All season long, I’ll be looking back at the week to see how we can best leverage what took place on the field at the running back position to our advantage. This weekly article will hone in on weekly snap shares and highlight a few players who could benefit from their team putting them on the field more in the coming weeks.
Week 8 presents something we last saw several weeks ago, as all 32 teams will be in action for the first time since Week 4.
With so many running backs available to us, there are several things to consider throughout the week. Week 7 gave us some interesting talking points. Among these include how the Rams' backfield shaped up in a post-Kyren Williams world, a D'Onta Foreman mini-breakout, and a surprise RB2 in Washington.
As always, below are some players whose performances and situations stood out this past week, and at the end of the article is a table of every player to see 20 percent or more of their team’s snaps in Week 6.
Darrell Henderson (LAR)
A significant portion of what we love and hate about fantasy football centers solely on waiver wire acquisitions. When guys like Jerome Ford or Zack Moss smash a week after adding them, we couldn't be more in love with our silly little game. Our process was correct. We are geniuses, and everyone else who missed out on them must bow to our greatness.
On the flip side, there's nothing more triggering than blowing our FAAB/waiver priorities on backups like Emari Demercado and Zach Evans, only to watch some guy off the street play ahead of them the following week.
The same can also be said of Zach Evans in Week 7. Fantasy managers everywhere (myself included) thought the rookie sixth-rounder would be the Rams' preferred back after Kyren Williams (ankle) and Ronnie Rivers (knee) were both placed on injured reserve earlier in the week, but the RB1 role instead went to Darrell Henderson. Henderson, who spent four years with the Rams (2019-2022), hadn't been with a team all offseason and was by all accounts an "off the couch" signing who went on to rush for 16-81-1 just days after reuniting with his old team.
Henderson operated ahead of veteran Royce Freeman in the team's loss to the Steelers, while Evans saw zero opportunities on a 15 percent snap share.
In addition to playing ahead of Freeman, Henderson saw 20 total opportunities, tying the fourth-most he's seen in any game of his career. He also played on 18-of-32 passing down snaps and all three of the Rams' snaps inside the red zone. It's a small sample size, and Henderson could have been more efficient with his touches, but it was impressive for a player who last saw an NFL snap in Week 11 of last season.
With the Cowboys on tap for Week 8, Henderson now has the chance to show what he can offer with another week of practice and conditioning. He'll have his work cut out for him, but the Cowboys can be had on the ground. Here's how they rank in several advanced metrics against the run.
Note: Rankings imply "Xth-worst." The Cowboys' defense is ninth-worst in Yards After Contact per Attempt
Yards Before Contact per Attempt
Yards After Contact per Attempt
Explosive Run Rate
It's too early to say how high Henderson's snap share could get once he's fully up to speed. We shouldn't expect him to see the insane 83.1 percent snap share Kyren Williams has received this season, but he could get close. A 58.1 percent snap share for a player who missed nearly a year of football feels somewhat unprecedented — even if he is familiar with the team and the offense.
Still, fantasy managers can treat him as a volume-based RB2, as 20 opportunities are nothing to thumb your nose at. But we should still temper expectations for a player who is likely a few weeks off from being in complete football shape.
D’Onta Foreman (CHI)
Those who spent the last several weeks stashing Roschon Johnson (concussion) could have a bit of a problem on their hands. The rookie running back has a chance to play in Week 8 against the Chargers after missing the last two games, but any hope of him seizing control of the backfield seems all but gone.
In his second consecutive game as the Bears' RB1, Foreman averaged 5.6 YPC against the Raiders on his way to 16-89-2 on the ground while adding another three receptions for 31 yards and a score. After being a healthy scratch in Weeks 2-5, Foreman has now rushed 31 times for 154 yards and two scores over the last two weeks and ranks 10th in YCO/ATT (3.29, min. 10 ruATTs) over that span.
Foreman is also averaging 1.1 fantasy points per touch over that span. For some perspective, among running backs with 50-plus touches on the year, Only Raheem Mostert and Christian McCaffrey are averaging 1.1 fantasy points per touch.
Johnson will undoubtedly have a role in his return, but he could be limited to more of a third-down/pass-catching role, with Foreman thriving on early downs.
Weirdly, Foreman hasn't had a run longer than 14 yards this season, but he's also been stuffed on just 35.5 percent of his rush attempts — the fifth-lowest rank among 50 qualified backs.
If he is used in a pass-catching role, Johnson could have some limited upside based on what we saw in Week 7. In his first career start, Tyson Bagent targeted running backs/fullbacks on 10 of his 29 pass attempts (34.5 percent). Per the FantasyPoints.com Data Suite, the Chargers are also allowing 6.7 targets per game to players out of the backfield.
The Bears have 10 games left in their season, meaning there's still plenty of time for Johnson to have his day. However, that could be delayed as long as Foreman is playing well.
Jahmyr Gibbs (DET)
In Week 7 against the Ravens, Jahmyr Gibbs (somewhat) looked like the prince who was promised. With David Montgomery (ribs) sidelined, Gibbs emerged to handle 86.1 percent of the Lions' backfield snaps — a season-high and handled 21-of-25 running back opportunities.
With his increased role, Gibbs churned out 126 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown while catching nine passes on 10 targets — both career highs. He forced four missed tackles on his 20 touches and ripped off two gains of 20-plus yards.
The Lions don't play until Monday night, which means we won't have a practice report from them until Thursday. After Week 6's win over the Buccaneers, head coach Dan Campbell hinted at Montgomery missing multiple weeks, saying he would be out a "a little bit." It's not exactly a clear statement, but it hints at the possibility of Gibbs once again playing a lead role in Week 8 against the Raiders.
It would be an encouraging spot for Gibbs, as the Raiders have allowed the fifth-most targets per game out of the backfield (45) along with the seventh-most yards after contact per attempt (2.63).
Cam Akers (MIN)
Fantasy managers who were worried about Cam Akers' eventually overthrowing Alexander Mattison likely felt the heat in Monday's matchup against the 49ers.
Akers totaled 13 opportunities to Mattison's 11 and outproduced him 61-42 in terms of total yards. This was largely buoyed by Akers ripping off a 30-yard reception, but the fourth-year back was the more efficient player on a per-touch basis and was utilized more often when on the field.
Despite being out-snapped 36-24 by Mattison, Akers was given an opportunity on 54.2 percent of his snaps, which could signal more opportunities in the near future.
It's worth mentioning that neither back has been particularly impressive this season. Akers has the eighth-worst YCO/ATT (2.19) amongst the 53 running backs with at least 30 carries, while Mattison is faring a little better with 2.60 YCO/ATT. Their 133 combined rush attempts have yielded just three breakaway runs (15-plus yards), which have all come by way of Mattison.
James Cook (BUF)
I am once again begging the Bills to consider utilizing James Cook more. While his 16 touches for 102 yards and one touchdown didn't lead to a win for the Bills in Week 7, it's hard to deny the explosiveness we've seen from Cook throughout the season.
Among running backs with 50-plus touches on the season, Cook is tied for third in yards per touch (5.8) and is averaging a solid 0.9 fantasy points per touch. His backfield running mate, Latavius Murray, is averaging 4.7 yards per touch and has 205 yards from scrimmage.
Cook continues to out-snap Murray, but his overall efficiency should be earning him a more substantial slice of the pie. We'll see if that comes to fruition in Week 8 on Thursday night when the Bills take on the Buccaneers. The Bucs have allowed a mere 28 backfield targets this season (4.7/gm) and are top-12 in YCO/ATT (2.26) allowed.
The snap rate remains decent for Cook. This is just my opportunity to pine for more work to anybody who will listen.
Chris Rodriguez (WSH)
There's not much to touch on here, but Brian Robinson managers should have their warning flags raised after what we saw in Week 7.
For starters, Robinson has been little more than a replacement-level back through 19 career games. He's averaging 3.9 YPC for his career to go with a pedestrian 2.75 YCO/ATT. His 16.5 percent missed tackles forced rate is nothing special.
Whether Ron Rivera and Eric Bieniemy have realized this or just decided to get creative in Week 7 is anybody's guess. Washington's offensive philosophy and decision-making lack identity at times and got all the more confusing when they decided to give Chris Rodriguez seven carries against the Giants.
You won't find Rodriguez on the below chart. He played on just nine snaps, but Washington went out of their way to feed him when he was on the field. His seven rush attempts were only one less than Robinson's eight, but he out-rushed Robinson 31-23 on the day.
Rodriguez has slowly been worked into the offense over the last several weeks. The fact this is happening despite a completely healthy Washington backfield is all the more interesting.
It's a situation worth watching as they head into Week 8 against the Eagles. Rodriguez has handled only 14 rush attempts this season but has 61 yards to show for it (4.4 YPC) to go along with a solid 3.71 YCO/ATT. Of his 14 attempts, 11 have come in the last two weeks.
It's a small sample size, but we can't rule out the Commanders playing him at a higher rate in the future.
Week 7 Snap Share