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Turkey week is upon us! That, of course, means we'll be treated to professional football games like Lions vs. Bears on Thursday afternoon, but it also means that we have entered the home stretch for fantasy football leagues. Now is the time to batten down the hatches, ignore your friends and family, and make your final playoff push. To do so, it's important to differentiate between what matters and what doesn't across the NFL, but that's easier said than done with so many games to pay attention to every weekend. Thankfully, Strength in Numbers is here to break down the most actionable stats from around the league in a concise, numbers-filled format. Let's get right to it.
1. In the three games leading up to Week 11, Elijah Moore ran a route on 37%, 63%, and 55% of dropbacks. He had 20 targets during that stretch, but he was still a part-time player. In Week 11, Moore ran 36 routes on 43 Joe Flacco dropbacks (83.7%). He turned his 11 targets into eight catches for 141 yards and a touchdown.
One of the premier wide receiver prospects in the 2021 class, Moore's career got off to a rough start as injuries nagged him throughout the early part of the season. When he was healthy, he never got on the same page as Zach Wilson and split snaps with Keelan Cole.
Moore didn't start to make an impact until Wilson got hurt and Mike White started slinging the rock. Going into Week 11, he had 195 yards and three touchdowns in his previous three games, but he was still sharing time with Cole. That changed against the Dolphins, as the Jets finally put the Ole Miss product in a full-time role – and he rewarded them handsomely with an excellent performance. New York's quarterback situation is up in the air right now with Jets coach Robert Saleh saying they are working to get Wilson his confidence back, but the fact remains that Moore has performed well when given the chance and has now established himself as a full-time outside receiver. The state of the offense limits his short-term potential, but dynasty managers have to be thrilled with what they've seen from the rookie lately, and he has inserted himself into the WR4 conversation in season-long formats.
2. Mecole Hardman ran eight routes on 45 Patrick Mahomes dropbacks. It marked the second consecutive week that Hardman finished five among Chiefs wide receivers in routes run. Tyreek Hill led the way with 41, followed by Byron Pringle (30), Demarcus Robinson (23), Josh Gordon (17), and then Hardman.
It may have been reasonable to think Hardman's demotion in Week 10 was a blip rather than a sign of things to come, but the fact that it happened again in Week 11 indicates the third-year speedster really has fallen out of favor with the Chiefs' coaching staff. Kansas City is rotating wideouts after Hill, but Hardman has been severely downgraded over the past two weeks. After running as the WR2 for the first half of the season, he has now finished fifth in two consecutive games. Pringle is the leader in the clubhouse, but he still only ran a route on 66.7% of Mahomes' dropbacks.
Hardman is droppable and irrelevant for fantasy purposes, while Pringle should be picked up in the majority of leagues. Still, no Chiefs wideout besides Hill is going to be a dependable option for fantasy.
3. Logan Thomas played 100% of snaps in the first three games of the year before getting hurt. Ricky Seals-Jones then stepped in after Thomas' hamstring injury and never played fewer than 93% of snaps as a starter, including three games in which he played every snap. Then he got hurt. Washington was down to their third-string tight end John Bates in Week 11. Bates played 66-of-67 snaps and ran 24 routes on 27 Taylor Heinicke dropbacks.
It's almost comical how Washington isn't adjusting their TE usage at all based on who their actual tight end is. The Football Team's starting tight end is a near-lock to play close to every snap and run a route on the overwhelming majority of pass plays. This doesn't mean you should rush to the waiver wire to pick up someone named John Bates, but it's a situation worth keeping an eye on simply because he's on the field so much. Bates did only record three targets, but that kind of route volume is promising at a position as barren as tight end. Once Seals-Jones and/or Thomas get healthy, they should immediately regain their every-snap role, but Bates is somehow on the TE2 radar as long as they both remain out. This also goes to show how chaotic an NFL season can really be: John Bates, Washington's TE3, is someone we now have to pay attention to.
4. With Miles Sanders off injured reserve, the Eagles made Kenneth Gainwell a healthy scratch. Sanders played 34 snaps, Boston Scott played 29, and Jordan Howard played 13. Sanders ran 11 routes to Scott's 14 – implying Scott took over the role Gainwell held earlier this season pre-Sanders injury – and Sanders got 13 carries to Howard's 10.
Scott was completely invisible for the first month of the season, almost exclusively playing on special teams while Sanders and Gainwell shared time at running back. Once Sanders went down, however, Gainwell actually saw his role shrink, and it hit rock bottom in Week 11 with the Memphis product getting scratched in favor of Scott and Howard. Scott took over the third-down and two-minute role that the rookie previously held. Howard came in for some short-yardage rush plays but only played 13 snaps and mostly ceded his early-down role to Sanders.
Moving forward, it looks like Sanders and Scott are the top-two backs for the Eagles. Sanders should be the primary early-down back with Scott mixing in on passing downs. Howard is no longer fantasy-relevant but could be a thorn in the side of Sanders managers if they insist on keeping him involved in short-yardage situations.
5. Brandon Aiyuk ran 24 routes on 25 Jimmy Garoppolo dropbacks, turning seven targets into 85 yards and a touchdown. He has now played at least 88% of snaps in four consecutive games, and he has notched at least seven targets in three of those games. Whatever happened between Aiyuk and the coaching staff at the beginning of the season is in the rearview mirror, as Aiyuk is decidedly back to being an every-snap player alongside Deebo Samuel.
This means you can officially trust Aiyuk in fantasy football again, as the craziness of the first half of the season is behind us. The 49ers only dropped back 25 times in a blowout win over the Jaguars, but the second-year receiver led the team in routes with 24 (Samuel ran 23 routes) and paced the team in targets. This could also adversely affect Samuel now that he has legitimate competition for wideout targets, but he could decline slightly and still be in the top-12 based on how dominant he has been this year. If a dynasty manager is still devaluing Aiyuk based on his doghouse status from the first part of the year, the buy window is shutting rapidly.
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This section will be used for stats I think are worth mentioning (and for which the takeaway is fairly intuitive) but aren't important enough to write up fully. Let's get to it:
- With Michael Carter banged up, Tevin Coleman got five carries to Ty Johnson's one, but Johnson handled the majority of passing-down snaps and third downs. Johnson ran 13 routes to Coleman's 10. Expect a similar split in the coming weeks with Carter out for a few games with an ankle sprain.
- Salvon Ahmed was a healthy scratch after the Dolphins elevated Duke Johnson from the practice squad. Interestingly, Miami used Johnson primarily to spot Myles Gaskin on early downs, while Patrick Laird retained his role on some third downs. Gaskin was a workhorse with 23 carries to Johnson's four, and he also ran 22 routes on 35 Tua Tagovailoa dropbacks. As long as Malcolm Brown remains on injured reserve, Gaskin holds a lucrative role, albeit in a subpar offense.
- Joshua Deguara scored his first career touchdown and led Packers tight ends in routes – but that's not saying much when he only had 17 routes on 37 Aaron Rodgers dropbacks. All Green Bay tight ends can be safely ignored for fantasy purposes.
- In his first game without Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon played 44-of-59 snaps (74.6%) and ran 19 routes on 37 team dropbacks. He did record six targets, but that target-per-route ratio is unsustainable. Still, he's close to a workhorse with Jones out and remains a must-start in fantasy.
- Jeff Wilson played 32 snaps on Sunday to Trey Sermon's 17. However, eight of Sermon's snaps came on the final two drives when the 49ers were just icing the game away. If Elijah Mitchell is out next week, you can confidently start Wilson.
- Jamaal Williams played only 13-of-48 snaps in his Week 11 return and got seven carries to D'Andre Swift's 14. Thursday will be telling as to whether they were simply easing him back in or if they actually want to rely on Swift for the home stretch. Swift was already gaining ground before Williams' injury, so it's entirely possible they just ride the second-year back for the rest of the season. He's an easy RB1.
- David Montgomery led all running backs in snap share in Week 11 (95%). Establish The Run's Adam Levitan pointed out that he has now played 109 snaps over the past two weeks to Khalil Herbert's 17. Montgomery is back to being the three-down workhorse he was pre-injury. Herbert is nothing more than an insurance policy for Montgomery managers.
- Dawson Knox ran 40 routes on 42 Josh Allen dropbacks and reeled in 6-of-10 targets for 80 yards. He is a top-12 tight end now that he is back and healthy.
- Mark Ingram is in New Orleans. Scottie Phillips is on injured reserve. The Texans waived Phillip Lindsay. And that leaves David Johnson and Rex Burkhead as the Texans' top-two options at running back. Burkhead had 18 carries (on only 27 snaps!) in Week 11, while Johnson played 35 snaps, ran 17 routes on 29 Tyrod Taylor dropbacks, and handled 13 carries. Johnson is entrenched as the team's pass-catching back like he has been all year, and Burkhead looks like the primary early-down rusher. On a team as bad as the Texans, Burkhead is going to be impossible to trust in fantasy, but Johnson could be a PPR flex.
- Dontrell Hilliard took over the Jeremy McNichols role with McNichols out due to a concussion. Hilliard played 51-of-81 snaps and ran a monster 37 routes on 54 Tennessee dropbacks. The Titans were somehow in negative game script all day against the Texans, leading to more snaps for Hilliard. McNichols should regain his role once he's healthy, so don't overreact to Hilliard's Week 11 utilization. D'Onta Foreman and Adrian Peterson continued to split early-down snaps.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire returned off injured reserve and got 12 carries to Darrel Williams' five, while Williams ran 25 routes to CEH's 15. That's probably how this split is going to work moving forward: Edwards-Helaire will handle the bulk of carries with Williams coming in on passing downs.
Thanks for reading the Week 11 edition of Strength in Numbers! Check back next week for the Week 12 version.