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Fantasy Football: Week 8 Snaps & Efficiency Report for all 32 NFL backfields

Seattle, Washington, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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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

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 undervalued situations and backs poised to ball the hell out.

Each back’s Week 7 snap rate, carries and targets are listed in the below tables. Great day to be great.

Related content for you: Fantasy Football Week 8: 5 to Waiver Wire Add, 5 to Drop, 5 to Buy Low, 5 to Sell High via Nathan Jahnke

Arizona Cardinals

Name Snap % Rushes Targets
Chase Edmonds 70% 15 2
James Conner 29% 10 0

Edmonds (shoulder) has been playing at less than 100% in recent weeks, which impacted his workload in Week 6, as he totaled just four snaps and zero touches in the second half of the Cardinals’ blowout win over the Browns.

Fortunately for Edmonds fantasy investors, his Week 7 usage was far more in line with what we saw during the first month of the season. The overall PPR RB19 and RB27 on a per-game basis, Edmonds has managed to consistently flirt with RB2 value this season despite standing out as the league’s single-most unlucky player in terms of total touches without a score. Overall, Edmonds has a league-high 95 touches without a touchdown — Miles Sanders (82) is the only other running back above even 50.

Fire up Edmonds as a low-end RB2 with confidence now that we know he’s healthy enough to handle his usual workload on the ground. The ceiling remains the roof if Conner ever misses time, but the NFL’s alpha vulture will also hold low-end RB2 value in games that are expected to feature an extremely positive game script. The Cardinals’ status as six-point home favorites for their Thursday night showdown against the Packers’ 28th-ranked defense in yards before contact per carry allowed certainly seems like a good spot to roll the dice on Conner.

Atlanta Falcons

Name Snap % Rushes Targets
Cordarrelle Patterson 73% 14 4
Mike Davis 60% 4 0

 Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage‘s return didn’t impact Patterson’s usage as a receiver, as he played a season-high 24 snaps in the slot or out wide in Week 7. Patterson is the NFL’s PPR RB8 and RB15 in expected points. EHis eventual touchdown regression won’t necessarily sink him past upside RB2 territory due to the Falcons going out of their way to feed him the ball. This week’s matchup against the Panthers’ league-best defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing backs isn’t ideal, but Patterson isn’t your grandfather’s typical running back, as his 20 targets in the slot or out wide are easily the most among all players at the position.

Patterson’s 73% snap rate in Week 7 marked the first time all season he cleared even 60% so fire up the Falcons’ do-it-all baller as an upside RB2 despite this week’s tough matchup. He should be started in fantasy leagues of all shapes and sizes.

Davis racked up at least 15 touches in each of his first five games, which is extremely concerning for his outlook moving forward. At this point, Davis isn’t someone who needs to be rostered in shallow leagues so don’t start him until there’s some level of evidence that his workload will more closely resemble what he had in Weeks 1-5 compared to last week.

Baltimore Ravens (have a Week 8 bye)

Name Snap % Rushes Targets
Devonta Freeman 39% 4 3
Le'Veon Bell 31% 5 2
Ty'Son Williams 30% 2 2

Latavius Murray (ankle) was out in Week 7. He’d likely return to the top of the depth chart if healthy enough to suit up in Week 8, but even then, it’ll be a weekly battle to reach even 10 touches. This might be enough to provide some RB3 goodness inside of the Ravens’ ninth-ranked scoring offense but just realize there isn’t enough volume here to foster anything resembling a consistent high-end fantasy producer. Life with a mobile quarterback under center is usually rough for running backs as it is, and the reality that the Ravens are throwing the ball far more often in 2021 compared to 2018-2020 has further limited this backfield's touch volume.

None of Freeman, Bell nor Williams need to be rostered through the bye. Freeman would continue to be the favorite to work as a touchdown-dependent RB3 if Murray remains sidelined.

Buffalo Bills (from Week 6)

Name % Carries Targets
Zack Moss 53% 8 4
Devin Singletary 47% 5 5

Moss was a healthy scratch in Week 1. Since then:

  • Snaps: Moss (178 snaps); Singletary (156)
  • Carries: Moss (54); Singletary (49)
  • Targets: Moss (14); Singletary (13)

This is as evenly split of a backfield as one will find. Moss’ stranglehold on the fantasy-friendly red zone work gives him the clear nod in terms of who to rank higher but just realize both backs' upside will remain limited as long as this timeshare persists.

It sure looks like Week 8 could be the Moss show, as the Dolphins have struggled to slow down just about everyone on the ground this season:

Overall, the Dolphins have allowed the sixth-most PPR points per game to opposing backfields this season. Fire up Moss as a borderline RB2 while Singletary remains more of a low-ceiling RB3 without more consistent red-zone work.

Carolina Panthers

Name Snap % Rushes Targets
Chuba Hubbard 55% 12 5
Royce Freeman 44% 3 1

Hubbard has racked up 15, 30, 19 and 17 combined carries and targets in four starts since Christian McCaffrey (hamstring, IR) was sidelined in Week 3. This usage truly puts Hubbard in some great company:

Yes, Hubbard has benefited from not having a bye during this stretch. Also yes, efficiency could be a bit easier to come by this week against the league’s ninth-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing backs. The Falcons join the Chiefs, Vikings and Chargers as the only defenses allowing at least 1.8 yards before contact per carry.

Fire up Hubbard as a volume-based RB2 who should be in far more starting lineups than not while Freeman isn’t anything more than a handcuff who will be completely irrelevant the second CMC is back.

Chicago Bears

Name Snap % Rushes Targets
Khalil Herbert 78% 18 5
Damien Williams 15% 3 1

Williams was activated off the COVID list last Saturday, and there’s a chance his lack of usage was due to conditioning concerns.

Still, Herbert has earned more touches at this point. The rookie was awfully impressive on his way to converting 23 touches into 133-scoreless yards against the Buccaneers’ world-beating front-seven. It’s tough to find a metric that paints Herbert as anything other than a fantastic real-life talent:

  • PFF rushing grade: 84.0 (No. 4 among 46 backs with 50-plus carries)
  • Yards per carry: 4.8 (No. 10)
  • Yards after contact per rush: 3.3 (No. 11)
  • Missed tackles forced per carry: 0.21 (tied for No. 12)

Herbert has also caught seven of eight targets for 48 yards, as he’s provided three-down goodness despite operating inside of the league’s 30th-ranked scoring offense.

Keep an eye on David Montgomery (knee, IR) and Tarik Cohen (knee, PUP), but fire up Herbert as a legit borderline RB1 for however long both remain out of the picture. This sort of high-end usage is incredibly tough to come by in fantasy land, and it makes Herbert more capable of overcoming bad matchups than most.

Unfortunately, Williams isn’t more than a desperate flex play until the Bears decide to feature him alongside Herbert as opposed to behind him. Don’t feel like you have to keep Williams on the fantasy squad at this point. It sucks when a high-FAB talent busts like this, but becoming a victim of the sunk cost fallacy won’t help matters.

Cincinnati Bengals

Name Snap % Rushes Targets
Joe Mixon 54% 12 0
Samaje Perine 48% 11 1

The Bengals put forward the following usage during the first three quarters of their blowout win over the Ravens:

  • Snaps: Mixon 29; Perine 20
  • Rush attempts: Mixon 8; Perine 2
  • Targets: Mixon 0; Perine 1

Note that Chris Evans was bothered by a hamstring injury last week and didn’t play a snap on offense, but he might be the passing-down back of the group when healthy. 

Don’t confuse Perine’s garbage time work as a sign that he’s carved out anything resembling standalone value, although his enhanced passing-down usage is concerning for Mixon’s ceiling. Overall, Mixon only out-snapped Perine as a receiver 15 to 12 during the first 45 minutes of Week 7, as the latter back played all but one of the Bengals’ 11 third-down snaps overall.

Mixon is cemented as the lead back inside of the NFL’s seventh-highest scoring offense, so he’s an every-week RB1 even without the benefit of a major pass-down role. Still, the lack of consistent targets could lead to far more variance than usual, leaving Mixon closer to Jonathan Taylor and Antonio Gibson in terms of pure workload as opposed to Najee Harris and Alvin Kamara.

The Bengals are 10.5-point favorites against the Jets’ league-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to running backs. Don’t bench Mixon, even if there’s a fire, but more depressed passing-down usage could lead to a nice sell-high opportunity afterward.

Cleveland Browns

Name Snap % Rushes Targets
D'Ernest Johnson 69% 22 2
Demetric Felton 31% 2 3

Josina Anderson reported that Nick Chubb (calf) is expected to return this Sunday barring any setbacks in practice this week.

The last time Chubb worked as the Browns’ undisputed lead back was during the first eight games of 2019 with Hunt suspended. All he did was function as the PPR RB6 while averaging 22.5 touches per game. Three-down ability has never been the problem for Chubb, as Hunt is just good enough in his own right to warrant a split backfield

Of course, it’s not a given that Chubb gets a true workhorse role, as it’d make sense if he more or less resumes his usual gig with Johnson subbing in for Hunt. The AAF HOF talent was nothing short of spectacular against the Broncos last Thursday night, as Johnson's 90.5 PFF rushing grade is tied for the position’s highest single-game mark this season.

The Steelers rank 24th and 17th in rushing yards before and after contact allowed per carry, so this isn’t a matchup to overly fear. Obviously, get back to treating Chubb as the every-week RB1 that he’s been for most of his career, but Johnson is better approached as a FLEX option as opposed to someone who needs to be in starting lineups.

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