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Week 2 Running Back Snap Count Analysis (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Michael Moore | @DLF_Moore | Featured Writer
Sep 23, 2020

Miles Sanders owners had to wait a week, but it was worth it as Sanders finally became the bell cow he was drafted to be.

With the glow of the first week of football in the rearview mirror, fantasy players can now focus on the grind. With two sets of data points for each team, what we thought were flukes in Week 1 are now trends in Week 2 and vice versa. Below are the snap counts for running backs to pay attention to as we head into Week 3.

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Detroit Lions

Player Snap Count
Kerryon Johnson 20
D’Andre Swift 19
Adrian Peterson 15

Another week, another committee split for the Lions. The backfield situation and the team itself are just too unpredictable to make any of these backs a reliable option.

However, there are a few trends to monitor if your team gets desperate. For starters, D’Andre Swift is unquestionably the passing down back. He’s seen five targets in each of the first two games while seeing either the most or second-most snaps in the Lions backfield. If the first two weeks are any indication of how the Lions season will go, they could be behind a lot and pave the way for a productive fantasy season for Swift in PPR leagues.

As for the better back of the first or second-down variety, it’s surprisingly been Adrian Peterson and it hasn’t been particularly close. Peterson led Detroit last week with 14 carries, turning them into an impressive 93 yards. He saw only seven this week, one behind Kerryon Johnson, but averaged nearly two more yards-per-carry. If forced to choose between Peterson and Johnson, AD is the pick.

Week 3: Lions at Cardinals

Indianapolis Colts

Player Snap Count
Jonathan Taylor 49
Jordan Wilkins 17
Nyheim Hines 9

While fantasy prognosticators accurately predicted Jonathan Taylor taking the reins of the Colts running game, most of them inaccurately predicted that Nyheim Hines would be a part of it. Granted, the Colts were up early against the Vikings which negated any reason to pass the ball. But it’s still disheartening for those that spent their FAAB money on Hines after his Week 1 breakout that saw him finish with 15 touches, two of them for touchdowns. Going forward, it won’t matter for Taylor’s value as he’s clearly entrenched as the starter while Hines’ owners will be gambling that the game script is good for passing down backs. If you have a bigger need on your roster and need a player to drop, Hines would be it.

Week 3: Colts vs. Jets

Los Angeles Rams

Player Snap Count
Malcolm Brown 37
Darrell Henderson 29
Cam Akers 3

If it weren’t for the injury sustained by Cam Akers early in the game, this breakout may have looked very different. Akers got the start (again) and was the lead back early on before appearing to suffer an upper-body injury that knocked him out the rest of the game. The snaps were fairly even the rest of the way as both Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson saw plenty of action.

If Akers does miss time, Henderson appears to have the inside track on being the most productive Rams back. He out carried Brown 12-11 this week, scoring on one of those, and out targeted Brown 3-0. Brown was a top waiver wire addition last week but unless the injury bug strikes Henderson too, it looks like it was all for naught.

Week 3: Rams at Bills

New York Jets

Player Snap Count
Frank Gore 37
La’Mical Perine  9
Kalen Ballage 8
Josh Adams 5

If you didn’t look at the final score but did look at snap counts, you’d think the Jets got out to a big lead over the 49ers and ran out the clock. However, the final was a blowout in the other direction with New York losing 31-13. Yet the 37-year old operated as the bell cow in place of the injured Le’Veon Bell and figures to do so again next week. He even tied for the most targets among Jet running backs in Week 2, tying with Kalen Ballage.

But the workload doesn’t figure to last too long as Gore has been wholly ineffective. He’s averaging just 3.3 yards-per-carry and is only holding on to the job because the Jets don’t have a better alternative. This is a situation to avoid until Bell returns.

Week 3: Jets at Colts

Philadelphia Eagles

Player Snap Count
Miles Sanders 55
Boston Scott 13

Miles Sanders owners had to wait a week, but it was worth it as Sanders finally became the bell cow he was drafted to be. Not only did he see bell-cow usage with 56 snaps – more than four times what backup Boston Scott saw – but he saw a career-high in touches, too. His 20 carries were tied for the most he’s seen in a game while the seven targets were a new career-high.

Any concern that the injury that held out Sanders last week would slow him down was put to rest. He was five yards short of a 100-yard day on the ground and his 12 yards-per-reception was in-line with his career average. Any FAAB money spent on either Boston Scott or Corey Clement can be considered a sunk cost and either can be dropped unless you need a Sanders handcuff.

Week 3: Eagles vs. Bengals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Player Snap Count
Leonard Fournette 26
Ronald Jones 21
LeSean McCoy 11

If Leonard Fournette owners were scared off from his Week One totals, Week Two should pull them back in. Not only did Fournette have a slight edge in snaps but he looked light-years better than Ronald Jones did especially after Jones lost a fumble. Fournette converted his 12 carries into 103 yards and two scores while RoJo took his seven carries and turned them into just 23 yards, averaging a paltry 3.3 yards-per-carry against an inexperienced Panther defense plus the turnover. Jones’ job isn’t the only one Fournette is coming for either. While LeSean McCoy led Tampa running backs in targets with seven, Fournette wasn’t far behind with five, catching four of them. Between the fumble and Fournette being the back Tampa relied on towards the end of the game, it may be time to anoint him the back to own going forward. As for Jones, he’s not droppable yet but he’s on his way.

Week 3: Buccaneers at Denver

Washington Football Team

Player Snap Count
Antonio Gibson 43
Jd Mckissic 29
Peyton Barber 1

Well, that didn’t take long. After Washington cut Adrian Peterson and deactivated the resurgent Bryce Love before Week 1, it was only a matter of time before rookie Antonio Gibson took control of the backfield. After seeing 18 snaps in the season opener Gibson took over in Week 2, seeing nearly 50% more snaps than his closest competition, JD McKissic, and punching in the first touchdown of his career. It’s especially encouraging when you consider Washington fell behind early which led to Gibson leading all Washington backs with two targets. There’s nothing holding Gibson back now from being the lead back the rest of the season.

Week 3: Football Team at Cleveland

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Michael Moore is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @DLF_Moore.

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