NFL DFS Week 12 Preview: Snap Counts, Air Yards, and Usage Facts

In this space, we’re gonna look at NFL snap counts and usage facts, including wide receiver air yards, to consider as you make NFL DFS picks and Week 12 projections.

Check out RotoGrinders’ NFL DFS Usage tool to view NFL air yards and snap counts for every player ahead NFL Week 12 — a free app for DFS players or sports bettors specializing in NFL props.

NFL DFS TIPS WEEK 12

Quarterback

Kirk Cousins vs. Patriots (Thanksgiving)

Since the MIN Week 7 bye, Kirk Cousins has dropped back 42, 42, 56, and 30 times. Last week was 30 against the tough DAL defense where MIN didn’t have the ball. MIN was still pass-happy with only 17 rushes to their RBs.

NE isn’t a great defense to target, but the other two Thanksgiving games have BUF as well as DAL both as -9.5 favorites. This being the only projected competitive game puts Cousins firmly in play with Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and Adam Thielen.

Tom Brady at Browns

If Tom Brady can’t do Tom Brady things out of the bye against CLE, I don’t even know what to do. This game has a low total — only 42.5 — but CLE is 31st in defense DVOA and Brady’s dropbacks since Week 3 have been:

Week 3 – 46
Week 4 – 53
Week 5 – 53
Week 6 – 42
Week 7 – 51
Week 8 – 47
Week 9 – 58
Week 10 – 29

The volume is there. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Julio Jones are all healthy. Brady’s aDOT is a very healthy 7.40 this season with six games of 300 air yards. Nick Chubb can hog the ball and limit TB’s possessions, but TB can also score quickly on drives to maximize their possessions.

Joe Flacco vs. Bears

The NYJ QB situation is completely up in the air, but if Joe Flacco starts on Sunday, he can crush for us. When starting earlier this season he averaged 55 dropbacks, 8.0 aDOT, and 402.7 air yards per game. CHI is 30th in defense DVOA.

Running Back

Tony Pollard vs. Giants

With Ezekiel Elliott back, Tony Pollard went from 27.3% and 37.3% market shares to (checks notes) 30.9%. Elliott still got a 23.5% share, but it didn’t really matter for Pollard because DAL is clearly just looking to run the ball down people’s throats. They curbstomped MIN in Week 11 and are slated to do the same against NYG in Week 12. I’d set the over on DAL running 30 times and Pollard is very active in the passing game, seeing six targets in each of the last two weeks.

Austin Ekeler vs. Cardinals

The 20.6 opportunities for Austin Ekeler are unlike anyone else in the league. He isn’t doing it with 16 rushes per game and 4.6 targets. He’s doing it with 8.3 targets, leading RBs by a mile (2nd is the 6.7 targets per game to Christian McCaffrey). TD equity is difficult to pinpoint, but it’s undeniable to note the significance of his 20 TDs since 2021 (tied for the league-lead with Jonathan Taylor). He’s a red zone machine for them. ARI’s 24th in defense DVOA and LAC is a -4 favorite in the ARI dome.

Christian McCaffrey vs. Saints

We now have four games of Christian McCaffrey with SF on which to do some work. And the results are largely inconclusive. He’s seen 10, 27, bye, 20, and 14 opportunities with 2, 9, 6, and 7 targets. It’s difficult to get into coach’s intent via a two-game sample with Elijah Mitchell healthy, but we’ve seen the opportunities for CMC go down since Mitchell returned and we have years of data suggesting that: Kyle Shanahan is a run-first coach, yes, but that such volume leads him to rest his backs by swapping them out a lot.

The eye test says that Mitchell is the closer. All of this matters because SF is -9.5 at home.

Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson vs. Falcons

One of these guys has hit 20 opportunities in three of the last five weeks:

Brian Robinson — 22 in Week 7 and 26 in Week 10
Antonio Gibson — 21 in Week 11

Snap shares since Week 6:
Robinson — 41%
Gibson — 46%

It’s easy to just ignore this spot and say, to hell with it, and go elsewhere. But facing ATL’s 28th-ranked defense DVOA as -4.5 favorites, we should have interest in both RBs for MME. It’s a sneaky-great spot for one of them.

Wide Receiver

DeAndre Hopkins vs. Chargers

It doesn’t matter who’s quarterbacking the ARI offense. The coaching staff is clearly scheming to maximize the ball in the hands of DeAndre Hopkins:

Hopkins targets with Kyler Murray at QB — 14, 14, and 5
Hopkins targets with Colt McCoy at QB — 14 and 12

Hopkins aDOT with Murray — 8.91
Hopkins aDOT with McCoy — 8.35

In a negative gamescript for Week 11 in the dome, we can keep firin’ it up.

Darius Slayton at Cowboys (Thanksgiving)

This has to happen sometime. Darius Slayton leads NYG with a 14.29 aDOT, but only has 5.4 targets per game. We saw 10 in Week 11 and now with Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson on IR, this should be the green flag to get Slayton the ball at nearly double the frequency.

Normally, I’d say to beware the illusion of rational coaching, but we can fire up Slayton with ease on a short slate.

Josh Palmer at Cardinals

This Josh Palmer thing is real. I thought that he’d for sure disappear with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams healthy, but he saw 10 targets in Week 11. This after a slew of targets leading up to Sunday:

Week 9 — 10
Week 10 — 8

He’s a real damn piece of the LAC gameplan and — with Justin Herbert slingin’ like Twitter could die any day now — we should want some Palmer against a bad ARI defense. LAC is favored, but Palmer is a vessel through which LAC should build their lead, as they have an implied total of 26.0. With or without Allen; with or without Williams

Tight End

Cole Kmet at Jets

TE is Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews After them, just a bunch of guys this year. Someone starting to stand out is Cole Kmet. We’ve spent a lot of time and energy talking about Justin Fields that we’re not talking about Kmet enough. Over the last three games, Kmet leads CHI with a 27.1% target share, along with five red zone targets since Week 8.

2022 TE leaders in TDs:
Travis Kelce — 11
Cole Kmet — 5
Mark Andrews — 5
Juwan Johnson — 5

We’re not saying that Kmet “has a nose for the endzone” because that would be stupid, but it’s clear that Fields looks for Kmet to get simpler completions.

Image Credit: Imagn

About the Author

  • Alex Sonty (AlexSonty)

  • Alex Sonty is a professional DFS and poker player, while contributing to RotoGrinders and FanGraphs, as well as serving as a part-time political science professor in Chicago, IL. He’s been playing fantasy sports since 1996 and entered the DFS realm in 2014, currently playing high-stakes MLB and NFL cash games and GPPs. He is a Chicago Tribune and SB Nation alum, while holding a J.D./M.A. and L.L.M. from DePaul University.

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