Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football RBBC Breakdown: Week 5

Miles Sanders 1

RBBC Breakdown: Week 5

It’s hard to believe that it’s already October and just as the leaves are changing so are some fantasy football teams. Unfortunately, some of those changes are forced by injuries, like David Montgomery’s knee sprain causing him to be out for the next 4-5 weeks. Some are new faces carving out a role for themselves, like Kenneth Gainwell outworking Miles Sanders in Philidelphia. Regardless of why the changes are happening, there are always ways to take advantage of them for your fantasy squad. Below is an in-depth look at which running backs have been consistently involved in their offense and which backfields are being shared. The numbers are provided along with a look ahead for Week 5. Are you ready to change the way you look at running back data?

Before we jump into the numbers a quick note about the data: The data that I use is populated by the Snap Counts page from FantasyData. I then take this raw data and calculate not just whether an RB was on the field but if they were being used and what percentage of the offense did their usage make up. Looking back at the entire season of 2020 (you can find old RBBC Reviews on my profile page), the two stats that I include and lean on heavily, % of Offense and Plays Used, were more correlated with season-long PPR points than Snaps and Snap %. For example, 94% of end-of-year fantasy points can be explained by the number of plays that a player is used – when a player is actually used more it results in more fantasy points. So, if a player is being used on a lot of plays but isn’t producing fantasy points yet, there is a likelihood that he will regress to the mean in future games and produce more fantasy points.

Season-Long Workhorses

NameTeamGMSSNAPSSNAPS/GMSNAP %UTIL %PPRPPR / 100Plays Used% Off
Joe MixonCIN417543.876.452.657.232.79240.2
Derrick HenryTEN421553.867.259.510448.112840
Alvin KamaraNO419348.281.847.757.9309239
Najee HarrisPIT423859.592.637.474.331.28934.6
David MontgomeryCHI416641.5704759.8367832.9

A ‘workhorse’ is defined here as a running back that is responsible for over 30% of their team’s offensive plays. Last week, I expressed concern about Joe Mixon’s health history. Thursday night, he limped off the field late in the game with a low-grade ankle sprain. There is still hope that he can play Week 5 given the extra rest but his dominance here could be in jeopardy. David Montgomery unfortunately will not have a shot to play Week 5 and probably won’t play until Week 9 or 10. He is definitely a guy to stash on your Injured Reserve or bench. He is also a trade-for candidate over the next few weeks as he should return to top-12 PPR status upon returning to the team. More positively, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, and Najee Harris continue to be the focal point of their respective teams (despite the fact that they all lost last week). These guys are all top-16 running backs on the season and, when healthy, should continue to receive the work and fantasy points – make sure they are in your lineups.

  • PPR/100 = PPR/100 Snaps

Week 4 Workhorses

NameTeamSNAPSSNAP %PPRPPR/100Plays Used% Offense
David MontgomeryCHI3662.122.662.82339.68
Alvin KamaraNO5986.81220.32638.28
Najee HarrisPIT488021.1442236.64
James RobinsonJAX5394.620.638.92035.66
Derrick HenryTEN595925.743.63534.99
Ezekiel ElliottDAL4675.420.344.12134.46
Leonard FournetteTB6482.116.826.22532.10
Josh JacobsLV3663.210.729.71831.60
Joe MixonCIN406913.734.21831.05
Saquon BarkleyNYG5688.929.652.91930.14

Week 4’s workhorses include a bunch of familiar names. It is encouraging to see Saquon Barkly get this much work finally as he continues to integrate after his season-ending injury last year. Despite the lack of fantasy production Mixon, Kamara, and Josh Jacobs saw significant work and should be ready for a boost in points next week. After months of preseason arguing and even a few Ke’Shawn Vaughn tangents, Leonard Founette has solidified himself as the primary back in Tampa Bay. How long he holds that position will be the next question. Ezekiel Elliott also quieted the timeshare speculation that was coming out of Dallas early in the season with back-to-back strong performances. In Week 4 he more than doubled the Plays Used of Tony Pollard and more than tripled his fantasy production.

RBBC Rewind: Week 4 

Atlanta Falcons

RBBC Breakdown

NameTeamSNAPSSNAP %PPRPPR/100Plays Used% Offense
Mike DavisATL5167.110.620.81519.73
Cordarrelle PattersonATL2330.334.6150.41215.82
Wayne GallmanATL1013.22.92979.24
Keith SmithATL1621.10.21.211.31

We start our breakdowns with the Atlanta Falcons who are actually playing a wide receiver at running back and finding a ton of success. Codarrelle Patterson has finished as the RB4, RB19, and THE RB1 over the last three weeks. Patterson has almost twice the fantasy points on 20 fewer plays than backfield mate Mike Davis. Regardless of Davis being more involved, Patterson is a must-play moving forward. First, he is most likely a flex play since he went so late, if at all in drafts, so chances are better runningbacks are starting on the roster. Second, he has the explosiveness to turn any play into a big play. Davis at this point is a bye week filler due to his lack of upside but a decent floor.

 

Arizona Cardinals

RBBC Breakdown

NameTeamSNAPSSNAP %PPRPPR/100Plays Used% Offense
James ConnerARI3342.320.662.42025.63
Chase EdmondsARI5266.717.934.41721.81
Jonathan WardARI22.60000.00

Last week, I said, “I’m holding [James] Conner in all the places I have him for the touchdown upside.” Well, he did exactly that by punching in two scores on Sunday as the 4-0 Cards rolled the Rams. Even though Conner outworked Chase Edmonds, Edmonds was still able to put up decent numbers due to his big playability. His 120 yards on 12 carries was good for 10 yards per attempt against what has been a formidable Rams defense. I’m not rolling Conner out expecting another 20 point game, but he is worth a flex.

Green Bay Packers

RBBC Breakdown

NameTeamSNAPSSNAP %PPRPPR/100Plays Used% Offense
Aaron JonesGB4562.510.924.21926.38
AJ DillonGB2940.310.736.91622.25

The Packers dismantled a much weakened Pittsburgh Steelers team. In the process, AJ Dillion displayed why people had been high on him during the preseason. Nether back had a stellar fantasy outcome but the two combined for almost 50% of the Packers offense on their way to 129 yards on the ground and another 67 yards through the air on 4 catches. Unfortunately for them, Aaron Rodgers stole the only rushing score for the team. The Packers go on the road to play a much improved Cincinnati defense. I am rolling out Aaron Jones with tempered expectations and keeping AJ Dillon on the bench. Dillon’s day will come but it won’t be with a healthy Jones or a stout defense like the Bengals.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

RBBC Breakdown

NameTeamSNAPSSNAP %PPRPPR/100Plays Used% Offense
Kenneth GainwellPHI2939.220.972.11114.86
Miles SandersPHI4763.57.716.41013.53

As someone who has been a proponent of Miles Sanders since before he was drafted, it is tough to admit but Philadelphia seems committed to a timeshare between Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell. Sanders has drawn the short straw of the fantasy rich play calls. He has been used almost 80% of the time on first and second down and more than 70% of his usage has been rush attempts. Both Gainwell and Sanders have roughly 15% of their usage on third down. Yet Gainwell is seeing an even split between his passing and rushing workload. The Eagles have a tough match-up against the Carolina Panthers on the slate for Week 5. Regrettably, neither back can be started with much confidence until a better matchup occurs (most likely Week 7 against the Raiders) or someone starts pulling away with consistently better usage.

Miami Dolphins

RBBC Breakdown

NameTeamSNAPSSNAP %PPRPPR/100Plays Used% Offense
Malcolm BrownMIA3567.33.710.6917.30
Salvon AhmedMIA59.63.36659.60
Myles GaskinMIA1223.10.32.523.86

Miami hit us with a surprise on Sunday. No, it wasn’t an upset win over the Colts, it was the complete disappearing act of one Myles Gaskin. Gaskin, who had led the ‘fins backfield in snaps, touches, and fantasy points, played only 12 snaps and was used on only two plays. Third-stringer Salvon Ahmed was used on five plays. Gaskin was a target for people waiting on running backs during fantasy drafts. However, at this point, the entire Miami running back group can and should be overlooked until something changes.

Other Backfields to Watch

  • Chicago – With Montgomery out for the next 4-5 weeks, one of these backs will step into his role. Will it be Damien Williams or Khalil Herbert? And will either be fantasy-relevant?
  • Washington – Once again Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic share the workload and this time they both have decent fantasy days. Week 5 looks like it might be the McKissic show as the Football Team will most likely be playing from behind against the New Orleans Saints.
  • Seattle – Chris Carson is the man in Seattle’s backfield though Alex Collins may be the backup to own. Collins is not a starter this week but you could be ahead of the waiver wire if you add him now. Carson is not known for staying on the field all season long.

That is all for this edition of the RBBC Breakdown! Be sure to check back next week and follow me on Twitter for extra data on these backfields and much more. Till next time, catch you on the flip side…

 

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