Hopefully, by now you've read one of these columns in the past and understand our new approach. If not, head back and read the intro here. In the interest of saving us all some time, I'll be cutting out the long explanation moving forward.
The fantasy trade deadline is gone, and with Week 12 in the books, we kiss bye weeks goodbye as well. From here on out, it's all systems go through the fantasy postseason. Week 12 was a rough one injury-wise, as several key players landed on IR or will at least miss substantial chunks of time. I address those big losses and offer some ideas for replacements in the targets and touches recaps below.
percent TS = percentage of total team passing targets player received
percent AY = percentage of total team air yards player received
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
The Bears rushing attack might be this team's only true weakness. Howard and Cohen combined for a whopping 27 yards on 10 carries, and it's not like the team can blame this on Chase Daniel starting at quarterback; the Bears are bad at running the football. The Bears have failed to eclipse 65 rushing yards in three of the last four games. They crossed 100 as a team against Minnesota when Mitchell Trubisky chipped in 43 yards. For PPR leagues, Cohen is averaging over five catches per game over his last three.
Chase Daniel under center certainly limited this group's output and changed the pecking order a bit, but the main players still did work. Robinson battled Darius Slay for much of the afternoon and still led the team in air yards. Expect him to bounce back next week, especially if Trubisky is back from his shoulder injury.
Kerryon Johnson (knee) was sidelined, opening the door for Blount to thunder his way to an 88-yard, two-touchdown day. Riddick's catch totals the last four games are seven, six, five, and seven. With Golden Tate traded, Marvin Jones on IR and Johnson injured, his role in the passing game should stay elevated.
Ellington has six catches in each of his first two games with the Lions but hasn't found the end zone yet. His role could expand now, especially with Marvin Jones (knee) on IR. Golladay will be the focal point, though, and it's possible "Babytron" actually becomes a new-age Megatron, with Matthew Stafford pummeling his young superstar with targets as he once did Calvin Johnson.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
Washington tried to feature Peterson as much as they could, but a multi-turnover game from Colt McCoy made that more of an idea than a reality. Oh, and Bibbs vultured a goal-line touchdown from Peterson.
It seems Colt McCoy has eyes for Reed and Doctson. Over the last two weeks, they are the only two players on Washington to receive more than 13 percent of the team targets. Reed's hauled in 13 of 19 targets for 146 yards and a score in that span. If you have him, now is the time to ride him and hope this volume sticks.
Based on recent performances, Elliott's 143 total yards in this game almost feel disappointing (sarcasm). Dallas is feeding the beast and he's carrying this offense to new heights, aided in part by a passing attack that can actually threaten defenses now (more on that below).
It's starting to make more sense why Dallas gave up a first-round pick for Cooper earlier this season: they viewed him as a bonafide No. 1 wide receiver. Since joining the team Cooper owns 24 percent of the targets and 36 percent of the air yards. He's also scored three of the team's five passing yards in that span, including two on Thanksgiving. Don't expect this insane ceiling weekly (8 catches, 180 yards, two touchdowns), but Cooper is worthy of a starting spot in most lineups.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
It's a good thing Coleman caught a touchdown, as his nine touches amounted to just 23 yards. Turnovers combined with falling behind early basically killed any chance the Falcons had to effectively or consistently run the ball.
Jones and Ridley were more than happy to pick up the slack with the running game taking a back seat. They saw 27 combined targets, posting 11-147-0 and 8-93-1 lines respectively. Unfortunately, they also both lost fumbles, killing drives and dinging their fantasy outputs. Atlanta figures to be a high-volume passing outfit down the stretch, though, as their defense struggles to slow opponents down after suffering so many injuries.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
Johnson didn't see as much work as the Browns were comfortably ahead in this game early (at one point enjoying a 28-0 lead). Chubb is the workhorse, though, and he really shouldn't leave starting lineups until the season ends.
In three games with Freddie Kitchens calling the plays, Landry has seen seven, five and five targets. In the eight games prior, he saw double digit targets seven times. Landry is tough to trust in this more spread out passing attack right now.
Mixon did all he could to move the Bengals offense, tying Tyler Boyd for the team lead in receptions with seven while also toting the rock 14 more times. Volume should be there moving forward, but with no Andy Dalton (on IR) and probably A.J. Green still next week, Mixon could be facing an uphill battle to hit a reasonable fantasy ceiling.
San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nick Mullens loves him some Kittle. In Mullens' three starts Kittle leads the team with 26 targets, 19 receptions, 239 receiving yards, and one touchdown. Pettis might be a name to circle on waivers, as he played really well on Sunday. We just need his target share to stay somewhat consistent.
Barber once again saw volume and found the end zone. Starting him doesn't feel great but his volume has served him well so far.
As we surmised last week, Evans is really the only consistent/trustworthy option from this group. There are so many weapons it's difficult to predict which secondary pieces will pop off or find the end zone. Jackson and Jameis Winston only connected on two of seven targets, furthering the narrative that they don't really click. Jackson's also battling a thumb injury, which likely made things worse. Brate found the end zone and is a solid streaming option with O.J. Howard out of the picture.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills
Fournette was ejected in a fight, but racked up over 100 total yards and two scores before that happened at least. Carlos Hyde carried the ball 10 times, but many of his opportunities came after Fournette was out of the picture and he played the fewest snaps (22 percent) of the bunch. The league suspended Fournette for next week's game, making Yeldon the preferred play in Fournette's absence.
McCoy saw a decent amount of volume but was out-rushed by Josh Allen, who took his 13 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown. Allen would have had over 100 had his two kneel downs counted against him.
Over his last two games, Foster has caught five passes on seven targets for 199 yards and one touchdown. He could be an extremely high-risk, high-reward option for those in need of a difference-maker. .
Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens
With Martin back from his minor ankle injury, he shouldered the heavy lifting in the Raiders backfield. He found the end zone, but scoring opportunities can be hard to come by in this offense so don't get too comfortable with this output.
Cook has now found the end zone in back-to-back weeks, but like I wrote last week, relying on any pieces of this passing attack is a fool's errand.
Well, it looks like old Gus is here to stay. He's gone for 100-plus yards in back-to-back weeks in the new, run-heavy Ravens offense with Lamar Jackson under center. Alex Collins was sidelined in this one and Montgomery took over the old Buck Allen role. This could be a full-on changing of the guard in the Ravens nest.
The Ravens opened up the playbook a bit more this time around, but Jackson posted just 178 yards, one touchdown, and two picks. As a result, opportunities were tough to come by. Crabtree found the end zone, but it might be best to wait on this pass-catching group until Jackson really settles in or Flacco returns healthy.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
When Carson is healthy, he's the Seahawks' lead back, relegating Davis and Penny to merely complementary roles.
While Baldwin missed much of the early season, Lockett and Moore confidently stepped into the No. 1 and No. 2 wide receiver roles ... and it appears they've never left. Both went for over 100 yards and a score in this one. Both have been far more consistent and present far more upside on a weekly basis than Baldwin.
Christian McCaffrey, RB - 28 touches (Wk 11: 19, Wk 10: 19, Wk 9: 22), 100 percent snap share
McCaffrey became the 15th player in NFL history to post 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in the same game. He also scored two touchdowns and caught 11 (!) passes.
Devin Funchess missed this game with a back injury, which could explain McCaffrey's absurd target share. Moore stepped up nice with Funchess out and could be a solid WR3/flex option if Funchess misses any more time.
New England Patriots at New York Jets
Gronk's return to the offense was a welcome sign for Tom Brady and company. The big tight end isn't the same guy from a few years back, but he can still make plays down the field. If you've held onto him this long he should stay in your lineup unless his injuries flare up again.
Kearse found the end zone but this passing attack and offense in general is basically a fantasy death trap. We don't know how much longer Josh McCown will remain the starter, or how long the coaches will remain in place. Stay away if at all possible.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Barkley did a ton of damage in the first half, but the Giants strangely turned away from him in the second half. No worries, though as Barkley finished with 142 total yards and two scores.
Evan Engram pulled his hamstring and missed this game, forcing Rhett Ellison into the mix. However, Eli Manning went to his usual targets frequently. There was some griping by Beckham in the media (he finished with 5-85-0, with minimal targets in the second half), so perhaps the squeaky wheel will get the grease next week.
Well, this is officially looking like Josh Adams' backfield to lose now. He led the team in snaps and touches last week and increased his lead in both categories this week. His 22 carries are the most by an Eagles running since 2016. If you won him off waivers recently, congratulations, you could have struck fantasy gold.
Tate's arrival has really rained on the Alshon Jeffery parade. Jeffery's seen just 15 percent of the team target's since Tate came over from Detroit, averaging just 40 yards per game in that span with no scores. Ertz is looking like the only reliable option here.
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Chargers
Fitzgerald has caught four passes the past two weeks, but three have been touchdowns. That's a hard diet to live on fantasy-wise. The Packers secondary is banged up though, so next week might make Fitzgerald a sneaky flex play or bargain option in DFS. Same goes for Kirk, who's seeing more air yards than his elder receiving partner.
Gordon injured his opposite leg in this game when the Chargers were running trick plays to him up by double digit points over an inferior opponent. It's unclear how much time Gordon will miss, but this makes Ekeler a priority add on waivers this week.
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts
Last week, Drake looked like a droppable player. This week, he gets the most touches he's seen since Week 8 and scores twice. I wish I had more concrete advice to offer Drake owners out there, but I'm completely befuddled by this backfield split. It'd stand to reason for the Dolphins to involve Drake more, as he's an electric player with big-play potential. But coaches don't often do what we think is rational.
Injuries have destroyed what once was an interesting and unique wide receiving corps. Ryan Tannehill returned in this game but that didn't result in anything tangible for fantasy purposes. Leonte Carroo caught a lucky long touchdown pass, but other than that there's no reason to invest time or fantasy resources into this bunch at this point in the season..
Mack posted solid yardage totals (15-85-0 on the ground, 2-11-0- through the air) but couldn't find the end zone. Hines isn't receiving enough volume to be considered in the flex, but should be rostered as a handcuff to Mack as he left this game with a concussion. Monitor his status throughout the week.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
For whatever reason, the Steelers skewed pass-heavy in their offense approach from the get-go, limiting Conner's opportunities. A second-half fumble didn't help Conner's prospects either. He remains Pittsburgh's workhorse, but this was his third straight game with under 100 total yards after sailing past that benchmark with ease in the four games prior to this streak.
The Steelers weren't able to attack the Broncos downfield too much in this one aside from Smith-Schuster's incredible 97-yard touchdown reception (the second of his young career!). However, the death-by-1,000-short-passes approach still gave Brown a nice PPR floor, as he hauled in nine catches for 67 yards. Don't chase Switzer's production, as his highest yardage output in the month prior to this was just 31 yards.
Royce Freeman, RB - 6 touches (Wk 11: 8, Wk 10: BYE, Wk 9: n/a), 26 percent snap share
Philip Lindsay, RB - 14 touches (Wk 11: 15, Wk 10: BYE, Wk 9: 19), 62 percent snap share
This was the Emmanuel Sanders show, as he finally delivered on the upside fantasy managers knew was there for him once Demaryius Thomas left town. With Jeff Heuerman landing on IR, LaCosse might be worth a speculative add for those who've been streaming tight ends. The Broncos play the Bengals next week who allow the second-most fantasy points per game to the position.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
This has been Jones' backfield for weeks now and he's showing no signs of relinquishing control. He should be a locked-in RB1/RB2 from here on out.
The disappearance of Marquez Valdez-Scantling is a bit of a mystery here, but St. Brown left this game with an elbow injury so maybe that'll signal the return of MVS next week? Either way, at this point it's not really worth trusting any other pass-catchers aside from Adams. Graham is playing through a broken thumb, but just hasn't looked right all season as he's dropped many routine catches he used to make.
I wouldn't chase this production from Rudolph, who caught all seven of his targets for 63 yards. Prior to this "explosion," his best game in his past five was a 4-39-0 outing against the Saints in October.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Mariota only threw one incompletion in this game, but that's not too hard of a feat to accomplish when you hardly throw the ball downfield. Mariota had a whopping 114 air yards in this contest, with most of them going the way of Davis (as expected). Smith should definitely be on the streaming radar as he has a touchdown and/or 40-plus yards in each of the last four weeks.
Have a day, Lamar Miller. He rushed for a 97-yard touchdown and totaled 162 yards on 12 totes. He's posted over 100 total yards in four of his last five games and is starting to look like the high-upside RB2 many drafted back in August. Blue out-touched Miller, but that's likely due to the team spelling Miller often after he gashed the Titans early in this game.
Last week, Keke Coutee only played two fewer snaps than Thomas and out-targeted the veteran nine to zero. This week, Thomas more than doubled Coutee in snaps and targets, while also catching both of Deshaun Watson's touchdowns. I'm not sure I trust either of these two yet, especially in the Texans' low-volume passing offense, but the playing time is favoring Thomas of late.