RB Snap Count Analysis: Week 5 (Fantasy Football)

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
Oct 10, 2018

Of the teams examined below, only one Week 5 snap leader scored a touchdown. Three didn’t lead his own squad in rushing yards, and two finished as a top-25 running back in PPR leagues.

Playing time doesn’t always correlate perfectly with opportunities and results. Yet it opens a window for more volume in a better spot down the road. As for some of the teammates thriving on limited reps, it’s a tough act to sustain on a weekly basis. Let’s examine the latest trends from some notable backfield splits, some of which welcomed back a marquee name.

View Snap Count leaders across the NFL >>

Atlanta Falcons

Player Snaps Carries Rush YDs Targets Receptions Rec. YDs TDs
Devonta Freeman 28 8 32 2 2 9 0
Tevin Coleman 27 7 15 2 2 15 0
Ito Smith 12 3 5 1 1 5 1

After missing three weeks with a knee injury, Devonta Freeman returned to log one more snap and touch than Tevin Coleman. Although Ito Smith was limited to 10 yards after tallying 137 in the starter’s absence, he vultured a touchdown for the second straight game. The snap rates played out close to the 40/40/20 timeshare Josina Anderson projected on ESPN’s Fantasy Football Now. Making matters messier, Atlanta fell behind 13-0 in the opening quarter of a 41-17 loss. Pittsburgh is more susceptible through the air anyway, so this was a tough spot for Freeman and Coleman before factoring in the split duties. The Falcons face an extreme pass-funnel defense in the Buccaneers, so Week 6 could boil down to who gets the goal-line looks. There’s a chance they’re simply easing Freeman back into action, and the duo could even coexist against the right opponent. Freeman dips to low-end RB2 territory until further notice, and Coleman is once again a touchdown-dependent flex play for managers in a bind. For now, Smith will hurt his teammates more than help his own limited appeal.

Baltimore Ravens

Player Snaps Carries Rush YDs Targets Receptions Rec. YDs TDs
Javorius Allen 50 8 34 8 6 44 0
Alex Collins 27 12 59 4 1 7 0

Even with the benefit of two extra overtime possessions in a game Baltimore never trailed by more than six points, Alex Collins played just 27 of 87 snaps. It marks the fifth time he has seen the field for under half of the team’s plays, but it’s the first game in which he failed to garner a single red-zone touch. Javorius Allen didn’t find the end zone either, but he drew two carries and a catch inside the 10. He now has more red-zone touches (13) than his teammate (11). Although flex backers were not rewarded with his fourth short score of 2018, Allen amassed a season-high 78 yards (34 rushing, 44 receiving) and six catches. The 27-year-old also coughed up his first fumble since 2015, but it’s unlikely to cost him since Collins lost possession at the goal line in Week 4. Also, Jim Harbaugh hardly seems concerned with getting Collins more touches. “A fresh running back is a good thing, the Ravens coach said, per ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley. “We need to spread the load.” At this point, nobody can blame him for deprioritizing Collins, who is averaging 3.8 yards per carry with ball-security issues and diminished pass-catching skills. While he’s still the preferred non-PPR option, the duo should especially start to converge in the PPR rankings. There’s enough uncertainty throughout the position to keep Collins in the starting fold, but he’s not the sturdy RB2 drafters hoped to obtain in the third or fourth round. Allen will come in handy once bye weeks start to pile up.

Cleveland Browns

Player Snaps Carries Rush YDs Targets Receptions Rec. YDs TDs
Duke Johnson 41 5 35 1 1 7 0
Carlos Hyde 28 17 63 3 2 14 0
Nick Chubb 11 3 2 1 0 0 0

Staying in the same game, the Browns also gave their pass-catching back more reps despite the close and stunted score. Yet it didn’t make much of a difference beyond the snap count. Carlos Hyde posted a tame 77 yards, but he still handled 19 touches on his 28 snaps. One would really need to be an optimist to glean hope from Duke Johnson‘s season-high 35 rushing yards. It’s the receptions everyone wants to see from a player who recorded 188 catches in three seasons. Despite playing nearly half of Cleveland’s snaps, he drew just one target in Baker Mayfield‘s 43 passes. Nick Chubb, who still hasn’t caught a pass in his NFL career, also received one look. The rookie assumed three carries for the second straight game, but he tallied 103 fewer yards and two fewer touchdowns. Although Week 4’s boom was clearly unsustainable in such a limited role, there was hope for him earning more opportunities. No such luck. He’s not rosterable in a shallow redraft league unless Hyde-still a top-15 running back on volume alone despite averaging a tepid 3.5 yards per run-stops drawing 20 handoffs a game. While the elevated snap count creates a modicum of hope for a Johnson revival, it’s awfully hard to waste a roster spot on someone totaling 166 yards and one red-zone touch this season.

New Orleans Saints

Player Snaps Carries Rush YDs Targets Receptions Rec. YDs TDs
Mark Ingram 36 16 53 3 2 20 2
Alvin Kamara 31 6 24 4 3 15 0

Well, that’s not what Alvin Kamara investors wanted to see. Making his return from a four-game suspension, Mark Ingram promptly led New Orleans in snaps and scored two touchdowns on three red-zone rushes. Kamara, who had previously received a whopping 20 handoffs and 15 targets inside the 20, drew just one red-zone look. This game is good news for Ingram more than it is a red flag for the second-year standout. Kamara-who averaged 12.6 touches per game as a rookie-gripped the ball 91 times in four contests without Ingram. He set a career high in carries in each of the last three bouts, so it made sense to ease his workload in Monday night’s blowout win over Washington. After returning from a Week 6 bye, New Orleans likely won’t have the chance to run out the clock often throughout a grueling schedule (at Ravens, at Vikings, Rams, at Bengals, Eagles, Falcons) leading up to Thanksgiving. Kamara, last year’s RB3 despite starting slow and sharing the backfield with Ingram, is too talented not to deploy more in most spots. Perhaps this game reaffirms some preseason fears he shattered throughout September, but he’s still an easy top-tier option going forward. (He’s still six standard points behind Todd Gurley for the top spot.) Those who thought Ingram would take a back seat to Kamara, however, can exhale. Rather than falling into a subservient role, he’s going to keep getting plenty of red-zone work to thrive as a high-end RB2. He looks poised to reward patient drafters at a thin position.

New York Jets

Player Snaps Carries Rush YDs Targets Receptions Rec. YDs TDs
Bilal Powell 34 29 99 0 0 0 0
Isaiah Crowell 25 15 219 1 1 12 2

Snap count isn’t everything. Isaiah Crowell ran wild for 219 yards in a week where he occupied the backfield in 40 percent of Gang Green’s plays. Only two other running backs (Chris Carson and James Conner) hit the triple-digit rushing mark in Week 5. Fourth on the rushing list? Bilal Powell. He logged more snaps and carries than his teammate in a 34-16 win over the Broncos. Before getting too cozy with Crowell, remember that he compiled 219 fewer rushing yards the previous game. He’s a game-dependent option with 333 yards and three touchdowns in two victories. The Jets are a slight home favorite against the Colts, so he could conceivably hit the jackpot again on Sunday. Just don’t write off a 30-yard dud as an equally likely possibility. Powell possesses a higher floor, but also a much lower ceiling. He’s averaging 73.8 yards per game with a 73-yard median and 51-99 range. That works as a deep-league flex option, especially since he has received eight red-zone runs (but no touchdowns) in the last three games. In most leagues, however, he’s nothing more than a depth piece to round out the bench and use after catching a bad case of the injury bug and/or bye-week blues.

Seattle Seahawks

Player Snaps Carries Rush YDs Targets Receptions Rec. YDs TDs
Chris Carson 35 19 116 1 1 11 0
Mike Davis 25 12 68 2 2 7 1

Pete Carroll actually stuck to his word. After Mike Davis went off for 124 yards and two touchdowns in Carson’s absence, the Seahawks coach said the 25-year-old “needs to play.” He indeed stayed involved by tallying 74 yards and a touchdown on 14 touches. And yet Week 5 was a highly encouraging day for Carson, who returned to register triple-digit yards for the second consecutive game on 20 touches. The second-year back led a 58-42 split over Davis in a back-and-forth loss to the Rams. Although that’s a troubling allotment for most backs, Carson still came just two rushes shy of matching Russell Wilson’s pass attempts. Seattle is the only team to execute more rushing attempts (143) than passes — Buffalo has 141 runs and passes apiece — so there should be plenty of chances for both backs to handle the rock. Carson is a strong RB2 against the Raiders, who rank 28th in rushing with six touchdowns relinquished on the ground. Davis warrants a waiver-wire add and maybe even flex consideration in non-PPR formats. They then play Detroit’s NFL-worst rushing defense after Week 7’s bye. Oh, by the way, an active Rashaad Penny didn’t play a single snap. He can’t be rostered in any redraft leagues.

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Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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