NFL depth charts are always in a constant state of flux due to transactions, injuries, performance and, at times, questionable coaching decisions. The running back position, in particular, can be tough to stay on top of, as an overwhelming majority of offenses have replaced a single three-down back with committees of various shapes and sizes.
What follows is a breakdown of each team's backfield in order to better determine:
- Offenses featuring a single workhorse
- Fantasy-friendly committee backfields
- Situations fantasy football owners should avoid
- Teams that are most open for a rookie back to thrive in 2020
This isn't a full depth-chart listing, as I'm not concerned about running backs who make their living on special teams or guys only expected to see a touch or two per game. Rather, the goal here is to get an early idea of the league's various committee situations in an effort to see both undervalued situations as well as teams that could theoretically enable a highly productive rookie running back.
Each back’s Week 1 snap rate, carries and targets are listed in the below tables. Great day to be great.
Note the Cardinals built a 38-13 lead over the Titans by the end of the third quarter, so this was an absolute blowout. The disparity leaned more to Edmonds in the first three quarters in terms of snaps (35 vs. 23), carries (9 vs. 8) and targets (4 vs. 0). It’s clear Conner is the short-yardage back, as he played four of the backfield's six snaps inside the 10-yard line and took the only snap inside the five. Still, there should be enough pass-game work for Edmonds to continue to flirt with borderline RB2 production, as he played nine of the backfield's 13 third-down snaps and handled all three opportunities inside two minutes.
Ultimately, Kyler Murray is the engine of this offense, as neither Edmonds nor Conner are going to flirt with 20 touches often. Still, Edmonds’ command of the passing-down work makes him a solid upside RB3 in full point-per-reception (PPR) formats, particularly against a Vikings defense that allowed Joe Mixon to break a week-high eight tackles on purely rush attempts. Facing the league’s reigning sixth-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to the position, Edmonds should be in more starting lineups than not in Week 2. Conner remains more of a ‘flex with benefits’ talent as opposed to someone folks should be actively looking to start.
Shoutout to Patterson for making the most out of his opportunities, as he joins Lamar Jackson as the only player in the NFL with four rushes of 10-plus yards after one week of action.
Of course, fantasy football is a volume game, and it’s clear C-Patt is the No. 2 option in this backfield. Davis was one of only 11 backs to see 20 combined carries and targets, so the sort of workload investors were hoping for is already here. He only surpassed that opportunity mark twice in 2020 when he worked as the PPR RB12 on the season.
The problem with trusting Davis as a top-20 option at the position this week is the matchup. Most offenses have largely faded the idea of beating the Buccaneers up on the ground, as almost every one of the 12 running backs who have racked up double-digit carries against this defense over the past two regular seasons have disappointed:
- Dalvin Cook: 22 carries-102 rush yards-1 TD
- Christian McCaffrey: 18-59-2
- Latavius Murray: 15-48-0, 10-39-0
- Wayne Gallman: 12-44-1
- Alvin Kamara: 12-16-1
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 11-37-0
- Ezekiel Elliott: 11-33-0
- Josh Jacobs: 10-17-0
- Aaron Jones: 10-15-1
- David Montgomery: 10-29-1
- D’Andre Swift: 10-45-0
Davis caught a combined 12 passes for 86 yards in two matchups against the Buccaneers last year, so he’s capable of still supplying solid production with enough volume. Still, it makes sense to give the nod to someone else if your fantasy lineup is facing a tiebreaker involving the Falcons’ RB1.