Fantasy Football Rushing Report: Touches, schemes, matchups, more ahead of Week 10

2RHRYTH Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) warms up before the first half of an NFL preseason football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals, Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Falcons continue with questionable (and extremely frustrating) usage of rookie Bijan Robinson: Despite once again outsnapped teammate Tyler Allgeier, Robinson continues to miss out on valuable touches in the end zone.

Jonathan Taylor resumes his workhorse role for the Indianapolis Colts: Since Taylor’s return from injury in Week 5, backup Zack Moss has maintained a role in the offense, but that role was greatly diminished in Week 9.

Baltimore Ravens rookie Keaton Mitchell broke out in Week 9: After it seemed that fantasy managers had finally diagnosed the Ravens backfield, John Harbaugh and company shook things up with increased usage for Justice Hill and rookie Keaton Mitchell.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

For as many questions as we had regarding various backfields around the NFL heading into Week 9, we had several of them answered that could provide some valuable insights as we look to clinch a playoff. Here are five running back takeaways from Week 9’s targets and touches report that could bear a significant impact on running back outlooks in Week 10 and beyond.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Atlanta Falcons HC Arthur Smith still hates fantasy football managers

Remember the good old days, when life was simple and fantasy managers didn’t live and die on the mood swings of Falcons head coach Arthur Smith? Yeah… that was nice. Week 9 marked another bizarre week of usage for 2023’s No. 8 overall pick, running back Bijan Robinson, who incredibly is still competing for carries with second-year back Tyler Allgeier. The BYU product totaled 14 touches on the day, including (most painfully) four red zone carries, two of which came inside the five-yard line. Allgeier has now tallied 26 carries in the red zone and six inside the five-yard line this season, with Robinson having totaled nine and one such carries, respectively. 

Interestingly, you’ll note that Robinson did out-snap Allegeier yet again in Week 9 41-24, though his 31.7% touch rate was well below Allgeier’s (58.3%). That unfortunately continues to indicate that even if they are getting Robinson on the field more, it’s not translating to touches in a way that is impactful for fantasy managers. Smith’s comments after the game said as much, too, noting that “sometimes, [Robinson’s] impact away from the ball can open things up.” Regardless, as bad as frustrating as things are for Robinson’s fantasy managers, Allgeier is worthy of flex play consideration considering the team’s apparent preference to get him those very valuable red zone touches.

D’Onta Foreman sees 86% of the Chicago Bearsrunning back carries in Week 9

Week 9 marked rookie Roschon Johnson’s second week returning from a concussion that forced him out of action before the bye week, but once again, the  Bears continued to feed veteran D’Onta Foreman, making Johnson all-but irrelevant for fantasy managers. Foreman totaled 20 touches on the day, all of them rushing attempts, on which he totaled 83 yards. Johnson, meanwhile, earned just three total touches on 18 snaps for a 16.7% touch rate – the second-lowest for any running back with three or more touches on the week, making Johnson a prime drop candidate for anyone holding on, hoping for a workhorse role.

Just as we seem to have the backfield figured out, the Bears designated RB Khalil Herbert to return from injured reserve, officially opening up his 21-day practice window. Though that doesn’t make him a lock to play in Week 10, it does mean that the backfield is likely to see a shakeup whenever he does make his return. Through the first five weeks of the season, Herbert led the Bears backfield with 61 total touches and an 82.1 PFF rushing grade, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, 3.6 yards after contact per attempt, and a 31% missed forced tackle rate – all metrics in which he ranked top-12 among running backs with 25 carries in that span. As long as Herbert is out, consider Foreman a viable low-end RB2, but be vigilant for more potential shakeups in this backfield down the line.

Jonathan Taylor’s takeover in the Indianapolis Colts backfield looks to be complete

While Taylor continued his transition back from an injury that kept him on injured reserve through the first four weeks of the season, the Colts leaned on fourth-year contributor Zack Moss to manage some of the workload. In Week 9, however, the usage would indicate that the transition back to Taylor’s reign is over the backfield is officially complete. 

Moss played just 11 snaps on the day, which translated to just seven carries and his first game without a single target this season, while Taylor earned a season-high 23 touches, yielding 69 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.

Two pick-sixes from CB Kenny Moore may have set up the team to run a season-low 57 offensive plays, having averaged 66 per game to this point in the season, which could leave some room to get Moss more touches in the future. However, reading the cards, it’s clear that the script has officially flipped in this backfield, which will make Moss a high-risk flex play moving forward.

Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt both see significant volume for the Cleveland Browns in Week 9’s win

In Week 8, Ford was coming off an ankle injury, surprising many by playing behind Kareem Hunt. It turns out, however, another week out from the injury, Ford is still the guy the Browns would like to primarily lean on in Nick Chubb‘s absence. Ford led the running back room with 45 snaps on the day, totaling a season-high 25 touches that included two carries in the red zone – an area of the field he’s seen just two total carries all season long.

The way the Browns use Ford in the red and end zone is perplexing, to say the least, and it, unfortunately, limits some of his upside for fantasy managers. After all, at 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds, Ford comps pretty closely to Hunt and teammate Pierre Strong Jr. Regardless, even if Ford is losing a portion of those valuable touches to his teammates, his overall volume has him firmly in RB2 territory. Meanwhile, though Hunt totaled fewer touches than Ford in Week 9, he still saw 14 total rush attempts, and that volume paired with his usage in the red zone and inside the five this season makes him a viable weekly flex play.

The Baltimore Ravens mixed things up in Week 9, yielding a breakout game for Keaton Mitchell

Gus Edwards has been on an absolute tear for fantasy over the past three weeks, sitting as the overall RB1 for fantasy since Week 7, on the back of a whopping six rushing touchdowns in that span. Despite the success he’s had in that span, averaging 5.16 yards per carry (5th among RBs with 20 carries in that span)  and 3.39 yards after contact per rush attempt (8th), the Ravens clearly didn’t want fantasy managers to get too comfortable with some significant shakeups in the usage of their running backs in Week 9. 

Here’s a look at how they broke it down:

  • Justice Hill led the team with 48 snaps in Week 9 after totaling 13 rush attempts while failing to reel in his only target of the day despite leading the backfield by a decent margin with 27 routes run. That target came in the red zone, making it a particularly valuable one considering the proximity to the end zone. Six of those carries and 17 of those snaps came in the fourth quarter, as the team removed their starters 
  • Gus Edwards totaled just five rush attempts on the day, two of which came inside the five and were converted for a touchdown.
  • Rookie Keaton Mitchell played just 13 snaps on the day but touched the ball on just over 76% of them, running absolutely wild for 138 total yards (132 of them after contact) and a score. His 89% missed forced tackle rate led all running backs with five or more carries on the week.

By all appearances, it looks like this is a running back by committee, though his absence in the fourth quarter of the game with the backups would indicate that he’s still atop the depth chart by all accounts. Proceed cautiously with all involved, though Edwards should continue to hold the edge in fantasy production given his usage in the red zone. Given the way that the Ravens trounced the Seahawks from the second quarter onward, there’s some reason to believe Edwards’s anomalous usage was a product of the game situation, but this will be a backfield to continue monitoring closely moving forward.


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