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Backfield Report

Montgomery Getting Hot for Fantasy Playoffs

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: December 11, 2020, 1:23 am 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: 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 another goal-line score in Week 13 and has four touchdowns over his last three games. 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.

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

 

 

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. Gurley was back for Week 13, playing a season-low 33% of the snaps while Smith led the trio at 36% and 10 combined carries and targets. With all three involved, none are more than desperation RB3 plays moving forward.

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

 

 

Notes: Dobbins (38%) led the backfield in playing time and carries (11) and turned them into 94 yards and a score in Week 13 against Dallas. Edwards (33%) was next in line and posted an explosive 7-101 rushing line. Ingram (20%) stayed involved just enough with seven touches to cap the upside of Dobbins, who should be treated as an RB2/3 for the fantasy playoffs. Edwards is merely a bench stash, and Ingram doesn’t deserve to be rostered in 12-team leagues.

 

BUFFALO BILLS

 

 

Notes: Moss fumbled inside his own five-yard line in the first quarter in Week 13 and was essentially benched the remainder of the night, allowing Singletary to play 85% of the snaps and handle 21 touches. He produced just 83 scoreless yards on them, but it’s worth wondering if Singletary has earned a larger piece of the pie for the stretch run or if this was merely a one-game punishment for Moss. Neither can be trusted as anything more than RB3 plays.

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

 

 

Notes: The Panthers are coming off their bye. McCaffrey has appeared in just three games thanks to ankle and shoulder injuries. He was expected back for Week 14 but now has a quad injury and didn’t practice Thursday. Coach Matt Rhule doesn’t expect CMC to play. It’ll again be Mike Davis and Rodney Smith against Denver this week barring something unforeseen.

 

CHICAGO BEARS

 

 

Notes: Now top-10 in rushing attempts and seventh in touches, Montgomery’s touchdown luck has taken a turn for the better with three scores on 37 touches over the last two weeks since returning from a concussion. His snap share and workload make him an every-week RB2 with RB1 upside. Montgomery is averaging 5.25 targets per game without Tarik Cohen.

 

CINCINNATI BENGALS

 

 

Notes: Joe Mixon (foot) hasn’t played since Week 6 and remains on I.R. 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 is an RB2/3 based solely on playing time, but his touch counts have been 14, 10, 13, and 12 over the last four weeks.

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS

 

 

Notes: Chubb has 100-plus yards in all four games back from his I.R. stint and has found the end zone in back-to-back games. 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, 10, and 17 in Chubb’s four games back. It keeps him a weekly RB2/3.

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

 

 

Notes: Zeke’s six targets in Week 13 against the Ravens were his most since Dak Prescott’s ankle explosion. But he hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown since the injury and has just one receiving score in that seven-game span. Playing in a horrendous offense behind an injury-ravaged offensive line, Elliott has devolved into a TD-or-bust RB2.

 

DENVER BRONCOS

 

 

Notes: Gordon narrowly out-carried Lindsay 15-14 in Week 13, but Gordon out-rushed him 131-26 and had a significant playing time edge 53% to 39% of the snaps. It was Gordon’s second 100-yard game of the season. He remains a back-end RB2 in a bad offense.

 

DETROIT LIONS

 

 

Notes: Swift has missed the last three games with a concussion. Peterson has back-to-back two-touchdown games with a combined 31-112-4 rushing line in that span with Swift out of the lineup. The rookie should be back this week against Green Bay, but Peterson’s red-zone and goal-line dominance keeps Swift on the back end of the RB2/3 map.

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GREEN BAY PACKERS

 

 

Notes: Jones’ 66% snap share in Week 13 was his second-highest clip of the season, and he posted his second 100-yard game of the year on the back of a 77-yard touchdown run. Jones is getting hot again in time for the fantasy playoffs and draws Detroit’s horrid defense in Week 14. Williams sees enough of the action to make him a worthwhile FLEX play for that one.

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

 

 

Notes: In his first game back from a concussion-induced I.R. stint, David (58%) narrowly out-snapped Duke (53%), but his 10 carries were a season-low while he didn’t catch a pass. Duke caught all six of his targets. David was able to find the end zone, however, and is merely a TD-or-bust RB2 moving forward for the fantasy playoffs. Duke is a desperation FLEX.

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

 

 

Notes: Taylor returned in Week 13 from a one-week stay on the COVID list and posted a season-high 135 yards and scored a touchdown on 16 touches. Wilkins is staying involved just enough on early downs to cap Taylor’s upside a bit, but the rookie should be fired up as an every-week RB2 with upside for the fantasy playoffs. Hines is a PPR-specific RB3/FLEX.

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

 

 

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 six straight games with five touchdowns in that span while averaging 24.3 touches.

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

 

 

Notes: CEH's volume is way down since Bell's arrival, and he missed Week 13 with an illness. In his absence, Bell played 52% of the snaps to Williams’ 48% and handled 14 carries and targets to Williams’ eight. Edwards-Helaire should be back to face Miami in Week 14, but he’s averaging just 10.6 touches per game since Bell’s arrival. He’s a TD-dependent RB2.

 

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

 

 

Notes: Jacobs is top-five in the NFL in rushing attempts and touches 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 Week 13. He’s not expected to play in Week 14, either. Booker played 42% of the snaps in Jacobs’ absence against the Jets but turned in 51 empty yards on 17 touches. Jalen Richard stole 41% of the snaps and was a much bigger piece of the offense than expected. Booker will be back on the RB2 map at home this week against the Colts.

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

 

 

Notes: Ekeler returned from his hamstring injury in Week 12 and has played 72% and 60% of the snaps in two games since while handling 22 carries and 25 targets. Justin Jackson (knee, I.R.) is expected back as his running mate in the next couple weeks. But Ekeler is the only fantasy-viable running back in this offense when he’s healthy. He has RB1 upside each week.

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

 

 

Notes: In a backfield change last week, the Rams abandoned their three-man RBBC and turned to Akers as the RB1. He set season highs in snaps (63%), carries (21), and yards (94) while scoring for the second straight game. Brown played a season-low 16% of the snaps, and Henderson saw just six carries and targets on 21% of the downs but did score a 37-yard touchdown late to help seal the win. It’s difficult to trust coach Sean McVay, but Akers should be treated as a high-risk, high-reward for the fantasy playoffs in a run-balance L.A. offense.

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

 

 

Notes: With Salvon Ahmed, Matt Breida, and DeAndre Washington all out for Week 13, Gaskin returned from his I.R. stint (knee) to play 71% of the snaps and handle 23 touches in his first game back since Week 8. He just couldn’t find the end zone despite 141 total yards. Gaskin is a safe, volume-driven RB2 with RB1 upside for the fantasy playoffs.

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

 

 

Notes: Cook leads the league in yards from scrimmage, rushing touchdowns, and rushing yards per game. He’s the overall RB1 moving forward with 182 touches over the last six weeks. Cook is coming off a whopping 38 touches on 87% of the snaps in Week 13 against the Jaguars.

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

 

 

Notes: Michel returned to the game plan last week and played 33% of the snaps, posting a 10-35 rushing line. Harris still led the way with 16-80 and 95 total yards on 49% of the snaps, but Cam Newton’s dominance near the goal line (14-48-2 in Week 13) keeps Harris an extremely TD-dependent RB2/3 with a basement-low floor. White is off the fantasy map.

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

 

 

Notes: Kamara set three-week highs in playing time (62%), touches (17), targets (3), and yards (97) last week against the Falcons and also found the end zone for the first time since Taysom Hill took over under center in Week 11. Kamara’s ceiling is capped with Hill getting at least one more start, but his Week 13 usage makes him a far more comfortable high-end RB2 for Week 14 against the Eagles. Murray is dealing with a knee issue and is best left on the bench.

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

 

 

Notes: Devonta Freeman (ankle, hamstring) remains on I.R. Gallman’s five-game touchdown streak snapped last week in Seattle, but he still exploded for a 16-135 rushing line. Morris, however, vultured a goal-line touchdown run and also caught his first career touchdown for a two-score effort in the upset win. Gallman should still be treated as an every-week RB2, but the Morris touchdowns are worrisome moving forward. OC Jason Garrett loves Morris.

 

NEW YORK JETS

 

 

Notes: Gore handled one touch last week before leaving with a concussion. In his absence, waiver pickup Ty Johnson (63%) paced the backfield with 22-104-1 on the ground and 2-13 as a receiver against the Raiders while practice squad call-up Josh Adams went 8-74 as a runner on 31% of the snaps. Gore was limited on Wednesday before a DNP on Thursday. His Week 14 status against Seattle is uncertain. If Gore sits, Johnson would be the preferred RB3 play.

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

 

 

Notes: Sanders hasn’t scored since Week 5, and his snaps are way down in recent weeks. In this broken offense, Sanders has become more of an RB2 without the upside that he had earlier in 2020. The insertion of dual-threat Jalen Hurts could open up more running space for Sanders.

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

 

 

Notes: Conner tested positive for COVID ahead of Week 12 and missed the Baltimore and Washington games. He was activated from the reserve list and should be back for Week 14 against the Bills. Snell was horrendous in Week 13. Conner should resume workhorse duties.

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

 

 

Notes: McKinnon (3%) and Coleman (7%) barely played in Week 13, as McKinnon didn’t register a touch and Coleman turned his two into -11 yards. Mostert (44%) and Wilson (46%) split everything else right down the middle. Wilson saw 12 combined carries and targets to Mostert’s 10 and out-targeted him 5-1. Both Mostert and Wilson are RB2/3 plays.

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

 

 

Notes: After playing just 37% of the snaps in his Week 12 return from a foot injury, Carson escaped that game unscathed and was in on 58% of the downs against the Giants in Week 13. Hyde went from 61% to 25%, as expected, and Carson is the clear RB1 in Seattle after totaling 110 yards and catching a 28-yard score against the G-Men. Carson is ready for the playoffs.

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

 

 

Notes: The Bucs are coming off their bye. 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 for this week’s meeting with the Vikings featuring a 51.5-point total.

 

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, touches, and red-zone carries as a weekly top-three RB1. Henry gets a mouthwatering Week 14 date with the Jaguars.

 

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

 

 

Notes: Gibson had a monster Week 12 only to get hurt after two touches in Week 13 against the Steelers. He’s dealing with a case of turf toe and is expected to miss some time. With Gibson out last week, McKissic played 74% of the snaps and touched the ball 15 times, including catching 10-of-10 targets for 70 yards. Barber’s 24 snaps were his most since Week 1. He’s going to be a threat for goal-line scores as a much worse version of Adrian Peterson. McKissic deserves RB3 consideration for Week 14 against the 49ers and gets a boost in PPR formats.

Nick Mensio

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