Fantasy Football Week 12 Workload Watch

Matt Camp@TheMattCampFantasy Football Lead WriterNovember 22, 2018

Fantasy Football Week 12 Workload Watch

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    Mark Ingram is rounding into form at the right time.
    Mark Ingram is rounding into form at the right time.Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Getting a boost from existing members of your fantasy roster can lift your squad from a playoff contender to a championship contender. That boost could come from a favorable schedule, an increased role or a return to action following an injury.

    In the case of Mark Ingram, his role on arguably the best team in the league has solidified in recent weeks. Expectations were high in his return from a four-game suspension to open the season but started to lower when it appeared he had fallen too far behind Alvin Kamara. Two big performances in the last two games put Ingram's fantasy stock back on an upward slope. 

    Lamar Miller was a huge letdown in Week 9, but he returned from the bye to dominate the snaps and touches in Week 11. He seems to be in full control of the Houston Texans backfield and is an important part of a division-leading team. That's a good asset to have heading down the stretch. 

    To learn more about what’s going on in the backfields of the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, check out the Week 12 B.S. Meter. The Workload Watch covers eight other running back situations that have the biggest fantasy implications. 

                    

    Check out Matt Camp on his Fantasy Camp podcast available every Tuesday and Thursday. Click to subscribe or listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Chicago Bears

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    Jordan Howard is basically useless unless he scores.
    Jordan Howard is basically useless unless he scores.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Week 11 Workload Distribution

    Jordan Howard: 64.9% snaps, 18 carries, 63 yards, 0 TD, 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards, 0 TD

    Tarik Cohen: 40.5% snaps, 7 carries, 27 yards, 0 TD, 4 targets, 3 receptions, 23 yards, 0 TD

    The frustrations with the Chicago Bears backfield continued in Week 11 despite the team's fourth straight victory. 

    Chicago was in control throughout the win over the Minnesota Vikings, so it wasn't a surprise to see Howard have a busy evening. Unfortunately, the volume didn't mean much. Howard's 18 carries marked his third-busiest game of the season but only his fifth game with at least 60 yards. He hasn't rushed for more than 82 yards in any game this season, and that 82-yard effort came in Week 1. 

    Through 10 games, Howard has 523 yards and five touchdowns on 155 carries (3.4 yards per carry). That means he's averaging more than 15 carries per game, which is a healthy number. However, that has only been good enough for 10.3 fantasy points per game, which is on the lower end of the RB3/flex tier. 

    Howard has clearly been touchdown-reliant as it relates to his fantasy value. In the four games in which he has a touchdown, he's averaging 14.7 fantasy points. In the six games without a score, he averages just 7.4 fantasy points per game. Obviously, you'd expect the touchdown games to be higher, but those numbers show that when he's not scoring, he's not worth a spot in your lineup. 

    Cohen's four-game hot streak in Weeks 4-8 seems like a distant memory. During that stretch, he was the No. 6 running back at 23.5 fantasy points per game. Over the last three games, he has just 10 receptions for 60 yards and no touchdowns along with 20 carries for 47 yards and a score on the ground. That gives him just 8.2 fantasy points per game in the last three weeks, which means he's been outside the top 40 running backs in that span.

    These are the ways of the Bears offense. It's a talented group of players without a true go-to option. There's really no consistency in the fantasy production on the ground or through the air, which makes dealing with Howard and Cohen very frustrating. Howard is doing nothing with the volume he gets, and Cohen seems to be a boom-or-bust option in any given week.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Joe Mixon didn't find a lot of room to run in Week 11.
    Joe Mixon didn't find a lot of room to run in Week 11.Gary Landers/Associated Press

    Week 11 Workload Distribution

    Joe Mixon: 61.8% snaps, 12 carries, 14 yards, 1 TD, 3 targets, 3 receptions, 38 yards, 0 TD

    Giovani Bernard: 47.3% snaps, 2 carries, 5 yards, 0 TD, 4 targets, 4 receptions, 20 yards, 0 TD

    When a running back survives a tough matchup with a decent fantasy performance, you take the points and move on knowing it could have been worse. 

    Mixon's stat line looks ugly without the touchdown he scored in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Before Week 11, Mixon hadn't had a single game with less than 50 rushing yards in 2018, which shows how solid he's been all season on the RB1/RB2 borderline. The touchdown was enough to boost him to 14.2 fantasy points and an RB17 finish for the week. With 17.0 fantasy points per game on the season, he's just inside the top 12 running backs. 

    Bernard's second game back from injury saw his snaps shoot up from the 28 percent he had in Week 10. He had nearly the same rushing and receiving numbers. Since Bernard didn't have much of a presence, Mixon was able to salvage fantasy production out of an otherwise bad performance.

    Heading down the stretch, Bernard should be owned as Mixon's handcuff, especially since he already proved early this year he could step in and produce in Mixon's absence. Other than acting as a backup, Bernard doesn't have much fantasy value.

Denver Broncos

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    Royce Freeman scored in his first game back from injury.
    Royce Freeman scored in his first game back from injury.Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Week 11 Workload Distribution

    Phillip Lindsay: 57.1% snaps, 11 carries, 79 yards, 2 TDs, 5 targets, 4 receptions, 27 yards, 0 TD

    Royce Freeman: 23.2% snaps, 7 carries, 23 yards, 1 TD, 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards, 0 TD

    Devontae Booker: 19.6% snaps, 0 carries, 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards, 0 TD

    Lindsay has been one of the waiver wire superstars of the season, but Freeman's presence has been tough to ignore because of touchdowns. Before missing Weeks 8 and 9, Freeman had scores in four of seven games. His absence did give Lindsay a higher ceiling, although that appeared to be coming to an end in Week 11 with Freeman back on the field.

    In two games without Freeman, Lindsay had his busiest efforts on the ground with 18 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown in Week 8 and 17 carries for 60 yards in Week 9. Booker had 12 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown in those two weeks, but he didn't pose as much of a threat to Lindsay's fantasy value as Freeman did before his injury.

    Freeman's Week 11 return was likely part of the reason Lindsay's carries dipped, so it wasn't a complete surprise to see him get less volume. Luckily, he more than made up for it with the two trips to the end zone. Freeman also scored, but his seven carries marked his second-lowest total of the season. For the year, both players have five rushing touchdowns. Lindsay has a 17-14 lead in red-zone carries and a 4-3 lead in carries inside the 5-yard line. Each player has seven carries inside the 10.

    Perhaps the most encouraging sign that Lindsay's fantasy value can stay high was the snap count. Before Week 11, Lindsay had just one game with 50 percent of the snaps when Freeman was also active. In the two games without Freeman, Lindsay had 56 and 58 percent of the snaps. Freeman's Week 11 snap share was his lowest of the season, with his previous low coming in Week 2 with 24 percent. Booker also had his second-lowest snap percentage of the season in Week 11. 

    At 14.6 fantasy points per game, Lindsay is the perfect RB2. As long as Freeman stays healthy, he'll be a threat to steal goal-line carries from Lindsay, although it's pretty clear Lindsay is leading the way in this backfield. It's not a bad idea to own Freeman as insurance though.

Houston Texans

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    Lamar Miller was back on track following the Texans' bye week.
    Lamar Miller was back on track following the Texans' bye week.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Week 11 Workload Distribution

    Lamar Miller: 80.7% snaps, 20 carries, 86 yards, 0 TD, 5 targets, 3 receptions, 22 yards, 0 TD

    Alfred Blue: 31.6% snaps, 8 carries, 46 yards, 0 TD, 0 targets

    Miller started to get on a nice roll before a forgettable game against the Denver Broncos in Week 9, when he managed just 12 carries for 21 yards on the same day Blue had 15 carries for 39 yards. Neither player performed well, but it was a bad sign to see Blue get more carries than Miller, especially since D'Onta Foreman was supposedly getting closer to a return. 

    Week 11 was a much better game for Miller, and it re-established what the pecking order should be in Houston. In addition to the massive lead in snaps over Blue, Miller also had his second-best game of the year as a receiver, although it was only the fifth time this year he had at least two receptions and the fourth time he had at least 20 receiving yards. Blue also had a fine outing in his secondary role during the team's win over the Washington Redskins.

    Foreman returned to practice on November 14, which means he has a 21-day window to come off the PUP list and be added to the active roster, or else he'll head to injured reserve. Coming off a torn Achilles, Foreman still has to prove he can contribute something, and even if he does get activated, Miller's touches shouldn't be threatened.

    At 7-3, the Texans sit atop the AFC South, with Miller playing an important role in the offense's success. Houston ranks 27th with just 31.0 pass attempts per game but third with 30.5 rushing attempts per game. Only two teams—the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans—have a bigger difference in rushing vs. passing volume.

    Miller should remain a solid RB2 for a team that clearly needs him to play an active and important role on a weekly basis.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Marlon Mack has cooled off a bit after a hot streak.
    Marlon Mack has cooled off a bit after a hot streak.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Week 11 Workload Distribution

    Marlon Mack: 61.3% snaps, 16 carries, 61 yards, 1 TD, 2 targets, 1 reception, 8 yards, 0 TD

    Nyheim Hines: 25.8% snaps, 5 carries, 14 yards, 0 TD, 3 targets, 1 reception, 20 yards, 0 TD

    Jordan Wilkins: 17.7% snaps, 4 carries, 30 yards, 1 TD, 0 targets

    Mack's return from injury in Week 6 started a streak of three strong fantasy performances, albeit in favorable matchups with the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders. He totaled 347 yards and three touchdowns on 56 carries during that run and was the No. 4 running back with 23.7 fantasy points per game.

    Following a Week 9 bye, Mack struggled to get much going against the Jacksonville Jaguars with just 29 yards on 12 carries and two receptions for nine yards on two targets. He came into that game with a foot injury, but he has also played through ankle and hamstring issues throughout the year. Last week's effort against the Tennessee Titans was better for fantasy, mostly because of a touchdown, but it was far from the numbers he had in the easier matchups.

    The Colts didn't need much from Mack in the blowout win over the Titans, although his touches and snaps were right around what he's had since coming back in Week 6. Neither Hines nor Wilkins has any real fantasy value as long as Mack is healthy. His schedule is a mixed bag of matchups down the stretch, but as long as he continues to get the same volume, he'll remain a reliable RB2.

New Orleans Saints

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    Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram could both be top-10 backs.
    Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram could both be top-10 backs.Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Week 11 Workload Distribution

    Alvin Kamara: 62.9% snaps, 13 carries, 71 yards, 0 TD, 1 target, 1 reception, 37 yards, 1 TD

    Mark Ingram: 42.9% snaps, 16 carries, 103 yards, 2 TD, 0 targets

    Taysom Hill: 18.6% snaps, 3 carries, 4 yards, 0 TD, 0 targets

    It's not a stretch to say the New Orleans Saints are both the NFC favorite and Super Bowl favorite thanks to their outstanding offense. Even though Drew Brees rightfully gets a lot of credit, the Saints rank 19th with just 34.1 pass attempts per game, yet that's been enough to rank sixth with 295.7 passing yards per game. They rank second in rush attempts (31.3) and sixth in rushing yards per game (131.4). 

    The success of this offense has a lot to do with the best backfield duo in the league. It's taken some time, but it seems like the Saints have been able to figure out the perfect balance of Kamara and Ingram. That's allowed Ingram to rush for 100-plus yards in each of the last two games. Since returning from his four-game suspension, Ingram is averaging 13.2 carries per game. Over that same six-game span, Kamara is averaging 13.3 carries per game, and he has six rushing touchdowns to Ingram's four in those games.

    Besides the touchdowns, Kamara has a major advantage in the passing game. Ingram has turned 13 targets into 11 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown, while Kamara has 21 receptions for 174 yards and three scores on 25 targets. The difference between the two is not a surprise and is the main reason Kamara has a higher ceiling than Ingram. 

    In the last two weeks, both Ingram and Kamara are top-10 fantasy backs, which is as close as they've gotten to last year's outstanding fantasy production. The Saints have a favorable schedule down the stretch, so it wouldn't be a shock if both players remained in the RB1 tier, although it would be a little safer to call Ingram a great RB2 with RB1 upside, while Kamara is a weekly RB1.

Oakland Raiders

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    We could see a lot more of Jalen Richard down the stretch.
    We could see a lot more of Jalen Richard down the stretch.Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    Week 11 Workload Distribution

    Jalen Richard: 47.1% snaps, 11 carries, 61 yards, 0 TD, 4 targets, 3 receptions, 32 yards, 0 TD

    DeAndre Washington: 33.8% snaps, 12 carries, 39 yards, 0 TD, 0 targets

    Doug Martin: 20.6% snaps, 10 carries, 52 yards, 0 TD, 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards, 0 TD

    Staying away from teams out of contention is usually a good philosophy when it comes to constructing your fantasy roster for the final weeks of the regular season and playoffs. Of course, it's hard to completely avoid players on those teams, but if you can identify the most reliable options, you might be able to squeeze decent fantasy production from them.

    The Raiders feel like a team that's been out of contention since the season started, and injuries haven't helped what was already a bad situation. Losing Marshawn Lynch meant Oakland had to turn to Martin and Richard to pick up the slack.

    To Martin's credit, he has done a fine job in a less-than-ideal situation. Including last week, he has 234 yards on 49 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and seven receptions for 74 yards on eight targets in the last four games. Unfortunately, he hasn't scored a touchdown, so he's averaging just 9.0 fantasy points per game in those four weeks.

    In that same span, Richard is averaging 11.6 fantasy points per game as a solid RB3/flex with some RB2 upside, as we saw in Week 11. Before last week, he had yet to tally more than five carries or 24 rushing yards this season. He also hasn't scored, but he's been able to make up for that by leading the team with 51 receptions.

    Martin battled an ankle injury in Week 11 and was limited in the first practice of this week, so the roles of both Richard and Washington could expand out of necessity. If you must have a Raiders running back, Richard is the only one to trust.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Josh Adams was the lone fantasy contributor for the Eagles in Week 11.
    Josh Adams was the lone fantasy contributor for the Eagles in Week 11.Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Week 11 Workload Distribution

    Josh Adams: 54.9% snaps, 7 carries, 53 yards, 1 TD, 6 targets, 3 receptions, 19 yards, 0 TD

    Corey Clement: 27.5% snaps, 2 carries, 11 yards, 0 TD, 2 targets, 2 receptions, 4 yards, 0 TD

    Wendell Smallwood: 7.8% snaps, 1 carry, -4 yards, 0 TD, 0 targets

    Darren Sproles: Inactive

    Increasing Adams' touches in Week 11 was tough to accomplish thanks to a lopsided scoreboard. In their 48-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Philadelphia Eagles were down 17-0 with 12:07 remaining the second quarter. Adams would score the team's only touchdown on a 28-yard run later in the quarter to give the Eagles at least one good fantasy performance in an otherwise awful game. 

    Adams saw seven carries for the second week in a row, but his rushing yards rose from 47 to 53, and the touchdown was his first of the season. He came into the game with just a single catch for six yards, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him play an increased role in the passing game. 

    Before Week 11, Adams had never played more than 31 percent of the snaps, but his snap share has risen every game since Week 7. The Eagles have been a frustrating fantasy backfield all season, although if they keep moving in this direction with Adams, he could provide some reliable value down the stretch. Consider him an RB3/flex play with a nice matchup against the New York Giants on Sunday.