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Backfield Report

Derrick Henry Leads NFL in Carries and Yards

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: November 28, 2020, 11:25 am ET

NFL depth charts are always changing, whether it’s due to injuries, coaching decisions, or performance-related issues. The running back position, in particular, can be tough to stay on top of throughout the season, as the vast majority of teams have gone with some sort of committee approach, featuring two and sometimes even three backs.

Below is a breakdown of each team’s backfield to help us determine offenses that are using a single workhorse, committees, and situations to avoid for fantasy. I’ll use this space each week to track the numbers and provide some thoughts.

All snap counts and touches are compiled from Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference. Opportunities refers to the running back’s combined carries and targets.

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

 

 

Notes: Drake out-touched Edmonds 15-6 last week against the Seahawks despite out-snapping him just 54% to 49%. Drake maintains the upper hand here as the RB2 while Edmonds is merely a low-floor FLEX with minimal volume upside when Drake is healthy. It’s just unfortunate we only got one week of Edmonds at 96% of the snaps back in Week 9, and he didn’t produce.

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

 

 

Notes: With Atlanta getting trounced last week by the Saints, Gurley played a season-low 37% of the snaps with Hill out-snapping him at 42% of the downs. Neither back did anything with their minimal touches. Gurley is a strong touchdown bet each week with the second-most red-zone carries, handling over 76% of the Falcons’ carries inside the 20-yard line, but his efficiency otherwise has been lacking at 3.7 yards per carry. He’s an RB2.

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

 

 

Notes: Ingram and Dobbins tested positive for COVID on Monday and are out for Week 12 against the Steelers, assuming the game is even played due to the Ravens’ outbreak. It’s unfortunate for Dobbins after he eliminated Ingram from the backfield in Week 11, playing 63% of the snaps and recording a season-high 17 touches against the Titans. Ingram played just six snaps and can be cut loose in fantasy. Edwards and Justice Hill should handle the work Sunday against Pittsburgh after it was moved from Thursday, putting Edwards on the RB2 map.

 

BUFFALO BILLS

 

 

Notes: The Bills are coming off their bye. Moss has out-snapped Singletary in three straight games and has out-touched him 39-29 in that span. Moss also has the edge over Singletary in the red zone (15-13) and scoring area (9-6 inside the 10-yard line), but both are behind Josh Allen for goal-line looks with Allen leading the team with seven carries inside the five. Both Moss and Singletary should be treated as RB3/4 types with Moss having the edge.

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

 

 

Notes: McCaffrey has appeared in just three games thanks to ankle and shoulder injuries. He was limited Wednesday but remains week to week. In CMC’s missed games, Davis has touch counts of 21, 21, 25, 20, 12, 14, 11, and 21. Davis found the end zone in Week 11 and is an RB1 every time McCaffrey is out. The Panthers get Minnesota in Week 12 before their bye.

 

CHICAGO BEARS

 

 

Notes: The Bears are coming off their bye. With Montgomery out Week 10 against the Vikings, Patterson played 50% of the snaps and handled 12 of the 16 rushing attempts. It amounted to just 30 yards while Lamar Miller didn’t register a touch despite his activation from the practice squad. Assuming Montgomery is back for Week 12, he’ll go back to being a volume-driven RB2.

 

CINCINNATI BENGALS

 

 

Notes: Joe Mixon (foot) hasn’t played since Week 6 and was finally sent to I.R. last week, sidelining him for at least two more games, though there’s a chance we’ve seen the last of him in 2020. It’s another lost year for the Bengals with Joe Burrow now done for the season after wrecking his knee in Week 11. Bernard has handled 61 touches in four games without Mixon and is starting to lose more work to Samaje Perine. Bernard is a borderline RB2/3 with Brandon Allen now under center and the sad state of the Bengals’ offensive line. Bernard then popped up on the injury report as a DNP Wednesday due to a concussion. Perine and Trayveon Williams are next up on the depth chart. Neither is particularly enticing for fantasy.

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS

 

 

Notes: Hunt continues to out-snap Chubb since Chubb returned two weeks ago from his sprained MCL, but it was Chubb who provided the offense last week in the win over the Eagles, out-carrying Hunt 20-13 and out-gaining him 114-11. Hunt, of course, found the end zone, however, and remains the preferred pass-game option. Chubb has three catches on the season. Hunt is fourth among all RBs in red-zone targets. Both are RB1/2 plays every week. Coach Kevin Stefanski’s offense calls a run play at the highest rate in the league.

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

 

 

Notes: Ezekiel Elliott registered his first 100-yard game of the season in Week 11, going 21-103 against the Vikings and catching a touchdown, his first end-zone visit since Dak Prescott broke his ankle in Week 5. It’s been a tough go of things for Zeke, but Andy Dalton’s return to health should open things up slightly more for him down the stretch. He’s an RB1 moving forward.

 

DENVER BRONCOS

 

 

Notes: In a game Denver controlled, Lindsay out-carried Gordon 16-15 in Week 11 against Miami, but it was Gordon who scored both touchdowns, punching in scores from one and 20 yards out. Gordon is tied with Ezekiel Elliott for the league lead with four lost fumbles and has just one 100-yard game on the year. Lindsay is the more talented back at this stage of their respective careers, but the Broncos paid Gordon to be their No. 1 back. He’s a low-end RB2.

 

DETROIT LIONS

 

 

Notes: Swift missed Week 11 with a concussion. In his absence, Johnson played 70% of the snaps to Peterson’s 30%, but Johnson totaled just 38 yards on eight touches with the Lions getting embarrassed in a shutout at Carolina. Swift will hopefully be cleared for Week 12 against the Texans as an RB1/2 following season highs in snaps, touches, and yards in Week 10.

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS

 

 

Notes: Jones and Williams both played exactly 30 snaps Week 11 against the Colts, proving again that this is a pretty even timeshare in terms of playing time. Jones had the touch edge 14-6, but it was Williams who found the end zone with a four-yard catch. Jones is an every-week RB1 while Williams maintains FLEX appeal. They get the Bears next.

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

 

 

Notes: David Johnson suffered a concussion after just three touches in Week 9 against the Jaguars. In his absence, Duke handled 20 touches and was in on 81% of the plays. With David out Week 10 against the Browns, Duke played an incredible 95% of the Texans’ snaps but was a major fantasy letdown with 14-54-0 rushing and no catches on one target. He wasn’t any better in Week 11 with 35 scoreless yards across 13 touches on 77% of the snaps. David is on I.R. and has to miss at least one more game. Duke might just not be very good.

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

 

 

Notes: After setting new season-lows in playing time (34%, 31%, 24%) Weeks 8-10 and handling just 17 combined touches Weeks 9 and 10, Taylor played 56% of the snaps against Green Bay in Week 11 and totaled 114 yards on 26 touches. Despite reports that Hines would have an expanded role after his big Week 10, he played just 33% of the snaps. Wilkins was back in the distant RB3 role on 11% of the playing time. Hopefully Taylor can build off his Week 11 and return RB2 results through the fantasy playoffs. He needs to be added where dropped.

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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

 

 

Notes: Robinson is an every-week RB1 with a stranglehold on carries and pass-game usage for the Jaguars. Robinson is top-five in yards, touches, and rushing attempts among running backs and has shown an ability to overcome difficult on-paper matchups.

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

 

 

Notes: CEH's volume is way down since Bell's arrival, but he's now scoring touchdowns at a much higher clip with four over his last four games. It helps balance out the lack of touches, though the 14 carries in Week 11 were by far his most since Bell's arrival. In the four games with Bell, CEH is averaging 10.25 touches. That makes the rookie a low-floor, high-upside RB2. While Edwards-Helaire is playing roughly 50% of the snaps, Bell and Williams are splitting the others pretty much right down the middle. Bell isn’t a recommended fantasy starter.

 

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

 

 

Notes: Jacobs is third in the NFL in touches, rushing attempts, and rushing touchdowns and has already topped his rookie TD total. He’s coming off a 10-week-high 75% of the snaps in Week 11 against the Chiefs and has scored in three straight games. The sophomore is locked into every-week RB1 status. Booker is an end-of-bench stash who would be a borderline RB1/2 should Jacobs ever get hurt. Jalen Richard hasn’t been an offensive factor.

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

 

 

Notes: Austin Ekeler (hamstring) remains on injured reserve but hinted he’s close to a return and returned to practice Wednesday, opening his 21-day window for activation. Justin Jackson (knee) is also on I.R. Over the last three weeks, Ballage has out-touched Kelley 63-27 and played 67% of the snaps to Kelley’s 13% last week against the Jets. His 23 touches produced just 71 empty yards, however, as one of Week 11’s biggest disappointments.

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

 

 

Notes: The Rams have gone with a full-blown three-man RBBC over the last couple weeks. In the Week 11 win over the Bucs, Henderson led the trio in playing time (46%) and rushing attempts (8), but Brown (38%) led in rushing yards (20), and Akers (17%) scored the lone touchdown. When all three are playing, none are reliable fantasy options. The Rams have been shifting to more pass-happy concepts recently, as well, which is more exciting for this offense.

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

 

  • Salvon Ahmed (18% snap rate, 47 opportunities)
  • Matt Breida (18%, 47)

 

Notes: Every-down back Myles Gaskin (knee) is on I.R. and has missed the last three games. He’s eligible to return at any moment now and returned to practice Wednesday. Ahmed played 76% of the snaps and went 21-85-1 on the ground against the Chargers in Week 10. Even with Breida back last week, Ahmed still out-snapped him 66% to 11%, seeing 18 combined targets and carries to Breida’s two. Ahmed missed practice Wednesday with a shoulder injury.

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

 

 

Notes: Cook leads the league in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, yards per game, and yards from scrimmage. He’s the overall RB1 moving forward with 122 touches over the last four weeks. Cook briefly left Week 11 with an injury scare but quickly returned and is fine.

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

 

 

Notes: Rex Burkhead wrecked his knee in Week 11, and it had the appearance of a year-ending injury. Sony Michel was activated from I.R. ahead of last week’s game but was inactive. He should take the roster spot of Burkhead, but Harris has earned the 1A role on early downs in this backfield committee. White is purely a deep PPR piece. Cam Newton leads the team and all QBs with 26 red-zone carries. Harris is the only real fantasy asset as an RB2/3, and he’s extremely touchdown-dependent with three catches on the year.

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

 

 

Notes: With Taysom Hill under center in Week 11, Murray actually out-snapped Kamara for the first time all season 33-32, and both backs saw 14 combined targets and carries while Kamara went catch-less for the first time in his career. The Saints did roll the Falcons, but it’s an ominous sign for Kamara that Hill didn’t throw him the ball after he was seeing 6-10 catches per game on the regular with Drew Brees, who is now on I.R. and out at least two more weeks. Kamara is still a lock-and-load RB1, but his floor might be a bit lower with Hill.

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

 

 

Notes: The Giants are coming off their bye week. Devonta Freeman (ankle, hamstring) is now on I.R. after suffering a setback ahead of Week 10. After playing just four snaps in Week 6, Gallman has handled 62 touches and has scored in four straight games while playing a little over 50% of the snaps while Lewis and Morris split the remaining opportunities. Gallman should get at least one more start as an RB2. It’s unclear if Freeman is close to a return.

 

NEW YORK JETS

 

 

Notes: The Jets are 0-10 and still featuring Gore as their lead back. Out of the bye, Gore played a season-high 58% of the snaps against the Chargers and posted a 15-61-1 line. He’s yet to top 63 yards in a game this season. Rookie Lamical Perine suffered a high-ankle sprain in the same game and is now on I.R. With Perine out at least three weeks, the Jets signed RB Josh Adams off their practice squad. Gore is a last-ditch RB3/4 for RB-desperate fantasy players.

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

 

 

Notes: Sanders hasn’t scored since Week 5 but has seen 41 combined carries and targets over the last two weeks. Perhaps Week 12 against the Seahawks will be his get-right spot, but this offense is so broken right now as the jeers for Carson Wentz grow louder each week. Sanders should still be treated as an every-week RB1, albeit a frustrating one at the moment.

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

 

 

Notes: Conner has failed to meet expectations in three straight games against far inferior opponents. He hasn’t topped 100 yards or scored a touchdown in that span and lost a goal-line score to Snell last week in Jacksonville. With the Steelers going more pass-happy of late, Conner has devolved into more of an upside RB2 than every-week RB1.

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

 

 

Notes: Coach Kyle Shanahan hopes to have Raheem Mostert (ankle, I.R.) and Coleman (knee) back for Week 12. Mostert and Jeff Wilson (ankle) were designated to return Tuesday, opening their 21-day windows for activation. Coleman isn’t on I.R. This team is a total mess from an injury standpoint. But Mostert will be the back to have once he re-enters the lineup.

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

 

 

Notes: Hyde returned from his injury in Week 11 to play 70% of the snaps, turning 16 touches into 95 yards and a touchdown. Dallas (11%) and Homer (10%) barely played behind him. Carson is expected back for Week 12 after missing the last four weeks. The smart money would be on him and Hyde splitting work until Carson shows he’s healthy. Carson will be more of an RB2/3 while Hyde could flirt with some FLEX appeal until things are sorted out.

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

 

 

Notes: Fournette out-snapped Jones 52% to 36% in Week 11 against the Rams and also scored the lone touchdown of the duo, though the two backs combined for just 41 yards and the score on 17 carries. Fournette also dropped three passes. Fournette is still the better bet fantasy-wise moving forward, but we saw Jones hang a 23-192-1 rushing line in Week 10. As the pass-game back, Fournette is the preferred play in Week 12 against the Chiefs.

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

 

 

Notes: Henry has one of the safest workloads in football, dominating the Titans’ snaps and touches. He leads the league in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and red-zone carries as a weekly top-three RB1.

 

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

 

 

Notes: Gibson played a five-week high 53% of the snaps in the Week 11 win over the Bengals, and his 16 carries were his second-most of the season. He’s now scored rushing touchdowns in four straight games and has eight on the year as an every-week RB2 with upside. McKissic is a PPR-specific FLEX option whose target numbers are inflated when Washington is trailing.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for NBC Sports Edge since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.