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Week 13 Running Back Snap Count Analysis (Fantasy Football 2020)

by Michael Moore | @DLF_Moore | Featured Writer
Dec 9, 2020

Myles Gaskin quickly retook his featured-back role in Week 13.

The fantasy playoffs are here – either this week or next – and the time has come to settle on a running back or two. Few backs provided their fantasy managers with the luxury of an automatic start this year so, for many, every week has been a guessing game. The playoffs will be no different as NFL teams continue to roll with the hot/healthy hand. Below are a few of those teams and what they did last week with their running back snaps.

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Indianapolis Colts

Better late than never for those who drafted Jonathan Taylor thinking he’d be fantasy relevant in his rookie season. After topping 70 rushing yards just once all season, Taylor’s had 90-plus in his last two while also seeing at least three receptions in each of those. More importantly, Taylor’s been in on about half the snaps in his last two games, well ahead of Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins.

For Taylor, it’s clear he won’t fill a bell-cow role this season as the Colts seem content to keep funneling passes out of the backfield to Hines who is on pace for almost 60 receptions and 500 receiving yards. But if Taylor can continue to lead the team in carries, his upcoming matchups are too juicy to ignore. Both the Raiders and Texans, the Colts’ next two opponents, are in the bottom six of the league in rushing defense DVOA.

Next week: Colts at Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Christmas has come early for Cam Akers truthers. After blowing up last week for a career-high 84 yards (and a touchdown) on just nine carries, Rams coach Sean McVay gave the keys to the offense to the rookie, who saw career-highs in snaps (52) and carries (21). Akers even totaled a reception this week which was just his fourth of the year.

Nothing’s been made official but the disproportionate amount of carries Akers saw this week would seem to indicate it’s his job the rest of the season. The 21 carries he saw were the most by any Rams back this season and well ahead of either Darrell Henderson or Malcolm Brown this week, each of whom only saw three carries. The lack of usage was expected for Brown but for Henderson, who had lead back duties early in the season, it may be time to drop him from your fantasy teams.

Next week: Rams vs. Patriots

Miami Dolphins

Any doubt that the Dolphins might not be comfortable with Myles Gaskin as their lead back were erased this week. Not only did he lead the team in snaps upon his return from a month-long absence, but he saw 21 of the 25 carries by Dolphins running backs. In turn, they were rewarded by the best rushing total (90 yards) of a Dolphins running back since Gaskin’s last game in Week 6.

In addition to Gaskin reclaiming the top spot, it appears rookie Lynn Bowden, Jr. has carved out a small role as well. He was well ahead of veteran Patrick Laird in snaps and saw the most targets of any Dolphins back with four. He made good use of them, too, catching all four for 41 yards. Bowden’s role will be one to watch going forward. He presumably got as many touches as he did this week because of the illness that kept Matt Breida out. But should Breida return, the Dolphins will have a decision to make as far as who will compliment Gaskin.

Next week: Dolphins vs. Chiefs

Philadelphia Eagles

After totaling at least 80 rushing yards in five of his first seven games, Miles Sanders has been on a cold streak in his last two. He’s seen just 16 carries and totaled a paltry 46 yards total, all while not coming close to the goal line. Of course, it doesn’t help that the Eagles are also on a cold streak, losing their last four coming off their bye week.

Whether Sanders’ poor rushing performance is the chicken or the egg when it comes to the Eagles woes, neither bodes well for his fantasy prospects as we enter the fantasy playoffs. Drafted as one of the few bell cow backs, it’s clear the Eagles don’t trust Sanders nearly as much as we thought. Newly signed Jordan Howard saw four carries, compared to Sanders’ 10, and managed to gain 19 yards compared to Sander’s 31. Neither of which accounts for backup Boston Scott who also saw a quarter of the Eagles snaps at running back.

It’s a lost season for Philadelphia who will officially throw rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts out there to see what they have. But unless Hurts surprises defenses, this Eagles offense doesn’t look too enticing.

Next week: Eagles vs. Saints

New England Patriots

There was good news and bad news for Damien Harris fantasy managers this week. The good news is despite the activation of Sony Michel, Harris was still the lead back in both snaps and carries, totaling 16 rushes for 80 yards. He even added a reception this week which was only his fourth all season. But the bad news is Cam Newton continues to be the primary weapon at the goal line as Newton scored twice in the Patriots route. That will be the case the rest of the season as Newton continues to be effective in that role.

Back to Harris, he does appear to have the lead back duties locked up the rest of the way. He’s seen double-digit carries in every game since Week Seven and is averaging 5.1 yards-per-carry on the season, something Sony Michel has yet to do over the course of an entire season in his career. It’s not a sexy choice for your RB2 but if forced to choose, Harris is the Patriot to ride.

Next week: Patriots at Rams

San Francisco 49ers

Now that we have a fully healthy running back room in San Francisco, we have an idea of how the snaps will shake out. And with little doubt, it appears to be Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson.

For Mostert, it’s not a surprise he continues to lead the backfield in carries which he did again with nine. He would have led the other backs in snaps too if the game hadn’t gotten away from San Francisco so early. Buffalo was up 10 at halftime and 17 late in the third quarter which resulted in the 49ers leaning more on Jeff Wilson for passing downs. Wilson ended up edging out Mostert for snaps, carried just two less than him, and saw five targets or four more than all the other backs combined.

Tevin Coleman, seeing his first action in a month, saw very little action with only four snaps and two carries. Jerick McKinnon saw even less with two snaps and no touches. Going forward, it doesn’t make sense to keep throwing fragile veterans like Coleman and McKinnon out there. Mostert and Wilson are younger, better, and are playing well enough that there isn’t a need to replace them.

Next week: 49ers vs. Football Team

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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.