Week 7 Running Back Snap Count Analysis (Fantasy Football)
This week saw a few new faces at the top of several backfields. Whether due to injury (Cincinnati, Green Bay, half the league) or new signees (Hello, Kansas City), several teams saw a different distribution of running back snaps, which we get into below.
The Bengals’ persistent reliance on Gio Bernard on passing downs early in the season was frustrating to Joe Mixon’s fantasy managers, but the team appeared to be turning a corner over the last couple of weeks. Through Weeks 5 and 6, Mixon finally out-targeted and caught more passes than Bernard, and he appeared to be on the path to becoming a bell cow. But while a foot injury derailed Mixon’s progress, it didn’t deter Cincinnati in sticking to the bell cow mentality with Bernard. Not only did he far out-snap the primary backup, Samaje Perine, but he also out-carried him 13-1 and out-targeted him 5-1.
But back to Mixon, it’s a good sign that when Mixon does return, which could be as early as Week 8, he’ll resume his bell-cow duties and keep adding targets to his carry totals.
Week 8: Bengals vs. Titans
Green Bay Packers
It only took two of the Packers’ top running backs missing time for second-rounder AJ Dillon to see his most snaps of the season, totaling a career-high 14. Yet it still wasn’t enough to be fantasy-relevant, as he saw just five carries compared to the bell cow status Jamaal Williams operated under.
Williams saw 19 carries in a blowout and totaled 77 yards on the ground while also seeing five targets, good for second on the team. It’s an interesting development — along with the Bengals above — that when the primary ball carrier goes down, teams that typically deploy a passing-down back have been making the latter a bell cow. Perhaps they feel it’s just easier to lean on one back to do both than having to get two running backs up to speed on quasi-different roles. It’s not expected to last long, however, as the injury to Jones wasn’t serious, but it does prove that Williams is capable and should be rostered in fantasy leagues.
Week 8: Packers vs. Vikings
Kansas City Chiefs
We got our first glimpse of the Chiefs’ backfield with Le’Veon Bell in Week 7. Clyde Edwards-Helaire managers had been holding their breath all week despite Kansas City assuring everyone that he was not being supplanted as the starter by newly signed Bell. The proof was always going to be in the pudding, and, luckily for CEH managers, the Chiefs stuck to their word.
Even in a relative blow out, CEH led the backfield in snaps (27), carries (eight), and targets (four). Detractors (or Bell managers) would say this was just a tune-up before the veteran Bell gets the job, but there’s no good reason for that. CEH ran well (5.8 yards-per-carry) and scored while the offense still hung 43 points in a snowstorm. Hopefully, the Chiefs realize that nothing’s broke, so they don’t go trying to fix it.
Week 8: Chiefs vs. Jets
New York Jets
The second game of the post-Le’Veon Bell era in the Jets backfield looked like the first one, which is good news for Lamical Perine managers. Not only did he see nearly two-and-a-half times the snaps as veteran Frank Gore, but, for the first time, he saw as many carries (11). Gore did run better, as he turned his 11 carries into 60 yards, while Perine managed just 39, but Perine got the only Jets touchdown of the day.
It’s also clear that Perine is the preferred option in the passing game. He saw three of the Jets’ 22 pass attempts while Gore saw none. This trend should continue as Gore wears down as the season goes on.
Week 8: Jets at Chiefs
San Francisco 49ers
Because injuries have played such a big part in the 49ers’ backfield (not to mention the whole team), we’ve never seen how they would handle a full, healthy running back room. We’ve never been promised a bell cow situation or that they’d even lean on the same running back from one game to the next, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that in a game that was set up for Jerick McKinnon to lead, fourth-stringer Jeff Wilson Jr. did all the work. Not only did he get double the snaps to the next closest running back, but he led all San Francisco backs with 17 carries, converting those into 112 yards and three touchdowns.
Maybe more surprising was who came next in the pecking order. Rookie JaMycal Hasty saw nine carries for 57 yards and added a reception, while Jerick McKinnon saw just three carries and no targets. Which just means that you can never seem to trust the 49ers backfield no matter who is playing.
Week 8: 49ers at Bills
Not many teams can challenge the 49ers for the sheer amount of injuries in the backfield, but Seattle is quickly catching up. After not having Rashaad Penny this season, Chris Carson has carried most of the load this season, including Week 7, where he was on his way again before suffering a foot injury. Next up was Travis Homer, who promptly suffered a knee injury, followed by Carlos Hyde, who finished the game but now has hamstring tightness. The only fully healthy running back is rookie DeeJay Dallas.
For the immediate future, it appears Hyde is the back to roster. The severity of Carson’s and Homer’s injuries is to be determined, but Hyde’s hamstring tightness appears to be the least worrisome. He carried the ball well against the Cardinals, too, as he turned his team-leading 15 carries into 68 yards and a touchdown. He also tied for third on the team with four targets. I doubt that Seattle goes full blow bell cow here, so there’s still going to be some value for the rookie Dallas in the passing game. He even got three targets last Sunday.
Week 8: Seahawks vs. 49ers
Washington Football Team
For whatever reason, as Peyton Barber’s snaps go, so goes the Washington Football Team. The team has only won games where Barber gets 20-plus snaps. Luckily, for Antonio Gibson managers, his snaps didn’t mean less attention for their player, as Gibson still led the backfield in touches and saw the most carries he’s seen all season. He turned 20 carries into 128 yards and had the best game of his short career.
There wasn’t much to do as far as the passing game, as Washington was up 22-3 at halftime over the hapless Cowboys. Gibson managers would love more Washington blowouts, but, sadly, those might be few and far between.
Week 8: Bye
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