Don’t let the Week 14 fantasy finishes fool you: The Green Bay Packers have a near 50/50 split committee backfield.
Aaron Jones in Week 14
1 red zone rush
AJ Dillon in Week 14
5 red zone rushes
If one or both of those touchdowns go to AJ Dillon last week we are having a very different conversation about this running back room. It’s been clear for months Dillon was going to earn a bigger role with this offense. Jones’ injury absence moved the needle even further and Week 14 just cemented it.
All of this is good for the Packers.
Green Bay deployed Aaron Jones early in the game to help build the lead on the Bears. He still brings such unique explosiveness to the table. Then when it was time for “grind it out” mode late in the game or inside scoring position, the team turned to the absolute hammer that is Dillon.
The best part is that these guys can alternate roles, even if Week 14 gave such a perfect encapsulation of how they can be optimally deployed. Jones is no slouch when it comes to banging between the tackles and we know that Dillon has established himself as a pass-catching threat. We shouldn’t expect zero targets for the latter every week.
Jones is working with a thinner margin for error than in years past but that’s just the way it is now. Dillon is too valuable to Green Bay. However, fantasy managers shouldn’t sweat this. Since there is such a clear delineation of roles and work, with Dillon as the clock-killer and Jones as the “get the lead” back, these guys can both be deployed as top-20 RBs.
Green Bay is a good enough offensive ecosystem to walk this tightrope.
Denver is 31st in neutral pass rate since Week 11
The 32nd-ranked team is New England, who threw three passes in a game recently.
So, yes, you could say Denver is really establishing the run.
There continues to be much weeping and gnashing of teeth over Javonte Williams’ workload split with Melvin Gordon. Those cries were a lock to get louder after Williams’ breakout game against the Chiefs. As last week showed us, the reality is you can play both of these running backs, not unlike the aforementioned Packers.
The fact that Denver has leaned so hard into their ground game and their defense has stabilized makes it so there is enough volume for both Gordon and Williams to be viable. It’s come at the expense of all their pass-catchers viability but we can only ask for so much out of a Teddy Bridgewater-led offense.
Week 15, however, won’t be as juicy of a spot as their last game because the Lions won't be the opponent. The Bengals still rank in the bottom half of the league in schedule-adjusted points allowed to running backs.
Odell Beckham and Van Jefferson are the only WRs with three TDs since Week 12
It’s not too early to call the Odell Beckham signing a raging success.
Beckham looks fantastic and completely dialed in. He’s given the team a high-end threat when they desperately needed one and he’s added a downfield perimeter separation element this team hasn’t had in years.
Don’t let that distract you from the fact Van Jefferson is having a breakout season.
Jefferson has continued to make big plays with Beckham fully integrated into the offense. His role has also shifted a bit. With Beckham operating as a pure outside receiver, Jefferson is lined up inside on over 50 percent of his snaps. He’s doing some of the dirty work that Robert Woods did for this offense but still ripping huge plays on vertical targets. Jefferson is a steal at his $16 DFS salary this week.
Catch leaders since Week 12
Hunter Renfrow: 30
Chris Godwin: 29
Cooper Kupp: 28
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 22
Diontae Johnson: 22
Justin Jefferson: 22
Naturally, there are some superstars on this list. The interesting names are Hunter Renfrow and Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Renfrow has emerged as not just a critical piece for the Raiders but the focal piece of the offense. It’s working, too. It’s to the point where I have no idea why Renfrow wasn’t featured earlier in the season or even last year. He’s so good.
St. Brown could become a discount version of Renfrow down the stretch. The rookie leads the Lions in routes run and targets since the team’s bye. He should post high catch totals on a weekly basis, even if some of the big play juice won’t be there.
It’s hard to look at these guys as every-week plays when they're deployed as pure slot receivers. Once we get Renfrow and St. Brown types operating in two-wide sets however, then we’re cooking with gas.
Gabriel Davis played a season-high 83% of snaps last week
With Emmanuel Sanders likely on the shelf, it’s time for the Bills to get Gabriel Davis fired up. Frankly, it was already about that hour anyway.
Davis isn’t a perfect player but he can burn and win in tight coverage. Buffalo has lacked big-play juice in this offense for too long this season. It’s no shock that the aging Sanders — who wasn’t doing much of late prior to his injury — ran out of gas as the team’s vertical receiver as the year went on.
At just $12 in DFS, Davis is rightly going to be one of the most popular plays on the board in Week 15. With the threats around Stefon Diggs coming up empty for far too long, the Bills need Davis to help out.
Rashod Bateman’s 48 snaps in Week 14 were the highest of the last three weeks
It turns out involving rookie Rashod Bateman is a good idea for the Baltimore Ravens.
Bateman was excellent in the Ravens’ comeback attempt against the Browns last week. Unfortunately, we have to ask whether Bateman’s re-emergence as a critical piece was simply the result of a Sammy Watkins injury. It’s silly we have to consider the veteran as part of the rookie’s outlook because it’s clear who offers more to the passing game, but that’s the reality of the situation. It’s tough to trust Bateman as it is with Lamar Jackson compromised. It becomes even more troubling when the Ravens aren’t giving him a full workload for no good reason.
Chase Edmonds has three carries inside the five-yard line since 2019
He’s scored just one red-zone rushing touchdown in that span. One of the appeals to James Conner as a fantasy pick this summer was his path to the upside in the event of a Chase Edmonds injury; a path we saw him walk down the last month-plus.
We had verifiable evidence from his time in Pittsburgh that Conner could do what Edmonds does as a pass-catcher if the latter was unavailable. We do not have the same evidence that Edmonds can do what Conner does as an early down banger or goal-line maven if Conner misses Week 15.
Deebo Samuel is a DISTANT third in weighted opportunity per game behind Aiyuk and Kittle since Week 11
Deebo Samuel has just seven targets over his last three games for a 16.7 aDOT. That is just an absurdly low number.
Of course, during this same span, he also has 22 rush attempts and four scores on the ground. Rushing touchdowns are absolutely saving his bacon right now.
No one should doubt that Samuel can suddenly see a jump in targets at any moment. He is an electric player who consistently put up face-melters to start the year when Kittle and Aiyuk were not fully integrated. We should consider the target distribution flexible in San Francisco.
However, if that passing volume doesn’t come back for Samuel and he gets his usual rush attempts but doesn’t score … that’s going to be a problem.
No one is benching Samuel, especially not against the Falcons. But a guy who was likely crucial to getting teams to the playoffs is now walking a razor-thin margin for error as the fake postseason begins.