Week 12 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.

Pittsburgh Steelers

James Conner missed his third game of the year due to a shoulder injury, opening the door for Jaylen Samuels and rookie Benny Snell Jr. to lead the way for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the prior two games that Conner had missed, Samuels had been the primary beneficiary with at least 20 opportunities (targets plus carries) in each game. That changed on Sunday, with Snell getting his first significant workload of his career.

On 21 carries, Snell barely missed the 100-yard mark with a 4.7 yard per carry average. In the eight games that Conner has played, he has only eclipsed the 20-carry mark once. It's clear that the Steelers will trust Snell in the lead back role, while Samuels fits in as a change-of-pace back.

Kerrith Whyte Jr. had a limited role on Sunday as he saw only seven offensive snaps, but he made the most of them rushing for 43 yards on the six carries he was given. If Conner continues to miss time, Snell and Samuels should lead the Steelers backfield, with Whyte and Trey Edmunds getting used sparingly. Unfortunately, neither Snell nor Samuels is particularly strong in both the passing and running game, so they'll continue to cannibalize each others total opportunities.

Seattle Seahawks

For most of the season, the Seattle Seahawks backfield was led solely by Chris Carson. Prior to Week 12, Carson had at least 15 carries in each game. That changed on Sunday with Rashaad Penny bursting onto the scene. In the midst of Carson's fumbling issues (leads the league with 10 fumbles this season), Penny took advantage of increased usage by rushing for 129 yards on 14 carries against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Though Carson only had eight rushing attempts, he caught all four of his targets. Carson (35 snaps) was also on the field for more snaps than Penny (30 snaps) was this week, although it wasn't by a wide margin. This usage trend is expected to continue into Week 13 as Carson and Penny spend more time sharing the workload and splitting the opportunities.

Outside of the fumbling issues, it shouldn't be a surprise that the Seahawks want to get Penny more involved. Penny demonstrated his explosiveness on a 58-yard rushing touchdown, one yard short of Carson's season-long rush. Per PFF, Penny is second in breakaway percent among running backs with at least 20 carries at a 53.7 percent rate. Furthermore, Penny is seventh in the league in Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry at 0.10 -- he's primed for a second-half breakout.

Indianapolis Colts

Reports on the Indianapolis Colts backfield going into the Thursday Night Football game against the Houston Texans indicated that Jonathan Williams would get the majority of the work as the starter, and that certainly came to fruition. Many expected Jordan Wilkins, who had played in relief of Marlon Mack earlier in the season, to get a decent share of the work. However, after missing a single game because of an ankle injury, Wilkins was nowhere to be found -- he played one snap all game.

With Marlon Mack expected to miss several more games, Williams is in line to continue getting a big workload. Williams topped 100 yards rushing on Thursday for the second straight week, which Mack has done only three times all year. Nyheim Hines will also maintain his role as the Colts third-down back - this season, he's averaged close to a 30 percent snap rate. That said, it seems like the Colts are more willing to give Williams a shot at handling all types of work, including a role in the passing game.

The Colts play both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints -- two of the toughest run defenses and worst fantasy matchups for opposing running backs -- over the coming weeks. Fortunately, Frank Reich has been committed to running the ball as of late. Over their last three games, the Colts have run the ball on 53 percent of plays, second behind only the Baltimore Ravens. Volume drives success in fantasy football, even when facing tough opponents.

Other Notable Trends

- Phillip Lindsay has solidified himself as the lead back for the Broncos. Royce Freeman was once again left in the dust of Lindsay with only two rushing attempts. The Broncos have one of the league’s easiest schedules for running backs down the stretch (no team they face ranks outside the top-12 in fantasy points allowed to running backs), making Lindsay a prime candidate to be a league-winner.

- For the first time in a while, Josh Jacobs was impacted heavily by a negative game script for the Oakland Raiders. In a surprise blowout loss to the New York Jets, Jacobs played on only 39 percent of snaps, his lowest mark of the season. He still led the team in carries, but the Raiders clearly still see Jalen Richard as the best pass-catching back, evidenced by his team-leading seven targets on Sunday.

- This week, fantasy owners that paid up for the Detroit Lions lead running back were rewarded with a solid outing from Bo Scarbrough. Though he didn't find the end zone, Scarbrough got double-digit carries for the second straight week and was two yards short of 100 yards rushing. Scarbrough's 5.44 yards per carry average was the highest this season by a Lions running back that saw double-digit carries in a game.

- On Sunday, Frank Gore passed Barry Sanders for third-most rushing yards in NFL history. Even so, Devin Singletary continues to out-work the future Hall of Fame running back. For the first time this year, Singletary reached 100 yards rushing. He's also had at least 20 carries in two of the Buffalo's past four games. While Gore still got 15 carries of his own, the takeover is in full effect in Buffalo.

- Last week, Miles Sanders reached the highest single-game mark for snap percentage (85 percent) of any Philadelphia Eagles running back since 2016. This week, Sanders nearly reached that again with an 84 percent snap rate, with Jordan Howard missing his second straight game. Jay Ajayi saw limited work with six carries of his own, so it's clear this backfield belongs to Sanders while Howard is out of the lineup.

Volume Metrics

Snap data comes from Lineups.

Running BackTeamSnap %Rush Att. (3-Week Avg.)Targets (3-Week Avg.)Total Opportunities (3-Week Avg.)
Brian HillATL(51/87) 59%9 (14.7)4 (3)13 (17.7)
Kenjon BarnerATL(13/87) 15%0 (1)2 (0.7)2 (1.7)
Qadree OllisonATL(23/87) 26%8 (4)1 (0.7)9 (4.7)
Gus EdwardsBAL(32/78) 41%14 (8.7)0 (0)14 (8.7)
Justice HillBAL(19/78) 24%8 (5.3)0 (0.3)8 (5.7)
Mark IngramBAL(24/78) 31%15 (12.3)1 (1.7)16 (14)
Devin SingletaryBUF(57/80) 71%21 (14.7)2 (3.3)23 (18)
Frank GoreBUF(23/80) 29%15 (10.3)0 (1)15 (11.3)
Christian McCaffreyCAR(76/76) 100%22 (18.7)9 (10)31 (28.7)
David MontgomeryCHI(47/76) 62%13 (14.7)3 (2)16 (16.7)
Tarik CohenCHI(42/76) 55%6 (6)9 (6.3)15 (12.3)
Giovani BernardCIN(21/58) 36%1 (2.7)3 (2.3)4 (5)
Joe MixonCIN(40/58) 69%18 (21)0 (2)18 (23)
Kareem HuntCLE(43/76) 57%8 (6)3 (6.7)11 (12.7)
Nick ChubbCLE(43/76) 57%21 (22.7)4 (3)25 (25.7)
Ezekiel ElliottDAL(56/64) 88%21 (19)4 (3.3)25 (22.3)
Tony PollardDAL(12/64) 19%4 (2.3)4 (2.7)8 (5)
Phillip LindsayDEN(27/50) 54%13 (9.7)3 (1.7)16 (11.3)
Royce FreemanDEN(28/50) 56%2 (3.3)2 (1)4 (4.3)
Bo ScarbroughDET(38/75) 51%18 (10.7)0 (0)18 (10.7)
JD McKissicDET(11/75) 15%1 (4.7)2 (4.3)3 (9)
Ty JohnsonDET(27/75) 36%4 (3.7)2 (1.3)6 (5)
Aaron JonesGB(41/80) 51%13 (8.7)1 (0.3)14 (9)
Jamaal WilliamsGB(39/80) 49%11 (8)8 (3)19 (11)
Carlos HydeHOU(29/59) 49%16 (8.3)0 (0.3)16 (8.7)
Duke JohnsonHOU(30/59) 51%5 (3.7)1 (1)6 (4.7)
Jordan WilkinsIND(1/67) 1%0 (1)0 (0)0 (1)
Jonathan WilliamsIND(45/67) 67%26 (13.7)3 (1.3)29 (15)
Nyheim HinesIND(22/67) 33%9 (5)3 (4.7)12 (9.7)
Leonard FournetteJAX(82/86) 95%24 (10.7)12 (6.3)36 (17)
Ryquell ArmsteadJAX(4/86) 5%0 (0.3)1 (1)1 (1.3)
Malcolm BrownLAR(2/54) 4%1 (3.7)0 (0)1 (3.7)
Todd GurleyLAR(52/54) 96%6 (14.3)3 (3.3)9 (17.7)
Kalen BallageMIA(24/63) 38%7 (12)1 (3.7)8 (15.7)
Myles GaskinMIA(16/63) 25%4 (1.7)1 (1)5 (3.7)
Patrick LairdMIA(23/63) 37%3 (2)1 (3)4 (5)
Brandon BoldenNE(7/70) 10%1 (0.3)0 (0)1 (0.3)
James WhiteNE(21/70) 30%2 (2.3)3 (3.3)5 (5.7)
Rex BurkheadNE(15/70) 21%2 (2.3)5 (2.7)7 (5)
Sony MichelNE(36/70) 51%20 (10)0 (1.3)20 (11.3)
Alvin KamaraNO(44/66) 67%11 (9.3)9 (9.7)20 (19)
Latavius MurrayNO(26/66) 39%7 (7.3)0 (1.7)7 (9)
Saquon BarkleyNYG(58/60) 97%17 (10)3 (2.7)20 (12.7)
Wayne GallmanNYG(2/60) 3%1 (0.7)0 (0.7)1 (1.3)
Bilal PowellNYJ(15/63) 24%5 (6.3)2 (1.3)7 (7.7)
Le'Veon BellNYJ(36/63) 57%12 (16)5 (3.7)17 (19.7)
Ty MontgomeryNYJ(12/63) 19%5 (2.3)2 (1)7 (3.3)
Deandre WashingtonOAK(13/59) 22%6 (3)1 (1.7)7 (4.7)
Josh JacobsOAK(23/59) 39%10 (16.3)1 (3)11 (19.3)
Jalen RichardOAK(23/59) 39%2 (2)7 (4)9 (6)
Boston ScottPHI(3/76) 4%0 (2.3)0 (0)0 (2.3)
Miles SandersPHI(64/76) 84%12 (7.7)5 (3)17 (10.7)
Benny Snell Jr.PIT(36/74) 49%21 (7)1 (0.3)22 (7.3)
Jaylen SamuelsPIT(22/74) 30%2 (7)3 (5.3)5 (12.3)
Trey EdmundsPIT(12/74) 16%2 (3)0 (2)2 (5)
Chris CarsonSEA(35/65) 54%8 (11)4 (2.7)12 (13.7)
Rashaad PennySEA(30/65) 46%14 (5.3)1 (0.3)15 (5.7)
Raheem MostertSF(14/48) 29%6 (6)3 (2.3)9 (8.3)
Tevin ColemanSF(29/48) 60%11 (10.7)4 (4)15 (14.7)
Dare OgunbowaleTB(14/66) 21%1 (1)1 (2.7)2 (3.7)
Peyton BarberTB(15/66) 23%11 (7.3)1 (1.3)12 (8.7)
Ronald Jones IITB(33/66) 50%12 (9)3 (5)15 (14)
Derrick HenryTEN(40/53) 75%19 (14)1 (1)20 (15)
Dion LewisTEN(8/53) 15%5 (1.7)2 (0.7)7 (2.3)
Adrian PetersonWAS(20/60) 33%10 (6.3)1 (1)11 (7.3)
Derrius GuiceWAS(26/60) 43%10 (5.7)2 (1.3)12 (7)
Wendell SmallwoodWAS(16/60) 27%0 (0)1 (1.3)1 (1.3)