Week 5 Fantasy Football Backfield Report
Man, this football season is absolutely flying by! We now have five weeks of data at our disposal and can really understand who teams are and what they are good at.
It is now time for another review of the backfields across the NFL that do no heavily favor one back as a bellcow. We saw in Week 5 that some injuries forced many teams into heavier workloads for specific running backs.
Changes to the data tables below include the removal of Week 5 bye teams (Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers), as well as the addition of the New Orleans Saints with the return of Mark Ingram from suspension.
With more and more data coming in after each week, the running back situations across the NFL are starting to shake out and become more clear. Injuries and the emergence of unexpected players (Phillip Lindsay and Nyheim Hines) have had major impacts on certain situations.
This weekly piece is here to help fantasy owners see how coaches are deploying their backs in terms of volume and high-level situations.
Let's dive into the Week 5 data, and as always, snap and red zone data comes from Pro Football Reference.
This table is sorted by total season touches for each backfield.
|Running Back||Team||W5 Snap %||W5 Touches||Season Snap %||Season Touches||Season RB Touch Share %|
|Tevin Coleman||ATL||27/72 (37.5%)||9||196/343 (57.1%)||73||60.3%|
|Ito Smith||ATL||12/72 (16.7%)||4||71/343 (20.7%)||29||24.0%|
|Devonta Freeman||ATL||28/72 (38.9%)||10||67/343 (19.5%)||19||15.7%|
|Alex Collins||BAL||27/87 (31.0%)||13||167/400 (41.8%)||66||49.3%|
|Javorius Allen||BAL||50/87 (57.5%)||14||194/400 (48.5%)||55||41.0%|
|Kenneth Dixon||BAL||DNP||DNP||22/400 (9.3%)||13||9.7%|
|LeSean McCoy||BUF||47/65 (72.3%)||26||147/316 (46.5%)||55||44.7%|
|Chris Ivory||BUF||18/65 (27.7%)||14||110/316 (34.8%)||49||39.8%|
|Marcus Murphy||BUF||DNP||DNP||62/316 (19.6%)||19||15.4%|
|Joe Mixon||CIN||47/60 (78.3%)||26||130/330 (39.4%)||69||54.8%|
|Mark Walton||CIN||12/60 (20.0%)||2||47/330 (14.2%)||9||7.1%|
|Giovani Bernard||CIN||DNP||DNP||152/330 (46.1%)||48||38.1%|
|Carlos Hyde||CLE||28/80 (35.0%)||19||205/389 (52.7%)||106||72.6%|
|Duke Johnson||CLE||41/80 (51.3%)||6||163/389 (41.9%)||27||18.5%|
|Nick Chubb||CLE||11/80 (13.8%)||3||26/389 (6.7%(||13||8.9%|
|Phillip Lindsay||DEN||29/77 (37.7%)||15||118/345 (34.2%)||65||42.8%|
|Royce Freeman||DEN||30/77 (39.0%)||8||120/345 (34.8%)||53||34.9%|
|Devontae Booker||DEN||22/77 (28.6%)||5||109/345 (31.6%)||34||22.4%|
|Kerryon Johnson||DET||29/62 (46.8%)||14||133/336 (39.6%)||63||43.8%|
|LeGarrette Blount||DET||18/62 (29.0%)||12||88/336 (26.2%)||50||34.7%|
|Theo Riddick||DET||19/62 (30.6%)||5||134/336 (39.9%)||31||21.5%|
|Jamaal Williams||GB||33/81 (40.7%)||8||175/363 (48.2%)||60||50.0%|
|Ty Montgomery||GB||29/81 (35.8%)||5||118/363 (32.5%)||32||26.7%|
|Aaron Jones||GB||22/81(27.2%)||9||68/363 (18.7%)||28||23.3%|
|Alfred Blue||HOU||79/80 (98.8%)||28||162/375 (43.2%)||58||46.4%|
|Lamar Miller||HOU||DNP||DNP||206/375 (54.9%)||66||52.8%|
|Nyheim Hines||IND||56/83 (67.5%)||22||223/376 (59.3%)||62||47.7%|
|Jordan Wilkins||IND||18/83 (21.7%)||8||136/376 (36.2%)||53||40.8%|
|Marlon Mack||IND||DNP||DNP||18/376 (4.8%)||11||8.5%|
|T.J. Yeldon||JAC||77/83 (92.8%)||18||243/351 (69.2%)||81||60.9%|
|Corey Grant||JAC||2/83 (2.4%)||1||65/351 (18.5%)||22||16.5%|
|Leonard Fournette||JAC||DNP||DNP||45/351 (12.8%)||24||18.0%|
|Kareem Hunt||KC||52/70 (74.3%)||23||223/337 (66.2%)||98||85.2%|
|Spencer Ware||KC||8/70 (11.4%)||2||65/337(19.3%)||12||10.4%|
|Damien Williams||KC||2/70 (2.9%)||1||28/337 (8.3%)||5||4.3%|
|Melvin Gordon||LAC||45/64 (70.3%)||23||232/322 (72.0%)||101||67.8%|
|Austin Ekeler||LAC||23/64 (35.9%)||7||109/322 (33.9%)||48||32.2%|
|Kenyan Drake||MIA||41/64 (64.1%)||13||174/279 (62.4%)||56||52.8%|
|Frank Gore||MIA||26/64 (40.6%)||12||109/279 (39.1%)||50||47.2%|
|Latavius Murray||MIN||46/62 (74.2%)||13||162/346 (46.8%)||39||37.5%|
|Roc Thomas||MIN||14/62 (22.6%)||5||18/346 (5.2%)||6||5.8%|
|Sony Michel||NE||27/69 (39.1%)||19||96/334 (28.7%)||70||46.1%|
|James White||NE||43/69 (62.3%)||12||178/334 (53.3%)||55||36.2%|
|Rex Burkhead||NE||DNP||DNP||59/334 (17.7%)||27||17.8%|
|Alvin Kamara||NO||31/66 (47.0%)||9||260/345 (75.4%)||100||70.4%|
|Mark Ingram||NO||36/66 (54.5%)||18||36/345 (10.4%)||18||12.7%|
|Bilal Powell||NYJ||34/62 (54.8%)||20||162/306 (52.9%)||69||49.6%|
|Isaiah Crowell||NYJ||25/62 (40.3%)||16||129/306 (42.2%)||63||45.3%|
|Marshawn Lynch||OAK||21/52 (40.4%)||11||179/355 (50.4%)||89||58.6%|
|Doug Martin||OAK||6/52 (11.5%)||2||50/355 (14.1%)||30||19.7%|
|Jalen Richard||OAK||26/52 (50.0%)||7||125/355 (35.2%)||33||21.7%|
|Jay Ajayi||PHI||29/59 (49.2%)||9||120/370 (32.4%)||50||36.8%|
|Wendell Smallwood||PHI||29/59 (49.2%)||6||120/370 (32.4%)||35||25.7%|
|Corey Clement||PHI||DNP||DNP||91/370 (24.6%)||35||25.7%|
|Darren Sproles||PHI||DNP||DNP||29/370 (7.8%)||9||6.6%|
|Chris Carson||SEA||35/60 (58.3%)||20||130/318 (40.9%)||70||46.4%|
|Mike Davis||SEA||25/60 (41.7%)||14||89/318 (28.0%)||44||29.3%|
|Rashaad Penny||SEA||DNP||DNP||71/318 (22.3%)||33||22.0%|
|CJ Prosise||SEA||DNP||DNP||28/318 (8.8%)||3||2.0%|
|Alfred Morris||SF||44/98 (44.9%)||21||146/356 (41.0%)||68||45.0%|
|Matt Breida||SF||13/98 (13.3%)||9||135/356 (37.9%)||60||39.7%|
|Kyle Juszczyk||SF||68/98 (69.4%)||7||224/356 (62.9%)||15||9.9%|
|Dion Lewis||TEN||34/54 (63.0%)||15||195/315 (61.9%)||76||52.8%|
|Derrick Henry||TEN||21/54 (38.9%)||11||126/315(40.0%)||68||47.2%|
|Adrian Peterson||WSH||13/61 (21.3%)||6||112/275 (40.7%)||67||53.2%|
|Chris Thompson||WSH||40/61 (65.6%)||14||148/275 (53.8%)||49||38.9%|
|Running Back||Team||W5 RZ Touches||W5 RZ Targets||W5 Total Targets||Season RZ Touches||Season RZ Targets||Season Total Targets|
The Split in Baltimore Continues
After Week 5, it is clear that the Baltimore Ravens are content with continuing a near-even split between Alex Collins and Javorius Allen. Head Coach John Harbaugh further confirmed that on Sunday after the Ravens' loss, when he came out and expressed the idea of keeping the backs fresh.
Collins has seen more touches than Allen but has played on less of the Ravens offensive snaps. Allen has a slight edge in terms of red zone usage and a large edge in the passing game, having seen 13 more targets than Collins.
Those targets are a lot more valuable for fantasy production than are carries. Allen is averaging 1.21 PPR points per touch, while Collins is averaging 0.83.
With Allen being heavily involved, Collins is shaping up to be one of this year's biggest fantasy disappointments.
Mixon Forced Into Heavy Workload
With Joe Mixon out the previous two weeks due to a knee injury, Giovani Bernard handled the majority of the load with the Cincinnati Bengals not missing a beat. The Bengals lucked out as Bernard suffered a knee injury at the end of Week 4, but Mixon was poised to return for Week 5.
Heading into Week 5, Marvin Lewis stated that Mixon would not see a full workload due to conditioning, but once gametime hit they were forced into giving Mixon a big workload. The Bengals faced a 17-0 first half deficit, and with no Bernard and an inexperienced Mark Walton, Mixon was unleashed.
Mixon saw his highest touch count of the season with 25, while also playing on 78.3% of the Bengals offensive snaps. He handled all of the red zone work, including a receiving touchdown, which kicked off the Bengals' comeback.
With Bernard scheduled to miss a couple more weeks, Mixon is poised to see all the work he can handle.
Hines Takes Command of Colts Backfield
The Indianapolis Colts are facing injury nightmares on the offensive side of the ball, with T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle, Marlon Mack and several offensive lineman dealing with nagging injuries. The offense continues to chug right along, though, showing the ability to move the ball down the field. And Nyheim Hines has become a stable in the Colts offensive attack.
Hines' snap count has been greater than 65% over the past three weeks, while his touches have increased from 10 to 13 to 22 over that span. In Week 5, he handled 15 rushing attempts, which tripled the highest amount of carries he had in any game prior.
With 35 targets on the season, Hines ranks fifth among all running backs and is the leader amongst all backs in routes ran.
Hines has a built in floor with his involvement in the Colts' passing attack, and if he's able to add 10 to 15 rushing attempts he finds himself as a weekly fantasy starter. A big factor for him will be how the Colts use Mack upon his return from injury.
Injuries Force Yeldon Into Massive Volume
On Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, backup change-of-pace back Corey Grant saw his season end due to a Lisfranc injury. These injuries basically left T.J. Yeldon as the lone back for the Jaguars. He handled 18 touches and saw 10 targets.
In his career, Yeldon has started 27 games for Jacksonville. In those games, he has averaged 15 touches and 11.6 PPR points. With Brandon Wilds waived on Tuesday, and the late signing of Jamaal Charles, Yeldon is in line to carry a big-time workload until Fournette returns.
Ingram's Big Return
That was all settled on Monday night, as Ingram was put right back into his role that he played last season. Ingram out-touched (18 to 9) and out-snapped Kamara against the Washington Redskins. He was also able to cash in on two short red zone carries for touchdowns.
While the game got out of hand rather quickly, it set up nicely for getting Ingram some work to get him back in game shape. Kamara's game-breaking receiving skills weren't really necessary for the Saints in this one.
When we look back at 2017, Ingram handled 288 touches and Kamara had 220. Ingram specialized in the red zone, where he saw 33 carries and turned them into 9 touchdowns, and Kamara excelled in the pass game, as he saw 100 targets and averaged 10.2 yards per reception.
Kamara owners are rightfully irritated after this game, but the breakdown will be more telling when New Orleans is in a competitive game. While this is a one-game sample size, it remains to be seen if the Saints will revert back to the 2017 workloads or if there is a sense of urgency to get Kamara more work.
Penny Falls Out of Favor In Seattle
Rashaad Penny did not see a single offense snap on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, so Pete Carroll has made it clear that Penny has a long way to go. It seems like an absolute waste of a first-round pick for a Seattle Seahawks team that needs help across the entire roster, especially on the line. But until further notice, Penny's a non-factor behind Chris Carson and Mike Davis.