Week 3 Fantasy Football Backfield Report
Week 3 was quite an exciting week, which brought us a little bit of everything including offensive fireworks, massive upsets, and a few snoozers.
We are back for another review of the different backfields across the NFL that do not heavily favor one back as the workhorse. The only change from last week's article is the addition of the Kansas City Chiefs backfield to the data, due to some passing game issues that will be talked about later.
With each week that passes by, some situations become easier to dissect, while other began to become messier due to injuries or players returning from injuries.
It is the goal of this weekly piece to help fantasy owners see how coaches are deploying their backs.
Let's dive into the Week 3 data, with all snap and red zone data coming from Pro Football Reference.
|David Johnson||ARI||43/50 (86.0%)||16||114/148 (77.0%)||44||69.8%|
|Chase Edmonds||ARI||8/50 (16.0%)||5||35/148 (23.6%)||19||30.2%|
|Tevin Coleman||ATL||53/68 (77.9%)||17||130/201 (64.7%)||47||66.2%|
|Ito Smith||ATL||10/68 (14.7%)||5||28/201 (13.9%)||15||21.2%|
|Devonta Freeman||ATL||DNP||DNP||39/201 (19.4%)||9||12.7%|
|Alex Collins||BAL||35/72 (48.6%)||21||104/237 (43.9%)||41||49.4%|
|Javorius Allen||BAL||39/72 (54.2%)||9||111/237 (46.8%)||29||34.9%|
|Kenneth Dixon||BAL||DNP||DNP||22/237 (9.3%)||13||15.7%|
|Chris Ivory||BUF||54/67 (80.6%)||23||70/193 (36.3%)||29||36.7%|
|Marcus Murphy||BUF||16/67 (23.9%)||9||62/193 (32.1%)||19||24.1%|
|LeSean McCoy||BUF||DNP||DNP||64/193 (33.2%)||31||39.2%|
|Jordan Howard||CHI||46/74 (62.2%)||26||144/210 (68.6%)||63||75.0%|
|Tarik Cohen||CHI||30/74 (40.5%)||8||79/210 (37.6%)||21||25.0%|
|Giovani Bernard||CIN||57/65 (87.7%)||17||108/197 (54.8%)||29||37.7%|
|Mark Walton||CIN||7/65 (10.8%)||0||7/197 (3.6%)||0||0%|
|Joe Mixon||CIN||DNP||DNP||83/197 (42.1%)||44||60.3%|
|Carlos Hyde||CLE||45/77 (58.4%)||25||128/228 (56.1%)||65||74.7%|
|Duke Johnson||CLE||29/77 (37.7%)||4||93/228 (40.8%)||15||17.2%|
|Royce Freeman||DEN||29/68 (24.2%)||14||74/208 (35.6%)||37||41.1%|
|Phillip Lindsay||DEN||11/68 (42.4%)||4||65/208 (31.3%)||36||40.0%|
|Devontae Booker||DEN||26/68 (33.3%)||10||67/208 (32.2%)||17||18.9%|
|Kerryon Johnson||DET||33/74 (44.6%)||18||85/221(38.5%)||39||42.9%|
|LeGarrette Blount||DET||26/74 (35.1%)||18||56/221 (25.3%)||31||34.1%|
|Theo Riddick||DET||21/74 (28.4%)||3||90/221(40.7%)||21||23.1%|
|Jamaal Williams||GB||30/69 (43.5%)||7||114/206 (55.3%)||41||60.3%|
|Ty Montgomery||GB||20/69 (29.0%)||10||69/206 (33.5%)||20||29.4%|
|Aaron Jones||GB||17/69 (24.6%)||7||17/206 (8.3%)||7||10.3%|
|Jordan Wilkins||IND||17/59 (28.8%)||8||87/202 (43.1%)||37||49.3%|
|Nyheim Hines||IND||43/59 (72.9%)||10||104/202 (51.5%)||27||36.0%|
|Marlon Mack||IND||DNP||DNP||18/202 (12.3%)||11||14.7%|
|T.J. Yeldon||JAC||38/57 (57.7%)||13||118/191(61.8%)||42||58.3%|
|Corey Grant||JAC||20/57 (42.3%)||7||56/191 (29.3%)||18||25.0%|
|Leonard Fournette||JAC||DNP||DNP||21/191 (11.0%)||12||16.7%|
|Kareem Hunt||KC||47/76 (69.0%)||18||127/190 (70.2%%)||53||81.5%|
|Spencer Ware||KC||18/76 (10.3%)||3||33/190 (13.2%)||8||12.3%|
|Damien Williams||KC||7/76 (15.5%)||2||23/190 (14.0%)||4||6.2%|
|Melvin Gordon||LAC||40/52 (63.2%)||17||138/191 (72.3%)||56||64.4%|
|Austin Ekeler||LAC||18/52 (42.1%)||7||64/191 (33.7%)||31||35.6%|
|Kenyan Drake||MIA||29/44 (65.9%)||8||111/166 (66.9%)||40||61.5%|
|Frank Gore||MIA||16/44 (36.4%)||6||58/166 (34.9%)||25||38.5%|
|Latavius Murray||MIN||28/66 (42.4%)||7||75/210 (35.7%)||22||36.7%|
|Mike Boone||MIN||13/66 (19.7%)||3||13/210 (6.2%)||3||5.0%|
|Dalvin Cook||MIN||DNP||DNP||107/210 (51.0%)||35||58.3%|
|James White||NE||25/48 (52.1%)||7||95/184 (51.6%)||27||33.8%|
|Rex Burkhead||NE||7/48 (14.6%)||2||59/184 (32.1%)||27||33.8%|
|Sony Michel||NE||23/48 (47.9%)||15||36/184 (7.1%)||26||32.5%|
|Isaiah Crowell||NYJ||29/63 (46.0%)||18||84/188 (44.7%)||42||48.8%|
|Bilal Powell||NYJ||34/63 (54.0%)||14||92/188 (48.9%)||37||43.0%|
|Marshawn Lynch||OAK||42/76 (55.3%)||22||110/215 (51.2%)||55||55.0%|
|Doug Martin||OAK||13/76 (17.1%)||9||40/215 (18.6%)||23||23.0%|
|Jalen Richard||OAK||20/76 (26.3%)||6||65/215 (30.2%)||22||22.0%|
|Corey Clement||PHI||45/82 (54.9%)||19||91/233 (39.1%)||35||37.2%|
|Wendell Smallwood||PHI||29/82 (35.4%)||13||54/233 (23.2%)||21||22.3%|
|Josh Adams||PHI||8/82 (9.8%)||6||8/233 (3.4%)||6||6.4%|
|Jay Ajayi||PHI||DNP||DNP||50/233 (21.5%)||23||24.5%|
|Darren Sproles||PHI||DNP||DNP||29/233 (12.4%)||9||9.6%|
|Chris Carson||SEA||50/69 (72.5%)||34||94/192 (49.0%)||50||61.0%|
|Rashaad Penny||SEA||10/69 (14.5%)||3||55/192 (28.6%)||24||29.3%|
|Mike Davis||SEA||8/69 (11.6%)||1||17/192 (8.9%)||5||6.1%|
|CJ Prosise||SEA||DNP||DNP||25/192 (13.0%)||3||3.7%|
|Alfred Morris||SF||23/68 (33.8%)||14||89/199 (44.7%)||42||50.6%|
|Matt Breida||SF||29/68 (42.6%)||13||85/199 (42.7%)||39||47.0%|
|Peyton Barber||TB||44/74 (59.5%)||8||128/198 (64.6%)||44||69.8%|
|Jacquizz Rodgers||TB||26/74 (35.1%)||4||59/198 (29.8%)||15||23.8%|
|Dion Lewis||TEN||30/62 (48.4%)||12||112/190 (58.9%)||48||50.5%|
|Derrick Henry||TEN||32/62 (51.6%)||18||78/190 (41.1%)||47||49.5%|
|Adrian Peterson||WSH||32/61 (52.5%)||19||99/214 (46.3%)||61||59.8%|
|Chris Thompson||WSH||25/61 (41.0%)||7||108/214 (50.5%)||35||34.3%|
|Running Back||Team||W3 RZ
Split in Baltimore Leans Towards Collins Favor
Against the Broncos, Collins saw his heaviest workload of the season, and out touched Javorius Allen 21 to 9.
While the touch count dispersion is very encouraging, Allen will not go away. He has still out-snapped Collins on the season, and has seen more pass game usage.
With all that being said, Collins more than doubled his season touch total in Week 3. This is very significant, because prior to this week the touches were even at 20 between him and Allen.
This could be a sign that the Ravens' coaching staff has decided that getting Collins more touches is a priority. Or this might have been the fact that game script allowed the Ravens to play much of this game up between 6 and 13 points.
In the six games that Collins has seen 20 or more touches in his career, he has averaged 16.9 fantasy points (PPR scoring). Collins looks poised to build some momentum off this strong performance.
Ivory Featured in Buffalo Without McCoy
Buffalo came into this game having had no offensive success to start the year, and LeSean McCoy was on the sideline in street clothes.
Marcus Murphy seemed like the logical fit for this game, as it was expected the Bills would be playing from behind. With the game script flipped, Murphy only played 16 offensive snaps.
The Bills decided to unleash Chris Ivory as the workhorse. He played on 80.6% of the offensive snaps and handled 23 touches, including 2 in the red zone. While he wasn’t necessarily the most efficient runner (2.8 yards per attempt), he did find success through his 4 receiving targets.
This game was more than likely a huge outlier, but one to take note of in the event that McCoy misses more time with his rib injury.
Jordan Howard's Volume Stays Strong
If this were last year, Jordan Howard might have seen his usage shrink. However, that is not the case under Matt Nagy this season. Howard actually handled his most touches (26) of the season in the Bears' comeback win.
Howard continues run more pass routes (64 to 56) and see more targets (11 to 8) than fellow back mate Tarik Cohen. Howard’s usage in the pass game has made him become less of game flow dependent back.
Until the Bears passing game finds any stride, look for them to keep feeding Howard a heavy workload.
Bernard Sees Workhorse Volume With Mixon Sidelined
Bernard saw all 21 RB opportunities, as rookie RB Mark Walton played on a measly 7 snaps without a touch. Bernard’s usage was enormous, and included 9 targets in the passing game while handling all red zone touches.
Dating back to last season, in the four games in which Bernard started and Mixon was out, he has averaged 20.3 touches, 106.8 total yards and 0.8 touchdowns. With Mixon likely out again this week against the Atlanta Falcons, Bernard is in line for yet another high-volume week.
In the games without Mixon as mentioned above, Bernard has averaged 7.3 targets, and lucky for him the Falcons have given up 29 receptions and 231 receiving yards to Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara over the last two weeks.
Bernard should continue to see an absurd amount of usage until Mixon returns.
Carlos Hyde Continues to Dominate the Browns Backfield
There was a lot of negativity for Carlos Hyde leading into the 2018, as the Cleveland Browns had used an early draft pick on Nick Chubb and gave Duke Johnson a contract extensions after an impressive 2017 season.
Those who ended up drafting Hyde are being rewarded in spades. He is averaging 21.7 touches, and has found the end zone four times.
Chubb has zero role for the Browns, having played on a total of 12 on 228 offensive snaps, and Duke Johnson’s role is all but set as nothing more than a receiving back.
With the insertion of Baker Mayfield into the first-team offensive, the Browns look poised to move the ball with more consistency, meaning that Hyde should continue to see red zone opportunities. He already has 8 red zone touches, which he has converted to 4 touchdowns.
Unless Chubb’s usage climbs up, Hyde will continue to handle the majority of the work for the Browns backfield.
Despite the Big Game From Johnson, Lions Backfield Situation is Messy
While Johnson was extremely impressive on Sunday night, he still had the same amount of touches (18) as teammate LeGarrette Blount, while Theo Riddick handled three touches in a game in which they didn't really need his receiving skills.
The Lions were able to get 39 touches to their running backs against the New England Patriots, but that number does not seem sustainable as they were averaging just 26 in the two games prior.
None of the three backs topped 50% of the offensive snaps played, all sitting between 28 and 45%, and it has been that way throughout the first three games.
Johnson has showcased that he is the most talented back on the Lions, but as long as Blount and Riddick are involved, it is hard to envision him being a consistent performer on weekly basis.
Chiefs Limiting Hunt's Receiving Involvement
Last season, Kareem Hunt saw some big plays through the air, including three receiving touchdowns. Through three weeks in 2018, Hunt has been limited to just three targets and one reception.
His lack of passing game involvement has turned him into a touchdown-dependent back. Luckily for fantasy owners, he has been able to find the end zone three times in the last two games.
With Patrick Mahomes being a gunslinger, he rarely checks the ball down to his backs, as evident by his 9.6 yards per attempt, which ranks second in the NFL.
Hunt's outlook is not as strong as we thought heading into 2018, as his pass game involvement is basically nothing.
Seattle Features Carson in Home Victory
The Seattle Seahawks have had a blurb in this piece each of the first three weeks now.
Carson lead the NFL in touches in Week 3, with 34. Peter Carroll finally lived up to his word and made Carson the clear number-one back.
Penny was nowhere to be found, playing only 10 offensive snaps and handling three touches.
It looks as if Carson has taken that leap into lead-back territory, and now we will have to see if Pete Carroll stays on this course going forward.