The Fantasy 32 analyzes the NFL from a fantasy perspective, with at least one mention of each of the league's 32 teams. Though efficiency will be discussed plenty, the column will lean heavily on usage data, as volume is king (by far) in fantasy football. Use these tidbits to make the best waiver-wire, trade and lineup decisions for the upcoming week and beyond. Be sure to check back each week of the season for a new version of the Fantasy 32.
Note that data from Monday Night Football may not immediately be reflected in charts.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner suffered a lower leg contusion on Sunday night and should be viewed as questionable for Week 14. Conner was able to play 45 of the 63 snaps Sunday, but rookie Jaylen Samuels was the clear next man up. Samuels carried the ball twice and was targeted three times on 16 snaps. Samuels entered the league as more of an H-back than a tailback (he carried the ball 181 times, but caught 202 passes during his four seasons at NC State), but he's certainly a candidate to push for 20 touches if Conner is out. Stevan Ridley would certainly get some run on early downs, but Samuels' likely significant passing game workload would put him in the top 15 discussion at running back in PPR. Monitor Conner's status, but Samuels should have your attention on waivers.
San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida aggravated his ankle injury prior to Sunday's game and then again during the game, which led to him playing 10 snaps. San Francisco turned to undrafted rookie Jeff Wilson Jr., who played 53 snaps and carried the ball 15 times for 61 yards, adding eight catches for 73 yards. It's possible a healthy Breida regains lead back duties, but in the meantime, Wilson will need to be a priority on waivers this week. Though this has a similar feel to Gus Edwards two weeks ago, Wilson actually has a role in the passing game, which makes him even more intriguing. Also, 49ers running backs have accrued 1,433 rushing yards this season, which is third most in the NFL. Consider Wilson a flex option (RB2 if Breida is out) against Denver in Week 14.
Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green suffered a foot injury and will miss more time, if not the remainder of the 2018 season. Green missed the three games leading into Sunday with a toe injury. During those affairs, the Bengals' target distribution was as follows: Tyler Boyd (22), C.J. Uzomah (21), John Ross (20), Joe Mixon (12), Auden Tate (9), Giovani Bernard (8), Cody Core (6), others (4). Boyd is rostered in most leagues and Uzomah's volume hasn't allowed much fantasy production (three straight top-20 weeks, but zero top-12 weeks during the span). Ross' low catch rate is a problem, but his target share (20 percent) and touchdown production (one each game) while Green was out is enough to put him back in the flex mix. Consider adding the rookie Tate in deeper leagues, as he ranked third on the team in routes in Week 12.
Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen re-injured his right foot and his season is over. Olsen missed nine games in 2017 and will sit out seven regular-season games this season. Fourth-rounder Ian Thomas was the clear next man up when Olsen was out earlier this season. Thomas ran 84 of 108 possible routes and was targeted 14 times (third most on the team) during the three games. Thomas could flirt with TE1 numbers, but is best viewed as a TE2.
Denver Broncos CB Chris Harris Jr. broke his right fibula will miss the rest of the regular season. Harris is one of the league's top corners and his role as Denver's primary slot corner will obviously have implications for his opponents during the fantasy playoffs. Dante Pettis of the 49ers, Jarvis Landry of the Cleveland Browns, Seth Roberts of the Oakland Raiders and Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers are on the slate during the final month of the season and are the primary slot receiver for their respective teams. All four get a boost in value as a result of Harris' departure from the lineup.
Throughout this piece, I'll be referencing "OFP" and "OTD." OFP stands for opportunity-adjusted fantasy points. Imagine a league in which players are created equal. OFP is a statistic that weighs every pass/carry/target and converts the data into one number that indicates a player's opportunity to score fantasy points, or his expected fantasy point total. For example, if a player has an OFP of 14.5, it means that a league average player who saw the same workload in the same location on the field would have scored 14.5 fantasy points. OTD works the same way, except instead of fantasy points, it's touchdowns.
Here is the Week 13 OFP leaderboard:
*Complete positional leaderboards will be posted at ESPN+ this week.
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen has posted a pair of top-5 fantasy weeks and is suddenly on the fantasy radar thanks to his elite rushing production. During the six full games he has played this season, Allen is averaging an ugly 6.7 yards per pass attempt and has five passing touchdowns to go along with seven interceptions. He has overcome that from a fantasy perspective with 49 carries for 343 yards and four scores during those weeks. Allen's low volume and efficiency as a passer is a major concern, but he's adding enough as a rusher that he should be valued similarly to Lamar Jackson. You should be able to find 12 better weekly options, but Allen will keep posting fringe QB1 numbers if defenses allow him to run.
FORP is the difference between a player's actual fantasy point total and his OFP (or expected fantasy point total).
First, here are the players who fallen short of their OFP by the largest margin during the past month and are thus candidates to see a rise in fantasy production, assuming they see a similar workload:
Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan has slumped to four consecutive weekly fantasy finishes outside the top 10. His 30th-place finish in Week 13 was his worst effort since Week 1 (24th). After averaging 3.4 touchdowns per game during its first eight outings, the Atlanta offense has totaled six scores during its past four games. Ryan's rest-of-season schedule isn't too tough, but three of the four games are on the road. Atlanta's pass-heavy offense keeps him in the QB1 mix, but Ryan is no longer a must-start.
We now have two games with Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate as the top dog with O.J. Howard on injured reserve. Brate has run a route on 55 of the team's 73 pass plays and sits tied for third on the team with 10 targets. Those five targets per game aren't overly appealing. Brate sports a 1.6 OTD (10th-highest in the league) and three end zone targets (second) during the span. Consider Brate a back-end TE1.
And these players have exceeded their OFP by the largest margin during the past month and are thus candidates to see a dip in fantasy production:
Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay has been a gem of an undrafted free agent find. The Colorado standout and notable combine snub is averaging an absurd 6.1 yards per carry on 154 attempts this season. Though his fantasy production has been terrific, there are a few obvious reasons for long-term hesitation here. The most obvious is the significant help he's getting from the Denver offensive line.
Though some of this can be attributed to Lindsay's vision and elusiveness, he's averaging 4.4 yards before contact on the season. That's easily tops in the NFL among backs with at least 50 carries. In turn, Lindsay is averaging 1.7 yards after contact, which is below the 1.9 league average for running backs. Over at Pro Football Focus, Lindsay ranks 44th out of 57 qualified backs in elusive rating (he has forced 23 missed tackles on 179 touches).
Lindsay's passing-game role is lacking as well, as he has been targeted only once during his past two games. His 4.7 OTD suggests his nine touchdowns are fluky (he's tied for 21st in the NFL in carries inside the opponent's 5-yard line). For now, you can continue to ride the Lindsay train, but be aware of the above concerns. There are real signs Royce Freeman will prove to be the better back. Freeman, by the way, is averaging 2.4 yards after contact, which is fifth best in the league.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger sits fourth at quarterback in fantasy points this season. He's fifth in fantasy points per game at home and fourth on the road -- the latter of which is notable considering his struggles away from Heinz Field in recent seasons. Roethlisberger will be a terrific option during the fantasy playoffs with trips to Oakland and New Orleans and home games against New England and Cincinnati on the slate. All four defenses rank in the top half of the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks during the past eight weeks.
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has been a poor fantasy option this season and it doesn't figure to get better during the fantasy playoffs. Brady totaled five touchdowns and failed to post a single top-15 fantasy week during his first go-around against rival AFC East opponents. He'll see all three again during the season's final four weeks, as well as a meeting with the Steelers. Brady last finished a week better than 15th at quarterback in fantasy points in Week 7.
Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay has been targeted 44 times during his past four games, which is notable because those are the games in which Marvin Jones Jr. was sidelined. That volume is terrific, but it's fair to be concerned about his potential production during the fantasy playoffs. Golladay's remaining schedule is brutal, as he's set to face shadow coverage from Cardinals' Patrick Peterson, Bills' Tre'Davious White and Vikings' Xavier Rhodes during the next three weeks, as well as plenty of one-on-ones against Packers' star rookie Jaire Alexander in Week 17. Golladay will need to be downgraded each of the next three weeks and will be a shaky DFS option.
Baltimore Ravens RB Gus Edwards was the team's lead back again Sunday, racking up 21 carries for 82 yards. Since taking over as the team's lead back in Week 11, Edwards has accrued 61 carries for 315 yards and one touchdown. Incredibly, he has been targeted zero times during the span, which has severely limited his fantasy upside. Especially with Ty Montgomery and Kenneth Dixon mixing in, Edwards is no more than a fringe RB2, but his light schedule the rest of the way will help. Baltimore will face the Chiefs, Buccaneers, Chargers and Browns. All four defenses rank ninth or worse against running backs during the past eight weeks.
Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack stumbled to 33 yards on nine touches during Sunday's bizarre 6-0 loss to the Jaguars. It's the first game this season in which Mack has failed to reach double digits in carries. He's still averaging 14.6 carries per game and, prior to Sunday, he had been targeted at least twice in every game. Mack's dip in usage is a concern, but a larger issue is the Colts' remaining schedule (Texans, Cowboys, Giants and Titans). Only the Giants rank outside of the toughest seven defenses against fantasy running backs during the past two months.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods has shown an incredibly high floor, posting 11 consecutive top-35 outings. Yet the underrated receiver posted only his second top-12 fantasy week of the season on Sunday. Woods may be able to add to that total down the stretch, as he will benefit from a light schedule during the fantasy playoffs, with trips to Chicago and Arizona and home meetings with Philadelphia and San Francisco on the docket. All four defenses rank in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers during the past two months.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Spencer Ware was the team's primary back in Week 13. Ware played 47 of 68 possible snaps and was responsible for 15 of the team's 22 touches by running backs. Chiefs running backs have combined for the 10th-most fantasy points and 17 touchdowns (including a league-high eight receiving) this season. Kansas City could sign a veteran back this week, but as long as Ware is the lead back, he'll be positioned for fringe RB1 numbers.
Arizona Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds frustrated those who roster David Johnson with a pair of touchdowns on Sunday, but there's no need to panic. Edmonds registered five carries and a pair of targets on only 11 snaps. Johnson racked up 20 carries and two targets on 48 snaps. Johnson remains the workhorse back and a fringe RB1.
Houston Texans WR Demaryius Thomas has posted weekly finishes of 37th, 93rd, 12th and 67th since joining the team. He has been on the field for 97 of 118 pass plays, but has been targeted only 14 times (14 percent share). And that's with Keke Coutee missing two of the games. Thomas is not seeing enough work to warrant WR3 consideration and is no more than a dart throw at flex.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette was suspended for Week 13 and yet Carlos Hyde was still not able to jump into fantasy relevance. Even with the Jaguars surprisingly holding a lead throughout, Hyde trailed T.J. Yeldon in snaps (33 to 21), pass routes (17 to 7) and targets (8 to 1). Hyde carried the ball 13 times for 36 yards, added one yard on one catch and didn't score. Fournette will return this week and even if he misses time later this season, Hyde won't be anything more than a flex flier in non-PPR leagues. He's safe to drop.
Miami Dolphins WR Brice Butler vaulted up the depth chart Sunday, running 19 of a possible 27 pass routes. That trailed only DeVante Parker (24 routes) and Kenny Stills (26), as did Butler's four targets on the day. Of course, Danny Amendola was sidelined and Butler is unlikely to pass Parker or Stills for perimeter work. Butler is not worth an add on waivers, even if Amendola misses more action.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has been back from injury for four games. He has finished 17th or better at the position in fantasy points during three of those weeks, but has yet to manage a weekly finish better than 10th this season. Cook has carried the ball exactly 9 or 10 times during each of his past six games, but enjoyed a big boost in targets in Week 13 with a career high 10. Cook's role qualifies him as a solid RB2, but he's not close to matching lofty offseason expectations.
Washington Redskins WR Jamison Crowder returned from injury after a seven-game absence in Week 13. Crowder was on the field for 29 of the team's 45 offensive snaps, which was fewer than only Josh Doctson (43) among wide receivers. Crowder had a quiet day (four catches, 36 yards) and has yet to post a top-30 fantasy week in five tries this season. Crowder is worth a bench spot in deeper PPR leagues, but he's unlikely to generate consistent fantasy production with Mark Sanchez under center and with rookie slot man Trey Quinn now in the fold.
Should I drop Chicago Bears TE Trey Burton? Yes. Burton failed to catch his lone target in Week 13 and has now seen five or fewer targets in 10 of 12 games. He has managed 40 or fewer receiving yards in six consecutive games, scoring one touchdown during that span. He last posted a top-10 fantasy outing in Week 7. Especially with second-year TE Adam Shaheen back, Burton is no more than a TE2.
Can I drop New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard? Yes. Shepard showed potential earlier this season, but has disappeared in recent weeks. He hasn't cleared six targets in a game since Week 8 and hasn't cleared 37 yards in a game since Week 7. Shepard has found the end zone once during his past eight games. He has run only eight fewer routes than Odell Beckham Jr. but has been targeted 49 fewer times than the star wideout this season.
Can I now start Bills WR Zay Jones? No. Jones scored two touchdowns against Miami on Sunday, which matches his total from the entire 2017 season and doubles his total during the first 11 games of the 2018 season. Jones has been targeted at least nine times twice during his past three games, but those performances surrounded a one-target, one-catch outing in Week 12. Jones, a second-round pick last season, could be a good player, but he's currently averaging 5.75 targets per game in a low-scoring, run-heavy offense. He's no more than a dynasty stash.
Can I feel good putting Raiders WR Jordy Nelson back in my lineup? No. Nelson caught all 10 of his targets for 97 yards against the Chiefs' soft pass defense on Sunday, but that's after totaling 17 targets during his previous six games. Nelson has appeared in 11 games this season and has finished 71st or worst at the position seven times. Expect a return to earth against Pittsburgh in Week 14.