Backfield Touches Report: Week Five Edition

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Week five has come and gone and we still have no idea about some of the backfields in the NFL! We have more questions than answers after the performances of several running backs this week, as well as a recent trade that impacts two teams.

We also had a drop in the number of running backs that touched the ball, which makes sense when we had four teams on bye this week. Even with those running backs out, we only had nine less running backs touch the ball compared to week one’s total.

Running Backs with Touches 75
Running Backs with 20 or more Touches 11
Running Backs with 15-19 Touches 11
Running Backs with 10-14 Touches 16
Running Backs with less than 10 Touches 45

While the number of running backs who touched the ball this week went down, the names at the top of the list with the most touches hasn’t changed much.

Running Back Total Touches Fantasy Points
Kareem Hunt 32 14.6
Ezekiel Elliott 30 14.2
Leonard Fournette 29 31.4
Jay Ajayi 27 9.9
Melvin Gordon 26 34.3
Le’Veon Bell 25 19.3
Javorius Allen 25 18.5
LeSean McCoy 25 14.9
Jerick McKinnon 22 26.6
Jonathan Stewart 21 7.4
Aaron jones 20 20.4

As we have seen before, even with a lot of touches, some players couldn’t turn those touches into high production. While owners didn’t draft Jonathan Stewart to be an every week starter, Jay Ajayi was and he has been underperforming for owners week after week. While averaging 21 touches a week, he is averaging nine points per game.

If you have an owner who wants to sell Jay Ajayi for pennies on the dollar, make him the cheapest offer he can’t refuse and get him on your team! I’ll take any running back averaging over 20 touches a game!

With every running back who underperforms with maximum touches there are running backs who over perform on minimum touches.

Running Back Total Touches Fantasy Points
Doug Martin 14 15.2
Marlon Mack 10 16.3
Andre Ellington 10 15.3
Duke Johnson Jr. 9 17.3

It was great to see Doug Martin back, and he is performing like only he can! But the name I want to focus on again is Duke Johnson Jr. The Browns have not figured out that he is the best running back on the team. When you compare him to the “starter”, Isaiah Crowell, it doesn’t make any sense that the Browns don’t give Duke more touches.

Duke Johnson Jr. Isaiah Crowell
Rushing Attempts 16 62
Rushing Yards 77 194
Yards Per Rush 4.8 3.1
Receptions 23 7
Receiving Yards 270 57
Yards Per Reception 11.7 8.1
Touchdowns 3 0
Fantasy Points 75.7 32.1
Points Per Game 15.1 6.4

Hue Jackson, do everyone a favor, PLAY DUKE JOHNSON JR. MORE! Maybe the Browns could win a game if you did!

Other storylines I am following…

Adrian Peterson is an Arizona Cardinal

The Arizona Cardinals traded for Adrian Peterson to help with their backfield. Chris Johnson was released, and I also believe this means that David Johnson doesn’t return this season. Peterson is going to be given the keys to the backfield, for first and second down anyway.

Fantasy Football owners should not be afraid of Andre Ellington with this trade. While AP will get the first and second down work, he has hands of stone and will not be involved in the passing game. This season, Peterson was targeted three times and made two catches, from Drew Brees who loves throwing the ball to running backs. Ellington has averaged eight targets and six receptions a game this season, and that won’t change with AP there.

On the flip side, this trade directly impacts Alvin Kamara for the New Orleans Saints. As I wrote in last week’s touches report, if Kamara received the touches that went to Peterson he could be averaging almost 20 points a game. Mark Ingram is not going to benefit from the departure of Peterson, it will be Kamara. If you have any chance to trade for Kamara, do it now!

Is it Finally Jerick McKinnon’s Time in Minnesota?

Dalvin Cook tore his ACL in week four, and owners ran to the waiver wire to get Latavius Murray thinking he would be the beneficiary. I even said he should be the running back you own from that backfield.

Jerick McKinnon had other ideas.

22 total touches later, that he turned into 146 total yards and a touchdown, McKinnon appears to be the running back to own in Minnesota. I’m not going to lie, I still don’t believe that he will sustain this production. When he has been given the chance while Adrian Peterson wasn’t playing for the Vikings, he squandered opportunities to be the lead back. Until he gives me a few weeks of this kind of production, he won’t even be on my radar.

The Running Back to Own in Green Bay Is…

Honestly, it might be no one. While Aaron Jones put on a clinic two weeks in a row, he did so as the only healthy running back for the Packers. He started the season as the third string running back, and only got a chance when both Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams were injured. Montgomery continues to heal, and when he is healthy he will resume the starting role. The Packers obviously like Williams, and when he is fully healthy I also expect him to get work in Montgomery’s absence.

Aaron Jones has only been effective in the running game. In two weeks, he has 32 rushing attempts for 174 yards and two touchdowns. He has been targeted only once, which he caught that pass, and had nine yards.

When Ty Montgomery comes back, the best-case scenario is that they share time in the backfield with Jones being the runner and Montgomery being the pass catcher.

I keep saying it every week, but maybe we get some clarity this week with backfields? I doubt it, but maybe!

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I have been writing about Fantasy Football for two years for various sites, and became a member of the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) in 2017.

The primary focus of my writing will be reviewing backfield touches for all teams this season. I will also provide “trending topics” articles from time to time.