Hot starts have cooled (unless you have Todd Gurley) and slow starts have ramped up at this point in the fantasy season. The environment is more competitive than ever as playoffs quickly approach. Making the right moves and capitalizing on an opportunity when it presents itself is often the difference between a profitable righteous fantasy season and a glummer one. Taking the time to look at usage for trends and being proactive separates the greats from the average rankings slave in fantasy. Take a look at week eight usage with an eye to the weeks ahead below.
|Total Opportunity Rank||Name||Team||Rush Attempts||Targets||Total Opportunity||Team Total Backfield Opportunity||% of Backfield Opportunity|
Top 10 Opportunity Hogs
Todd Gurley – 32 Opportunities, 25 Rush Attempts, 7 Targets
Once again Gurley delivered, even after a slow start to the game, finishing with nearly 200 yards and a touchdown. Some may be disappointed with Gurley’s decision to forego another end zone visit, but complaining about Gurley at all is objectively a bit ridiculous. Not much has to be said about Gurley, regardless of matchup he should be looked at as the number one option on a weekly basis. On a weekly basis, Gurley has found himself in the top five of running backs in opportunity six out of eight weeks so far, seeing 20+ touches every week. While New Orleans has performed well against backs to this point, this should not concern Gurley owners in the slightest.
James Conner – 30 Opportunities, 24 Rush Attempts, 6 Targets
Making the most of his remaining time as the sole featured back in Pittsburgh, Conner gashed the Browns consistently to the tune of 212 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Conner stumbled after a breakout in week one but recently has re-ascended to his week one heights running for over 100 yards and grinding out two touchdowns in his previous three outings. Week nine may trip Conner up though as he faces the Ravens. In week four, the Ravens’ shut down Conner allowing less than 50 yards and zero touchdowns to him.
Marlon Mack – 29 Opportunities, 25 Rush Attempts, 4 Targets
Part of an important comeback, Mack exploited the weak Oakland run defense to continue his streak of standout games. Plunging into the end zone twice to go along with about 150 yards, Mack made his case to be seen as a weekly plug and play. With the discouraging running back landscape, Mack may be just that a weekly start. Mack will use this momentum against the Jaguars after a week nine bye.
Chris Carson – 27 Opportunities, 25 Rush Attempts, 2 Targets
While not the model of efficiency one may want, Carson is the exact model of volume touted here. Barley scrapping for over 4 yards per carry, Carson still broke the century mark and found pay dirt. Seattle appears to view Carson as their “guy”, but he still only received 67.50% of the opportunity share in week eight and only met this threshold one other week. Seeing 60+% of the backfield looks in the league’s most run-heavy offense means he should have ample opportunity to deliver. Carson and the Seahawks face the chargers in week nine still missing defensive star Joey Bosa.
Adrian Peterson – 27 Opportunities, 26 Rush Attempts, 1 Target
Seldom used in the passing game, Peterson handles nearly all of the looks on the ground for Washington. Few predicted the unlikely reemergence of Peterson in 2018, but at this point, there is no denying it. Peterson fought his way to his best week yet with over 150 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants. Peterson should continue to see 20-23 looks on the ground weekly. Peterson’s running mate may shine more in week nine against the putrid Atlanta defense.
Joe Mixon – 25 Opportunities, 21 Rush Attempts, 4 Targets
Continuing his backfield dominance, Mixon saw nearly 90% of the workshare for the Bengals in week eight. Every one of Mixon’s five fully healthy weeks he has received at least 80% of the opportunity share. Mixon rewards preseason fantasy players who stuck by him every week he gets out on the gridiron. Mixon will use week nine to rest and rehab his body. In week ten, the Bengals return to take on the Saints in what should be a high scoring shootout, prime for Mixon to leave his mark on.
Jordan Howard – 21 Opportunities, 15 Rush Attempts, 6 Targets
One of the utmost disappointments for the running back position this year, Jordan Howard finally delivered a serviceable week his owners can be happy about. The woes of Howard’s efficiency continued though as he grinded his way to 3.7 yards per carry. 2018 has turned Howard into another running back relying on his chance to cross the goal line to hold value. Tarik Cohen has taken over this backfield’s spot as the most interesting back. The Bears face what should be a positive game script against the Bears in week nine against the Bills.
Saquon Barkley – 23 Opportunities, 13 Rush Attempts, 10 Target
Washington bottled Barkley up for possibly his worst game of the season, still finding over 110 yards from scrimmage. Barkley is a trustworthy bell cow, even if his team struggles in every phase of the game. Now on pace for over 140 targets, Barkley has already topped 1000 yards from scrimmage for the season. With a consistently high usage, particularly in the passing game, Barkley could carry many owners to fantasy championships come December. Before facing San Francisco in week ten, Barkley has a bye this coming week.
Kareem Hunt – 22 Opportunities, 16 Rush Attempts, 6 Targets
Kareem Hunt is well positioned to continue his success as he is a primary part of the NFL’s most explosive offense. Even with limited success on the ground, Hunt came through for fantasy owners with 86 yards and a touchdown in week eight. Hunt’s opportunity share routinely ranks among the highest for running backs so he should be seen on this list a number of more times before the season ends. The Chiefs take on the floundering Browns in week nine. While the matchup could be difficult to exploit on the ground, owners should not think twice and fire up Hunt as a top option.
James White – 21 Opportunities, 8 Rush Attempts, 13 Targets
The late round start does it again reeling in 10 receptions and finding the end zone on the ground. With Sony Michel coming back soon this number of carries could be a rarity for White but that should not depress his value. White makes his money through the air, he is currently on pace for nearly 150 targets, the most of any running back. Green Bay presents another fantasy matchup for White to feast in, especially with Michel’s status still unknown for the game.
Intriguing Opportunity Totals
Aaron Jones– 14 Opportunities
Jones saw his highest opportunity share of the season in week eight. Along with the departure of Ty Montgomery, this could signify the packers seal of approval on Jones for a larger role finally.
Kerryon Johnson – 16 Opportunities
Kerryon impresses with nearly every touch of the ball. While running lanes were not open frequently in week eight, he made the most of his looks through the air to the tune of 69 yards.
Ty Montgomery – 1 trade
Going to a new team, it is clear the Ravens wanted to shake things up in the backfield. Montgomery should be given the looks Javorius Allen used to see in the passing game. Monitoring the usage of Montgomery could be interesting as he is integrated into the offense.
Elijah McGuire – 0 Opportunities
Elijah McGuire is coming off of IR soon and could slip into Bilal Powell’s role that Trenton Cannon is currently occupying. Picking him up proactively in larger leagues could squeeze out that extra value to make it to the playoffs.
Josh Adams – 10 Opportunities
Adams saw extensive play compared to his typical week and demanded more in the coming weeks turning his 9 carries into 61 yards. Doug Peterson is a true believer in committee backfields, so be cautious when buying into any Philly RB option.
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 week’s Running Back Opportunity Report to look for trends.