Backfield Touches Report: Week Two Edition

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Our very own, Anthony Knox, breaks down Week 2’s Running Back touches and what that means for heading into Week 3 of NFL action!

Week two is in the books! There weren’t any significant losses like we had in week one when owners essentially lost David Johnson for the season, but owners are probably not happy with their running backs again this week. In total, two more running backs touched the ball this week, but the percentage of running backs getting significant touches went down. You can see my point if you look at the chart below.

Total Running Backs Who Touched Ball 84
RB’s with 30 or More Touches 2 (2% of RB’s)
RB’s with 20 or More Touches 4 (6% of RB’s)
RB’s with 15-19 Touches 14 (17% of RB’s)
RB’s with 10-14 Touches 19 (23% of RB’s)
RB’s with 9 or Less Touches 45 (54% of RB’s)

By comparison from week one, there were 5% less running backs to have at least 20 total touches in week two. It’s too early to draw any sort of conclusions, but you can tell that the running back by committees (RBBC) are making their prescience felt within the NFL. Teams are focusing more on having two or three quality options on their team instead of featuring a stud play after play.

I have two pieces of advice for Fantasy Football owners:

  1. If you have a running back who is the sole option for a team, you hang onto him with white knuckles at all costs!
  2. If you have the opportunity to acquire a stud running back, you pay whatever price you need to ensure he is on your team!

Let’s focus on some key storylines that I am watching closely.

Le’Veon Bell Gets Work without Results
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You know how you feel when you’ve been working out every day, sacrificing your favorite foods, and then not seeing any results on the scale. That’s how Le’Veon Bell had to feel in week two!

The Pittsburgh Steelers understand that the offense should be running through Bell, and they gave him 31 total touches this week to prove that point. Unfortunately for owners of him, he only gave them 91 total yards and 4 receptions. Bell has not scored a touchdown yet this season.

I’m not worried about Le’Veon Bell yet. The fact that the Steelers fed him the ball means that he is still a focal point in the offense. The issue is that defenses are focused on stopping Bell at all costs as he has the ability to rush for over 100 yards at any given moment. And I wouldn’t worry about the touchdown numbers yet. There are still 14 games left in the season, and he only averages about eight total touchdowns a season. The opportunities to score will be there!

Ja…Ja…JAVORIUS!
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You may have been like the guys in my league of record. The priority for picking up a running back was Tarik Cohen. Sure, that may end up being a great pick if Jordan Howard is significantly injured, but the real player to grab last week was Javorius Allen!

Week one turned out to not be a fluke when he had 21 touches. With his week two performance he is now averaging 20 touches a game. With those touches, he has had 172 total yards and a touchdown.

My expectation when I picked Allen up after waivers was that he was going to be the pass catching option for the Ravens. I didn’t think that he would also see the most amount of carries for the team. It seems pretty clear that the Ravens are finally allowing “Buck” Allen to be the bell cow for the team, which is what John Harbaugh would prefer!

If by some lucky draw, make sure he is your top priority this week!

Samaje Perine vs. Chris Thompson…Which RB Should You Own from Washington?
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There are a lot of conflicting reports on the severity of the rib injury sustained by Rob Kelley in week two. It’s possible he fractured a rib, he could have bruised it, or there could be some other injury that could keep him off the field. The Redskins are being vague in responses to the injury.

If Kelley can’t play, his 4.9 yards per carry average will go to either Samaje Perine or Chris Thompson. The question is, which running back would you want?

For Perine, he did nothing in week one, and I mean NOTHING. All of his production this season came in week two. He had 21 carries for 67 yards and 1 reception for no yards. His 21 carries were the fourth highest carry total this week.

Thompson on the other hand had six total touches (three carries and three receptions), but he was able to turn that into 106 total yards and two touchdowns. Between weeks one and two, Chris Thompson has 13 total touches for 162 total yards and 3 total touchdowns.

If both players are on the waiver wire, the priority and FAAB money should go to Samaje Perine. More touches equal more opportunities. You can’t bet that Chris Thompson is going to average 12.5 yards every time he touches the ball and score every fourth time he touches it!

The Saints Backfield is Puzzling
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The Saints have a budding superstar in the making with Alvin Kamara in my opinion, but he is buried on the depth chart behind Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson. On the season, here are the stats for the three-headed monster in New Orleans:

Player Carries Receptions Total Yards
Mark Ingram 14 9 147
Adrian Peterson 14 0 44
Alvin Kamara 8 7 92

Before we go any further, you need to drop Adrian Peterson. He doesn’t fit in the system with Sean Payton and Drew Brees because he doesn’t catch the football. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is released or traded before the bye week at this rate. Fantasy Football owners should really only be focusing on Ingram and Kamara.

Comparing the numbers, Mark Ingram only has eight total touches and 55 total yards more than Kamara this season. Ingram has a 6.4 yards per touch average, and 6.1-yard average. I would expect to begin the season that the veteran Ingram would have better stats than the rookie Kamara. However, I wouldn’t expect the disparity to be so small between their stats.

It’s only a matter of time before Alvin Kamara takes over the starting role in my opinion. Mark Ingram has an injury history, and also the “team doesn’t like him” history. Given that the Saints signed Adrian Peterson, drafted Alvin Kamara, and gave significant work to Tim Hightower last season when Mark Ingram was healthy, Kamara’s time will be coming soon to be the featured back.

Todd Gurley = Fantasy Stud Again?
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What is going on with the Los Angeles Rams?! Sean McVay has breathed life into the team and they are starting to look really good! The most notable change is that Todd Gurley is looking like the stud we had hoped he would materialize into after his rookie season.

Gurley had the fifth and seventh highest touch totals in the last two weeks respectively. He has taken 35 carries and turned it into 128 rushing yards and two touchdowns. What is even more impressive is that Gurley has already caught eight passes this season, and turned those into 104 receiving yards and added a receiving touchdown to his total.

In my league of record, he is the third best running back this season. If he is going to continue to get 22 touches a game on average, he’s going to continue to produce great numbers for your team!

Running Backs You Can Drop from Your Team

We all have high hopes that we have the next David Johnson sitting on our bench when we draft a bunch of running backs. However, a lot of those “pipe dreams” are just that, and there are already several players that I feel like you can release from your team:

  • Adrian Peterson – See above
  • Kerwynn Williams – Chris Johnson is assuming his previous role as the starter again, and Williams will be useless moving forward.
  • Paul Perkins – The Giants offensive line is terrible, and Perkins needs the line to open holes for him to run through. That just won’t happen for the Giants anytime soon.
  • Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard – Joe Mixon will be taking over the backfield sooner rather than later. Hill and Bernard will simply be the guys who spell Mixon for a play or two.
  • Bilal Powell – This one hurts a little to say, but the Jets are doing everything they can to lose, and that means Matt Forte will see a lot of work. Even when Powell gets on the field the production is going to be bad because the team is so bad.
  • Latavius Murray – Dalvin Cook owns that backfield, and Murray will be cut at the end of the season. He might get cut before if he injures himself again.
  • LeGarrette Blount – Unless he is playing with the Patriots he is terrible. The Eagles will go with Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. Don’t be surprised if they trade or cut him soon.

The backfields in the NFL continue to become clearer as we continue on in the season. Come back next week and see if there are even more answers to the difficult questions for Fantasy Football owners!

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