Welcome to the Week 1 edition of my RB Market Share Report. In this column, I report usage statistics and advanced metrics for each NFL backfield. I will also summarize RB workload statistics for all 32 NFL teams and highlight key trends as applicable.
I will publish updates to this column each week following the conclusion of Monday night’s games. As more games are played, our market share data become increasingly reliable — but at the expense of our foresighted edge on the public. Therefore, utilize this data to gain insight into play-calling trends and to target players with advantageous metrics before they break out.
To aid you in that effort, check out the upcoming Ultimate Zero RB Watchlist for more thorough analysis on RB depth charts and waiver wire adds. And, for similar analysis on wide receivers, check out Neil Dutton’s Wide Receiver Target Report.
Team RB Stat Totals
|Team||Rush Att.||Rec.||Touches||Total Yards||Total TD||PPR Points|
Team RB Advanced Metrics
Below, I’ve provided definitions for each of the advanced metrics reported in this article. To learn more about these metrics and how to interpret them, check out my Passing Revolution series1 and my RB Game Script series.2
Opportunities — Total rush attempts plus receiving targets.
Team Opps% — The percentage of a team’s total offensive plays that ended in a RB rush attempt or RB receiving target. This may be used to measure how frequently an offense utilizes its RBs in its offensive game plan.
Opps% (Tar) — The percentage of a backfield’s total opportunities that are receiving targets. This may be used to describe how an offense utilizes its RBs. For instance, pass-catching specialists like Theo Riddick report a career Opps% (Tar) of 70% or higher. Fantasy RB1s typically report an Opps% (Tar) of at least 20% but rarely higher than 40%.
Team TS% — Short for Team Target Share Percentage, this metric reports a backfield’s total targets as a percentage of the team’s total pass attempts.
Team PPR% — Similar to TS%, this metric reports a backfield’s total PPR points as a percentage of the team’s total PPR points scored.
PPR% (Rec) — The percentage of a backfield’s total PPR points that derive from receiving statistics (e.g. receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs). For context, modern fantasy RB1s report a PPR% (Rec) of around 50%. Backfields with high PPR% (Rec) metrics provide ideal conditions for RBs to flourish.
|Team||Opportunities||Team Opps%||Opps% (Tar)||Team TS%||Team PPR%||PPR% (Rec)|
Individual Team Breakdowns
Below, I will report advanced metrics for RBs on each NFL team. Most of these metrics describe a player’s team market share or his style of production. Refer back to the “Advanced Metrics” section to find definitions for each of the metrics reported below, and check out the RotoViz Player Usage App for more traditional volume-based statistics.
Somewhat surprisingly, Chase Edmonds only earned two total opportunities this week as David Johnson thoroughly dominated the Cardinals backfield. Nonetheless, Edmonds remains one of the premier fantasy RB handcuffs due to his excellent statistical profile.
Ito Smith put to bed any murmurings of a larger Falcons committee … for now. Neither Falcons back performed well in Week 1, but Hill and Ollison failed to earn playing time despite those struggles. Smith remains the priority Zero RB target in Atlanta due to his present opportunity and advantageous receiving profile.
We may have to wait a bit longer for Justice Hill’s emergence. Mark Ingram and the rest of the Ravens offense manhandled the Dolphins in Week 1. In relief of Ingram, it was Gus Edwards — not Hill — who earned the dominant share of backfield touches. Of note, none of Baltimore’s RBs recorded a single target, which is disconcerting for PPR purposes. Unless/until Edwards or Hill emerges as a strong receiving threat, neither is worth prioritizing as a handcuff to Ingram.
Devin Singletary only earned four rush attempts, but he parlayed those few carries into 70 rushing yards. Equally importantly, he drew six receiving targets and snagged five of them for 28 yards. Despite his poor collegiate receiving profile, Singletary’s preseason and Week 1 usage demonstrates his ability as a pass-catcher. That significantly elevates his PPR ceiling and relegates T.J. Yeldon — who failed to record any Week 1 statistics — to the back burner indefinitely.
As expected, Christian McCaffrey dominated in Week 1. Scarlett and Bonnafon may rotate into the mix on occasion, but Carolina seems committed to feeding their bell-cow early and often. Just last season, we speculated that C.J. Anderson could factor into early-down work for the Panthers, and that speculation was for nought. This is McCaffrey’s backfield until further notice, and concerns over his snap count appear misplaced.
To everyone’s surprise, Mike Davis earned the Week 1 start and out-touched David Montgomery 12 to seven. Davis was also more involved as a pass-catcher, which fits his career Opps% (Tar) profile. Tarik Cohen failed to record a single rush attempt but was targeted 10 times in the passing game. Cohen will draw rushing duties at times this season, but it seems Chicago is content to utilize him as their de facto slot receiver.
Joe Mixon suffered a left ankle sprain and is without a timetable to return. Giovani Bernard assumed full backfield duties in Mixon’s stead but still only earned 10 total opportunities. The Bengals ranked 29th in rush attempts (14) and 30th in backfield opportunities (19) in Week 1. Bernard is a priority waiver wire add, but Cincinnati’s offense has also been prone to underutilizing its RBs. Tread with caution.
Dontrell Hilliard and D’Ernest Johnson evenly split work as Nick Chubb’s backup, each earning one rush attempt and two receiving targets. Encouragingly for Chubb owners, he drew four passing targets. If the Browns consistently feed Chubb that kind of target volume, then he’s well on his way to fulfilling his RB1 potential.
Elliott and Pollard remain the only viable RBs on the Cowboys roster. Each earned 13 rush attempts, but Pollard was not targeted as a receiver. This comes as a mild shock due to Pollard’s excellent receiving profile at Memphis. Nonetheless, there are few surprises here: Elliott remains the bell-cow of the offense, and Pollard will have to prove himself as a routine pass-catcher to contend for Flex duties from week to week.
The Denver coaching staff emphasized their intention to utilize Lindsay and Freeman in a 50-50 split, and they delivered in Week 1 … sort of. Lindsay earned 11 rush attempts to Freeman’s 10, and Freeman out-gained Lindsay 56 to 43 on the ground. However, Lindsay stole nearly all of the receiving work, catching four passes for 23 yards on six targets. If the Broncos stick to the 50-50 split, that bodes well for Freeman owners, but he will need to cut into Lindsay’s target share in order to achieve weekly fantasy RB2 status.
The biggest takeaway here is Anderson’s rushing volume. Many (myself included) had hoped that Kerryon Johnson would push Anderson into reserve status, but it seems Detroit is content to feed Anderson at least a 30% share of the team’s carries. This is a situation to closely monitor in the coming weeks. Johnson is undoubtedly the better pass-catcher and overall player, but Anderson’s continued rushing usage would severely cap Johnson’s season-long upside.
Green Bay Packers
It was painful to watch the Packers on Thursday night. Jones and Williams split rushing duties approximately as expected, but Jones only received a single receiving target. All offseason the Green Bay coaching staff had reiterated their desire to use Jones more in the passing game. But as of Week 1, those offseason claims seem rather disingenuous.
The Texans and Broncos are nearly mirror images of one another. Like Lindsay and Freeman, Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde evenly split carries, but Johnson hoarded all of the receiving work. Obviously, this is very encouraging for Johnson owners. We already know what Duke is capable of as a receiver; the real question entering the season was how much rushing work he would receive. After Week 1, it appears to be about a 50-50 split. If that split holds for the rest of the season, Johnson should provide reliable Flex value.
Some speculated that Andrew Luck’s retirement would negatively impact Marlon Mack, but Mack dispelled some of those concerns with a monster 25-174-1 rushing performance. He failed to record a receiving target — which is concerning for his season-long outlook — but his volume and production are nonetheless phenomenal. Meanwhile, Nyheim Hines predictably drew four receiving targets, but he parlayed those opportunities into just four receiving yards.
Fournette’s production was less than stellar, but his volume is nonetheless encouraging. He rushed for an efficient 66 yards on 13 carries and added four receptions for 28 yards. His six receiving targets are the highest he’s achieved since Week 14 of his rookie season. Ryquell Armstead and the rest of the Jaguars RBs pose little threat to Fournette’s three-down usage, and his 50.7% PPR (Rec) is precisely in line with what we typically expect from a top-12 fantasy RB.
Kansas City Chiefs
Well, there it is. After much offseason speculation, Kansas City finally unveiled their backfield committee, and it seems to be a two-to-one split between Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy. Williams only rushed for 26 yards but drew six receiving targets on his way to 18.5 PPR points. Darwin Thompson may earn additional touches as the season progresses, but he doesn’t offer standalone value without an injury to McCoy or Williams ahead of him.
Los Angeles Chargers
The story entering Week 1 was how the Chargers would split touches between Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. We postulated that Ekeler and Jackson would likely operate in a 50-50 rushing split, but that Ekeler would dominate receiving targets. In actuality, Ekeler out-touched Jackson 19 to nine and out-gained him 154 to 61. Ekeler aptly replicated — or even exceeded — any expectation Melvin Gordon would have garnered, which further reduces Gordon’s negotiating leverage moving forward. Ekeler is a must-start and could be the fantasy darling of 2019.
Los Angeles Rams
Malcolm Brown’s fantasy stock soared ahead of Darrell Henderson’s following an 11-53-2 rushing performance. Many assumed Brown and Henderson would split time as Todd Gurley’s primary backup. But few imagined that Brown would dramatically surge ahead of Henderson like this. Henderson is owned in nearly all fantasy leagues, and he shouldn’t be dropped after just one week. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore Brown’s strong performance: He’s an immediate waiver priority.
Well, it has to go up from here, right? Miami’s backfield received the fewest total opportunities (14) and gained the lowest total yardage (40) of any RB group in Week 1. Upstart Kalen Ballage rushed five times for negative one yard, and Kenyan Drake managed just 27 yards on six touches. Surprisingly, Mark Walton earned a rush attempt despite poor volume for both of Miami’s co-starters. That could signal a larger role for Walton moving forward … or it could just be more evidence that Miami is a mess.
Minnesota said they were going to run the ball, and by God did they deliver. The Vikings rushed 38 times versus just 10 pass attempts. The majority of those carries went to Dalvin Cook, of course, who churned out RB1-style production. Rookie Alexander Mattison asserted himself as the team’s no. 2, rushing nine times for 49 yards. Mattison is a bit underwhelming as a prospect, but he appears to have earned the coaches’ trust in Minnesota. Given the Vikings’ staggering rushing volume in Week 1, Mattison is a must-add handcuff for Cook.
New England Patriots
Rex Burkhead was a revolution this week, rushing eight times for 44 yards and adding five receptions for 41 yards. Burkhead found fantasy favor in 2017, but was supremely disappointing last season. Now, he’s back to confound fantasy players all over again. James White maintained his role as the team’s primary receiving back, receiving seven targets for five receptions and 56 yards. Despite offseason speculation to the contrary, Sony Michel stayed his rush-heavy self, rushing 15 times for 14 yards. Trendy rookie Damien Harris failed to record any offensive statistics. Time will tell if Burkhead’s role persists, but at minimum he may be a persistent thorn in the sides of Michel owners.
New Orleans Saints
Alvin Kamara once again put up a fantastic stat-line both rushing and receiving. He commanded 20 touches and converted those opportunities into 169 total yards. Latavius Murray rushed six times for 43 yards and a touchdown and surprisingly added three receiving targets. Murray has not historically been a strong receiver, so it is encouraging to see New Orleans use him as part of its passing game. Murray’s Week 1 PPR score is a bit fluky due to a touchdown run that salvaged poor yardage production. However, if he secures a stable role with 10-plus touches per game, and if his receiving usage continues, he should deliver fantasy Flex production this season.
New York Giants
Saquon Barkley put up an efficient 11-120-0 Week 1 rushing line and added four receptions for 19 yards. His status as a top-three fantasy RB is still unquestioned. Of greater interest, Wayne Gallman confirmed his role as the Giants’ RB2 with 13.1 PPR points and 41 total yards. Gallman’s career statistical profile suggests that he would be a viable starter is Barkley is injured due to his solid receiving usage. His Week 1 role seems to confirm his place as RB2 on the New York depth chart.
New York Jets
This offseason, Le’Veon Bell proclaimed he was ready to receive 500-plus touches this season. That mark is obviously extreme, but if his Week 1 volume is any indication, he may hit the 400-touch threshold this season. Bell was utilized in similar fashion to his days in Pittsburgh, drawing 17 rush attempts and nine targets. His 71.7% PPR (Rec) is exceptional, and his 34.6% Opps (Tar) is exactly what you want to see in a fantasy RB1. Bell owners, rest easy: He appears to be the bell-cow you drafted him to be.
Jacobs was impressive in his rookie debut, rushing 23 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns. The Raiders RBs only drew a single receiving target, but that pass went to Jacobs as well. Oakland’s failure to target its RBs in the passing game raises concerns about Jalen Richard’s or DeAndre Washington’s season-long viability. But, if Oakland intends to consistently feed Jacobs 20-plus carries, he should provide RB2 value at minimum each week.
My goodness, what a mess we have here. Miles Sanders led all Eagles RBs with 11 rush attempts, but he was dead-last in total yardage (27). Darren Sproles operated as the team’s No. 2 — but he wasn’t relegated only to passing downs. Jordan Howard received the lowest overall volume of touches, but he was the most efficient of all three players. The trio of Sanders, Sproles, and Howard basically operated in an even split in both rushing and receiving opportunities, which is fairly surprising to say the least. Corey Clement seems like the odd man out of the rotation, failing to record any offensive statistics in Week 1.
James Conner and the rest of the Steelers offense struggled in a loss to the Patriots. Conner only rushed for 21 yards, but he salvaged his fantasy showing with four receptions for 44 yards. Jaylen Samuels only totaled three opportunities for six yards, so Conner’s role as Pittsburgh’s bell-cow seems stable. Benny Snell Jr. failed to record an offensive statistic, but he still projects as the top replacement if Conner suffers injury.
San Francisco 49ers
Tevin Coleman suffered a high ankle sprain and is without a timetable for his return. Coleman’s injury pushes Raheem Mostert back into fantasy relevance following a 9-40-0 rushing performance. Matt Breida — who started in Week 1 — rushed 15 times for 37 yards but failed to haul in a reception. Breida’s poor efficiency should rebound moving forward, but the 49ers backfield remains as murky as ever.
Chris Carson is out to prove the haters wrong this season. As expected, he earned the lion’s share of rush attempts (15) compared to just six for Rashaad Penny. But, Carson added another tool to his skillset by snaring six passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. Carson was the only Seahawks receiver to receive a passing target, and he had seven of them! If that target share volume and consolidation continues, Carson should flirt with high-end RB2 status all season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers team looked disheveled on Sunday, but thankfully the RB corps provided some clarity. Ronald Jones finally put up a reasonable stat-line, rushing 13 times for 75 yards and adding one catch for 18 yards. Dare Ogunbowale did not earn a rush attempt, but he snared four passes for 33 yards on five targets. That left Peyton Barber to clean up the rest of the backfield touches, and he did a bit of everything but a whole lot of nothing. As it stands after Week 1, Jones seems poised to (eventually) take over the backfield, and Ogunbowale seems like a Jacquizz Rodgers-style third-down back to complement him. Barber is in no man’s land.
Can you hear that? It’s the sound of Derrick Henry truthers forming a jeering chorus after his 28.9-point Week 1 performance. Henry only recorded one catch, but he took it 75 yards to the house. Meanwhile, Dion Lewis only managed seven total opportunities for 13 yards, which is a rather discouraging start to his 2019 campaign.
Derrius Guice suffered a meniscus injury and is out indefinitely. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson was a healthy scratch and Wendell Smallwood failed to record an offensive statistic. Chris Thompson fell into his old role as mop-up duty, earning seven receptions for 68 yards on 10 targets. If Thompson can stay healthy — which he has struggled to do throughout his NFL career — he offers tremendous value as a receiving back. Given Guice’s reinjury and Smallwood’s unfamiliarity with the team, Thompson is a priority waiver wire add in redraft.