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.
Lions RB Kerryon Johnson injured his knee on Sunday and though it wasn't a major injury, it's possible he misses some time. If that's the case, LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick would be the next men up. On Sunday, Johnson managed 33 snaps before going down. Riddick was targeted on six of 26 snaps, but carried the ball only once. Blount carried the ball on seven of 12 snaps, but wasn't targeted. Blount is a flex flier and Riddick a PPR RB2 option against Chicago on Thanksgiving. Expect Zach Zenner to get some run, as well, but he's not a fantasy option.
Packers TE Jimmy Graham injured his thumb on Thursday and was limited to 21 snaps. In his place, Lance Kendricks played 25 snaps and was targeted on two of his 19 routes. Marcedes Lewis (10 snaps, seven routes, zero targets) and Robert Tonyan (three snaps, two routes, one target) were also on the field. Graham is going to try to play through the injury, but if he misses time, Kendricks would be the team's the top receiving tight end. He'd no more than a fringe TE2 in an Aaron Rodgers offense that hasn't relied much on the tight end position over the years. Graham is safe to drop if you're without an IR slot.
Redskins QB Alex Smith broke his right leg, and his 2018 season is over. Colt McCoy is his replacement. McCoy attempted 12 passes on Sunday, directing five to Josh Doctson, three to Jordan Reed and one each to Michael Floyd and Trey Quinn (the two others were spikes). Granted it was a small sample, but McCoy's 13.7 average depth of throw was significantly higher than Smith's 8.3 aDOT this season. McCoy's presence figures to be costly for Washington's playoff prospects, but if he's less afraid to throw downfield, that will result in more opportunities for Washington's pass-catchers. Reed should already be rostered and the likes of Doctson, Quinn, Maurice Harris and Jamison Crowder are worth monitoring.
Titans QB Marcus Mariota reinjured his elbow and was replaced by Blaine Gabbert in the second half of Sunday's loss to the Colts. Mariota missing time would be problematic for Tennessee, as Gabbert has struggled on 61 attempts this season. It also could mean fewer targets for Corey Davis, who has a 31 percent target share with Mariota, compared to 25 percent with Gabbert this season. If Mariota is out, all Titans pass-catchers will be best left on your bench against Houston this week.
Raiders RB Doug Martin injured his ankle and WR Brandon LaFell injured his Achilles against the Cardinals. With Martin out the entire second half, DeAndre Washington stepped in and carried the ball on 12 of 23 snaps. Jalen Richard registered 11 carries and four targets on 32 snaps in the game. Martin is expected back for Week 12, but is no more than a flex option. LaFell, meanwhile, is expected to miss the rest of the season, which opens the door for seventh-round rookie Marcell Ateman to make more noise. Ateman made his NFL debut on Sunday and played 65 of a possible 68 snaps. He was targeted on five of 32 routes. Of course, Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant were both out with injuries of their own and are questionable for Week 12. Ateman will be on the flex radar if he enters Week 12 as the team's top wide receiver, but he's best viewed as a dynasty stash.
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.
That said, here is the Week 11 OFP leaderboard:
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson showed well in his first NFL start, completing 13 of 19 passes for 150 yards and one interception, adding 117 rushing yards. Jackson's 27 carries are a single-game record for a quarterback during the Super Bowl era. Jackson finished the week 13th at quarterback in fantasy points despite not scoring a single touchdown. The rookie will start again at Oakland in Week 12 and is on the QB1 radar against a defense struggling against both quarterbacks and running backs this season.
By the way, as friend and smart fantasy mind Adam Harstad pointed out on Twitter on Sunday, "regression is undefeated." Colts TE Eric Ebron and Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett both failed to score a touchdown on a combined six targets in Week 11 (low volume was a concern coming in for both), while Falcons WR Julio Jones scored his third touchdown in three games. Some players defy the odds for longer than others, but regression to the mean catches up eventually.
Now for our weekly FORP update. 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 over the past month and are thus candidates to see a rise in fantasy production moving forward, assuming they see a similar workload:
Eagles WR Golden Tate paced the team with eight targets and ran 27 of a possible 36 pass routes on Sunday. He aligned in the slot on 23 (or 85 percent) of those plays and appears to be settling in as the team's new slot receiver (kicking Nelson Agholor -- 34 percent slot on Sunday -- outside). Tate was still behind Alshon Jeffery (36) and Agholor (29) in routes, but he's now playing enough to allow a target share that can make you feel comfortable about putting him in your lineup. Tate is a WR3 option against Giants' slot corner Grant Haley this week.
Ravens WRs John Brown and Michael Crabtree will be hard to trust as flex options with the run-first Jackson under center. Both were overloaded with volume throughout the season, but are risky plays this week after combining for four targets on 98 snaps in Jackson's first start.
Panthers WR Devin Funchess posted his fourth consecutive week outside the top 40 at the position in fantasy points on Sunday. Cam Newton's top perimeter target struggled with drops in the game, but did tie for the team lead with eight targets. Carolina's wide receivers will enjoy one of the easiest remaining schedules for wide receivers, including matchups with Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Atlanta and New Orleans (twice) during Weeks 13-17. Funchess is an interesting player to try and acquire at a discount this week.
And these players have exceeded their OFP by the largest margin over the past month and are thus candidates to see a dip in fantasy production moving forward:
The Saints, Rams and Chiefs continue to defy history and post absurd offensive production, which makes them the elusive exception to the rule this season (I get the impression we'll look back at 2018 as one of the big turning points in NFL history). Otherwise, the likes of Christian McCaffrey and Aaron Jones have been terrific, but also a bit over their heads in terms of per-play fantasy efficiency in recent weeks. Both are still weekly fantasy starters, but expectations should be realistic after recent big scoring games.
Texans QB Deshaun Watson has not been a good fantasy quarterback this season and you can probably find a better option this week and possibly beyond. Watson had another disappointing fantasy day in Week 11 and has posted only one fantasy week better than sixth this season. He's been outside the top 20 four times. Watson has thrown exactly one touchdown in five games and two in four games, which accounts for 90 percent of his outings. That has allowed him the 13th most fantasy points at the position. Houston is averaging 2.2 offensive touchdowns per game, which ranks 22nd in the league. Watson faces a tough Tennessee defense in Week 12 and is barely worth QB1 consideration.
Panthers WR DJ Moore broke out for seven catches, 157 yards and one touchdown on a career-high eight targets in Week 11. He sits 13th at wide receiver in fantasy points during the past month. The big plays have been great and Moore has been on the field a ton, but his average of 5.25 targets and 1.0 carries per game during the span makes it hard to trust him as anything more than a flex. The rookie is averaging 15.3 yards per carry and 12.2 yards per target, neither of which is sustainable.
Buccaneers WR Adam Humphries has caught 20 of 26 targets for 271 yards (13.6 YPR) and three touchdowns during his past four games. He's managed one end zone target and sports a 1.3 OTD during that span. Especially with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard heavily involved, Humphries is likely to return to earth in a hurry.
Ravens RB Gus Edwards entered Week 11 rostered in 0.0 percent of active ESPN leagues. That number is going to rise big time this week. The undrafted rookie out of Rutgers seemingly took control as the Ravens' lead back on Sunday, playing 46 of a possible 75 snaps and rushing for 115 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. Alex Collins (17 snaps), Ty Montgomery (eight) and Javorius Allen (five) combined for eight carries. Edwards is a bit risky as it's possible he simply ends up as part of a committee (especially after the Ravens designated Kenneth Dixon for return from injured reserve last week), but there's plenty to like here if he takes over as lead back. The Ravens have the easiest remaining schedule for running backs. Spend up on Edwards on waivers this week and hope for RB2 numbers down the stretch. He's a flex option against Oakland this week and should be upgraded in non-PPR.
Eagles RB Josh Adams played 27 of a possible 48 snaps during Sunday's loss to the Saints. Adams carried the ball seven times for 53 yards and a touchdown, adding three catches for 19 yards on six targets. There are signs Adams is evolving into more of a workhorse role, as in addition to dominating the carries, he ran 16 routes. Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood combined for three carries, two targets and eight pass routes on 17 snaps. Adams is now averaging 6.1 yards per carry this season (fourth best at the position), including 1.88 after contact (Adams' 2017 YAC at Notre Dame was higher than all backs drafted in April). Adams is a fringe RB2 option against the Giants in Week 12.
Chargers TE Antonio Gates came out of nowhere to post season highs in targets (seven), receptions (five) and receiving yards (80), while also scoring his second touchdown of the season in Week 11. Despite the big production, Gates only ran 37 percent of the possible routes in the game, which is his third-lowest mark of the season. Gates failed to clear 27 receiving yards during eight of his first nine games this season and is still no more than a fringe top-20 fantasy tight end.
Bengals WR John Ross has appeared in two games since returning from injury in Week 10. He's played 87 of a possible 99 snaps and registered 13 targets (second most behind only Tyler Boyd) during the span. Ross has a touchdown in both games, but has caught only four passes for 66 yards. Ross has shown flashes, but he's not going to be a viable flex option once A.J. Green returns to the lineup.
Broncos WR DaeSean Hamilton returned from injury in Week 12, but operated as Denver's No. 4 wide receiver. Hamilton ran eight pass routes, compared to 30 for Courtland Sutton, 29 for Emmanuel Sanders and 17 for Tim Patrick. Hamilton is a terrific dynasty stash, but isn't currently positioned for short-term success.
Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki has seen his playing time dip in recent weeks and the 2018 second-round pick has failed to clear three targets in eight of first 10 NFL games. Gesicki has been on the field for only 37 percent of Miami's pass plays this season. He's no more than a dynasty stash.
Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith busted out for 10 catches, 157 yards and one touchdown on 13 targets against the Eagles' injury-riddled secondary on Sunday. The rookie has now posted a pair of top-5 fantasy weeks, but sandwiched between them is a four-week span with an average finish of 63rd. Smith has been on the field for 82 percent of the Saints' offensive snaps and is handling a 16 percent target share since Week 5. He's best viewed as a boom-or-bust flex option.
Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling was limited to one catch in Week 11, but there's reason for optimism. MVS was on the field for a position-high 47 of the team's 48 offensive snaps. He ended up fourth on the team with only three targets, but he also had the toughest cornerback matchup (against Seattle slot CB Justin Coleman), whereas Davante Adams (12 targets) and Equanimeous St. Brown (four targets) picked on Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin on the perimeter. Valdes-Scantling will remain in the flex mix even when Randall Cobb returns.
Buccaneers RB Peyton Barber was given 18 carries and picked up 106 yards (his first 100-plus yard game of the season) and one touchdown on Sunday. Barber has now cleared 80 rushing yards during three of his past six games. Unfortunately, he's been limited to two touchdowns and nine catches during the six-game span. The volume has been nice for Barber -- he ranks 13th in the league with 135 carries -- but it's led to no more than flex production in fantasy.
Speaking of the Buccaneers, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston have combined for 248 fantasy points this season. When compared to all individual quarterbacks, that trails only Patrick Mahomes for most in the league. Of course, the Tampa Bay duo has combined for three benchings. If you started the Buccaneers' starting quarterback each week, you'd have 206 fantasy points from your QB slot. That would rank 10th at the position. What's the takeaway? There's a lot of fantasy points to be had from this spot, but low job security makes the Bucs' starter a risky fantasy option.
Along with aforementioned Eagles RB Josh Adams, Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny and Colts RB Jordan Wilkins were my favorite running back values in the 2018 NFL rookie draft. The NFL careers of all three backs got off to slow starts, but Penny is suddenly averaging a team-best 4.8 yards per carry on 62 carries this season (6.1 since Week 4), while Wilkins sits at 5.58 on 57 carries this season. Adams is best positioned for short-term success as the Eagles' lead back, but Penny is forcing his way into a larger role in Seattle and Wilkins isn't going away in Indianapolis. All three remain intriguing dynasty prospects.
Cardinals WR Christian Kirk has cleared 77 receiving yards and/or scored a touchdown during five of his past eight games. Kirk has certainly laid a few eggs this season, but three of his four weeks below nine fantasy points came during Weeks 1-4. Kirk has played 90 percent of the offensive snaps during the past two weeks and sits inside the top 30 at wide receiver in fantasy points since Week 5. He's a flex option.
Browns RBs Duke Johnson Jr. (3.42) and Nick Chubb (3.20) rank first and second, respectively, in yards after contact per attempt among backs with 25-plus carries this season. Granted, the sample size is small (especially for Johnson), but the fact is, both backs have been terrific. Cleveland's offense has been much improved following the recent coaching changes, so Johnson should be viewed as a flex and Chubb as a fringe RB1 moving forward.
The 49ers' Nick Mullens has finished eighth and 24th among quarterbacks in fantasy points during his two NFL starts. He's 14th in OFP at the position during the span. Mullens has done most of his damage against the lowly Raiders and offers very little with his legs (minus-2 rushing yards this season). Even in a great matchup against the Buccaneers in Week 12, he's no more than a QB2 and DFS punt.