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Week 5 Running Back Snap Count Analysis (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Michael Moore | @DLF_Moore | Featured Writer
Oct 13, 2021
Cordarrelle Patterson

The dreaded bye weeks start this week which means a lot of fantasy teams will not be operating at full capacity. No more is this important than at the running back position where there will be plenty of plug-and-play going on. Below are a few situations to monitor when it comes to their running game.

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Atlanta Falcons

Cordarrelle Patterson has unquestionably been the surprise of the fantasy season. After signing with Atlanta – his fifth team since 2016 – not much was thought to just how much Atlanta planned to use him. He hadn’t seen more than 42 targets in five years while the 64 rush attempts he had last season were career-highs. Was he a running back or a receiver? 

Turns out he’s both and Atlanta is now leaning into it. He saw a season-high 46 snaps this week while the 14 rush attempts doubled his previous season-high. His 41 rush attempts this season are already his third-most in a season and he will obliterate his career-high in a month. But Atlanta isn’t ignoring his receiving skills either. He caught seven balls for 60 yards this week and his 25 receptions for 295 yards this season are his best-receiving numbers in five seasons. 

Patterson is a unicorn and while we keep saying that his fantasy production should start slowing down, I don’t see anyone willing to bench him. 

Next week: Bye 

Green Bay Packers

There’s no doubt that AJ Dillon is having a quasi-breakout season. He’s already matched the number of touches he had all season last year in five games this season. He’s averaging seven carries-per-game spelling Aaron Jones while seeing a couple of targets-per-game. Dillon’s fantasy arrow is pointing up. 

But let’s also not get ahead of ourselves. While Week Five was his best fantasy day, it wasn’t the most snaps he’s seen in a game. That came last week when the Packers were taking it easy with Aaron Jones. And if Jones were to be missed for an extended amount of time due to an injury, Dillon would be extremely valuable. But until then, you should keep expecting 20 or so snaps in a game and nothing more. 

Next week: Packers at Bears 

Kansas City Chiefs

Here’s what we know: Clyde Edwards-Helaire is now on Injured Reserve and will be missing at least a few games. What we THINK we know: Darrel Williams will be the lead back. What we DON’T know: Will Williams and veteran Jerick McKinnon split carries in the same fashion as CEH and Williams. Over the first month of the season, the Chiefs split their snaps in about a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio when the injury to CEH happened. If that’s the case, Williams will see at least 30 snaps and maybe even 40 during CEH’s absence. Of course, being the lead back for the Chiefs has its inherent perks including plenty of scoring opportunities. This also means McKinnon will be seeing more action after playing in just one partial season in the previous three. He’s fairly available in most leagues and would be worth a pickup in deeper leagues. 

Next week: Chiefs at Football Team 

New York Giants 

The injury suffered by Saquon Barkley last week provided a practice run into the Devontae Booker: Bellcow Running Back experiment. And while Booker wasn’t as efficient as we would have liked (just 42 rushing yards on 16 carries) he did manage to score twice and saw four targets, good for third-most on the team. 

It appears that, despite losing their actual bellcow, the Giants plan on playing that way without him. This is good news for Booker and any manager who scooped him up off of waivers this week. The lack of creativity in the Giants’ offense just means they’ll feed Booker until they can’t no matter how well he’s running. Volume is king in fantasy and Booker is going to be crowned. 

Next week: Giants versus Rams 

New York Jets

Another week, another game where rookie Michael Carter plays in more than 50% of the snaps for the Jets. It’s the second game in a row he crossed that threshold and was also the second game in a row he punched in a touchdown on the ground. Coincidence? Probably. But it’s still a positive development for those that took Crater in fantasy drafts with the understanding that he’d be the lead back. 

He’ll need to keep it up though if he’s going to retain his current value. He’s seen at least three targets in four straight games so it appears his passing down work is assured. It’s the run game, one in which the Jets don’t exactly do a lot of being behind in games so much, that would help Carter managers. 

Next week: Bye 

San Francisco 49ers

If you thought Trey Sermon would hold on to lead back duties once fellow rookie Elijah Mitchell was back to full-strength, Week Five brought you back to Earth. Kyle Shanahan surprised the fantasy world when he went with Elijah Mitchell over Trey Sermon for primary backup duties to start the year. Of course, once starter Raheem Mostert was knocked out for the year, the starting job was available and it was Mitchell who took it. Of course, in true 49ers fashion, he got hurt too and forced Shanahan to play Sermon after all.

That lasted all of two games when Mitchell returned in Week Five and took over again. It wasn’t quite the bell cow work as fullback Kyle Juszczyk is the primary receiving option out of the backfield. But there certainly isn’t a timeshare between the two rookies. Mitchell is averaging 15 carries in his three healthy games this season while Sermon can barely get on the field in the same contests. Mitchell is the 49er running back to have on your fantasy 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.

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