Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football Rushing Report: Touches, schemes, matchups, more ahead of Week 15

2TC4E1K Cincinnati Bengals running back Chase Brown (30) rushes with the ball during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, in Cincinnati, OH. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

• The Baltimore Ravens backfield remains maddening for fantasy managers: Keaton Mitchell, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill’s three-man committee continues to limit the upside for fantasy football managers.

• The Seattle Seahawks shake up the usage of Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet: While rookie Charbonnet has dominated the receiving role in the Seahawks backfield as of late, Walker held that role in Week 14.

Cincinnati Bengals backup Chase Brown totals 10+ touches for the second straight week: There’s no doubt that the Bengals backfield belongs to veteran workhorse Joe Mixon, but rookie Chase Brown continues to trend up.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

There are officially just three weeks remaining in the 2023 regular season, and somehow questions remain with plenty of backfields within the league to keep our fantasy football teams on their toes through the playoffs. We’re here to help! Here are five running back takeaways from Week 14’s targets and touches report that could bear a significant impact on running back outlooks in Week 15 and beyond.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

The Baltimore Ravens backfield continues to be a hodge-podge

We’ve been trending the Baltimore Ravens backfield on a near-weekly basis on the rushing report, and every week, the results have looked just a bit different. Here’s what they handed us in Week 14’s win over the Los Angeles Rams:

Keaton Mitchell Gus Edwards Justice Hill
Snaps played 24 19 30
Rush attempts 9 6 0
Routes run 7 11 18
Red zone carries 1 0 0
PFF rushing grade 73.3 52.0 N/A

A brief translation: Justice Hill led the running backs room with 30 snaps, but it translated to just a single touch, reeling in one of two targets on the day for 12 yards, without a single rushing attempt on the day. Meanwhile, Mitchell led the team with nine rush attempts for 54 yards, averaging 6.0 yards per carry while seeing the lone red zone carry from the running back corps on the day. Despite his efficiency, Gus Edwards remained involved just enough to limit his upside. If you’re in a position to start one of these backs through the fantasy playoffs, it still seems as though Mitchell is the best bet for that start, leading this committee with a 41.7% touch rate despite Hill’s high snap participation rate in Week 14.

Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet split work for the Seattle Seahawks

There were some uncertainties about the overall health of the Seattle Seahawks backfield, as both Kenneth Walker (groin) and Zach Charbonnet (knee) entered their game against the San Francisco 49ers as questionable. To their delight, they did have both backs available in Week 14, but to the dismay of fantasy football managers, that meant they split their work fairly evenly. Despite playing 10 fewer snaps than Walker, Charbonnet led the team with nine rush attempts to Walker’s eight, averaging 4.9 yards per attempt on the day (Walker at 2.6) while also having the team’s lone red zone carry.

While splitting work in Week 14 wasn’t particularly surprising for this running back tandem, Walker’s heavier usage in the receiving game was surprising, commanding a season-high five targets and catching four of those for 33 yards on the day. That usage was particularly interesting given that Charbonnet has worked as the team’s primary receiving back in recent weeks. Week 14 marked the first time Walker had run more routes than Charbonnet in a game during which they were both active dating back to Week 6. 

The Seahawks will play host to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15, a matchup that has been more susceptible to giving up yards in the receiving game to opposing running backs than on the ground, which could set Walker up for a solid outing if his usage as a receiver continues.

Cincinnati Bengals RB Chase Brown sees 10-plus touches for the second consecutive week

While Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Chase Brown may not pose much of a threat to veteran Joe Mixon’s workhorse status, his usage over the past two weeks is worth noting – as is his efficiency. Brown notched his second consecutive game of 10 or more touches in Week 13, totaling 105 yards and a touchdown that earned him an 82.2 offensive grade to Mixon’s 74.1. Those efforts came on an outing where Brown played a season/career-high 30% of offensive snaps, an increase from the 15% he saw in Week 13. 

Brown’s emergence in the Bengals offense doesn’t mean much for the fantasy football playoffs. His primary role is to spell Mixon as a change-of-pace back. However, dynasty fantasy football managers may want to take notice, potentially witnessing the emergence of Brown as the team’s future starter. The 5-foot-9, 215-pound former fifth-round pick could be auditioning for a more significant role with the team next season, as Mixon will be entering his age-28 season in 2024, with the team able to save $5.75 million toward the cap next season if they move on via trade or release. Brown showed the ability to hold a workhorse role in his final season with Illinois, totaling 1,883 scrimmage yards and 13 touchdowns on 355 touches as the team’s certified bell cow.

Kansas City Chiefs RBs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon split snaps nearly evenly in the absence of Isiah Pacheco

Kansas City Chiefs starting running back Isiah Pacheco was ruled out in Week 14 due to a shoulder contusion, forcing former first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire and 31-year-old Jerick McKinnon to pick up the pieces. Though McKinnon was the better option for fantasy managers in Week 14 after managing a seven-yard rushing touchdown to save his day, 

Neither made a particularly big splash, as they split snaps almost exactly evenly in Pacheco’s absence (CEH with 30, McKinnon with 28). Notably, Edwards-Helaire did have a higher touch rate on those snaps at 43.3% after totaling 11 rush attempts on the day to McKinnon’s four while each saw four total targets. 

In short, it will be tough sledding for either of these backs to make their mark even without Pacheco in the lineup, if the splits we see continue. The Chiefs are set to play the New England Patriots In Week 15, allowing just 3.2 yards per rush attempt, 2.3 yards after contact per attempt and a 7.0% explosive run rate – all league-lows. This could put them in a position to lean more heavily on McKinnon should they be without Pacheco again, having deployed McKinnon as the exclusive third-down back, with four of his seven touches coming in such situations.

Las Vegas Raiders star running back Josh Jacobs goes down late with an injury

Las Vegas Raiders star running back Josh Jacobs departed Week 14’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings early after suffering a thigh injury in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it looks as though that injury could impact his availability for Week 15 as well, as Jacobs was listed as a non-participant on Monday’s estimated practice report ahead of their Thursday Night Football matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers

Fantasy managers didn’t have much opportunity to assess the Raiders backfield after Jacobs’ departure, unfortunately, as the offense executed just six plays after his departure – one of which resulted in an interception and another that ended the game with a botched attempt to advance the ball with laterals. However, analyzing that very small sample size, as well as the usage of their backups earlier this season, we can surmise that backup Zamir White will maintain a role as their primary early-down rusher, while Ameer Abdullah plays in third and fourth-down situations. 


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