Loading scores...
Backfield Report

Target CEH, Drake's TD Doesn't Mask Struggles

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: October 14, 2020, 5:29 pm ET

NFL depth charts are always changing, whether it’s due to injuries, coaching decisions, or performance-related issues. The running back position, in particular, can be tough to stay on top of throughout the season, as the vast majority of teams have gone with some sort of committee approach, featuring two and sometimes even three backs.

Below is a breakdown of each team’s backfield to help us determine offenses that are using a single workhorse, committees, and situations to avoid for fantasy. I’ll use this space each week to track the numbers and provide some thoughts.

All snap counts and touches are compiled from Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference. Opportunities refers to the running back’s combined carries and targets.

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Notes: Drake just doesn’t look like the same player he did after the trade over from Miami the second half of last season, Maybe he’s hurt, but Drake hasn’t really been on the injury report this season. Chase Edmonds looks like the far superior talent, but Drake is still getting the touches and out-snapping Edmonds 2:1. Drake found the end zone for the first time since Week 1 last week, and his 18 carries were his second-most of the year. But Drake still can’t buy any pass-game action, averaging 1.2 targets per contest. It severely lowers his floor and caps his upside. Looking slow, Drake is a back-end RB2/3. Edmonds has RB1 upside if given more work.

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

Notes: Gurley’s snap rate isn’t the greatest, but he’s getting the volume and seeing RB2 usage as a runner. He has five TDs in five games on the ground but has just eight catches for 38 scoreless yards in the pass game. This offense just doesn’t target running backs. It’ll be interesting to see if the offensive style changes with coach Dan Quinn now fired, though OC Dirk Koetter remains in place. Hill has settled in as Gurley’s top backup.

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Notes: Week 5 was Ingram’s first with double-digit carries (11) and the most by a Ravens running back in a game this season. That’s pretty much all you need to know about this backfield. Are all RB4’s until one either gets hurt or is eliminated from the offense. Edwards gets all of the garbage-time work.

 

BUFFALO BILLS

Notes: Singletary played at least 89% of the snaps in Weeks 3 and 4 without Zack Moss (toe), but for some reason T.J. Yeldon handled 10 opportunities to Singletary’s 12 Tuesday night against the Titans. Yeldon also scored a touchdown in the loss. Moss should be back any time now. Singletary should continue to post RB2/3 numbers at a 60-40 playing-time edge over Moss. The rookie would likely need a Singletary injury to become RB2-viable.

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Notes: Davis is the overall RB3 in half-PPR behind only Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook since taking over as the starter in Week 3 following Christian McCaffrey’s (ankle, IR) injury. He’s seen 22, 22, and 26 combined carries and targets in the three contests while playing 76%, 71%, and 83% of the snaps. This backfield is all his until McCaffrey returns. He’s expected to miss another week.

 

CHICAGO BEARS

Notes: Montgomery has played 81% and 85% of the snaps in the two games since Tarik Cohen tore his ACL, seeing 14 targets in that span. After a pair of down games with fewer than 30 rushing yards in both contests, Montgomery is a buy-low seeing RB1 snap share. He’s a Week 6 breakout candidate with the Panthers on deck.

 

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Notes: Mixon’s snaps are way up over the last three weeks, and he’s seen a total of 63 combined carries and targets over the Bengals’ last two, a win over the Jaguars and blowout loss to the Ravens. Even the blowout didn’t affect Mixon’s playing time. He’s seeing extreme RB1 usage and is a top-10 back to own alone on that. What sucks is Mixon’s upcoming schedule with dates against the Colts, Browns, and Titans Weeks 6-8. Bernard has been eliminated from the offense.

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Notes: In the Browns’ first game without Nick Chubb (knee, IR), Hunt played a season-high 70% of the snaps and handled 24 combined carries and targets with a touchdown against the Colts last week. Johnson got in on the other 30% of the downs. Hunt looks like an elite RB1 while Chubb is out. He gets dates with the Steelers, Bengals, and Raiders Weeks 6-8.

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

Notes: Zeke is fourth in the NFL in inside-the-10 touches and is coming off a two-TD affair against the Giants. After averaging 7.5 targets per game Weeks 1-4 with Dak Prescott, Elliott was only targeted two times last week when Prescott broke his ankle midway through the game and was replaced by Andy Dalton. That’s a bit of a concern, but the expectation is the Cowboys lean even more on Elliott moving forward with Prescott done for the season.

 

DENVER BRONCOS

Notes: The Broncos are coming off a bye after their date with the Patriots was COVID-postponed. With Lindsay out the last 3.5 games, Gordon has played at least 62% of the snaps in all three games and is coming off a season-high 80% playing time clip last time out against the Jets when he went 23-107-2 on the ground. He’s been a true workhorse but is stuck in a horrible offense that has already started three quarterbacks. Lindsay is expected back this week, but Gordon has earned No. 1 treatment. He’s a volume-based RB2. Lindsay is an RB4. Update: Gordon was arrested for DUI Tuesday night in Denver. He could be subject to team discipline, but the league likely won’t get around to suspending him until the end of the year.

 

DETROIT LIONS

Notes: The Lions are coming off their bye. Peterson has emerged as the early-down starter and rushing attempts leader over the past couple weeks, and Swift has settled in as the third-down back and pass-game specialist. Johnson played a season-low in snaps against New Orleans and appeared to get hurt late in the loss. If Johnson misses time, this backfield becomes way more attractive for fantasy. Johnson wasn’t getting many touches the last two weeks, but it was enough to be felt.

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Notes: Green Bay is coming off its bye. Jones is one of the most efficient running backs in the league. While he splits snaps with Williams, he still gets insane usage and scores at an incredible clip. Jones caught yet another touchdown in Week 4 against the Falcons. Williams played a season-high in snaps Week 4 and tied for the team lead in targets. He’s an elite backup in the event Jones ever goes down.

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

Notes: David is seeing RB2 usage but isn’t quite seeing workhorse action with Duke cutting into his pass-game work, siphoning five targets in the two games he’s been back from an ankle injury. Interim coach Romeo Crennel suggested Duke could play even more moving forward, but Crennel isn’t the first coach to say he wanted Duke to see more work. David has a pair of 100-yard games to his name but gets the Titans and Packers before the bye.

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Notes: After touching the ball 28 times in Week 2, the first game without Marlon Mack (Achilles’), Taylor has averaged just 15.3 touches over the last three weeks and is seeing very minimal pass-game work (7 targets) since Week 2. At least Wilkins (4% of the snaps) was removed from the game plan last week. Taylor is a home favorite against the Bengals for Week 6. Hines is merely an RB3 that is more specific to PPR formats.

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

  • James Robinson (59% snap rate, 95 opportunities)
  • Chris Thompson (36%, 21)

Notes: Robinson is a rebound candidate with a home date against the Lions in Week 6. While he’s 45th in inside-the-10 touches, Robinson’s floor is raised considerably with 5.25 targets per game over the last four weeks. Thompson has next-to-no fantasy value behind Robinson.

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Notes: Edwards-Helaire was one of the biggest disappointments of Week 5, seeing a season-low 10 carries and catching just 3-of-8 targets in a surprising loss to the Raiders. He simply can't buy a touchdown and had a short receiving score called back on a Travis Kelce penalty versus Vegas. CEH is due for major positive regression in the touchdown department. He’s a recommended buy-low RB1 with the Bills, Broncos, and Jets on deck Weeks 6-8.

 

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

Notes: Jacobs is the current leader in carries with 106 and top-12 in inside-the-10 touches. But after going 4-46 on six targets in Week 1, Jacobs is averaging 3.5 targets and 15.5 yards through the air over the last four contests. Booker and Richard are seeing just enough action to lower Jacobs’ floor and somewhat cap his upside. He’s still a top-10 fantasy back who sees the money touches at the goal line in the Raiders’ offense.

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Notes: In the first game without Austin Ekeler (hamstring, IR), it was Jackson who played 59% of the snaps to Kelley’s 35% clip and out-touched the rookie 20-12 while seeing six targets to Kelley’s one. Jackson looked like the far superior player against the Saints. Health has just always been his question mark. Jackson is the back to own with the Bolts headed into their bye.

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Notes: Henderson is top-eight in inside-the-10 touches but his snap share is concerning and is hard to trust in an offense where coach Sean McVay could turn on a dime and use either Brown or Akers more, as he did in Week 4 when Henderson carried the ball just eight times against the Giants. Still, playing in the Rams’ extreme run-heavy offense, he sees enough as an RB2. Akers played 19% of the snaps and handled nine carries in his return to the lineup last Sunday.

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Notes: Gaskin has played at least 63% of the Dolphins’ snaps in all five games and handled 21 touches for the second time in three weeks last Sunday against the 49ers with Jordan Howard healthy-scratched. The Dolphins appear to have (hopefully) settled on Gaskin-Breida as their one-two tandem, and Gaskin punched in a short score against San Francisco after Howard was the guy stealing all of the goal-line looks previously. Gaskin is an RB2 in a streaky offense.

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Notes: Cook is making the most of his limited inside-the-10 looks by leading the league in rushing touchdowns and yards on the ground. His previously heavy pass-game usage has dried up a bit with just 3.2 targets per game. A groin injury suffered last Sunday night has Cook’s status in doubt for Week 6 against Atlanta. Mattison had 20-112 on the ground and 3-24 through the air in relief of Cook last week and is a legitimate RB1 play if/when Cook misses this Sunday.

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Notes: New England is coming off a bye after its Week 5 date against the Broncos was postponed due to COVID breakouts. Sony Michel has been sent to I.R., and Harris was activated from the list in time for Week 4 against the Chiefs. Burkhead’s snaps dipped to 35% with Harris getting in on 31% of the plays and handling 17 carries for 100 yards with no targets in the pass game. Harris looks to be the early-down guy now with more skill than Michel. Burkhead and White will mix in on pass downs and important blocking situations. Harris is now the back to own in New England, at least for the time being.

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Notes: Kamara is averaging just 12.2 carries per game but is on pace for a career-high 144 targets and 121 catches. Murray is seeing enough (10.4 carries per game) to eat into Kamara’s rushing work. Kamara remains an elite RB1 with at least 100 yards in four straight contests.

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Notes: Freeman has played exactly 54% of the snaps in back-to-back games, seeing RB2 usage, but he plays in a horrendous offense and is averaging a disgusting 3.1 yards per carry. Freeman gets dates with Washington, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay the next three weeks. 

 

NEW YORK JETS

Notes: The Jets released Le’Veon Bell on Tuesday after he played 67% of the snaps and handled 14 touches in his Week 5 return from hamstring pulls. He and coach Adam Gase never seemed to get along, so this move made sense, but now the Jets are left with 37-year-old Gore, rookie Perine, and waiver claim pickup Ty Johnson. Until the Jets do something else in this backfield, all three are unplayable in fantasy at the moment. This offense is putrid.

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Notes: Sanders played a season-best 85% of the Eagles’ snaps Week 5 against the Steelers, turning 13 touches into 99 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Not many running backs have the elite snap share of Sanders. He’s a week in and week out RB1 no matter the opponent.

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Notes: The Steelers’ bellcow, Conner has scored in three straight games after leaving Week 1 early with an injury. It genuinely looked like he might lose his job to Benny Snell, but the Steelers have leaned on Conner during their 4-0 start. He’s seeing RB1 usage. Snell, Jaylen Samuels, and Anthony McFarland follow Conner on the depth chart in that order.

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Notes: Mostert hasn’t seen big volume, but he’s averaging a robust 7.0 yards per carry and is easily the biggest playmaker in coach Kyle Shanahan’s backfield. In his return from a knee injury last week, Mostert handled 48% of the snaps and 14 touches, totaling 119 yards against the Dolphins in a blowout loss. McKinnon’s snaps dipped from 92% without Mostert in Week 4 to 25% last week and ran the ball just one time. He turned four targets into five yards. It should be Mostert-McKinnon as the one-two combo until Tevin Coleman (knee) returns.

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Notes: Carson’s catch numbers are way up, but his carry numbers are way down this season with the Seahawks shifting to more pass-happy tendencies. He’s still seeing RB1 usage as the clear No. 1 back in Seattle. Homer has taken over as the pass-game change-of-pace back. Hyde has missed two straight games to injury but is Carson’s direct backup.

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Notes: Jones has been outstanding the last two games with Fournette out with an injury. Jones has turned in 20-111 and 17-106 rushing lines with a combined 9-36 receiving line on 14 targets. He’s played 64% and 69% of the snaps in those two games. Coach Bruce Arians has praised Jones’ play, suggesting he’ll continue to have a leg up on Fournette. But it’s very doubtful Jones’ leash will be long. Vaughn has surpassed LeSean McCoy as Tom Brady’s new James White.

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

Notes: Henry has one of the safest workloads in football, dominating the Titans’ snaps and touches. He’s a top-three fantasy back moving forward after scoring his first four rushing touchdowns of the season over the last two weeks against the Vikings and Bills.

 

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

Notes: Gibson has seen double-digit carries and five targets in two straight games. He’s not turning in a ton of big plays in a bad offense, but the workload is just enough for RB3 status. McKissic continues to run a ton of routes and see pass-game targets, capping the upside of Gibson. Thankfully, however, Barber has been eliminated from the offense since Week 1.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.