D'Andre Swift an RB1 Moving Forward?

Nick Mensio
·17 min read



NFL depth charts are always changing, whether it’s due to injuries, coaching decisions, or performance-related issues. The running back position, in particular, can be tough to stay on top of throughout the season, as the vast majority of teams have gone with some sort of committee approach, featuring two and sometimes even three backs.

Below is a breakdown of each team’s backfield to help us determine offenses that are using a single workhorse, committees, and situations to avoid for fantasy. I’ll use this space each week to track the numbers and provide some thoughts.

All snap counts and touches are compiled from Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference. Opportunities refers to the running back’s combined carries and targets.

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Notes: In his first game back from a high-ankle sprain after missing one, Drake played 52% of the snaps to Edmonds’ 48% in a near-even split where Drake had the touch advantage 17-11. Drake recorded his second 100-yard rushing game of the year but has two or fewer catches in every contest this season. Losing receiving work to Edmonds and precious red-zone scoring chances to Kyler Murray on the ground, Drake has settled in as a low-end RB2 without much upside. Edmonds reverts to FLEX/RB4 status and one of the elite fantasy stashes.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Notes: The Falcons are coming off their bye. Gurley’s getting the volume and seeing RB2 usage as a featured runner, but per-carry efficiency hasn’t at all been his thing. On 80 carries over the last four games, Gurley is averaging a horrendous 2.61 yards per rush. He’s making up for it with touchdowns, as Gurley leads the league with 41 red-zone carries and has nine touchdowns in nine games. He also has 20-or-fewer receiving yards in all but one game, so that’s also different from his Rams days. We know what we’re getting from Gurley at this point.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Notes: Ingram returned from his ankle sprain in Week 10, got the start, and again made Dobbins and Edwards unplayable in fantasy. Dobbins led the backfield in snaps (44%) while Edwards led the trio in carries (7) against New England. When all three are healthy, none are more than RB4 plays with four people -- including Lamar Jackson -- carrying the ball in this offense that has taken multiple steps backward after running through the league in 2019.

BUFFALO BILLS

Notes: Moss has out-snapped Singletary in three straight games and has out-touched him 39-29 in that span. Moss also has the edge over Singletary in the red zone (15-13) and scoring area (9-6 inside the 10-yard line), but both are behind Josh Allen for goal-line looks with Allen leading the team with seven carries inside the five. Both should be treated as RB3/4 types.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Notes: McCaffrey missed Week 10 with a shoulder injury and has already been ruled out for Week 11 in what is shaping up as a lost season for fantasy’s No. 1 overall pick. Davis had to leave Week 10 with a thumb injury for a little while but eventually returned. He did very little with his 11 touches, totaling 44 yards. But Davis will be a rebound RB1 for Week 11 against Detroit.

CHICAGO BEARS

Notes: With Montgomery out Week 10 against the Vikings, Patterson played 50% of the snaps and handled 12 of the 16 rushing attempts. It amounted to just 30 yards while Lamar Miller didn’t register a touch despite his activation from the practice squad. Assuming Montgomery is back for Week 12 following the Bears’ bye, he’ll go back to being a volume-driven RB2.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Notes: Even off the bye, Mixon (foot) still wasn’t ready to return. Down for four weeks, one would have to assume the Bengals didn’t expect Mixon to be out this long. Bernard has played 76%, 64%, and 68% of the snaps in Mixon’s absence, handling 48 touches. He was a fantasy bust Week 10 against the Steelers in the blowout loss. Mixon is up in the air to face Washington.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Notes: After missing five weeks with a sprained MCL, Chubb returned Week 10 against the Texans to play 43% of the snaps to Hunt’s 58% share. Both backs handled 19 carries and produced over 100 yards each on the ground while Hunt out-targeted Chubb 4-1. Chubb visited the end zone from nine yards out and had a 60-yarder in the bag deep into the fourth quarter but decided to run out of bounds on his own at the one-yard line to ice the clock. This offense wants to lean on its running backs. Chubb has the goal-line edge while Hunt has the edge in the passing game. Chubb should be viewed as an RB1 and Hunt a high-end RB2.

DALLAS COWBOYS

Notes: The Cowboys are coming off their bye week. In four games without Dak Prescott, Elliott has posted empty 12-49, 12-45, 19-63, and 18-51 rushing lines. And after seeing 10 targets in Week 6, Elliott has totaled just seven targets over the last three contests. He’s the overall RB46 in that span and has devolved into a low-floor RB3 in one of the league’s worst offenses. At least Andy Dalton (concussion) should be back, but Elliott’s snap share has been way down post-Dak while Pollard’s averaged 10.75 touches in the same span. Zeke is very TD-dependent.

DENVER BRONCOS

Notes: Gordon again out-snapped Lindsay 56% to 30% in Week 10 against the Raiders, but with the Broncos getting obliterated on the scoreboard the last three weeks, Gordon has totaled 25 carries in that span. He’s a low-floor RB2/3 in a bad offense while Lindsay is a droppable RB4/5. Denver shouldn’t be favored in any of its next three games vs. MIA, vs. NO, and at KC.

DETROIT LIONS

Notes: In the Week 10 win over Washington, rookie Swift made his first NFL start and played -- by far -- a season-high 73% of the snaps while Peterson (12%) and Johnson (15%) were in on season-low snap shares. Swift had his first 20-touch game, turning 21 into 149 total yards and one score. Assuming the Lions continue on with Swift as the clear lead back, he has RB1 upside for the stretch run, particularly ahead of a gorgeous Week 11 draw with the Panthers.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Notes: Jones is one of the most efficient running backs in the league. While he splits snaps with Williams, he still gets insane usage and scores at an incredible clip. However, the lowly Jaguars were able to keep Jones out of the end zone on 19 touches in Week 10. Jones hasn’t scored in his two games back from a calf injury and gets a difficult Week 11 test at the Colts. He’ll still be an RB1 while Williams is one of the better insurance options with standalone FLEX appeal.

HOUSTON TEXANS

Notes: David suffered a concussion after just three touches in Week 9 against the Jaguars. In his absence, Duke handled 20 touches and was in on 81% of the plays. With David out Week 10 against the Browns, Duke played an incredible 95% of the Texans’ snaps but was a major fantasy letdown with 14-54-0 rushing and no catches on one target. David is on I.R., saddling Duke in for RB2 workloads the next two weeks at minimum against the Patriots and Lions.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Notes: Taylor has set new season-lows in playing time each of the last three weeks (34%, 31%, 24%) and has handled just 17 combined touches over the last two weeks. Hines played a season-high 56% of the snaps Week 10 against the Titans and posted his third two-touchdown game of the year. He has zero scores in all other games combined. Hines is a low-floor RB3 more often than not while Taylor and Wilkins are canceling each other out on early downs.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Notes: Robinson has averaged 25.3 touches over the last three games and is an every-week RB1 with a stranglehold on carries and pass-game usage for the Jaguars. Devine Ozigbo is the only other healthy running back on the roster. Robinson is top-five in yards and touches among running backs but has back-to-back tough dates with the Steelers and Browns on deck.

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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Notes: The Chiefs are coming off their bye week. In Bell’s three games with the Chiefs, CEH has set season-lows in playing time (53%, 50%, 40%) and carries (8, 6, 5) in consecutive weeks. Bell has played 33%, 26%, and 31% of the downs. Williams played 29% of the snaps in Week 9, forming a dreaded three-man RBBC. Expect CEH to remain the lead back by default, but his workload has taken a significant hit, sending the rookie to RB2/3 status. Bell is toast, and Williams is just in for pass-blocking purposes.

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

Notes: Jacobs handled 20-plus carries for the fifth time this season last week in the blowout win over the Broncos when he produced 21-112-2 on the ground and 4-24 as a receiver. With the Raiders destroying Denver, Booker also set season bests in playing time (36%), carries (16), yards (81), and touchdowns (2) while killing the clock in garbage time as both scores came in the fourth quarter. Booker can be left on waiver wires but is obviously elite insurance for Jacobs’ managers. Jacobs is second in the NFL in touches and has already topped his rookie TD total.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Notes: Austin Ekeler (hamstring) remains on injured reserve but hinted he’s close to a return. Jackson missed Weeks 9 and 10, allowing Ballage to rack up 40 touches for 186 yards and one touchdown in that span. Assuming Ekeler misses another game, Ballage will be on the RB2 map against the Jets in Week 11 with Jackson now on I.R. and Kelley in the doghouse.

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Notes: Out of the bye, Henderson played just 33% of the snaps against the Seahawks, trailing Brown (41%) in playing time while Akers (26%) led the team in carries with 10. Henderson was still able to find the end zone once on his seven carries, but Brown punched in a pair of short scores. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to this backfield. And if it remains a three-man committee, none can be trusted for fantasy, even in the NFC’s run-heaviest offense.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Notes: Every-down back Myles Gaskin (knee) is on I.R. and has missed the last two games. With Breida (hamstring) also out for Week 10 and Jordan Howard released, Ahmed played 76% of the snaps and went 21-85-1 on the ground against the Chargers. He has just one target in the passing game, however, and will be dependent on touchdowns. Gaskin and Breida should be back sooner than later, but Ahmed could get one more week atop the depth chart at Denver.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Notes: Cook leads the league in rushing yards, touchdowns, yards per game, and yards from scrimmage. He’s the overall RB1 moving forward with 90 touches over the last three weeks.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Notes: Sony Michel remains on I.R. but is eligible to return at any point. If the Patriots are able to control games and stay competitive, Harris has been able to accrue volume with 52 carries over the last three weeks, but he has no targets in that span as a zero in the pass game. Burkhead has three touchdowns over the last three weeks, and White still gets some pass-game usage. Harris has some RB3 appeal based on volume, but this three-man RBBC is tough to gauge week in and week out, especially with Cam Newton leading the team with 25 red-zone carries. Only nine actual RBs have more red-zone attempts than Newton.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Notes: Kamara (9, 8) has single-digit carries each of the last two weeks, but he has 12 catches and four touchdowns in that span after a three-TD performance against the 49ers in Week 10. Despite the low volume of carries in total, Kamara is 10th in the NFL with 25 red-zone attempts and is tied for seventh in red-zone targets (11), so he’s seeing all the money touches. He’s one of the surest weekly bets in fantasy as a top-three RB1 no matter the opponent.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Notes: Devonta Freeman (ankle, hamstring) is now on I.R. after suffering a setback last week. Gallman is the best bet for fantasy production if Freeman has to miss again in Week 10. After playing just four snaps in Week 6, Gallman has handled 62 touches and has scored in four straight games while playing a little over 50% of the snaps while Lewis and Morris split the remaining opportunities. Gallman should get at least one more start after the bye as an RB2.

NEW YORK JETS

Notes: The Jets are coming out of their bye week. Perine is expected to take over lead-back duties for an 0-9 team after the open date after Gore out-touched the rookie 12-6 in Week 9. This offense is so bad, however, that Perine is still just an RB3/4 until we see less of Gore.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Notes: With Sanders back healthy last week against the Giants, he was in on 72% of the snaps to Scott’s 27% share, but it was Scott who found the end zone on his four touches while Sanders went scoreless on 20 combined carries and targets. Corey Clement also scored against the G-Men. It was bad TD luck for Sanders. He’s a weekly RB1 in fantasy.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Notes: Conner played a season-high 88% of the snaps Week 10 against the Bengals but flopped badly for the second week in a row against a terrible run defense. Against the Cowboys and Bengals Weeks 9-10, Conner has produced a 22-58-0 rushing line with just four catches for 10 scoreless yards as a receiver. In theory, he’s an RB1 based on his bellcow status, but the Steelers have opted for pass-heavy game plans. Conner gets another gorgeous Week 11 draw against the Jaguars.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Notes: Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are both on I.R. with sprained ankles. Tevin Coleman (knee) returned in Week 8 only to get hurt again after six snaps. JaMycal Hasty has joined the I.R. list after breaking his collarbone in Week 10. Coach Kyle Shanahan hopes to have Mostert and Coleman back after the Week 11 bye. This team is a total mess from an injury standpoint.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Notes: Dallas (33%), Homer (10%), and Alex Collins (48%) all split work against the Rams while Collins (11-43-1) scored the lone touchdown. Carson and Hyde are expected back this week against Arizona, which should send Collins back to the practice squad and Dallas to lightly-used pass-game, change-of-pace work. Dallas was a one-week wonder in Week 8.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Notes: Jones fumbled in the second quarter in Week 8 and was benched, playing just 24% of the snaps to Fournette’s 73% share. He again fumbled on his first Week 10 touch, but coach Bruce Arians decided to stick with him, handing Jones 23 carries that he turned into a career-best 192 yards that included a 98-yard touchdown. Jones has four 100-yard games on the season, but Arians’ quick hook in favor of Fournette makes him a weekly risk. Consider Jones a risk-reward RB2 for Week 11 against the Rams and Fournette an RB3.

TENNESSEE TITANS

  • Derrick Henry (64% snap rate, 221 opportunities)

  • D’Onta Foreman (4%, 18)

Notes: Henry has one of the safest workloads in football, dominating the Titans’ snaps and touches. He leads the league in rushing attempts and red-zone carries as a weekly top-three RB1. Foreman has emerged as the lightly-used No. 2 RB over the last three weeks.

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

Notes: McKissic played a season-high 83% of the snaps in Week 9 and leads all running backs in routes run from the backfield. He played 70% of the snaps against the Lions in Week 10 and has drawn a whopping 29 targets the last two weeks. He’s become a weekly RB2/3 solely on pass-game usage. Gibson still gets enough as a pure runner and in the red zone where he has four touchdowns over the last three weeks. In a two-man backfield, Gibson is an every-week RB2 in an offense that prefers to run the ball. A Week 11 Bengals matchup looks real juicy.