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Week 12 Running Back Snap Count Analysis (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Michael Moore | @DLF_Moore | Featured Writer
Dec 1, 2021
dontrell hilliard

The fantasy playoffs are weeks away, and it’s more important than ever to get your backfields straightened out, unlike several teams who have as a fluid of a situation as they did earlier in the season. See below for some of those teams and more. 

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Buffalo Bills

We’re still not sure what Zack Moss did to get on the bad side of Bills coaches, but it was bad enough to remove him from the game plan altogether. After being inactive for a game to start the season, Moss has been a decent contributor to the backfield, seeing a little under 50% of the snaps. That evaporated in Week 12 as Matt Breida took on more snaps and Devin Singletary inched closer to workhorse status, seeing nearly 70% of the snaps. 

There’s still time for Moss to regain playing time as neither Singletary nor Breida was very effective on the ground this week, averaging less than three yards per carry against the Saints. Neither were targeted much in the passing game either, seeing just three targets combined. 

The situation is far from resolved, but it does appear we’re getting some clarity just in time for the fantasy playoffs. 

Next week: Bills vs. Patriots 

Carolina Panthers

Is this a sign of things to come now that Christian McCaffrey is headed to IR and will miss the rest of the season? Or will Chuba Hubbard reclaim the lead back while Ameer Abdullah replaces Royce Freeman as the passing down back? Time will tell, but we got a small preview in Week 12 as Abdullah was the clear winner when it came to the passing game, finishing second on the whole offense with six targets, catching two of them for 20 yards. Hubbard, meanwhile, probably won’t be seeing the target numbers he did when he filled in for McCaffrey earlier in the season. This means he’ll be a volume-dependent option on an offense that is floundering. So be cautious when digging for options on the waiver wire this week. 

Next week: Bye 

Cleveland Browns

While the Browns offense wasn’t exactly explosive against Baltimore, it did have Kareem Hunt again, who returned from a lengthy absence due to a calf injury. The dynamic looked similar to before the injury, with Nick Chubb leading the backfield and seeing at least half the snaps while Hunt was in to spell him. But it did appear that Chubb took on more of a passing role as the four targets he saw were a season-high while Hunt saw just one.

Consider this a warm-up game for Hunt, who should return more to form and be more involved with the passing game as we get further away from the injury that took him out for more than a month. 

Next week: Bye 

Dallas Cowboys 

We don’t look at the Dallas Cowboys backfield in this series because it stays pretty consistent. Zeke Elliott is the lead back and gets a heavy dose of snaps, seeing more than 75% of them most weeks this season. Tony Pollard sees less but still a significant amount as he spells Elliott or goes in for passing downs. But that’s it. The Cowboys have given exactly 23 snaps all season to a running back not named Zeke Elliott or Tony Pollard. 

That could change soon as the Cowboys look to rest Elliott, so a nagging knee injury has time to heal. Pollard will not only see more snaps for the foreseeable future but could see a workhorse-type load until Dallas brings in reinforcements in the backfield. Currently, only Corey Clement has seen playing time, but Dallas will bring in a veteran for depth. 

Next week: Cowboys at Saints 

Green Bay Packers

Heading into the Packers game against the Rams, there were questions on if Aaron Jones would even play. The Packers had a bye week coming up and could have given Jones two full weeks of rest after getting banged up the week before. And while Jones did end up playing, his fantasy managers probably wish he didn’t. Not only did he split carries with AJ Dillon right down the middle, but Dillon was the preference when it came to the offense. Dillon totaled 20 carries, double what Jones saw, and saw five targets to Jones’ one. Dillon was also the only back to score when he caught a pass from Aaron Rodgers

The Packers have a bye next week but have a real dilemma in their backfield. Not only is Dillon playing well, but they may want to tap the break on Jones’ usage anyway. After all, they’ll want him healthy for the playoffs, which might mean not handing him the ball 15 times and keeping it closer to single digits. And after scoring a season-high 36 points as Dillon acting as the lead dog, they may have a point.

Next week: Bye 

Tennessee Titans

Ever since the Titans released Adrian Peterson and Jeremy McNichols suffered a concussion, the stars were aligned for a two-headed monster out of the Titans backfield. And neither head was disappointed as Dontrell Hilliard, and D’Onta Foreman totaled over 100 yards on the ground against a previously tough Patriots defense. Now, the Titans were still blown out 36-13, but the rushing totals were impressive nonetheless. 

However, McNichols will most likely be back as the Titans have a bye this week, which gives him more time to recover. A three-headed attack is in the cards, much like it was during Peterson’s reign. It’s a crapshoot as to which one will perform better or even see more carries than the other. 

Next week: Bye 

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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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