• Philadelphia Eagles clarify their running back depth chart: Philadelphia hinted in the preseason that Kenneth Gainwell was the team's starting running back, and the way the team used him in Week 1 backed that up.
• Nick Chubb’s touch total looks similar to previous years: His usage in Week 1, however, was actually a bit more significant in terms of overall opportunity.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Week 1 is officially in the books, with lots of surprises, particularly at the running back position where teams continue to move away from the workhorse in favor of a running back by committee approach. With this shift, we’ll need to pay closer attention than ever to weekly usage in order to maximize the scoring potential for our fantasy teams.
Here are 10 running back takeaways from Week 1’s targets and touches report that could bear a significant impact on running back outlooks in Week 2 and beyond.
Week 1 targets and touches
|NAME||TEAM||SNAPS||TOUCHES||TOUCH RATE||ATT||RSH YDS||YCO||YCO/ATT||ZONE ATT||ZONE YPC||MGP ATTS||MGP YPC||RTS||TGT||OPP RATE||REC||REC YDS||RZ TGT||2MIN TGT||PLOS TGTS|
|Tony Jones Jr.||Saints||7||1||14.3%||1||5||2||2.00||0||0.0||1||5.0||0||0||0.0%||0||0||0||0||0|
|Travis Etienne Jr.||Jaguars||55||23||41.8%||18||77||60||3.33||8||5.1||10||3.6||0||5||9.1%||5||27||0||0||2|
|Anthony McFarland Jr.||Steelers||5||2||40.0%||0||0||0||0.00||0||0.0||0||0.0||0||2||40.0%||2||11||2||1||1|
|Chris Rodriguez Jr.||Commanders||3||3||100.0%||3||7||6||2.00||2||2.5||0||0.0||0||0||0.0%||0||0||0||0||0|
|Kenneth Walker III||Seahawks||30||16||53.3%||12||64||44||3.67||7||5.3||3||7.0||0||4||13.3%||4||3||1||0||0|
Week 1 Takeaways
Chuba Hubbard’s usage is worth monitoring very, very closely.
Most of the hype in the Carolina Panthers‘ rushing “attack” has been centered around Miles Sanders, who signed a four-year, $25.4 million deal with the team in free agency. However, former fifth-round pick Chuba Hubbard stood out in Week 1. Hubbard’s 82.1 PFF rushing grade ranked second among all running backs on the week, with 11 touches for 69 yards on the week. Despite finishing with 10 fewer rushing attempts than Sanders, Hubbard recorded just 16 fewer rushing yards, outpacing him with 6.7 yards per carry, 4.8 yards after contact per attempt and a 44% missed forced tackle rate.
Upcoming matchups: vs. Saints, at Seahawks, vs. Vikings
Philadelphia Eagles seem committed to Kenneth Gainwell.
RB Rashaad Penny was one of the biggest surprise inactives of the week, starting the year as a healthy scratch. The Eagles elected to roll with three active running backs on game day, including Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott and D’Andre Swift. It was Gainwell, however, who led the team with 14 carries for an 87.5% market share on running back rush attempts in Week 1. Swift and Scott combined for just four total touches on the day.
Upcoming matchups: vs. Vikings, at Buccaneers vs. Commanders
Tennessee Titans RB Tyjae Spears saw usage in critical situations.
The drum has been beating loudly for Titans third-round rookie Tyjae Spears, and that drum only got louder in Week 1 after out-snapping Derrick Henry 33-28. Though his overall touch rate was significantly lower than Henry’s (60.7%) at 12.1%, his presence on the field in his first game as a pro makes him worth a speculative add.
Upcoming matchups: vs. Chargers, at Browns, vs. Bengals
Nick Chubb’s usage is up.
Throughout the offseason, the Browns have hyped Nick Chubb as a candidate to see increased usage in 2023, particularly via the passing game amidst Kareem Hunt‘s departure in free agency. So far in a limited sample size, that’s actually true. Chubb totaled 22 touches in Week 1, with a 63.9% overall touch rate and 11.1% target rate on snaps compared to his previous career averages at 51.8% and 6.2%, respectively.
Upcoming matchups: at Steelers, vs. Titans, vs. Ravens
Chicago Bears rookie Roschon Johnson sees opportunity as a receiver.
The Bears deployed a running back-by-committee approach in Week 1, with rookie Roschon Johnson and veterans Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman splitting snaps fairly throughout the course of the game. Though Herbert saw the highest touch rate (48%) on his 25 snaps, Johnson ranked top three among all running backs in Week 1 in target opportunity rate, earning targets on 26.9% of his 17 routes run.
Upcoming matchups: at Buccaneers, at Chiefs, vs. Broncos
There might be enough rushing opportunity on the Atlanta Falcons for both Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier to be productive in fantasy football.
Lost in the endless complaints about the lack of opportunity for WR Drake London (you know, that guy the Falcons drafted eighth overall in 2022 just to run him ragged on the Week 1 #AllCardio team) is the opportunity HC Arthur Smith did offer second-year RB Tyler Allgeier. Allgeier totaled 18 touches on the week, including three carries inside the five – two of which were converted to touchdowns. Bijan Robinson is certain to see an uptick in touches as the weeks go by, but so far, it looks as though we’re in for a similarly efficient and heavy rush attack to what the Falcons deployed in 2022, giving Allgeier some upside as a weekly flex play in fantasy football.
Upcoming matchups: vs. Packers, at Lions, at Jaguars
Once J.K. Dobbins (Achilles) left the game, the Baltimore Ravens deployed other RBs fairly evenly.
Unfortunately, Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins is out for the season after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 1, but the Ravens rushing attack is sure to continue moving forward as long as Lamar Jackson is in at quarterback. After Dobbins left the game in the third quarter, the Ravens deployed running backs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill fairly evenly, receiving nine and seven carries, respectively. It’s worth noting, however, that Hill just barely out-snapped Edwards, receiving each of the team’s carries inside the five-yard line to close out the day, converting each of those for a touchdown.
Edwards has endeared himself to the Ravens organization, a continual fixture in the run game even if he hasn’t been consistently featured. Expect him to remain involved moving forward, but Hill will likely continue to see heavy usage on third downs, with the potential for the headache of a running back by committee on the horizon.
Upcoming matchups: at Bengals, vs. Colts, at Browns
Los Angeles Rams RB Cam Akers led all running backs (min. 10 snaps) with an 84.6% touch rate… but that stat is deceiving.
It was a disastrous day for Rams RB Cam Akers, who totaled just 29 yards from scrimmage on 22 touches. Though he led all running backs in touch rate, it’s worth noting just how many of those touches came late in the game – 12 of them, in fact, in the fourth quarter as the team looked to put this game against the Seahawks. “Backup” Kyren Williams was heavily involved as well, seeing 15 carries himself (including two touchdowns), with 11 of those 15 touches coming in the first three quarters. Beware of Akers heading into Week 2, as it would take a miracle for this unit to get an early lead on the Niners.
Upcoming matchups: vs. 49ers, at Bengals, at Colts
Denver Broncos’ Javonte Williams heats up right out of the gate.
After suffering a complicated knee injury involving a torn ACL in Week 4 of the 2022 season, there was a lot of uncertainty as to how much Williams would be involved in the offense right out of the gate. The answer, as it turns out, is “quite often,” coming out of the gate with an immediate 60.7% touch rate, equal to that of Titans workhorse Derrick Henry. Don’t be surprised to see that usage continue to increase further throughout the season as Williams continues to ramp up in his return from the torn ACL.
Upcoming matchups: vs. Commanders, at Dolphins, at Bears
Brian Robinson dominated the Washington Commanders backfield across the board.
Given that Antonio Gibson was a converted wide receiver coming out of Memphis and had been productive as a receiver in 2022, there waas speculation that he’d be the back to roster in full PPR scoring formats. Last season, Robinson averaged just 1.0 target per game, but at least to start the season, there was a negligible difference in their usage in the receiving game, each having run 17 routes on the day, with Robinson receiving one more target than Gibson. Robinson’s overall touch rate on snaps stood at 52.6% for the week in comparison to Gibson’s 16.7% – meaning that when Robinson was on the field, he touched the ball more often than not.