Week 9 Fantasy Football Backfield Report

With his health improving, Dalvin Cook is poised to re-claim his role as the top back in Minnesota.

It is absolutely crazy to think that we are now through 65-70% of the fantasy regular season in most leagues. Week 9 was a struggle for many fantasy owners as we saw the most NFL teams on a bye that we have all season.

By now teams are defined and player roles are well established. Of course on a week to week basis injuries have opened up opportunities for other players to shine. There we no changes to this weeks data tables besides the removal of the six teams that were on a bye (Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles).

One of the more intriguing backfield situations to watch going forward is the Jaguars, Leonard Fournette is expected back for Week 10 so it will be interesting to see how they use him with Carlos Hyde and T.J. Yeldon moving forward.

This weekly piece is here to help fantasy owners understand how coaches are using their backs in terms of volume and high leverage situations. Also a reminder that the data covers all backfields in which teams are not using one running back as a bell-cow.

Let's dive into the Week 9 data, and, as always, snap counts and red zone data come from Pro Football Reference.

Volume Metrics

The table below is sorted by total season touches for each backfield.

Running BackTeamW9 Snap %W9 TouchesSeason Snap %Season TouchesSeason RB Touch Share %
Tevin ColemanATL39/68 (57.4%)18310/543 (57.1%)11558.7%
Ito SmithATL28/68 (41.2%)11158/543 (29.1%)6231.6%
Alex CollinsBAL31/61 (50.8%)10294/673 (43.7%)12253.5%
Javorius AllenBAL26/61 (42.6%)6301/673 (44.7%)7432.5%
LeSean McCoyBUF37/91 (40.7%)14279/587 ( (47.5%)10846.6%
Chris IvoryBUF30/91 (32.9%)10211/587 (35.9%)9239.7%
Marcus MurphyBUF24/91 (26.4%)4105/587 (17.9%)3213.8%
Jordan HowardCHI26/51 (50.9%)14297/489 (60.7%)13761.4%
Tarik CohenCHI28/51 (54.9%)7222/489 (43.4%)8035.9%
Nick ChubbCLE37/75 (49.3%)23146/670 (21.8%)7730.9%
Duke JohnsonCLE35/75 (46.7%)10291/670 (43.0%)5220.9%
Phillip LindsayDEN38/66 (57.6%)19252/608 (41.4%)13051.6%
Devontae BookerDEN26/66 (39.4%)5195/608 (32.1%)4718.7%
Royce FreemanDENDNPDNP163/608 (26.8%)7529.8%
Kerryon JohnsonDET39/70 (55.7%)15258/529 (48.8%)11350.4%
LeGarrette BlountDET11/70 (15.7%)6127/529 (24.0%)7031.3%
Theo RiddickDET39/70 (55.7%)7173/529 (32.7%)3816.9%
Jamaal WilliamsGB31/74 (41.9%)9246/560 (43.9%)8042.8%
Aaron JonesGB43/74 (58.1%)16162/560 (28.9%)6635.3%
Lamar MillerHOU40/62 (64.5%)14366/623 (58.7%)13856.1%
Alfred BlueHOU22/62 (35.5%)15265/623 (42.5%)10542.7%
Melvin GordonLAC45/51 (88.2%)17315/477 (66.0%)13862.4%
Austin EkelerLAC9/51 (17.6%)4181/477 (37.9%)7634.4%
Frank GoreMIA29/57 (50.9%)21222/536 (41.4%)11151.6%
Kenyan DrakeMIA28/57 (49.1%)7324/536 (60.4%)10448.4%
Latavius MurrayMIN22/49 (44.9%)11361/608 (59.4%)11057.3%
Dalvin CookMIN28/49 (57.1%)14153/608 (25.2%)5930.7%
James WhiteNE56/71 (78.9%)18373/623 (59.9%)12139.5%
Cordarrelle PattersonNE13/71 (18.3%)12150/623 (24.1%)4013.1%
Kenjon BarnerNE3/71 (4.2%)142/623 (6.7%)196.2%
Sony MichelNEDNPDNP139/623 (22.3%)9932.4%
Alvin KamaraNO41/71 (57.7%)23378/540 (70.0%)16267.2%
Mark IngramNO34/71 (47.9%)10128/540 (23.7%)5824.1%
Isaiah CrowellNYJ23/66 (34.8%)14239/568 (42.7%)11848.9%
Trenton CannonNYJ7/66 (10.6%)175/568 (13.2%)239.5%
Elijah McGuireNYJ36/66 (54.5%)936/568 (6.3%)93.7%
Jalen RichardOAK22/57 (38.6%)6194/523 (37.1%)5825.6%
Doug MartinOAK26/57 (45.6%)12110/523 (21.0%)5825.6%
DeAndre WashingtonOAK10/57 (17.5%)512/523 (2.3%)62.6%
Chris CarsonSEA10/81 (12.3%)8209/527(39.7%)11945.6%
Mike DavisSEA59/81 (72.8%)22192/527 (36.4%)8432.2%
Rashad PennySEA12/81 (14.8%)796/527 (18.2%)5119.5%
Matt BreidaSF27/55 (49.1%)13225/593 (37.9%)10840.9%
Alfred MorrisSF10/55 (18.2%)7188/593 (31.7%)9034.1%
Raheem MostertSF 14/55 (25.5%)790/593 (15.2%)4015.2%
Peyton BarberTB35/67 (52.2%13313/576 (54.3%)11265.5%
Jacquizz RodgersTB26/67 (38.8%)4168/576 (29.2%)2816.4%
Ronald JonesTBDNPDNP72/576 (12.5%)2514.6%
Dion Lewis TEN59/70 (84.3%)23331/500 (66.2%)12556.1%
Derrick HenryTEN14/70 (20.0%)8176/500 (35.2%)9843.9%
Adrian PetersonWSH32/69 (46.4%)12256/542 (47.2%)14863.5%
Kapri BibbsWSH21/69 (30.4%)485/542 (15.7%)198.20%
Samaje PerineWSH15/69 (21.7%)425/542 (4.6%)83.4%
Chris ThompsonWSHDNPDNP174/542 (32.1%)5423.2%

Situational Usage

Running BackTeamW9 RZ TouchesW9 RZ TargetsW9 Total TargetsSeason RZ TouchesSeason RZ TargetsSeason Total Targets
Tevin ColemanATL43713525
Ito SmithATL10213215
Alex CollinsBAL40121521
Javorius AllenBAL11514643
LeSean McCoyBUF1045033
Chris IvoryBUF3047019
Marcus MurphyBUF0044218
Jordan HowardCHI30021314
Tarik CohenCHI20212843
Nick ChubbCLE6111217
Duke JohnsonCLE2296438
Phillip LindsayDEN21322426
Devontae BookerDEN1043229
Royce FreemanDENDNPDNPDNP1006
Kerryon JohnsonDET12512531
LeGarrette BlountDET0011105
Theo RiddickDET0187638
Jamaal WilliamsGB0027219
Aaron JonesGB2147112
Lamar MillerHOU20224120
Alfred BlueHOU10011215
Melvin GordonLAC104221046
Austin EkelerLAC00214426
Frank GoreMIA2111129
Kenyan DrakeMIA0168547
Latavius MurrayMIN30114222
Dalvin CookMIN0044016
James WhiteNE727231381
Cordarrelle PattersonNE3018316
Kenjon BarnerNE000300
Sony MichelNEDNPDNPDNP2108
Alvin KamaraNO525461566
Mark IngramNO2027010
Isaiah CrowellNYJ00216016
Trenton CannonNYJ0010011
Elijiah McGuireNYJ005005
Jalen RichardOAK0045449
Doug MartinOAK002709
DeAndre WashingtonOAK000000
Chris CarsonSEA10014211
Mike DavisSEA10810020
Rashad PennySEA1132112
Matt BreidaSF20115314
Alfred MorrisSF60018011
Raheem MostertSF000107
Peyton BarberTB00311315
Jacquizz RodgersTB0034315
Ronald JonesTBDNPDNPDNP527
Dion Lewis TEN62416337
Derrick HenryTEN10214110
Adrian PetersonWSH10320216
Kapri BibbsWSH001008
Samaje PerineWSH113114
Chris ThompsonWSHDNPDNPDNP6434

Falcons Amp up Coleman's Receiving Work

The Atlanta Falcons came off a bye were firing on all cylinders against the Washington Redskins in Week 9. With Devonta Freeman on IR, Atlanta has been using a 60/40 split between Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith. Both backs had been around the 10-13 touch mark over the last two games, but we saw the Falcons come out with a different approach this week.

Coleman saw a huge spike in his receiving role: he ran a route on 41% of his snaps, and was targeted a season-high seven times. It seemed as if the Falcons regrouped over the bye and wanted to get him in open space more. Before Week 9, Coleman was only averaging 2.6 targets per game.

Three of the seven targets Coleman saw against Washington came in the red zone and one of them was turned into a touchdown. Coleman gets a Week 10 matchup against the Cleveland Browns who have allowed 4.9 receptions per game to running backs.

Duke Revitalized in Cleveland After Firing of Coaches

With Hue Jackson and Todd Haley out of Cleveland, Duke Johnson finally re-emerged in a big way against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens (who falls under the Bruce Arians coaching tree), seems to be the key in getting Johnson the ball. Johnson saw his season high nine targets, including two in the red zone that were both cashed in for touchdowns.

Johnson finished as the RB11 last season, mainly due to his success in the pass game and now if Kitchens has unlocked him going forward, he could be a big help to fantasy owners down the stretch.

Cook Returns To Lead Vikings Backfield

It was a surprise to many that the Minnesota Vikings weren't cautious with Dalvin Cook and sit him out against the Detroit Lions with the bye week looming in Week 10.

He was active in Week 9, but was expected to be on a small pitch count. While the pitch count might have been in place, he ended up leading the Vikings in backfield snaps played, and out-touched Latavius Murray 14 to 11. Murray still dominated all the red zone work, while Cook took care of the receiving work handling four targets.

Cook should have a pretty clean bill of health after the Vikings Week 10 bye, and could finish the season strong as Minnesota is desperate to find some balance in their offense.

McGuire Jumps Into a Big Role Straight off IR

The New York Jets offense is one of the worst in the NFL, but the backfield situation is still something to monitor. Isaiah Crowell has been ineffective in the two games since Bilal Powell was injured, averaging 2.8 yard per carry.

Week 9 brought the return of Elijah McGuire and he stepped into a big role right away. He lead the Jets backfield in snaps, routes ran, and backfield targets. He handled 9 touches compared to Crowell's 14.

The pass game work McGuire saw was significant, as it basically took Trenton Cannon out of the picture and established McGuire as the Jets receiving back moving forward.

With Crowell's ineffectiveness, McGuire could potentially see his touches increase, and a juicy matchup against the Buffalo Bills next week could pay dividends.

Titans Shifting Towards Lewis

The Tennessee Titans came out of Week 9 with one of the most impressive wins on the road against the Dallas Cowboys. A key to that victory was the focus to get Dion Lewis heavily involved.

Over the last two weeks, there has been a major shift to Lewis over teammate Derrick Henry. Lewis has out-touched Henry 42 to 22 and out-snapped him 104 to 38 over that two-game span.

Lewis is a weapon in the passing attack and has now seen 4 or more targets in 5 of the Titans 8 games. He finds himself in the top-15 among all NFL running backs in terms of routes ran.

With the momentum that Lewis has built over the last two weeks, and a Week 10 revenge matchup against the New England Patriots, Lewis is ready to be a difference maker for fantasy owners.