Week 6 Running Back By Committee Report

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.

San Francisco 49ers

After taking a couple weeks off from writing about the San Francisco 49ers, I figured it was time to return to their backfield to see how things are shaping up. Tevin Coleman has been back and healthy the past two games, and Kyle Shanahan has not been shy about plugging him back into his pre-injury role. Since returning from an ankle injury, Coleman has led the team in snaps and rush attempts and is the primary red zone back for the team. This week, Coleman had five rushes inside the 10-yard line while no other back had a single carry in that part of the field.

However, Matt Breida isn't far behind in either of those categories and still provides value with his extraordinary efficiency. In fact, he has more rushing yards than Coleman on ten fewer attempts thanks to his 6.25 rushing yards per attempt mark in the past two weeks (and 5.8 yards per carry average on the season). Breida also boasts the tenth-best Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry (0.10) among 57 backs with at least 20 carries so far this season. Finally, he poses more of a threat in the passing game as he's garnered seven targets since Coleman's return.

Raheem Mostert, who filled in nicely while Coleman was out, seems to be getting phased out of the game plan unless the team is in an extremely positive game script -- like they were against the Cleveland Browns a couple weeks ago. That said, the Niners continue to be the NFL's most run-heavy team with a pass-to-rush ratio of 0.78, and they're one of just three teams to have run the ball more times this year than thrown it. Because of this, San Francisco remains one of the few teams that can support multiple fantasy players in a backfield in which the workload is shared.

Los Angeles Rams

Though they are not typically featured in this article, I thought it was prudent to focus on what happened in the Los Angeles Rams backfield with Todd Gurley missing his first game of this season, as this may not be the last game he misses.

Malcolm Brown came into the game as the de facto starter as he had already gotten some run (no pun intended) throughout the season, even with Gurley in the lineup. After five carries for 40 rushing yards on the first drive, hopes were high for those that plugged him into their lineup. The problem? Brown ended the game with 40 rushing yards after getting 6 more carries.

While the entire Rams offense was stifled against the 49ers, Darrell Henderson, in his limited role on Sunday, showed the flashes many have been waiting to see. He finished the game with just under 40 rushing yards on 5 fewer carries, demonstrating his explosiveness.

If Gurley is forced to miss more time, Brown will likely continue to get the majority of the work -- but the Rams have made it clear that they want to get Henderson involved. Whether that happens, though, remains to be seen, as Brown still got over twice as many snaps as Henderson on Sunday.

Houston Texans

Despite Deshaun Watson playing like an MVP candidate, the Houston Texans seem to want to have a viable ground attack, which makes this backfield all the more intriguing. In the Carlos Hyde revenge game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Hyde saw at least 20 carries for the third time this year. What's different about Sunday's performance is that it was his first week with over 100 rushing yards on the season.

Hyde is currently ranked tenth in the NFL in both rushing yards (426) and rush attempts (99). He has also posted three touchdowns in the last four games, which has boosted him to being the 21st ranked running back in half PPR scoring. Hyde is slowly turning into an exact replica of Lamar Miller - a high-volume back with a relatively low ceiling.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the Texans have all but forgotten about Duke Johnson. He hasn't had more than nine carries in a game this season and has averaged 2.8 targets per game, nearly two fewer targets than his 4.7 targets per game career average. He's a bit of a touchdown-dependent flex option at this point, but if the Texans were to start involving him in the passing game a bit more, he may become more than that. Unfortunately, that may not happen soon with the plethora of weapons Watson already has at his disposal.

Other Notable Trends

- Week by week, the Kansas City Chiefs backfield becomes more and more of a headache. With Damien Williams playing in his second game back from injury, one would've expected his workload to increase even more. Well, that wasn't the case as LeSean McCoy handled most of the work on Sunday, and the Chiefs only ran the ball a total of 11 times. Until Andy Reid can learn to control the clock using the talented players in his backfield, it is hard to trust any of these running backs as starters.

- Devonta Freeman is back to being a workhorse running back after tallying 18 carries for 88 yards this week. Where he has continued to provide value for fantasy owners is in the passing game, and this week he paid off big with two receiving touchdowns. However, you may not want to bank on that same level of production following the Atlanta Falcons' bye as they face some of the NFL's toughest run defenses in New Orleans (twice), Tampa Bay (twice), and San Francisco.

- On Monday Night Football, Aaron Jones' game got off to a rough start as he fumbled the ball and dropped a wide-open touchdown pass. Unfortunately for Jones owners, this led to Jamaal Williams getting worked in quite a bit throughout the rest of the game. He went on to finish with more snaps and total opportunities than Jones, though it was a nearly even split. From this point forward, as long as both are healthy, Matt LaFleur will likely continue to employ an RBBC that won't have one back dominating the touches.

- Neither Melvin Gordon nor Austin Ekeler impressed in their Sunday night bout with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it appears as though the Los Angeles Chargers are slowly working Gordon in to the same role that he had last year. This week Gordon out-touched and out-snapped Ekeler by a moderate amount. Gordon's return has been the least-bit triumphant as his -0.33 rushing NEP per carry is second-worst in the league among backs with at least 20 carries so far this season, ahead of only Giovani Bernard.

Volume Metrics

Snap data comes from Lineups

Running BackTeamSnap %Rush Att. (3-Week Avg.)Targets (3-Week Avg.)Total Opportunities (3-Week Avg.)
Chase EdmondsARI(20/69) 29%5 (6.3)2 (2)7 (8.3)
David JohnsonARI(52/69) 75%12 (13.3)8 (8)20 (21.3)
Devonta FreemanATL(50/69) 72%19 (14)3 (5.7)22 (19.7)
Ito SmithATL(18/69) 26%3 (3.3)0 (3.3)3 (6.7)
Gus EdwardsBAL(33/81) 41%6 (5.7)0 (0.7)6 (6.3)
Justice HillBAL(17/81) 21%5 (3)0 (0.7)5 (3.7)
Mark IngramBAL(31/81) 38%13 (14.7)3 (2)16 (16.7)
Alex ArmahCAR(11/66) 17%2 (0.7)0 (0.3)2 (1)
Christian McCaffreyCAR(64/66) 97%22 (22.7)5 (8)27 (30.7)
Reggie BonnafonCAR(3/66) 5%0 (1.7)0 (0.3)0 (2)
Giovani BernardCIN(33/62) 53%4 (2.3)3 (4)7 (6.3)
Joe MixonCIN(30/62) 48%8 (14)3 (3)11 (17)
Dontrell HilliardCLE(10/69) 14%0 (2)3 (2)3 (4)
Nick ChubbCLE(59/69) 86%20 (18.7)6 (3.7)26 (22.3)
Ezekiel ElliottDAL(75/82) 91%28 (19.3)6 (5.7)34 (25)
Tony PollardDAL(7/82) 9%3 (2.3)0 (0)3 (2.3)
Phillip LindsayDEN(29/62) 47%15 (13)3 (2.7)18 (15.7)
Royce FreemanDEN(38/62) 61%11 (10)5 (4.3)16 (14.3)
JD McKissicDET(14/59) 24%3 (2.7)3 (1.7)6 (5.4)
Kerryon JohnsonDET(43/59) 73%13 (19.7)4 (2.7)17 (22.4)
Ty JohnsonDET(2/59) 3%0 (1)0 (0.3)0 (1.3)
Aaron JonesGB(36/74) 49%11 (14.3)7 (7.3)18 (21.7)
Jamaal WilliamsGB(39/74) 53%14 (4.7)5 (2)19 (6.7)
Carlos HydeHOU(56/92) 61%26 (19.7)1 (2.3)27 (22)
Duke JohnsonHOU(34/92) 37%5 (6.7)4 (2.7)9 (9.3)
Leonard FournetteJAX(55/59) 93%20 (24)6 (5.3)26 (29.3)
Ryquell ArmsteadJAX(2/59) 3%1 (3.3)0 (0.7)1 (4)
Darrel WilliamsKC(7/58) 12%0 (2.7)2 (2)2 (4.7)
Damien WilliamsKC(22/58) 38%1 (3.3)1 (1.7)2 (5)
LeSean McCoyKC(29/58) 50%8 (6.3)2 (2.7)10 (9)
Austin EkelerLAC(28/62) 45%5 (8.7)4 (8.3)9 (17)
Melvin GordonLAC(37/62) 60%8 (10)4 (5)12 (15)
Darrell HendersonLAR(17/53) 32%6 (2)2 (0.7)8 (2.7)
Malcolm BrownLAR(36/53) 68%11 (5.7)0 (0.3)11 (6)
Kalen BallageMIA(4/76) 5%3 (1.7)0 (0.3)3 (2)
Kenyan DrakeMIA(46/76) 61%10 (6.3)9 (4.7)19 (11)
Mark WaltonMIA(32/76) 42%6 (4)6 (2.7)12 (6.7)
Alexander MattisonMIN(21/71) 30%14 (7.7)0 (0.3)14 (8)
Dalvin CookMIN(45/71) 63%16 (17)2 (5.3)18 (22.3)
Brandon BoldenNE(12/82) 15%3 (3)2 (1)5 (4)
James WhiteNE(31/82) 38%2 (3)9 (9.3)11 (12.3)
Sony MichelNE(41/82) 50%22 (18.3)3 (2)25 (20.3)
Alvin KamaraNO(39/66) 59%11 (14.7)8 (6)19 (20.7)
Latavius MurrayNO(28/66) 42%8 (6.3)3 (2)11 (8.3)
Elijhaa PennyNYG(20/50) 40%3 (3)2 (1)5 (4)
Jonathan HillimanNYG(31/50) 62%11 (10)2 (1.3)13 (11.3)
Bilal PowellNYJ(12/62) 19%1 (0.7)1 (0.3)2 (1)
Le'Veon BellNYJ(51/62) 82%14 (9.7)1 (3.3)15 (13)
Ty MontgomeryNYJ(6/62) 10%0 (0.7)3 (1)3 (1.7)
Jordan HowardPHI(41/65) 63%13 (13.7)0 (1.3)13 (15)
Miles SandersPHI(19/65) 29%3 (7.7)3 (2.7)6 (10.3)
Benny Snell Jr.PIT(29/60) 48%17 (6.3)1 (0.7)18 (7)
James ConnerPIT(30/60) 50%16 (13.3)7 (5)23 (18.3)
Chris CarsonSEA(66/83) 80%24 (24.3)4 (3.3)28 (27.7)
CJ ProsiseSEA(17/83) 20%3 (2)3 (1)6 (3)
Matt BreidaSF(28/78) 36%13 (8)4 (2.3)17 (10.3)
Raheem MostertSF(7/78) 9%4 (3.7)0 (0)4 (3.7)
Tevin ColemanSF(43/78) 55%18 (11.3)3 (1)21 (12.3)
Dare OgunbowaleTB(46/80) 57%1 (1)5 (4)6 (5)
Peyton BarberTB(19/80) 24%8 (8.3)0 (0.7)8 (9)
Ronald Jones IITB(13/80) 16%4 (10.7)0 (1.3)4 (12)
Derrick HenryTEN(37/70) 53%15 (20.7)3 (1.7)18 (22.3)
Dion LewisTEN(29/70) 41%1 (2.3)3 (4)4 (6.3)
Adrian PetersonWAS(37/59) 63%23 (13.7)2 (0.7)25 (14.3)
Chris ThompsonWAS(13/59) 22%3 (3.7)3 (5)6 (8.7)
Wendell SmallwoodWAS(10/59) 17%1 (2.3)0 (0.3)1 (2.7)