Snap Counts: Raheem Mostert, Darwin Thompson, Patrick Laird, more potential fantasy breakouts, busts, waiver pickupsSporting News — email@example.com (Sporting News)
With the Week 14 waiver wire set to be overloaded with running backs, it only makes sense that our analysis of Week 13 NFL snap counts will be full of running backs, as well. To find the sleepers that can win you fantasy playoff matchups, we've specifically broken down five backfields: 49ers, Chiefs, Dolphins, Colts, and Buccaneers. Hopefully, some of our findings can help you spot some sleepers (or busts) and inform your start 'em, sit 'em decisions
Of course, it's worth noting that injuries played a huge role in a number of these spots. Maybe Raheem Mostert wouldn't have had as big a day if Matt Breida (ankle) was healthy; Damien (ribs) and Darrel Williams (hamstring) being hurt in Kansas City definitely helped Darwin Thompson; and Kalen Ballage's leg injury allowed Patrick Laird to seize playing time. That doesn't mean there's nothing to be learned, especially because as the season gets later, injuries can linger and players can even be shut down.
Especially in the fantasy playoffs, you can plan out your lineup for the next couple weeks and know exactly how much wiggle room you have. If you have an extra bench spot, it can't harm you to pick up Mostert coming off his 20 carries in the hopes that he somehow lines up for that number in a week or two. If you've already planned out your streams, maybe you don't have room, and that's not the end of the world.
On the other side of these breakouts are players that are more owned, like Tevin Coleman and LeSean McCoy. Owners of those players will want to take note, too, as they decide if they should cut ties with or, at the very least, bench those veteran options.
49ers Snap Counts: Raheem Mostert vs. Tevin Coleman
It took a long time for Kyle Shanahan to finally allow one running back to run rampant this season. To add to the surprise in Week 13, it was Raheem Mostert doing the heavy lifting.
Normal starter Tevin Coleman didn't appear to be hurt but was used very little. Mostert carried the ball 20 times while Coleman saw just five carries. Mostert was on the field for 42 offensive plays while Coleman was in for just 10 (with Jeff Wilson Jr. playing five).
That's a wide enough gap to make us think Mostert's role won't just disappear (though, to be fair, Coleman's role basically just disappeared after starter-level usage). The other curveball here is the impending return of Matt Breida (ankle), which would just add another head to what's already a multi-headed monster.
If you're looking for courses of action to take, you can't really drop Coleman, but Mostert should be added in basically every league as we see how this shakes out. Another week of this and Mostert will be a fantasy starter to close out the season.
Chiefs Snap Counts: Darwin Thompson vs. LeSean McCoy
Thompson and McCoy were equal in snaps Sunday, but their snaps weren't created equally.
Thompson rushed 11 times, while McCoy received just five carries in his 24 snaps. It's another check in the box of the Chiefs seeming to use McCoy in some sort of load management routine down the stretch of the season.
Of course, everything here is complicated by injuries and gameflow. Damien Williams (rib) was out for Sunday's game. Darrel Williams left with a hamstring injury. To add on top of that, it was a blowout, so maybe Kansas City decided to just let Shady chill out on the sideline.
Still, though, the rookie Thompson was a fond sleeper of ours in the preseason before McCoy made KC's backfield much more crowded. Thompson's worth a speculative add in most leagues in case both Williams are out in Week 14 and beyond.
Dolphins Snap Counts: Patrick Laird a Week 14 sleeper
Kalen Ballage went down with a non-contact leg injury Sunday, and it looks like the type of thing that will force the Dolphins to sit the underperforming running back. That means Patrick Laird gets the next crack at the job.
He saw 43 snaps in total Sunday, far more than fellow rookie Myles Gaskin's 16. Laird caught five-of-six targets for 43 yards while rushing 10 times for five yards. He also added a touchdown and a two-point conversion. The rushing is going to continue to be difficult behind the Dolphins' poor offensive line, but the receiving game should be there in similar fashion going forward.
The best part about Laird might be the matchups throughout the fantasy playoffs. Miami plays both New York teams before facing the Bengals in Week 16.
Are we suggesting Laird should be starting in fantasy leagues in title games in Week 16? Not necessarily, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
Colts Snap Counts: Jordan Wilkins vs. Jonathan Williams
The dreaded "hot hand" bit Jonathan Williams' fantasy owners in the butt Sunday. Although Williams was expected to start and get a heavy share of the workload again, it was Jordan Wilkins leading the way with 32 snaps, followed by Nyheim Hines at 31, and Williams bringing up the rear at 16 snaps played.
Wilkins didn't carry a ton more than Williams (11 to eight.) But Wilkins' 4.3 yards per carry average was much superior to the 1.8 Williams put up. Wilkins also caught two-of-three targets while Williams caught the only pass that went his way. To add insult to injury, Hines ran for a touchdown on the second of back-to-back goal-to-go carries.
It's hard to know what to make of this going forward. Marlon Mack (hand) could make his return from injury soon, but even if he doesn't, this will continue to be a committee. If Williams was a waiver wire gem for you, it's probably worth holding on for one more week to see if things reverse. Wilkins can be picked up, but again, it's not obvious if his role will continue. Hines, too, can have PPR value, although it's limited by the number of mouths to feed.
And on top of all that, Indianapolis faces Tampa Bay's dominant run defense in Week 14 and New Orlean's top run defense in Week 15. Maybe it's best to stay away entirely.
Buccaneers Snap Counts: Peyton Barber vs. Ronald Jones
The Buccaneers' backfield made it back into the snap counts article by virtue of continuing to be a headache. Barber took back the role that Jones had seized, running 17 times and picking up two rushing touchdowns while Jones carried the rock just six times in Week 13.
The snaps weren't that far off, with Barber playing 30 compared to Jones' total of 21. Dare Ogunbowale was mixed in there, as he always is, at 23. Jones turning his six carries into eight yards probably didn't help his cause, but this is truly one of the more unpredictable situations in football.
There's just no rhyme or reason. Some weeks, it's Jones in around the goal line, and others, like in Week 13, it's Barber. Jones showed up with a huge receiving game a couple of weeks ago, but generally the passes go to Ogunbowale. We wish there was a good reason, but there probably wasn't.
We'll still take the stance that Jones is the most talented here. It's not worth rushing to pick up Barber if he isn't owned. In reality, you'll probably maintain more of your sanity if you just avoid playing these guys altogether.
(Update: Bruce Arians said Jones sat out due to a pass-blocking error, so this situation could still shift in either direction, it seems.)
For snap count reactions for every team, click here.