Running backs can’t score fantasy points if they aren’t on the field, so this weekly article will provide impressions by analyzing snap counts, percentages, and touches. Here we go with the Week 10 snap counts and opportunities for running backs.
Fantasy football is all about opportunity, and the NFL players who have higher snap counts have a higher probability of scoring more fantasy points. I provide fantasy football snap counts here with some context and impressions to help you make fantasy transactions and gain an edge on your competition. Looking at context will involve analyzing carries and targets and whether running backs were able to convert opportunity to yards gained. Be sure to also read our other redraft content and listen to the TFA podcast to get all the info you need!
The Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins were on BYE during week 10, so you won’t find them in the report below.
As you have noticed, this article is getting a bit repetitive. As such, I am going to focus on the biggest changes and ignore consistency, unless consistency is notable. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@NateHenryFF) for instant reactions to running back usage!
Fantasy Football Snap Counts and Reactions
Right off the bat, we have an interesting backfield development. First, the return of David Johnson did, indeed, eat into Kenyon Drake’s snaps, but not quite as much as I predicted (although it was pretty close). Actually, Johnson started the game, but he was benched in the second half due to poor performance (and due to a fumble). That benching opened the doors for Drake to eventually dominate snap counts for Arizona, but Drake appeared to be the lead back throughout. Regardless of the fumble, David Johnson was benched because he was horribly inefficient, albeit against a very strong TB run defense. Drake has officially taken over the Arizona backfield, and I think DJ’s days are numbered as the Cardinals’ RB1. It’s possible that Kingsbury develops a hybrid WR role for Johnson, a la Tarik Cohen. However, I cannot advocate that you start a player in Week 11 who got benched in Week 10. Meanwhile, Drake is startable and looks like a solid option based on usage.
Ito Smith went on IR last week, and Devonta Freeman was injured in Week 10. That vacuum created a big opportunity for Brian Hill, and he looked pretty good against a solid NO defense. Hill will be the number one waiver pickup this week, and I would counsel you to spend big FAAB to pick him up if you need an RB; he could help win you some weeks down the stretch of the fantasy regular season.
It’s weird to see a game without a single RB target, but Baltimore absolutely destroyed Cincinnati and had no need to throw much. Actually, Lamar Jackson only threw 17 times in the game, and the team only threw 22 times total (RGIII played due to the lopsided score). The fact that Mark Ingram saw nearly 50% of the snap counts in this 49-13 game bodes well for his future usage. He’s not getting a ton of work, but he’s seeing enough in a strong running game to justify a weekly spot in your starting lineup.
Singletary significantly led in snap counts in a neutral game script (Cleveland was never ahead by more than 6), so we have three straight weeks of data, all with varying game scripts, suggesting that he’s the starter. According to NBA Jam rules, he’s on fire. Unfortunately, his efficiency wasn’t fire. Despite seeing 7 targets, he only caught 3. This is partially a symptom of Josh Allen’s inaccuracy. Still, that’s elite usage (same number of targets as Christian McCaffery, tied for 3rd most targets on the week). Also, Buffalo isn’t likely to have a greater than 2:1 pass-to-rush ratio very often again as they did in Week 10. Last bit of bad news, Frank Gore got the lone goal-line carry in this game, which of course he didn’t convert. Buffalo seemed to learn their lesson last week that Gore isn’t a goal-line back anymore, but that’s what I get for falling into the fallacy of rational coaching. It was a weird game, but Singletary’s snap counts point to big days ahead. I know I have said this a lot lately, but I really believe it.
Nothing new here. Ride McCaffery to the playoffs!
Oddly, against one of the worst run defenses in the league, Chicago opted to limit Montgomery’s snap counts and usage. He disappointed again, and once more, Chicago’s offense wasn’t particularly good (only 256 total yards). Even though Montgomery passes the eye test, he likely won’t make you happy unless he scores a touchdown. Still, his upcoming schedule looks juicy, so I can’t recommend that you bench him. Just understand that this low-volume, low-powered offense severely caps his upside.
Mixon exploded against Baltimore. We did see some nice things from Mixon, including some trickery to get him in space (a designed reverse-field pass that resulted in 23 yards). But don’t get too excited. 13 of Mixon’s 30 (!!!) carries came after Cincinnati was down 42-10. Cincinnati was trying to get out of the building without completely destroying Ryan Finley’s confidence. Baltimore was also resting key starters after getting ahead very early. Mixon looked better, but the total usage is sure to be an outlier. Also of note, Giovani Bernard got hurt in this game, so Cincinnati likely gave Mixon carries that normally would have been allocated to the backup in such a lopsided game. Don’t expect 30 carries again.
We got our first taste of the shared Cleveland backfield, and you have to be relieved if you are a Nick Chubb owner because Kareem Hunt’s return to action barely affected Chubb’s snap counts. Instead, he was right around his yearly average for snaps. Cleveland opted to frequently have both running backs on the field, which is great news for both. Hunt does appear to be the preferred pass catching running back, but that’s okay because Chubb excels mostly after being handed the ball. There aren’t a ton of lessons to be learned regarding Kareem Hunt, other than he will be involved substantially, but the biggest takeaway from this game is that Hunt’s presence is not a detriment to Chubb’s fantasy value.
Zeke dominated snap counts but looked awful against a strong Minnesota run defense. Nothing actionable here.
Ty Johnson looked okay early on, but missed most of the game with a concussion, leading the Lions to rely heavily on JD McKissic. Depending on Johnson’s availability, McKissic could be a good waiver wire pickup. You can ignore Perkins; he still looks like he is running in mud. That said, the entire Lions offense levels down without Matthew Stafford playing.
|Green Bay||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
50-50 split, sound familiar? Well, it should because it happens every week. Nevertheless, Aaron Jones is a touchdown scoring machine. Surely, he will come down to earth, but the Packers RBs have accounted for 73% of the Green Bay touchdowns this year. Clearly, this offense scores through the running backs making both RBs startable hereon forward.
In an absolute stunner, the Dolphins won their second straight game in Indianapolis. Miami got up early, and as a result, Indy played Nyheim Hines more than expected due to the negative game script, which lowered Marlon Mack’s output significantly. The culprit is likely Brian Hoyer and his terrible play, so Mack owners best hope that Brissett is ready to return soon.
|Kansas City||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
LeSean McCoy was a surprise inactive in Week 10 opening the door for Damien Williams to play big snap counts again. Andy Reid explained the McCoy decision, saying it was to rest him for the playoff stretch, but Reid also said that “McCoy isn’t a spring chicken anymore“, essentially calling McCoy too old to play all 16 games. If McCoy isn’t going to be used, then Williams is a low-end RB1 for me.
|LA Chargers||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
The LA Chargers continue to get Melvin Gordon more and more involved. Ekeler has been salvaging his fantasy outputs by scoring touchdowns, but it’s clear that Gordon is the focal point of this offense ever since the coordinator change. Phillip Rivers poor play isn’t helping Ekeler out either. After throwing a few early picks (and he almost threw more that were called back by penalty), the Chargers took the ball out of Rivers’ hands and gave it to Gordon. Gordon’s usage is elite, and his efficiency is finally returning to form. He looks like an RB1 down the stretch.
|LA Rams||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Pittsburgh pretty much dominated this game considering that the Rams offense, the vaunted fighting Sean McVay’s, managed to score a mere 3 points. Give Pittsburgh some credit, but Jared Goff looks horrible lately. His poor play is affecting all the pass catchers (Cooper Kupp – 0 catches), including Todd Gurley who couldn’t reel in any of his four targets. Gurley isn’t playing that bad, but Goff is, which limits the upside of all the Rams players. Gurley is involved in the passing game, but Jared Goff isn’t getting it done. That’s a big problem for this offense.
Well, they tried it: Kalen Ballage got all the work in this Miami backfield, and no surprise, he still stinks. Continue to ignore the Miami backfield.
Cook is an absolute stud. Make sure you pick up Mattison if he’s available. He might be the highest value handcuff out there.
|New Orleans||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Kamara’s stats without context look great, but most of his passing involvement came on the final drive as New Orleans tried to get back in a game they were surprisingly losing to the Falcons. Kamara wasn’t great in this game, even though his eight catches salvaged your PPR games. His snap counts were also a bit elevated due to the game-script, so I still think Murray stands to take away some work from Kamara in a more positive game script. That said, there really isn’t much to worry about here. New Orleans just fell flat in this game, and it was Kamara’s first game back from injury.
|NY Giants||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Saquon was horribly inefficient in this one, turning 13 carries into 1 yard. Apparently there is some injury concern with Saquon, so monitor that one closely. The injury may explain the inefficiency because Saquon is so big-play dependent. If he can’t break big plays, then he is not an RB1 moving forward. This is two straight weeks of this, but the biggest takeaway is to monitor the injury.
|NY Jets||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Bell’s usage continues to appear elite, but the Jets offense tampers expectations significantly. Darnold looked a little better, and Bell actually scored in this one. Regardless, coming off the mysterious injury concerns last week, it was great to see Bell on the field this much and get this much work.
Josh Jacobs had another solid game, including a season high of 5 targets. Richard played a lot in the 2-minute offense, so that limited Jacobs’ snap counts slightly. Even so, a 50-60% snap share is where Jacobs has hovered all year, and that will likely continue. Even so, he’s seeing plenty of touches in that mediocre amount of playing time, so he remains a solid RB2.
None of the Steelers RBs have been particularly good in James Conner’s absence, so when Conner returns (likely Week 11), nobody in this group scares you. Plug Conner back in your lineup with confidence, even if Samuels steals the occasional target.
Carson is a monster and he isn’t coming off the field, even when he fumbles, which he did again this week.
|San Francisco||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Stop me if you heard this one before: Matt Breida got hurt and couldn’t finish the game. Breida has been so frustrating to own because of these constant, nagging injuries that knock him out of 40% of the game. He goes on the injury report, uses his Wolverine powers to heal quickly, and then gets hurt again. SF should seriously consider just holding him out for a week or two to let him get to 100%. Meanwhile, Coleman has been the more efficient running back. Mostert is the Breida replacement when he gets hurt, but Breida will probably be out there for only the first half again next week.
|Tampa Bay||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Ronald Jones had a big day and shocked the world with 8 targets. Oddly enough, the eight catches he had in Week 10 match the number of catches he had in Weeks 1-9 combined and more catches than he had in his entire rookie season. The high targets are a great sign, but he only ran 24 total routes, so I’d advise you not to expect that he gets targeted on 33% of his routes. With big efficiency, you’d expect higher snap counts. However, he fumbled late in the game, which resulted in the coach-yank for Peyton Barber. Jones is getting opportunity and snap counts, but he has a very short leash. I am still optimistic moving forward, even if he has a down week in Week 11 vs. the Saints.
Derrick Henry continues to defy the regression gods. He of course converted his one goal-line rush, and added another long touchdown. He was fantastic in this game and appears to be the first and second options for Tennessee. However, this is a low-volume offense (just 49 total plays in a game Tennessee won). It’s likely past your trade deadline, so selling high isn’t an option. Just keep riding him and hope that regression comes next year.
- David Johnson’s benching means that Kenyon Drake is officially the lead back in Arizona.
- Grab Brian Hill everywhere you can.
- Devin Singletary led in snap counts yet again, but Buffalo still continues to hit their head against the wall by giving Frank Gore goal-line carries that he consistently fails to convert.
- Kareem Hunt’s return from suspension did not affect Nick Chubb’s snap counts, but as predicted, Hunt is the preferred passing back – out-targeting Chubb 9 to 4. Cleveland is attempting to get both running backs on the field frequently.
- McCoy is apparently too old to play 16 games, so Damien Williams appears to be a low-end RB1 for now.
- Poor quarterback play is limiting the upside of several big names: Todd Gurley, David Montgomery, and Marlon Mack. Mack has the best chance to break out of this funk because Brissett could return from injury soon. Goff and Trubisky are bigger issues that probably aren’t going away.
- Ronald Jones got the opportunity to lead the Buccaneers backfield, but his leash is very short (a single fumble cost him snap counts).