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Week 15 Running Back Snap Count Analysis (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Michael Moore | @DLF_Moore | Featured Writer
Dec 23, 2020

Nick Chubb is still money.

Championship Week! All the pre-draft prep, waiver-wire pickups, and lineup agonizing has led to this week. For those lucky few, you’re going against the best of the best and need to rack up points wherever you can. Below are a few backfields that could determine the outcome of your fantasy final.

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Atlanta Falcons

Are we looking at the abrupt end of Todd Gurley’s fantasy and real-life career? It certainly seems that way now that the Falcons have turned the backfield over to third-year back Ito Smith, presumably to see what they have in him. Sure, the Falcons have long been out of the playoff hunt but it’s still a dramatic turn for Gurley who just two years ago ran for 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns. This year he’s struggled to average 3.5 yards-per-carry while still seeing close to 200 carries.

For Smith, looking at a very small sample size of 50 carries, he’s been adequate. He’s totaled 213 yards and a touchdown and is in line to lead the backfield for the Falcons down the stretch. He even led the backfield in targets last week which may be a sign that Smith will act as a de facto workhorse during fantasy championship week.

Next week: Falcons at Chiefs

Baltimore Ravens

It may have taken all season but JK Dobbins appears to have finally won the lead-back role in Baltimore. The Ravens mercifully put to rest the three-headed monster trick they had employed all season and went primarily with Dobbins and Gus Edwards after making Mark Ingram a healthy scratch. It was time after Ingram had managed a pedestrian 4.1 yards-per-carry this season while both Dobbins and Edwards are averaging about five yards-per. In their new roles, Dobbins ended up with 14 carries – his second-most all season – and 64 yards plus a score while Edwards spelled him with nine carries and 42 yards.

It’s not the workhorse role that some thought Dobbins would inherit at the beginning of the season but for an offense that literally leads the league in rush attempts, having two runners instead of three means a bigger share of a pretty big pie.

Next week: Ravens vs. Giants

Buffalo Bills

Upon looking at this week’s snap count share, it may appear the veteran Singletary is still the lead back in Buffalo. But remember the Bills obliterated Denver this week, going up 38-13 with a whole quarter to go and the actual carries will tell a different story. Rookie Zack Moss led the backfield with 13 carries and 81 yards, the second straight week he’s held the advantage over Singletary in both categories. He’s had double-digit carries over the last two weeks – something he’d only done once before – while the 81 yards tied a career/season-high, all of which affirms the Bills’ trust in him down the stretch.

For Singletary, Week 14 was a disaster save for a 51-yard touchdown run at the end of the game. If not for that, he would have had just 17 yards on seven carries which would have been his third-lowest total of the season.

Neither back has a huge ceiling for championship week but if there is one Bills running back to start, it’s Moss.

Next week: Bills at Patriots

Cleveland Browns

With Nick Chubb seeing his third-highest share of snaps all season coupled with Kareem Hunt notching his lowest rushing total in a month and second-lowest all season this week, the disparity in Cleveland’s backfield has never been bigger. For Chubb, he’s merely proving his first-round fantasy pick worth, scoring in all but three games this season and on track to top 1,000 rushing yards despite missing four games this year.

For Hunt, this season has been a mixed bag. He still has value but provided more of a floor when he was still seeing double-digit carries, something he hasn’t done the last two weeks. And the receiving game, which was supposed to be Hunt’s strong-suit, has been scaled way back, seeing just 3.2 targets-per-game this season compared to 5.5 last year with a receiving average nearly cut in half (35.6-18.5).

For championship week purposes, Nick Chubb is still money while you may want to avoid Kareem Hunt at all costs.

Next week: Browns at Jets

Dallas Cowboys

While the absence of Zeke Elliott certainly made it easier to turn the offense over to Tony Pollard in Week 15, the truth is it was trending in that direction anyway. Since the Cowboys bye six weeks ago, Elliott and Pollard have been on a 2/3, 1/3 split as far as snaps go. That’s up from a 90/10 split at the start of the season and down from a 70/30 split during the middle of the season. And after Pollard’s performance this week – 69 yards rushing, two touchdowns, six receptions, 69 yards – it would be silly to let the Cowboys sit Pollard for less than half the snaps going forward. He’s been better than Elliott all season, averaging nearly a yard more-per-carry (4.7-3.9) and has scored more rushing touchdowns than Elliott (4-2) since Week 4.

Dallas would be doing everyone a favor – including fantasy teams – by shutting down Elliott for the next two weeks and letting Pollard fly. But even if they don’t, expect an even split these last two weeks of the season.

Next week: Cowboys vs. Eagles

New York Giants

After seven straight weeks of double-digit PPR points, the Wayne Gallman train went off the tracks in Week 15. Despite technically leading the team in carries with nine, he managed just 29 yards on the ground and saw no targets for just the fourth time all season. Meanwhile, Alfred Morris wasn’t far behind with seven carries but led the team with 39 yards, tied for this second-highest total of the season. Adding more salt to Gallman’s owner’s wounds is Dion Lewis saw his best receiving game (two targets, two receptions, 14 yards) in a month.

Gallman falling out of favor in New York is coming at the worst possible time for those that picked him up off the waiver wire early in the season. He had managed a decent floor followed by dominant performances leading up to the playoffs only to lay an egg when it counted. This whole backfield is one to avoid with Devonta Freeman possibly making an appearance while the Giants play a top-10 defense next week in the Ravens.

Next week: Giants at Ravens

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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.