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Guide to Fantasy Football’s Workhorse RBs, Committee Backfields Entering Week 8

Oct 23, 2018 7:10 PM EDT
  • Below is a breakdown of workload data for fantasy football running backs that has helped us identify workhorses, lead committee backs and other notable players.
  • Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, James Conner, David Johnson, Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley are the only backs who have played at least 80% of their offense's snaps.
  • Joe Mixon, Carlos Hyde and Adrian Peterson are the only workhorse backs who have played fewer than half of their offense's snaps.

Opportunity is more important than talent when it comes to fantasy football. Luckily for fantasy investors, it’s easier to predict future workloads than it is to gauge a player’s talent level.

Things could certainly change over the second half of the season, but most backfields should be somewhat established after seven weeks of action.

Below is a breakdown of roles for running backs throughout the league. Let’s start with the running backs who have worked as three-down featured backs this season, then dig into the committees and other notable backs.

Workhorse Running Backs

This group features players with at least 18 combined targets and carries per game so far this season. Each player’s respective percentage of snaps played is noted in parentheses below.

  • The only backs who have played at least 80% of their offense’s snaps are Christian McCaffrey (96%), Ezekiel Elliott (89%), James Conner (85%), David Johnson (84%), Todd Gurley (82%) and Saquon Barkley (82%).
  • The Chargers have managed to feed Melvin Gordon (63%) while keeping Austin Ekeler (40%) involved as well. Still, Gordon’s hamstring injury could perhaps push this committee to a more even 50/50 split in the near future.
  • Alvin Kamara (72%) has averaged only 14.5 opportunities per game since Mark Ingram’s (17%) return in Week 5. Ingram has averaged 16.5 opportunities per game and narrowly out-snapped Kamara 71 to 70 in the Saints’ most recent two games.
  • Kareem Hunt (65%) has averaged 4.5 targets per game in Weeks 4-7 after seeing only one target per game in Weeks 1-3.
  • Lamar Miller (58%) has yielded more touches than Alfred Blue (43%) since returning from injury in Week 6, and the looming return of D’Onta Foreman (Achilles, PUP) could add another qualified back to the mix.
  • Joe Mixon (48%), Carlos Hyde (45%) and Adrian Peterson (45%) are the only workhorse backs who have played fewer than half of their offense’s snaps. Mixon is the only back not expected to lose touches.

Lead Committee Backs

This group features players with between 12.5 and 18 combined targets and carries per game so far this season.  Each player’s respective percentage of snaps played is noted in parentheses below.

  • Dalvin Cook (26%) and LeSean McCoy (45%) have largely worked as three-down backs … when fully healthy.
  • The Jets have utilized Bilal Powell (46%) and Isaiah Crowell (43%) in a two-back committee, but third wheel Elijah McGuire (foot, IR) could be back as soon as Week 9. Powell (neck) should be considered questionable for Week 8.
  • Space-plus backs such as Dion Lewis (63%) and Kenyan Drake (63%) have led their backfields in snaps and touches despite losing plenty of early down work to Derrick Henry (38%) and Frank Gore (40%), respectively.
  • Be sure to monitor our Week 8 Injury Report for status updates on Sony Michel (29%) and Giovani Bernard (34%). Kenjon Barner and Mark Walton are their respective replacements.
  • The Ravens have utilized Alex Collins (42%) as their run-first back and Javorius Allen (46%) as the offense’s pass-down option. Their respective red-zone opportunities have been nearly identical.
  • The group’s most-active receiving backs are Chris Thompson (37%) and James White (54%), who lead their offenses with averages of 7.8 and 8.7 targets per game, respectively.
  • Kerryon Johnson (43%) and Marlon Mack (16%) appear to be on the verge of taking over their backfields after massive performances in Week 7.
  • Peyton Barber (56%), Phillip Lindsay (37%), Chris Carson (41%) and Jamaal Williams (47%) are the “No. 1 backs” in their respective three-back committees that remain cluttered entering the second half of the season.
  • Tarik Cohen (43.5%) has out-touched Jordan Howard (61%) 46 to 38 over the Bears’ past three games.
  • The Falcons have moved onto Tevin Coleman (57%) and Ito Smith (27%) with Devonta Freeman (groin, IR) sidelined. Coleman has out-carried Smith 21 to 18 over the past two weeks, and both have seen four targets.

Committee Backs

This group features players with between eight and 12.5 combined targets and carries per game so far this season.  Each player’s respective percentage of snaps played is noted in parentheses below.

  • Wendell Smallwood (39%) has out-touched Corey Clement (28%) over the past two weeks with Jay Ajayi (knee, IR) out. The return of Darren Sproles (hamstring) would probably be bad news for Smallwood.
  • The Bills were without McCoy (concussion, questionable for Week 8) during their Week 3 win over the Vikings. Chris Ivory (37%) had 24 combined carries and targets in that game and out-snapped Marcus Murphy (18%) 54 to 18.
  • The 49ers’ crowded backfield has featured Matt Breida (36%), Alfred Morris (36%) and Raheem Mostert (13%) in recent weeks. They all routinely lose pass-down work to fullback Kyle Juszczyk (63%).
  • Latavius Murray (57%) has averaged 19.5 rush attempts per game without Cook (hamstring) in the lineup over the past two weeks. This backfield could more closely resemble a committee moving forward as a result of Cook’s health.
  • Marshawn Lynch’s (groin, IR) absence means the Raiders will feature Doug Martin (14%) on early downs and Jalen Richard (36%) on pass downs. Martin makes the most sense in the red zone, where Lynch is one of only 10 backs with at least 15 carries.

Other Backs

This group features any remaining backs who are averaging fewer than eight combined targets and carries per game so far this season, but have played at least 10% of their offense’s snaps. Each player’s respective percentage of snaps played is noted in parenthesis below.

  • Malcolm Brown (18%) and Chase Edmonds (19%) are fairly obvious handcuffs for Gurley and Johnson, respectively, but Spencer Ware (22%) and Wayne Gallman (15%) are also worthy of bench stashes in deeper leagues.
  • The Browns seemed to have replaced Hyde with second-rounder Nick Chubb (15%), who out-snapped and out-touched Duke Johnson (44%) 45 to 35 and 18 to 5, respectively, in the Browns’ Week 7 loss to the Bucs.
Credit:

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Todd Gurley

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