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Derrick Henry
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By the Numbers

Week 12: Taking Stock Of All 32 NFL Backfields

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: November 20, 2019, 12:48 am ET

NFL depth charts are always in a constant state of flux due to injuries, performance and at-times questionable coaching decisions. The RB position in particular can be tough to stay on top of, as an overwhelming majority of offenses have replaced a single three-down back with committees of various shapes and sizes.

The good news is we now have 11 weeks of regular season data to help clear up the ever-murky RB position.

Below is a Week 11 cheat sheet that denotes the snap rates as well as combined carries and targets for each team's top-two RBs from their last game.

Week 11 RBBC

What follows is a more specific breakdown of each team's backfield in order to better determine:

  • Offenses that are featuring a single workhorse
  • Fantasy-friendly committee backfields
  • Situations that fantasy football owners should avoid

Opportunities refer to a player's combined carries and targets. All snap count and touch data was compiled from Pro Football Reference. I'm refraining from posting every team's season-long workload rates moving forward and instead choosing a more specific split for each backfield that is defined underneath their respective team name.

Arizona Cardinals

Workload splits: Weeks 10-11 with both Kenyan Drake and David Johnson active

  • RB1: Drake (75% snap rate, 20 opportunities per game)
  • RB2: Johnson (27%, 3)

Notes: The Cardinals have almost completely relegated Johnson to the bench, as their long-time starting RB played just nine total snaps in Week 11 and failed to record a touch. The potential return of Chase Edmonds (hamstring) following the Cardinals' Week 12 bye will only further lower DJ's floor.

Meanwhile, Drake has been nothing short of spectacular since joining the squad in Week 9, as he's posted 41-212-1 rushing and 16-71-0 receiving lines over the past three weeks. Overall, only Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Melvin Gordon, Josh Jacobs, Alvin Kamara and Le'Veon Bell have averaged more PPR per game than Drake over the past three weeks even though the Cardinals have had less-than-ideal matchups against the 49ers (x2) and Buccaneers.

Treat Drake as an upside RB2 in Week 13 against the Rams, but recognize we also potentially haven't seen the last of the reshuffling in this backfield.

Atlanta Falcons

Workload splits: Week 11 with Devonta Freeman (foot) sidelined

Notes: The Falcons' first game without Freeman didn't go particularly great as far as rushing efficiency was concerned. Overall, Hill converted his 15 rush attempts into just 30 yards. Note that the performance could've been bigger if he hadn't had a short touchdown nullified by penalty.

Coach Dan Quinn said that Freeman is "trending in the right way." Be sure to monitor our Week 12 Injury Dashboard for daily practice participation along with estimated and official game statuses for every injured player.

This week's matchup against the Buccaneers' second-ranked defense in fewest PPR per game allowed to opposing RBs won't be an easier spot for the Falcons' backfield, but Hill can still be fired up as an upside RB3 thanks to volume alone. 

Baltimore Ravens

Workload splits: Weeks 1-11

Notes: Lamar Jackson actually leads the Ravens in rushing and is averaging an absurd 78.8 yards per game on the ground. That mark is the highest ever by a QB in the history of the league, while only nine RBs have topped that average in 2019.

Jackson is making at least one absolutely ridiculous run per game at this point.

Despite Jackson's heavy usage on the ground, Ingram has still received at least 13 touches in all but one game this season. The overall PPR RB11 deserves to be treated as a weekly upside RB2 regardless of the matchup thanks to Ingram's status as the undisputed lead RB of the league's No. 1 ranked scoring offense.

Edwards managed to pop off for an 8-112-1 rushing performance in the Ravens' Week 11 blowout win over the Texans and should be prioritized as a handcuff option over Justice Hill. Still, both RBs would likely form a committee of sorts if Ingram has to ever miss game action.

Buffalo Bills

Workload splits: Weeks 7-11 with both Devin Singletary and Frank Gore active

  • RB1: Singletary (63% snap rate, 14 opportunities per game) 
  • RB2: Gore (34%, 10.2)

Notes: Singletary continues to play a three-down role, but life as Josh Allen's lead RB simply hasn't been great for business over the past two seasons. Overall, the Bills have posted the following RB position ranks in Allen's 21 starts since 2018:

  • Games as RB1 (1-12): 3
  • Games as RB2 (13-24): 5
  • Games as RB3 (25-36): 9
  • Games as RB4 or worse (37+): 4

On average the top Bills RB has finished as the week's RB28 with Allen under center.

Singletary has played at least 68% of the offense's snaps in four consecutive games, but Gore continues to get fed double-digit carries on a near-weekly basis.

The Broncos have surprisingly been stingier against the run (No. 6 in DVOA) than the pass (No. 15) this season (Football Outsiders). I'd caution in treating Singletary as anything more than an upside RB3 due to volume concerns as well as Allen's vulture-esque presence inside the red zone. Only Todd Gurley (24), Derrick Henry (20), Aaron Jones (19), Christian McCaffrey (18) and James Conner (16) have more rushing scores than Allen (15) since Week 1 of last season.

T.J. Yeldon has been a healthy scratch since Week 5.

Carolina Panthers

Workload splits: Weeks 1-11

Notes: McCaffrey has been nothing short of brilliant all season long. The Panthers' stud RB managed to post 14-70-0 rushing and 11-121-0 receiving lines in Week 11, good for the week's overall RB1 performance even though CMC didn't find the end zone.

He's currently on pace to join a select list of ballers that have averaged at least 30 PPR per game during a single season in the history of the league:

  • 2000 Marshall Faulk (32.9)
  • 2002 Priest Holmes (31.6)
  • 2001 Faulk (30.4)
  • 2019 McCaffrey (30.3)
  • 2006 LaDainian Tomlinson (30.2)
  • 1942 Don Hutson (30.1)

The Panthers claimed former-Bears RB Mike Davis last week, but he was a healthy scratch in Week 11. I wouldn't expect a single RB to inherit CMC's monstrous workload if he were to miss any game action. We have oodles of evidence that no RB in the league is capable of providing the same rushing and receiving threat as McCaffrey, so it seems a bit silly to assume there's another back on the Panthers that would walk into this same workhorse role.

Chicago Bears

Workload splits: Weeks 7-11 since team's Week 6 bye

Notes: Montgomery has at least 15 touches in four consecutive games, but he's simply struggled to efficiently pick up yards all season. Overall, his average of 3.5 yards per carry ranks 43rd among 49 RBs with at least 50 rush attempts, while PFF has graded the Bears' rookie RB as just the league's 35th-most elusive back.

Cohen played a season-high 32 snaps out of the backfield in Week 11. His 14 touches were his most since Week 7.

Clearly coach Matt Nagy has reservations about turning the backfield completely over to Montgomery. Week 12's home matchup against the Giants sets up best for the team's third-round RB, but there's a low floor and ceiling for everyone involved in the league's 28th-ranked scoring offense. Trusting Cohen as a viable fantasy asset means trusting Mitchell Trubisky (hip), which isn't recommended.

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Cincinnati Bengals

Workload splits: Weeks 1-11

Notes: Mixon continues to make the most out of his touches, but the Bengals have continued to insist on featuring both of their RBs. Overall, Mixon has posted a 65% snap rate in just one game this season after reaching that threshold in 11-of-14 games in 2018.

Still, the Bengals can't really pass the ball with liability Ryan Finley under center, so Mixon has racked up a combined 45 rush attempts over the past two weeks. It hasn't always been pretty running behind the league's 30th-ranked offensive line in adjusted line yards per rush (Football Outsiders), but that hasn't stopped Mixon from working as the PPR RB9 in each of Finley's two starts.

The Bengals are playing worse than any team in the league at the moment. With that said: Volume remains king in fantasy football. Fire up Mixon as a low-floor RB2 in Week 12 for his home matchup against the Steelers.

Cleveland Browns

Workload splits: Weeks 10-11 with Kareem Hunt active

  • RB1: Nick Chubb (76% snap rate, 26 opportunities per game)
  • RB2: Hunt (55%, 13.5)

Notes: The Browns have continued to be creative with their new-look backfield by regularly featuring both Chubb and Hunt on the field at the same time.

Chubb remains locked in as a weekly RB1 with at least 20 touches in all but one game this season. He's a top-five option at the position in Week 12 against the Dolphins' 26th-ranked defense in fewest PPR per game allowed to opposing RBs.

Hunt has just 10 carries after two weeks and is a thin play in standard fantasy formats (if you're into that sort of thing). Otherwise feel free to fire up the talented third-year back as an upside RB3 in this plus matchup. Hunt joins Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler and James White as the league's only RBs that have at least eight targets in multiple games over the last six weeks.

Ian Hartitz

All things NFL. Great day to be great. You can follow Ian on Twitter @Ihartitz.