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Oct 23

Touches and Targets Week 7: Running Backs

The final numbers tell one part of the story, but fantasy football is a game of volume. Knowing any given week who is going to get the looks, and in what situations those looks are coming, can help you make important lineup decisions – touches and targets on a weekly basis play as big a role as the name on the back of the jersey. With that in mind let’s take a look back at workloads from this past weekend and start thinking forward to who may find themselves in a more favorable situation in Week 8. This post takes a look at Running Backs; we addressed the touches and targets for Wide Receivers and Tight Ends in a previous article

  • Typically when either of Washington’s Shanahans says anything about a running back you take it with a grain of salt, but a few weeks ago the team indicated that they’d be getting Roy Helu more involved and they’ve done so, to the tune of 22 touches over the past two weeks. This week, Helu rewarded them with three scores. It’s still Alfred Morris‘ backfield (a healthy 19 carries this week) but Helu is becoming a worthy flex play in his own right. As Robert Griffin III runs more it should raise the value of both backs.
Jets RB Chris Ivory had fewer carries than Bilal Powell in every game this season coming into the weekend... that changed significantly against New England (Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Jets RB Chris Ivory had fewer carries than Bilal Powell in every game this season coming into the weekend… that changed significantly against New England (Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

  • I’m not sure I can explain the Chris Ivory vs. Bilal Powell distribution (35-3). The Jets are simply calling it a hot-hand situation, but given the way Ivory kept the chains moving for the offense in their victory it would be a surprise to see him deemed cold-handed any time in the near future. Either way, while Ivory may not gain RB2 status, Powell’s already dropping value took a significant hit this week.
  • A meager 24 touches, 121 yards and a score this week for Jamaal Charles.
  • Playing 14 snaps CJ Spiller drew nine touches for seven yards. At this point, with Fred Jackson already seeing the bulk of the time, Spiller owners have to hope that the Bills will sit the junior back down for a week or two to save the weekly lineup consternation and help heal his clearly-still-injured ankle.
  • Both Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas ran the ball effectively against Buffalo, but, in a move that displeased the entire fantasy community Thomas drew the start and outcarried Miller 12-9. Lamar is simply impossible to trust as even a back-end RB2 given his workload.
  • Brandon Bolden started, but played more snaps than Stevan Ridley simply because of game context. Ridley received 13 touches and posted 11.3 points on fantasy’s toughest RB matchup.
  • Joseph Randle did all fantasy owners and his football club could have asked for this weekend producing a reasonable 93 yards on 22 touches. Naturally, Phillip Tanner carries two times for one yard, but vultured the TD.
  • LeSean McCoy saw his usual workload (24 touches) but was fairly quiet posting just 81 total yards against Dallas. In large part that had to due with the series of ineptitude exhibited by both of Philadelphia’s QBs on Sunday.
  • You may have noticed that Matt Forte had a nice game this week. Michael Bush got a chance to look it over as well (from the sidelines), he didn’t see a single snap, nor did any Bears halfback not named Forte.
  • Shonn Greene saw just two snaps in his return to action for the Titans. There weren’t a lot of carries to go around as Tennessee trailed the entire game but what work there is belongs to Chris Johnson.
  • A week after seeing 12 pass targets and 12 touches Chris Ogbonnaya had just four carries, two targets with no catches, he fell behind Fozzy Whittaker in all of the above categories.
  • Each of Green Bay’s other backs of relevance had two touches while Eddie Lacy racked up another 27 with 100+ total yards and a score. We said last week that his volume gave him a very low floor and that fact definitely holds this week.
  • Ray Rice owners can’t complain about his workload this week (19 touches) but as part of another unimpressive day from the Ravens offense there wasn’t much to like with the production (72 total yards).
  • Le’Veon Bell had a nice game for the Steelers rolling up 99 yards on 20 touches flat. This was the first game that workload translated to a nice rushing average, and is a positive development moving forward.
  • Montee Ball did not touch the ball this week, and Knowshon Moreno dominated the backfield work as usual…though, he underwhelmed carrying 15 times for 40 yards, his second straight week with an average under 3 YPC.
  • It was largely the result of an overly fumbly performance and not the typical lack of production, but Donald Brown matched Trent Richardson‘s workload for the first time since the second year back’s arrival in Indy. At this point, it’s hard to see anything but a 50/50 split… 60/40 at best, based on the way the run game looks with Brown in the lineup vs. Richardson.
  • Adrian Peterson was bottled up all night, from start to finish, against the Giants but given the way the offense looked in an underprepared Josh Freeman‘s first start with Minnesota 13 carries simply wasn’t enough.
  • With the Giants heading into a bye in Week 9, expecting Andre Brown, Brandon Jacobs and David Wilson back at some point, and remaining a bad football team Peyton Hillis probably isn’t worth a speculative add but make note of his 23 touches and reasonably strong game as a receiver somewhere.
  • Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead played equal snaps against the Jaguars (35-34) but Mathews received 22 touches on his 35 snaps (roughly 2/3 of the time he was on the field the ball was in his hands) whileWoodhead had 13. In games where the Chargers are projected to hold leads, you’ll want to value Mathews higher as he appeared to be the clock killer in this one.
  • Even in a game where he struggled significantly on the ground (to be fair, the matchup against the Bengals has been tough on most backs) Reggie Bush managed to compile 94 total yards due to a) his utility as a receiver – 5 catches for 44 yards and b) volume, with 25 total touches. While Megatron was on fire against Cincinnati it is important to note that Bush remains focal to their offense.
  • The volume concerns that are present with Giovani Bernard reared their ugly head this week – playing just 28 snaps (30 for BenJarvus Green-Ellis) Bernard had 12 touches and was reasonably productive with them, but, as long as BJGE is cutting into his targets he has a disturbingly low ceiling for a player being ranked as a solid RB2 every week.
  • Because four of his six targets fell incomplete, Andre Ellington finished the week with just five touches for 13 yards. Rashard Mendenhall wasn’t much better himself, but the unpredictability of his use is what makes Ellington a challenging fantasy play in any given week. You’d have expected a higher snap count from the passing down back given the fact that Arizona trailed for much of the game. He did see 32 plays to Mendenhall’s 24, but was out-touched 13-5 by the vet.
  • Those who are expecting Mike James to get the bulk of the work in the wake of Doug Martin‘s injury are probably correct, however it’s worth noting that Brian Leonard was on the field for 22 snaps as well. He’s unlikely to see a ton of carries, but may affect James’ time on the field in single back sets. Bobby Rainey‘s addition is obviously the more significant threat. Either way, Martin has the fourth most rush attempts in the league through seven weeks so there are plenty of carries to go around.
  • Neither Jacquizz Rodgers or Jason Snelling did much on the ground against Tampa Bay, each averaging 2.0 YPC on 8 and 7 carries respectively, but, Rodgers’ deployment as a receiver will make him very relevant in the pre-Jackson return/post-Jones injury era, and perhaps even when Sjax gets back in the lineup – particularly in PPR leagues. He received more targets (9) than any Falcon and scored twice on 8 catches.
  • Zac Stacy delivered a workmanlike 87 total yards on 21 touches for St. Louis this week, relative to just 4 for Daryl Richardson. 46 of his yards came on one big play in each the pass and run game in the first half but he was productive for St. Louis throughout the day. With Sam Bradford going down for the season, prepare to see more 20 touch games from the rookie RB.
  • Marshawn Lynch, on a short week with a bum leg, had 22 touches to just three for Robert Turbin and had (almost) 100 total yards with a score. On his 21 runs Lynch forced an impressive eight missed tackles this week.
  • Mike Tolbert‘s 13 carries for 36 yards come a week after he was a waiver wire conversation and will help fuel the excitement, coupled with another touchdown. For my money… still a gamble. Maybe he poaches a short one every now and then but while he’s typically playing near-equal snaps with DeAngelo Williams (more in this case) he’ll rarely draw that many touches. The 13 represents a season high and is largely a function of a unique game flow against St. Louis.

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