Week 13 Fantasy Football Backfield Report

Jaylen Samuels is one of several running backs who could see a bigger role in Week 14.

What an absolutely crazy Week 13 in terms of running backs! We have a ton to cover in this article with all of the injuries/suspensions that have recently taken place. But first, congratulations to all fantasy owners who have punched their tickets to the playoffs, and for those of you who missed out, we still have a handful of weeks to continue with DFS.

Coaches are starting to be let go, players are all banged up, and some teams are already looking towards next season, so sifting through all this information is very important.

For Week 13, there were major changes to the data tables including the addition of three teams (Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, and Pittsburgh Steelers) who had previously been using a bell-cow back. But due to injuries (James Conner & Melvin Gordon), and an off the field issue (Kareem Hunt), opportunities have opened up for others. We will dive into all of these situations later on.

As a reminder, this weekly piece is here to help fantasy players sort through all of the NFL backfields to understand how coaches are using their backs. The data only breaks down the teams that do not heavily favor one back as a bell-cow.

Let's dive into the Week 13 data, and, as always, snap counts and red zone data come from Pro Football Reference.

Volume Metrics

The table below is sorted by total season touches for each backfield.

Running BackTeamW13 Snap %W13 TouchesSeason Snap %Season TouchesSeason RB Touch Share %
Tevin ColemanATL29/53 (54.7%)7457/797 (57.3%)15858.7%
Ito SmithATL24/53 (45.3%)8250/797 (31.4%)9234.2%
Gus EdwardsBAL41/81 (50.6%)21164/903 (18.2%)7723.6%
Kenneth DixonBAL17/81 (20.9%)939/903 (4.3%)226.7%
Ty MontgomeryBAL27/81 (33.3%)864/903 (7.1%)195.8%
Javorius AllenBALDNP DNP 307/903 (33.9%)7633.9%
LeSean McCoyBUF54/72 (75.0%)19419/790 (53.0%)17253.8%
Chris IvoryBUF12/72 (16.7%)6242/790 (30.6%)10131.6%
Marcus MurphyBUF6/72 (8.3%)1137/790 (17.3%)4714.7%
Jordan HowardCHI34/82 (41.4%)17470/811 (57.9%)19356.4%
Tarik CohenCHI42/82 (51.2%)20375/811 (46.2%)13338.9%
Joe MixonCIN39/68 (57.4%)14426/754 (56.45)18767.5%
Giovani BernardCIN28/68 (41.2%)11241/754 (31.9%)7125.6%
Nick ChubbCLE27/57 (47.4%)12261/844 (30.9%)14343.7%
Duke JohnsonCLE20/57 (35.1%)2346/844 (40.9%)6419.8%
Phillip LindsayDEN25/59 (42.4%)20345/780 (44.2%)17953.9%
Royce FreemanDEN21/59 (35.6%)12212/780 (27.2%)10130.4%
Devontae BookerDEN13/59 (22.0%)3225/780(28.8%)5215.7%
LeGarrette BlountDET30/72 (41.7%)16211/810 (26.0%)11934.3%
Theo RiddickDET38/72 (52.8%)11313/810 (38.6%)7020.2%
Kerryon JohnsonDETDNPDNP346/810 (42.7%)15043.2%
Aaron JonesGB39/76 (51.3%)15327/795 (41.1%)13549.6%
Jamaal WilliamsGB38/76 (50.0%)11315/795 (39.6%)9635.3%
Lamar MillerHOU41/76 (53.9%)20493/827 (59.6%)19458.1%
Alfred BlueHOU36/76 (47.4%)13345/827 (41.7%)14041.9%
Marlon MackIND28/76 (36.8%)9263/851 (30.9%)12938.7%
Nyheim HinesIND46/76 (60.5%)13406/851 (47.7%)12437.2%
Jordan WilkinsIND5/76 (6.6%)1183/851 (21.5%)7121.3%
T.J. YeldonJAC35/58 (60.3%)15476/798 (59.6%)15345.8%
Carlos HydeJAC22/58 (37.9%)1485/798 (10.7%)4112.3%
Leonard FournetteJACDNPDNP150/798 (18.8%)10431.1%
Spencer WareKC49/71 (69.0%)15206/784 (26.3%)5118.8%
Damien WilliamsKC19/71 (26.8%)752/784 (6.6%)134.8%
Austin EkelerLAC49/63 (77.8%)18294/742 (39.6%)12035.3%
Justin JacksonLAC14/63 (22.2%)939/742 (5.3%)236.8%
Melvin GordonLACDNPDNP450/742 (60.6%)19757.9%
Frank GoreMIA20/55 (36.4%)9300/712 (42.1%)15050.2%
Kenyan DrakeMIA30/55 (54.5%)9412/712 (57.9%)13645.5%
Latavius MurrayMIN12/61 (19.7%)6407/806 (50.5%)13149.2%
Dalvin CookMIN47/61 (77.0%)17300/806 (37.2%)10137.9%
Sony MichelNE30/74 (40.5%)18217/833 (26.1%)15136.5%
James WhiteNE33/74 (44.6%)13485/833 (58.2%)15036.2%
Cordarrelle PattersonNE8/74 (10.8%)3190/833 (22.8%)5312.8%
Rex BurkheadNE17/74 (22.9%)976/833 (9.1%)368.7%
Alvin KamaraNO35/52 (67.3%)19528/794 (66.5%)22660.4%
Mark IngramNO21/52 (40.4%)9237/794 (29.8%)11229.9%
Isaiah CrowellNYJ44/69 (63.8%)25328/757 (43.3%)16150.6%
Trent CannonNYJ25/69 (36.2%)5106/757 (14.0%)3410.7%
Elijah McGuireNYJ9/69 (13.0%)7128/757 (16.9%)3210.1%
Doug MartinOAK40/76 (52.6%)20222/788 (28.2%)12135.3%
Jalen RichardOAK32/76 (42.1%)9311/788 (39.5%)9226.8%
DeAndre WashingtonOAK6/76 (7.9%)355/788 (6.9%)257.3%
Corey ClementPHI23/75 (30.7%)8234/818 (28.6%)8928.4%
Wendell SmallwoodPHI2/75 (2.7%)0258/818 (31.5%)8125.9%
Josh AdamsPHI41/75 (54.7%)20164/818 (20.0%)8025.6%
Darren SprolesPHI9/75 (12.0%)438/818 (4.6%)134.2%
James ConnerPIT49/68 (72.1%)18686/849 (80.9%)25386.3%
Jaylen SamuelsPIT17/68 (25.0%)556/849 (6.6%)196.5%
Chris CarsonSEA34/58 (58.6%)16305/785 (38.9%)17046.1%
Mike DavisSEA10/58 (17.2%)4280/785 (35.7%)11330.6%
Rashaad PennySEA12/58 (20.7%)7163/785 (20.8%)8222.2%
Matt BreidaSF10/76 (13.2%)8310/806 (38.5%)15347.4%
Jeff Wilson Jr. SF55/76 (72.4%)2380/806 (9.9%)319.6%
Alfred MorrisSFDNPDNP202/806 (25.1%)9930.7%
Peyton BarberTB40/65 (61.5%)16470/854 (55.0%)18267.7%
Jacquizz RodgersTB15/65 (23.1%)0266/854 (31.1%)4918.2%
Ronald JonesTB9/65 (13.8%)481/854 (9.5%)2910.8%
Dion Lewis TEN40/68 (58.8%)8493/751 (65.6%)18053.7%
Derrick HenryTEN28/68 (41.2%)23267/751 (35.6%)15145.1%
Adrian PetersonWSH16/45 (35.6%)9375/783 (47.9%)20866.0%
Chris ThompsonWSH29/45 (64.4%)6203/783 (25.9%)6019.0%
Kapri BibbsWSHDNPDNP160/783 (20.4%)3310.5%

Situational Usage

Running BackTeamW13 RZ TouchesW13 RZ TargetsW13 Total TargetsSeason RZ TouchesSeason RZ TargetsSeason Total Targets
Tevin ColemanATL00323940
Ito SmithATL00120225
Gus EdwardsBAL000701
Kenneth DixonBAL001101
Ty MontgomeryBAL0171110
Javorius AllenBALDNP DNP DNP17643
LeSean McCoyBUF31419138
Chris IvoryBUF1008019
Marcus MurphyBUF0008218
Jordan HowardCHI40126319
Tarik CohenCHI3214181177
Joe MixonCIN00224642
Giovani BernardCIN0087137
Nick ChubbCLE10621419
Duke JohnsonCLE0038647
Phillip LindsayDEN10128532
Royce FreemanDEN2001607
Devontae BookerDEN1124334
LeGarrette BlountDET4012307
Theo RiddickDET424151063
Kerryon JohnsonDETDNPDNPDNP19640
Aaron JonesGB20420332
Jamaal WilliamsGB1148323
Lamar MillerHOU10126227
Alfred BlueHOU10012216
Marlon MackIND00122218
Nyheim HinesIND22924760
Jordan WilkinsIND1119515
T.J. YeldonJAC10815574
Carlos HydeJAC301513
Leonard FournetteJACDNPDNPDNP16214
Spencer WareKC30112220
Damien WilliamsKC223335
Austin EkelerLAC10817447
Justin JacksonLAC101203
Melvin GordonLACDNPDNPDNP281360
Frank GoreMIA21116313
Kenyan DrakeMIA21413659
Latavius MurrayMIN00215224
Dalvin CookMIN111010132
Sony MichelNE41131111
James WhiteNE1192818103
Cordarrelle PattersonNE00210320
Rex BurheadNE212458
Alvin KamaraNO3211602384
Mark IngramNO10316018
Isaiah CrowellNYJ01516127
Trent CannonNYJ0010017
Elijah McGuireNYJ0120116
Doug MartinOAK60219119
Jalen RichardOAK1048467
DeAndre WashingtonOAK100701
Corey ClementPHI31318225
Wendell SmallwoodPHI00013525
Josh AdamsPHI4001408
Darren SprolesPHI100417
James ConnerPIT30440768
Jaylen SamuelsPIT223439
Chris CarsonSEA40425317
Mike DavisSEA10016131
Rashaad PennySEA10010112
Matt BreidaSF00325425
Jeff WIlson Jr.SF4394310
Alfred MorrisSFDNPDNPDNP21012
Peyton BarberTB51129521
Jacquizz RodgersTB0006431
Ronald JonesTB000527
Dion Lewis TEN01325651
Derrick HenryTEN30223115
Adrian PetersonWSH10024220
Chris ThompsonWSH0056439

Lindsay Continues to Beat All Odds

What else can be said about Phillip Lindsay? Each and every week he continues to impress a little bit more. For a guy who is playing less than 50% of the Denver Broncos' offensive snaps, over his last three games he has scored five touchdowns while averaging 7.9 yards per carry.

While he can't quite shake off Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker to command a bigger workload, Lindsay has killed with efficiency. For the season, Lindsay is averaging 6.3 yards per touch and is scoring a touchdown every 19.9 touches. Lindsay has a reasonable argument for offensive rookie of the year when compared to Saquon Barkley.

Lindsay looks poised to finished the regular season strong with three straight matchups against NFL bottom feeders.

Questionable Usage of Running Backs in McCarthy's Last Game as Packers Head Coach

After the Green Bay Packers suffered arguably one of the worst loses of the year against the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau, they decided it was time to fire Mike McCarthy.

McCarthy's usage of the running backs in Week 13 was very questionable. From Weeks 8 to 12, Aaron Jones had handled 84 touches compared to 18 by Jamaal Williams. But against the Cardinals, Jones only out-touched Williams 15 to 11. Williams played a total of 38 snaps on Sunday, which was a huge uptick because he only played on 31 over the last three games.

While the deployment by McCarthy was head scratching, with him out of the picture in Green Bay, Jones could jump right back into that lead back role.

Ware Takes Over the Chiefs' Backfield

By now we all know about the horrific Kareem Hunt situation, and I'll leave that one out of here. But he is no longer employed by the Chiefs, so someone had to step into lead back role. Spencer Ware got first crack at it as he played on 69% of the snaps and handled 68.2% of the running back touches in Week 13.

Ware did not have a great game against the Oakland Raiders, but his volume and red zone usage suggest that he is the Chiefs' guy moving forward. It will be interesting to see how Kansas City uses newly acquired Charcandrick West, but with him not playing a single snaps in over 18 months, it could be a while for him to significantly eat into Ware's work.

Chargers Find a Successful Combo in Gordon's Absence

The Los Angeles Chargers' backfield rotation broke down as we expected against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with Austin Ekeler picking up the majority of the snaps (49) and touches (18), while Justin Jackson sprinkled in throughout with 9 touches.

Ekeler struggled to find any success on the ground, though, averaging fewer than two yard per carry, but made up for it with a sizable role in the passing game with eight targets.

It was actually Jackson who stole the show, who had a coming out party where he averaged 7.9 yards per carry and pretty much seemed unstoppable against a strong Steelers defense.

It sounds like Gordon will be out at least one more week, and after Jackson's strong performance it would not be surprising for him to handle a few more carries, while Ekeler continues to man the receiving role.

Samuels Takes Over After Conner Leaves With Injury

On Sunday night, James Conner suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss part of the game and he has already been ruled out for Week 14. In his absence, Jaylen Samuels stepped in to handle five touches, including three receptions, one of which he cashed in for a touchdown.

It is noteworthy that Samuels was the only back to see action after Conner left in trying to predict how this Steelers backfield will shake out this week. Dating back to the last three games, Samuels is the only other running back besides Conner to see the field for the Steelers.

Samuels is the best pure talent option on the Steelers roster ahead of Stevan Ridley and Trey Edmunds, and he played tight end in college, where he racked up 201 receptions over 50 games while scoring 47 total touchdowns.

Mike Tomlin came out on Tuesday stating Pittsburgh will go with a running back by committee approach, which could be true, but it is hard not to imagine Samuels leading that committee against the Oakland Raiders.

Shananhan Finds Another Back to Plug Into His System

It looked as if the San Francisco 49ers had found something in Matt Breida this season, but the guy just can't stay on the field. He sustained an ankle injury that has him already ruled out for Week 14. When he suffered the injury on Sunday, Kyle Shanahan had no issue plugging in Jeff Wilson and feeding him the rock.

Wilson was the only healthy back against the Seattle Seahawks, so he had no choice but to handle everything he could. He was a game flow independent back as evidenced by his 23 touches in a 27-point loss. His biggest impact came in the pass game where he saw nine targets and caught eight of them.

With Breida out, it should be expected that Alfred Morris will be active for Sunday's game against the Broncos, but, realistically, for a Niners team with two wins and nothing really to play for, it would make the most sense to feature the 23-year-old Wilson over Morris.