Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football Rushing Report: Touches, schemes, matchups, more ahead of Week 12

2RHACRW Chicago Bears' Khalil Herbert heads to the end zone for a touchdown in an NFL preseason football game against the Tennessee Titans Saturday, August 12, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Chicago Bears turn back to Khalil Herbert in his return from injury: In his first game returning from an ankle injury, Herbert reassumed his role as the Chicago Bears’ RB1 despite recent success for D’Onta Foreman.

Buffalo Bills RB James Cook matches a career-high 17 carries in the team’s first game without former OC Ken Dorsey: Despite performing as one of the league’s most efficient running backs this season, Cook’s usage has been frustrating for fantasy managers. Could Week 11 mark the beginning of a consistent workhorse role for Cook moving forward?

Devin Singletary makes a case to hold onto the starting role as the Houston Texans starting running back: While second-year RB Dameon Pierce has made his way back from an ankle injury, veteran Devin Singletary has made a strong case to keep the starting job upon his return over the past two weeks.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Despite the fact that we are more than halfway through the 2023 NFL season, there is still plenty left to be learned about the league’s most confusing backfields. Yet still, week by week, we learn just a bit more to help our fantasy football teams. Here are five running back takeaways from Week 11’s targets and touches report that could bear a significant impact on running back outlooks in Week 12 and beyond.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Khalil Herbert resumes a workhorse role for the Chicago Bears in Week 11 return from injury

Chicago Bears running back Khalil Herbert returned from an ankle injury that forced him to miss the last five weeks on injured reserve. In his absence, veteran D’Onta Foreman performed admirably, with his 74.5 PFF rushing grade over Weeks 6-10 ranked 12th among running backs in that span (min. 25 carries). He averaged 4.3 yards per carry with a 19% missed forced tackle rate, which was made all the more impressive considering the absence of QB Justin Fields to help further open up running lanes.

In Herbert’s return to the lineup, he led the Bears running backs with 31 snaps and 18 touches for a team-high 58.1% touch rate. Though the bulk of his touches came on carries, totaling 16 on the day for just 35 total yards, he did also lead the Bears running backs room with 11 routes run. Foreman, meanwhile, fell back into irrelevancy, playing behind both Herbert and rookie Roschon Johnson in snap participation rate. Though none of the Bears running backs were particularly efficient in Week 11, Herbert’s heavy usage in his first game returning would seem to indicate Herbert is “the guy” moving forward unless the inefficiencies continue.

Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders see an equal number of touches for the Carolina Panthers

Things seemed to be clearing up for the Carolina Panthers backfield once HC Frank Reich named third-year running back Chuba Hubbard as the starter. However, over the past two weeks, the Panthers seem to be leaning back into 2023 offseason signing Miles Sanders in a way that could be concerning for any fantasy managers looking to start Hubbard approaching the fantasy playoffs. 

While Hubbard has led the Panthers with 23 touches in Weeks 10 and 11 to Sanders’ 16, he’s actually played just six more snaps than Sanders in that span. In Week 11 alone, Sanders led the team with 11 carries while handling all three of the team’s red zone rushing attempts. Beware of this split backfield approaching the most crucial matchups in your fantasy season given this very close split usage moving forward.

James Cook matches career-high 17 carries in first game without former OC Ken Dorsey

Second-year running back James Cook has been one of the most explosive running backs in the league this season, posting an 83.5 PFF rushing grade that ranks seventh among all running backs (min. 25 carries). Despite ranking 14th among running backs in total rush attempts, he’s tallied the fourth-most runs of 10 or more rushing yards, seventh-most yards after contact and the eighth-most first downs on rush attempts – a testament to just how great he’s been with the ball in his hands.

Despite all of that, there have still been some frustrating instances of usage, particularly involving 33-year-old teammate Latavius Murray, who has been the team’s go-to guy for carries inside the five-yard line. Perhaps fantasy managers can be encouraged, however, as after a benching in Week 10 due to a fumble to open up the game, Cook matched his career-high for carries in a single game in the team’s first outing since former OC Ken Dorsey was fired. It marked his fifth game of 100+ scrimmage yards in the 2023 season, averaging 5.0 yards per carry over the season as he continues to make a strong case to maintain a workhorse role.

Cook is an every-week start regardless of the consistency of his workload, but Dorsey’s firing could mark a favorable turn of events for his overall usage moving forward. The biggest hesitancy here is whether or not he’ll continue to take a backseat around the goal line.

Devin Singletary makes a case to hold onto the starting role as the Houston Texans starting running back

Houston Texans second-year RB Dameon Pierce has remained out for the past three weeks due to an ankle injury, paving the way for veteran Devin Singletary to take over the backfield. Each week, he’s continued to make the case that he should retain the role once Pierce makes his return, too, posting his second game of 100-plus rushing yards and a touchdown in as many weeks. He’s averaged just over 5.04 yards per attempt on 26 carries per game in that span for a 72.1 rushing grade that ranks 15th among running backs in that span (min. 10 carries). 

Pierce, meanwhile, was averaging just 3.0 yards per attempt as the starter this season, with a season-high 81 rushing yards back in Week 4 against the Steelers on 24 total carries. With a second strong performance from Singletary, fantasy managers are officially on notice that the team might continue riding the hot hand moving forward, even if/when Pierce is healthy.

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Jaylen Warren continues to dominate the backfield

There have been plenty of surprises from the Pittsburgh Steelers offense this season, but none of them have been more surprising than the breakout of former UDFA running back Jaylen Warren. Week 11 marked his third consecutive game with 100+ scrimmage yards and his second consecutive game with a rushing touchdown, and now, as the team moves on from offensive coordinator Matt Canada, there’s new hope that the Steelers offense in its entirety might just find its rhythm in the second half of the season. If they are to find it, rest assured Warren should be a big part of that to the delight of fantasy managers who bought into the underdog with a waiver wire add this season.

So far in 2023, Warren ranks second in the league with a 90.2 PFF rushing grade (min. 75 carries), leading that cohort with 6.2 yards per carry, 4.4 yards after contact per attempt and a 41% missed forced tackle rate. Despite that, the team continues to favor Harris in terms of total volume. Given that the run game has been the one thing working for this team, however, expect the team to continue feeding both Harris and Warren heavily during this time of transition. Both can be considered weekly flex plays, with Warren holding the edge in overall rankings due to his efficiency on limited touches this season.


Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit