Running Back Market Shares: Week 7 Report

Oct 21, 2021
Running Back Market Shares: Week 7 Report

In the modern NFL, the running back is no longer the focal point of an offense. Gone are the days where a 400-touch rusher is the norm, and now is the age of the running back-by-committee. With carries and targets being diluted between backs more than ever, it’s important for fantasy managers to know which backs are seeing usage and how they’re being utilized.

This column will explore the landscape of running back rushing and receiving through team market shares – the percent of a team’s running back rushes or the team’s passing targets. By looking at these rates of usage rather than raw totals, we help to strip away some of the noise of game script and pare our data down to the truer representation of how each offense thinks about its backfield.

Without any further ado, let’s ring the bell and open the markets: which running backs had a significant change in usage in Week 6?

Carries

Five Up, Five Down – Team RB Rush Share
Player Team Week 5 Week 6 Change
Darrel Williams KC 35.7% 87.5% +51.8%
Khalil Herbert CHI 52.9% 100.0% +47.1%
J.D. McKissic WAS 7.7% 42.1% +34.4%
Le'Veon Bell BLT 0.0% 30.8% +30.8%
D'Andre Swift DET 45.8% 76.5% +30.6%
Chase Edmonds ARZ 37.5% 16.7% -20.8%
Antonio Gibson WAS 76.9% 52.6% -24.3%
Austin Ekeler LAC 89.5% 60.0% -29.5%
Jamaal Williams DET 54.2% 23.5% -30.6%
Myles Gaskin MIA 71.4% 29.4% -42.0%

Darrel Williams, Kansas City, +51.8% running back rushing share

Though he wasn’t highly efficient with his rushing attempts (3.0 yards per carry), Darrel Williams soaked up the vast majority of Kansas City’s backfield workload in his first career start. Williams spiked up to over 85% of the running back rushes, while still seeing a 9.1% target share and 100% of the goal-line running back touches. With former first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire still out for at least two weeks, Williams appears to be the only game in town when it comes to the KC running backs for the near future. There’s a non-zero chance he maintains some standalone value even when CEH returns from injured reserve, considering Edwards-Helaire had struggled in a three-down role prior to his injury as well.

J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team, +34.4%

A perpetual thorn in the side of Antonio Gibson fantasy managers, J.D. McKissic stepped in for the aforementioned Gibson after a shin injury and touched the ball 16 times in Week 6. He accrued 110 scrimmage yards on those touches, proving that he is just as electric as his younger, much more hyped counterpart. With Gibson’s status iffy for Week 7, McKissic’s workload floor would be raised significantly if he were to sustain his increased ground work in addition to his prolific receiving role (27.8% team target share in Week 6) in the Washington Football Team’s offense.

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, +24.3%

The Buccaneers backfield formula seems to be pretty simple now that we have a track record: Ronald Jones will touch the ball four to six times a week, and when passing-down specialist Giovani Bernard isn’t thieving them from him, Leonard Fournette will nab 15 to 30 touches per game depending on game script. For the third time in three weeks, Leonard Fournette has earned more than 15 half-PPR fantasy points on 16 or more touches. Fournette rushed for 81.5% of the Bucs’ running back attempts in Week 6 and hasn’t seen a game with fewer than three receptions and 24 yards receiving as well. He is clearly the Tampa Bay fantasy back of choice going forward, despite a few tough upcoming weeks against staunch run defenses.

Latavius Murray, Baltimore Ravens, -19.9%

In a major blowout by the Baltimore Ravens last week, running back Latavius Murray suffered an ankle injury late in the third quarter. He was spelled for the final frame of the contest by Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman, though he was on pace to lose about 10 percentage points of running back rush share prior to the injury anyhow. The Ravens’ backfield is a muddy disaster on the best of days, and Murray’s injury doesn’t provide any additional clarity on the situation. Ty’Son Williams could end up active in Week 7 if Murray is out or limited, making matters that much worse.

Others of Note: Joshua Kelley, LAC (+29.5%); Damien Harris, NE (+23.1%); Trayveon Williams, CIN (+21.4%); Jaret Patterson (-15.4%); Rhamondre Stevenson, NE (-19.9%); Carlos Hyde, JAX (-21.7%).

Targets

Five Up, Five Down – Team Target Share
Player Team Week 5 Week 6 Change
J.D. McKissic WAS 8.1% 27.8% +19.7%
Rhamondre Stevenson NE 0.0% 15.8% +15.8%
Joe Mixon CIN 2.9% 18.5% +15.7%
Derrick Henry TEN 0.0% 12.5% +12.5%
Khalil Herbert CHI 0.0% 11.5% +11.5%
Josh Jacobs LV 14.3% 4.2% -10.1%
Jeremy McNichols TEN 11.1% 0.0% -11.1%
A.J. Dillon GB 11.4% 0.0% -11.4%
Myles Gaskin MIA 27.0% 13.3% -13.7%
David Johnson HST 23.1% 4.9% -18.2%

DeeJay Dallas, Seattle Seahawks, +11.4% team target share

Chris Carson’s neck injury seems almost certain to have ended his season, if not his career. That left Alex Collins as the Seattle Seahawks’ primary back last week, but DeeJay Dallas worked in a sizable amount. Dallas played 22 snaps to Collins’ 33, and even though Collins touched the ball 21 times to Dallas’ nine, Dallas saw five targets in the passing game to Collins’ one. Now Collins is banged-up as well, so – despite the impending return of Rashaad Penny – Dallas could take on an even more sizable role in Week 7. He’ll at least remain involved in the passing game, where he’s caught seven passes for 65 yards over the past two weeks.

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts, +8.0%

The Indianapolis Colts are undecided on how to deploy their running back rotation from one week to the next. Hines’ two targets in this game swinging his team target share upward so much, were largely a result of the Colts needing to throw just 20 times in a blowout victory. This effectively masked Hines’ decline in offensive involvement in recent days in favor of Marlon Mack. Hines fantasy managers simply need to hope the increased work for Mack is simply an audition for a trade, and that he is sent out soon. If Mack remains on the team past the deadline, this backfield will remain a mess outside of Jonathan Taylor.

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles, +6.6%

The Philadelphia Eagles game last week was odd in that they ran just 45 total offensive plays, despite trailing the Buccaneers from start to finish. Still, it’s important to note that Miles Sanders was tied for third-most targets on the team in what has become a quick-hitting, short-area passing attack. His nine rushing attempts were also 100% of the Eagles’ running back rushes, so the peripherals are coming through for Sanders finally; we just need more offensive volume and effectiveness from the team as a whole for him to blossom into a fantasy star.

Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders, +5.5%

Kenyan Drake is mostly a player of note because his two targets for two catches, 39 yards receiving, and one touchdown means Josh Jacobs’ two-week star turn as a three-down back is waning. The Las Vegas Raiders were protecting a three-score lead for most of their game in Week 6, but Jacobs saw just one target – the same amount as Foster Moreau, Willie Snead, Jalen Richard, and fullback Alec Ingold. With Drake functioning as the receiving complement, Jacobs remains a highly touchdown-dependent RB2 for fantasy football – though he now has shown his three-down upside.

Others of Note: Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (+8.8%); James Robinson, JAX (+8.2%); Damien Harris, NE (+5.3%); Devonta Freeman, BAL (-7.1%); Zack Moss, BUF (-7.4%); Chuba Hubbard, CAR (-10.1%).

Goal-Line Work

Three Up, Three Down – Goal-Line Touch Share
Name Team Week 5 Week 6 Change
Alex Collins SEA 0.0% 100.0% +100.0%
Miles Sanders PHI 0.0% 100.0% +100.0%
Dalvin Cook MIN 0.0% 100.0% +100.0%
James Conner ARI 100.0% 50.0% -50.0%
Myles Gaskin MIA 100.0% 50.0% -50.0%
A.J. Dillon GB 100.0% 33.3% -66.7%

Le’Veon Bell, Baltimore Ravens, +66.7% running back goal-line share

Part of Le’Veon Bell’s assumption of so much goal-line work likely comes from the aforementioned injury to Latavius Murray. That said, Murray played three-quarters of last week’s game, but didn’t see a single opportunity inside the 10-yard line. Those all went to Bell and Devonta Freeman. Bell earned the most chances in scoring range, and did end up plunging one across the line, so he’s likely got the first opportunities for scoring-down work in the near future.

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams, +50.0%

Not that we had any question about who ran the Los Angeles Rams’ backfield, but it’s good to see Darrell Henderson consume all of the opportunities in this area of the field. Henderson punched in a short score in this game, continuing to solidify his stranglehold on full lead back duties for the Rams.

Others of Note: Khalil Herbert (+75.0%); Darrel Williams, KC (+33.3%); Leonard Fournette, TB (+33.3%).

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