Running Back Snap Count Analysis: Week 5 (Fantasy Football)
Yesterday, the Cardinals swung a deal with the Saints to acquire Adrian Peterson. Since the spirit of this article is to look at running back situations with an eye on what it could mean for future usage, I’ll address the deal in the intro. Arizona cut Chris Johnson from the backfield mix in the desert to clear room for Peterson. Johnson played 24 snaps last week, and when Peterson is up to speed on Arizona’s playbook, I expect him to play 25-35 snaps (35 represents Johnson’s high-water mark in four games before his release) as a complement to pass-catching back Andre Ellington. As I noted touting the Buccaneers as a stream option on defense, the Cardinals are far and away the least productive team running the football averaging only 51.8 yards rushing per game. I question whether Peterson has anything left in the tank, but he should at least be awarded an opportunity to inject some life into a listless running attack. He’s worth scooping up with the potential to serve as a bye week fill-in or flex play in the coming weeks, but don’t delude yourself into believing his ceiling is even as high as RB2 status, because it isn’t. There are quite a few running back situations to dive into, so I address them all in a quick-hit fashion.
Ravens last week @ Raiders, this week vs. Bears
West left last week’s contest with a calf injury, and his injury clears the way for a clear-cut, one-two punch in Baltimore’s backfield in his absence. How long West will be out isn’t entirely clear, but the team’s decision to sign Bobby Rainey is probably a decent indicator it will be at least a couple weeks absence for West. Gamers can cut West in all but the deepest of leagues since his playing time was trending in the wrong direction anyway. In an ideal game-script situation last, Collins only carried the ball 12 times for 55 yards compared to 21 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown for “Buck” Allen. Allen’s a low-end RB2 even in standard scoring leagues, and he’s an even better play in PPR formats thanks to his receiving prowess. Collins has rushed for 55 yards or more in three straight games. He’s worth owning in 12-team leagues or larger, but his lack of receiving work limits his upside to flex value and bye week fill-in for RB needy teams.
Bears last week vs. Vikings. team, this week @ Ravens
Cohen’s value has bottomed out. He only touched the ball seven times on Monday, and and after gobbling up 24 receptions through the first four games of the year, he reeled in only one reception on his lone target. Cunningham scored a 38-yard touchdown on a reception on a fake punt, but was otherwise quiet with a run for four yards and another reception for five yards. Still, the former Ram has played 30 snaps to Cohen’s 35 the last two weeks combined, and he hurts the rookie’s value currently. I wouldn’t cut Cohen in 12-team leagues or larger unless injuries are forcing your hand, but his leash is short.
Packers last week @ Cowboys, this week @ Vikings
I’ll keep this quick. Jones was outstanding against the Cowboys rumbling for 125 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries while hauling in his only target for nine yards. Williams can be dumped, and Jones should be owned universally, and he’s a low-end RB2 at worst as long as Ty Montgomery is out. The playing time situation warrants monitoring when Montgomery returns.
Colts last week vs. 49ers, this week @ Titans
Outside of the season-opening blowout, Gore’s played 32 or more snaps in every game. He’s reached double-digit touches in all five games, but his season high for rushing yards is 57 on 25 carries in Week 3, and he’s averaging a paltry 3.2 yards per carry. He has scored two touchdowns, and he’s further bolstered his value by catching eight passes for 82 yards — with six of those receptions for 72 yards coming in the last two weeks. However, Mack’s in line to receive more work going forward than he’s seen to date in his rookie season. The team’s fourth-round pick is an explosive runner, and he paced the backfield with 91 yards rushing and a touchdown on nine carries last week. His day would have been even bigger, but he had a run that was initially ruled a touchdown overturned, and Jacoby Brissett capped the drive off with a three-yard touchdown run instead. Mack’s value is trending upward while Gore’s is slipping a bit. Gore’s still a fringe RB2, but Mack needs to be universally owned and is more than merely a handcuff back.
Vikings last week @ Bears, this week vs. Packers
McKinnon not only dominated the backfield in snaps played, he was clearly the best back. McKinnon rushed for 95 yards and a score, and he added six grabs on six targets for 51 yards. Murray fizzled with 31 yards on 12 carries and two receptions for 12 yards. I’ve been burned by McKinnon before, but I’m going to pound the table for him once again and call him an RB2 for the rest of the season.
Giants last week vs. Chargers, this week @ Broncos
The Giants were dealt a huge blow with the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. for the remainder of the season, and season-ending injuries to Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris won’t help the offense, either. They’re going to struggle to move the ball offensively. They’re 0-5, and it stands to reason that they’ll want to get their rookie, Gallman, experience in a lost season. None of their backs look like a good play this week against Denver’s super-stingy run defense, but Gallman has the most appeal for the rest of the season and should be owned universally.
Jets last week @ Browns, this week vs. Patriots
Matt Forte was out again last week, and Powell exited early with a calf injury. Powell’s reportedly day-to-day, and not week-to-week, Darryl Slater of NJ.com relayed from Todd Bowles’ Monday conference call. McGuire stunk against the Browns in Week 5. The rookie rushed for 20 yards on 11 carries and added two grabs for 10 yards, but he’s flashed upside and looks like quite the find in the sixth round of this year’s NFL Draft. McGuire should be rostered universally and is an RB2 this week if Powell is forced to miss the game and Forte remains out. If Powell is healthy, McGuire and Powell will both make for fringe flex plays.
Seahawks last week @ Rams, this week Bye
Seattle’s backfield is a tire fire. Lacy and Rawls combined to rush for 39 yards on 17 carries against a Rams defense Football Outsiders (FO) ranks 18th defending the run. McKissic led the backfield in yards from scrimmage with 36 on three receptions but he amassed zero yards on only two carries. The Seahawks have a bye this week that will award C.J. Prosise more time to recover from his ankle injury. Prosise is expected back for Week 7. I wouldn’t waste a roster spot on either Lacy or Rawls in a 12-team league or smaller, and the oft-injured Prosise is my favorite to lead the group in scoring for the rest of the season, but he’s not a workhorse back. Having said that, he flashed his rushing upside last year with 142 yards on 21 carries in a two-game stretch. Furthermore, if they want to keep the second-year back’s touches in check in the hopes of keeping him healthy, they could scale back his receiving work a little bit with McKissic fairing well in that role in Prosise’s absence.
49ers last week @ Colts, this week @ Redskins
|Kyle Juszczyk (FB)||35|
Juszczyk is the club’s fullback, but his inclusion in the table is so that I can point out his red-zone vulture potential. The former Raven scored on a six-yard reception last week. Hyde was receiving a steady diet of touches prior to last week’s clunker. He’s touched the ball at least 15 times in every contest, and he’d surpassed 20 touches in back-to-back contests before carrying the ball just eight times for 11 yards and catching one pass for seven yards. Undrafted rookie Matt Breida led the way with 10 carries for 49 yards and three receptions for 22 yards. Hyde’s health apparently wasn’t the impetus for the dramatic drop in work. The 49ers appear to be moving forward with a “hot-hand” approach. Hyde’s still the back to own, but he’s no longer a slam-dunk RB2. Breida should be scooped up in 12-team leagues or larger.