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
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!
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.
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.
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.
McCaffery is monster. Enjoy the ride.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
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’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.
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.
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|
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|
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|
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.
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.
Cook is a workhorse, and his low efficiency numbers directly relate to playing Chicago’s strong defense.
|New England||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
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|
No Brees = high Kamara usage and snap counts. Latavius Murray cannot be started in any league.
|NY Giants||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
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.
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.
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 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.
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|
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.
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.
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.
- 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!