Oct 30

Touches and Targets Week 8: 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.

Running Back Touches Week 8

  • Andre Ellington played 35 snaps, which is right in line with what I projected, but I’ll admit I missed the total yardage bit by a hair or two. Ellington had 17 touches, and even if you take away his 80 yard score he ran well. Whether he’ll start over Mendenhall moving forward remains to be seen. Even if he does this snap count still seems to be right around his ceiling, but the Cardinals won’t be timid to use him when he’s in the game – we saw that this week – so 10-13 touches a week should be a reasonable expectation moving forward.
Eddie Lacy ran well early, but, dominated the game late for Green Bay against Minnesota, a trend that could become familiar for both the player and the opponent (Photo: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

Eddie Lacy ran well early, but, dominated the game late for Green Bay against Minnesota, a trend that could become familiar for both the player and the opponent (Photo: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

  • Eddie Lacy had his biggest workload of the season, with 33 touches and posted 112 total yards with a score. He had his way with the Vikings defense in the second half as the unit clearly was getting tired. That much is notable both for Lacy’s success late in games but also for the fact that Minnesota will be on the field defensively a lot as long as Christian Ponder under center (and arguably with any QB they roll out there) so there will be lots of clock killing potential against a worn down D. James Starks pushed Johnathan Franklin back off the box score in his return to action and also ran well late, although his role is strictly limited to spelling Lacy who has had 108 touches since the team’s bye four weeks ago.
  • Lamar Miller saw 21 touches and totalled 112 yards against New England this week while Daniel Thomas remained in the mix with 27 snaps played (just about half of Miller’s 51) and nine effective carries of his own. Whether Miller’s use (and 30 RB carries generally) is indicative of a change in philosophy or just an attempt to take after New York’s handling of the Patriots the week prior remains to be seen – I’d suggest the latter is more likely – but we’ll continue to keep an eye on things.
  • Stevan Ridley spent some time on the bench to start this game for reasons that no one is likely to explain to us, but he wound up with the most touches of any New England back (14-11-10 Ridley, Blount, Bolden) on just 22 snaps and was again a productive runner. He’s back in must start range despite his ambiguous usage and the impending return of Shane Vereen.
  • It’s ok to get excited about Fozzy Whittaker as he saw some action last week, scored a TD this week, and has a fun name… but, the guy played 8 snaps and didn’t have a carry, so he’s off my radar. For that matter though, anyone who cuts into Chris Ogbonnaya‘s already limited playing time is a concern if you’re an investor in the silent G.
  • We’ve discussed Jamaal Charles‘ healthy workload in this space a number of times this year and it saved him this week. He lost a fumble and failed to score a TD for the first time all year, but five catches on six targets for 46 yards helped keep Charles fantasy relevant. Its the kind of high ceiling performance you need from your anchor back.
  • Mike Tolbert and DeAngelo Williams split snaps fairly evenly with Tolbert, who drew the start at fullback, taking a slight edge in snaps and touches. Both were productive fantasy assets as they each found the endzone, however with Jonathan Stewart rejoining the rotation shortly it could become troublesome. Williams has run well through the season’s first half, but, he may be at his fantasy ceiling right now.
  • Mike James didn’t run the ball a whole lot as Tampa was playing catchup for much of the game. He saw 14 touches including four catches on five targets. Brian Leonard picked up six catches but James outcarried him 10:1 confirming the fact that he’ll be the primary ball carrier until Bobby Rainey works his way into the rotation, or Doug Martin returns from injury.
  • Joseph Randle was on the field more than any other Cowboys back by a ratio of 4:1 and garnered 17 touches against the Lions. However, it was his second subpar game of three after taking over for the injured DeMarco Murray midway through Week 6 and he should find himself in a strict backup role as early as next week with Murray looking set to return.
  • Reggie Bush played in 68 snaps (17 for Joique Bell) and touched the ball 29 times on the strength of 21 carries and 8 catches, his highest total of the season. He has been over 19 in every game but one this year and is among the league’s elite in terms of production and most importantly volume.
  • Frank Gore had 20 touches and the expected solid outing against Jacksonville and Kendall Hunter came in strictly to close out the game. He played on just 14 snaps but had 9 productive carries for 85 yards. It’s hard trusting a player who is on the field just 14 times, but, Hunter’s role shows us that a backup with a strong hold on #2 carries can deliver useful numbers against Jacksonville, who is very likely to continue getting blown out every week.
  • The Jags managed to find 25 touches for Maurice Jones-Drew in a game where they were never close, so that’s comforting… but MJD owners had to have been praying for a deadline deal.
  • Michael Cox drew the start but played just 13 snaps to Peyton Hillis‘ 71. He’s not playing bad for someone who just joined the team off his couch, but isn’t really worth an add right now. His 85 total yards on 23 touches would have been useful this week, but with the Giants approaching a bye it is safe to assume that come Week 10 they’ll have someone more attractive atop the depth chart be it Jacobs, Wilson, or Andre Brown shortly thereafter.
  • LeSean McCoy graded well as a runner (1.7 per PFF, the third best run grade of the weekend) so his poor performance can be chalked up to offensive struggles and stacked boxes. Unfortunately, he’s likely to face that more often than not over the next few weeks.He finished with just 66 yards on 19 touches. Bryce Brown had his hands on the ball twice for one yard.
  • A week after riding the ‘hot hand’ all the way to 30+ carries Chris Ivory played just 12 snaps against the Bengals. Largely, I’m willing to write that off as a function of the game getting ugly for the Jets, fast. Bilal Powell is the better passing down RB and they were in passing position pretty much all day. It is worth noting that Powell still drew the start, though. Powell finished with just 39 yards on 14 touches, so it’s not like he did a lot to keep Ivory down when given the opportunity.
  • Try not to get too torn up about Giovani Bernard‘s usage – this was a unique game. It’s actually a positive note, in my eyes, that he played more snaps than Green-Ellis (27-22) despite the lopsided score.
  • Steven Jackson was brutal in his return to action, there is no other way to spin it. He played a full load, with 51 snaps  but gained just 13 yards on 14 touches. On his 11 carries, Jackson had 10 yards after contact and just six total yards, suggesting he was hit behind the line often – some of the burden is shared by an offensive line that all received negative grades for run blocking via Pro Football Focus but the result is troubling nonetheless. Keep Jackson reserved, if you can, with tough matchups on deck and see how he comes out of the next few weeks. Jason Snelling is off the radar, not seeing a snap in Jackson’s return.
  • Adrian Peterson ran well on 13 carries, including an all effort touchdown that just got across the line, but he hasn’t had more than 13 carries since Week 5. Last year, despite poor quarterback play the Vikings offense was able to move the chains, keeping Peterson relevant on a weekly basis. This year, he’s not getting the same volume so he’s tough to rank as the best RB play of any given week.
  • With C.J. Spiller out of the lineup Fred Jackson saw the bulk of the snaps at RB for Buffalo but on the road in a tough game context against New Orleans he didn’t really get much going. A touchdown saved his day as he only managed 53 yards on 17 touches. Those 17 touches aren’t a stretch from typical for him but when Spiller returns to the lineup you should see the number reduce significantly, assuming the junior back is sufficiently healthy.
  • Darren Sproles caught every ball thrown his direction this week and that’s where the good news ends. He made net gains of 0 yards on them and had no carries. Sproles played just 17 snaps – well behind Pierre Thomas‘ 47 – and on some unpredictable weeks that has been the case. Thomas was effective with his 17 touches piling up 94 total yards. Don’t do anything rash with Sproles, but knowing how much New Orleans is spreading the ball around right now he’s tough to roll out on a weekly basis.
  • Le’Veon Bell had 18 touches this weekend, and, the 18-19-20 range has been his standard since rejoining the team. His per carry average was ugly, as it has been more than once behind Pittsburgh’s offensive line – a unit that has actually graded pretty well in run blocking per Pro Football Focus’ metrics. Still, the volume and scoring opportunities are there for Bell.
  • Terrelle Pryor had the exciting run but Darren McFadden did all the heavy lifting this week for the Raiders. With 25 touches he went over 20 for the first time since week one and his two touchdowns made for a nice fantasy day. Expect plenty of volume as long as DMC stays healthy starting with an attractive matchup against the Eagles this week.
  • The good news for anyone who bought into the Roy Helu hype train is that we were right… he played more snaps than Alfred Morris this week (41-30) but he had just six touches and did very little with them. Morris, meanwhile posted 93 yards and a score on 17 carries. At no point is Helu truly going to be a threat to Morris’ fantasy value… he’s going to get his work and playing the bulk of the snaps in any given week should translate into more productive days for Helu.
  • We’re going to comment on Marshawn Lynch‘s quiet night because it would be an obvious omission, but there isn’t much to say other than it was a weird evening…  Lynch out-touched Robert Turbin 10-4 so it isn’t like someone was stealing his work, they just didn’t run a lot of offensive snaps and when they did, they passed more often than ran. It wound up in disappointment for many Lynch owners but it shouldn’t be seen as a sign of something more ominous moving forward.
  • Zac Stacy was a horse for St. Louis against a very tough run defense this week. He wound up limited on their final drive and may miss time (though not necessarily), but his 26 carry 134 yard effort was an eye opener on primetime. Daryl Richardson was the only other active RB and that should be noted as he’ll stand to benefit should Stacy miss time (he had 47 total yards on 9 touches).

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  1. NO Former NYC Mayor Dinkins….BUT we’ve got some LINK’INs — Targets, Touches & Looks from Week 8 | Fantasy Cut List

    […] AND TOUCHES WEEK 8: RB – WR & TE by Jon Collins (Fantasy Sports Locker […]

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