterson, meanwhile, accounted for seven routes run, a 16.7-percent Route Particpation mark, and a 7.3-percent Target Share.
Check out D’Andre Swift on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:
Swift handled Detroit’s lone carry inside the five and scored, so that’s an important usage pattern to watch for Week 2. Based on Week 1, you’re only starting Swift this week if you think the Lions get in close to the endzone against the Packers and hand it off to him. He needs more than six touches per game moving forward. Peterson, however, is a volume-based, low-ceiling Flex play in deeper leagues.
Circling back to the Rams, Cam Akers totaled 15 Week 1 touches to Malcolm Brown‘s 21. Darrell Henderson had three carries and did not register a target. That said, Brown made the most of his touches, accounting for 110 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns.
Sean McVay's 9/14 quotes on Malcolm Brown and Cam Akers pic.twitter.com/cjyIbEUz2L
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) September 15, 2020
Like D’Andre Swift, Akers’ snap counts should steadily increase in the coming weeks. Rookies suffered the most from this year’s limited offseason and aren’t as far along as they’d normally be. Akers accounted for 39 yards on his 14 carries. He ran just two routes as well, opposed to 14 for Brown. That said, Brown nearly doubled Akers’ Snap Share, playing on 59.2-percent of the snaps to Akers’ 31.0-percent. Heading into Week 2, Brown is the player to start from this backfield. In addition, he totaled and converted two carries inside the five for touchdowns. We’re not saying Akers won’t be the guy by season’s end. It just won’t happen in Week 2.
Circling back to the Lions-Bears game, let’s talk about Marvin Jones. In Kenny Golladay‘s absence, Jones handled a 91.5-percent Snap Share. That said, Jones did not lead the Lions in targets, with rookie Quintez Cephus accounting for 10 to Jones’ eight. Jones averaged 16.5 Fantasy Points Per Game from Weeks 1-9 in 2019, the No. 13 mark among qualified receivers, so his Week 1 performance is disappointing. Especially with no Golladay around. Jones, however, converted his eight targets into a 4-55 stat line. His receptions and yards ranked him third among Lions pass-catchers, respectively. Cephus converted his 10 targets into a 3-43 stat line.
We’re starting Jones Week 2 in a potential shootout against the Packers whether Golladay suits up or not. If Golladay is inactive, it’s not hard to imagine that a healthy amount of Cephus’ Week 1 targets potentially funnel over to Jones due to the former’s ineffectiveness. Including in the red zone, where the rookie out-targeted Jones two to one. Jones accounted for 39 routes run, a 92.9-percent Route Participation, and a 19.5-percent Target Share. Cephus, meanwhile, totaled 34 routes run, a 81-percent Route Participation mark and a 24.4-percent Target Share, also drawig one Deep Target to Jones’ zero.