Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Thanksgiving Walkthrough: Zeke is Ready for a Thanksgiving Feast

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

$1,000,000 up for grabs. Download the NBC Sports Predictor app and play SN7 for FREE! Get started here!

Welcome to the Friday Walkthrough. Every week I’ll be outlining critical fantasy football context for the upcoming slate of games.

At the end of the article, I’ve included an extensive list of the stats used as well as what they are, why they’re useful, and where they came from.

Byes: Broncos, Rams

Bears at Lions, 12:30 PM Eastern, Thursday

Bears Implied Team Total: 22.5
David Montgomery played 95% of snaps against the Ravens and handled 93% of backfield attempts. Over his last two games, he’s played 90% of snaps and handled 84% of backfield attempts. He’s been a true workhorse since returning from injury.

Unfortunately, Montgomery’s workload hasn’t translated to fantasy production. In his last two games, he’s managed 121 scoreless yards on 27 carries, adding three receptions for 26 yards on three targets, good for 8.9 PPR points per game.

Montgomery has been reliable on the ground, ranking 10th in NFL Next Gen’s success/attempt metric. His combination of chunk running ability and snap domination would make him a strong fantasy producer in a more potent offense. But Montgomery hasn’t shown the otherworldly talent required to break through this nightmare situation. He ranks RB24 in breakaway percentage, RB34 in elusive rating, and RB51 in yards per route run.

Chicago will at least attempt to establish Montgomery this week. The Bears have shown a strong preference for the run with a -3% pass rate over expected. They rank 26th in PROE and 27th in situation-neutral pass rate. They run whenever they can get away with it.

But the Lions are actually more vulnerable through the air than on the ground. They rank 30th in EPA* allowed per dropback, 26th in Pro Football Focus’ pass rush grades, and 32nd in PFF’s coverage grades. Meanwhile, they aren’t good against the rush, but they’re almost respectable, ranking 19th in EPA allowed per rush and 27th in PFF’s run defense grades.

Moreover, the Lions have faced a slew of efficient rushing offenses. Four of their 10 opponents (the Browns, 49ers, Eagles, and Ravens) rank top 10 in EPA per rush. And compared to their opponents’ typical rushing success, the Lions have actually been holding their own on the ground.

The Lions didn’t hold their own against the Bears in Week 4, however. Montgomery went off for 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and the Bears led the week in EPA per rush. A repeat is firmly in play.

But the risk for Montgomery is that the Lions aren’t a disaster against the run on Thursday, and the Bears pivot, attacking their even weaker pass defense instead.

The Lions have faced a difficult passing schedule. Four of their opponents (the Rams, Packers, Vikings, and 49ers) are top 10 in EPA per dropback. But rather than holding their own against the pass, the Lions are allowing opposing passing games to tee off against them. Case in point, when the Bears played the Lions in Week 4, they led the week in EPA per dropback. So this is the rare spot where we could actually see some efficiency from the Bears’ passing game.

With Justin Fields dealing with a ribs injury on a short week, Andy Dalton will make his first start since Week 2. In a testament to how bad Chicago’s season has been, Dalton has outplayed Fields.



Dalton ranks 14th in EPA per play this season, while Fields ranks 33rd. There are several reasons to be highly skeptical of this discrepancy, however. First, Dalton has played limited snaps this season; he’s only logged 65 plays outside of garbage time, and his efficiency could be small sample size noise. Second, he was recently terrible with a better supporting cast; Dalton finished 31st in EPA per play with the Cowboys in 2020. Third, Dalton has been as inaccurate as Fields; he ranks 30th in CPOE compared to 29th for Fields.

There’s a chance that the Bears’ offense will function more smoothly with Dalton at the helm. But I think there’s a better chance that Dalton’s 2021 efficiency is a mirage and that he’ll ultimately play as inefficiently as Fields and without the rookie’s mobility or big-play mindset.

Fortunately, Fields was excellent against the Lions in Week 4. In this matchup, even an immobile, risk-averse, counterfeit Fields should be able to find enough success to support one weapon in the offense.

And Dalton should help Montgomery stay involved if the game turns out to be pass-heavy. Montgomery has seen a total of just seven targets in three games with Dalton, but Damien Williams has an additional eight in those games, and Montgomery’s grip on snaps gives him access to 5+ targets if the Bears air it out.

Darnell Mooney will be the biggest beneficiary if the Bears attack the Lions where they are weakest. In Week 11, Mooney had his best fantasy day of the season with Allen Robinson (hamstring) sidelined. Mooney posted a 5/121/1 line on a season-high 14 targets. Despite a 36% catch rate, Mooney had his second-highest YPRR of the season. That’s what can happen when you can take a screen pass 60 yards to the house.

Mooney leads the Bears with 1.81 YPRR this season, significantly ahead of Robinson’s lowly 1.26 YPRR. With Robinson out, Mooney was targeted on an elite 39% of his routes. And with Robinson likely out again, the Bears are sure to feed their top playmaker. Because the Bears actually have a shot of being efficient this week, Mooney looks like one of the slate’s higher upside wide receiver options.

Marquise Goodwin directly benefited from Robinson’s absence, running a route on a season-high 76% of dropbacks. Goodwin has a 1.61 YPRR this season, which is in line with his target profile. He’s very much in play for the Thanksgiving DFS slate.

Cole Kmet is one of the reasons that Darnell Mooney had such a nice Week 11. He was only targeted twice, yielding an 8% target rate. Kmet has a 17% target rate this season, which is pretty weak. However, this matchup makes him mildly attractive as a TD or bust option.

*(Expected Points Added, EPA, is an efficiency metric that calculates the expected points of a game situation compared to the previous play. This measures how much each play added or subtracted from a team’s point expectation. I exclude garbage time for all EPA data in this article. Data courtesy of

Lions Implied Team Total: 19.5
Jared Goff is dealing with an oblique injury, and he was awful when playing through it in Week 10. Goff ranked 24th in EPA per play and 24th in CPOE against the Steelers. But as bad as Goff was, he was still better than a healthy Tim Boyle. Boyle finished 30th in EPA per play and 26th in CPOE.



Assuming Goff is healthier than when he first sustained his injury, he has at least a chance of playing competently this week. (Happy Thanksgiving!) Goff ranks 32nd in EPA per play this year, but he’s 27th in CPOE, above Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Wentz. His current inefficiency is an outlier compared to his accuracy; meaning, positive regression could be on the way.



The Bears defense is beatable, ranking 19th in EPA per dropback, 18th in pass rush grade, and 25th in coverage grade. And Goff wasn’t a total disaster when the Lions played the Bears in Week 4, finishing 27th in EPA per play. So, if he’s healthy enough, there could be some fantasy value in at least one of his weapons.

T.J. Hockenson had a nice bounce-back game in Week 11, seeing a target on 33% of his routes and running a route on 91% of dropbacks. Hockenson has a 21% target rate this season, which leads all Lions wide receivers and tight ends. He also leads the team with an 85% route rate. Unfortunately, Hockenson is targeted shallowly. He has a 7.0 aDOT that doesn’t give him much upside for big plays or TDs. The last time he had an aDOT of 9+ was in Week 2, which was also the last time he scored a TD. The problem appears to be worsening; he hasn’t had an aDOT of 7+ since Week 6 and has posted aDOTs of -2.0 and 5.7 over the last two weeks. Hockenson is by far the best non-RB bet in this offense. He’s also a low floor, low ceiling bet, which sums up the Lions nicely.

Josh Reynolds ran a route on 96% of dropbacks against the Browns, with Amon-Ra St. Brown at 91% and Kalif Raymond at 78%. I’m only mentioning the Lions’ wide receivers because of the Thanksgiving DFS slate. But all are extremely thin options. Kalif Raymond has 1.17 YPRR, St. Brown has 1.12, and Josh Reynold has a career 1.16 YPRR despite spending four years in the Rams offense.

Jamaal Williams returned in Week 11, but D’Andre Swift still dominated snaps, with a 73% snap share to 27% for Williams. Swift also ran a route on 78% of dropbacks, posting an 18% target share, while Williams ran a route on 17% of dropbacks and wasn’t targeted. Williams could regain more of his early-down role in his second game back from injury, but Swift is very likely to dominate the receiving opportunity.

However, there is some concern around Swift’s receiving production, which has taken a hit over the last two weeks. He’s seen 10 targets and had six receptions but has produced just five total receiving yards. Swift has made up for his receiving yardage drought with increased rushing production. He’s handled 76% of backfield attempts over the last two weeks and has had back-to-back games of 130+ rushing yards. After ranking dead last in NFL Next Gen’s success/attempt metric for most of the season, he’s up to 40th after two strong weeks. 40th is still bad, obviously...but not as bad as 50th. Rushing consistency isn’t Swift’s strong suit, but he is a premier big-play threat, ranking 13th in breakaway percentage. Swift’s receiving output looks volatile as well, but he hasn’t stopped being an elite receiving back. He ranks 13th in YPRR and is a strong bet to rebound from his two-week receiving slump.

Raiders at Cowboys, 4:30 PM Eastern, Thursday

Raiders Implied Team Total: 21.75
Derek Carr is ranks 12th in EPA per play and 12th in CPOE, but he hasn’t been as efficient without Henry Ruggs. Carr ranks 22st in EPA per play and 13th in CPOE since Week 8. He gets a difficult test this week against a formidable Dallas pass defense.

The Cowboys rank fourth in EPA allowed per dropback, eighth in pass rush grade, and 10th in coverage grade. And they’ve had success despite a tough schedule. Half of Dallas’ opponents (the Buccaneers, Chargers, Vikings, Falcons, and Chiefs) rank top 10 in EPA per dropback. So Dallas’ pass defense is for real, and Carr will have his work cut out for him this week.

The Raiders passing game is built to challenge defenses deep on the outside. Ruggs had a 17.1 aDOT, Bryan Edwards has a 16.5 aDOT, Zay Jones is at 20.5, and DeSean Jackson‘s only target was 36 yards downfield. The problem is that while Ruggs could earn deep targets at a high rate, the Raiders’ current outside starters aren’t capable of doing that. Ruggs was targeted on 16% of his routes, while Bryan Edwards is at just 11% and Jones is at 10%. Last week, Edwards ran a route on 77% of dropbacks and wasn’t targeted a single time.

With the Rams, DeSean Jackson was targeted on 22% of his routes with a 21.5 aDOT, so he offers some hope. But Jackson hasn’t clicked with Carr so far, seeing just a single target on 15 routes. Jackson also ran a route on just 33% of dropbacks rate last week, so putting him in your lineup requires a leap of faith that his playing time will increase substantially.

Carr’s lack of deep attempts has provided a slight uptick in target share for Darren Waller (24% to 25%) and Hunter Renfrow (20% to 21%). But Waller has seen his aDOT decline from 10.2 to 8.9 and Renfrow from 6.6 to 3.3. The passing offense has contracted without effective deep threats, making it hard to get excited about a slight target bump for the underneath options.

Waller, at least, is still seeing deep targets for a tight end. Only Kyle Pitts, Mark Andrews, and Rob Gronkowski have deeper aDOTs than Waller this season. Waller should also see some positive regression on his 7.9 YPT, which is lower than expected for his 10.1 aDOT. And Waller still leads the Raiders with 1.82 YPRR.

Renfrow has 1.76 YPRR, first among Raiders wide receivers, and looks like the Raiders’ No. 2 option at the moment, at least for as long as their deep threats are failing to threaten. Waller looks like the far more exciting option, however, even leaving aside his tight end eligibility.

Over his last three games, Josh Jacobs’ snap share is at 56%, down from the 61% he saw when John Gruden was coaching the team. But Jacobs had just a 10% target share from Weeks 1-5. He’s up to 15% since Week 9 and is coming off a season-high seven targets and a season-high 63% route rate. Jacobs’ passing game role will still be somewhat hit or miss, but his current usage makes him less game script-dependent and a more reliable fantasy option.

Jacobs gets a Cowboys defense that ranks 20th in EPA allowed per rush and 29th in run defense grade. I’d rather have David Montgomery‘s overall game environment, but Jacobs has the better pure rushing matchup on Thursday.

Cowboys Implied Team Total: 29.25
A week ago, we were deciphering how the Cowboys would distribute targets in a crowded passing game. Now targets look extremely condensed, to the point that the Cowboys will likely be starting Noah Brown on the outside.

Amari Cooper remains out this week with Covid and CeeDee Lamb is recovering from a concussion. Even if Lamb unexpectedly suits up, Cedrick Wilson has a locked-in role. He ran a route on 65% of dropbacks in Week 11 and was targeted in 23% of his routes. Wilson has played 89% of his snaps in the slot this year, with a poor 14% target rate. That spiked to 23% last week with Cooper and Lamb out, so those absences have increased his target ceiling.

Assuming Lamb is out, Brown actually looks like a stronger option than Wilson, in my view. He tied Wilson with a 65% route rate against the Chiefs and that was with Lamb posting a 48% route rate. Lamb’s absence now opens up even more opportunity on the outside, and Brown looks like the obvious replacement. Brown played 85% of his snaps on the outside against the Chiefs compared to just 9% for Wilson. Malik Turner tied Brown with two targets last week, but ran a route on just 17% of dropbacks, and played 75% of his snaps in the slot.

Brown was targeted on just 6% of his routes last week and did not record a reception, and has just a 13% target rate this season. But Wilson also struggles to earn targets, so I’d rather bet on the player who will be on the field more often. Given the need for outside routes, I think that will be Brown.

Of course, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz are likely to soak up the majority of target volume. Gallup ran a route on 96% of dropbacks in Week 11 with a 22% target rate and a 10.8 aDOT. He had a very strong target profile but turned in a pitiful 4.4 YPT, which yielded a gross 0.96 YPRR.

Shultz’s day was similar. He had an elite 94% route rate and had a solid 18% target rate for his 8.5 aDOT. But he ran bad with a 6.6 YPT and posted a poor 1.18 YPRR.

Interestingly, CeeDee Lamb also posted terrible efficiency, with a 3.5 YPT and a 0.61 YPRR. Lamb is an emerging superstar—the fact that even he couldn’t get going against the Chiefs points to a poor day from Dak Prescott as the root cause of Gallup’s and Schultz’s inefficiency. If Prescott can rebound, Gallup and Schultz could turn in spike weeks as they benefit from the condensed target volume.

Prescott has been solid this season, ranking 15th in EPA per play and eighth in CPOE. Although, against a highly exploitable Cheifs defense, he finished 29th in EPA per play and 23rd in CPOE. Only Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian were less efficient than Prescott in Week 11.

Prescott will attempt to bounce back against a solid Raiders pass defense, ranked 13th in EPA allowed per dropback and 18th in coverage grade. But this actually sets up as a dangerous matchup for Prescott.

John Daigle has repeatedly pointed out on A Good Football Show that Prescott has been excellent against the blitz, leading the NFL with 15 passing TDs against it. Tom Brady is second with 10. Like Brady, the key to beating Prescott appears to be getting to him without blitzing. That’s exactly what the Raiders do.

The Raiders’ have the best pass rush in the league, ranking first in pass rush grade while generating pressure at a league-high rate of 53%. And crucially, they get to the quarterback without bringing help—blitzing on a league-low rate of 11%. The Raiders’ pass defense is ultimately mediocre, so Prescott is hardly doomed in this matchup. But there’s risk for a disappointing outing here, especially considering he’ll be without his two top pass catchers.

Even if Prescott plays efficiently, his volume could be limited this week. Raiders opponents are well aware of their elite pass rush and have been limiting pass attempts against them. As a result, opponents are averaging a -2% PROE and are shifting 4% to the run, making the Raiders the third biggest run funnel in the league. Most recently, the Bengals had a run-heavy relapse against Las Vegas with a -3% PROE after posting an 8% PROE in two of their previous four games.

Dallas should be open to the idea of playing the matchup here. The Cowboys have already played the only two teams who are bigger run funnels than the Raiders; they posted a -5% PROE against the Panthers and a -11% PROE against the Chargers. The Cowboys aren’t a lock to go run-heavy. They did post a 4% PROE against the run-funnel Patriots and have been balanced or pass-heavy in six of their 10 games. But odds are they’ll be at least slightly tilted to the run, given the matchup and their issues at wide receiver. Increased rushing volume could be vital for Ezekiel Elliott, who is still locked in as Dallas’ lead running back.

At first glance, it looks like Elliott’s grip on the backfield is slipping. From Weeks 1-9, Elliott had a 70% snap share and handled 63% of backfield attempts; he’s down to 58% and 43% over the last two games. But the Cowboys blew out the Falcons, which limited Elliott’s snaps in Week 10. Elliott also missed a few snaps in Week 11 with an ankle injury scare but still played a very nice 69% of snaps.

Tony Pollard‘s role has been steady. He saw 36% of snaps from Weeks 1-9 and 38% from Weeks 10-11. This usage doesn’t make any sense, of course. Elliott is playing poorly, ranking 18th in success/attempt, 34th in breakaway percentage, 50th in elusive rating, and 42nd in YPRR. Pollard is a revelation, ranking seventh in success/attempt, seventh in elusive rating, 12th in breakaway percentage, and fourth in YPRR. This is a 2019 Melvin Gordon/Austin Ekeler situation where the team is starting the wrong back -- or a Melvin Gordon/Javonte Williams situation, take your pick -- but we have no reason to expect a shift in the rotation this week. Elliott looks poised for a great fantasy outing if Prescott can efficiently captain a run-heavy offense.

Bills at Saints, 8:20 PM Eastern, Thursday

Bills Implied Team Total: 25.75
Josh Allen is coming off a poor outing, ranking 21st in EPA per play, one spot below Joe Flacco. And this has quietly been a concerning season for Allen. After finishing fourth in EPA per play in 2020, he’s down to 19th this season. Allen should see some positive regression, however. He ranks seventh in CPOE, and if he can maintain that level of accuracy, it should lead to more efficient play. And as a mobile quarterback, Allen has a lower bar for how efficient he needs to be through the air. That point is illustrated by the two quarterbacks directly below him in EPA per play: Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts. Allen doesn’t have quite that level of rushing ability, but he nevertheless can be a fantasy force without playing perfectly.

He’s unlikely to play perfectly this week against a challenging Saints pass defense that ranks 11th in EPA allowed per dropback and seventh in coverage grade. Allen should have plenty of time to throw, however. The Saints’ weakness is their pass rush. New Orleans ranks 27th in pass rush grade and is generating pressure at the 22nd highest rate. But Allen is nearly immune to pressure; he ranks fourth in passer rating when pressured, and his 7.1 yards per attempt when kept clean is barely better than his 7.0 YPA when pressured. As a result, Allen would be better off in a matchup with a weak coverage unit, even if it comes with a high-quality pass rush.

Unsurprisingly, Allen’s best game of the season came in that exact type of matchup; he dropped 40.8 fantasy points against Washington in Week 3. Allen also dropped 31.3 fantasy points against the Titans, the only top 10 coverage unit he’s seen this season, and ranked ninth in EPA per play against them. There’s no need to get carried away here. Allen’s outlook is a bit shakier than usual, but he still has a massive ceiling.

If Allen gets rolling this week, it will likely be in tandem with another impressive outing from Stefon Diggs, who has five TDs over his last three games. For the season, Diggs has a borderline-elite 2.09 YPRR, and there’s upside for more. Diggs has an 8.6 YPT, which is a bit below expectations for his 12.2 aDOT. YPT is highly volatile, but we can count on Diggs’ elite ability to draw targets. If Allen overcomes his tough matchup, Diggs can post an excellent week.

Cole Beasley seems to be working back from his ribs injury—but it’s either still affecting him to a degree, or his role has been decreased. Beasley ran a route on 67% of dropbacks in Week 11, a dramatic increase from his 26% route rate in Week 9. But Beasley has 75%+ route rates in five games this season. So he’s still not back to his usual role. While his floor is a little concerning this week, he has upside for another bump in route rate if he’s back to full health.

Gabriel Davis has been drawing targets when on the field. He has a target rate of 25%+ in three of his last four games. But Davis is still barely out there. He has a route rate of 40%+ just once this season, and it was all the way back in Week 1. Davis’ 14.8 aDOT means that he can always make his day on a TD, but he’s a very thin bet for a meaningful target share.

Dawson Knox has been the primary beneficiary of Beasley’s reduced role. He ran a route on 95% of dropbacks in Week 11, a truly elite rate for a tight end. But if Beasley is healthier this week, it creates risk for Knox.

Knox has only been targeted on 15% of his routes this season, a relatively weak rate for his 8.4 aDOT. He’s still a solid option but likely needs Beasley to be a part-time player to generate substantial target volume.

Emmanuel Sanders is turning into a bummer. He runs a ton of routes, leading the team with a 88% route rate. Those routes come with theoretical upside, as evidenced by Sanders’ 17.7 aDOT. But Sanders has just 1.40 YPRR, which has made him a highly inconsistent weekly option. Nevertheless, Sanders remains an interesting option based on his ability to make his day on just a few targets.

Matt Breida played spoiler in Week 10, recording three receptions and two touchdowns on just eight snaps. But the Bills liked what they saw, and Breida led the way against the Colts with 45% of backfield attempts. Devin Singletary led in snap share (38%) and target share (11%). And Zack Moss was involved as well, tying Singletary in share of backfield attempts (27%).

The Bills face a Saints defense that ranks second in EPA allowed per rush and second in PFF’s run defense grades. Breida looks like the best dart throw at this point, but all three are best avoided.

Saints Implied Team Total: 19.75
Trevor Siemian has managed to produce in garbage time, but he has been absolutely awful with the game in doubt. Excluding garbage time (as I do for EPA stats in this article), only Zach Wilson has been worse in EPA per play. And no quarterback has been more inaccurate than Siemian. He has been a significant downgrade from Jameis Winton.



Siemian now faces a Bills defense that the Colts just exposed as a bit of a paper tiger. In Week 11, Buffalo ranked 25th in EPA allowed per dropback and 29th in EPA allowed per rush. The raw metrics still paint the Bills as an elite pass defense. They rank first in EPA allowed per dropback, 12th in pass rush grade and first in coverage grade. But the Colts served as a salient reminder of just how easy the Bills schedule has been. The Bills have faced the Steelers, Texans, Jaguars, Jets, and Dolphins (twice). Six of their 10 games have been against bottom-10 offenses in EPA per dropback. The Bills dominated most of these teams, and do still have a good pass defense, but they earned their elite reputation by beating up on lousy offenses.

Still, the Saints profile as a bounce-back spot for the Bills defense. They rank 27th in EPA per dropback this season and 29th since Week 8. The Bills will likely be good enough to ensure that Week 12 is Siemian’s last start of the season.

The best thing about Trevor Siemian from a fantasy perspective is that he enjoys throwing to the tight end. Saints tight end snaps will now be filled by Juwan Johnson and Nick Vannett, with Adam Trautman out for 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL. From Weeks 1-7, Trautman was targeted on just 12% of his routes. Since Trevor Siemen entered the picture in Week 8, Trautman’s target rate jumped to 24%. Siemian was clearly looking for him. Going forward, Johnson looks like a much stronger bet for receiving production than Vannett. Johnson has an impressive target rate of 20%, while Vannett has literally been targeted just once all season. Jennings has a 12.1 aDOT, and he has intriguing dart throw appeal on the Thanksgiving slate.

Siemian also has a strong connection with Deonte Harris. Harris has a 29% target rate since Week 8 and a 27% target rate on the season. Harris has a 2.84 YPRR, which portrays him as the Saints’ most talented wide receiver by a mile, on paper at least. However, he’s only run a route on 48% of dropbacks, peaking in Week 4 with a 70% route rate. Harris’ usage is trending up a bit, though. Week 11’s 54% route rate was his best since injuring his hamstring in Week 5. So he’s in the dart-throw conversation for the Thanksgiving slate.

Marquez Callaway is the only full-time Saints wide receiver I can muster any enthusiasm for. Callaway leads the team with an 81% route rate. His 1.31 YPRR is bad... but he’s at least been better than Tre’Quan Smith (1.23) and Lil’Jordan Humphrey (0.82). Callaway has a 15.1 aDOT, and Siemian has surprisingly shown some willingness to throw deep this season, ranking 14th in aDOT. Callaway is a thin option... but it’s a thin slate. Thin enough that I should probably mention that Smith has run a route on 86%+ dropbacks for three straight weeks and had a 98% route rate last week. He struggles to earn targets at a high rate, but he’ll be on the field a lot more than Harris and Johnson.

Alvin Kamara looks doubtful to play. He’s an RB1 if he does. The Bills rank 20th in run defense grade. And while they rank fifth in EPA allowed per rush, that ranking is propped up by their easy schedule. They’ve played the Texans, Dolphins, Jets, Washington, and Miami (twice), all of whom rank bottom 11 in EPA per rush. The Colts helped correct their ranking, but it still looks inflated. If Kamara can play, the matchup shouldn’t scare you off of him.

Mark Ingram is also uncertain to play due to a knee injury. But, if he can tough it out, he looks like the same high-end RB2 he’s been over the last few weeks. There’s definitely risk that he cedes touches to Tony Jones, as the Saints attempt to preserve Ingram’s health. But Ingram dominated backfield touches 80% to 15% last week. So he can cede some work and still have a valuable fantasy role.

Critically, assuming Kamara is out, Ingram should have a complete lock on receiving duties. Ingram ran a route on 60% of dropbacks in Week 10 and 66% in Week 11, with 13% and 23% target shares. Jones ran a route on 7% of dropbacks last week and wasn’t targeted—he won’t get in the way of Ingram’s targets.

If both Kamara and Ingram are out, Jones looks like a viable RB2 fill-in. He would likely operate as a clear lead running back, given that he had a 24% snap rate over the first four weeks, with Dwayne Washington at just 2%. Jones has also been targeted on 19% of his routes this season. He’s nowhere near Ingram’s rate with the Saints (27%) or Kamara’s target rate (23%) but would likely be in a slightly less valuable version of the role that Ingram had had the last two weeks.


To write this article I relied on the following stats, metrics and grades.

  • Implied Team Totals are calculated using the lines at PointsBet.
  • Expected Points Added per Play (EPA/Play).
    • Efficiency metric based on how much a play improved a team’s likelihood of scoring.
    • I use this metric primarily for QB efficiency, but also for defensive efficiency.
  • Completion Percentage Over Expected
    • QB accuracy metric
      • Data from
        • All CPOE referenced in this article has garbage time filtered out.
          • I do this by setting win probability filter to between 10-90%.
  • Pass Rate over Expected
    • Measures passing decisions against what would be expected given the game situation.
  • Situation Neutral Pass Rate
    • Measures pass rate on downs and in situations when a team truly has the choice to pass or run.
  • Situation Neutral Seconds per Play
    • Seconds between plays in neutral game script.
    • Faster play generally means more plays, which provides more opportunity for fantasy scoring.
  • Adjusted Line Yards
  • Snaps and Snap Share
    • Probably the single most important stat for running back opportunity.
      • Teams check in and out of runs with only one back on the field. Being on the field is critical.
      • Data from Pro Football Focus, AddMoreFunds and RotoViz
  • Target Share and Air Yard share
    • The combination of these is called WOPR. Created by Josh Hermsmeyer, this metric scales from 0-1.
      • Data from Pro Football Focus and RotoViz
  • Routes run per dropback
    • Snap share for receivers... since I’m not concerned with who is playing run-blocking snaps.
      • Data from Pro Football Focus
  • Yards Per Route Run
    • A YPRR of 1.8+ is good and anything 2+ is very good.
    • This metric is particularly useful for young wide receivers whose role could grow as a result of strong play.
    • It can also help identify truly elite wide receivers.
    • It filters out in-game injuries and blowouts much better than target share does.
      • Data from PFF
  • Target per Route Run
    • TPRR and Yards per Target combine to make up YPRR.
    • TPRR is especially useful for tight ends.
      • Some offenses and quarterbacks prioritize throwing to the tight end much more than others.
      • Some tight ends are far better at getting open than others.
    • TPRR is much more stable than YPT, so in small samples especially, I’d rather know who is drawing targets than what happened afterward.
  • Expected Fantasy Points.
    • Both RotoViz and PFF have similar Expected Points metrics that adjust opportunity based on the context of each play.
      • I am referencing PFF’s metric unless otherwise stated.
  • A number of other PFF stats including Time to Throw, Play Action Rate, Pressure Rate, Screen Passes and Defensive Grades.