Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football Rushing Report: Touches, schemes, matchups, more ahead of Week 16

2T9PM2P Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) carries against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

• The Baltimore Ravens lose their star rookie Keaton Mitchell to a season-ending injury: All signs point to veteran Gus Edwards over Justice Hill and Melvin Gordon to be “the guy” moving forward. 

• The Los Angeles Chargers explore the rest of their backfield in blowout loss: Veteran Austin Ekeler played a season-low 40% of snaps in the blowout loss, giving plenty of work to second-year back Isaiah Spiller.

Ty Chandler takes on a workhorse role for the Minnesota Vikings: While veteran Alexander Mattison was out with an ankle injury in Week 15, Chandler popped off for 157 yards and a touchdown, which may have just earned him a featured role in the offense moving forward.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Heading into the next round of your 2023 fantasy football playoffs, trending player usage is as important as it’s been all season to get you one step closer to the promised land of a fantasy football championship. Here’s a look at five of the biggest takeaways from Week 15’s targets and touches report pertaining to the running back position and how they might impact your fantasy football lineup decisions rest of the season.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

The Baltimore Ravens lose their star rookie running back for the season

Baltimore Ravens breakout rookie running back and UDFA Keaton Mitchell was having a breakout season. Unfortunately, that ended abruptly in Week 15 after suffering a season-ending knee injury. In the aftermath, the team announced they’d be promoting 30-year-old veteran Melvin Gordon from the practice squad, but the real answer – at least for fantasy managers – probably lies with Gus Edwards.

Since Week 9 (Mitchell’s initial breakout game), Edwards has led the running back corps with 44.3% of the team's rush attempts, including a 55.5% market share on red zone carries and 91.7% of rush attempts inside the five-yard line for a 48.5% touch rate on snaps. In that same span, Hill led the Ravens running backs in total snaps played while posting just a 19.7% touch rate, meaning that even though he was technically on the field, those snaps have meant little to fantasy managers. In Gordon’s last game active (Week 3), he totaled just four touches to Edwards’ 17, before reverting back to the practice squad until this very injury. Expect Ewards to be “the guy” moving forward.

The Los Angeles Chargers explore the rest of their backfield beyond Austin Ekeler

The Chargers incurred one of the most embarrassing losses we’ve seen in the entirety of the 2023 NFL season in Week 15 – getting dropped 63-21 by the Las Vegas Raiders of all units. It was a colossal failure on all fronts, resulting in the team firing both GM Tom Telesco and HC Brandon Staley the next morning. In that outing, veteran running back (and fantasy football superstar) Austin Ekeler played a season-low 40% of the team's offensive snaps, totaling just nine touches for 38 scrimmage yards in the outing.

The Chargers’ usage of the other running backs on their depth chart makes sense for several reasons. First of all, it seems pretty wise to not throw your 28-year-old running back into the lineup to rack up touches in a totally meaningless game. Second, it provides them an opportunity to scout the players on their roster entering a new era of the offense. Ekeler will hit free agency in the 2024 season at the age of 29 and showing signs of declining efficiency, making it very unlikely that the Chargers opt to sign him to another deal. Meanwhile, veteran Joshua Kelley is also set to hit free agency, making the evaluation of second-year running back Isaiah Spiller will be crucial to deciding draft and free agency needs. 

Spiller led the team with 16 rush attempts in Week 15, totaling just 50 rushing yards for a 3.1 yards-per-carry average. However, his 25% missed forced tackle rate, team-low 18.8% stuff rate and 2.6 yards per attempt were enough to earn him a 75.0 PFF rushing grade on the week. Given that the Chargers’ season is a lost cause, Spiller could find himself in for more work through the final three games of the year as LA evaluates their greatest needs heading into a new era.

The Washington Commanders lean on rookie RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. as their primary rusher in Week 15

The Washington Commanders were without starting running back Brian Robinson Jr. in Week 15 as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury suffered before their Week 14 bye. In his absence, they learned on a committee of veteran Antonio Gibson and sixth-round rookie Chris Rodriguez Jr.

Gibson led the team with 27 offensive snaps played followed by Rodriguez's 21 and Williams' 14, but Rodriguez led the cohort with 10 total touches on the day. All of those touches for Rodriguez came on the ground, as he didn't command a single target on the day while Gibson led the group with 18 routes run and five targets on the day. 

Should Robinson be out again in Week 16, fantasy managers may consider Rodriguez a potential flex play if in need of an emergency spot start due to other injuries. Given Gibson’s primary role as a receiving back and a Week 15 matchup against the New York Jets, who have faced a league-high 47.6% run-play percentage despite being a relatively stingy matchup in terms of efficiency, Rodriguez could find himself in line for some decent volume. Rodriguez has led the Commanders running back room this season with his 4.6 yards per attempt and 12.2% explosive play rate, which might help his cause against the Jets' rushing defense.

The Minnesota Vikings lean heavily on Ty Chandler while Alexander Mattison is injured

Minnesota Vikings starting running back Alexander Mattison missed Week 15 due to an ankle injury, and in his absence, backup Ty Chandler notched his first career start. Boy, was it a good one. In Alexander’s absence, Chandler saw 95.8% of the team’s rush attempts, totaling 132 rushing yards and a touchdown to earn a 77.1 rushing grade on the week. He added three receptions for another 25 yards through the air, marking his second game with 100 or more scrimmage yards this season despite a limited backup role.

Even if Mattison returns to the lineup in Week 16, it seems likely that fantasy managers can expect a solid workload from Chandler, particularly given HC Kevin O’Connell’s comments following the game. “Ty (Chandler) is absolutely a guy that is going to continue to see a feature role in our offense,” O'Connell said. They’ll get a challenging home matchup against the Lions in Week 16, but those in need of a potential volume play may consider Chandler a fairly risky, albeit solid option in the flex.

The Houston Texans revive Devin Singletary’s workhorse role

The Houston Texans backfield has been a maddening one for fantasy football managers this season, as the team has alternated, seemingly at random, between running backs Devin Singletary and Dameon Pierce at various times throughout the season. However, Week 15 may have eliminated any further questions regarding this backfield moving forward, as Singletary handled 93% of the running back carries, while Pierce and teammate Dare Ogunbowale saw just one rush attempt apiece. 

Singletary’s 27 rush attempts were good for 121 rushing yards and a PFF rushing grade of 85.3, which ranked fourth among running backs on the week, with three runs of 10-plus yards and a 19% missed forced tackle rate to boot. Helping fantasy managers further was his work as a receiver, nabbing four receptions for another 49 yards through the air, finishing as the overall RB7 on the week in full-PPR scoring formats despite failing to score a touchdown. 

The Texans will have a challenging matchup against the Cleveland Browns in Week 16, albeit at home, and hopefully with their starting quarterback healthy as he looks to make a return from a concussion that kept him out of the lineup last week. Even in a challenging matchup, the potential for 20-plus touches at the running back position places Singletary firmly in the “you probably can’t afford to sit him” territory rest of the 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