Week 5 Running Back By Committee Report

With Melvin Gordon back in the mix, the Chargers backfield has a brand new look. What are the fantasy implications for other NFL backfields?

With the majority of teams utilizing a committee approach to their running back position, it is vital to pay close attention to the usage and workload each running back earns.

Each week, I will be sharing information to help you understand how coaches are using their running backs -- in what type of capacity and with what size of a workload. Are they getting a ton of snaps but few touches? Is the once-presumed starter now splitting more of the workload with a role player? Does a team have the ability to sustain multiple running backs on a weekly basis? All this and more will be covered on a weekly basis!

At the end of each article, there will also be a table outlining how each backfield split its workload among its primary running backs.

Los Angeles Chargers

A lot of eyes were on the Los Angeles backfield this week in Melvin Gordon's first game of the season. After returning from a two-month holdout, the Los Angeles Chargers were not shy about using their Pro Bowl running back from the get-go. However, the big question remained of how Gordon and Austin Ekeler would split the workload upon his return.

For reference, last year Gordon and Ekeler split snaps 70 percent to 30 percent, respectively. In his first game back, Gordon played less than half the snaps while Ekeler was in on nearly two-thirds of the snaps. What's most interesting is the type of work that each back got in the game. Gordon carried the ball 12 times compared to only 3 times for Ekeler, but Ekeler was heavily favored in the passing game as he recorded 15 receptions, a team-high so far this season.

In a game that the Chargers trailed from the beginning, it shouldn't be surprising that they passed it on 70 percent of plays. It will be interesting to see if Ekeler maintains the pass-catching role in the offense and what happens when the Chargers are in a more favorable game script. Until further notice, both Gordon and Ekeler are back-end RB2 options with upside if they find the end zone.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to dial up the Wildcat formation, circa 2008. The primary beneficiary of this playcalling was Jaylen Samuels, who saw increased playing time in Week 4, but saw significantly less work this past week. It seems as though Week 4 was more of the exception than the rule because James Conner still owns this backfield.

Totaling 55 rushing yards on 14 carries (both season-highs) certainly doesn't inspire a ton of confidence, as Conner has yet to flash his 2018 dominance. Furthermore, Conner didn't get any work in the receiving game this week after hauling in eight receptions for over eighty yards on Monday Night Football last week.

Although the matchup against the Chargers this week isn't particularly great, the Steelers get to play the Miami Dolphins following their bye. With Samuels expected to miss at least a month due to a knee injury, Conner could see a slight uptick in his usage. Volume is king in fantasy football and while Conner's production hasn't given owners a ton to celebrate, better days could be ahead.

Seattle Seahawks

If you think back to the thrilling game on Thursday Night Football this past week, you may recall that Chris Carson was still being criticized for giving up a fumble in each of the first three games. However, it appears that Pete Carroll is no longer worried about Carson's fumbling troubles as he has taken full control of the Seattle backfield.

What you may have trouble remembering that Rashaad Penny was even active for the game after missing Weeks 3 and 4 due to a hamstring injury as he was such a non-factor in the game. On Thursday, Carson carried the ball 27 times, the second-most in his career. While he has been inconsistent as a pass-catching threat, Carson sees enough volume that it isn't much of a difference-maker in terms of production.

With matchups against the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Minnesota Vikings on the horizon, Carson and the Seahawks face one of the toughest run defense schedules. Carson's volume will continue to give him a solid floor for fantasy football, but his efficiency may dip when facing these defensive fronts.

Oakland Raiders

Josh Jacobs once again carried the majority of the workload for the Oakland Raiders. After several weeks losing snaps to the likes of Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington along with a lack of usage as a pass-catcher, fantasy owners were concerned that Jacobs' ceiling was capped.

However, it was extremely encouraging to see Jacobs' consistent usage throughout the close game, especially his receiving work. While four targets aren't a lot, it was the most he has gotten in a game all season. His workload also paid off for some major production, including two touchdowns, against the Chicago Bears of all opponents.

Jacobs became only the fourth 100-yard rusher against the Bears since the start of the 2017 season. To further put in perspective how impressive Jacobs' day against the Bears was, you have to go all the way back to Week 16 of the 2016 season to find a running back that posted a higher Rushing Net Expected Points than the 4.6 that Jacobs had on Sunday.

If he can continue to increase his role in the passing game, Jacobs could move his way back into the conversation for being an RB1.

Other Notable Trends

- In the early-going, it seemed as though Jordan Howard was going to have another monster game after he ran in a touchdown halfway through the first quarter. While he didn't get much going after that, he still got more carries than teammate Miles Sanders. In fact, Week 5 was the first game in which Sanders didn't record double-digit carries (he missed the mark by one carry). That said, Sanders seems to be distancing himself as the primary pass-catching running back by compiling another four receptions on five targets on Sunday.

- In his first game back from injury, Damien Williams went back to seeing the majority of the backfield work as he was the only one of himself, LeSean McCoy, and Darrel Williams to record a carry. Unfortunately, the production didn't come with the work as the Kansas City Chiefs offense was stifled by the Indianapolis Colts defense all night.

- Against one of the best run defenses, neither Ronald Jones nor Peyton Barber were able to get anything going. It was a nearly even split between Jones and Barber once again on Sunday as neither player has been able to separate himself as the lead back.

- On Monday Night Football, Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert saw 34 percent, 34 percent, and 32 percent of the snaps, respectively. You want a committee? Kyle Shanahan is going to give you one. That said, the San Francisco 49ers are averaging 200 rushing yards per game, the most in the league. If there's any backfield that can support multiple fantasy starters, it's this one.

Volume Metrics

Snap data comes from Lineups

Running BackTeamSnap %Rush Att.
(3-Week Avg.)
(3-Week Avg.)
Total Opportunities
(3-Week Avg.)
Chase EdmondsARI(27/77) 35%8 (5.7)4 (2.7)12 (6.1)
David JohnsonARI(54/77) 70%17 (13)5 (5)22 (16.3)
Devonta FreemanATL(40/74) 54%11 (13)5 (4.3)16 (13.9)
Ito SmithATL(35/74) 47%5 (2.7)6 (3)11 (4.8)
Gus EdwardsBAL(21/81) 26%5 (6)1 (1)6 (5.3)
Justice HillBAL(5/81) 6%2 (1.7)0 (1.7)2 (2.8)
Mark IngramBAL(53/81) 65%19 (15.7)2 (2.7)21 (14.4)
Frank GoreBUF(33/65) 51%14 (15)2 (2)16 (11.2)
TJ YeldonBUF(32/65) 49%2 (3.3)5 (2.7)7 (6.8)
Alex ArmahCAR(5/65) 8%0 (0.3)1 (0.7)1 (1.1)
Christian McCaffreyCAR(56/65) 86%19 (23.3)9 (6.3)28 (20.9)
Reggie BonnafonCAR(11/65) 17%5 (2.3)0 (0)5 (2.3)
David MontgomeryCHI(30/58) 52%11 (15)1 (2.3)12 (10.6)
Mike DavisCHI(4/58) 7%0 (0.3)0 (0)0 (0.3)
Tarik CohenCHI(31/58) 53%4 (4.3)7 (5.3)11 (7.9)
Giovani BernardCIN(26/67) 39%2 (2)3 (2.7)5 (4.6)
Joe MixonCIN(42/67) 63%19 (16.3)1 (2.7)20 (13.7)
Dontrell HilliardCLE(4/49) 8%0 (2)0 (1)0 (3)
D'Ernest JohnsonCLE(5/49) 10%0 (0)1 (1.7)1 (0.8)
Nick ChubbCLE(41/49) 84%16 (19.7)1 (4)17 (17.3)
Ezekiel ElliottDAL(67/72) 93%12 (16.3)4 (3)16 (14)
Tony PollardDAL(5/72) 7%4 (5.7)0 (1.3)4 (7.1)
Phillip LindsayDEN(28/61) 46%15 (15)4 (5.3)19 (16.4)
Royce FreemanDEN(33/61) 54%13 (11.3)2 (4.7)15 (13.7)
Aaron JonesGB(50/74) 68%19 (14)8 (5)27 (14.2)
Tra CarsonGB(24/74) 32%6 (2)4 (1.3)10 (3.3)
Carlos HydeHOU(47/73) 64%21 (14.3)1 (0.3)22 (11.2)
Duke JohnsonHOU(29/73) 40%9 (5.7)1 (1.7)10 (5.8)
Jordan WilkinsIND(12/81) 15%7 (4.7)0 (0.3)7 (3.6)
Marlon MackIND(54/81) 67%29 (18.7)3 (3)32 (17.7)
Nyheim HinesIND(17/81) 21%2 (2.3)5 (3.7)7 (5.7)
Leonard FournetteJAX(77/84) 92%23 (22.3)7 (7)30 (19.6)
Ryquell ArmsteadJAX(6/84) 7%1 (3)1 (0.6)2 (3.6)
Darrel WilliamsKC(14/63) 22%0 (5.7)0 (3)0 (8.7)
Damien WilliamsKC(35/63) 56%9 (3)4 (3)13 (4.9)
LeSean McCoyKC(14/63) 22%0 (6.3)2 (2.7)2 (5.4)
Austin EkelerLAC(46/70) 66%3 (10)16 (9.7)19 (13.7)
Melvin GordonLAC(32/70) 46%12 (4)6 (2)18 (6)
Malcolm BrownLAR(3/72) 4%1 (3)0 (0.7)1 (2)
Todd GurleyLAR(67/72) 93%15 (11.3)5 (3.3)20 (13.4)
Alexander MattisonMIN(16/71) 23%7 (7)0 (0)7 (6.4)
Dalvin CookMIN(47/71) 66%21 (17)6 (4.7)27 (17.8)
Brandon BoldenNE(11/78) 14%5 (2.7)1 (1.3)6 (4)
James WhiteNE(31/78) 40%6 (2.3)9 (4.3)15 (6.6)
Sony MichelNE(38/78) 49%16 (14)3 (1.3)19 (9.8)
Alvin KamaraNO(48/70) 69%16 (16.3)7 (6.7)23 (18.1)
Latavius MurrayNO(23/70) 33%7 (4.3)2 (1)9 (3.9)
Elijhaa PennyNYG(25/69) 36%3 (2)1 (0.3)4 (1.3)
Jonathan HillimanNYG(44/69) 64%9 (6.3)2 (0.6)11 (7)
Wayne GallmanNYG(6/69) 9%2 (8.3)0 (0.7)2 (3.7)
Le'Veon BellNYJ(52/59) 88%15 (11)9 (7.7)24 (16.9)
Ty MontgomeryNYJ(8/59) 14%2 (1.3)0 (1.3)2 (2.1)
Deandre WashingtonOAK(13/73) 18%6 (6)3 (1.7)9 (5.6)
Josh JacobsOAK(50/73) 68%26 (17.7)4 (2)30 (14.4)
Jalen RichardOAK(11/73) 15%2 (2.7)2 (2.7)4 (3.8)
Darren SprolesPHI(10/68) 15%3 (2)1 (1.7)4 (2.8)
Jordan HowardPHI(29/68) 43%13 (13)0 (0.7)13 (9)
Miles SandersPHI(29/68) 43%9 (11)5 (4.3)14 (11.2)
James ConnerPIT(48/60) 80%14 (12.3)0 (3)14 (12.6)
Jaylen SamuelsPIT(15/60) 25%3 (4.3)4 (1.7)7 (3.3)
Chris CarsonSEA(62/74) 84%27 (21.3)2 (2)29 (15.9)
Rashaad PennySEA(12/74) 16%6 (2)2 (1)8 (2.8)
Matt BreidaSF(26/76) 34%11 (8.3)3 (2.3)14 (10.8)
Raheem MostertSF(24/76) 32%7 (6.3)0 (1.7)7 (7.2)
Tevin ColemanSF(26/76) 34%16 (5.3)0 (0)16 (5.3)
Dare OgunbowaleTB(19/59) 32%1 (0.7)3 (2.3)4 (3.2)
Peyton BarberTB(20/59) 34%8 (10)1 (1.3)9 (8.4)
Ronald Jones IITB(20/59) 34%9 (14)3 (1.3)12 (9.2)
Derrick HenryTEN(38/62) 61%20 (21.3)0 (1.7)20 (13.8)
Dion LewisTEN(25/62) 40%2 (3)4 (2)6 (4.1)
Adrian PetersonWAS(16/59) 27%7 (10)0 (1.7)7 (7.9)
Chris ThompsonWAS(32/59) 54%4 (5)7 (6.7)11 (9.7)
Wendell SmallwoodWAS(11/59) 19%6 (2)0 (0.7)6 (2.3)