As we settle into the season, the fantasy-scape begins to clear. Some preseason assertions have manifested themselves and others appear outlandish in the world we now occupy. The ability to adapt and analyze weekly usage and production gives those willing to dive deep a sizable advantage. Predicting running back usage holds the utmost importance and past use best indicates future use. Taking a dive into last week’s usage can give you this advantage many are seeking. As always, remember that opportunity is king.
|Total Opportunity Rank||Name||Team||Rush Attempts||Targets||Total Opportunity||Team Total Backfield Opportunity||% of Backfield Opportunity|
Top 10 Opportunity Hogs
Alvin Kamara – 36 Opportunities, 16 Rush Attempts, 20 Targets
Kamara continues to eat in 2018. The Saints offense is shaping up to be one of the most funneled in 2018, with Kamara and Thomas benefitting most. The Saints defense to this point have regressed to ways of old, another factor working for Kamara. Kamara not only plays like a premium running back but also as a star receiver, at this rate he could challenge to lead the league in targets. Simply put Kamara will consistently be at the top of this risk regardless of the game script. Next week Kamara lines up across from the Giants who bottled up the Houston running attack well. With a weak linebackers corps, the Giants should struggle to cover Kamara in coverage.
Chris Carson – 34 Opportunities, 32 Rush Attempts, 2 Targets
A week after the head coach neglected to play Carson because he was “gassed from special teams”, Carson leads the week in rushing attempts. Pete Carrol clearly acknowledges that spent draft capital is a sunk cost, only giving Penny three rush attempts this week. Carson ran remarkably inefficiently, but as fantasy players know “opportunity is king”. Carson saw near the largest increase in work-share this week, seeing over 60% more of the backfield work. For the time being, shelf the Penny hype train and jump on Carson for week four. In week four Carson faces the generous Arizona defense.
Christian McCaffrey – 30 Opportunities, 28 Rush Attempts, 2 Targets
Christian McCaffrey remains one of the top receiving backs in the game, but the coaching staff came to prove his rushing chops. CMC broke the 100-yard barrier on the ground for the first time ever this week in style obliterating the mark, totaling 184 yards rushing. The talk of using McCaffrey is coming to fruition. McCaffrey’s breakdown will rarely resemble this again as his strength is receiving. This week the Panthers take a bye and prepare for the Giants, CMC should come back from the bye refreshed and ready to make the Giants look more incompetent than usual.
Todd Gurley – 29 Opportunities, 23 Rush Attempts, 6 Targets
No one gets paid nearly 15 million dollars a year to ride the bench. Gurley for the second straight week finds himself at number four on the opportunity report. Regardless of talent, the Rams running back would hold immense value with the team averaging 34 points in this short season. Gurley may possess the most talent of any running back on top of this amazing situation. The Rams’ schedule has not been daunting though, so this matchup against the Vikings should be more indicative of their ability on Thursday.
Carlos Hyde – 26 Opportunities, 23 Rush Attempts, 3 Targets
So far Hyde is proving one of the biggest steals of fantasy drafts everywhere. Through three weeks he has scored every week and averages the second most rushes per game. Hyde owners must hope that the offense with Mayfield at the helm will be more efficient because the quarterbacking thus far has left more to be desired. Using the extended rest from the Jets matchup, Hyde looks to continue his high usage in Oakland against a struggling Raiders team. Owners should note that Hyde lacks receiving upside especially with Duke Johnson lingering in the wings.
Jordan Howard – 26 Opportunities, 24 Rush Attempts, 2 Targets
In what looked to be a smash spot, Howard continued his middle of the road season. So far Howard’s results have left owners wanting more, but simultaneously somewhat satisfied. Against the abysmal Arizona defense, Howard and the Bears offense struggled. The trip was long and too high altitude though. Jordan Howard’s fortunes should turn for the better with his high usage and utilization in the passing game. The stout defense should also create positive game scripts where his bruiser style will shine. Howard looks to make his first steps to greatness in week four against the Buccaneers in Chicago.
Chris Ivory – 24 Opportunities, 20 Rush Attempts, 4 Targets
Nothing left people more surprised from week three than the whooping the Bills put on the Vikings. Analysts already crafted epitaphs for the Bills’ 2018 season before this game. The positive game script helped Ivory to seventh on the opportunity report. His usage rate was high, so if McCoy misses more time, Ivory should be a decent option to turn to. Josh Allen also showed signs of life in week three so this offense could provide more scoring upside than previously imagined. Unfortunately for Ivory, week four brings the Packers a team with dreadful pass defense and the ability to put up obscene amounts of points at home.
Ezekiel Elliot – 24 Opportunities, 16 Rush Attempts, 8 Targets
While Elliot says he will not demand more touches from coach Garrett, he has all the right to because Elliot is seemingly the only part of this offense that operates at this point. Elliot still occupies the upper echelon of fantasy running backs, but his team holds back his upside. If Travis Frederick returns this season though, Elliot could realistically become the RB1. The receiving usage should encourage owners because he previously lacked this upside, his 8 targets this week ranked third among all running backs. The Cowboys defense has held up well so far, so they may be able to stay within striking distance where running remains viable. Elliot’s ability will maintain his status as a top option as he leads the league in rushing through three weeks. This week Elliot gears up for the miserable Detroit defense, owners should feel confident moving into this week’s matchup.
Alex Collins – 22 Opportunities, 18 Rush Attempts, 4 Targets
Alex Collins represents a confounding case thus far into the fantasy season. His opportunity share has risen and he possesses the skills, but his team slaughters his upside by putting in Javorius Allen frequently for red zone opportunities. Javorius’s utilization in the red zone consistently now makes his deserving of a roster spot, but without higher usage playing him continues to be a struggle. Collins may hold a high floor and low ceiling with his number of opportunities but from lower value positions. If the Ravens decide to turn to Collins in the red zone, his value would skyrocket. A poor Steelers defense should allow the Ravens to put up plenty of points so monitoring Collins’s red zone usage this week could prove interesting and worthwhile.
Saquon Barkley – 22 Opportunities, 17 Rush Attempts, 5 Targets
Barkley finally succeeded in piecing together numerous solid runs throughout a game. Besides Barkley’s breakout run week one, he vastly underperformed up until week three. Seeing Barkley run well against a formidable front, including Watt and Mercellus, is encouraging for his outlook going forward. Poised to take part in a shootout this, Barkley should be in a position to score early and often. Plus with the strong possibility of playing from behind Barkley could see receiving utilization similar to week two, where he drew 16 targets.
Intriguing Opportunity Totals
Kerryon Johnson – 19 Opportunities
The highly touted preseason sleeper came to play in week three. Kerryon stepped up to finally to break the Lions’ streak of 70 games without a 100-yard rusher. Johnson to this point has outplayed his fellow running backs by a wide margin but continues to see less than 50% of the opportunity share. Many people will come always from this prime time game gushing about Johnson, but the Lions’ insistence on using Blount caps his upside for the time being.
Sony Michel – 17 Opportunities
The Patriots have disappointed to this point, but I know better than to doubt them at this point. Sony Michel continues to see high usage, especially for his snap share. With Rex Burkhead moving to the IR, Sony Michel appears to be the only between the tackles runner standing. On an offense that should improve, Sony is set up to pay dividends later in the season.
Aaron Jones – 7 Opportunities
McCarthy stayed true to his word using a committee in the backfield, but oh my Jones’s runs stood out. Fantasy owners cannot deny Jones’s talent, looking to acquire him as a toss in on larger trades could pay off down the line. Williams also impressed this week running for nearly six yards per carry.
Rashaad Penny – 3 Opportunities
Pete Carrol is as much a conundrum as Shanahan now. Only touting the ball 3 times and seeing no targets through the air in a positive game script rightfully angers fantasy owners. The talent may be there but Penny simply does not have the opportunity to succeed. After this week Penny may be droppable depending on your waiver wire.
James Conner – 21 Opportunities
Through 3 weeks Conner has been top 5 in opportunity share every week. Hearing the Steelers are open to trading Bell now also raises his upside significantly. Conner along with Mahomes looks to be the biggest steals of draft day and could provide the firepower to bring home championships. Positioned well in one of the best offenses in the NFL, Conner could be the RB1 come the end of the season.
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.