Weekly lineup decisions can be one of the most frustrating things a fantasy football owner has to endure. We study the matchups, we anticipate game flow and, of course, we look to a player’s level of overall talent.
Those all are important factors, but it is a player’s expected opportunities and role with his team that matter most. You can have a player with a world of talent, but if he’s not getting the touches, he’s not helping you in fantasy. We refer to this as a player’s volume, and in order to succeed in this game, you have to remember that volume matters.
It may sound basic, but players who touch the ball most have a greater chance of scoring more points in fantasy. The best way to illustrate this is found in the recent production of Alex Collins and Giovani Bernard. With injuries in each of their respective backfields, both players found themselves with more touches and instantly became fantasy heroes.
Through the first few weeks of the season, Terrance West was the Ravens’ incumbent rusher, second-year back Javorius Allen was the pass-catcher, and Collins provided depth and served as an occasional complement. He averaged 8.3 touches through his first three games with the team, but when West got hurt and the backfield rotation went down to two, Collins averaged 14.2 touches per game.
As he established himself, coach John Harbaugh’s confidence grew and following the bye, Collins began to see an even bigger increase in volume. Now he is averaging 19.8 touches per game over his past four, and it’s no wonder he has five touchdowns in that span.
In Week 14, with Joe Mixon sidelined by a concussion, Bernard was handed the keys to the Bengals’ backfield kingdom and went from 5.6 touches per game to 17 on Sunday. A winning effort by the team would have yielded more, but his owners had a hard time complaining about 62 rushing yards and six catches for 68 yards which equaled 19 fantasy points in full-point PPR formats. Most shared-backfield runners would have needed to at least find the end zone to produce that kind of a total.
When looking for injury replacements in your lineups this week, volume should be atop your list of criteria. Running backs like Theo Riddick and Kenyan Drake are seeing more touches. Wide receivers like Marquise Goodwin, Dede Westbrook and Cooper Kupp have enjoyed a greater share of targets. If their opportunities are increasing, their fantasy points will follow. With the fantasy playoffs here, it is more important now than ever.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 4-6 p.m.