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Ezekiel Elliott
By the Numbers

Week 11: Taking Stock Of All 32 NFL Backfields

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: November 13, 2019, 10:26 am ET

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 10 weeks of regular season data to help clear up the ever-murky RB position.

Below is a Week 10 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.

RBBC Week 10

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.

Arizona Cardinals

  • RB1: David Johnson (55% snap rate, 15.5 opportunities per game)
  • RB2: Kenyan Drake (72%, 18 since joining the Cardinals)

Notes: Johnson returned in Week 10 after not playing more than three snaps in a game since Week 6. It went ... poorly:

  • Drake: 64% snaps, 10-35-0 rushing, 6-6-0 receiving
  • Johnson: 43% snaps, 5-2-0 rushing, 1-8-0 receiving

Coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday that Johnson is "obviously" hampered by the ankle and back injuries. Kingsbury added that Johnson is "still working through those and getting a feel for it." More troubling was Kingsbury's admittance that Drake worked ahead of Johnson down the stretch because, "We just felt like with Drake, needed to get something going and kept him rolling." The Cardinals' first-year coach said he'll figure out the best role for both Johnson and Drake "over the next few weeks" and then "run with it."

Chase Edmonds (hamstring) remains without a timetable for return. Be sure to monitor our Week 11 Injury Dashboard for daily practice participation along with estimated and official game statuses for every injured player.

Johnson hasn't looked anything close to 100% for the better part of the last six weeks, consistently struggling to show any semblance of burst in attempts to capture the edge. Drake should be approached as the only fantasy-viable RB in this backfield ahead of the Cardinals' difficult Week 11 matchup against the 49ers.

Atlanta Falcons

Notes: Freeman (foot) is reportedly at risk of missing a week or two. Coach Dan Quinn said he's "confident" that Hill can handle a lead role if Freeman is ultimately sidelined.

Hill has earned the right to work as the offense's featured back if Freeman is ruled out for Week 11. He averaged an absurd 7.9 yards per carry in 10 games with the Falcons in 2018, and he's demonstrated the ability to function as a fairly efficient option on both the ground (28-101-1 rushing in 2019) as well as through the air (3-24-1 receiving) this season. Hill out-played Ito Smith (concussion, IR) to a fairly-alarming degree in the preseason.

Hill generally runs like the entire defense said something mean about one of his close friends or family members.

Hill deserves to be the week's most-popular addition on the waiver wire ahead of a smash spot against the Panthers' 32nd-ranked defense in DVOA against the run (Football Outsiders). Barner might steal some targets, while Ollison is a threat to get some early-down work, but all signs indicate Hill should be playing more than half of the offense's snaps as long as Freeman remains sidelined.

Baltimore Ravens

Notes: Ingram is averaging a robust five yards per carry this season and had at least 13 touches in every game prior to last week's blowout win over the Bengals. Only Aaron Jones (11 rushing TDs), Christian McCaffrey (11) and Dalvin Cook (10) have found the end zone more times on the ground than Ingram (8) through 10 weeks. The lead back of the league's No. 1 scoring offense is an every-week RB2 regardless of the matchup.

Edwards doesn't have double-digit touches in a game since Week 1, while Hill hasn't surpassed even five combined carries and targets in a game since the season opener. They'd likely form a two-back committee with Edwards functioning as the lead early-down RB if Ingram were to ever miss any game action.

Of course, Lamar Jackson is essentially the team's true No. 1 RB. The MVP candidate is one of just 11 players with more than 75 rushing yards per contest this season.

Buffalo Bills

Notes: Singletary has posted 68%, 66% and 67% snap rates over the past three weeks, but the third-round rookie had just eight carries in Week 10 while Josh Allen attempted a season-high 41 passes. The good news is that only Saquon Barkley (23 targets), Dalvin Cook (20), Jaylen Samuels (20) and Le'Veon Bell (18) have more targets than Singletary (17) over the past three weeks.

Gore has just 27 yards on 16 carries over the past two weeks and has slowly been phased out of the offense since Singletary got healthy. T.J. Yeldon has been a healthy scratch when Singletary has been active this season.

The entire offense is set up brilliantly against the Dolphins' putrid defense in Week 11. Fire up Singletary as a strong RB2 as the lead back of a 6.5-point favorite against the league's sixth-worst defense in fewest PPR per game allowed to the RB position. There's also a chance Gore gets fed considering both the potential for a blowout as well as the fact that the 36-year-old RB is just 73 rushing yards away from passing Barry Sanders for third on the all-time rushing leaderboard.

Carolina Panthers

Notes: McCaffrey has been nothing short of brilliant all season long. He's currently on pace to join a select list of ballers that have averaged at least 30 PPR per game during a single season in the history of the league:

  • 2000 Marshall Faulk (32.9)
  • 2002 Priest Holmes (31.6)
  • 2001 Faulk (30.4)
  • 2019 McCaffrey (30.3)
  • 2006 LaDainian Tomlinson (30.2)
  • 1942 Don Hutson (30.1)

The Panthers claimed former-Bears RB Mike Davis this week. Still, Davis could simply be a depth piece and special teams option more so than a clear handcuff. I'd be surprised if he steals much if any work away from McCaffrey, and I wouldn't expect a single RB to inherit CMC's monstrous workload if he were to miss any game action. We have oodles of evidence that no RB in the league is capable of providing the same rushing and receiving threat as McCaffrey, so it seems a bit silly to assume there's another back on the Panthers that would walk into this same workhorse role.

Continue to treat McCaffrey as the overall RB1 ahead of this week's smash spot against the Falcons. CMC has ripped off 5-28-0, 5-40-0, 14-102-0 and 12-77-0 receiving lines in four career games against the Panthers' divisional rival.

Chicago Bears

Notes: The Bears have continued to feed Montgomery a huge workload since the rookie received just four touches in the Bears' brutal loss to the Saints back in Week 7:

  • Week 8: 74% snaps, 27 carries, 5 targets
  • Week 9: 73% snaps, 14 carries, 4 targets
  • Week 10: 60% snaps, 17 carries, 0 targets

This week's road matchup against the Rams' third-ranked defense in rush DVOA isn't ideal, but continue to treat Montgomery as a low-end RB2 based on volume alone. Only Dalvin Cook (86 touches since Week 8), Christian McCaffrey (71), Nick Chubb (67) and Chris Carson (66) have been featured more than Montgomery (65) over the past three weeks.

Cohen has stayed involved and posted a 53% snap rate last week, but he's been spending as much time lined up as a true WR as he has in the backfield. He's off the fantasy radar with just seven touches in each of the last three weeks.

Mike Davis played fewer than five snaps in all but one game from Weeks 3-9. His release doesn't impact either Montgomery or Cohen.

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Cincinnati Bengals

  • RB1: Joe Mixon (56% snap rate, 17.7 opportunities per game)
  • RB2: Giovani Bernard (42%, 6.7)
  • RB3: Samaje Perine (1%, 0)

Notes: Mixon took advantage of Bernard (knee) missing most of Week 10, setting season-high marks in snap rate (76%) as well as touches (32). Mixon hadn't managed to post a 65% snap rate in Weeks 1-9 after reaching that threshold in 11-of-14 games last season.

The Bengals clearly don't trust Ryan Finley: The fourth-round rookie attempted just 30 passes in a 49-13 loss to the Ravens last week. The potential for Bernard to join A.J. Green (ankle) on the sideline sets up Mixon to work as the offense's complete focal point in Week 11 against the Raiders.

There's a low floor for everyone involved in the league's 29th-ranked scoring offense, but volume remains king in fantasy football. Treat Mixon as a low-end RB2 against the Raiders' pass-funnel defense. Perine will likely work as the offense's clear-cut No. 2 RB if Bernard is ultimately sidelined.

Cleveland Browns

Notes: The Browns featured the following snap and touch distributions with Hunt making his season debut in Week 10:

  • Chubb: 81% snaps, 20 carries, 4 targets
  • Hunt: 54% snaps, 4 carries, 9 targets
  • Hilliard: 11% snaps, 0 carries, 0 targets
  • Johnson: 1% snaps, 0 carries, 0 targets 

Note that the Browns managed to get Chubb and Hunt on the field at the same time for plenty of plays. Overall, Hunt played a career-high 14 snaps in the slot or out wide. He never surpassed even 10-such snaps in a game during his time with the Chiefs.

Chubb has at least 20 touches in all but one game and has been the best player on the Browns Offense this season. Hunt led the league in broken tackles in 2017 and was on pace to do so again in 2018 (PFF). Both are more than worthy of full-time roles in any offense, and it tentatively appears like coach Freddie Kitchens plans on attempting to make this a reality in Cleveland. Continue to fire up Chubb as an every-week RB1, while Hunt can be treated as an upside RB3 with this type of pass-game work.

Ian Hartitz

All things NFL. Great day to be great. You can follow Ian on Twitter @Ihartitz.