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We’re going to get a lot of stuff wrong, but sifting through usage metrics can help us work through what matters and what doesn’t. That’s the goal of this article: to break down the most actionable takeaways from each week in a concise, numbers-filled format and work through what’s important. Let’s get right to it.

 

Keaton Mitchell emerges as starter and primary early-down option for Baltimore

Mitchell drew the start at RB for the Ravens on Sunday night and led the team in carries with nine, finishing slightly ahead of Gus Edwards (eight) and Justice Hill (five). Mitchell was highly efficient as usual, earning 64 yards on those nine carries, which actually lowered his seasonal yards per attempt to 9.3. The undrafted rookie also led the Baltimore backfield in routes run with 15, while Hill finished with 11 and Edwards with five. Still, Hill played eight of nine third downs (Edwards got the other one), according to PFF’s Nate Jahnke, and all four snaps in the 2-minute drill, so Mitchell still isn’t the preferred option in clear passing situations for the Ravens. Edwards and Hill also got one goal-line snap each, whereas Mitchell did not play at the goal line.

Mitchell is clearly ascending, and he deserves to lead the Ravens in carries considering his absurd efficiency and big-play upside. With that being said, it’s fair to question his fantasy value while he’s not playing on passing downs and — more importantly — not in at the goal line. The Ravens’ 15.1% target share to RBs ranks 25th in the NFL, so Mitchell’s pass-catching workload likely won’t be massive even if he continues out-routing Hill and Edwards. The Ravens could design targets for him since he’s so electric with the ball in space and he did lead the team in routes, so his receiving production should be non-zero, but this is to say that it probably won’t ever be great this year. However, the BAL RB1 job can still be pretty valuable given the expected efficiency and strength of the offense — but you need goal-line carries to really take full advantage. Edwards has pretty consistently held that role this season, but it’ll be worth watching if Mitchell can make a dent in that area moving forward (at 5-foot-9, 191 pounds, it may be tough). For now, Mitchell is a fantasy flex since he should flirt with 10+ carries every week on elite efficiency, but he may need to house one from outside the red zone to truly post a massive fantasy outing.

 

Devin Singletary retains lead-back role despite Dameon Pierce’s return

Caveat: It was Pierce’s first game back from injury and he was questionable entering Sunday with an ankle injury.

Still, Singletary absolutely dominated the underlying usage metrics, out-snapping Pierce 49-11 and running 35 routes on 47 C.J. Stroud dropbacks for an elite 74.5% route participation mark. The Texans also made Mike Boone inactive in Week 12, allowing Singletary to play all six third-down snaps and 18 of 19 snaps in the 2-minute drill. Boone’s status is one to watch in the future; Houston had made him inactive earlier in the year too, but he’s held the third-down role when available. We’ll see in Week 13 if Singletary has actually surpassed him as the main back in clear passing situations. It’s worth mentioning that the Texans throw to RBs at the league’s lowest clip (11.8%) and Singletary’s seven targets can likely be partially credited to the Jaguars’ defense — which increases opponent RB targets at among the highest rates in the league — but it’s still a great sign if Singletary is out there on all passing downs. Singletary also got all three snaps at the goal line.

While Pierce had just one fewer carry than Singletary, the latter was the undisputed RB1 across all situations. There have been murmurs that Pierce is not a system fit for the new Texans staff, and Houston’s RB deployment against the Jaguars certainly supports that theory. It’s potentially worth giving Pierce one more week on your fantasy roster to see if they were just easing him back in after the injury, but if you need the roster spot now, he’s droppable. Singletary is a solid fantasy starter in Week 13, and it will be important to see how much work Pierce gains with another week to get the ankle healthy. If the backfield split looks similar to how it did on Sunday (especially if Boone is inactive), it’s wheels up for Singletary going into the fantasy playoffs.

 

Kyren Williams returns to RB1-level workload in first game off injured reserve

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