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Running Back Opportunity Report: Week 4

As the fantasy season continues, teams continue to shape up and shape out. Finding the stalwarts that anchor a fantasy team remains priority number one. Players that will make fantasy championships in a couple months are still acquirable assets. Recognizing the opportunity available before others hold the utmost importance. Taking a look at last week usage, one can extrapolate and inquire about potential emerging stars and trends.

 

Total Opportunity Rank Name Team Rush Attempts Targets Total Opportunity Team Total Backfield Opportunity % of Backfield Opportunity
1 Ezekiel Elliott Dal 25 4 29 38 76.3
2 Alvin Kamara NO 19 9 28 35 80.0
3 David Johnson Ari 22 4 26 30 86.7
4 Melvin Gordon LAC 15 10 25 36 69.4
4 Sony Michel NE 25 0 25 47 53.2
4 Marshawn Lynch Oak 20 5 25 36 69.4
4 Mike Davis Sea 21 4 25 34 73.5
8 Carlos Hyde Cle 22 1 23 34 67.6
8 Kareem Hunt KC 19 4 23 25 92.0
8 Todd Gurley LAR 17 6 23 23 100.0
11 Tarik Cohen Chi 13 8 21 34 61.8
11 TJ Yeldon Jax 18 3 21 37 56.8
13 Giovanni Bernard Cin 15 4 19 28 67.9
13 Jay Ajayi Phi 15 4 19 29 65.5
15 Saquon Barkley NYG 10 8 18 23 78.3
15 James White NE 8 10 18 47 38.3
17 Tevin Coleman Atl 14 3 17 27 63.0
18 Alfred Blue Hou 13 3 16 30 53.3
18 James Conner Pit 9 7 16 16 100.0
20 Nyheim Hines Ind 4 11 15 26 57.7
20 Bilal Powell NYJ 8 7 15 20 75.0

 

Top 10 Opportunity Hogs

Ezekiel Elliott – 29 Opportunities, 25 Rush Attempts, 4 Targets

While Elliott proved his floor earlier in the season, in week four he showed off his ceiling. Exploding in week four Elliot set a career high in yards from scrimmage, with 240 yards. To go along with his yardage, Elliot punched in his third touchdown of the year. The Dallas offense is slow moving and unexciting, but it revolves around Elliott and the running game. Zeke’s guaranteed workload every week means he will continue to rank as a top-five option at the running back position. The intimidating defensive line of the Texans faces Elliott this coming week. The Texans have effectively stopped other rushing attacks, but none of them are quite as talented as Dallas’s running game.

Alvin Kamara – 28 Opportunities, 19 Rush Attempts, 9 Targets

Kamara continues to defy the odds week after week refusing to perform anywhere near poorly. So far Kamara has dealt most of his damage through the air, but his matchup against the Giants proved different. Kamara rarely saw a stacked box, only facing 8+ men in the box about 10% of plays, and make the most of it, punching in 3 touchdowns on the ground. Kamara’s value reached its peak now, but with Ingram returning in week five, he should see a lighter workload. Regardless of this impending decrease in usage, Kamara should continue as a top running back option. Kamara takes on a fresh Washington defense in week four, monitoring his usage should prove interesting in this highly funneled offense.

David Johnson – 26 Opportunities, 22 Rush Attempts, 4 Targets

Seeing workloads similar to this should give DJ owners hope that he can ascend again. The panic around Johnson is well deserved, but without looking at his preseason billing he performed decently with three touchdowns on the year. Advanced statistics fail to favor David Johnson, for example, his DOVA ranks 32nd out of 38 qualifying backs. The continued shortcomings of the Arizona offense as a whole and its ability to involve DJ in the passing game will limit his upside unless significant changes are implemented. Arizona’s matchup against the 49ers this week represents another get right opportunity for Johnson.

Melvin Gordon – 25 Opportunities, 15 Rush Attempts, 10 Targets

Domination has become synonymous with Gordon over the past couple years, and he continues to embody domination this year. The Chargers have proved they can support two healthy backs, but Gordon will always be the bell cow. Averaging nearly nine targets a week, Gordon ranks eighth in average opportunity per week thus far. Tied to a high upside offense, Gordon would easily be a top-five pick if a redraft happened today. Week five presents another easy matchup for Gordon against the post-Khalil Mack era Raiders.

Sony Michel – 25 Opportunities, 25 Rush Attempts, 0 Targets

There are some things everyone should just accept and this includes that the Patriots will be alright. Year after year, the Patriots start slow and many count them out, only for them to rise to the top once again. The goal-line back in New England’s perpetually high scoring offense always holds oodles of value and Sony Michel has sole ownership of this role after Burkhead’s injury. Michel lacks receiving upside, but with the scoring upside, this potential shortcoming is utterly negated. Week seven presents another prime matchup for Michel as he faces struggling Colts team.

Marshawn Lynch – 25 Opportunities, 20 Rush Attempts, 5 Targets

Living up to and beyond expectations, Lynch once again delivered this week with a high workload and high yardage. Beast mode missed the end zone for the first time in week four. Lynch should continue to see heavy work as long as the Raiders can stay within striking distance. The Raiders offensive line got banged up this week and may struggle to top as large holes, the loss of standout tackle Donald Penn hurts the most. The Raiders face the Chargers on the road this week, an exploitable opportunity for Lynch and the Raiders as a whole.

Mike Davis – 25 Opportunities, 21 Rush Attempts, 4 Targets

In a surprising late scratch, Chris Carson sat out of Sunday’s game. Instead of the anticipated next man up, Rashaad Penny, receiving the featured workload, Mike Davis stepped up for the Seahawks. Prior to week four, Davis only saw five total opportunities but got 25 looks Sunday. Seeing the ninth highest opportunity share of week four, Davis should hold value going forward. This officially makes Rashaad Penny a definite drop. Averaging nearly five yards per carry and crossing the goal line twice, Davis paid off heavily for those savvy enough to play him Sunday. With Carson’s status in question, Davis could see a featured workload again. The matchup should worry owners though as the Rams have a stout defense.

Carlos Hyde – 23 Opportunities, 22 Rush Attempts, 1 Target

Averaging over 22 touches a week, Hyde continues to be a top running back option. While the workload sided heavily with Hyde, rookie Nick Chubb made the most of his looks in week four. With Chubb’s emergence, Hyde workshare could decrease in coming weeks, as Hue Jackson spoke well of Chubb in the postgame conference. Facing Baltimore in week five should be a difficult matchup.

Kareem Hunt – 23 Opportunities, 19 Rush Attempts, 4 Targets

Work-share and opportunity finally met in week four for Kareem Hunt’s breakout 2018 performance. Operating as one of the five running backs averaging over 80% of the work-share, Hunt will continue to own this upside. The KC offense may be the most explosive in the league, owning the workhorse running back for such an offense is indispensable. Those who traded for Hunt knowing he would pay off down the road reaped the rewards in week four. Acquiring Hunt now may prove difficult, but after this week against a transcendent Jacksonville defense, he may be available again.

Todd Gurley – 23 Opportunities, 17 Rush Attempts, 6 Targets

There is a myriad of reasons Gurley came into the season as the consensus number one pick and running back. Gurley possesses ample opportunity, faces positive game scripts and lacks questions marks on a weekly basis. While receiving the least usage in the running attack so far, Gurley’s receiving prowess maintained his RB1 status. Averaging the second most looks of any running back and possessing the ability to break any play proves his status unquestionable. No team should be able to stifle Gurley and his production, including his week five opponent the Seattle Seahawks.

Intriguing Opportunity Totals

Nyheim Hines – 11 Targets

PPR players must clamor for Nyheim Hines. The running back did not come into the year highly touted, but with a passing workload anywhere near this, he will provide value on a weekly basis as a floor play. With Andrew Luck still coming back from his shoulder injury and Hilton banged up, Hines should continue to find a decent workload as the passing downs back. Wilkins returning could hurt his workload in the future though.

James White – 18 Opportunities

The Patriots backfield became significantly more valuable with Burkhead hitting the IR. Tom Brady came out and recognized White’s reliability and value to the team, meaning he should continue to see work as a trusted asset. Julian Edelman’s return could cut into White’s workload, but he should always hold value in a high scoring offense.

Aaron Jones – 12 Opportunities

Jones’s ability flashes every opportunity he gets.  Parlaying 12 looks into 82 yards, Jones once again topped the backfield in productivity. With a prime matchup against the Detriot Lions, Jones may see an increased workload with his continued excellence.

Royce Freeman – 8 Rush Attempts

The Broncos found a steal in a pair of productive rookie running backs this year, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Both running backs deliver on a weekly basis, but Vance Joseph came out praising Freeman today. An increased workload and seeing most of the red zone work will make Freeman a valuable RB2.

James Conner – 16 Opportunities

In one week Conner’s value plummeted back to earth. A few shaky weeks consecutively plus the news of Bell’s impending return only give Conner a couple more weeks in the featured role. Sadly this feel-good story will be put on hold till Bell signs elsewhere in the offseason or an unexpected trade arises.

 

Check out other redraft, DFS, and dynasty content at TheFantasyAuthority.com. For a look at receiver usage in week two, check out Katie Babino’s Target Hogs article. Also, take a look back at last weeks Running Back Opportunity Report to look for trends.

Neil Farley attends The College of William and Mary, where he is pursuing a B.S. in Psychology. Neil's fantasy days date back to the fifth grade when he participated in his first fantasy football league. Check him out on twitter @Neil_P_Farley.

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