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Week 7 Running Back Snap Count Analysis (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Michael Moore | @DLF_Moore | Featured Writer
Oct 26, 2021
Kenneth Gainwell

If your fantasy team managed to win in Week Seven, a week that saw a season-high six NFL teams on a bye, consider yourself lucky. But, of course, between that and injuries, you were happy if you just managed to field a fully healthy roster. But Week Eight is a return to (relative) normalcy with only two teams on a by and more backfields to monitor, including the teams below. 

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Atlanta Falcons

After weeks of trending in this direction, the takeover of the running game by Cordarrelle Patterson finally happened. He led the backfield in snaps and had a considerable lead in carries with 14 compared to just four for Mike Davis. Patterson was, yet again, fantasy relevant with 60 yards on the ground and a touchdown while Davis had all of 10 yards on his four carries. It wasn’t much more than third-string running back Wayne Gallman’s one carry for two yards. 

The passing game didn’t look much different. Patterson led the backfield with five targets – catching two of them – while the only other running back to see a target was Keith Smith and his one. 

Patterson becoming a true workhorse is one of the most surprising developments this fantasy season, but the days of it being a fluke are long gone. Instead, Patterson is a legitimate RB1 as we advance and could propel many teams to fantasy championships. 

Next week: Falcons versus Panthers 

Chicago Bears

Hopefully, you didn’t spend too much FAAB on Damien Williams when starting running back David Montgomery went down with an injury. Not only did Williams go down quickly after with COVID, but it opened the door for rookie Khalil Herbert to take the starting job and not let go. After not touching the ball for the first three weeks of the season, Herbert has totaled 272 rushing yards the last three weeks on just 55 carries, averaging nearly five yards per carry. He’s starting to see more receiving work, too, tying for second last week with five targets and turning those into five receptions.  

In hindsight, maybe we should have seen Herbert’s emergency coming, or at least him passing Damien Williams on the depth chart. Sure he’s a 23-year old rookie, but he averaged over six yards per carry at Virginia Tech in senior year and was fifth in yards-after-contact-per-carry. Now he has a stranglehold on the starting job in Chicago until David Montgomery returns and figures to be the primary backup at a minimum. 

Next week: Bears versus 49ers 

Cincinnati Bengals 

With the Bengals hanging 41 points on the Ravens and beating them by more than three touchdowns in the process, you might think the Bengals running backs would have had a better day. And while both Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine scored, neither had more than a dozen carries while they had just one target between them. 

It’s both a gift and a curse for Joe Mixon fantasy managers to have the Bengals show such a high-powered offense. Joe Burrow is turning in a Pro Bowl season and leading the Bengals to (at the moment) the top seed in the AFC. Joe Mixon is the clear starter and will still have plenty of opportunities to score but not nearly as many carries if a) the Bengals are blowing people out and b) they spell him with serviceable veteran Samaje Perine. 

Next week: Bengals at Jets 

Las Vegas Raiders

The injury that Josh Jacobs suffered early in Week Seven was regrettable. After not averaging more than 3.5 yards-per-carry in any game this season, he was up to 29 yards on just six carries to start the game before a chest injury took him to the locker room. Enter Kenyan Drake, who ended up having his best game of the year instead of Jacobs. He saw a season-high 14 carries, totaled 69 yards plus a score, and established himself as the Josh Jacobs alternative. Jalen Richard also saw an uptick in touches, with Jacobs injured, seeing four carries and four targets. 

Early-season starter Peyton Barber is nowhere to be found, not even active for the last few weeks. So he can be safely dropped even in the event of an extended Jacobs injury. 

Next week: Bye

Philadelphia Eagles

As if Miles Sanders’ disappointing fantasy season couldn’t get any worse, now comes an ankle injury that might sideline him for an extended amount of time. It’s a low point for Sanders, whose best game was in Week One when he saw a season-high 15 carries and a season-high 74 yards but hasn’t matched either one since and has yet to score a touchdown. 

The next man up is to be determined. Kenneth Gainwell has seen the most touches in the backfield this season – after Sanders – currently sitting second on the team with 31 targets, including eight in Week Seven. But it was Boston Scott who ended the game with the most carries after Sanders’ exit with seven carries compared to Gainwell’s five. The Eagle may elect to keep the rookie Gainwell in his passing-down role and plug in the veteran Scott to handle the early-down duty. Neither one figures to be a fantasy difference-maker as long as the Eagles keep struggling as a team. Only the most desperate of fantasy teams should be starting either one. 

Next week: Eagles at Lions 

San Francisco 49ers

For all of those that thought the 49ers backfield was perpetually in a timeshare (myself included), rookie Elijah Mitchell has separated himself from the pack and seems to have a monopoly on carries. Admittedly, the snaps aren’t quite up to workhorse level, but the attempts sure are – he had 18 in Week Seven against the Colts while no other back on the team had more than three. 

The passing game is slightly different as JaMycal Hasty saw the second-most targets with six, finishing the game with three receptions for 15 yards. It was a little surprising to see Kyle Juszczyk not see any, but so it goes in the passing game for the 49ers, where he and Hasty will probably rotate on who sees more targets. 

But the run game is a done deal. Mitchell will see at least 15 carries a game from now on and, if he continues to be as efficient as he has been, will be good a good bet for 100 yards or a score or both. 

Next week: 49ers at Bears 

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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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