Backfield Touches Report: Week Four Edition

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We are four games into the 2017 Fantasy Football season, and I believe that clarity is finally starting to happen with some of the backfields for NFL teams. Whether it be injuries, talent, or returns from suspensions, owners are seeing who they can start on a weekly basis and who should be sitting on their waiver wires.

We saw a similar amount of running backs who received more than 20 total touches in week four that we saw in week three, as seen below:

Total Running Backs with Touches 94
Percentage with 30 or more Touches 2.1%
Percentage with 20-29 Touches 12.8%
Percentage with 15-19 Touches 7.4%
Percentage with 10-14 Touches 22.3%
Percentage with 9 Touches or Less 55.3%

 

As we are entering the bye weeks for the NFL, the running backs that will top the list for total touches are likely going to be different, and I would also expect a smaller percentage of those running backs that have 20 or more touches. As you can see from the touch leaders below, we have the same names at the top of list every week:

Player Total Touches Fantasy Points
Le’Veon Bell 39 32.6
Todd Gurley 30 34.5
Leonard Fournette 28 24.5
Ezekiel Elliott 25 29.9
Bilal Powell 25 29
Kareem Hunt 25 16.1
C.J. Anderson 24 15.2
Lamar Miller 23 29.1
Ameer Abdullah 23 19.9
LeSean McCoy 23 13.8
Carlos Hyde 21 14.5
Joe Mixon 21 8.8
Devonta Freeman 20 15.8
Jordan Howard 20 14.3

 

Per usual, a lot of touches leads to a lot of fantasy points. The only exception this week is Joe Mixon, whom I will discuss below. We also had a lot of familiar names atop the list of total touches, some who will also be discussed below. There were other running backs that scored over 15 fantasy points for owners, but were limited on their touches:

Player Total Touches Fantasy Points
Alvin Kamara 15 25.8
Andre Ellington 14 19.4
Wendell Smallwood 14 17.9
Duke Johnson Jr. 13 21
Tevin Coleman 13 18.4
Elijah McGuire 12 21.1
James White 11 15.4
Giovani Bernard 6 16.9

 

Joe Mixon Will Be Fine
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As a team, the Cincinnati Bengals gave 34 total touches to the running backs, that were spread out between Mixon (21), Jeremy Hill (7) and Giovani Bernard (6). Out of the three, Bernard turned his limited touches in 16.9 fantasy points, that included a touchdown.

I’m sure owners of Joe Mixon are freaking out, and they need to relax. Although Mixon didn’t perform as well as Giovani Bernard, the fact that he received 21 touches to the 13 that Bernard and Jeremy Hill combined for, his stats will come in due time. Anyone that receives that much work will eventually make it count.

If there is an owner who is freaking out about all the work and none of the production, go take advantage of him and get Joe Mixon on the cheap!

The Only Way You Trade Todd Gurley is for Le’Veon Bell
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Wow, Todd Gurley pulled a 180 from his production from last season and has become the running back that could win Fantasy Football Championships this year! He is averaging 27 touches a game and getting owners 30 points a game. For anyone who drafted Gurley in the middle/late second round or early third round, you are dancing in the streets!

The question to ask any owner of Todd Gurley is “what’s the price for him”? As a Gurley owner, your only response should be “Le’Veon Bell”.

Sure, Le’Veon Bell has touched the ball 26 times per game on average and has scored 19 points each week, but we all know the caliber of player that Bell is. He has proven time and time again that he is the studliest of studs, and by the end of the year he could outperform Todd Gurley without trying.

If you can trade for Bell by using Gurley, pull the trigger now!

Is LeSean McCoy Too Old?
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The short answer to the question above is no. While LeSean McCoy is getting up there in age, his touches per game are not slowing down. He is averaging 22 touches a game, and turning that into 15 points a game. The only problem with McCoy is that he isn’t scoring touchdowns.

A lot of analysts talked about being scared off by LeSean McCoy because he was going to be the only offensive weapon for the Bills, and they may be right. McCoy is the obvious rushing leader for the team, but he also has the most receptions and only 70 less receiving yards then the leading receiver, tight end Charles Clay.

The touchdowns will come for LeSean McCoy, and everyone who drafted him as a top three running back will breathe a sigh of relief.

I’m Telling You Again…Alvin Kamara is the Running Back to Own in New Orleans
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Alvin Kamara is in for an increased workload when the Saints come off their bye. Kamara proved in London that Sean Peyton needs to have him on the field at all times. He is a dual threat, but fits the system the best because of his pass catching ability. Mark Ingram should be the back-up for the team and the Saints should focus on trading Adrian Peterson during the bye week

To compare Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram’s production, I direct you to the chart below:

Alvin Kamara Mark Ingram
Rushing Attempts 15 42
Rushing Yards 83 170
Yards Per Rush 5.5 4
Targets 28 22
Receptions 20 15
Catch Percentage 71% 68%
Receiving Yards 147 125
Yards Per Reception 7.4 8.3
Touchdowns 2 0
Total Fantasy Points 55 44.5
Points Per Game 13.8 11.1

 

If you take Adrian Peterson’s touches from the four games and give them to Alvin Kamara, based on his average he would have an additional 149 rushing yards and 15 receiving yards. That would bring his per game total to almost 19 points a game.

During the bye week, get all the shares of Kamara that you can. I anticipate that his workload will go through the roof after the bye!

The Falcons’ Wide Receiver Issues Will Lead to Larger Role for Tevin Coleman
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While Devonta Freeman is a great pass catching running back, he is not at Tevin Coleman’s level. On the season, Coleman has outperformed Freeman on receptions (13 to 9) and receiving yards (133 to 70). It’s clear that Freeman is the first and second down back and Coleman is the third down back.

If you’re a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, you’re likely hurt and are missing some time. Tevin Coleman will need to step up and have a bigger role in the offense as a pass catcher. Coleman has proven he is very effective in the receiving game. Last season he had 31 receptions for 421 yards and three touchdowns. So far this season he has 13 receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown.

I can see a scenario where both guys will be on the field at the same time, and I don’t want Devonta Freeman owners to freak out. There is plenty of offensive plays for both players to be relevant for owners. With an expanded role, if you have both Freeman and Tevin Coleman, you could actually start both of them at the same time and be just fine.

The Injury Bug Bit a Lot of Teams This Week

Dalvin Cook and Chris Carson are out for the rest of the year, and Ty Montgomery broke “several” ribs and will likely miss some time. This has left owners with questioning who they should be attempting to pick up this week for waivers.

As this article will be posted after waivers process, I won’t be able to give you any advice on who to pick up. Hopefully you’re reading this and picked up the guys I like to replace the guys lost to injury.

Vikings – Latavius Murray

I know, throw up in your mouth now. Jerrick McKinnon has proven time and time again that he can’t be the featured back. Latavius Murray was paid to come to the Vikings and is next in line for the starting job. I know he has only touched the ball 16 times and amassed 46 yards, but McKinnon had only touched the ball two more times and has 8 less yards.

Packers – No One

Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams can be good, but when Ty Montgomery is healthy he will get his starting role back. My gut tells me the two of them will split time, and that’s not productive enough for me to waste FAAB or waiver priority for one of them.

Seahawks – Thomas Rawls

The Seahawks will go back to the well and hand the keys back to Thomas Rawls, at least for first and second downs. C.J. Prosise will continue to have a role in the passing game, but Eddie Lacy is terrible and no one else is ready to step up and take carries.

I can’t wait to see what happens after our first bye week of the season. Be ready for a potentially rough week and I’ll see you on the other side!

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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.