Fantasy News & Analysis

Committee Report: Relevant backup fantasy RBs heading into Week 6

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 11: Running back Matt Breida #49 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of a preseason game on August 11, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Staying on top of fluid backfield situations from week to week for all 32 teams is quite the tedious task, even for fantasy football diehards. To help with your fantasy preparations, my weekly RB Committee Report is intended to be your one-stop shop for tracking each and every fantasy backfield. Each week, we’ll go around the league to hone in on who’s trending up or down in terms of workload distribution and volume, as well as efficiency, in order to pinpoint which backs are making the most (and least) of their opportunities.

With some teams, we’ve reached a stasis in their running back depth chart. You don’t need weekly updates, for example, that Leonard Fournette sits just above Chris Ivory in the Jaguars’ pecking order. So with some teams, this week will be their last regular entry in this space, and they will be included in the future only as circumstances warrant.

STOCK UP WK 5 RB SNAPS % / SEASON % STOCK DOWN WK 5 RB SNAPS % / SEASON %
Marlon Mack 22.4 / 22.8 Ty Montgomery DNP / 74.2
Matt Breida 48.6 / 28.7 D’Onta Foreman 14.1 / 19.0
Adrian Peterson 8.1 / 17.0 Derrick Henry 18.6 / 35.1
Elijah McGuire 67.9 / 32.2 Eddie Lacy 27.9 / 26.5
Alvin Kamara 35.1 / 35.1 Ameer Abdullah 36.1 / 44.3

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Arizona Cardinals

Fantasy Starter Backup to Own
Adrian Peterson Andre Ellington (PPR)

Earlier this week I broke down the fantasy implications of the Adrian Peterson trade here.

Atlanta Falcons

Starter Backup to Own
Devonta Freeman Tevin Coleman

A reminder that entering their Week 5 bye, Tevin Coleman ranked fourth in breakaway percentage and 19th in PPR scoring while playing 38.8 percent of the snaps (compared to 63.5 percent for Freeman). He remains a viable flex play (RB24 in our Week 6 PPR rankings) and a premium handcuff.

Baltimore Ravens

Starter Backup to Own
Javorius Allen Alex Collins (12+)

Javorius Allen sits just inside the top-20 PPR RBs with 13.0 fantasy points per game, but Alex Collins continues to stake his claim for an early-down role even though Allen produced 85 yards and a TD on 25 touches in Week 5 (compared to 12 touches for Collins). Out of 49 qualified RBs, Collins ranks fourth with an 86.1 elusive rating, as he’s averaging 3.54 yards after contact and forcing a missed tackle every 4.1 carries. For comparison, Allen ranks 45th in elusive rating. Still, Allen has enjoyed a 65/24 percent split of the snap share over the last two weeks. He’s also been targeted on 25.6 percent of his snaps in route and got all three of the Ravens’ carries inside the five against Oakland. Terrance West is nursing an ankle injury and has been leapfrogged on the depth chart.

Buffalo Bills

Starter Backup to Know
LeSean McCoy Mike Tolbert (12+)

LeSean McCoy continues to rack up the snaps (fifth-most) but is averaging only 3.2 YPC and has yet to find the end zone. He’ll have a chance to rest up with the Bills on bye this week. Mike Tolbert has not fared much better (3.6 YPC on 37 carries). It’s conceivable that Tolbert may see his workload increase some from his current 27 percent snap share, but his value is more a short-yardage and “spell” back than a handcuff with fantasy appeal.

Carolina Panthers

Starter Backup to Own
Christian McCaffrey Jonathan Stewart (12+)

Last week, I discussed how McCaffrey’s fantasy value is capped as a back-end RB2 (PPR) until the Panthers are able to consistently get him the ball in space. Then, against the Lions in Week 5, Carolina’s OL generated -1.11 yards before contact. The rookie was out-touched, 21-8, by Jonathan Stewart yet salvaged his fantasy output with a touchdown reception on a shovel pass. Stewart finished with an ugly stat line of 21 yards on 18 carries, but was contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage on 15 of those attempts. Still, he forced 10 missed tackles for a league-best 127.0 elusive rating for the week. In other words, don’t expect Stewart’s role to diminish based on his Week 5 output.

Chicago Bears

Starter Backup to Own
Jordan Howard Tarik Cohen (PPR)

Tarik Cohen is like that party you begrudgingly showed up to after getting bombarded by texts, only to find the keg was kicked and everyone had already cleared out. With bye weeks upon us, Cohen remains in play as a PPR flex option, but as cautioned last week his game-to-game usage is simply too volatile to bank on. He hasn’t scored since Week 1 and has played only 27 percent of the snaps over the last two weeks, producing a combined 60 yards on 17 touches.

Cincinnati Bengals

Starter Backup to Own
Joe Mixon Giovani Bernard (PPR)

Joe Mixon finally found the end zone in Week 5, but it’s still tough to trust him (or any Bengals RB) as anything more than a desperation flex play or bye-week replacement. Mixon’s 44-percent snap share leads Cincinnati’s three-man rotation, but he’s also been given less room to run than every other back in the league (0.42 yards before contact). He ranks just 35th among RBs in PPR scoring with 8.8 ppg.

Cleveland Browns

Starter Backup to Own
Isaiah Crowell Duke Johnson (PPR)

At this point if there’s a logical explanation for Isaiah Crowell continuing to “start” for Cleveland, I’m simply not seeing it. On pace for 621 rushing yards and zero touchdowns with no involvement in the passing game, Crowell is certainly not usable in fantasy. Every week in this space, I’ll continue beating the drum for Duke Johnson, who is the better playmaker and now ranks seventh in both PPR scoring and elusive rating. He has actually out-snapped Crowell this season, 205-183, although Crowell holds a 69-39 edge in touches.

Dallas Cowboys

Starter Backup to Own
Ezekiel Elliott Alfred Morris

The Cowboys are on a bye, and a decision on Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension is expected this week. While Elliott’s fantasy owners may want to make a “sneaky” pickup and add his handcuff, it’s anybody’s guess who exactly that handcuff would be. Alfred Morris has barely touched the ball, while Darren McFadden has been inactive on game days. In all likelihood, the two would form a timeshare if Elliott were to miss time.

Denver Broncos

Starter Backup to Own
C.J. Anderson Jamaal Charles

The Broncos are coming off a bye, and C.J. Anderson is the RB7 in our staff’s consensus PPR rankings for Week 6. Anderson has not allowed any pressures in 34 pass-blocking snaps, and that’s a big reason he’s stayed on the field for 70 percent of the Broncos’ offensive snaps while logging 20-plus carries in three of four games. His involvement has rendered Jamaal Charles an unusable fantasy option, but with the third-best elusive rating behind only LeGarrette Blount and Kareem Hunt, Charles would be an RB2 if Anderson were to miss time.

Detroit Lions

Starter Backup to Know
Ameer Abdullah Theo Riddick (PPR)

Theo Riddick was on the “Stock Down” list last week and has now failed to reach double-digit touches in all but one game, despite having played only 18 fewer snaps than Ameer Abdullah. Riddick doesn’t need to be owned at this point. Meanwhile, Abdullah continues to frustrate fantasy owners. Coming off a career-high 20 carries for 94 yards in Week 4, he managed only 31 yards on 10 carries against the Panthers. While Abdullah has been one of the league’s more elusive backs since the start of 2016, at the end of the day he’s had one start-worthy fantasy week this season. As such, he belongs on fantasy benches until further notice.

Green Bay Packers

Starter Backup to Own
Ty Montgomery Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones “earned more opportunities” after rushing for 125 yards and a score on 19 carries (with five missed tackles forced) in place of an injured Ty Montgomery against Dallas in Week 5. In fact, Jones has outrushed Montgomery on the season in three fewer starts. No, Montgomery isn’t getting Wally Pipped, but this is no longer the one-man show that saw him lead the league in backfield snaps before breaking his ribs in Week 4. Montgomery had double-digit carries only once last season, and he’s averaged only 3.0 YPC in his three games with double-digit carries in 2017. Jones, one of my top sleeper picks from this summer, is the RB23 in our staff’s consensus PPR rankings for Week 6.

Houston Texans

Starter Backup to Own
Lamar Miller D’Onta Foreman

After posting 131 total yards and two TDs in Week 4, Lamar Miller played 88 percent of the offensive snaps against Kansas City in Week 5 and produced 89 yards on 17 touches. Rookie D’Onta Foreman has averaged about eight rushes per game and acquitted himself well (minus a fumble), but make no mistake, this is Miller’s backfield. Foreman retains handcuff value and would be an RB2 if Miller were to miss time.

Indianapolis Colts

Starter Backup to Own
Frank Gore Marlon Mack

Colts coach Chuck Pagano wants to get Marlon Mack more involved. That would seem a good idea considering the haplessness of the Colts and that going back to preseason, the explosive rookie has averaged 4.7 YPC (3.4 YAC) with a missed tackle forced every 2.6 rushes. Frank Gore has played just over half of the offensive snaps on the season but is averaging only 3.2 YPC (and 3.7 YPC since the start of 2015). During the three weeks that Mack was active, Gore held a 42-28 edge in touches. Mack had missed the Colts’ previous two games with a shoulder injury, which also cost the rookie precious practice time, particularly as he tries to improve between the tackles and in pass pro. Point blank, he’s been my favorite player to stash as a potential league-winner. Get some shares before they’re gone.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Starter Backup to Know
Leonard Fournette Chris Ivory (12+)

Rookie Leonard Fournette is averaging 119 yards from scrimmage and leads the league in both rushing attempts (109) and rushing TDs (five, plus a receiving score). Chris Ivory was a nice player for the Jets in 2015 and has RB2 upside in the event of an injury to Fournette, but the eighth-year pro is waiver wire fodder for now.

Kansas City Chiefs

Starter Backup to Own
Kareem Hunt Charcandrick West (12+)

While certainly not a must-hold, Charcandrick West remains a worthwhile handcuff for Kareem Hunt owners with a bench spot to spare. West has averaged 14 PPR points in the 12 career games that he’s gotten double-digit carries, which would put him in mid-RB2 territory if called upon.

Los Angeles Chargers

Starter Backup to Know
Melvin Gordon Branden Oliver (12+)

Replacement-level backup

Los Angeles Rams

Starter Backup to Know
Todd Gurley Malcolm Brown (12+)

Replacement-level backup

Miami Dolphins

Starter Backup to Know
Jay Ajayi Kenyan Drake (12+)

Replacement-level backup

Minnesota Vikings

Starter Backup to Know
Jerick McKinnon Latavius Murray (12+)

Last week I cautioned that expectations for Latavius Murray should be kept in check, and his opportunity may very well have already came and gone. Although Murray started Week 5’s tilt, SPARQ legend Jerick McKinnon wound up taking over and never looked back, finishing with 95 yards and a TD on 16 carries while catching 6-of-6 targets for another 51 yards. Granted, most of his rushing production came on a 58-yard touchdown scamper on which he was untouched. But there is three-down potential here, particularly with McKinnon having drawn a pass target on 26 percent of his snaps in route with a 19-percent target share.

New England Patriots

Starter Backup to Own
James White (PPR) Mike Gillislee (standard)

Mike Gillislee led the Patriots’ backfield with 12 carries for 58 yards at Tampa Bay on Thursday night, but for the third straight game he offered little reward for fantasy owners. Gillislee is averaging 14 carries per game, although with zero catches on the season he is entirely touchdown-dependent as a low-ceiling RB2. Perhaps most notable was that Dion Lewis played a season-high 24.3 percent of the offensive snaps and turned nine touches into 63 yards. Still, James White continues to be the most useful member of this backfield for PPR leagues, as he ranks 23rd with 12.0 PPR points per game and is the RB28 in our staff’s Week 6 rankings.

New Orleans Saints

Starter Backup to Own
Mark Ingram Alvin Kamara (PPR)

Earlier this week I broke down the fantasy implications of the Adrian Peterson trade here.

New York Giants

Starter Backup to Know
Wayne Gallman Orleans Darkwa

The Giants’ backfield is still a frustrating committee, albeit now between Orleans Darkwa and rookie Wayne Gallman on early downs, with Shane Vereen the passing-down specialist. Whereas Paul Perkins faltered behind the Giants’ dreadful O-line (26th in PFF run-block grade) before sitting out Week 5 due to a rib injury, Darkwa drew the start and churned out 69 yards and a TD on eight carries before suffering a calf injury. Gallman has played 38 percent of the snaps over the last two weeks, rushing 22 times for 99 yards (4.5 YPC) while averaging 3.0 yards after contact. Gallman is the priority add ahead of Week 6 in case Darkwa is unable to go.

New York Jets

Starter Backup to Own
Bilal Powell Elijah McGuire

Bilal Powell left Sunday’s game with a strained calf and looks to be on the wrong side of questionable after missing Wednesday’s practice, while Matt Forte has been shelved since Week 3 with turf toe. That puts Elijah McGuire in line for a potentially heavy workload. The rookie out of UL Lafayette has gotten more carries each week and is averaging 5.2 yards on 34 totes for the season. On tap for the Jets this week is a Patriots defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. A big performance here might not necessarily earn McGuire the starting gig, but it would certainly complicate things for Powell’s fantasy owners.

Oakland Raiders

Starter Backup to Own
Marshawn Lynch Jalen Richard (12+)

We’ve yet to really see vintage “Beast Mode,” with Marshawn Lynch averaging only 11 carries per game and 3.4 YPC. However, 75 percent of his rushing yards have come after contact, as he ranks 14th out of 49 qualifiers in elusive rating. He’s also nearly doubled Jalen Richard in snaps, although Richard is averaging 5.3 yards on 24 carries after leading the league in elusive rating last season. Richard doesn’t have standalone value at the moment, but he’d be an intriguing pickup if something were to happen to Lynch.

Philadelphia Eagles

Starter Backup to Own
LeGarrette Blount Wendell Smallwood

Wendell Smallwood’s Week 5 absence may have allowed LeGarrette Blount to take the driver’s seat in the Eagles’ post-Darren Sproles backfield. Over the past two weeks, Blount has forced 14 missed tackles on 31 touches while averaging 6.3 yards after contact. His 284.5 elusive rating in that span is more than triple that of the next closest back, Melvin Gordon (91.0).

Pittsburgh Steelers

Starter Backup to Own
Le’Veon Bell James Conner

Le’Veon Bell leads the league with 316 snaps and has played one 16-game season in his four-year career. Rookie James Conner (4.6 YPC) would be a plug-and-play RB2 if Bell were to miss time for any reason.

San Francisco 49ers

Starter Backup to Own
Carlos Hyde Matt Breida

Uh oh. Undrafted rookie free agent Matt Breida (another SPARQ standout) has seen his snap share increase in each of the last three weeks, culminating in a season-high 48.6 percent this past weekend. On Sunday, he out-touched starter Carlos Hyde, who apparently was benched for two bad plays. Coach Kyle Shanahan added fuel to the fire this week by saying that Hyde will start, but after that he’ll ride the hot hand.

Like many of you, I struggle to make sense of the situation, considering Hyde entered Sunday’s game averaging a shade under five yards per carry. However, it bears mention that he also ranks dead-last out of 54 RBs in PFF grade, which incorporates running, receiving, blocking, and penalties. Sunday’s tilt with the Redskins will shed some light as to whether this is all just a motivational tactic, or a genuine message from the coaching staff. In any case, Breida should now be owned in just about all formats.

Seattle Seahawks

Starter Backup to Own
Eddie Lacy Thomas Rawls
C.J. Prosise (PPR)

Perhaps the most comforting thing about Seattle’s backfield is that the Seahawks have a bye this week, which means no headaches in trying to determine which RB to get behind. All things considered, it’s a backfield best to avoid given that Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls have “equal status” in the eyes of coach Pete Carroll. We saw how that played out in Week 5, with both backs failing to get much done on 10 carries apiece behind a shoddy offensive line. Oft-injured C.J. Prosise carries the most upside, but he has clearly fallen out of favor with the coaching staff due to his inability to stay healthy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Starter Backup to Know
Doug Martin Jacquizz Rodgers

Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims need not be on fantasy rosters. Doug Martin returned from suspension last Thursday night and looked awfully sharp, turning 13 carries into 74 yards (5.7 YPC) and a touchdown in a game that saw Tampa Bay throw it 74 percent of the time. Martin forced three missed tackles and averaged 3.2 yards after contact, plus he got the team’s only carry inside the five.

Tennessee Titans

Starter Backup to Own
DeMarco Murray Derrick Henry

Even with one of the league’s better offensive lines, not much good has come from this backfield tandem of late. DeMarco Murray is averaging a healthy 4.9 YPC but is outside the top-30 PPR RBs in fantasy points per game on the season. Derrick Henry has played roughly half the amount of snaps as Murray has, and he’s totaled only 16 yards on 10 rushes over the last two weeks. Murray played all but 10 snaps against Miami in Week 5 but was held below 70 yards without a touchdown. The Titans need Marcus Mariota back healthy in a bad way, but even then, there is limited upside when one back has averaged 11 carries per game and the other nine.

Washington Redskins

Starter Backup to Own
Robert Kelley Chris Thompson (PPR)
Samaje Perine (12+)

The Redskins are coming off a bye and facing a San Francisco defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing RBs. However, Rob Kelley remains banged up (ankle, ribs) and has been mostly ineffective outside of a 12-carry, 78-yard effort against the Rams in Week 2. Rookie Samaje Perine has so far failed to take advantage of the open door, averaging 2.9 yards on 40 carries during Weeks 2-3. And Chris Thompson has averaged only 8.5 touches as the passing-down back. Still, with bye weeks upon us, Perine (standard) and Thompson (PPR) are each worth a dart throw this week if Kelley doesn’t suit up.

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