NFL depth charts are always in a constant state of flux due to injuries, performance and at-times questionable coaching decisions. The RB position in particular can be tough to stay on top of, as an overwhelming majority of offenses have replaced a single three-down back with committees of various shapes and sizes.
The good news is we now have nine weeks of regular season data to help clear up the ever-murky RB position.
Below is a Week 9 cheat sheet that denotes the snap rates as well as combined carries and targets for each team's top-two RBs from their last game.
What follows is a more specific breakdown of each team's backfield in order to better determine:
- Offenses that are featuring a single workhorse
- Fantasy-friendly committee backfields
- Situations that fantasy football owners should avoid
Opportunities refer to a player's combined carries and targets. All snap count and touch data was compiled from Pro Football Reference and refers to each player's season-long production. More recent workload information is available in the notes section.
- RB1: David Johnson (57% snap rate, 16.9 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Kenyan Drake (84%, 19 in Week 9 Cardinals debut)
Notes: Drake's first game with the Cardinals went better than just about anyone could have anticipated, as he posted efficient 15-110-1 rushing and 4-52-0 receiving lines while playing a near every-down role. Overall, the Cardinals managed to score 25 points against a 49ers defense that had previously allowed 23 points combined in their previous four games.
Drake would be a RB1 against the Buccaneers this week with that type of usage, but his three-down workload won't persist moving forward with Johnson (ankle) expected to return to action. Chase Edmonds (hamstring) remains sidelined. Be sure to monitor out Week 10 Injury Dashboard for daily practice participation along with estimated and official game statuses for every injured player.
Look for the Cardinals to utilize a one-two punch featuring DJ as the backfield's 1.A. option and Drake in more of a 1.B. role based on how well the team's new RB performed during his debut. Still, it might be tough to expect consistent fantasy production from Drake as long as Johnson is active; the Cardinals' featured back played at least 60% of the offense's snaps in Weeks 1-6 before leaving early in Week 7 due to injury.
Notes: It's unclear if Ito Smith (concussion) will be ready to roll following the Falcons' Week 9 bye.
Freeman somewhat surprisingly worked as the offense's undisputed featured back in Smith's absence. Overall, Freeman (80% snaps, 13 carries, 8 targets) was utilized well ahead of Hill (14%, 3, 0), although extremely negative game script could've played a role in this, as the Falcons trailed the Seahawks 24-0 at halftime.
The Falcons have fed their starting RB an average of five targets per game this season -- the second-highest mark of Freeman's career. Most of the pass-game work has continued to occur in mop-up time, but it's not like this team appears particularly poised to suddenly become too competitive for the second half of the season. This is particularly true in Week 10 on the road against the Saints, as the Falcons are presently 13-point underdogs.
- RB1: Mark Ingram (50% snap rate, 16.1 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Gus Edwards (32%, 7.9)
- RB3: Justice Hill (17%, 3.6)
Notes: The Ravens now boast the NFL's highest-scoring offense after racking up 37 points against the Patriots' previously-unstoppable defense last Sunday night.
The backfield's snap and touch distribution in that 17-point victory was as follows:
- Ingram: 44% snaps, 15 carries, 3 targets
- Edwards: 40% snaps, 7 carries, 0 targets
- Hill: 14% snaps, 3 carries, 1 target
Ingram has at least 13 combined carries and targets in every game this season. He's largely independent of game script as the lead back in the league's second-most run-heavy offense. Continue to treat Ingram as a weekly RB2 inside of the Ravens' ridiculously-efficient rushing attack. They've averaged a league-best 2.89 yards before contact this season (PFF).
Edwards boasts enough ability as an inside runner to spell Ingram for portions of the game, but his pass-game limitations would likely lead to a two-back committee of sorts with Hill if the Ravens' starting RB were to ever miss game action.
Of course, the best runner on the Ravens wears No. 8. Only Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb, Josh Jacobs, Ingram, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott and Chris Carson have more fantasy points from strictly rushing production than Lamar Jackson this season.
- RB1: Devin Singletary (32% snap rate, 11.2 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Frank Gore (46%, 14.3)
- RB3: T.J. Yeldon (21%, 4.2)
Notes: The Bills have utilized a two-back committee featuring Singletary and Gore whenever their third-round rookie has been healthy enough to suit up this season. Yeldon has been a healthy scratch since Singletary returned in Week 7.
The rotation largely featured Gore on early downs and Singletary as the pass-down back ... until last week.
The Bills beat the Redskins 24-9 in Week 9, but fed Singletary a robust 66% snap rate with 20 carries and four targets. Meanwhile, Gore played just 34% of the offense's snaps and converted his 11 carries into just 15 scoreless yards.
It's unlikely that Singletary completely relegates Gore to the bench; the 36-year-old RB still has some juice left and doesn't make enough mistakes to not have at least a small role in the offense. Still, the offense seems to be moving forward with Singletary as their bell-cow back. Fire up the talented rookie as a RB2 with this type of usage ahead of back-to-back great matchups against the Browns and Dolphins in Weeks 10 and 11, respectively.
- RB1: Christian McCaffrey (93% snap rate, 27.1 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Reggie Bonnafon (7%, 1.9)
Notes: CMC continues to sport the league's most-consistent and fantasy-friendly workload while providing absolutely ridiculous efficiency.
A complete list of NFL players to ever average more PPR per game in a single season than McCaffrey (30.8) in 2019:
- 2000 Marshall Faulk (32.9)
- 2002 Priest Holmes (31.6)
Continue to treat McCaffrey as fantasy football's No. 1 overall player ahead of Week 10's road matchup against the Packers' run funnel defense.
- RB1: David Montgomery (58% snap rate, 17 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Tarik Cohen (45%, 9.6)
- RB3: Mike Davis (14%, 2.7)
Notes: Montgomery posted 14-40-2 rushing and 3-36-0 receiving lines in the Bears' Week 9 loss to the Eagles, demonstrating the ability to still rack up fantasy points in negative game script. This is largely because both Cohen (36% snaps in Week 9) and Davis (0%) have been relegated to true backup roles.
There's a low floor for anyone involved in the Bears' 27th-ranked scoring offense as long as Mitchell Trubisky continues to function as one of the worst QBs in the league, but Montgomery can be safely fired up as a mid-tier RB2 with this type of consistent usage. Overall, only Dalvin Cook (53) has more touches than Montgomery (48) over the past two weeks.
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Notes: Last season Mixon played at least 65% of the offense's snaps in 11-of-14 games. He's reached that mark exactly zero times in 2019.
Fantasy owners could do worse than a talented back with the chance to rack up anywhere between 10-20 touches in most games, but don't expect a committee RB with minimal pass-game work behind the league's worst offensive line in adjusted line yards per rush to serve as anything more than an upside RB3 more weeks than not.
Bernard has yet to reach double-digit touches in a contest this season despite playing between 32-63% of the offense's snaps in every game. He's nothing more than a thin handcuff inside of the league's 29th-ranked scoring offense.
- RB1: Nick Chubb (73% snap rate, 23.3 opportunities per game)
- RB2: Kareem Hunt (season debut)
- RB3: Dontrell Hilliard (20%, 3.9)
Notes: Hunt is BACK. The former-Chiefs RB is in a different stratosphere than Hilliard when it comes to receiving ability, as he was regularly utilized both in the screen game and as a legit downfield threat under Andy Reid's guidance in Kansas City. Hunt is also simply too talented to be completely relegated to the bench considering he led the league in broken tackles in 2017 and was on pace to do so again in 2018 (PFF).
Coach Freddie Kitchens said that Hunt will "definitely have a role" Sunday against the Bills.
Of course, there's no reason to believe that Chubb will lose too many touches: He's been the Browns' best offensive weapon this season by far. Chubb played just 65% and 60% of the offense's snaps in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively, so there's plenty of pass-down work for Hunt to inherit that won't impact Chubb's workload.
Continue to treat the Browns' bell-cow back as a matchup-proof RB1, as only Dalvin Cook (8) has more games with 20-plus touches than Chubb (7) this season. Hunt isn't a viable fantasy starter until we see proof that his role will produce anything close to double-digit touches. Hilliard had more than five touches just twice this season while working as the offense's primary pass-down back.