Manipulating snap count data is an inexact science when it comes to following the NFL. The league has only supplied that data to the masses since the 2012 season began, and the numbers are still not 100 percent reliable.
Our 2015 snap counts page for the Buffalo Bills, for example, will surely drive anyone with a love of spreadsheets crazy. Add up all of the snaps played on both offense and defense, divide it by 11, and you're going to see decimal points, which is a physical impossibility. The numbers are not perfect.
For discussion purposes, however, they're close enough - with a small enough percentage variance - to give us a clear picture of how the Bills' offense was constructed, and how they had to cover for injuries, during the 2015 season. Here are the five snap count-adjacent factoids that stood out the most to us.
In his rookie season of 2014, wide receiver Sammy Watkins played a whopping 1,027 snaps despite working through a few minor injuries. He was targeted 128 times as a rookie, or once every 8.02 snaps played, and caught 65 passes for 982 yards and six touchdowns.
Watkins was targeted just 96 times by Bills quarterbacks in 2015, but he also missed three full games and parts of others due to injury. His snaps-played figure dropped to 714 this season, meaning that he was actually targeted more often than his rookie season on a per-snap basis - once every 7.44 snaps played, to be specific.
But don't worry; Watkins was justified in calling out his coaches for not targeting him enough early in the season. At the time of his complaint, the Bills were targeting him once ever 10.15 snaps played.
The Bills should have plenty of concern about the durability of tailback Karlos Williams, who suffered three separate injuries in his rookie season. When he was on the field, however, there was no questioning his impact.
Williams played 243 snaps as a rookie, just three more than wide receiver Percy Harvin, who was placed on Injured Reserve after Week 5. In those 243 snaps, Williams touched the ball 104 times (that's a touch on 42.8 percent of his snaps) and scored a team-leading nine touchdowns, putting the ball in the paint once every 27 snaps played. Durability concerns or not, the Bills should feel compelled to give Williams the ball a lot in 2016.
Bills offensive linemen - all of them - combined to play 5,487 snaps in 2015. With the offense turning in 1,075 plays as a unit, the Bills averaged 5.104 offensive linemen on the field per play, meaning that the team had an extra lineman (or two) on the field for a significant percentage of plays, upwards of 10 percent overall. This was not unexpected under coordinator Greg Roman, and the stat was padded a bit late in the season when the team began using Cyrus Kouandjio as a tackle-eligible blocking tight end, but it's reason enough for the team to ensure that they're ultra-comfortable with their line depth entering the 2016 season.
Buffalo was forced to deal with a slew of injuries to their skill positions in 2015, with big-ticket players at running back, wide receiver, and tight end all forced to miss time due to their various ailments. As such, the Bills were left to do quite a bit of roster scrambling to account for numbers at those positions, and many of their back-end players were even forced onto the field. In all, Roman's Bills offense saw six different running backs, 12 different wide receivers, and five different tight ends take snaps for the team this year. Especially for the first two jobs, that is not ideal.
While we're on the theme of roster scrambling, here's a fun stat: the Bills gave 260 offensive snaps to five players that are no longer with the organization. That's a very small percentage of total snaps played, mind you, but it's still interesting to note that there was enough roster turnover to force players onto the field that were not even remotely in the team's short- or long-term plans. The five ex-Bills players splitting those reps? Matt Cassel, Boom Herron, Marcus Thigpen, Denarius Moore, and Matthew Mulligan.
Again, our snap counts page can be viewed here. What else stands out to you on the offensive side of the ball?