Fantasy Watch: Recent playing-time trends

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
9:20
AM ET
Our weekly look at playing-time trends in the NFC West, with an eye toward the fantasy leagues you routinely dominate:

CHICAGO -- The Arizona Cardinals were expected to welcome back veteran tight end Todd Heap last week following a prolonged injury absence.

Instead, the Cardinals named Heap inactive again. Second-year tight end Rob Housler wound up playing a career-high 83.8 percent of the team's offensive snaps against St. Louis. It was the first time Housler had played as many snaps as wideout Andre Roberts.

Heap's situation has been one of the strangest I can recall for a player in the NFC West. There is no reason for Arizona to reverse course. Housler caught eight passes for 82 yards against the Rams. Heap is 32 years old and has eight receptions all season.
  • Arizona Cardinals: Rookie receiver Michael Floyd, relegated to the bench in Week 11 after struggling, played a career-high 67.5 percent of the offensive snaps against the Rams. Floyd's playing time spiked when the team named Early Doucet inactive with injured ribs. Doucet's status is in question this week as well.
  • St. Louis Rams: Rookie receiver Chris Givens played a career-high 85.2 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 12. He responded with the first 100-yard game of his career. Givens is emerging as more than a deep threat, too. He could see similar snap counts against the 49ers, particularly if Danny Amendola misses the game or is limited. Amendola, battling a foot injury, was limited to 14 percent of the snaps against Arizona. He was listed as doubtful on the injury report this week.
  • San Francisco 49ers: Fullback Bruce Miller has gone from playing about one-third of the snaps over the first seven games to one-half of them in subsequent games. He played very well against New Orleans while logging a season-high 60.3 percent of the snaps. He should continue to get significant reps, particularly with the team losing receiver Kyle Williams to a season-ending injury. Randy Moss also could play more. He was above 40 percent of snaps against the Saints, only the second time this season he has played that much. Frank Gore has set season-highs for snap percentages twice in the past three weeks. Kendall Hunter's season-ending injury makes Gore even more important to the 49ers. Brandon Jacobs or LaMichael James could factor now.
  • Seattle Seahawks: Backup tight end Anthony McCoy has played better than half the offensive snaps in each of the Seahawks' last two games. He had done so only once previously this season, at St. Louis in Week 4. Third receiver Doug Baldwin and fullback Michael Robinson played fewer snaps against the Dolphins in Week 12 than they had over the previous couple weeks. Staying healthy enough to factor has been the biggest challenge for Baldwin. He should become a reliable target for Russell Wilson if the Seahawks shift to their three-receiver offense a little more frequently. Sidney Rice and Golden Tate are solidly entrenched as the top two, however.

All for now. I'll be heading over to Soldier Field shortly for the Seahawks' game against the Chicago Bears.

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