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 might not be immediately reflected in charts.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones went down with a knee injury Sunday and is questionable, at best, for Week 16. If he's sidelined, Jamaal Williams will return to feature-back duties. Granted, he was the only remaining tailback on the 53-man roster, but Williams racked up 97 yards and one touchdown on 16 touches against a tough Bears defense Sunday. Williams, who is available in over 87 percent of ESPN leagues, is a must-add on waivers and will be a quality RB2 play against the Jets if Jones is out.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen injured his hip against Kansas City and is dicey for Week 16. With Allen sidelined, Mike Williams broke out for 95 yards and three touchdowns on eight touches against the Chiefs. He was targeted nine times, which was three fewer than Tyrell Williams, who grabbed six passes for 71 yards. If Allen is out against Baltimore, Tyrell Williams will have the best matchup (against Brandon Carr) after he replaced Allen in the slot in Week 15. Both he and Mike Williams would be worth WR3 consideration, though the latter will have his hands full with Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey on the outside. Consider Travis Benjamin a deep-league flex flier.
Miami Dolphins RB Frank Gore left Sunday's game with a foot injury. With Kenyan Drake also limited again (28 snaps, one carry, three targets), rookie Kalen Ballage (26 snaps) was forced into a large role. The fourth-round pick carried the ball 12 times for 123 yards, highlighted by a 75-yard touchdown during which he was not touched. Ballage was limited to a 2-yard loss on his only target. With Gore expected to miss the rest of the season, Drake, Ballage and Brandon Bolden will handle backfield duties. Drake would be your best RB2 bet, though we'll need to monitor his health to see if he'll be ticketed for more carries. Ballage figures to handle most of Gore's workload and is a risky flex in deeper leagues.
Houston Texans RB Lamar Miller hurt his ankle against the Jets, and though coach Bill O'Brien said it doesn't appear to be major, we'll need to monitor his status this week. In Miller's stead, Alfred Blue (40 snaps) plodded to nine carries for 6 yards, adding two catches for 9 yards. If Miller misses Sunday's game against the Eagles, Blue should be viewed as a candidate for 12-plus touches and would be a flex option. Keep in mind, D'Onta Foreman could also be activated for the first time, though he'd be too risky to start.
Cincinnati Bengals WR Tyler Boyd suffered a knee injury during Sunday's victory over Oakland. Boyd said he expects to play in Week 16, but recent reports suggest he could miss time. John Ross (32 routes Sunday), Cody Core (27), Alex Erickson (14) and Auden Tate (zero) are next up on the depth chart, but none are exciting fantasy options. Ross would be your best flex bet and Tate is worth a stash in dynasty leagues.
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 15 OFP leaderboard:
*Complete positional leaderboards will be posted at ESPN+ this week.
Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack appears to be the real deal. Injuries have been a problem, but Mack was terrific after contact (2.2) as a rookie and has produced well again in his second season (4.8 yards per carry, 2.1 yards after contact). Mack handled 27 carries for 139 yards and two scores against Dallas on Sunday, adding one catch for 10 yards. He paced the team's backs in snaps (42), though he did defer a lot of passing-down work to rookie Nyheim Hines (24 snaps, six targets). Mack's limited receiving role caps his upside, but as the lead back in the high-scoring Colts offense, he's certainly a viable RB2.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry followed his 238-yard, four-touchdown Week 14 effort with a 170-yard, two-score performance against the Giants in Week 15. Henry has now scored 11 touchdowns during his past eight games, though he's been limited to nine catches during the span. The key from Week 15 was Henry's workload (season-high 47 snaps), as he clearly separated himself from Dion Lewis (22). Henry won't see 33 carries most weeks, but 20 is certainly attainable. Coupled with goal-line work and the occasional target, Henry is an RB2 against Washington in Week 16.
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 have 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:
The Los Angeles Rams have made the FORP section of this series several times this season, but always as an offense playing quite a bit over its head. They've crashed to earth in recent weeks, but overcorrected to the point that the recent production of QB Jared Goff and WR Josh Reynolds has been well below expectation. Assuming their usage stays the same (as expected), both are strong rebound candidates for the final two weeks of the regular season.
New York Jets RB Elijah McGuire was on the field for 53 of the team's 72 offensive snaps and racked up 21 touches against the Texans on Saturday. It was the team's first game since placing Isaiah Crowell on injured reserve. McGuire was held to 71 scrimmage yards, but scored a touchdown in the game. He was well ahead of rookie Trenton Cannon, who played 23 snaps and registered 10 touches. McGuire is clearly the team's feature back and that puts him on the RB2 radar Sunday against the Packers. McGuire is available in nearly 70 percent of ESPN leagues.
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 moving forward:
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook played 37 of the team's 63 snaps Sunday and racked up 19 carries and a pair of targets in Kevin Stefanski's first game as offensive coordinator. Granted, they led through most of the game, but the Vikings called run a season-high 39 times (or 62 percent of the time). The numbers won't usually be that high, but it's clear that coach Mike Zimmer is committed to running the ball. Cook should push for 20 touches most weeks and is a fringe RB1.
Buffalo Bills WR Robert Foster has looked terrific as an undrafted free-agent find and certainly could have a future as an NFL starter. He's eclipsed 93 receiving yards during four of his past five games. The problem is that Foster is lacking enough volume to continue his current level of production in Buffalo's run-heavy offense. Foster has cleared five targets in a game once in his career and has been over four targets twice. Despite the recent success, Foster is no more than a boom-or-bust flex.
Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett has failed to score in back-to-back games and has failed to clear two targets during two of his past three outings. Lockett has been living on the edge by scoring nine touchdowns on only 63 targets this season and regression to the mean might have finally caught up to him. Consider Lockett a touchdown-dependent flex option in what could be a high-scoring affair against Kansas City in Week 16.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams surprised with two touchdowns on 10 carries (for 49 yards) to go along with six catches for 74 yards on six targets against the Chargers last week. It was Williams' most impressive NFL showing and came at a great time with Spencer Ware sidelined. Williams played 39 snaps in the game, which was well ahead of rookie Darrel Williams (13) and old friend Charcandrick West (one). If Ware remains out, Damien Williams will be a top-20 fantasy play at running back against Seattle.
Detroit Lions RB Zach Zenner paced the team's backfield with 26 snaps, 10 carries, 12 pass routes and four targets Sunday. Theo Riddick was next in line with eight carries, 10 routes and three targets on 24 snaps, which left LeGarrette Blount demoted to a minimal role on 10 snaps. If Kerryon Johnson remains out in Week 16, this is a situation to avoid. Riddick is the safest play in PPR formats.
San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida returned from a one-game absence Sunday and quickly regained lead-back duties. Breida played 42 snaps, carried the ball 17 times for 50 yards and caught all five of his targets for 46 yards. Jeff Wilson Jr. played 11 snaps, produced 46 yards on seven carries and failed to catch his lone target. Breida is back in the RB2 discussion, but is safest as a flex against Chicago's stellar defense Sunday. Wilson is no more than a handcuff.
Now two games into the post-Emmanuel Sanders era, the Denver Broncos' "starting" wide receiver usage has been as follows: DaeSean Hamilton (138 snaps, 92 routes, 21 targets), Tim Patrick (111 snaps, 78 routes and 18 targets) and Courtland Sutton (108 snaps, 79 routes and 11 targets). It's become clear that Hamilton's role as Sanders' slot replacement means he's now the top fantasy asset at the position. Consider him a WR3. Sutton remains a big-play threat, but his lack of volume limits him to boom-or-bust flex territory. Patrick is seeing enough work to keep him in the flex discussion.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Eli Rogers made his 2018 debut Sunday. Though he was fourth in line at receiver, the team went heavy on four-wide sets (39 percent of pass plays), which allowed him four targets on 19 routes. With James Washington, Ryan Switzer and Darrius Heyward-Bey also mixing in behind Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rogers is not a fantasy option.
Should I bench Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette this weekend? No. Fournette is coming off a pair of down games, but still registered enough volume against Washington to allow 64 yards from scrimmage. Fournette was limited in the second half, but still played a position-high 26 snaps, which was well ahead of T.J. Yeldon (17) and rookie David Williams (seven). Prior to his recent two-game slump, Fournette ripped off three consecutive top-seven fantasy weeks. Fournette remains the team's feature back and is set up with a nice matchup against a Dolphins defense that was fleeced by Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray on Sunday. Fire him up as an RB2.
To say the Baltimore Ravens' offense has changed with QB Lamar Jackson under center would be a massive understatement. Baltimore called pass 65 percent of the time during Weeks 1-9 when Joe Flacco handled most of the dropbacks. Since Jackson took over in Week 11, the pass rate is a league-low 40 percent (an average NFL offense would've called pass 59 percent of the time in the same game script). Jackson has yet to attempt more than 25 passes in a game but hasn't fallen below 19 attempts during the five starts. He's yet to post a fantasy week better than ninth but hasn't finished one of his starts worse than 15th. Jackson is a fringe QB1 option at the Chargers on Saturday.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley scored six touchdowns during his first four NFL games but has found pay dirt only twice during his past 10 outings. During that stretch, Ridley has failed to clear five catches and 47 yards in eight different games. At best, he's a very risky flex option.
Oakland Raiders TE Darren Waller made his team debut Sunday and put up 65 yards in the game. Despite the impressive showing, Waller isn't the solution to your tight-end woes. The former Raven touched the ball only twice on nine snaps in the game. Teammate Jared Cook remains a solid TE1 play despite a 23-yard showing Sunday.
New York Giants TE Evan Engram caught eight of 12 targets for 75 yards against Tennessee on Sunday. Engram hasn't found the end zone since October, but has cleared 65 receiving yards in three consecutive games. Odell Beckham Jr. has missed the past two games, but Engram's workload suggests he should still be able to provide TE1 numbers once the star receiver returns, especially considering the top-heavy nature of the tight end position.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Peyton Barber has scored exactly one touchdown during four of his past five games. He ranks seventh in the league with 85 carries during the span, but minimal receiving production (26 yards on nine targets) has him 16th among backs in fantasy points. Barber is handling a massive share of the carries in Tampa Bay, but he has produced only three top-20 fantasy weeks this season. Consider him a low-ceiling flex.
Chicago Bears WR Anthony Miller has been targeted a grand total of three times during his past three games. The rookie's usage has inexplicably been reduced following a strong start to his career, and therefore he's not close to fantasy relevance right now. Keep him stashed in dynasty.
Cleveland Browns RB Duke Johnson Jr. carried the ball four times Sunday, which marked his highest total since Week 5. He was targeted five times, which matched his total from the previous three games. Despite the increase in usage, Johnson can't be trusted as a flex with Nick Chubb handling a majority of the touches.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman was targeted 11 times Sunday and has now reached double-digit targets in five of his past seven games. He's fallen short of seven targets once in 10 games this season. Tom Brady's favorite target has finished 17th or better among wide receivers in fantasy points during six of his past seven games and sits ninth in fantasy points since returning from suspension in Week 5. Edelman is a fringe WR1 option.
The return of Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles appears to be just what the doctor ordered for WR Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery paced the team with eight targets against the Rams on Sunday. He caught all eight for 160 yards, the latter of which beats his previous season high by 55 yards. Jeffery has now put together back-to-back strong fantasy performances and makes for a WR2 play against Houston in Week 16.
Washington Redskins TE Jeremy Sprinkle led Washington's tight ends in snaps (40) on Sunday -- the team's first outing without Jordan Reed this season. Vernon Davis was limited to 23 snaps, but matched Sprinkle in routes (12) and targets (three). Rookie Matt Flanagan (22 snaps, no targets) was also plenty involved. None of these players can be trusted in fantasy, but Davis remains the best option for those digging desperately for a tight end.