Week 14 Running Back Snap Count Analysis (2020 Fantasy Football)
As much as we’d like running back snaps to be settled at the end of the season, the reality is they never are. Between injuries or teams deferring to young players to evaluate them, it’s a guessing game up until the very mind. With that in mind, and the fantasy playoffs in full swing, below are a few teams and their rushing situations to remember.
Now on to their fourth running back to lead the team in rushing yards in a game, the Bengals depth chart behind Joe Mixon is a mess. First, it was veteran Gio Bernard who, for a while, was the de facto workhorse in Cincinnati. Of course, he only averaged 3.3 yards-per-carry and showed zero explosiveness or spark. He was then complemented by veteran Samaje Perine who is averaging a healthy (by comparison) 3.8 yards-per-carry but is allergic to the passing game. So, when Bernard lost a fumble in Week 14, it was time to see what 2019 sixth-round pick Trayveon Williams could do. And in a bit of a surprise, he looked…competent. He managed 49 yards on 12 carries – leading the team in both – while also tying with Bernard for three receptions on three targets.
It would behoove the Bengals to give Williams a shot after confirming that neither Bernard nor Perine have anything left in the tank. Whoever it is could see decent volume to close the season out as Joe Mixon has been out since Week Six and there is zero incentive to bring him back. Keep an eye on this one if you’re in the fantasy playoffs but losing running backs to injuries.
Next week: Bengals vs. Steelers
Whether it was a lingering calf injury or just an offense looking for a spark, the fact is the Cowboys had a full-on committee at running back against the Bengals. Sure, Zeke Elliott had a 2:1 snap advantage over backup Tony Pollard but he also had just one more carry than Pollard while the 11 carries Pollard did see were a season-high for him. They also both had two receptions with Pollard being the only one to score. By any metric, Pollard is trending up heading into fantasy championships while Zeke Elliott continues to drag.
Speaking of Zeke, he continued his scoreless streak when it comes to running the ball, failing to run in a touchdown in over two months (he did notch a receiving touchdown in Week 12). On the season, he’s averaging a half-yard less per-carry (3.9) than his career average and is on pace for the least amount of carries he’s seen in a season since 2017 when he missed six games. It’s been a disaster of a season for those that drafted Zeke in the first round of drafts and the fantasy playoffs don’t look to be any better.
Next week: Cowboys vs. 49ers
D’Andre Swift was just getting used to his role as the lead back in Detroit when an injury took him out for a month. In his last two games before missing time, he saw 29 carries for 145 yards while adding eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. Luckily, upon Swift’s return in Week 14, it appears the Lions still view him as the lead back after seeing more than half the running back snaps. He only saw seven carries, but it did lead the team and it included a goal-line carry which he converted.
Swift’s usage in the passing game also continues to be positive, seeing another five targets and catching four of them. On the season, Swift has seen at least four targets in every game except for one. Combine that with the continued confidence the Lions have in him in the running game and Swift is one of the few backs to be relied on as we enter fantasy championships.
Next week: Lions at Titans
It doesn’t take a fantasy pro to know that Miles Sanders owns the running back room in Philadelphia. He’s seen double-digit carries in every Eagles game he’s played but two is averaging an incredible 5.7 yards-per-carry and has an outside shot of 1,000 rushing yards despite missing three games this season. In short, he’s pretty good.
However, the recent change at quarterback may cut into some opportunities. Much like Cam Newton is the main goal-line option for the Patriots, Jalen Hurts could be that for the Eagles the rest of the season. In his first start, he had 18 rushes (four more than Sanders) and rushed for 100 yards of his own. Sanders should still be fantasy relevant with Hurts leading the offense now. Just be prepared to be vultured.
Next week: Eagles at Cardinals
On the surface, it may look like the Seahawks had a full-blown timeshare with their running back snaps in Week 14. But keep in mind they obliterated the Jets and were up 20 points at halftime and all’s right with the world.
Chris Carson, in his third game back from an injury that kept him out for a month, scored again and totaled 76 yards on the ground. He also managed to tie for the second-most targets on the team with five and catching three of them for 22 yards before being pulled. He is a legit RB1 if you’ve managed to make the fantasy playoffs.
As for what’s behind him, it’s clear Seattle would turn to Carlos Hyde in the event of a Carson injury. He came on and totaled a team-leading 15 carries for 66 yards. If you have Carson on your team now, you may want to stash Carlos Hyde for later.
Next week: Seahawks at Football Team
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As if we didn’t have enough proof that Ronald Jones has been operating as an RB1 in fantasy scoring this year – besides literally ranking as an RB1 – the deactivation of Leonard Fournette in Week 14 should do it. Besides missing a week due to injury, it was the first time Fournette hasn’t played in a game which means he couldn’t vulture scoring opportunities, or carries in general, from Jones. And Jones made the most of it, rushing for 80 yards on 18 carries including a score. He also saw two targets which was one more than both LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn combined.
For fantasy managers that rolled the dice with Jones before the season, they can officially take a victory lap. He’s totaled 900 yards on the ground to go with six touchdowns and has totaled four 100-yard games. He’s also managed to top his target total from last year (42-40) and is closing in on his receptions total, too (28-31). In short, Jones is one the last few reliable running backs for the fantasy playoffs.
Next week: Buccaneers at Falcons
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