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Ezekiel Elliott
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By the Numbers

Week 6: Taking Stock Of All 32 NFL Backfields

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: October 8, 2019, 4:37 pm ET

NFL depth charts are always in a constant state of flux due to injuries, performance and at-times questionable coaching decisions. The RB position in particular can be tough to stay on top of, as an overwhelming majority of offenses have replaced a single three-down back with committees of various shapes and sizes.

The good news is we now have five weeks of regular season data to help clear up the ever-murky RB position. What follows is a breakdown of each team's backfield in order to better determine:

  • Offenses that are featuring a single workhorse
  • Fantasy-friendly committee backfields
  • Situations that fantasy football owners should avoid

All snap count and touch data was compiled from Pro Football Reference. Opportunities refer to a player's combined carries and targets. All data references each player's season-long production. More recent workload information is available in the notes section.


Arizona Cardinals

Notes: Coach Kliff Kingsbury said the Cardinals will monitor David Johnson (back) throughout the week. Be sure to monitor our Week 6 Injury Dashboard for analysis, daily practice participation as well as estimated and official game statuses for every injured player. Edmonds received a season-high 11 touches in Week 5 with DJ playing a modest 70% of the offense's snaps. The Cardinals' second-year RB has demonstrated enough three-down ability to warrant RB1 consideration if Johnson is ultimately sidelined. Note that while the Falcons allowed the most receptions to opposing RBs in 2015-2018, they've reversed course through five weeks and presently have allowed a league-low 3.8 receptions to the position. Of course, part of this newfound trend stems from the Falcons allowing the third-most PPR per game to the WR position this season as well as the fact that they haven't faced a high-usage lead receiving RB other than Dalvin Cook.


Atlanta Falcons

Notes: Freeman has salvaged back-to-back porous rushing performances thanks to 8-72-0 and 5-40-1 receiving lines in Weeks 3 and 4, respectively. Smith (6.2 yards per touch) has been more efficient than Freeman (4.5) through five weeks, but I wouldn't count on a takeover ever happening due to both the front office's investment in Freeman as well as Smith's occasional struggles in pass protection. Still, it's tough to be too hard on either RB considering the Falcons' injury-riddled offensive line ranks as PFF's second-worst unit in run blocking this season. Perhaps they can get back on track against a Cardinals Defense that joins the Panthers and Lions as the league's only units that have allowed over 100 rushing yards in every game this season.


Baltimore Ravens

Notes: Ingram ranks sixth among all RBs in success rate this season and is the perfect type of hard-nosed back to complement Lamar Jackson's explosive rushing ability. Continue to fire up Ingram as a high-end RB2, as he's received 20, 13 and 21 touches in the last three weeks despite facing mostly negative game script. This is particularly true in Week 6: Nobody has allowed more fantasy points per game to the RB position than the Bengals this season. I'd expect Edwards and Hill to largely split snaps and touches alike if Ingram were ever forced to miss time.

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Buffalo Bills

Notes: Singletary (hamstring) is tentatively expected to return to action following the Bills' Week 6 bye. He converted 15 touches into 155 yards and a touchdown in Weeks 1 and 2, although Gore still led the way with 32 touches during this stretch. Note that Yeldon has played just five total snaps on offense with both Singletary and Gore active.


Carolina Panthers

Notes: CMC was dealing with cramps for the Panthers' final few drives of Week 5, which led to Bonnafon scoring a game-clinching 59-yard touchdown. Bonnafon is the preferred handcuff here over the likes of Jordan Scarlett and Alex Armah. Still, it'd be tough to expect any mortal to come close to putting up the same level of production as CMC, even with a similar workload. McCaffrey is currently in the midst of taking a flamethrower to everyone that has ever muttered the phrase, "RBs don't matter." The man is simply ridiculous.


Chicago Bears

Notes: The Raiders surprisingly built a two-touchdown lead over the Bears last week, leading to Montgomery handling just 12 touches on his way to playing 52% of the offense's snaps. Cohen is too good to take a full backseat to Montgomery, particularly when the offense is in catch-up mode. Davis has played five total snaps since Week 3.


Cincinnati Bengals

Notes: The Mixon/Gio split is closer to a 60/40 situation in most weeks. This has led to a high touch floor for Mixon, as he's had at least 15 combined targets and carries in four consecutive games. Mixon was the only sign of life for the Bengals for prolonged stretches during their Week 5 loss to the Cardinals and should continue to rack up a RB2-esque workload. Bernard's dual-threat ability and history of handling a three-down role with Mixon sidelined makes him and underrated handcuff option, but he doesn't offer any standalone value with just 7.2 opportunities per game this season.


Cleveland Browns

Notes: The Browns' most-consistent source of offense this season has been Chubb, who has posted 99%, 63% and 84% snap rates over the last three weeks. He's one of the league's only true bell-cow backs at this point, although Kareem Hunt's Week 10 return is getting closer and closer.

Ian Hartitz

All things NFL. Great day to be great. You can follow Ian on Twitter @Ihartitz.