Week 2 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.
When we talk about a running back by committee, the Denver Broncos so far this year are a prime example. Against a stout Chicago Bears defense, one wouldn't expect much production in the running game, but the Broncos haven't been able to do much on the ground in either of their first two games.
Lindsay, who averaged 5.4 yards per carry last year, is averaging a lousy 3.3 yards per carry in the first two games. Freeman, on the other hand, is averaging 5.2 yards per carry through two games. In terms of our Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Freeman has been more impactful (0.05 Rushing NEP per carry compared to -0.13 for Lindsday, but Lindsay's Rushing Success Rate (33.3%) is better than Freeman's 28.7%). While Lindsay's advantage seemed to come in the passing game, he and Freeman both garnered 7 targets against Chicago.
Neither inspire much confidence from fantasy owners, too, with how little each back is able to produce in total. That, on top of a nearly split workload, make neither of these players very attractive fantasy options. However, if there's value to be had in this backfield, it may come from Freeman, who has very clearly been the more efficient back. Freeman is a solid buy (very) low candidate.
Speaking of rushing offenses that haven't done much and seem to be going with an RBBC, I present to you the Atlanta Falcons. Through two weeks, the Falcons rushing offense ranks just 28th in the league in Adjusted Rushing NEP per play.
Unfortunately, the Devonta Freeman comeback year is off to a rather sluggishly slow start with his 2.2 yards per carry average and -0.52 Rushing NEP per carry -- absolutely abysmal -- in the first two games. What's equally frustrating is that backup Ito Smith hasn't been able to increase his opportunity, either, despite 0.27 Rushing NEP per carry (63 yards on 10 carries).
Although Freeman saw a bit more time on the field (41 snaps) than Smith (25 snaps), the Falcons still don't seem to be trusting him like they did several years ago.
It also doesn't seem like the Falcons want to run the ball when they get in close as they've only run it once and passed it five times in the red zone. Right now, the Falcons' backfield doesn't offer much fantasy value, and it may behoove owners to avoid them until things turn brighter.
San Francisco 49ers
With the way Kyle Shanahan uses his running backs, I have a feeling the San Francisco 49ers will be featured in this article regularly. Neither Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, nor Jeff Wilson saw more than 50% of the snaps in Week 2, yet all of them produced relevant fantasy numbers as they each ran their way to top-15 running back finishes.
Odds are, however, that this trend won't continue when they start playing tougher opponents. In the first two weeks, just over half of Mostert's touches (54%) have come when the 49ers had a double-digit lead. Meanwhile, only a quarter of Breida's touches have come in similar situations.
Over the next three weeks, the 49ers play the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns, and the Los Angeles Rams. Despite the Steelers losing Ben Roethlisberger to injury, each of these teams has the firepower necessary to keep the game close.
Finally, Wilson shouldn't be ignored and is worth a bench stash for now, but with most of his fantasy production coming on two touchdowns this past Sunday he shouldn't be trusted as a regular member of your starting lineup quite yet.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Why even bother trying to project this backfield? A week after most thought Ronald Jones had earned himself a significant share of the workload after an impressive Week 1 performance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaned heavily on Peyton Barber in their Thursday night upset by giving him 23 carries.
In fact, Jones was used so sparingly (8 snaps) that even 3rd-down back Dare Ogunbowale played twice as many snaps (16 snaps) as he did.
It's quite perplexing as to why the Bucs featured Barber as he has only produced 3.7 yards per carry compared to Jones' 4.9 yards per carry. Similarly, Jones' Rushing Success Rate of 58.8% is much higher than Barber's 35.5%.
Both running backs are in a favorable position this upcoming week as they play a dismal New York Giants defense, so they could each provide some flex appeal if you're desperate.
Other Notable Trends
- A week after Josh Jacobs demonstrated he can be a workhorse back, his snap percentage dipped when the Oakland Raiders fell behind early against the Kansas City Chiefs. Of Jacobs' 12 carries on Sunday, only two came in the second half, and he didn't get a single target in the game. We'll continue to monitor how Jacobs is used when the Raiders fall behind, as that may be a regular occurrence. If he's used as sparingly as he was on Sunday, then his ceiling will most certainly be capped.
- Another usage situation that seemingly came out of nowhere was Carlos Hyde getting 20 carries compared to Duke Johnson's 6 carries against the Jacksonville Jaguars. What's even more perplexing is that Johnson only got one target the entire game a week after he was targeted five times. It might be safest to avoid starting either back until we get more data.
- Bears rusher David Montgomery actually got the work people were hoping for and put up a respectable afternoon thanks to a late-game touchdown. Not only are his total carries (18) encouraging, but his usage near the goal line should have owners excited. Montgomery is currently tied for third in carries inside the 10-yard line with five such carries.
- Aaron Jones seems to be separating himself as the lead back in Green Bay. Jones tallied 116 rushing yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against a formidable Minnesota Vikings defense. He even saw a decent amount of work in the passing game as he hauled in 4 receptions for 34 yards on 6 targets (second-most on the Packers) on Sunday. Your buy-low window may have closed, and his schedule will only get easier in the coming weeks.
Snap data comes from Lineups
|Running Back||Team||Snap %||Rush
|Chase Edmonds||ARI||(24/60) 40%||1||2||3|
|David Johnson||ARI||(36/60) 60%||7||1||8|
|Devonta Freeman||ATL||(41/66) 62%||11||4||15|
|Ito Smith||ATL||(25/66) 38%||4||3||7|
|Gus Edwards||BAL||(16/79) 20%||3||0||3|
|Justice Hill||BAL||(16/79) 20%||1||2||3|
|Mark Ingram||BAL||(46/79) 58%||13||2||15|
|Devin Singletary||BUF||(25/76) 33%||6||0||6|
|Frank Gore||BUF||(45/76) 59%||19||2||21|
|TJ Yeldon||BUF||(5/76) 7%||0||0||0|
|Alex Armah||CAR||(7/79) 9%||0||0||0|
|Christian McCaffrey||CAR||(79/79) 100%||16||6||22|
|David Montgomery||CHI||(27/61) 44%||18||3||21|
|Mike Davis||CHI||(15/61) 25%||3||0||3|
|Tarik Cohen||CHI||(23/61) 38%||4||5||9|
|Giovani Bernard||CIN||(28/70) 40%||6||3||9|
|Joe Mixon||CIN||(38/70) 54%||11||5||16|
|Nick Chubb||CLE||(42/69) 61%||18||4||22|
|D'Ernest Johnson||CLE||(27/69) 39%||3||4||7|
|Ezekiel Elliott||DAL||(53/70) 76%||23||2||25|
|Tony Pollard||DAL||(17/70) 24%||4||1||5|
|Phillip Lindsay||DEN||(39/82) 48%||13||7||20|
|Royce Freeman||DEN||(43/82) 52%||11||7||18|
|CJ Anderson||DET||(12/61) 20%||5||0||5|
|Kerryon Johnson||DET||(33/61) 54%||12||3||15|
|Ty Johnson||DET||(13/61) 21%||5||2||7|
|Aaron Jones||GB||(43/74) 58%||23||6||29|
|Jamaal Williams||GB||(35/74) 47%||9||4||13|
|Carlos Hyde||HOU||(40/66) 61%||20||0||20|
|Duke Johnson||HOU||(26/66) 39%||6||1||7|
|Jordan Wilkins||IND||(11/72) 15%||5||1||6|
|Marlon Mack||IND||(49/72) 68%||20||3||23|
|Nyheim Hines||IND||(14/72) 19%||2||2||4|
|Leonard Fournette||JAX||(65/67) 97%||15||6||21|
|Darwin Thompson||KC||(4/76) 5%||1||0||1|
|Damien Williams||KC||(39/76) 51%||9||5||14|
|LeSean McCoy||KC||(31/76) 41%||11||3||14|
|Austin Ekeler||LAC||(49/67) 73%||17||6||23|
|Justin Jackson||LAC||(18/67) 27%||7||1||8|
|Malcolm Brown||LAR||(25/70) 36%||6||1||7|
|Todd Gurley||LAR||(45/70) 64%||16||4||20|
|Kalen Ballage||MIA||(21/62) 34%||4||5||9|
|Kenyan Drake||MIA||(34/62) 55%||6||6||12|
|Mark Walton||MIA||(10/62) 16%||3||2||5|
|Alexander Mattison||MIN||(8/65) 12%||4||0||4|
|CJ Ham||MIN||(25/65) 38%||0||3||3|
|Dalvin Cook||MIN||(47/65) 72%||20||3||23|
|James White||NE||(22/71) 31%||3||4||7|
|Rex Burkhead||NE||(17/72) 24%||5||2||7|
|Sony Michel||NE||(35/72) 49%||21||0||21|
|Alvin Kamara||NO||(42/65) 65%||13||3||16|
|Latavius Murray||NO||(23/65) 35%||5||1||6|
|Saquon Barkley||NYG||(61/70) 87%||18||7||25|
|Wayne Gallman||NYG||(9/70) 13%||0||1||1|
|Le'Veon Bell||NYJ||(61/68) 90%||21||10||31|
|Ty Montgomery||NYJ||(24/68) 35%||3||3||6|
|Deandre Washington||OAK||(15/65) 23%||3||2||5|
|Josh Jacobs||OAK||(30/65) 46%||12||0||12|
|Jalen Richard||OAK||(20/65) 31%||2||3||5|
|Darren Sproles||PHI||(28/81) 35%||0||3||3|
|Jordan Howard||PHI||(18/81) 22%||8||1||9|
|Miles Sanders||PHI||(35/81) 43%||10||4||14|
|Benny Snell Jr.||PIT||(2/57) 4%||1||0||1|
|James Conner||PIT||(31/57) 54%||11||4||15|
|Jaylen Samuels||PIT||(22/57) 39%||3||1||4|
|Chris Carson||SEA||(43/79) 54%||15||3||18|
|CJ Prosise||SEA||(10/79) 13%||2||3||5|
|Rashaad Penny||SEA||(26/79) 33%||10||1||11|
|Jeff Wilson||SF||(15/72) 21%||10||0||10|
|Matt Breida||SF||(21/72) 29%||12||1||13|
|Raheem Mostert||SF||(34/72) 47%||13||4||17|
|Dare Ogunbowale||TB||(16/65) 25%||0||1||1|
|Peyton Barber||TB||(42/65) 65%||23||1||24|
|Ronald Jones II||TB||(8/65) 12%||4||0||4|
|Derrick Henry||TEN||(30/60) 50%||15||3||18|
|Dion Lewis||TEN||(30/60) 50%||3||1||4|
|Adrian Peterson||WAS||(18/62) 29%||10||2||12|
|Chris Thompson||WAS||(28/62) 45%||2||8||10|