NFL depth charts are always in a constant state of flux due to transactions, injuries, performance and at-times questionable coaching decisions. The RB 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 ahead of Week 13 in order to better determine:
- Offenses that are featuring a single workhorse
- Fantasy-friendly committee backfields
- Situations that fantasy football owners should avoid
This isn't a full depth chart listing; I'm not concerned about special teams RBs or guys who will be lucky to play more than an offensive snap or two come game time. Rather, the goal here is to get an early idea of the league's various committee situations in an effort to see undervalued backfields. We’ll also take a quick look at Week 13 matchups.
Each back’s Week 12 snap rate, carries and targets are listed next to his name in parenthesis. Every team’s RB1 is simply whoever played the most snaps the previous week. Note that the snap rates denote total snaps, so teams with a dual-threat RB/WR like Austin Ekeler or Tarik Cohen will have a total percentage higher than 100% since those backs typically spend a solid chunk of time lined up in the slot or out wide.
Notes: Things were split pretty much straight down the middle with Drake back in action during Weeks 10 and 11, but his two-TD performance in Week 12 reflected the reality that he remains this offense’s clear-cut lead RB when healthy.
The problem: Aaron Donald and company are up next. The Rams are the league’s sixth-ranked defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to opposing RBs. Ezekiel Elliott (22-96-1) and Miles Sanders (20-95-1) turned in solid enough performances in Weeks 1-2, respectively, but the Rams haven’t allowed an opposing RB to clear 50 rushing yards with a score on the ground since.
Drake has as many targets over the past two weeks (10) as he did in Weeks 1-7 combined. We’ve also seen him get plenty of fantasy-friendly goal line carries in recent weeks. Kyler Murray might be running less due to a banged-up shoulder; fire up Drake as a rock-solid RB2 despite this week’s tough matchup. Somehow, he’s the PPR RB14 on the season.
Edmonds has 11, six and 10 touches in his last three games with Drake back in action. He’s a low-ceiling flex as long as Drake is active but remains one of the position’s best handcuff options despite his underwhelming Week 9 performance as the starter.
Notes: Todd Gurley (knee) was sidelined, leading to a split multi-back committee. Tony Brooks-James also had three carries in garbage time, but it was mainly Hill and Smith getting the majority of the work.
Clearly this is more of a two-back situation; neither Hill nor Smith should be expected to clear 15 touches per game with any level of confidence. Up next is a Saints defense that has allowed a total of 28 points over their past four games. Nobody has been tougher on opposing RBs in terms of PPR points per game allowed to the position.
Neither Hill nor Smith are recommended starts this week; treat them as low-ceiling RB3 options at best. Gurley would be a lower-end and (as always) TD-dependent RB2 if active for this tough draw.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (from Week 11)
- RB1: J.K. Dobbins (63% snaps, 15 carries, 2 targets)
- RB2: Gus Edwards (21%, 3, 0)
- RB3: Justice Hill (11%, 0, 0)
- RB4: Mark Ingram (8%, 2, 0)
Notes: The one certainty that we’ve gained from this Ravens backfield all season is that there is no certainty. When you take away Lamar Jackson from the equation you’re left with even less fantasy-friendly volume than before due to the newfound lack of scoring upside. Dobbins will remain the preferred option; just realize this backfield involved at least three RBs most weeks up to and including Week 11 when the rookie garnered 63% of the snaps and handled 75% of the carries.
Notes: Both Moss and Singletary impressed with their ability to rack up chunks on the ground in Week 12, although it was ultimately another game with limited touches for both. Moss has been active for eight games this season; neither he nor Singletary have had more than 15 touches even once together.
Buffalo remains one of the league’s least fantasy-friendly backfields. This is because Josh Allen is a saint and doesn’t waste his time 1) checking the ball down, or 2) giving the ball to someone else so they can score near the goal line. Overall, the Bills’ QB1 has only checked the ball down on 3% of his dropbacks, while only Cam Newton (7) and Alvin Kamara (7) have scored more rushing TDs inside the 5-yard line than Allen (6).
As a whole, Bills RBs rank 31st in carries and 23rd in targets. Perhaps we could get behind one back if they dominated usage in this sort of offense, but with two, and in this economy, it’s impossible to trust either Moss or Singletary as anything more than TD-dependent RB3s. Even an injury to one would likely result in a similar two-back committee with T.J. Yeldon. Don’t expect the 49ers to shut down Josh Allen and company, but there simply isn’t enough volume here to fire up either RB as a top-24 option at the position.
- RB1: Mike Davis (58% snaps, 15 carries, 4 targets)
- RB2: Rodney Smith (23%, 7, 1)
- RB3: Trenton Cannon (14%, 3, 1)
Notes: The 19 opportunities are great, but Davis’ stranglehold on featured back duties hasn’t been quite as tight in recent weeks. He’s still clearly the RB1 with Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) sidelined; the Panthers just aren’t giving their backup a true three-down role anymore.
Davis probably deserves it; he’s been putting defenders into a blender all season. Overall, only Dalvin Cook (56), Davis (55) and Derrick Henry (50) have forced at least 50 missed tackles this season. Nobody has a better rate of forced missed tackles per touch than Davis (0.31) among 37 backs with at least 100 touches.
This newfound lack of a workhorse role will render Davis as more of an upside RB2 as opposed to a locked-in RB1 if McCaffrey remains sidelined following the Panthers’ Week 13 bye. Obviously CMC will be a top-three option at the position the second he’s healthy enough to suit up.
Notes: The Bears have happily handed Montgomery a true three-down role with Tarik Cohen (knee, IR) sidelined:
- Week 4: 10-27-0 rushing, 3-30-0 receiving, 85% snaps, PPR RB27
- Week 5: 10-29-1 rushing, 7-30-0 receiving, 81% snaps, PPR RB13
- Week 6: 19-58-0 rushing, 4-39-0 receiving, 85% snaps, PPR RB14
- Week 7: 14-48-0 rushing, 5-21-0 receiving, 83% snaps, PPR RB24
- Week 8: 21-89-0 rushing, 2-16-0 receiving, 88% snaps, PPR RB19
- Week 12: 11-103-0 rushing, 5-40-1 receiving, 86% snaps, PPR RB6
Montgomery’s latest performance was aided by a career-long 57 yard rush as well as a garbage time TD catch. Guess what? These sort of things happen when you play nearly every snap and function as the engine of an offense, regardless of how bad that offense might be.
Up next is another more than winnable spot against the Lions’ league-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing RBs. Montgomery deserves to be a borderline RB1 in this smash spot. Give the man some credit: Only Mike Davis (0.31) and Nick Chubb (0.26) have forced missed tackles at a higher rate than Montgomery (0.25) among 37 RBs with at least 100 touches this season.
An injury to Montgomery would lead to a muddled multi-back committee with Patterson seeing most of the work, but not enough to garner even RB2 consideration.
- RB1: Giovani Bernard (74% snaps, 8 carries, 3 targets)
- RB2: Samaje Perine (17%, 0, 1)
- RB3: Trayveon Williams (11%, 1, 1)
Notes: I can’t stress enough how awful the Bengals were in Week 12. Sure, a kick return for a TD and late-game punt return to midfield somehow gave Brandon Allen and company a chance to win it at the end, but this certainly looked like the league’s single-worst offense without Joe Burrow under center. Gio’s snaps have fluctuated a bit in recent weeks; I wouldn’t say he has this offense’s three-down role locked up through December by any means. The snaps remain at an elite level, but I can’t rank Bernard as more than a low-ceiling RB3 in this current state of the Bengals offense.
Notes: Chubb has ripped off 22-124-2, 19-108-2, 19-126-1, 20-114-0 and 19-144-1 rushing lines in his past five fully healthy games. Madness. The third-year back has a real case as the league’s single-best rusher since entering the league in 2018:
- PFF rushing grade: 92.1 (No. 1 among 46 backs with 200-plus carries)
- Yards per carry: 5.3 (No. 2)
- Yards after contact per carry: 4.1 (No. 1)
- Missed forced tackles on carries: 141 (No. 2)
- Missed forced tackles per carry: 0.23 (No. 3)
Of course, Hunt isn’t too far behind in any of those metrics, and he remains a top-10 real-life back in his own right. This offense treats Chubb as the 1.A and Hunt as the 1.B more weeks than not, but there’s generally been enough production and efficiency from both backs for each to continue to warrant top-15 treatment. This is particularly true in Week 13 against the Titans’ 25th-ranked defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to opposing RBs.
Notes: Elliott has lost four fumbles on rush attempts this season. All 31 other NFL teams have three or fewer total fumbles on rush attempts. It’s a rather startling issue that needs to be corrected, but here we are in Week 13 and it sure doesn’t look like a breakthrough is on the way anytime soon.
The real concern for Zeke’s fantasy value has been a lack of pass-game usage. He caught at least six passes on four separate occasions during Weeks 1-6, but has totaled seven receptions in Weeks 7-12 combined.
This Cowboys offense has cleared 20 points *once* without Dak Prescott under center after going for 30-plus points in four of their first five games of the season. Sigh. Zeke is a volume-based RB2 in Week 13 against the Ravens. This isn’t the most brutal matchup in the world, but it’s fair to wonder if the Cowboys are capable of controlling the line of scrimmage against anybody with Zack Martin (calf) sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Pollard continues to largely make the most out of his opportunities; just don’t expect much in the form of consistent touches. He remains nothing more than a higher-end handcuff, but even then I can’t overstate just how much lower the ceiling for everybody involved in this offense is without Dak involved.
- RB1: Melvin Gordon (81% snaps, 12 carries, 0 targets)
- RB2: Phillip Lindsay (33%, 9, 0)
- RB3: Royce Freeman (30%, 8, 0)
Notes: We’re better off forgetting the Broncos’ Week 12 atrocity ever happened. As a wise man (probably) once said: Throw out touches and snaps when you have a practice squad WR who played QB for a second at Wake Forest a few years ago under center.
The bigger takeaway from Week 12 is that Lindsay (knee) could miss some time moving forward. The Broncos have utilized a two-back committee featuring Gordon and Lindsay for most of the season with both healthy, but we’ve seen them hand the former back a true three-down role when the latter has been sidelined:
- Week 2: 19-70-0 rushing, 2-14-1 receiving, 79% snaps
- Week 3: 8-26-0 rushing, 4-12-0 receiving, 62% snaps
- Week 4: 23-107-2 rushing, 2-11-0 receiving, 80% snaps
Note that Week 3’s middling numbers occurred during an 18-point blowout loss. This is obviously a potential reality against the Chiefs in Week 13; the larger point is that Freeman simply isn’t worthy of fantasy consideration as the clear No. 2 back when Linsday is sidelined.
Gordon is a top-24 option at the position this week thanks to volume alone. This Broncos offense hasn’t been confused for good all season; just realize it’s tough to find RBs these days projected to surpass 15 combined carries and targets with ease.
- RB1: Kerryon Johnson (47% snaps, 11 carries, 4 targets)
- RB2: Adrian Peterson (26%, 15, 0)
- RB3: Jonathan Williams (26%, 1, 4)
Notes: Swift (concussion) remains sidelined. He’s a legit top-12 option at the position if the rookie manages to clear the concussion protocol by Sunday.
The Lions decided to free D'Andre Swift in Week 10 and it was awesome pic.twitter.com/ywwCngpAyV
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) November 16, 2020
Johnson continues to see the majority of snaps in Swift’s absence, but this could also be due to the Lions experiencing plenty of negative game script over the past two weeks. Peterson continues to lead the way in rush attempts and is the favorite to find the end zone on the rare occasions that the Lions manage to march deep into their opponent’s territory.
The Bears boast plenty of talent in their front-seven, but the Packers proved last week that this is hardly an impenetrable defense at the moment. Swift is an upside RB1 if active, Peterson a TD-dependent RB3 and Johnson a low-ceiling RB4.
Notes: This has been a split backfield when both backs have been healthy for the better part of the last four seasons. Williams isn’t awful by any means, but Jones’ status as one of the league’s best talents at the position has made his middling usage annoying for fantasy managers to deal with.
- PFF rush grade: 90 (No. 5 among 50 players with 300-plus carries 2017-2020)
- Missed tackles forced per attempt: 0.18 (tied for No. 14)
- Yards per carry: 5.0 (tied for No. 4)
- Yards after contact per attempt: 3.1 (tied for No. 12)
Ultimately, Jones has at least 14 combined carries and targets in every game this season; the Packers usually find a way to get their stud RB the ball plenty of times despite the relatively mundane snap share. Continue to fire him up as a top-eight fantasy option in this week’s matchup against the Eagles’ 24th-ranked defense in rushing yards before contact allowed per attempt.
Williams is basically like Chase Edmonds: fantastic handcuff that is a TD-dependent RB3 at best while their team’s starter is healthy. He usually struggles to reach double-digit touches in games that the Packers don’t completely blow out their opposition. This is certainly on the table in Week 13 against the Eagles; just realize Jones and Davante Adams are the top-two priorities of this offense week in and week out.
Notes: The artist known as Randy Johnson found the end zone in Week 12 courtesy of a b-e-a-utiful sluggo while lined up as a true WR. We also saw Duke contribute to Will Fuller’s final score of the season by prolonging a flea flicker to a wild extent in order to free up the Texans’ suspended No. 1 receiver.
Is Johnson among the league’s top-30 RBs that teams should actively look to feed 20-plus touches? Probably. Is he among the top-15 backs? Probably not. Still, there’s no debate that Johnson is a great real-life football player who doesn’t get enough credit for his contributions to this offense over the past two seasons.
Duke Johnson is good at football and I'm down to fight anyone that says otherwise pic.twitter.com/g8Sxh6Yiwp
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 1, 2020
David Johnson (concussion, IR) is eligible to return this week. He’d be a volume-based RB2 if active despite the tough matchup against the Colts’ beastly front-seven, although it’s less of a concern if DeForest Buckner (covid, IR) remains sidelined. The same is true for for Duke; volume is king in fantasy football, and the Texans have proven willing to hand either Johnson a low-end RB2-level workload throughout the season.
Notes: The Colts trailed by three scores at halftime of their Week 12 loss to the Titans, so we shouldn’t necessarily expect this snap distribution to carry over into future weeks. Still, Hines has now gotten the start in back-to-back games and continues to look like the best option. Philip Rivers is comfortable throwing to any of the Colts RBs; both Hines and Wilkins are top-30 options for as long as Jonathan Taylor (covid) remains sidelined thanks to the reality that this backfield has shrunk from three to two backs.
Keep an eye on whether or not the Colts decide to add a third member to this committee if Taylor remains sidelined; they had Marlon Mack splitting early-down work with Jonathan Williams even after Wilkins was injured last season. The matchup this week couldn’t be better against the league’s fourth-worst defense in yards before contact allowed per attempt; fire up Hines as a high-floor RB2, and Wilkins as a TD-dependent RB3.
Notes: Robinson continues to flirt with 20-plus touches on a weekly basis regardless of who is under center. He’s truly been one of the most-fed backs in the league all season:
- Derrick Henry (270 touches)
- Dalvin Cook (248)
- Josh Jacobs (233)
- Robinson (230)
- Ezekiel Elliott (220)
Mike Glennon exceeded expectations in his first start. At a minimum, all three of the Jaguars QBs are capable of at least helping this offense look like a below-average unit more weeks than not. This will work for RB1son, who is the RB6 in PPR points per game this season. Fire him up as the top-10 option he’s been all season long, even inside an offense implied to score a pedestrian 21 points in Minnesota (FantasyLabs).
- RB1: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (60% snaps, 11 carries, 1 target)
- RB2: Le’Veon Bell (32%, 5, 2)
- RB3: Darrel Williams (8%, 0, 0)
Notes: The Chiefs have played five games with Bell. Their RBs have posted the following usage:
- Edwards-Helaire: 165 snaps, 44 carries, 15 targets
- Bell: 94 snaps, 28 carries, 7 targets
- Williams: 49 snaps, 3 carries, 5 targets
- Darwin Thompson: 7 snaps, 4 carries, 1 target
CEH remains the RB1 in this offense, although he needs to be treated as more of a lower-end RB2 inside of this pass-happy offense. There’s always multi-score upside on the table, but Bell’s involvement is enough to unseat Edwards-Helaire as a realistic top-15 option at the position.
Unfortunately, we’ve continued to see Williams steal two-minute snaps from CEH and Bell alike. The latter back could flirt with TD-dependent RB3 status with a more featured pass-game role, but that just hasn’t consistently been the case over the last month. Don’t expect the Broncos to put up too much of a fight against this juggernaut offense; there’s just not enough volume for the Chiefs’ No. 1 RB to be considered a true high-end fantasy asset these days.
Notes: Jacobs (ankle) reportedly has a chance to suit up this week, but it sounds like this could be an injury that results in a game or two of missed action.
Still, this *should* be Booker’s backfield for the time being. He’s assumed the 2019 DeAndre Washington role in this offense as the lead early-down backup behind Jacobs. This role produced some fantastic usage down the stretch last season during three spot starts:
- Week 14: 14-53-1 rushing, 6-43-0 receiving, 63% snaps
- Week 16: 23-85-1 rushing, 2-21-0 receiving, 63% snaps
- Week 17: 17-77-0 rushing, 8-55-0 receiving, 74% snaps
Booker can be fired up as a legit top-15 option at the position in a matchup that implies the Raiders will score 27.25 points — the sixth-highest mark of the week. Check out the Tuesday edition of the PFF Fantasy Football Podcast for my thoughts on Booker and the rest of the week’s waiver wire targets.
- RB1: Austin Ekeler (73% snaps, 14 carries, 14 targets)
- RB2: Joshua Kelley (22%, 7, 0)
- RB3: Troymaine Pope (8%, 1, 1)
Notes: Ekeler is back and life is good. Fourteen targets! 14! We’re looking at a best-case scenario role inside of a more than solid offense with essentially zero competition for fantasy-friendly targets. Last season’s PPR RB4 shouldn’t be taken out of the RB1 slot in your fantasy lineup for the rest of the season, regardless of the matchup. Ekeler is my RB3 on the week behind only Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry. That’s it. That’s the blurb.
- RB1: Malcolm Brown (41% snaps, 3 carries, 2 targets)
- RB2: Darrell Henderson (33%, 10, 1)
- RB3: Cam Akers (26%, 9, 0)
Notes: Yes, Akers ripped off an electric 63-yard run and was the only reason why the Rams offense scored a TD in Week 12. Also yes, the rookie had a similarly-terrific long run in Week 5 against the Football Team that prompted coach Sean McVay to say he would get more work moving forward. Reminder: Akers didn’t receive a touch and played four total snaps in the two following games.
Akers has been consistently involved since the Rams’ Week 9 bye, but he 1) hasn’t had more than 10 touches in a game since Week 1, 2) continues to be the No. 3 RB in terms of snaps, 3) hasn’t been trusted with any serious pass-game work all season long. An injury to either Henderson or Brown would elevate Akers to borderline RB2 status; until then he’s a low-ceiling RB3 in an offense that has stayed committed to keeping all three backs involved throughout the year.
Henderson hasn’t looked the same since injuring his quad, while Brown is basically the offense’s pass-down and short-yardage back. This is a messy committee and it’s been this way all season; don’t play any of these backs against the Cardinals in Week 13 if you can help it. Yes, the Cardinals don’t exactly boast the league’s most-fearful run defense. Also yes, we haven’t seen a Rams RB get even 12 touches in a game since before their bye.
- RB1: DeAndre Washington (47% snaps, 13 carries, 4 targets)
- RB2: Matt Breida (34%, 8, 2)
- RB3: Patrick Laird (15%, 1, 0)
Notes: Breida got the start last week, but Washington would go on to dominate snaps and touches alike from the second quarter on. If everything remains the same, Washington is a solid borderline RB2 option in a matchup against the Bengals that should yield plenty of positive game script. However, the return of either Myles Gaskin (knee, IR) or Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) could relegate Washington back to the bench in a hurry.
We simply need to wait and see how this situation plays out. Gaskin had the team’s early-down, pass-down and goal-line role in prior to getting injured, while Ahmed was the trusted RB1 before he was sidelined. The return of either would render Washington as a non-viable fantasy asset, but we should also probably wait a week to start either Gaskin or Ahmed with any level of confidence in their first game back.
Ultimately, I expect Gaskin to regain his three-down role once he’s 100 percent; it’s just tough to say when exactly that will be. Try to avoid this backfield if you can help it for at least another week.
Notes: Cook suffered a brief injury scare in Week 12, but he’s good to go and is expected to handle his usual workload this week against the league’s fifth-worst defense in PPR points allowed per game. You don’t need me to tell you to fire up Cook as the top-ranked player at his position against the Jaguars; he’s averaging a position-high 25.2 PPR points per game this season (minimum five games) and leads the league in broken tackles with 55. Kings stay kings; Cook is Week 13’s undisputed RB1 in fantasy leagues of all shapes and sizes.
Mattison remains the preferred handcuff in this backfield, although he’d be ranked as more of an upside RB2 than locked-in RB1 if Cook misses time due to the reality that Abdullah would steal some pass-down work.
- RB1: Damien Harris (68% snaps, 14 carries, 0 targets)
- RB2: James White (37%, 5, 1)
- RB3: Sony Michel (2%, 0, 0)
Notes: Rejoice: The Patriots are seemingly content to utilize just two RBs. Three- and four-back committees are tough pills for fantasy football managers to swallow unless each back’s role is really well defined. Trying to figure out this New England committee has been a headache for the better part of the last two decades; perhaps things will stay volatile and we see Michel’s usage increase in Week 13 and beyond. Still, at least for now, we can treat both Harris and White as top-30 options at the position, thanks to their newfound condensed situation.
I’ll go out on a limb and say White won’t be responsible for another goal-line score this season, but last week was at least another example of his role expanding with Rex Burkhead (knee, IR) sidelined. White’s splits with and without Burkhead on the field since 2017 have been rather staggering:
- White per game with Burkhead (38 games): 11.3 PPR points, 5.3 targets
- White per game without Burkhead (16 games): 16.5 PPR points, 8.1 targets
I realize the numbers above largely came with Tom Brady under center, but White did set or tie season-high marks in targets, carries and snaps in Week 11 when the Patriots had a less positive game script. It remains to be seen how Sunday’s matchup will shake out, but both Harris and White can be started with confidence as upside RB3 options at worst. Up next is a matchup against a Chargers defense that has been allergic to non-shootouts throughout the season, producing total point totals of 69, 57, 68, 61, 57, 50, 62 and most recently 44.
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) November 30, 2020
Kamara has never exactly dominated as a pure rusher. He’s fantastic, but his borderline unfair fantasy production has always been tied to his absurd receiving role. In 2017, Kamara was the RB16 in fantasy points from purely rushing production, but the RB1 from receiving production. His TD-happy 2018 campaign produced top-five finishes as both a rusher (RB5) and receiver (RB4), while we’ve seen more of a disparity again in 2019 (RB22 as a rusher, RB5 as a receiver) as well as in 2020 (RB8 as a rusher, RB1 as a receiver).
One catch for -2 yards is bad enough, but the reality that the villain known as Taysom Hill is also siphoning away all the goal-line work further complicates matters. Overall, both Murray (4) and Hill (3) have more rush attempts inside the 10-yard line than Kamara (2) over the past two weeks. Hill (3) leads the way over Kamara (2) inside the 5-yard line, as well.
The Falcons should be a dream matchup for Kamara. Instead, we need to hope he has better TD success to make up for this newfound lack of a receiving floor. This is a problem that isn’t going away as long as Hill is under center. Kamara is a top-12 fantasy RB, not the consensus top-three option that we saw for most of the first half of the season.
Murray has double-digit touches in all but one game this season and earned RB3 treatment a while ago; just realize boom weeks, as we saw in Week 12, are only going to come in the biggest of blowouts.
- RB1: Wayne Gallman (63% snaps, 24 carries, 4 targets)
- RB2: Dion Lewis (28%, 2, 3)
- RB3: Alfred Morris (10%, 4, 0)
Notes: I wrote last week:
“Devonta Freeman (ankle, IR) will miss at least the Giants’ Week 12 matchup against the Bengals. Gallman has scored five times in his last four games despite losing early-down and pass-down work to Morris and Lewis, respectively. Daniel Jones leads this offense in rushing through 10 weeks of action.
Gallman is a volume-based RB2 in this winnable spot, although expectations should be limited considering this remains a three-RB backfield, and the Giants’ No. 3 RB isn’t getting the same sort of near every-down role we saw Saquon Barkley and (to a lesser extent) Freeman receive earlier this year. Still, volume is volume, and Gallman is projected for plenty of it and is favored against a Bengals team that is lacking motivation with Joe Burrow (knee, IR) done for the season.”
Gallman found the end zone again last week; the problem is Jones (hamstring) could be sidelined, and the return of Freeman would certainly lower the touch ceiling. Now, Freeman could still make Gallman a lower-end RB2, but just realize there are going to be fewer scoring opportunities with Colt McCoy under center.
- RB1: Frank Gore (57% snaps, 18 carries, 3 targets)
- RB2: Ty Johnson (19%, 2, 2)
- RB3: Josh Adams (2%, 1, 0)
Notes: Gore has at least 10 carries in all but two games this season. He’s gone for 17 and 21 touches over the past two weeks. I like to think that Adam Gase sits in his offense after games completely beside himself, just wondering why his team can’t win the game even though he’s doing everything in his power to meet the token “correlation doesn’t imply causation,” Team X wins all the time when Running Back Y has at least 20 carries misnomer.
Anyway, Gore gets a Raiders defense that he theoretically should be able to find some success against. Maybe he’ll clear 75 rushing yards for the first time all season. Perhaps a second trip to the end zone is on the way.
This is the best-case scenario workload for Gore; I can’t rank him as more than a top-30 option at the position. This Jets offense ripped off 27- and 28-point performances with Joe Flacco under center in Week 11 and 12, respectively, but they’ve otherwise scored a combined 22 points in their last 12 quarters of football with Sam Darnold at QB. Try to avoid playing any Jets if you can help it.
Notes: The Eagles' offense is broken at the moment, failing to score more than 17 points in three consecutive underwhelming losses against the Giants, Browns and Seahawks since their Week 9 bye. It’s hard to even give Carson Wentz credit for those 17-point performances considering 1) Scott ripped off a 56-yard TD run in Week 10, 2) Dallas Goedert scored a garbage-time 4-yard score in Week 11, and 3) Richard Rodgers caught a 33-yard Hail Mary with just 12 seconds remaining in Week 12 to the dismay of Seahawks -6.5 backers everywhere.
Clearly, we need to back off the idea that Sanders can be a top-10 fantasy option until we see the potential for scoring opportunities to increase. It’s great that Sanders has big-play potential in his skill set; just realize he’s losing pass-down work to Scott, and goal-line carries are few and far between inside of the league’s 25th-ranked scoring offense. Sanders should still be started in most fantasy leagues against the Packers’ joke of a run defense. Still, nobody with the Eagles has anything resembling a fantasy-friendly floor at the moment.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (from Week 11)
- RB1: James Conner (68% snaps, 13 carries, 3 targets)
- RB2: Benny Snell (14%, 7, 0)
- RB3: Anthony McFarland Jr. (7%, 3, 0)
Notes: Conner (Covid) is expected to give way to Snell during the Steelers’ Week 12 matchup against the Ravens on Wednesday. Still, we’ve seen this Steelers offense largely shift from a run-first attack that didn’t ask Big Ben to carry them to a pass-first unit happy to attack defenses of all shapes and sizes with their trio of talented wide receivers. The result has been plenty of volume for Roethlisberger: He’s thrown 49, 32, 42, 46 and 46 times over the past five weeks, with the latter two performances coming in blowout wins.
Coach Mike Tomlin said the following back in March:
“I’m a featured-runner type guy by mentality. No question in today’s game, a featured runner needs to be supplemented and supplemented by guys capable of doing similar things if he misses time. Usually, when it’s going well, it’s because you have a lead dog out front, and that guy is the featured runner. James is a featured guy and a proven runner when healthy. We’re excited about him getting back to health and displaying that in 2020.”
Tomlin did note that Snell is “capable of being a James-type of guy if James is unavailable.” Again: Snell is the preferred fantasy back to own in Pittsburgh and could see 15-20 carries in a best-case scenario. Just realize this situation is fluid with McFarland serving as the wild card, and we should expect Jaylen Samuels (quad) to get most of the pass-game work when healthy. It’d make more sense than ever to see the Steelers lean on their passing game against the Football Team’s beastly defensive line. Be careful about treating Snell as more than a volume-based lower-end RB2 during Conner’s absence.
- RB1: Raheem Mostert (40% snaps, 16 carries, 2 targets)
- RB2: Jeff Wilson Jr. (34%, 12, 0)
- RB3: Jerick McKinnon (26%, 3, 3)
Notes: Mostert is stupid fast. He owns the No. 1 (23.1 m.p.h.) and No. 2 (22.7) fastest plays of the season, according to Next Gen Stats. Both Mostert and Wilson lost a fumble in Week 12, but it’s clear the former back is the most-explosive backfield option at coach Kyle Shanahan’s disposal.
This feels like a potential explosion week with the Bills traveling across the country to take on one of the league’s best-schemed rushing attacks. Fire up Mostert with confidence as an upside RB2 that sure looked healthy in Week 12 despite the underwhelming overall performance. The upside is huge against the league’s ninth-worst defense in PPR points allowed per game to the position.
Notes: I wrote the following last week:
“Coach Pete Carroll said Chris Carson (foot) would return Monday night against the Eagles. Carroll can’t always be trusted to follow up on his press conference promises, but the timeline makes sense considering Carson appeared close to suiting up in Week 11.
The question is what type of role he’ll be returning to. Carson is clearly the Seahawks’ lead back when healthy, although he played fewer than 60% of the offense’s snaps in all but one of the team’s first five games. The potential for 15-20 touches per week cements Carson as a top-15 option at the position, but keep an eye on 1) Hyde’s Week 12 involvement, and 2) Rashaad Penny’s (knee, PUP) practice status.”
We knew there was a chance Carson wouldn’t receive a true bell-cow role, but it was incredibly surprising to see him straight-up work behind Hyde for most of the game. Carson said his foot is all good after the game; the Seahawks either 1) are still concerned about the injury, 2) wanted to ease him back into action, or 3) prefer Hyde as the offense’s lead RB. I’m leaning towards option No. 1 or No. 2, considering Hyde’s 17 touches produced a whopping 29 total yards; it wasn’t like the Seahawks chose to ride the hot hand.
Next week’s matchup against the Giants isn’t the easiest spot in the world, but fantasy football managers can cautiously treat Carson as a lower-end RB2. Hyde is a TD-dependent RB3 at best. Continue to monitor Rashaad Penny’s (knee, PUP) return; a three-RB committee would be disastrous for the fantasy value of all RB parties involved.
Notes: Coach Bruce Arians said after the game that Jones needs to have 20 touches. Note that Arians, notorious for exaggerating claims to the media, said he wanted to get 1) Andre Ellington 20 touches per game back in August 2015, 2) David Johnson 30 touches a game back in March 2017, and 3) Adrian Peterson 25 carries per game back in October 2017.
RoJo has rather clearly been the best Buccaneers RB since the beginning of last season. Perhaps Arians is telling the truth this time; it’d seemingly be in the best interest of his football team if he were. Still, if there’s anything we’ve learned from this Tampa Bay backfield over the past two seasons, it’s that the only consistency is the general inconsistency involved.
Jones will be an upside RB2 in Week 14 against the Vikings; Fournette is a TD-dependent RB3 at best and isn’t necessarily someone that absolutely needs to be held through the bye week.
- RB1: Derrick Henry (65% snaps, 27 carries, 3 targets)
- RB2: Jeremy McNichols (24%, 8, 1)
- RB3: D’Onta Foreman (7%, 4, 0)
Notes: Henry’s three-TD performance in Week 12 was a nice reminder that The Big Dog is an absolute monster capable of taking over a game at any moment. As PFF’s Andrew Erickson noted, Henry has more rushing yards, scores and yards after contact through 12 games than Adrian Peterson did during his 2012 MVP season.
It’s not an exaggeration to say Henry has a chance to flirt with 2,000 rushing yards with his cozy end-of-the-season stretch:
- Week 13: Browns (No. 28 in yards before contact allowed per rush, No. 11 in fewest PPR per game allowed to RBs)
- Week 14: Jaguars (No. 18, No. 28)
- Week 15: Lions (No. 8, No. 32)
- Week 16: Packers (No. 22, No. 31)
- Week 17: Texans (No. 29, No. 30)
Neither McNichols nor Foreman are viable handcuff options, with Darrynton Evans (hamstring, IR) a candidate to return sooner rather than later. Continue to fire up Henry as a top-three RB for the rest of the season, and pray for those poor defenders who have to deal with him as winter comes nearer.
- RB1: Antonio Gibson (67% snaps, 20 carries, 7 targets)
- RB2: J.D. McKissic (39%, 1, 2)
- RB3: Peyton Barber (26%, 11, 0)
Notes: Gibson has 11 (!!!) rushing scores in 11 games and is fresh off season-high marks in targets (7) and a snap rate (67%). McKissic isn’t going away completely, and Barber remains a nuisance in the occasional short-yardage situation. Still, the Football Team clearly realizes that Gibson is their second-best offensive weapon, and they’ve made a concerted effort to feed him the ball in more weeks than not.
The third-round rookie has truly looked the part of the next-great RB through 12 weeks:
- PFF rushing grade: 82.2 (No. 4 among 30 RBs with 100-plus carries)
- Yards per carry: 4.6 (tied for No. 8)
- Yards after contact per attempt: 2.5 (tied for No. 23)
- Missed forced tackles on carries: 30 (tied for No. 9)
- Missed forced tackles per carry: 0.22 (tied for No. 6)
The only thing keeping Gibson out of this week’s top-10 RBs is a brutal road matchup against the Steelers’ ferocious front-seven. Treat him as more of a TD-dependent RB2; the man can ball, but also keep in mind his last six matchups have come against the Giants (x2), Cowboys, Lions and Bengals. The lack of consistent targets for McKissic over the past two weeks makes it tough to trust him as more than a low-ceiling RB3 despite the potential for extremely negative game script.