by Upperhand Fantasy
Looking at the box score can sometimes be deceiving in determining what a player’s true opportunity was. What roles were they playing? How much time were they on the field for? How involved in the passing game are they? Each of these questions have associated benchmarks we can associate to past fantasy success to help predict future fantasy production. Here are some of the trends we’re seeing to start the year.
STOCK UP ⬆️ - RB Aaron Jones, Packers
4 TDs! Of course, his stock is up! Well, it goes deeper than that. Jamaal Williams has left a void, and AJ Dillon hasn’t filled those shoes… Jones has.
The Packers’ two games were each at opposing ends of garbage time at the end of their games, behind big in Week 1 and then ahead in Week 2, so the snap counts aren’t telling.
Jones’ official snap counts were 49% and 69%, respectively, over the first two games, but what about when their games’ score differential was within a TD?
In those situations, Jones has played on 84% of snaps and ran a route on 73% of Aaron Rodgers’ dropbacks. He basically took over the work that Jamaal Williams left behind. A large percentage of the 14.4 routes/game Williams vacated is going to Jones.
The “Free Aaron Jones” movement has been around for a while, and while he’s done his part for fantasy in a big way, we’ve never seen this type of elite usage from him before.
Dillon isn’t a standalone player, and we would’ve seen a lot less of him in these first two games if they remained closer than they were.
STOCK UP ⬆️ - RB Michael Carter, Colts
Carter’s stock was pretty volatile from even before he was drafted. Most believe he can’t handle a full workload in the NFL because of his size, and they’re probably right. However, he can handle enough of a workload at some point to be a valuable fantasy asset. Whether that happens this year remains to be seen, but his jump in usage in Week 2 is promising.
After a preseason of him as the 3rd back in the Jets’ rotation, with that carrying over into Week 1, Carter was pretty much off the fantasy radar. In Week 2, the rotation drastically shifted from a 3-man backfield into a 2-man rotation after their presumed starter, Tevin Coleman, played only 10% of snaps.
Carter went from a 25% snap share to 45% in Week 2 and had his rushing share increased while his two counterparts had theirs decrease.
Carter’s involvement in the passing game increased, too; he ran a route on 35% of Zach Wilson’s dropbacks compared to 22% the week prior. He out-targeted Ty Johnson 3-0, and on a small sample, is averaging 14+ YPR.
It seems like the Jets are slowly acclimating him to the NFL, but the jump from Week 1 to Week 2 was pretty sizable.
This can remain a committee between Johnson and Carter, but it’s also possible Carter’s usage continues to rise, making him an eventual usable 1a.
He’s a solid stash for the hopes that his rush share and/or routes increase even more to make him usable. The talent is there; he just needs the opportunity.
STOCK DOWN ⬇️ - RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is on an Andy Reid offense. He’s playing with Patrick Mahomes. Considering the lofty expectations, his usage and production are extremely disappointing so far in his young career.
The snaps for CEH are there. 72% of snaps in Week 1, 65% of snaps in Week 2. That’s all an Andy Reid RB needed to be an RB1 historically.
But CEH is hardly involved in the passing game. Actually, he’s not involved in the passing game. Derrick Henry is out-targeting him 10-3 on the season.
In a game where the opponent takes away Tyreek Hill (Week 2), you would think CEH would get some love in the passing game. Nope.
There are two issues at play here. One is that CEH’s route participation went down significantly from Week 1 to Week 2 - 67% to 47%. Andy Reid isn’t getting him involved or scheming him up to be successful in the receiving game. The other is that Mahomes doesn’t want to target him; he wants to throw it deep. CEH has received 9% of targets in Week 1 and 0% in Week 2.
In 2-minute situations, Darrell Williams is preferred. CEH was on the field for only one 3rd and long snap through two games. Williams was on the field for the rest of them so far through two games.
And then you have Jerick McKinnon upping his route participation by a bit from Week 1 to Week 2. Why.
He’s the primary ball carrier, and that’s about it… on a pass-heavy offense.