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Week 3 RB Snap Count Analysis (Fantasy Football)

by Michael Moore | @DLF_Moore | Featured Writer
Sep 30, 2020

We have three weeks of games in the books and can start to call certain data points trends instead of flukes. Nowhere is this more important than running back snaps. Without a pre-season to project who will be the lead back of a team, passing back, etc., many teams used the first week or two to work out the kinks. But we’re nearly 20% into the season, and offenses, in the words of Denny Green, “are who we thought they were.”

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Baltimore Ravens

Player Snap Count
JK Dobbins 24
Mark Ingram II 18
Gus Edwards 13

It hasn’t happened often in the Lamar Jackson-era that the Ravens get behind early, but now we know what they look like when it happens. Rookie JK Dobbins led the backfield with 24 snaps, nearly 1/3 more than Mark Ingram, and nearly double that of Gus Edwards. In all, Dobbins saw 43% of the snaps — a season-high — while also being the apparent pass-catching option with four targets while Ingram and Edwards combined to see one. 

However, the Ravens are unlikely to be down 17 at halftime again this season, so we can’t count on this kind of game script often. Chances are we’ll revert back to a game where both Dobbins and Ingram, and sometimes Edwards, see 20 snaps each while continuing to be a situation to avoid in fantasy. 

Week Four: Ravens at Football Team 

Buffalo Bills

Player Snap Count
Devin Singletary 55
TJ Yeldon 6

Any questions if Devin Singletary would handle the load in Zack Moss’ absence were squashed on Sunday. Granted, Singletary only ran the ball 13 times and definitely gave up a goal-line chance or two to both Yeldon and Josh Allen, but he stayed on the field for most of the Bills’ 58 plays. He even finished third on the team in targets with five. Singletary owners have been frustrated by the lack of scoring opportunities — he hasn’t scored yet — but the usage continues to be encouraging. And if Moss’ toe injury lingers, it just solidifies Singletary’s role even more. 

Week Four: Bills at Raiders 

Cleveland Browns

Player Snap Count
Nick Chubb 34
Kareem Hunt 29

Another week, another nearly equal split workload for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the Browns’ backfield. It’s the second time in three weeks they both saw 45% of the snaps while they managed to see nearly identical number of touches — 20 for Chubb, 19 for Hunt. But while they see the field as much as each other, it’s also clear they have very defined roles. Chubb is up to 51 carries through three games — a healthy 17-per game average — but has seen just one target in each of those games. Meanwhile, Hunt is up to 39 carries — a respectable 13-per game — but has totaled 11 targets. This backfield is one of the few where your league type, PPR or standard, goes a long way to determine who may be the more valuable. And with the Browns facing a Dallas defense that’s given up the third-most passing attempts this season, it may actually be Hunt this week. 

Week Four: Browns at Cowboys 

Indianapolis Colts

Player Snap Count
Jonathan Taylor 24
Nyheim Hines 20
Jordan Wilkins 17

It’s the second week of the post-Marlon Mack era in Indianapolis, and, to the surprise of many, Nyheim Hines is hanging on to his fantasy value. Granted, it was against the Jets, who the Colts went up early on with a pick-six, but it’s still interesting to note. So far, Hines is the clear passing-down back, while rookie Jonathan Taylor is the two-down banger. Case in point: Taylor ran the ball 13 times and only saw one target while Hines ran it seven times and led the Colts in targets with five. Interestingly enough, when the lead was big enough, Jordan Wilkins had mop-up duty. 

Now, this doesn’t mean Taylor won’t see much more attention as the season rolls on. He’s actually getting better — he averaged 2.9 yards-per-carry in his debut, which increased to 3.9 yards per carry in Week 2 to 4.6 yards per carry this past week. If he keeps progressing, it’ll be hard for the Colts to keep him off the field no matter what the situation. 

Week Four: Colts at Bears

Los Angeles Chargers

Player Snap Count
Austin Ekeler 56
Joshua Kelley 23

The Joshua Kelley hype train appeared to last all of one week after Austin Ekeler returned to his rightful place as a fantasy RB1. After seeing more than twice the touches, thanks to an injury to third running back Justin Jackson, Ekeler did it all against the Panthers. He saw 12 carries and turned them into 59 yards and a score while Kelley actually wasn’t all that behind with eight carries for 43 yards. The difference was in the passing game, where Ekeler saw 11 targets, the third-most he’s seen in a game in his entire career. He converted every target, and he caught 11 balls for 84 yards. Meanwhile, Kelley saw just one target. 

Going forward, the return of Jackson appears to cut into Kelley’s workload more than Ekeler’s. It certainly did in Week 1, and Kelley didn’t do himself any favors after losing a fumble in Week 3. Ekeler is still the man in LA.

Week Four: Chargers at Buccaneers 

Miami Dolphins

Player Snap Count
Myles Gaskin 46
Matt Breida 11
Jordan Howard 4

Not only did the Dolphins earn their first win of the season Thursday — in a rout, no less — but we also confirmed Myles Gaskin’s role in Miami’s backfield is situation-proof. Win or lose, Gaskin will see the most touches, carries, targets, etc., while his competition is seeing less and less. Gaskin saw a season-high 75% of the snaps in Week 3, and Matt Breida saw a season-low 18% with just three carries. Jordan Howard fared worse, taking four snaps and three carries. If these numbers occurred over one week they could be considered a fluke. But we’re three games into the season, and it’s hard to deny that this is the order of things in Miami. If you need a spot starter due to injury, Gaskin would be it. 

Week Four: Dolphins vs. Seahawks 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Player Snap Count
Ronald Jones 35
Leonard Fournette 25
LeSean McCoy 11

Just when you think Bruce Arians is going to zig, he zags and gives Ronald Jones II lead-back duties in the Bucs backfield. After falling behind recent free-agent pickup Leonard Fournette in snaps last week, 26-21, Jones stormed back to see 35 snaps compared to Fournette’s 25 in Tampa’s victory over Denver this week. He out carried Fournette 13-7 and tied LeSean McCoy for the most targets with four. But does any of this portend future usage for any of these backs? The distribution has been so varied that it’s hard to trust any of these backs to have the same role from week-to-week, save for McCoy, who’s seen 11 targets over the last two weeks. Arians seems to be toggling between Jones and Fournette at seemingly random intervals. Until there is a more consistent distribution, neither one is a reliable option for your fantasy team. 

Week Four: Buccaneers vs. Chargers

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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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