Week 11 Running Back By Committee Report

Derrius Guice returned to action on Sunday, but saw limited work during the game. What does this mean for his role in the Washington backfield?

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.

Washington Redskins

In Derrius Guice's first game since Week 1, the Washington Redskins were quick to get him worked into the offense. Though he still split most of the work with veteran Adrian Peterson, it was great to see Guice get some meaningful carries.

Coming off of a torn ACL and torn meniscus, Guice showed he can still be an explosive playmaker. On Sunday, Guice busted off a 45-yard screen pass to score his first NFL touchdown, evading a number of Jets defenders. Though it's a small sample size, Guice is seventh in PFF's Elusive Rating among running backs with at least 20 touches this season.

That said, don't be distracted by the fact that Wendell Smallwood played more snaps than both Peterson and Guice, as Guice was ahead of Peterson who was named the starter ahead of Sunday's game. Smallwood appears to just be a Chris Thompson replacement for now as Smallwood didn't register a single carry. If Guice can continue to flash as a pass-catcher, he may garner more work on passing downs.

Next week the Redskins play the Detroit Lions, one of the worst defenses in the league, so I'll be looking to see if Guice can turn it on as a rusher and exploit this ghastly front seven.

Denver Broncos

In one of the more surprising games of Week 11, the Denver Broncos nearly upset the Minnesota Vikings. Prior to Sunday's games, Ian Rapoport reported that Phillip Lindsay was expected to get most of the carries, and that he did. After failing to reach double-digit carries for the second time this year in the Broncos' last outing, Lindsay paced the Broncos backfield with 16 carries

Meanwhile, Royce Freeman was left with only eight carries of his own and failed to reach the double-digit mark for the second straight game. The concerning area for Freeman is his lack of usage in the passing game over the past several weeks. Through the first seven games of the year, Freeman averaged just over four targets and three receptions per game. In the teams' last three games, Freeman has a total of four targets and three receptions.

Notably, those targets haven't gone Lindsay's way either. Most of those targets seem to be funneling towards rookie tight end Noah Fant, who has a 27 percent target share in the Broncos last 3 games. In any case, Freeman just seems to be a handcuff to Lindsay at this point, albeit lower on the totem pole of priority handcuffs.

New England Patriots

Facing the Philadelphia Eagles rush defense is a tough endeavor, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the New England Patriots were able to compile only 74 rushing yards. What is surprising is how the running backs were used throughout the game.

Pass-catching extraordinaire James White maintained his season-long average of a 43 percent snap rate with exactly 43 percent of the snaps on Sunday. Sony Michel continues to drag his usage down, however, as Rex Burkhead becomes more involved with the offense. Michel has been at or below a 30 percent snap rate in each of the last two games, and has only eclipsed 50 percent of the snaps once this year.

Michel continues to dominate as the primary rusher in the red zone with over 50 percent of the team's red zone rushing attempts. Yet, Burkhead and White are edging out Michel in terms of red zone carries as a percentage of total carries, indicating that they're each getting the valuable work, too. This isn't the end all, be all for Michel, especially since the Patriots face a slate of easy run defenses in the fantasy playoffs. But it may be tough to trust Michel going forward if he's not even getting a third of the teams' snaps.

Other Notable Trends

- The Detroit Lions continue to use their backfield assets in a confusing way. Bo Scarbrough led the team in carries and scored a touchdown, but this ground attack is still as inefficient as ever with a combined 3.5 yards per carry average from the Lions' running backs. J.D. McKissic, on the other hand, continues to be the passing-downs back, but it appears that the quarterbacks - whether it's Matthew Stafford or Jeff Driskel - would rather throw it to their receivers.

- Speaking of inefficient running games, the Atlanta Falcons couldn't get anything working on the ground in a blowout win over the Carolina Panthers. With Devonta Freeman out of the picture on Sunday, Brian Hill was given an opportunity to shine, but wasn't able to do anything with it. A Qadree Ollison vulture touchdown ruined any chances of Hill having a productive fantasy outing as he only amassed 38 total yards. That said, the Falcons seem dedicated to Hill as he's been given at least 15 carries in each of the past two games, a feat Freeman has reached only twice in the nine games he's played this year.

- Alvin Kamara looks to be back to his old ways as he posted one of the more impressive stat lines this year for a running back facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Prior to this week, only two other running backs had totaled at least 50 rushing yards against the Buccaneers, which Kamara has now done twice. Kamara's ten receptions helped make up for his inability to score, which he's only been able to do in one game this year.

- Kenyan Drake has officially taken over the Arizona Cardinals backfield. Drake got 23 opportunities, but was only able to pile up 80 total yards against the San Francisco 49ers defense. Meanwhile, David Johnson didn't get a single touch this week and only played nine total snaps - talk about a fall from grace. Following the Week 12 bye, Drake faces an easier slate of defenses and could turn into a league-winner for those that held onto him.

- Is Todd Gurley back to being his old self, or is this just an aberration? On Sunday night against the Chicago Bears, Gurley had his second-best fantasy performance of the year and eclipsed the 20-carry mark for the first time this year. You could tell that the Los Angeles Rams were focused on getting Gurley the ball throughout the game as he was on the field for 75 percent of the teams' snaps for just the third time all year. Though Malcolm Brown was used late in the game on a goal-line carry, he was seldom used up until that point. It would have been nice to see Gurley get that carry, but 28 total opportunities, is hopefully the start of increased usage for Gurley.

- Though Tevin Coleman saw the majority of the teams' opportunities on Sunday, he split snaps evenly with Raheem Mostert as Matt Breida missed the game due to an ankle injury. The San Francisco 49ers have been a huge proponent of RBBC this year, with Coleman being the only one to see at least half of the teams' snaps in a single game this year. Coleman is still a valuable RB2, but the presence of Moster, Breida, and Jeff Wilson will likely keep him from reaching RB1 potential.

- With Jordan Howard out of the mix for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, we got to see how much he has capped Miles Sanders' ceiling. From a production standpoint, Sanders didn't perform particularly well against the Patriots (11 carries for 38 yards), but he saw a season-high 85 percent of the snaps. That 85 percent snap rate was also the highest single-game mark of any Eagles running back since Doug Pederson took over in 2016. With upcoming matchups against the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, and Washington Redskins, Sanders could be in line for some major work if Howard continues to miss time.

Volume Metrics

Snap data comes from Lineups.

Running BackTeamSnap %Rush Att.
(3-Week Avg.)
(3-Week Avg.)
Total Opportunities
(3-Week Avg.)
David JohnsonARI(9/69) 13%0 (1.7)0 (0.3)0 (2)
Kenyan DrakeARI(61/69) 88%16 (13.7)7 (6)23 (19.7)
Brian HillATL(39/65) 60%15 (11.7)3 (1.7)18 (13.3)
Kenjon BarnerATL(14/65) 22%2 (1)0 (0)2 (1)
Qadree OllisonATL(12/65) 18%4 (1.3)0 (0)4 (1.3)
Gus EdwardsBAL(29/72) 40%8 (6.3)0 (0)8 (6.3)
Justice HillBAL(8/72) 11%5 (3.7)1 (0.7)6 (4.3)
Mark IngramBAL(33/72) 46%13 (12.3)4 (2.3)17 (14.7)
Devin SingletaryBUF(53/72) 74%15 (14.3)1 (4)16 (18.3)
Frank GoreBUF(19/72) 26%11 (9)2 (1)13 (10)
Christian McCaffreyCAR(70/75) 93%14 (19.3)14 (8)28 (27.3)
Reggie BonnafonCAR(7/75) 9%0 (1)3 (1.3)3 (2.3)
David MontgomeryCHI(35/76) 46%14 (15)3 (2.3)17 (17.3)
Tarik CohenCHI(45/76) 59%9 (4.7)6 (5)15 (9.7)
Giovani BernardCIN(33/63) 52%3 (2.3)3 (1.3)6 (3.7)
Joe MixonCIN(37/63) 59%15 (15)3 (2)18 (17)
Kareem HuntCLE(39/71) 55%6 (3.3)8 (5.6)14 (9)
Nick ChubbCLE(51/71) 72%27 (22.3)1 (3.3)28 (25.7)
Ezekiel ElliottDAL(66/74) 89%16 (19.7)3 (2)19 (21.7)
Tony PollardDAL(13/74) 18%2 (2)4 (2.3)6 (4.3)
Phillip LindsayDEN(52/81) 64%16 (8.3)2 (0.7)18 (9)
Royce FreemanDEN(24/81) 30%8 (4.3)1 (0.7)9 (5)
Bo ScarbroughDET(32/62) 49%14 (4.6)0 (0)14 (4.6)
JD McKissicDET(15/62) 23%3 (5.7)4 (5)7 (10.7)
Ty JohnsonDET(19/62) 29%2 (5.3)1 (1.7)3 (7)
Carlos HydeHOU(21/61) 34%9 (9.3)1 (0.3)10 (9.7)
Duke JohnsonHOU(36/61) 59%6 (4.3)2 (2.3)8 (6.7)
Jonathan WilliamsIND(31/68) 46%13 (5)1 (0.3)14 (5.3)
Marlon MackIND(21/68) 31%14 (18)0 (0.3)14 (18.3)
Nyheim HinesIND(24/68) 35%3 (2.3)4 (4.7)7 (7)
Leonard FournetteJAX(45/63) 71%8 (6.3)7 (4.3)15 (10.7)
Ryquell ArmsteadJAX(14/63) 22%1 (0.3)2 (2.3)3 (2.7)
Darrel WilliamsKC(12/68) 18%11 (4.7)3 (1.7)14 (6.3)
Damien WilliamsKC(29/68) 43%4 (11.7)1 (2.7)5 (14.3)
LeSean McCoyKC(27/68) 40%7 (3.3)6 (2.3)13 (5.7)
Austin EkelerLAC(46/80) 58%5 (7.7)12 (6)17 (13.7)
Melvin GordonLAC(42/80) 52%14 (18.7)5 (3.3)19 (22)
Malcolm BrownLAR(11/55) 20%5 (3.3)0 (0)5 (3.3)
Todd GurleyLAR(41/55) 75%25 (12.3)3 (2.3)28 (14.7)
Kalen BallageMIA(53/69) 77%9 (12)6 (3.7)15 (15.7)
Myles GaskinMIA(7/69) 10%1 (0.3)1 (0.6)2 (1)
Patrick LairdMIA(16/69) 23%1 (1)6 (2.7)7 (3.7)
Ameer AbdullahMIN(8/63) 13%1 (0.7)2 (1)3 (1.7)
Alexander MattisonMIN(4/63) 6%3 (4.7)0 (0.7)3 (5.3)
Dalvin CookMIN(51/63) 81%11 (19.3)6 (6.7)17 (26)
Brandon BoldenNE(10/74) 14%0 (0)0 (0)0 (0)
James WhiteNE(32/74) 43%5 (4.7)7 (3.3)12 (8)
Rex BurkheadNE(21/74) 28%5 (3)3 (1.7)8 (4.7)
Sony MichelNE(22/74) 30%10 (4.7)4 (2)14 (6.7)
Alvin KamaraNO(43/70) 61%13 (5.7)10 (6.7)23 (12.3)
Latavius MurrayNO(29/70) 41%10 (5)3 (1.7)13 (6.7)
Bilal PowellNYJ(16/71) 23%7 (5.3)2 (0.7)9 (6)
Le'Veon BellNYJ(39/71) 55%18 (17.7)2 (5)20 (22.7)
Ty MontgomeryNYJ(15/71) 21%2 (0.7)1 (0.3)3 (1)
Deandre WashingtonOAK(9/70) 13%2 (2)2 (1.7)4 (3.7)
Josh JacobsOAK(45/70) 64%23 (22.3)3 (3.3)26 (25.7)
Jalen RichardOAK(16/70) 23%2 (2)1 (3)3 (5)
Boston ScottPHI(14/75) 19%7 (2.3)0 (0)7 (2.3)
Miles SandersPHI(64/75) 85%11 (7)4 (2.3)15 (9.3)
James ConnerPIT(13/74) 18%5 (1.7)2 (0.7)7 (2.3)
Jaylen SamuelsPIT(25/74) 34%5 (9)6 (8.7)11 (17.7)
Trey EdmundsPIT(35/74) 47%3 (6.3)3 (2)6 (8.3)
Raheem MostertSF(38/77) 49%6 (4.3)3 (1.3)9 (5.7)
Tevin ColemanSF(38/77) 49%12 (11)4 (4)16 (15)
Dare OgunbowaleTB(29/68) 43%2 (1)4 (2.7)6 (3.7)
Peyton BarberTB(12/68) 18%0 (5)2 (1)2 (6)
Ronald Jones IITB(21/68) 31%4 (11)4 (4.7)8 (15.7)
Adrian PetersonWAS(17/68) 25%9 (9)2 (1)11 (10)
Derrius GuiceWAS(20/68) 29%7 (2.3)2 (0.7)9 (3)
Wendell SmallwoodWAS(31/68) 46%0 (0.7)3 (2)3 (2.7)