Week 9 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.

Every 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 of this and more will be covered each week.

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

Los Angeles Chargers

For the first time since Melvin Gordon's return, the Los Angeles Chargers had an effective running game. In addition to Gordon's 80 rushing yards, Austin Ekeler piled on 70 yards of his own. In the four games leading up to this week, the Chargers failed to reach 40 rushing yards as a team. This was also the first game that Gordon recorded positive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) this season and the first time since the end of Gordon's holdout that Ekeler posted positive Rushing NEP himself.

What's been most obvious about this Chargers' backfield is that they want Gordon to be the primary rusher, as he's averaged almost 13 carries per game, with a season-high 20 rushes this past week. Ekeler, on the other hand, went from 14 carries per game while Gordon was out to less than 6 carries per game in the last five contests.

With Ken Whisenhunt getting fired early last week, it was unclear how the fill-in offensive coordinator Shane Steichen would use both Gordon and Ekeler. If this game is any indication, it's that Gordon is turning into the workhorse back that he was last year. On Sunday, Gordon played a season-high 66% of the snaps while Ekeler played a season-low 34%. You may think this was due to the positive game script the Chargers had, however, the split was 60% to 37% at the end of the first quarter for Gordon and Ekeler, respectively.

In his first game with over 50 scrimmage yards this year, Gordon showed that he can and should be the primary back moving forward.

Baltimore Ravens

Several teams seem to be experiencing a changing of the guard in their backfields as we pass the halfway point of the fantasy football season. One team who hasn't seen a total shift yet is the Baltimore Ravens. Nevertheless, I've continued to monitor their backfield situation.

Over the past couple weeks an interesting trend has started to appear in which Gus Edwards continues to take more and more work from starter Mark Ingram. He's slowly becoming a thorn in the side of Ingram owners that won't be going away anytime soon. Edwards has consistently gotten around seven carries per game over the course of the season, and that trend seems to be here to stay.

What's more fascinating is that Edwards has gone from averaging 28 percent of the teams' snaps in the first five games to nearly 40 percent over the last three. Meanwhile, Ingram's snap percentage hovered over 50 percent for the first five games but has seen that drop to 44 percent over the last three games. Ingram is still favored in terms of overall opportunity share, but if these snap trends continue, we could see the likes of a 50/50 split between these two backs.

Kansas City Chiefs

As soon as we were starting to get a feel for this backfield and thinking that LeSean McCoy was the lead guy, he fumbled late in the game against the Green Bay Packers. After losing that fumble, he didn't get any carries the rest of that game and only got three carries on Sunday. In relief, Damien Williams has seen a resurgence.

Since that fumble, Williams has recorded 19 carries for 155 yards. That, of course, includes the longest rush of the season by any player -- take away that run, and Williams is averaging a paltry 3.5 yards per carry. Additionally, the Kansas City Chiefs haven't been particularly successful running the ball in general this year, averaging just over 90 rushing yards per game (24th in the league). That said, volume is king in fantasy football, especially in the Kansas City Chiefs offense.

At this point, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson remain irrelevant unless an injury to McCoy or the other Williams occurs. If you can sell high on Williams' following his best performance of the year, now may be the time to do so.

Other Notable Trends

- Have a day, Devin Singletary! The rookie running back finally broke out after getting 20 carries and rushing for 95 yards, including a score. In a game that was primed to feature Frank Gore, Singletary saw the majority of the work for the first time all year. He also added 3 receptions for 45 yards, displaying his explosiveness on a huge screen pass.

- With James Conner missing Sunday's bout due to a shoulder injury, Jaylen Samuels filled in admirably. Trey Edmunds, however, finished the game with the most carries, racking up 12 carries for 73 rushing yards. It also seemed like Mason Rudolph still had the training wheels on and wasn't looking for anything more than a dump-off pass to his running backs this whole game. This benefited Samuels tremendously, who hauled in 13 receptions for 73 yards.

- Once again, Jordan Howard led the Philadelphia Eagles backfield in carries while Miles Sanders continues to be a threat in the passing game. Surprisingly, Sanders has gained 47 more total yards than Howard on 31 fewer touches. He has also scored five fewer touchdowns than Howard has this season. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Sanders will take over the lead duties anytime soon, stifling his potential ceiling.

- On Thursday night, Kenyan Drake made a fool of just about everyone. After being traded to the Arizona Cardinals just three days before a game against one of the top defenses, Drake recorded his third career 100-yard rushing game. Neither Alfred Morris nor Zach Zenner were much of a factor, so if David Johnson and Chase Edmonds continue to miss time, Drake could fill in nicely as a serviceable replacement back.

- Matt Nagy continues to make confusing play call decisions as the entirety of the Chicago Bears organization is in complete disarray. Though it's encouraging to see David Montgomery continue to get the bulk of the carries, it was an inefficient day on the ground for him.

- For the second straight game, Ronald Jones has seen double-digit carries. Over the last four weeks, Jones has out-carried Peyton Barber 42 to 30, which will lead many to take this as a sign that Jones has taken over this backfield. However, we saw this same situation play out earlier in the year only to be fooled and have Barber take over the lead role shortly thereafter. Until we see these trends continue for another game or two, it's hard to trust either back.

Volume Metrics

Snap data comes from Lineups.

Running BackTeamSnap %Rush Att. (3-Week Avg.)Targets (3-Week Avg.)Total Opportunities (3-Week Avg.)
Alfred MorrisARI(3/57) 5%1 (0.3)0 (0)1 (0.3)
Kenyan DrakeARI(48/57) 84%15 (7)4 (2.7)19 (9.7)
Zach ZennerARI(1/57) 2%1 (0.3)0 (1)1 (1.3)
Gus EdwardsBAL(28/70) 40%7 (5)0 (0)7 (5)
Justice HillBAL(10/70) 14%3 (1)1 (0.3)4 (1.3)
Mark IngramBAL(31/70) 44%15 (9)3 (1.3)18 (10.3)
Devin SingletaryBUF(41/62) 66%20 (10)4 (3.3)24 (13.3)
Frank GoreBUF(21/62) 34%11 (10.3)0 (0.3)11 (10.7)
Christian McCaffreyCAR(61/71) 86%24 (12.7)3 (2.7)27 (15.3)
Reggie BonnafonCAR(8/71) 11%3 (1.3)1 (1.3)4 (2.7)
David MontgomeryCHI(33/45) 73%14 (14.3)4 (3.7)18 (18)
Tarik CohenCHI(16/45) 36%2 (3)5 (6.7)7 (9.7)
Dontrell HilliardCLE(30/75) 40%5 (2)2 (2)7 (4)
Nick ChubbCLE(45/75) 60%20 (13.3)5 (2)25 (15.3)
Ezekiel ElliottDAL(57/71) 80%23 (15)0 (2.3)23 (17.3)
Tony PollardDAL(15/71) 21%3 (3.7)3 (1)6 (4.7)
Phillip LindsayDEN(23/50) 46%9 (11.3)0 (2)9 (13.3)
Royce FreemanDEN(26/50) 52%5 (9)1 (2.7)6 (11.7)
JD McKissicDET(27/71) 38%4 (3.3)4 (3.3)8 (6.6)
Paul PerkinsDET(3/71) 4%3 (2)0 (0)3 (2)
Ty JohnsonDET(44/71) 62%9 (8.7)3 (3.7)12 (12.3)
Aaron JonesGB(32/54) 59%8 (11)4 (5.3)12 (16.3)
Jamaal WilliamsGB(24/54) 44%2 (4)6 (4.7)8 (8.7)
Carlos HydeHOU(39/70) 56%19 (16.7)0 (0.7)19 (17.3)
Duke JohnsonHOU(33/70) 47%7 (5.7)5 (5)12 (10.7)
Jordan WilkinsIND(14/71) 20%1 (1.7)2 (1)3 (2.7)
Marlon MackIND(39/71) 55%21 (19.3)0 (1.3)21 (20.7)
Nyheim HinesIND(20/71) 28%1 (2)3 (2.7)4 (4.7)
Leonard FournetteJAX(56/67) 84%11 (19.7)6 (5)17 (24.7)
Ryquell ArmsteadJAX(9/67) 13%0 (3)5 (2)5 (5)
Darrel WilliamsKC(11/60) 18%1 (1.7)1 (1)2 (2.7)
Damien WilliamsKC(43/60) 72%12 (9.3)2 (1.7)14 (11)
LeSean McCoyKC(6/60) 10%3 (8)1 (2.3)4 (10.3)
Austin EkelerLAC(24/71) 34%12 (6.7)4 (5)16 (11.7)
Justin JacksonLAC(5/71) 7%2 (0.7)1 (0.3)3 (1)
Melvin GordonLAC(45/71) 63%20 (14.7)4 (3.3)24 (18)
Kalen BallageMIA(21/69) 30%7 (4.3)1 (0.7)8 (5)
Mark WaltonMIA(51/69) 74%12 (12.3)4 (3.7)16 (16)
Ameer AbdullahMIN(9/71) 13%1 (0.3)1 (0.3)2 (0.7)
Alexander MattisonMIN(6/71) 8%3 (7.7)1 (1)4 (8.7)
Dalvin CookMIN(57/71) 80%21 (23)7 (5)28 (28)
James WhiteNE(28/67) 42%9 (5.3)3 (5.3)12 (10.7)
Rex BurkheadNE(24/67) 36%4 (2.3)2 (1)6 (3.3)
Sony MichelNE(15/67) 22%4 (14.7)2 (1.3)6 (16)
Elijhaa PennyNYG(5/72) 7%0 (0.3)0 (0)0 (0.3)
Saquon BarkleyNYG(59/72) 82%14 (17)8 (7.7)22 (24.7)
Wayne GallmanNYG(13/72) 18%0 (0)1 (0.7)1 (0.7)
Bilal PowellNYJ(7/70) 10%2 (2.3)0 (0)2 (2.3)
Le'Veon BellNYJ(63/70) 90%17 (13.7)9 (6)26 (19.7)
Ty MontgomeryNYJ(2/70) 3%0 (0.7)0 (0.3)0 (1)
Deandre WashingtonOAK(7/72) 10%3 (4.7)1 (1)4 (5.7)
Josh JacobsOAK(42/72) 58%28 (21.3)2 (2.3)30 (23.7)
Jalen RichardOAK(24/72) 33%2 (1.7)4 (2.7)6 (4.3)
Darren SprolesPHI(10/89) 11%2 (0.7)2 (0.7)4 (1.3)
Jordan HowardPHI(43/89) 48%19 (17.7)1 (1.7)20 (19.3)
Miles SandersPHI(36/89) 40%10 (6.3)3 (3)13 (9.3)
Jaylen SamuelsPIT(40/63) 63%8 (2.7)13 (4.3)21 (7)
Trey EdmundsPIT(17/63) 27%12 (4.3)0 (0.0)12 (4.3)
Chris CarsonSEA(64/75) 85%16 (19)2 (2.7)18 (21.7)
Rashaad PennySEA(11/75) 15%4 (4)1 (0.3)5 (4.3)
Matt BreidaSF(29/74) 39%15 (11.3)2 (1.3)17 (12.7)
Raheem MostertSF(2/74) 3%1 (3.3)0 (0)1 (3.3)
Tevin ColemanSF(41/74) 55%12 (14.3)4 (2.7)16 (17)
Dare OgunbowaleTB(21/79) 27%1 (0.7)1 (1.3)2 (2)
Peyton BarberTB(11/79) 14%4 (4.7)0 (1)4 (5.7)
Ronald Jones IITB(42/79) 53%18 (9.7)2 (2)20 (11.7)
Derrick HenryTEN(40/75) 53%13 (17)3 (1.7)16 (18.7)
Dion LewisTEN(35/75) 47%4 (1.7)5 (2.3)9 (4)
Adrian PetersonWAS(36/51) 71%18 (17.3)1 (1)19 (18.3)
Wendell SmallwoodWAS(18/51) 35%2 (3)3 (2)5 (5)