Fantasy Football Rushing Report: Touches, schemes, matchups, more ahead of Week 8

2T329P3 Arizona Cardinals running back Emari Demercado (31) is taken down by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Riq Woolen during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Arizona Cardinals rookie Emari Demercado takes over the backfield: Just as fantasy football managers sent Demercado back to the bench, he takes over the backfield with 17 touches in Week 7.

Darrell Henderson starts for the Los Angeles Rams: While LA scrambled to find a replacement as its top two running backs headed to IR, the former Ram received the bulk of touches. Don’t be surprised if that usage shifts moving forward, however.

Indianapolis Colts continue to split carries between Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss: Week 7 marked the second consecutive week that Moss played 50% of the Colts' snaps despite Jonathan Taylor’s increasing workload.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Week 7 is officially in the books and fantasy football managers learned a lot in terms of dissecting the league’s most confusing running back rooms. Here are five running back takeaways from Week 7’s targets and touches report that could bear a significant impact on running back outlooks in Week 8 and beyond.

WR:CB Matchup Chart


Arizona Cardinals RB Emari Demercado breaks out from the bench

After receiving fewer carries than veterans Keaontay Ingram and Damien Williams in Week 6, Demercado finally had the breakout fantasy football managers were hoping for. It’s not totally unexpected, as he did lead the Cardinals’ running back room in offensive snaps and routes. Still, it didn’t translate to touches… until Week 7 rolled around. Things cleared up a bit further in this week’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks, with Ingram relegated to playing solely on special teams. Williams was the only other running back besides Demercado to play an offensive snap, 

Though Demercado’s day didn’t result in a huge fantasy performance, finishing as the overall RB23 on the week, he was one of just 18 running backs with 17 or more touches. That kind of usage is enough to put any running back in the flex conversation, even considering a couple of tough matchups against the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.


Rookie Chris Rodriguez Jr. gets involved in the Washington Commanders’ rotation

The Commanders have already had a confusing rotation at running back between veterans Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson. In Week 7, things got a little more complicated, as Rodriguez got in the mix with a career-high seven touches. Though seven touches may not seem like much in addition to the fact that Rodriguez played just 13% of Washington's offensive snaps, it does complicate what has already been a tumultuous backfield to date this season. 

While Robinson has functioned as the team’s primary back, leading the team with 85 carries on the season, Gibson has been on the field more often during passing plays with a 54% offensive snap share in such situations. If the Commanders continue to work in Rodriguez, a solid power back with a thick frame at 5-foot-11 and 224 pounds who profiles more as an early-down option, the waters could get even murkier for Robinson moving forward.


A.J. Dillon leads the Green Bay Packers backfield in Week 7

This was an odd week for the Packers, as they incurred their fourth loss of the year to the 2-5 Denver Broncos, whose defense is allowing a league-high 0.15 EPA per play. Ouch. Adding insult to injury for fantasy football managers, Dillon came out to lead the backfield despite Aaron Jones’ return from injury after the bye, playing 56% of Green Bay's offensive snaps to Jones’ 36%. He out-touched Jones 17-12 and ran four more routes on the day, even if it did only result in an overall finish as the RB21 on the week. 

Though fantasy managers may be second-guessing trusting Jones again in Week 8, it’s worth a reminder that though he was coming off rest in the bye week, it’s quite possible that the team limited his touches having come off a lingering hamstring injury. He’s missed three games this year with the injury and has yet to exceed 11 touches in a single game in 2023. Fantasy football managers may be in a position to capitalize on this low usage to acquire Jones in a trade, who could see an uptick in touches as he gets further removed from injury.


Darrell Henderson starts for the Los Angeles Rams

The Rams offense hit a couple of unfortunate speedbumps in Week 6, with ankle and knee injuries sending each of their top two running backs to injured reserve. In order to fill the backfield ahead of their Week 7 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Rams had to make several roster moves, including the signing and elevation of veterans Darrell Henderson and Royce Freeman to complement rookie Zach Evans. As it turns out, the Rams went with the veteran-heavy approach, as Evans played just four total snaps on the day, all of which with the special teams unit.

The Rams officially started Henderson, and he led the Rams backfield with 19 total touches, 58.1% of offensive snaps and 12 routes run. However, it’s worth noting that Freeman was far more efficient with his touches, averaging 5.5 yards per touch to Henderson’s 3.5. Despite totaling six fewer rushing attempts on the day, Freeman had more yards after contact, more missed forced tackles and more runs of 10 or more rushing yards. Though fantasy managers can safely assume Evans is out of the equation moving forward, don’t be surprised if usage trends in Freeman’s favor in the weeks to come.


There continues to be enough work to go around the Indianapolis Colts’ backfield for both Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss

Taylor unsurprisingly started in Week 7, marking his third game since returning from injured reserve to start the season. However, that didn’t force Moss out of action entirely. For the second consecutive week, Moss played 50% of Indianapolis' offensive snaps, totaling 19 touches for 62 scrimmage yards on the day, while Taylor enjoyed 21 touches of his own. 

Moss was less efficient, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, earning himself a 56.9 PFF rushing grade in comparison to Taylor’s at 68.1, but it’s the usage that fantasy managers will want to note moving forward. Moss remains involved as a receiver despite a drop in target share between Weeks 6 and 7, as he ran 10 routes on the day. Moving forward, continue to fire up Moss until the usage indicates otherwise. 

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