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By the Numbers

Week 4: Taking Stock Of All 32 NFL Backfields

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: September 25, 2019, 1:29 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 three weeks of regular season data to help clear up the ever-murky RB position. What follows is a 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

All snap count and touch data was compiled from Pro Football Reference. Opportunities refer to a player's combined carries and targets. All data refers to each player's season-long production. More recent workload information is available in the notes section.

Arizona Cardinals

Notes: Johnson continues to work as the Cardinals' undisputed featured back. Edmonds' only game with a semi-significant role came in Week 2 when DJ was briefly sidelined with a wrist injury. The problem is that we shouldn't necessarily expect much of a rushing floor here: The Cardinals have a league-low 26.7% run-play rate through three weeks. Still, Johnson is one of just 11 RBs with more than 15 targets this season and remains one of very few backs with a true three-down role.

Atlanta Falcons

Notes: Smith is in the concussion protocol. Be sure to monitor our Week 4 Injury Dashboard for every injured player's daily practice participation along with estimated and official game statuses. Freeman posted a season-high 90% snap rate in Week 3 with Smith sidelined for all but three plays. Still, he'll likely split work with either Brian Hill or Qadree Ollison in Week 4 if Smith is ultimately unable to suit up. Both Hill and Ollison were inactive in Week 3.

Baltimore Ravens

Notes: Ingram is clearly the Ravens' lead back; he's played 58% and 60% of the offense's snaps over the last two weeks after posting a fluky 33% rate in the team's Week 1 blowout win over the Dolphins. Ingram's status as the primary pass-down RB, combined with the offense's extreme run-first nature, makes him a bit less game-script dependent than many would think. Neither Edwards nor Hill offer weekly standalone fantasy value while they continue to split reps in backup roles. 

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Buffalo Bills

Notes: Singletary (hamstring) is still day to day and should be considered questionable for Week 4. Gore (63% snaps in Week 3) played well ahead of Yeldon (37%) last week with the Bills' rookie RB sidelined. Still, both Gore (14 carries, two targets) and Yeldon (eight carries, three targets) were plenty involved. Keep in mind that both have a somewhat-lower floor compared to your typical RB in a two-back committee, as Josh Allen's tendency to both scramble (8.7 rush attempts per game) and attack defenses downfield (9.1 yard average target depth) isn't ideal for the fantasy aspirations of his RBs.

Carolina Panthers

Notes: CMC and Le'Veon Bell are the league's only RBs to average over 25 combined carries and targets per game. McCaffrey's ability to thrive as both a rusher and receiver makes him fantasy football's unquestioned RB1 with Saquon Barkley (ankle, out) sidelined.

Chicago Bears

Notes: Montgomery appears to have a real shot at taking over this backfield sooner rather than later barring coach Matt Nagy truly embracing the #CordarrellePattersonRB1 movement. Davis played just one snap in Week 3, so we're now dealing with just a two-RB committee. Montgomery might've not gotten a ton of touches in the Bears' Monday night win over the Redskins, but his snap rates are moving in a very positive direction.

Cincinnati Bengals

Notes: Mixon looked as healthy as ever in Week 3, converting 15 carries into 61 yards and catching both of his targets for an additional 34 yards and a touchdown. His 57% snap rate wasn't ideal, but he can at least be confidently fired up as a mid-tier RB2 moving forward. Gio remains one of fantasy's more-underrated handcuffs thanks to his ability to function as a three-down RB in the event that Mixon is ever forced to miss game time.

Cleveland Browns

Notes: The Browns completely turned over their backfield to Chubb in Week 3 even with less than ideal game flow. Only Bell (76 touches) and McCaffrey (74) have touched the ball more often than Chubb (69) this season. He'll offer high-end RB1 upside with this type of bell-cow usage moving forward.

Ian Hartitz

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