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Week 4 Snap Counts and Opportunities: RBs

nick chubb week 4 snap counts and opportunities

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 and snap percentages. Here we go with the week 4 snap counts and opportunities for running backs.

Fantasy football is all about opportunity, and the NFL players having higher snap counts have a higher probability of scoring lots of 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 TFA’s Target Analysis article to see the full picture of all the week’s action.

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

Arizona Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 David Johnson 86% -1% 11 11 139
RB2 Chase Edmonds 21% 9% 6 0 37

David Johnson remains a weekly RB1 with his volume. His targets were partially inflated by game script, but Arizona will likely be in a lot of negative game scripts, so giddy-up!

Atlanta Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Devonta Freeman 62% -28% 12 9 100
RB2 Ito Smith 38% 33% 2 4 31

Freeman’s snap counts came back down to earth with Ito Smith released from the concussion protocol. 60-65% snaps are what we can expect from Freeman. Most of his production came through the air, which is a product of game script. Atlanta’s offensive line is not good at run blocking, so Freeman owners have to hope that he sees more opportunity through the air.

Baltimore Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Mark Ingram 46% -14% 12 1 71
RB2 Gus Edwards 29% 2% 6 1 36
RB3 Justice Hill 23% 10% 2 2 17

Mark Ingram sees an occasional target or two, but he won’t run enough routes to always be elite. He maintains value through efficiency, which is likely at least partially related to Lamar Jackson’s ability to run. It seems counter-intuitive, but studies show that a mobile quarterback actually improves RB ground efficiency. Ingram still led the backfield in routes run, so he remains a strong RB2.

Buffalo Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Frank Gore 46% -17% 17 1 109
RB2 Devin Singletary 0% 0% 0 0 0
RB3 TJ Yeldon 54% 17% 0 4 68

Singletary practiced last week but didn’t play. Instead, Buffalo played a lot of Yeldon in what was likely a game-plan related move against the vaunted Patriots. Gore still saw a lot of carries and was surprisingly efficient against New England. Singletary probably returns next week, so Gore’s value will take a dip.

Carolina Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Christian McCaffery 100% 8% 27 10 179

McCaffery is monster. Enjoy the ride.

Chicago Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 David Montgomery 69% 2% 21 5 67
RB2 Mike Davis 0% -2% 0 0 0
RB3 Tarik Cohen 39% -9% 5 5 18

Week 4 marked the third week in a row that Montgomery saw increased snap counts. He also saw 5 targets, which is very encouraging. Don’t read too much into his inefficiency, as Chicago was playing a good defense in Minnesota. Losing Trubisky won’t help, but it probably won’t hurt either. Montgomery can be started with confidence.

Cincinnati Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Joe Mixon 61% 4% 15 5 63
RB2 Giovani Bernard 33% -10% 1 6 17

Mixon saw his usual snaps and usual amount of carries. He was pretty inefficient, especially through the air – turning four catches into 1 yard. Cincinnati isn’t a good offense, so his upside remains capped.

Cleveland Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Nick Chubb 64% -33% 20 4 183
RB2 Dontrell Hilliard 36% 35% 6 3 54

Chubb dominated this game, and so did Cleveland. This output was surprising against Baltimore, but Baltimore’s defense is a bit banged up. Still, Chubb’s snap counts, usage, and efficiency deserve recognition. This might be the highest you can sell him unless Kareem Hunt gets suspended again. That said, I’d want an awful lot (like top 5 WR or Mahomes) for him in return. He’s just too good right now.

Dallas Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Ezekiel Elliott 97% 30% 18 7 75
RB2 Tony Pollard 3% -29% 0 0 0

Elliott’s snap counts are notable because this was Dallas’s first close game. In a close game, Pollard sits. Zeke wasn’t particularly efficient, but he scored. Like I’ve said in the past, trust usage.

Denver Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Phillip Lindsay 45% -11% 9 1 60
RB2 Royce Freeman 62% 13% 6 6 50

Freeman is apparently Denver’s preferred passing option, now that Devonte Booker has been relegated to special teams; he has run 11 more pass routes than Lindsay over the last two weeks. He also played more snap counts. Freeman is the back I think I’d rather own, but I still don’t trust either.

Detroit Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Kerryon Johnson 70% -5% 26 3 157
RB2 Ty Johnson 14% -6% 3 1 41
RB3 JD McKissic 35% 26% 4 2 14

Kerryon continues to receive workhorse-level snap counts and usage. Interestingly, it appears that JD McKissic has surpassed Ty Johnson on the depth chart. McKissic lined up wide several times and has captured the Theo Riddick role. Super deep league players might consider rostering McKissic.

Green Bay Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Aaron Jones 84% 45% 13 7 58
RB2 Jamaal Williams 1% -60% 0 1 0

Jamaal Williams suffered a head injury quite early in the game, so Green Bay was forced to increase Aaron Jones’s snap counts. Jones remained inefficient, but Philly has a very strong run defense. There isn’t too much to learn here because Williams was out and might return soon. Best wishes to him!

Houston Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Duke Johnson 65% 17% 6 3 78
RB2 Carlos Hyde 48% -4% 12 5 64

Houston’s entire offense was mostly shut down by Carolina’s strong front seven. Houston’s backfield is game script dependent – Duke plays more when the Texans are losing, and Hyde play more snap counts when the Texans are winning. Game script dependence plus inefficiency makes this a backfield to avoid.

Indianapolis Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Marlon Mack 36% -26% 11 0 39
RB2 Nyheim Hines 45% 20% 3 6 45
RB3 Jordan Wilkins 21% 7% 4 1 28

Marlon Mack got nicked up in this game, and Hines saw the increase in snaps. Many thought Wilkins was Mack’s true backup, but that may not exactly be the case. Having said that, the Colts were losing to the Raiders for much of this game. If you’re desperate, Hines is the better pickup.

Jacksonville Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Leonard Fournette 84% -16% 29 3 245
RB2 Ryquell Armstead 16% 16% 8 1 49

Monster game from Fournette. Looks like the buy-low window has slammed shut. Last week, I told you to trust volume, and Fournette’s Week 4 numbers show you why.

Kansas City Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Damien Williams 0% 0% 0 0 0
RB2 LeSean McCoy 46% 8% 11 4 89
RB3 Darrell Williams 51% -3% 8 4 56

With Damien Williams out again, Darrell Williams continued to fill-in, playing almost the exact same role. Interestingly, Williams got two goal-line carries, which he converted. Damien Williams returned to practice this week, so it’s likely Darrell falls back to fantasy irrelevance upon his return.

LA Chargers Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Austin Ekeler 72% 7% 18 5 122
RB2 Troymaine Pope 42% 42% 10 2 34
RB3 Melvin Gordon 0% 0% 0 0 0

Despite all the hype, Melvin Gordon didn’t play a snap, and Ekeler continued his massive efficiency. All the “coach speak” suggests that Gordon will resume his role as the #1 RB even though Ekeler has played so well. Ekeler will continue to have value, so don’t sell low on him. I am guessing they ease in Gordon, and Ekeler continues to see work, especially in the passing game. That is valuable. Ekeler can be started in Week 5

LA Rams Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Todd Gurley 76% 2% 5 11 70
RB2 Malcolm Brown 24% -2% 5 1 14

Just when I was ready to write off Todd Gurley’s passing game involvement, he gets 11 targets, but take that number with a grain of salt since Jared Goff threw nearly 70 times in Week 4. The Rams throw the ball on over 70% of Gurley’s snaps. The Rams might be keeping Gurley fresh by relying on the passing game more, rather than taking him off the field. That’s fine as long as Gurley continues to see target shares above 10%. However, Gurley had nearly twice as many targets in Week 4 alone as he did in Weeks 1-3 combined. So, what do we make of this? My guess is that Gurley starts looking more and more like a Duke Johnson/James White-type player, just in a very high-powered offense. The Rams may rely on him more later in the year, but he’s too valuable to keep off the field. As long as he’s running routes, he has significant value and upside.

Miami Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Kenyon Drake 54% -10% 6 5 73
RB2 Kalen Ballage 15% -20% 2 1 30
RB3 Mark Walton 25% 25% 6 2 7

Drake was slightly more efficient in Week 4. Also, Ballage’s horrible inefficiency has allowed Mark Walton to surpass him on the depth chart, not that it really matters.

Minnesota Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Dalvin Cook 79% 19% 14 8 70
RB2 Alexander Mattison 10% -20% 2 1 13

Cook is a workhorse, and his low efficiency numbers directly relate to playing Chicago’s strong defense.

New England Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Sony Michel 45% 23% 17 0 63
RB2 James White 52% 52% 1 10 58
RB3 Rex Burkhead 18% -56% 0 1 7

James White’s return cost Burkhead snaps, but Burkhead’s low snap counts are likely more of a product of a nagging injury. Michel was slightly more efficient, which is notable against a great Buffalo defense. That said, Michel is an afterthought in the passing game, and his lower efficiency numbers are probably because defenses figured out that his presence on the field indicates a high probability of a running play. I guess you don’t mess with a 4-0 team, but it sure would be nice if Michel saw 2-3 targets a game (something he was capable of doing in college).

New Orleans Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Alvin Kamara 77% -11% 17 3 89
RB2 Latavius Murray 25% 4% 4 1 20

No Brees = high Kamara usage and snap counts. Latavius Murray cannot be started in any league.

NY Giants Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Wayne Gallman 60% -3% 18 6 118
RB2 Jon Hilliman 35% 35% 10 0 33
RB3 Elijhaa Penny 18% 18% 3 0 12

Gallman looked alright filling in for Saquon, but the Giants did play Washington’s woeful defense. Hilliman’s involvement is a bit of a surprise, but inconsequential. For those of you who spent big on Gallman, these numbers are exactly what you paid for. We shall see if it continues against stronger competition.

Oakland Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Josh Jacobs 54% 12% 17 2 108
RB2 Jalen Richard 28% -21% 4 1 18
RB3 DeAndre Washington 19% 4% 6 3 26

Health and a positive game script were great news for Jacobs and his efficiency. Of note, he did a lot with his two targets, and Oakland should really look to involve him more in the passing game. Games like this should earn more of Gruden’s trust.

Philadelphia Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Miles Sanders 35% 1% 11 0 72
RB2 Jordan Howard 53% 20% 15 4 115
RB3 Darren Sproles 11% -25% 1 0 4

Doug Peterson ran with the hot hand, which meant big snap counts for Jordan Howard. Howard was very efficient and cashed in two touchdowns as well. Miles Sanders remains hard to start only playing 1/3 of the snaps. Zero targets for both Sanders and Sproles is very surprising and likely noise. Philly’s backfield is generally noisy, but one thing is clear: Jordan Howard is the goal-line back.

Pittsburgh Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 James Conner 64% -4% 10 8 125
RB2 Jaylen Samuels 46% 20% 10 8 83

Pittsburgh destroyed Cincy, which allowed for big days for both Conner and Samuels. Samuels even played quite a bit of quarterback in the Wildcat formation (his 3 “passes” were tap passes, which are essentially forward hand-offs). This isn’t likely to stop because the Steelers aren’t demonstrating a lot of trust in Mason Rudolph. Samuels is definitely worth rostering. Also, I’d try to sell high on Conner.

Seattle Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Chris Carson 76% 32% 22 4 145
RB2 Rashaad Penny 0% 0% 0 0 0
RB3 C.J. Prosise 22% -33% 3 0 4

No fumbles for Carson this week, which led to big snap counts and big-time production. Carson owners are probably lucky that Penny couldn’t go this week, which forced Pete Carroll to allow Carson to prove that he could hold onto the rock. Moving forward, Carson will stay a strong RB play, so long as fumble-itis doesn’t occur again.

Tampa Bay Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Peyton Barber 49% 13% 9 1 19
RB2 Ronald Jones 26% -4% 19 1 82
RB3 Dare Ogunbowale 28% 3% 1 4 16

Ronald Jones is clearly the best back in this backfield, but so far that doesn’t mean much. He even turned his one target into a big gain through the screen game. Sooner or later, talent will prevail. I’d be putting out feelers for Jones.

Tennessee Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Derrick Henry 75% 27% 27 2 108
RB2 Dion Lewis 28% -24% 4 5 20

I said it last week, and it was true again: Henry’s usage is entirely game script dependent. Tennessee handled Atlanta and rode Henry to a modest day.

Washington Snaps  +/- Carries Targets Total Yards
RB1 Adrian Peterson 39% -8% 11 0 28
RB2 Chris Thompson 53% 2% 4 4 60

Same story as the last three weeks. Washington isn’t good enough to sustain a ground-and-pound RB like Peterson. Thompson offers better value, but with a very low ceiling in an offense this bad.

Biggest Takeaways

  • David Montgomery has taken control of the Bears backfield and will likely be relied upon heavily in the absence of Mitch Trubisky
  • In close games, Zeke plays nearly 100% of the snaps
  • The Rams threw on nearly 70% of Gurley’s snaps, so he may become more of a pass-catching RB to keep him fresh.
  • Defenses have figured out that Michel’s presence on the field indicates a high likelihood of a running play, which is costing him efficiency.
  • Jordan Howard is the Eagles’ goal-line back
  • Now might be the best chance to sell-high on James Conner
  • Chris Carson is a great fantasy running back, so long as he doesn’t fumble
  • Ronald Jones is clearly the best running back in Tampa, and eventually Arians won’t be able to keep him off the field. See if you can trade for him!

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