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.
Notes: Drake maintains the upper hand here as the RB2 while Edmonds is merely a low-floor FLEX with minimal volume upside when Drake is healthy. Drake converted a pair of goal-line touchdowns last week against the Patriots. It’s just unfortunate we only got one week of Edmonds at 96% of the snaps back in Week 9, and he didn’t produce.
Notes: Gurley missed Week 12 with a knee injury. Hill got the start but flopped badly on 50% of the snaps, generating 55 empty yards on 13 carries while failing to catch a pass. Clearly frustrated with Hill’s lack of playmaking, the Falcons turned to Smith more in the second half, and Ito ended up out-touching Hill 16-13 while also scoring an eight-yard touchdown and catching four passes. Hill has shown time and again he’s not made for RB1 work. Gurley did practice Wednesday on a limited basis. Hill and Smith will split work if he can’t face the Saints.
Notes: Ingram and Dobbins tested positive for COVID and missed Week 12 against the Steelers. Dobbins eliminated Ingram from the backfield in Week 11, playing 63% of the snaps and recording a season-high 17 touches against the Titans. Ingram played just six snaps and can be cut loose in fantasy. Edwards and Justice Hill split snaps and touches pretty much right down the middle against Pittsburgh. Edwards turned nine carries into 10 yards and one TD.
Notes: Moss played a season-high 60% of the snaps in Week 12 against the Chargers while Singletary’s mark of 40% was a season-low for him. But Singletary out-carried Moss 11-9 and out-targeted him 3-2, producing his second 100-yard game of the year. Neither found the end zone, but Moss’ playing time and red-zone edges keep him the preferred fantasy RB2/3 of the duo. Both trail Josh Allen in red-zone, inside-the-10, and inside-the-five carries.
Notes: McCaffrey has appeared in just three games thanks to ankle and shoulder injuries. He’s expected back after the Panthers’ Week 13 bye. Davis’ RB1/2 days are likely over.
Notes: After missing one game with a concussion, Montgomery returned in Week 12 to produce his first 100-yard game of the season, turning 16 touches into 143 yards and a receiving touchdown. He’s averaging 5.4 targets per game since Tarik Cohen’s torn ACL, and Montgomery played a season-high 85% of the snaps against Green Bay. His snap share and workload make him an every-week RB2 with RB1 upside when he finds the end zone.
Notes: Joe Mixon (foot) hasn’t played since Week 6 and was finally sent to I.R. two weeks back, sidelining him for at least one more game, though there’s a chance we’ve seen the last of him in 2020. It’s another lost year for the Bengals with Joe Burrow now done for the season after wrecking his knee in Week 11. Bernard played a season-high 78% of the snaps in Week 12, but his 10 touches produced 49 empty yards in a broken offense. He’s an RB2/3 based solely on playing time. Samaje Perine and Trayveon Williams lurk as potential vultures.
Notes: In his three games back from a sprained MCL, Chubb has turned in 19-126-1, 20-114-0, and 19-144-1 rushing lines and also caught three passes for 32 yards last week when Hunt didn’t see a target. No team runs the ball more than the Browns, and Chubb is built for this style of offense. He’s an unquestioned RB1 every week. Hunt has seen touch counts of 22, 14, and 10 in Chubb’s three games back. It’s enough to keep him a weekly RB2/3.
Notes: Ezekiel Elliott registered his first 100-yard game of the season in Week 11, going 21-103 against the Vikings and catching a touchdown, his first end-zone visit since Dak Prescott broke his ankle in Week 5. It’s been a tough go of things for Zeke, and his Thanksgiving was another down effort, turning 11 touches into 39 scoreless yards. He’s a low-floor RB2 in a bad offense.
Notes: The Broncos didn’t have a quarterback in Week 12 against the Saints. Gordon played a season-high 81% of the snaps but carried the ball just 12 times on a day Denver had five different players register multiple carries. Lindsay remains well behind Gordon in terms of playing time and is now dealing with a knee issue. If he sits, Gordon is a far more desirable RB2 play against the Chiefs. If Lindsay’s active, Gordon is more of an RB2/3 with the receiving edge.
- Adrian Peterson (31% snap rate, 135 opportunities)
- D’Andre Swift (34%, 109)
- Kerryon Johnson (30%, 66)
Notes: Swift has missed the last two games with a concussion but returned to practice Wednesday before missing Thursday with an illness. Peterson went 15-55-2 on the ground in Week 12 and has out-carried Swift 23-10 in the red zone on the year. However, Swift dominated Week 10 playing time with 73% of the action. But it’s unclear how things will shake out this week, the first game since coach Matt Patricia was fired. OC Darrell Bevell is the interim coach.
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GREEN BAY PACKERS
Notes: Jones and Williams split playing time pretty evenly most weeks, but Jones has the edge in the scoring area with more inside-the-10 and inside-the-five carries. Both backs handled 17 carries in the Week 12 win over the Bears. Jones is a weekly RB1 while Williams is an RB3/FLEX who gets an improved matchup this week with the Packers as home favorites.
- Duke Johnson (44% snap rate, 94 opportunities)
Notes: David Johnson is expected to return for Week 13 after missing the last three weeks with a concussion. In his absence, Duke played 95%, 77%, and 75% of the snaps and finally found the end zone last week in Detroit. Overall, Duke disappointed in his extended look as the RB1, averaging just 13 touches per game. David will be a volume-based RB2 upon his return.
Notes: After setting new season-lows in playing time (34%, 31%, 24%) Weeks 8-10 and handling just 17 combined touches Weeks 9 and 10, Taylor played 56% of the snaps against Green Bay in Week 11 and totaled 114 yards on 26 touches. Taylor then missed Week 12 on the COVID list. Hines played a season-high 65% of the snaps against Tennessee and saw 10 targets. It was Jacoby Brissett who scored two goal-line touches, however, pouring salt on the wound of those who started Wilkins. Taylor will be back for Week 13 as an RB2 vs. Houston.
- James Robinson (70% snap rate, 241 opportunities)
Notes: Robinson is an every-week RB1 with a stranglehold on carries and pass-game usage for the Jaguars. Robinson is top-four in yards, touches, and rushing attempts among running backs and has shown an ability to overcome difficult on-paper matchups. He has 94-plus yards in five straight games with four touchdowns in that span while averaging 24.8 touches.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire (60% snap rate, 197 opportunities)
- Le’Veon Bell (13%, 35)
- Darrel Williams (23%, 37)
Notes: CEH's volume is way down since Bell's arrival, but he's now scoring touchdowns at a much higher clip with four over his last five games. It helps balance out the lack of touches. In the five games with Bell, CEH is averaging 10.6 touches. That makes the rookie a low-floor, high-upside RB2. While Edwards-Helaire is playing roughly 55% of the snaps, Bell and Williams are splitting the others. Bell isn’t a recommended fantasy starter on seven touches per game.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Notes: Jacobs is top-five in the NFL in touches, rushing attempts, and rushing touchdowns and has already topped his rookie TD total. But Jacobs injured his ankle at the end of the third quarter in Week 12 against the Falcons and missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. If he sits, Booker is a plug-and-play RB2 with upside. He’s shown well on limited touches.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Notes: Ekeler returned from his hamstring injury in Week 12 to play a season-high 72% of the snaps. He handled 25 touches and was targeted a whopping 16 times in the passing game. Truly elite as a pass-catcher, Ekeler is an every-week RB1 going forward playing in one of the fastest-paced offenses. Ballage is likely to be his sidekick over Kelley down the stretch.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Notes: The Rams have gone with a full-blown three-man RBBC over the last couple weeks. Akers keeps showing he deserves more work and broke off a 61-yard run in Week 12 en route to a 9-84-1 rushing line. Henderson and Brown are just too much in the way right now. None of the three are playable in fantasy in this situation, but Akers needs to be stashed for the playoffs.
- Salvon Ahmed (17% snap rate, 47 opportunities)
- Matt Breida (19%, 57)
Notes: Every-down back Myles Gaskin (knee) is on I.R. and has missed the last four games. He’s eligible to return at any moment now and returned to practice last week. With both Gaskin and Ahmed (shoulder) out last week, trade pickup DeAndre Washington led the backfield with 48% of the snaps while Breida was in on just 32% of the downs. Ahmed is back practicing. Washington and Breida can be ignored if either Gaskin and/or Ahmed is back for Week 13.
Notes: Cook leads the league in yards from scrimmage and rushing touchdowns and is second in attempts. He’s the overall RB1 moving forward with 144 touches over the last five weeks. Cook continues to play through minor nicks and bruises. Mattison has been phased out.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Notes: Harris played a season-high 64% of the snaps in Week 12 against Arizona, but White vultured a pair of goal-line touchdowns. And with Cam Newton dominating the red-zone and goal-line carries on the season, Harris is a low-floor, TD-dependent RB3 each week.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Notes: With Taysom Hill under center in Week 11, Murray actually out-snapped Kamara for the first time all season 33-32, and both backs saw 14 combined targets and carries while Kamara went catch-less for the first time in his career. Things were even more skewed toward Murray in Week 12 as the Saints steamrolled the Broncos. Murray went 19-124-2 on the ground while Kamara handled just 11 carries and has seen a total of three targets the last two weeks. Kamara needs Brees (ribs, I.R.) back under center. He’s an RB2 with Hill at QB. Hill is more prone to running the ball when he gets in trouble rather than checking it down to Kamara.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Notes: Devonta Freeman (ankle, hamstring) remains on I.R. after suffering a setback ahead of Week 10. Gallman has scored in five straight games and has six touchdowns in that span. He’s coming off season highs in playing time (63%) and carries (24) last week against the Bengals. He’s an every-week RB2 for however long Freeman is out and has earned the No. 1 job.
NEW YORK JETS
- Frank Gore (43% snap rate, 157 opportunities)
Notes: The Jets are 0-11 and still featuring Gore as their lead back. Gore played a season-high 58% of the snaps last week and has amassed 33-135-1 on the ground the last two weeks. Rookie La’Mical Perine suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 11 and is now on I.R. With Perine out at least three weeks, the Jets signed RB Josh Adams off their practice squad. Gore is a last-ditch RB3/4 for RB-desperate fantasy players.
Notes: Sanders hasn’t scored since Week 5 and is now losing more of his snap share to Scott, with Sanders playing 60% of the snaps to Scott’s 40% over the last two weeks. In this broken offense, Sanders has become more of an RB2 without the upside that he had earlier in 2020.
Notes: Conner tested positive for COVID ahead of Week 12 and missed the Ravens game. Snell played 71% of the snaps and turned 19 touches into 93 yards. Conner will be in danger of missing Week 13 if he’s symptomatic. Snell would be an RB2 against Washington in that scenario.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
- Raheem Mostert (19% snap rate, 81 opportunities)
- Jerick McKinnon (45%, 119)
- Jeff Wilson (15%, 57)
- Tevin Coleman (6%, 25)
Notes: In his first game back since Week 6, Mostert played 40% of the snaps against the Rams and handled 18 touches. McKinnon was in on 25% of the downs as the pass-game back. Wilson took 12 carries of his own on 35% of the plays. Mostert remains the lone playable running back in this offense as an every-week RB2 who thrives on making big plays.
Notes: Carson played his first game since Week 7 last week against the Eagles, but Hyde out-snapped him 61% to 37%. However, Carson out-rushed him 41-22 on seven fewer carries and scored a beastly touchdown. Carson escaped without setbacks and should reverse that playing timeshare moving forward as the preferred RB2 in Seattle.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Notes: After Jones scored on a 37-yard catch-and-run in Week 12, coach Bruce Arians said Jones needs to get more touches the rest of the way. Fournette has done nothing on his touches of late while Jones has remained a playmaker. He’s on the RB2 map after the bye.
- Derrick Henry (65% snap rate, 282 opportunities)
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, and red-zone carries as a weekly top-three RB1 after obliterating the Colts in Week 12.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
Notes: Gibson played a season-high 65% of the snaps on Thanksgiving and destroyed the Cowboys for a 20-115-3 rushing line, his second 20-carry game of the season and second multi-score game of the last three weeks. He’s become an every-week RB1, separating himself more from McKissic in the passing game. Gibson has out-targeted McKissic 9-6 the last two weeks. McKissic touched the ball three times in Week 12.