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Beyond the Box Scores Week 12: A.T. Perry Is A Dark Horse Waiver Pickup

Ted breaks down the most important under-the-radar fantasy football stats and trends from Week 12.

Welcome back to Beyond the Box Scores! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving week, both on and off the fantasy field. We are at the stage of the season where every single week matters, so you’ll be seeing more schedule talk from me than earlier in the year. I will also be including fewer and fewer trade recommendations, stopping altogether after Week 14 when every non-insane league will have had its deadline. Without further ado, let’s get into this Sunday’s action!

Note: All fantasy scores and rankings will be for Half-PPR formats. Data courtesy of PFR, Next Gen Stats, FantasyLife, and PFF (among other places). 

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons
  • I want to believe that something has finally changed in Atlanta. There were rumblings all week that Bijan Robinson would see a heavier workload, and he went on to have his best week of the season with 25.8 points. However, his usage wasn’t actually all that much better. His snap share (63%), rush attempt share (42%), and route participation rate (58%) were each below his season averages. He did post his highest target share since Week 1 at 33%, but this explosion was more about a couple of TDs and increased efficiency for Atlanta’s offense as a whole. Luckily, the Falcons’ remaining schedule is relatively soft, so there should be a few more boom games in Bijan’s future.
  • With Michael Thomas already out and both Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed exiting early, the Saints are suddenly missing all three of their starting WRs. Heading into a week full of byes, both tight end Juwan Johnson (85% route participation, only 24% from the slot) and rookie WR A.T. Perry (80% route participation despite briefly entering the dog house after an early miscue) are very viable streaming options.
  • Kyle Pitts is the TE19 in points per game. He hasn’t cleared a 70% route participation rate since Week 7 and last recorded at least four receptions or 50 yards in Week 5. He has just one touchdown all season. It’s too little, too late, but you can safely drop him in any non-TEP league.

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Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
  • I’m not sure what to make of Jake Browning’s first full game. His 8.7 yards per attempt was the fourth-best of any QB this week, but his 39.9 PFF grade was the fourth-worst. Given that the prior assumption was that he would be Not Good, I’m going to trust the latter number and continue operating as though Browning under center is a large downgrade for all of Cincinnati’s weapons, none of whom exceeded 10.1 fantasy points this week.
  • In their first game under new offensive coordinator Eddie Faulkner, the Steelers had over 400 yards of offense, something they didn’t accomplish once with Matt Canada. While the report that Jaylen Warren and George Pickens would see more work ended up being mostly untrue (both saw usage in line with their season averages), something much more important changed: Kenny Pickett actually threw over the middle. While it’s just been one week, this long-overdue change is looking like an upgrade for all of the Steelers, especially Pat Freirmuth, who posted by far his season-high in target share at 35%.
  • While I already argued that Jake Browing is bad for every Bengal’s fantasy outlook, Joe Mixon deserves a special mention. Mixon’s value has been based largely on volume, red zone opportunities, and taking advantage of light boxes. This week, he saw just eight carries, zero of which came in the red zone, and his yards before contact per attempt fell from an average of 1.3 to just 0.5. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in his lowest fantasy finish of the season with just 7.0 points. This was a tough matchup, and no other Bengals’ RB touched the ball, so there is still some hope, but he has to be downgraded heavily going forward.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans
  • The trend of Calvin Ridley (and, to a lesser extent, Trevor Lawrence) performing much better when Zay Jones is on the field continues. I’m still slightly skeptical that this is more than a coincidence, but at this point Ridley is back in the must-start conversation until the trend is broken.
  • Coming off back-to-back weeks of 20+ carries, Devin Singletary carried the ball just once more than Dameon Pierce in his return from injury. On the other hand, Singletary still played 81% of snaps and actually set season highs in both route participation (76%) and target share (20%). While the return of Pierce means his days of RB1 production are over, receiving work to go with ~50% of the carries means Singletary can stay in the flex conversation.
  • After four weeks of 20+ fantasy points, Travis Etienne has now posted three straight weeks of under 11. The obvious culprit is touchdown regression (from seven in his four-week hot stretch to zero since), but his numbers are also just down across the board. However, those three down games have been a blowout against the Jaguars in which he was pulled early, a blowout for the Jaguars in which he was pulled early, and this week a shootout in which he spent some time sidelined due to injury. While I don’t expect him to return to his peak mid-season form, better days are likely ahead.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Indianapolis Colts
  • Over the Colts’ last four games, Micahel Pittman is averaging a 37% target share (10.75 targets). He is also seventh in the league with 15 red zone receptions on the season, but he has just one red zone TD to show for it. If he hits positive regression to go with his insane volume, Pittman’s fantasy production will really take off (although it arguably already has in Full PPR).
  • With just two receptions for 10 yards, this was Rachaad White’s worst performance in the passing game since Week 1. He made up for it with by far his best rushing performance of the season, averaging more than double his season average per carry en route to his first 100-yard (or even 80-yard) outing. He may be the league’s least efficient starting running back, but his backups are even worse, he’s getting volume, and Tampa’s schedule is soft. He’s a solid RB2, even if it may be ugly some weeks.
  • As of this morning Jonathan Taylor’s status going forward is reportedly in doubt going forward, with IR a possibility. This makes Zack Moss, who has fallen out of fantasy relevance since Taylor’s return, arguably the top option on waivers this week. In Weeks 2-5 (three weeks without JT and his first week back), Moss averaged over 20 Half-PPR points on workhorse volume — he would be a must-start if Taylor misses time.
New England Patriots @ New York Giants
  • Jalin Hyatt had a big game this week, setting new career highs in receptions (five) and yards (109). And it wasn’t just a fluke: Along with yards and receptions, he also set season-highs in route participation (70%) and targets (six). While that all sounds great, none of those are exactly impressive numbers to have as your high points. With Darius Slayton presumably taking some snaps back as he returns to health, a brutal schedule coming up, and Tommy DeVito under center, I’m leaving Hyatt on waivers in all but disgustingly deep leagues.
  • DeVante Parker returned from injury this week, and finished as the Patriots’ (healthy) WR1 in all metrics following Demario Douglas’ early exit. It’s hard to recommend any part of this imploding passing offense, but New England does have a favorable schedule coming up. Parker is likely available on waivers and could provide deep flex value with the help of some hearty servings of garbage time.
  • I would like to apologize to Sam Howell. Earlier this season, I called him Sammy Sacks, saying his proclivity for crumbling under pressure was unique. Well, Tommy DeVito makes Howell look like Patrick Mahomes (at least when it comes to avoiding sacks). DeVito has been sacked on a mind-blowing 47.5% of his pressured dropbacks, including 50% this week and 90% (!!!!) last week. The Giants’ defensive opponent each week is a must-start in fantasy as long as he is their starter.
Carolina Panthers @ Tennessee Titans
  • I have to start by apologizing for my take last week that Adam Thielen should return to form as long as Frank Reich was calling plays. That call couldn’t have gone much worse, as he finished with one catch for two yards … and then Reich got fired. Still, even coming off that terrible performance, Thielen ranks top 13 in both total targets and target share. I hate to say it, and I can’t blame you if you ignore me, but you should probably start him next week in a great matchup against Tampa.
  • I said last week to sell Derrick Henry if he performed well in this soft matchup … he did, so you know what to do. Don’t get baited by this big week and the promise of the two fantasy playoff matchups with the Texans. With C.J. Stroud revitalizing their offense, Houston is just an average fantasy matchup for RBs on the season, and even that may be over-selling it: A lot of the RB production they have allowed has been through the air, where Henry cedes work to Tyjae Spears, and they’ve allowed just the seventh-fewest rushing yards per game to running backs.
  • Chuba Hubbard jumped back up to a 64% snap share this week, easily his highest since Miles Sanders fully returned from injury. While Sanders actually saw one more carry, Hubbard saw both goal-line carries and set season highs in route participation (68%) and target share (21%). It’s unclear what this offense will look like going forward with Reich gone, but Hubbard is still a starting option despite the team’s overall dysfunction.
Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
  • In a week where he was reportedly being limited in his return from injury, Kyren Williams finished with over 200 total yards and two touchdowns on 22 touches. I know I’m not living up to this column’s name by just listing his stats, but I can’t not mention him — he could easily be this year’s league-winnner.
  • For the first time all season, a fully healthy James Conner played less than half of the Cardinals’ snaps (39%) and saw less than half of the running back carries (46%). With Arizona trailing early, Emari Demercado and fresh-off-the-waiver-wire Michael Carter were each involved. Looking at the Cardinals’ remaining matchups in the fantasy season: Pittsburgh, bye, San Francisco, Chicago (sneakily the 27th-worst matchup for RBs), and Philadelphia, there isn’t a single week I’d feel comfortable starting Conner going forward.
  • Cooper Kupp does have some excuses for another down week (the Rams simply didn’t need to throw the ball), but limited usage due to his ankle isn’t really one of them, as he posted a perfect 100% route participation rate. I still think he bounces back down the stretch, but he’s no longer a must-start with five straight performances below six Half-PPR points.
Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos
  • Last week, I broke down how much better David Njoku’s usage was with Dorian Thompson-Robinson. With an injury to the rookie handing the reigns back to P.J. Walker, let’s take a look at the tight end’s usage with the XFL legend. In the three games mostly helmed by Walker, Njoku averaged 51.6 yards on 6.3 targets (20% target share). That’s better than his numbers with Deshaun Watson, but nowhere near the constant volume he was fed by DTR. Even in this game, Thompson-Robinson accounted for 78% of Njoku’s targets on 69% of the Browns’ passing attempts. Njoku is back to the Tight End Wasteland™ as long as the rookie is sidelined.
  • I hate to say it, but we as a fantasy community (myself included) may have overrated Marvin Mims based on his explosive plays early in the season. He saw targets at an elite rate in a part-time role (perhaps because they were being schemed up) but has posted a pitiful 10% targets per route run rate since first breaking 40% route participation in Week 7. With his efficiency dropping and his role stagnant, he’s droppable in pretty much any Redraft format.
  • Jerome Ford joins Singletary and Hubbard as the third member of a weirdly specific group this week: running backs who saw similar rushing volume to a less-efficient backfield counterpart but posted higher-than-usual marks in route participation rate and target share. Ford’s 19% target share was his second-highest of the season, his 77% route participation is his new best, and he tacked on a season-high 70% snap share for good measure. He, like the other two, is a weekly play.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Las Vegas Raiders
  • Rashee Rice’s big week this week was predictable (shoutout to Dr. Roto on this call) as he is much better against zone, which the Raiders play the third-most in the league. Against zone, he ranks second to only Tyreek Hill with 3.08 yards per route run. Against man, he is just average at 1.72. Looking ahead, he should be in line for another big week next week against the Packers, who rank just behind the Raiders in terms of zone coverage. Even better, he had a career-high 71% route participation rate this week — that kind of usage makes him much more likely to be a reliable producer.
  • He had a solid stat line this week, but Jakobi Meyers is averaging just 4.75 targets per game since Aidan O’Connell and Antonio Pierce took over for Jimmy Garoppolo and Josh McDaniels. Pierce is committed to feeding Josh Jacobs (21.25 carries per game) and Davante Adams (9.25 targets per game), leaving Meyers as an afterthought and just a fringe flex play.
  • With Jerick McKinnon sidelined by a groin injury, Isiah Pacheco posted season-highs in snaps (79%), route participation (71%), and target share (16%). While he was already a must-start as the Chiefs’ workhorse back, his ceiling reaches another level as long as the veteran receiving specialist is out.