Backfield Touches Report From Week 3

Anthony Knox

As a football fan, weeks one and two were not that exciting. When games are determined by field goals, you start to lose interest as a football fan, and a Fantasy Football player. This week, we were not disappointed by NFL action, but maybe you were disappointed with how your running backs produced.

In reality, we had an increase in running backs who had 20 or more touches this week. As you can see below, here is a breakdown of the running back touches:

Running Backs with Touches 86
RBs with 30 or more Touches 2.3%
RBs with 20-29 Touches 12.8%
RBs with 15-19 Touches 9.3%
RBs with 10-14 Touches 23.3%
RBs with 9 Touches or less 52.5%

In week one of the season, 13% of running backs touch the ball at least 20 times, although none of them had more than 29 touches. In week two that number dropped to 8%, and two of them had more than 30 touches. I’m happy to see teams continue to get their running backs more involved with the offense as I believe that all great offenses run through their running game.

Here’s a look at the top running backs based on touches, with their Fantasy Football points:

Running Back Total Touches Fantasy Points
Todd Gurley 33 37.9
Dalvin Cook 32 27.9
Jordan Howard 28 33.4
Carlos Hyde 28 24.4
Frank Gore 26 12.7
Ezekiel Elliott 25 18.4
Devonta Freeman 24 22.8
Le’Veon Bell 21 21.8
LeSean McCoy 21 13.9
Joe Mixon 21 13.1
Leonard Fournette 20 17
Ty Montgomery 20 13
Samaje Perine 20 6.5

As you would expect, those who received a lot of touches produced significant Fantasy Football points for their owners. However, some point totals were very disappointing given how many times the running back touches the ball. Most notably, Samaje Perine was given the keys to the Redskins backfield, and he squandered that opportunity by turning 20 total touches into 6.5 points for owners. On top of that, he couldn’t hang onto the ball, which his coach does not accept, and he will likely be back to riding the bench.

On the flip side, some running backs who had less than 20 touches had big Fantasy days for owners. Below is the list of players who overperformed on limited touches:

Running Back Total Touches Fantasy Points Points Per Touch
Kareem Hunt 18 25.3 1.4
DeMarco Murray 15 19 1.3
Chris Thompson 14 30.8 2.2
Christian McCaffrey 13 20.7 1.6
Duke Johnson Jr. 8 22.4 2.8
Alvin Kamara 5 13.2 2.6

Kareem Hunt and DeMarco Murray are two names you would expect to see at the top of this list. Names that would surprise with having an average point per touch of over one are Chris Thompson, Duke Johnson Jr., and Alvin Kamara. All three of those players are players/situations I would like to dive deeper for all of you!

The New Orleans Saints Backfield

As you saw above, Alvin Kamara had one of the highest points to touch average this week. The crazier part is that for the season he has been the most efficient running back for the Saints, but isn’t getting the work he truly deserves. Looking at all three running backs for the Saints this season:

Name Rush Rec Yards TDs Points PPT
Alvin Kamara 10 10 134 2 35.4 1.77
Mark Ingram 28 11 233 0 34.3 0.9
Adrian Peterson 23 2 81 0 10.1 0.4

As you can see, Alvin Kamara has received the fewest total touches of anyone in the backfield, but with his limited touches he is producing the most for the Saints. Sure, Mark Ingram has more total yards than Kamara, but Kamara has scored two touchdowns and none of the other running backs for the Saints have seen the end zone.

Fantasy Football owners care about the production he provides for their teams, and on a per touch average, Alvin Kamara scores more points than Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson combined. Until Sean Peyton truly sees who the best talent is on the Saints, Fantasy Football owners will not be able to trust Kamara in their line-ups because he’s averaging less than seven touches per game.

The Redskins Backfield Will Haunt You

Experts predicted that Samaje Perine would end up taking over the role of lead running back in the Redskins backfield. No one expected much from Rob Kelley, although he has been great for Fantasy Football owners this season. Unfortunately for Kelley, he injured his ribs and is likely on the shelf for a couple more weeks.

This week we got to see the beginning of the “Samaje Perine Era” for the Redskins, and it was disastrous, to say the least! Perine started the game, and did touch the ball 20 times, but could only manage to get 55 total yards and he fumbled the ball.

Fantasy Football owners did not expect that the leading running back for the Redskins has been Chris Thompson. Thompson has always been considered the third-down back for his team, and that was very evident when he took his six receptions and turned it into 150 yards and a touchdown. In addition, he had eight carries that netted him 38 yards.

Once Rob Kelley is healthy he will resume his role as the first and second down running back and Thompson will remain the third down back. Until Kelley is back and healthy, I believe the Redskins are going to give Chris Thompson more opportunities, especially since Jay Gruden does not tolerate running backs that fumble. Samaje Perine is going to see a lot less work moving forward because of that fumble.

Duke Johnson Jr. is the Running Back to Own in Cleveland?

All of the talk in the offseason was that Isaiah Crowell didn’t get enough touches in the Browns’ offense. Head Coach Hue Jackson said he needed to resolve that problem this. As it stands right now, Hue has not resolved this issue yet, and owners who took Crowell in the third round are bumming.

Honestly, what did we expect as Fantasy Football owners? The Cleveland Browns are terrible and are always trailing in games. That means that there will be more passing opportunities.

Enter Duke Johnson Jr.

In three games, Johnson has had 25 less total touches than Crowell and has had far more production in his limited touches. Below is a comparison of their production:

Duke Johnson Jr. Isaiah Crowell
Rushing Attempts 6 39
Rushing Yards 44 114
Receptions 11 4
Receiving Yards 160 43
Touchdowns 1 0
Fantasy Points 37.4 19.7
Points Per Touch 2.2 0.5

If the Browns continue to be bad, which is pretty likely, Duke Johnson Jr. is clearly the running back they will need to lean on as he is the best pass catcher in the backfield.

Running Backs to Drop

As I did last week, there are clearly running backs you can drop and not feel bad about because they will not have relevance for your Fantasy Football team.

Eddie Lacy & Thomas Rawls – Lacy didn’t even play on Sunday and Rawls played one snap and didn’t get the touch during it. Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise own the backfield in Seattle and you can get rid of any other running back on that team.

Jeremy Hill – Joe Mixon ascended to the starter on that team, and Giovani Bernard will be the running back to spell Mixon and work third downs. Hill had 8 total touches that netted him 3.9 points. Not worth having around as Mixon’s workload continues to grow.

LeGarrette Blount – Last week I told you to drop him considering all he had was one reception. In week three he touched the ball 12 times and ended up with a touchdown and 67 yards. I think this was an anomaly because of Darren Sproles’ injury and I expect that Blount will be phased out of the offense moving forward. If you picked him up, just drop him now and save yourself the drop next week.

Adrian Peterson – Please, the charade is over. Peterson isn’t good anymore and the Saints won’t give him the workload he needs to be relevant. Just drop him and leave him to rot on waivers.

Jacquizz Rodgers & Charles Sims – The Buccaneers play the New York Giants this week, who have done well against opposing running backs. After this week, Doug Martin will return and can play the function that Rodgers and Sims play currently. Neither player will have any relevance moving forward.

ALL NEW YORK GIANT RUNNING BACKS – Seriously everyone, the Giants have no run game because they have no offensive line. As we all saw this week, that offense runs through Odell Beckham Jr. It will continue to do so as long as he is healthy. Do yourself a favor and drop all of the Giants’ running backs so you are never tempted to start one!

Let’s hope that week four of the NFL season is half as exciting as week three!

Follow Me on Twitter @hardknoxffb

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