2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 12

by Cale Clinton
2022 Fantasy Football Week 12 Sleepers Heat Check

Welcome to the Week 12 edition of our 2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches series.

December is officially upon us. As we head into the home stretch of the actual football, the biggest games of the fantasy football season are just around the corner.

The trade deadline has officially come and gone. There is now one resource where you will be able to scrounge up any last edge headed into playoffs: the free-agent pool. As I noted last week, most of the top performers in fantasy football either have a high consensus roster percentage or have already been touched on. You guys have finally gotten Kendrick Bourne north of 30% ownership, so I'll save you a third write-up on him.

That being said, this reliance on free agency couldn't come at a better time (from a fantasy perspective). The late-season wear is finally setting in, and a lot of teams' top offensive weapons are currently dealing with injuries. You know what that means! It's time to make sense of teams' backup situations! We'll dig through the numbers and try and find your team the winning edge headed into the fantasy playoffs.

As always, let's state our sources up top. All metrics on run/pass frequency, yards/game or attempt, or attempts per game come from Team Rankings. All snap counts and target shares come from Fantasy Data. Any Fantasy rankings, ownership percentages, or target numbers come from FantasyPros in a Half-PPR scoring format. All references to EPA/play can be found on Ben Baldwin's Box Score plug-in on RBSDM. Anything else in the article will be directly linked to.

2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 12

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Running Backs

Dontrell Hilliard, Tennessee Titans (36.8%)

The Tennessee Titans are on the bad end of a nasty injury bug at the moment. We'll touch on their wide receivers in a second, but no team has been affected more by the loss of a single running back than the Titans have with Derrick Henry. Since his injury, the Titans haven't found much in terms of a replacement. However, one player has risen over the last few weeks.

PlayerWeek 9Week 10Week 11Week 12
Dontrell Hilliard----51 (63%)32 (50.8%)
D'Onta Foreman12 (20.7%)21 (35%)15 (18.5%)31 (49.2%)
Jeremy McNichols26 (44.8%)16 (26.7%)----
Adrian Peterson19 (32.8%)20 (33.3%)15 (18.5%)--

Dontrell Hilliard is Tennessee's latest swing at finding an RB2. Jeremy McNichols hadn't panned out when given the chance, and the Titans outright released off-the-street hire Adrian Peterson. D'Onta Foreman is hanging around, but the majority of his success has come off one massive 68-yard touchdown run. Hilliard, on the other hand, has had relatively the same output over the last two games. In addition to his split in carries, Hilliard is much more involved in the passing game than Foreman. Reeling in 75% of his 12 targets I see Hilliard as the better bet for high-end fantasy production in the short term.

Chuba Hubbard (59.7%) and Ameer Abdullah (2.2%), Carolina Panthers

Two more teams saw top-end fantasy running backs go down in Week 12, with the Carolina Panthers placing Christian McCaffrey on IR and the Minnesota Vikings losing Dalvin Cook for a few games. In Minnesota, the answer to the Cook question, Alexander Mattison, is already owned in 84.6% of leagues. So we're off to Carolina, where the question is much tougher to answer.

PlayerWeek 9Week 10Week 11Week 12
Ameer Abdullah22 (37.3%)16 (21.3%)8 (15.7%)27 (49.1%)
Chuba Hubbard10 (16.9%)16 (21.3%)1 (2%)11 (20%)

The production from Ameer Abdullah and Chuba Hubbard on the ground is relatively similar. Since Week 9, Abdullah has 13 carries for 34 yards with a longest run of 15. Hubbard, on the other hand, has 14 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown with a longest run of 16. The touchdown acts as a separator, sure, but Abdullah blows Hubbard out of the water in the passing game. His 10 receptions on 15 targets for 77 yards dwarfs Hubbard's 1 catch for 3 yards on 3 targets. In the last three weeks, Abdullah is fourth on the team in total targets.

In my eyes, Ameer Abdullah is the more versatile player in this Carolina offense being offered more opportunity than Chuba Hubbard. Better yet, he's barely owned in any leagues.

Wide Receivers

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Tennessee Titans (9.8%)

If you thought losing Derrick Henry, the departures of A.J. Brown and Julio Jones has been even worse for Tennessee. The Titans were able to sneak a few games by without Henry, picking up wins against the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints. Arriving in New England without Brown resulted in a different outcome, a 36-13 loss that forced the Titans to slip down to the #3 seed in the AFC playoff picture.

Among the mess of backups the Titans are cobbling together to make a competent receiving corps, one name has risen to the top (and it's taken a few weeks for broadcasters to say his name right). Nick Westbrook-Ikhine leads the team over the last three games in total targets with 15. That number's more a testament to just how much Tennessee has made an effort to throw to anyone and everyone with a pulse.

The numbers are even good for Westbrook-Ikhine when Brown is healthy. He slots up to WR2 in Julio Jones's absence averaging 5.0 targets per game over the last three games. That's second amongst Tennessee wide receivers. Sitting at WR30 over the last three games in Half-PPR leagues, this may be your best opportunity to cash in on a big Westbrook-Ikhine game. Week 14 against the Jaguars, coming off a bye and a statement loss to New England, Tennessee will need to put up a big performance in order to re-instill confidence into this roster.

Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills (2.3%)

The 2021 Buffalo Bills offense is by no means that same Bills offense we fawned over in 2020. Efficiency numbers are down on the offensive side of things, with their wins mostly coming off the backs of their top-ranked defense. Buffalo has officially handed over control of the top seed in the AFC East to New England with two matchups yet to be played.

This team is still run by the usual suspects. Stefon Diggs commands a 25.5% target share on the season with a 30.1% share over the last three games. Allen has developed a strong rapport with tight end Dawson Knox and continues to work the ball to Cole Beasley. However, working down this target list, two players trending in opposite directions are currently tied for fourth on the team with 10.8% target share.

PlayerWeek 10Week 11Week 12
Gabriel Davis3-for-3, 105 yds2-for-4, 27 yds2-for-3, 47 yds
Emmanuel Sanders2-for-2, 27 yds3-for-5, 26 yds3-for-3, 28 yds

The Emmanuel Sanders deal hasn't worked out the way Bills fans hoped it would. Sanders is beginning to show his age at 34 years old after kicking the first half the season off on a tear. Gabriel Davis, on the other hand, is just 22 years old showing genuine signs of improvement over the last few weeks.  As Sanders has slipped off in the back half of this season, Davis has seen his opportunities jump. His game is raw, sure. Davis got blanked in Week 9, failing to catch a pass on two targets against Jacksonville. However, it probably behooves Josh Allen at this point to get the youngster more involved than the one-year rental.

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