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Backfield Report

Aaron Jones in Dream Week 16 Spot vs. Titans

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: December 25, 2020, 5:47 pm ET

NFL depth charts are always changing, whether it’s due to injuries, coaching decisions, or performance-related issues. The running back position, in particular, can be tough to stay on top of throughout the season, as the vast majority of teams have gone with some sort of committee approach, featuring two and sometimes even three backs.

Below is a breakdown of each team’s backfield to help us determine offenses that are using a single workhorse, committees, and situations to avoid for fantasy. I’ll use this space each week to track the numbers and provide some thoughts.

All snap counts and touches are compiled from Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference. Opportunities refers to the running back’s combined carries and targets.

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

 

 

Notes: Despite not practicing last week ahead of a very limited Friday session with an ankle injury, Edmonds ended up out-snapping Drake 53% to 50% against the Eagles and saw 16 carries plus targets to Drake’s 12. Edmonds also scored the lone touchdown of the duo. With the two splitting snaps more evenly in Week 15, both Drake and Edmonds are RB3/FLEX plays for the fantasy finals against the Niners. Drake should still be viewed as the goal-line back.

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

 

 

Notes: This is a full-blown three-man committee over the last few weeks, rendering none of the three usable in fantasy ahead of a Week 16 date with the Chiefs at Arrowhead.

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

 

 

Notes: Ingram went from playing one snap in Week 14 to being a healthy scratch in Week 15. Dobbins is a weekly RB1 now in the NFL’s run-heaviest offense while Edwards has gained FLEX status, handling 8.75 touches per game over the last four weeks. Dobbins and Edwards split the inside-the-10 carries in the Week 15 win over the Jags. Dobbins found the end zone.

 

BUFFALO BILLS

 

 

Notes: Singletary (53%, 11) and Moss (47%, 13) essentially split snaps and touches right down the middle in the rout of the Broncos last Saturday. Singletary found the end zone on the ground for the second time all season. Both are merely RB3 plays for Week 16 against New England.

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

 

 

Notes: McCaffrey has appeared in just three games thanks to ankle, shoulder, and quad injuries. He’s already considered doubtful for Week 16 in a lost season for fantasy’s No. 1 overall pick. Davis is an upside RB2 with elite pass-game usage with McCaffrey out.

 

CHICAGO BEARS

 

 

Notes: Montgomery is playing the best football of his young career right now, and it’s not even close. Since returning from a concussion in Week 12, Montgomery is the overall RB2 behind only Derrick Henry. He has six touchdowns in that four-game span and handled a career-high 33 touches last week against Minnesota. Montgomery is literally a league-winner RB1.

 

CINCINNATI BENGALS

 

 

Notes: Joe Mixon (foot) hasn’t played since Week 6 and remains on I.R. He’s already out for Week 16, and there’s a great chance we’ve seen the last of him in 2020. Bernard fumbled on his first touch of Week 14 and was benched for the rest of the first half. But the Bengals went right back to the veteran in the Week 15 upset of the Steelers, feeding Bernard a season-high 26 touches as he scored a pair of first-half touchdowns. Bernard will be an RB2/3 against Houston.

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS

 

 

Notes: Chubb recorded 100-plus yards in five straight games off I.R., but that streak snapped last week against the Giants. He still out-touched Hunt 17-10 and found the end zone for the fourth straight week. Chubb is an unquestioned RB1 every week in the Browns’ run-dominant scheme. Hunt is an upside RB2 but was out-touched 5-0 inside the 10-yard line last week.

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

 

 

Notes: Zeke hasn’t found the end zone on the ground since Andy Dalton took over starting duties in Week 6 and missed Week 15 with a calf injury. With Elliott out, Pollard played a truly elite 90% of the snaps, carrying the ball 12 times and seeing nine targets. He averaged over 7.3 yards per touch and scored twice with an explosive 40-yarder to seal the win. Elliott is reportedly feeling much better with the week off, but we all want to see Pollard get another RB1 week. Elliott has lacked playmaking ability and has devolved into a TD-or-bust RB2/3.

 

DENVER BRONCOS

 

 

Notes: Gordon and Lindsay are splitting touches down the middle of late, but Gordon has been far more productive with his looks and is getting the money touches at the goal line. He’s a rock-solid RB2 ahead of a #revenge date with the Chargers in Week 16.

 

DETROIT LIONS

 

 

Notes: Swift out-snapped Peterson 42-16 in Week 15 against the Titans, handling 19 touches, and out-touching Peterson 4-2 inside the 10-yard line. Peterson was stuffed at the goal line early in the game, and Swift converted two- and six-yard scores after fumbling at the goal line earlier in the day. The Lions stuck with the explosive rookie, and he should be stapled to lineups as an upside RB2 for this week’s date with a tough Bucs run defense.

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS

 

 

Notes: Williams played just four snaps in Week 15 due to a quad injury, and it allowed Jones to play a season-high 90% of the snaps while logging a season-best 20 carries. It was Jones’ third 100-yard rushing game of the year, and he found the end zone for the 10th time in 2020. Jones should be treated as an elite RB1 against the Titans in a game with a robust 56-point total. Jones has true week-winning upside against Tennessee’s pitiful defense.

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

 

 

Notes: With Duke (neck) out last week, David played 80% of the snaps and turned in an outlier 11-106 receiving line on 11 targets in Week 15. He’d seen a total of 27 targets Weeks 1-14. David is in another great Week 16 spot against the Bengals, especially if Duke sits again. David should be locked in as an RB2 with the Texans installed as 8.5-point home favorites.

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

 

 

Notes: After missing Week 12 on the COVID list, Taylor has posted 135-, 165-, and 95-yard games with four total touchdowns on touch counts of 16, 22, and 21 the last three weeks. He’s the overall fantasy RB2 in that span. Taylor played a season high 70% of the snaps in the Week 15 win over the Texans. Taylor is an every-week RB1 with the Steelers and Jaguars on the schedule to close out the season.

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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

 

 

Notes: Robinson is an every-week RB1 with a stranglehold on carries and pass-game usage for the Jaguars. But the season seems to be taking a toll on his body. Robinson has struggled through knee and ankle issues the last couple weeks but was able to save his Week 15 with a slick receiving touchdown. He was DNP for Wednesday’s practice and gets another pair of tough draws to close out the year against the Bears and Colts.

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

 

 

Notes: Edwards-Helaire is done for the remainder of the regular season with his leg/groin injury he suffered in Week 15. With CEH going down early, Bell turned 16 touches into 76 yards and one touchdown against the Saints. He should be fired up as an immediate upside RB2 for Week 16 against the Falcons with the Chiefs implied to score a week-high 32.25 points at home.

 

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

 

 

Notes: Jacobs’ 29 touches in Week 15 against the Chargers were his most since Week 8 and fourth-most of the season. He’s reliant on the Raiders staying competitive each week, and that should again be the case for Week 16 at home against the Dolphins with the Raiders as mere three-point home underdogs. Jacobs is a rock-solid RB1 with multi-TD upside.

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

 

 

Notes: Ekeler is now battling through a bit of a quad issue but gets a long week to recover ahead of Sunday’s date with the Broncos. Playing over 60% of the snaps and seeing massive pass-game usage, Ekeler is an every-week RB1. Ballage has settled in as the Bolts’ RB2.

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

 

 

Notes: Akers was one of the biggest busts of the Week 15 slate, as the Rams fell to the previously winless Jets at home. To make matters worse, Akers suffered a regular season-ending high-ankle sprain. Henderson is the preferred fantasy play for Week 16 against Seattle, but Brown is always a threat to steal goal-line looks. Treat Henderson as an RB2/3.

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

 

  • Myles Gaskin (38% snap rate, 158 opportunities)
  • Salvon Ahmed (17%, 73)

 

Notes: Gaskin has played one game since Week 8 due to a sprained MCL and COVID. Ahmed returned last week and hung a 23-122-1 rushing line on the Patriots across 61% of the snaps. Gaskin is expected back for Week 16. He and Ahmed have yet to play a game together this year. Both have been bell cow backs with the other sidelined, so it will be interesting to see how the Dolphins sort things out against the Raiders this weekend.

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

 

 

Notes: Cook leads the league in yards from scrimmage and rushing touchdowns. He’s an every-week top-three RB1 and has posted three straight 100-yard games and eight on the year. Mattison barely plays anymore. Cook gets the Saints on Christmas night for the fantasy finals.

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

 

 

Notes: Harris missed Week 15 with an ankle injury. White (49%) and Michel (42%) split the snaps, and Michel matched a season-high with 10 carries, turning them into 74 yards. Cam Newton still dominates the goal-line carries. No Patriots RB is a fantasy starter.

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

 

 

Notes: Drew Brees (ribs) returned in Week 15 but struggled badly as a passer against the Chiefs. Kamara, who struggled at times with Taysom Hill under center, was still able to amass 94 total yards and catch a touchdown on 11 carries and six targets. He’s a cinch RB1 in an easier Week 16 date with the Vikings on Christmas night.

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

 

 

Notes: Devonta Freeman (ankle, hamstring) was designated to return from I.R. last week and could be back for Week 16. Gallman’s luster has faded in recent weeks with three straight scoreless games playing fewer and fewer snaps in a three-man RBBC with Lewis and Morris.

 

NEW YORK JETS

 

 

Notes: In the Jets’ stunning road upset of the Rams, Gore set season highs in snap rate (62%) and carries (23) but still turned them into just 59 yards and a score. He just doesn’t have any juice in his legs and remains a last-ditch RB4/FLEX for desperate fantasy players. Johnson is the pass-game back after catching all six of his targets for 39 yards and score last week.

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

 

 

Notes: Sanders’ numbers were subpar last week against the Cardinals, turning 18 touches into 90 scoreless yards as Jalen Hurts dominated the scoring opportunities. But his 83% playing time clip was elite, and Sanders should be trusted as an elite RB1 for Week 16 at Dallas with the Eagles installed as 2.5-point favorites. Sanders should flirt with 20 touches.

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

 

 

Notes: Conner missed Week 15’s stunning loss to the Bengals with a quad injury. In his absence, Snell played 78% of the snaps and turned 21 touches into 107 yards and one touchdown. Conner “could be available” for Week 16 against the Colts, but he’s been a mega disappointment since the first month-plus of the season. Snell is a volume-dependent RB2 whenever Conner misses. The Colts would present a pretty tough matchup.

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

 

 

Notes: Raheem Mostert suffered another high-ankle sprain and is done for the regular season. Look for Wilson to handle most of the early-down work as an immediate plug-and-play RB2 with touchdown upside. McKinnon and Coleman will be mixed in to keep Wilson fresh. The coaching staff seems to have soured on Coleman. McKinnon has been in and out of the lineup all year.

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

 

 

Notes: Carson snapped his three-game TD streak last week but did play a season-high 70% of the snaps in the win over Washington. He looks every bit his former self four games off his foot injury. Carson is as solid an RB2 as it gets but does draw a difficult Week 16 test with the Rams.

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

 

 

Notes: Jones remains out with COVID and a broken finger that required surgery. In his absence last week against the Falcons, Fournette played 66% of the snaps and touched the ball 17 times, converting a pair of one-yard touchdowns. His 14-49-2 rushing line was nothing to write home about, but Fournette gets a much easier Week 16 date with the lowly Lions. Fournette is a lock-and-load RB2 with top-10 upside against Detroit’s cratered defense if Jones sits again.

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

 

 

Notes: Henry has one of the safest workloads in football, dominating the Titans’ snaps and touches. He leads the league in rushing attempts, rushing yards, yards per game, rushing touchdowns, touches, and red-zone carries as a weekly top-three RB1. Henry has nine 100-yard games and gets another plus Week 16 spot (at GB) in a game with a 56-point total.

 

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

 

 

Notes: Gibson missed Week 15 with his turf toe injury. McKissic played a season-high 88% of the snaps and turned 21 touches into 107 yards and one touchdown. The 10 targets marked his fourth game of double-digit pass-game looks. Barber handled just four carries but converted one of them into a goal-line touchdown. He’s the ultimate goal-line vulture but isn’t a fantasy option.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.