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Opportunity Report: Week 10 running back touches

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Opportunity is the name of the game in fantasy football. Talent matters, of course, but we want players who see a healthy volume of targets and touches to anchor our lineups, especially in daily fantasy. Every week in the revamped Opportunity Report, we'll look all the backfield touches for every NFL team. See Part two (link above) for passing game targets.

Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals backfield touches Week 10
Cardinals backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

The Cardinals view Chris Johnson as a workhorse back. Sunday night's tilt was his fourth game with 20-plus touches and third in a row with more than 18 carries. Even in tough matchups like this, where Johnson averages under four yards per carry, it's clear that Bruce Arians and the Arizona coaching staff see a ton of value in using Johnson to keep the offense on schedule. With this workload, it's hard to see him as anything less than a high-floor RB2.

It appears Andre Ellington is clearly ahead of David Johnson for taking the scrap snaps behind Chris Johnson. His big-play ability makes him a "what the heck" flex play every week, but the variance is wide.

Baltimore Ravens

Ravens backfield touches Week 10
Ravens backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Justin Forsett doesn't quite have the routine ceiling of an RB1 in either standard or PPR formats, as this offense revolves around the passing game. It's a curious development considering their lack of weapons, but that's just how the staff feels about Forsett. He's still a high-floor option in PPR leagues, because he's locking in about four catches a game.

Buffalo Bills

Bills backfield touches Week 10
Bills backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

It's abundantly clear that when LeSean McCoy is healthy, the Bills will ride him like a feature back. He responded well on Thursday with what was perhaps his best game of the season. When he's just asked to get downhill and make plays when isolated against defenders, he's more engaged in the game. Fantasy owners should take the same approach as Buffalo. This season has already shown us that the other shoe is ready to drop with McCoy's health at any point, so take advantage while you can.

Karlos Williams is a risky play with McCoy healthy, despite another end zone visit. If he ever hits a touchdown drought, his limited touches won't be enough to give you any sort of floor. However, if you're chasing upside, we know what he can provide.

Carolina Panthers

Panthers backfield touches Week 10
Panthers backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Same story as ever with the Panthers backfield: it's the Jonathan Stewart show. No one on the roster is a threat to his touches, and he'll routinely finish with more than 20. He scored his touchdown from over 10 yards out, which he needs to do in order to reach the high-end RB2 value his owners want from him. He sees 60 percent of the team's rush attempts from his own 1-yard line to the opposition's 21-yard line. However, once in the red zone, that number drops to 48 percent.

Chicago Bears

Bears backfield touches Week 10
Bears backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Jeremy Langford is the workhorse for the Bears while Matt Forte is out, with Ka'Deem Carey admirably filling in as a change-of-pace runner. To his credit, Carey actually looks a bit more comfortable reading blocks between the tackles right now. However, this is all about Langford. He holds a similar volume of touches, and is a clear game changer in the passing game like his predecessor. Langford caught seven passes, and accumulated 59.9 percent of his Week 10 yardage through the air. The Bears also trust Langford near the goal line, and he has eight red zone carries over the last two weeks. It's hard to argue that Langford is a RB1 as long as he holds the starting job in a surprisingly frisky Bears offense. With Matt Forte set to hit free agency this offseason, Langford's emergence has all but sealed up Forte's exit. He'll be a popular sleeper pick next fantasy season.

Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals backfield touches Week 10
Bengals backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Every week the Bengals try to get Jeremy Hill going early in the game, but he's just not responding well. He runs timid and doesn't seem to carry the same raw power through the line as he did last season. Hill averaged two yards per touch last night against the Texans. If you think that the problem is with his usage, or any other extraneous factor, you must not be watching the games. Hill's disappointing season lies at the feet of the player. As such, Giovani Bernard continues commanding more touches. Bernard, despite a smaller frame, runs with more power and aggression right now, and his versatility is a clear boost for this offense.

Of course, the presence of the other makes neither one of these backs nothing more than a flex play, although Bernard has a slight bump in PPR leagues. Many think that the Bengals are saving Hill for the stretch run, because apparently current narratives hold that only big running backs can succeed in the postseason. However, their use of him early in games is a clear sign that is not the case. Don't cash out on Hill's future, but he's unplayable until we see him run like the player who grabbed our attention last season.

Cleveland Browns

Browns backfield touches Week 10
Browns backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Just keep it moving here, folks, there's nothing to see. Duke Johnson doesn't get enough touches to be anything more than a flier in PPR leagues. Isaiah Crowell had a touchdown called back in this game, but the Browns offense is never on schedule long enough for him to get rolling.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys backfield touches Week 10
Cowboys backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Darren McFadden continues shouldering a monstrous workload, as this was his fourth straight game with over 20 touches. However, this was by far his worst fantasy outing in that stretch. Tampa Bay has an underrated run defense, and were ranked seventh in Football Outsiders' stuff rate coming into this matchup. Not expecting this sort of hiccup to come for McFadden who, even at his best, is a variance runner, was foolhardy. Dallas gets Miami next week, and Tony Romo should be back under center. The veteran rusher could be in line for a big rebound in Week 11.

Denver Broncos

Broncos passing targets Week 10
Broncos passing targets Week 10 (NFL.com)

Denver apparently came away from a one-yard outing against Indianapolis in Week 9 believing Ronnie Hillman should be their unquestioned starter. OK. C.J. Anderson still looks like the better back, and Hillman's running style hardly lends itself to reliability or earning consistent yardage. He's a solid running back, but more of a splash player.

In all honesty, this could just as easily change face next week. Neither player has earned the right to own this backfield. Either way, with this offense in transition and perhaps looking at the end of the Peyton Manning era, we can't trust either running back going forward.

Detroit Lions

Lions backfield touches Week 10
Lions backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Joique Bell averaged over 2.0 yards per touch on 16 chances in Week 10. The fact that that's noteworthy should tell you all you need to know. The Lions keeping pace in this game took the potential Theo Riddick garbage time reception bonanza off the table. All of these Detroit running backs are fringe roster players in fantasy, at best.

Green Bay Packers

Packers backfield touches Week 10
Packers backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Every game, all season

With Eddie Lacy out with a groin injury, James Starks handled all of the work out of the backfield for Green Bay. If you started him in PPR leagues, you'll take 15 points and be fine with it. Unfortunately, this offense just isn't up to the caliber we expect from the Packers, and that takes the shine off Starks as a potential season-changing waiver wire pickup. He's played well enough to return some RB2 weeks, but Lacy will still play a part in this backfield. This game against Detroit projected as the perfect game script and matchup for Starks to blow up, but it just wasn't there. Starks is still worth a start, but as with all of our Packers fantasy players, expectations need to be kept in check.

Houston Texans

Texans backfield touches Week 10
Texans backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Alfred Blue is still ineffective, which should surprise no one. Chris Polk only saw five carries, and his role in the passing game just hasn't developed as expected. Honestly, Jonathan Grimes looks like their best back, and may be a superior receiver to Polk. He could earn more burn as the season goes along, and the Texans should explore adding to his workload. Until then, you're not counting on anything from this backfield in fantasy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars backfield touches Week 10
Jaguars backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

We know the story in Jacksonville. T.J. Yeldon dominates the touches, and no one else even plays a factor. Despite meager numbers in this game, Yeldon still looks really good. He's been everything Jacksonville wanted as a tone-setter and a reliable back to churn out yards. For fantasy, however, he has a nice floor, but needs the right game script to provide high-end value. Perhaps some more of those games are on their way with Jacksonville looking to make a run in the AFC South. Either way, Yeldon's floor and ceiling are pretty close to one another.

Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs backfield touches Week 10
Chiefs backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

If you want to crown a season-changing running back off the waiver wire this season, look no further than Charcandrick West. Outside of his 1.9 point hiccup in his first game out of the gate as the starter, West has been an absolute workhorse. In fact, West averaged 25 touches per game over the last three weeks, whereas Jamaal Charles averaged 19.75 in the four games he finished this season. The Chiefs dropped West right into the Charles role of this offense, and then some. The last three games all presented the perfect game scripts for West to see that kind of volume, but with the way their defense is playing these days, it's hard to see them getting bumped off that anytime soon. After a great game in a tough matchup, West showed he's an every week RB1 going forward.

On the backup front, Knile Davis is completely off the radar. He was a healthy scratch for this game. Spencer Ware looks like the No. 2 back on this depth chart for the time being. Deep leaguers, especially any West owners, might want to consider throwing a dart at Ware. The former was a similar unknown before finding his way into this voluminous role.

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins backfield touches Week 10
Dolphins backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

After the game, Dan Campbell referred to Lamar Miller as a workhorse, and that's just what he's been under Campbell's watch as the interim head coach. Despite his slow start, Miller is the RB4 in standard leagues, thanks in large part to a 20.84 average score in the Campbell era.

For those worrying about Jay Ajayi digging into Miller's workload to a fatal degree, you can probably relax. Ajayi looks fantastic, bringing an element of aggression and reckless abandon to the backfield that Miller doesn't always possess. However, he's only sprinkled into the offense and still has a few areas to grow as a runner. Of course, if you have Miller on your fantasy team, you 100 percent must own Ajayi for handcuff purposes. In a similar vein, Ajayi looks good enough to give the Dolphins something to think about when it comes time to decide whether to re-sign Lamar Miller to a new deal this offseason, or let him walk in free agency.

Minnesota Vikings

Vikings backfield touches Week 10
Vikings backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Adrian Peterson had one of his best games of the season in Week 10. After thriving off volume, Peterson looked like the special back we grew to know over the course of his career. Perhaps, as we rightly fall all over ourselves in awe of Todd Gurley, Peterson wanted to remind us that there is still another once-in-a-generation running back playing.

New England Patriots

Patriots backfield touches Week 10
Patriots backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

The answer to who would replace Dion Lewis was ... none of the above. Brandon Bolden and James White totaled three touches in a game that quickly turned into a shootout. This is just a reminder that there was no "Dion Lewis role," there was just Dion Lewis doing special things and transcending the past output of New England pass-catching backs. When Lewis' time sadly came to an end, so did that part of the offense. You can feel free to own White, but he's merely a desperation play in the flex.

New Orleans Saints

Saints backfield touches Week 10
Saints backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

After a career-long 70-yard run, Mark Ingram may have suffered an injury in this game, and did get checked out by trainers. With the Saints getting blown out in the second half, perhaps they just felt no need to send him back into the game. However, one thing we did learn is that Tim Hightower is the primary backup to Ingram, not C.J. Spiller. If Ingram were ever out for a stretch of time, it looks like Hightower would get all the significant action.

New York Giants

Giants backfield touches Week 10
Giants backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

The saddest fantasy backfield in the NFL remains the same for another week, as expected.

New York Jets

Jets backfield touches Week 10
Jets backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Zac Stacy suffered a season-ending ankle injury on a special teams play on Thursday night, bringing Stevan Ridely into focus as the primary backup to Chris Ivory. We know Ivory has a tendency, to put it lightly, to get nicked up. If he ever went down for an extended stretch, this offense would take a major hit. However, Ridley is a talented natural runner, and if he's near 100 percent recovered from his ACL tear, he could provide a solid return in a feature role. He probably deserves to be on the backend of fantasy rosters.

Oakland Raiders

Raiders backfield touches Week 10
Raiders backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

The one piece of clarity we received in this game is that Jamize Olawale is the clear handcuff to Latavius Murray. Taiwan Jones is just a splash player mixed in for a big play here and there, and Roy Helu might not even exist anymore.

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles backfield touches Week 10
Eagles backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

DeMarco Murray continues to thrive as a low-end RB1 based on his immense volume. This was the fourth time in the last five games he's gone over 15 PPR points. In the same vein, Ryan Mathews does about the same thing every week -- hyper efficiency on limited touches. However, Mathews did sustain an injury late in the game, so monitor his status.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers backfield touches Week 10
Steelers backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

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In one of the more confusing developments of the week, DeAngelo Williams coming off a 227-yard, two-score day couldn't crack four yards per touch against the woeful Browns run defense. However, don't panic too much. This quickly turned into a pass-first game plan when Sunday's backup Ben Roethlisberger, in his latest hero ball plot, trotted out to the field to replace Landry Jones. Williams still saw a 90 percent share of the touches, and has a bye in Week 11 to rest up for the stretch run.

Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks backfield touches Week 10
Seahawks backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Marshawn Lynch wasn't healthy coming into the game, and the Seahawks fell behind quickly. There wasn't much time or ability to even attempt to establish the run game. However, this still has plenty to do with the current construction of the Seahawks offense. The blocking, Jimmy Graham, and frankly the quarterback, look far too out of sorts to establish anything in the way of consistent production. Nothing is going right in Seattle's offense at the moment, and a less than 100 percent Marshawn Lynch is unlikely to change that.

St. Louis Rams

Rams backfield touches Week 10
Rams backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

Much like last week, feeling let down by a 15-touch, 89-yard, one-touchdown day just reminds us how high the fantasy community views Todd Gurley now. A road tilt with the still strong upfront Ravens should provide an interesting test for Gurley in Week 11.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers passing targets Week 10
Buccaneers passing targets Week 10 (NFL.com)

A touchdown would have been nice, but this was a solid rebound outing for Doug Martin. He averaged 4.68 yards per touch, and got into space more often. The blocking and recent game scripts were more the culprit to a slow last few weeks for Martin. He does get a tough matchup in Week 11 with the Eagles visiting, but a starting running back in an improving offense, who regularly sees over 20 touches a game, is hard to bench.

Tennessee Titans

Titans backfield touches Week 10
Titans backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

After three games in a row with the lion's share of the touches, and being named the feature back, Andrews saw just 11 touches and didn't even crack 10 yards. This was a tough matchup, but was a horribly uninspiring performance from Andrews. Dexter McCluster remains a deep flier in PPR leagues, especially in games where Tennessee plays a superior team. You have to wonder if Andrews' let down opens the door for David Cobb, but Mike Mularkey's preference for the veteran, and the rookie's status as a Week 10 healthy scratch, make that unlikely.

Washington

Washington backfield touches Week 10
Washington backfield touches Week 10 (NFL.com)

This was quite the day for Washington's backfield, and just about everyone got to eat. The blowout win provided plenty of opportunity for Alfred Morris to grind away the victory, and Matt Jones made an eye-popping play on a 70-plus yard screen play touchdown. However, as Tennessee showed us, when a team faces the Saints defense, their performances should be viewed as a clear outlier. Just like the Titans, Washington will follow up their duel against the Saints with a matchup against Carolina. All of these running backs will belong on your bench in Week 11.


Matt Harmon is an associate fantasy writer/editor for NFL.com, and the creator of #ReceptionPerception, who you can follow on Twitter @MattHarmon_BYB.

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