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Week 9 Running Back Snap Count Analysis (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Michael Moore | @DLF_Moore | Featured Writer
Nov 11, 2020

Chase Edmonds played in a bell cow-esque 96% of the offensive snaps in Week 9.

Luckily, the season has gone on long enough where players hurt early on are now coming back. Not surprisingly, someone like Christian McCaffrey dominated his carries (71%) but there are several other backfields that aren’t quite as settled. Below are a handful of backfield situations with very fluid snap counts.

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Arizona Cardinals

If it wasn’t clear what the Arizona Cardinals thought of Chase Edmonds before, see Week 9’s snap count as proof. After seeing no less than 20 snaps in any game this season while playing behind started Kenyan Drake, the Cardinals turned the entire running game over to him when Drake was sidelined by injury. He played in a bell cow-esque 96% of the offensive snaps while his backup, DJ Foster, saw just five.

As to what Edmonds did with his number of snaps is a different question. Despite seeing a season-high 25 carries (also good for second-most of his career), he managed just 2.8 yards-per-carry for 70 total yards on the ground. His turn in the passing game wasn’t much better, converting his three targets into just three receptions and 18 yards. It shouldn’t be all that surprising since Miami’s defense ranks in the top-11 in DVOA. Next week should be better as Drake is expected to sit again while Edmonds gets a crack at Buffalo’s 23rd-ranked defense.

Next week: Cardinals vs. Bills

Buffalo Bills 

Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Buffalo – with its new-found proficiency of passing the ball – would attack the Seattle defense through the air while completely abandoning the run game. It was great news for Buffalo pass catchers who tore up a defense now giving up over 360 passing yards-per-game this year but it was horrible news for Devin Singletary who Buffalo deemed a non-factor. Sure, he saw half the snaps but was out carried by Zack Moss 9-2 while Moss was the only back to score (Josh Allen ran one in too). For a small consolation, Singletary did out-target Moss 3-2, but neither one was among the top targets for Allen who had 38 pass attempts on the day.

Either way, the plan worked, and Singletary owners need to be prepared to project what kind of game plan Buffalo rolls out week-to-week. It’s the only way to gauge if Singletary will see the necessary carries or not to be relevant.

Next week: Bills at Cardinals

Detroit Lions

For all the talk of an Adrian Peterson revenge game against the team he played 10 seasons for, it wasn’t meant to be. Peterson saw the least amount of carries among the three-headed backfield monster the Lions trot out. In fact, Peterson has seen his share of snaps drop to its lowest total the last couple of weeks, with only 20% last week before just 27% this week.

Meanwhile, rookie D’Andre Swift seems to be running away with the starting job after seeing double-digit carries for the second game this season. More importantly, he’s also seeing a lot of targets. He’s notched four in every game this year but one and saw five more this week, catching three of them for 33 yards. Most figured Swift was the most talented of the bunch heading into the season but now it looks like the Lions coaches agree. He’s the one to own going forward.

Next week: Lions vs. Football Team

Kansas City Chiefs

After three weeks, it feels safe to say that Le’Veon Bell will play a decent-sized role in the Chiefs backfield. He’s averaging 30% of the snaps during his short tenure in Kansas City including his 19 snaps this past Sunday. Meanwhile, Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s snaps are gradually decreasing from 53% the first week Bell was in the lineup to 50% the next week down to the 40% he saw this week.

As far as the roles these two are playing, there is good news for Edwards-Helaire. While he’s only out carried Bell 19-16 since the latter’s arrival, he’s far out targeted him 12-4. It’s a bit of a surprise because it was thought Bell was brought in specifically for his passing-game prowess (catching, pass blocking, etc.) but the Chiefs are still relying heavily on the rookie the veteran.

Luckily, the Chiefs offense is so high-powered that both have some value in your lineups (especially in PPR leagues), but both of their ceilings will be capped the rest of the way.

Next week: Bye

 Los Angeles Chargers

Good luck to anyone trying to make sense of the Chargers backfield while Austin Ekeler recovers from injury. Including Ekeler, there have been five running backs with 10-plus carries this season including Week 9’s carries leader Kalen Ballage. Ballage was coming on for Troymaine Pope who was the 1B last week who, himself, had 10 carries in Week 8. Meanwhile, Joshua Kelley was the 1A this week who came on for injured Justin Jackson who was the 1A last week. Got all that? Between injuries and no player separating themselves from the rest, the Chargers will continue to throw running backs against the wall to see who sticks.

Next week: Chargers at Dolphins 

New England Patriots 

At first glance, it might seem like this was another week that the Patriots purposely played musical chairs with their three running backs (not to mention quarterback Cam Newton). In reality, Damien Harris – who had double-digit carries in four of his last five games – left the game because of injury in the third quarter and never returned, opening the opportunity for Rex Burkhead who went on to a season-high 12 carries and a score while still totaling three receptions. For Harris, he was on his way to another volume-driven game, seeing 14 carries and rushing for 71 yards before the injury knocked him out. It may have also been his last chance to separate himself from the other backs in New England as Sony Michel is due to return from the injured reserve next week.

Meanwhile, James White hasn’t quite returned to his pre-absence form, seeing just five targets despite the Patriots playing from behind most of the game. White, along with Harris and Burkhead, just aren’t reliable options for your fantasy backfield no matter what kind of scoring your league uses. 

Washington Football Team

Falling behind 20-3 at halftime to the Giants will put a damper on anyone’s day but it especially did for Antonio Gibson owners. With the Washington Football Team playing way, way behind for most of the game, they had no choice but to abandon the run and trot out JD McKissic to mount a comeback. McKissic saw a career-high 14 targets, catching nine of them for 65 yards and providing the lone bright spot in Washington’s backfield. Meanwhile, rookie Antonio Gibson saw just six carries for 20 yards (including a score) but also lost a fumble which was just the cherry on top.

Moving forward, it’s extremely possible Washington falls behind this much in multiple games now that they’re on their third quarterback of the season. And it wasn’t like the Giants were an offensive juggernaut, yet they scored 20 on Washington before halftime. It could be a long last half of the season for Antonio Gibson and his fantasy owners.

Next week: Football Team at Lions

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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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