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Coffin Corner: Snap Counts

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

Coffin Corner: Taking a Look at Snap Counts

Often times in the fantasy game we focus just on the end result. In so doing we sometimes miss the nuances that matter. Was a score called back because of a penalty? Did a guys toe touch the sideline on one step turning a potential 75 yards score into an 18 yard reception? Did a player pile up his fantasy points in garbage time when the opposing defense was playing prevent defense and just giving up chunks of yardage to keep the clock running and to keep the offensive players in front of them to avoid big plays? Those are some of the game situations that you have to consider when evaluating players.

Another level of analysis we can look at is snap counts. If a coach trusts a player he's on the field. Simple as that. Sometimes we can glean something about a players outlook if we note how many times he is on the field. On the other hand, sometimes when we look at snap counts we can get a better understanding of what reasonable expectations should be for the players performance. If a guy was only out there for 25 percent of the plays is it reasonable to expect him to go for seven receptions, 85 yards an a score in the following week? Maybe, but the odds of it aren't strong.

In what follows I'll talk a bit about snap counts and how they impact runners and wide receivers by focusing on Week 3 numbers.

SNAP COUNTS - RUNNING BACKS

League Leaders in Week 3.

70 - Jamaal Charles
65 - Adrian Peterson
63 - Bilal Powell
62 - Fred Jackson
62 - Chris Johnson

That's raw snap counts. As for which runners who were on the field the most for their squads, as a percentage of offensive snaps run by each club, here's another list.

90% of team snaps - Chris Johnson
87% - Darren McFadden
84% - Doug Martin, Jamaal Charles
81% - Adrian Peterson, Bilal Powell
80% - LeSean McCoy

If we look at fantasy points produced in Week 3, in a PPR setup, there are a handful of players who were in the top-10 in points at the position last week who weren't mentioned on either of the two lists.

#2 in fantasy points, DeMarco Murray
#4 Joique Bell
#6 Johnathan Franklin
#8 Jason Snelling
#9 Ahmad Bradshaw
#10 Giovani Bernard

Some thoughts on each.

Murray basically destroyed the Rams going for a rushing score and 203 yards from scrimmage in just over three quarters of action. He was only on the field for 77 percent of the Cowboys plays seeing just 48 snaps as the Rams proved no match. As long as Murray stays healthy you'll be hard pressed to have two better runners to start over him.

Bell dominated against the Redskins with Reggie Bush on the shelf with his knee woes. Bell caught four balls for 69 yards and ran for 63 more with a score. He was on the field slightly more than Murray with 53 snaps, 79 percent of the Lions offensive plays. Even with Bush back on the field in Week 4 Bell is a strong flex option at worst in PPR setups. At worst.

When James Starks went down with injury Franklin had to step up for the Packers. He fumbled the ball leading to a return that won the game for the Bengals, and that took away from what was a strong outing otherwise (three catches, 136 yards from scrimmage, one score). With the Packers on a bye in Week 4, and Starks/Eddie Lacy likely back for Week 5, be careful not to overbid when adding Franklin off waivers.

Jason Snelling, subbing for an injured Steven Jackson, carried the ball for 53 yards an also caught four balls for 58 yards an a score. Teammate Jacquizz Rodgers also had a strong effort against the Dolphins as he carried the ball 18 times for 86 yards while adding two catches for seven yards. Until SJax returns, and that sounds like it might be Week 7 after the Falcons' bye in Week 6, this duo will likely continue to split the workload which could cause some fantasy headaches (Snelling saw the field for 34 offensive snaps, Rodgers 43). With a shared situation like that it will be hard to predict who is the better play week to week.

After two lackluster outings Bradshaw exploded in Week 3 against the supposedly vaunted Niners defense. Showing his trademark anger on his runs, Bradshaw was shaken up multiple times but he came back every single time to inflict damage on a beaten down Niners club. In the end Bradshaw ran 19 times for 95 yards an a score, and he also caught three balls for 16 yards. However, it could go down as his best effort of the season now that Trent Richardson is in town. The Colts continue to say they want to control the ball with an aggressive running attack, and Bradshaw will certainly still get his touches, but TRich is likely to lead this backfield in touches every week from here on out. With only a handful of days to learn the playbook Richardson still saw only nine fewer snaps than Bradshaw (38 to 29). Look for that number to at least reverse in Week 4. At least. Bradshaw is likely to become a desperation flex option in the bye weeks.

Bernard has posted more than 19 fantasy points in each of the past two weeks, and against the Packers he ran for 50 yards an a score while also catching four balls for another 49 yards. He's a dynamic play-maker. At the same time he's still been on the field for 29 less snaps than BenJarvus Green-Ellis through three weeks, though the snap count differential dipped to just seven in Week 3 (30 to 23). Bernard should have no trouble making this a 50/50 backfield in short order, and it's certainly possible that by seasons end he's the one that's out on the field 2/3 of the time.

A quick look at the Patriots three-headed monster...

In Week 3 LeGarrette Blount had 14 touches, Stevan Ridley had 12 and Brandon Bolden had eight as Ridley owners threw up in their mouth a little bit. The snap count suggests that the Patriots planned to do that. Here are the three guys snap counts: Ridley 26, Bolden 25 and Blount 23. Hell, James Develin saw the field for 18 offensive snaps. I'm still suggesting you buy low on Ridley if you can, he did a lot of the “little things” in Week 3, but adding Bolden off waivers this week is far from a bad idea.

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SNAP COUNTS - WIDE RECEIVERS

League Leaders in Week 3.

86 - Robert Woods
81 - James Jones
80 - Jordy Nelson
79 - Randall Cobb
77 - Stevie Johnson

Pretty easy to see which two offenses ran the most plays in Week 3. It should also be noted that Jones played every one of the Packers snaps.

Here are the snap percentage leaders.

100% of the teams plays - DeAndre Hopkins, DeSean Jackson, Robert Woods, Dez Bryant, James Jones

Some guys that appeared in 95 percent of their teams plays that might surprise you.

98% - Emmanuel Sanders
95% - Mohamed Sanu
95% - Riley Cooper
95% - Michael Floyd

Sanders continues to see a lot of targets each week. Through three weeks he's seen 30 of them, the same total as Calvin Johnson. He's also been targeted on 18 percent of the pass plays of the Steelers meaning that he is 5th in the league in targets per team passing attempt. The only wideouts seeing a higher percent of targets compared to passes thrown by his team are Cecil Shorts (22 percent), Julio Jones (20 percent), Pierre Garcon (19 percent) and A.J. Green (19 percent). How much will this situation change for Sanders now that Heath Miller is back in the fold for the Steelers?

Sanu might be on the field a lot, but he's nothing other than a WR5 in a 12 team league. He's only seen 18 targets through three games which is one less than Josh Gordon got in Week 3, and he's only caught 13 balls for 127 yards.

Cooper is only out there to block. He's not worth adding in any fantasy format unless you play in a senseless moron league. Jason Avant is the secondary receiver to own from the Eagles but he's nothing more than a possession receiver and will never rise to the level of being a top-40 wideout.

Floyd continues to get work near the goaline, and the feeling in these parts is that he's close to breaking out. The Cardinals O-line has to do a better job of blocking to give Carson Palmer time, but there might still be hope for the offense. With Larry Fitzgerald trending toward health, and the team finding a nice mix with their rotational situation in the backfield, Floyd could be primed to ascend to the level of weekly WR3 consideration. Maybe. Through three games he's been targeted at least six times each week even though he's only made 11 grabs for 153 yards at the moment.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT & Friday's at 9 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answers everyone's questions.