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 six 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.
Notes: DJ didn't look all that close to 100% in Week 6, but he still managed to play 75% of the offense's snaps and handled 18 touches. Edmonds has consistently been slippery in the open field on his way to averaging an impressive 7.4 yards per touch this season, although he simply isn't receiving enough usage to warrant standalone value after getting just seven touches and a 29% snap rate last week. The good news is Edmonds has displayed the ability to function at a solid level on all three downs, making him one of the league's better handcuff options. For more discussion on this backfield check out Monday's edition of the Rotoworld Football Podcast.
Notes: Freeman seemed to truly take control of the Falcons' backfield in Week 6 for the first time all season, posting a 72% snap rate with a season-high 22 touches.
Still, Smith (hamstring) exited the game early, and much of Freeman's production continues to largely come via check downs with the offense in comeback mode.
- Week 4: 8 receptions-72 yards-0 touchdowns (9 targets)
- Week 5: 5-40-1 (5)
- Week 6: 3-30-2 (3)
Matt Ryan doesn't enter games with the intent to feature Austin Hooper and/or Freeman ahead of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, but that has been the case for long stretches of time with the 1-5 Falcons spending most of the season behind on the scoreboard. We can confidently expect Freeman to keep working as the offense's lead pass-down back thanks to his pass-blocking ability, although it might not be a bad idea to sell high on an older injury-prone RB that is on one of the league's worst teams.
- RB1: Mark Ingram (51% snap rate, 16.5 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Gus Edwards (30%, 8)
- RB3: Justice Hill (19%, 4.2)
Notes: The Ravens have kept all three of their RBs involved on a weekly basis this season, but Ingram has consistently worked as the group's alpha regardless of game script.
This wasn't quite the case last week, as Ingram (31 snaps) actually worked slightly behind Edwards (33). Hill (17) was plenty involved as well.
Regardless, I'm not inclined to panic at this point considering Ingram (15 touches) was utilized well ahead of both Edwards (six) and Hill (five) in terms of opportunity. Only the 49ers (56% run-play rate) and Vikings (53%) have run the ball more than the Ravens (51%) this season. Lamar Jackson will have weeks where he's more involved on the ground than usual, but Ingram is still positioned well to see between 15 and 20 touches more games than not.
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- RB1: Frank Gore (50% snap rate, 16.4 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Devin Singletary (20%, 8)
- RB3: T.J. Yeldon (30%, 4.2)
Notes: Singletary (hamstring) is tentatively expected to suit up Sunday after having a bye week to get right. His presence should relegate Yeldon back to the bench.
The Bills' third-round rookie flashed in Weeks 1-2 by converting 15 touches into 155 yards, although Gore still worked as the clear-cut lead RB with 32 touches during that span.
Look for Gore to work as the featured early-down back with Singletary seeing more usage on pass downs. Both RBs offer plenty of value in their Week 7 smash spot at home vs. the Dolphins.
- RB1: Christian McCaffrey (96% snap rate, 28.5 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Reggie Bonnafon (5%, 1.2)
Notes: CMC and company have a Week 7 bye. Consider starting McCaffrey in season-long lineups anyway as a tribute to the stud RB's historically great start to the season.
- RB1: David Montgomery (55% snap rate, 16.4 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Tarik Cohen (50%, 9.6)
- RB3: Mike Davis (19%, 4)
Notes: The Bears have dwindled down their backfield to just two RBs, as Davis has played a total of five snaps since Week 3.
Life in the Bears' 27th-ranked scoring offense hasn't produced many fantasy-friendly opportunities for either Montgomery or Cohen. Still, Montgomery has averaged 17.8 touches in four games as the offense's lead early-down back, as Cohen doesn't have more than five carries in a game this season.
Cohen is too good to be relegated to a true backup role, and he'll continue to be a thorn in the side of Montgomery owners in contests with negative game script. Regardless, the Bears' third-round rookie has a chance to flirt with 20 combined carries and targets in any game that doesn't feature the offense in comeback mode before halftime. Montgomery and the offensive line alike will need to play better to improve his pedestrian average of 3.3 yards per carry, but I wouldn't give up on the talented first-year RB just yet.
Notes: Mixon has been the offense's only real source for consistent production this season despite having to work behind the Bengals' injury-riddled offensive line. Overall, only the Jets have averaged fewer adjusted line yards per rush than the Bengals through six weeks (Football Outsiders).
The larger problem has simply been a lack of opportunity. Mixon played at least 65% of the offense's snaps in 11-of-14 games last season, but has yet to reach that mark in 2019. There just isn't a fantasy-friendly ceiling/floor for a lead committee back in one of the league's bottom-five scoring offenses.
Bernard hasn't had double-digit touches in a game this season despite posting a snap rate of at least 30% in every contest. He's not a realistic standalone fantasy option and isn't necessarily guaranteed a featured three-down role if Mixon were to miss any game time.
- RB1: Nick Chubb (77% snap rate, 23.3 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Dontrell Hilliard (13%, 3)
- RB3: D'Ernest Johnson (11%, 1.8)
Notes: Chubb has been the only consistent bright spot on the Browns Offense through six weeks. I'd expect his snap rate to drop closer to 60% once Kareem Hunt returns in Week 10, but it'd be silly for the offense to stop feeding one of the league's most-talented and productive RBs. Continue to treat Chubb as a locked-in and matchup-proof RB1 after the Browns' Week 7 bye.