Every week Committee Meetings breaks down some top storylines from the league's most head-scratching backfield committees in hopes of gaining some clarity for fantasy owners. If you're wondering about a backfield that's not discussed below, feel free to Tweet @MattFranchise for some additional advice.
Week 10 saw only two 100-yard rushers (LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson). To put that into perspective, we saw 12 running backs rush for 100 or more yards in Week 7. So it was a weird week for fantasy production from the running back spot. Committee members like Matt Jones and Andre Ellington (more on them in a bit) found their way into the top 10 fantasy runners for the week amongst the usual names like Todd Gurley and Adrian Peterson.
Let's dig a little deeper and find out what we learned about the fantasy running back landscape in Week 10.
Lamar Miller remains on top
Lamar Miller | Jay Ajayi // Dolphins
Despite whispers earlier in the week that rookie Jay Ajayi was going to siphon significant playing time away from 2015 fantasy stud Lamar Miller, the Dolphins rolled out their best running back on 82 percent of the team's offensive snaps. Miller's 22 touches against the Eagles is his highest mark of the season to this point, and while Ajayi may have out-produced him on the ground, Miller made up for it with 50 yards through the air and a receiving touchdown. Miller was also second on Miami with eight receiving targets and hauled in 75 percent of the passes that came his way.
There's really no reason for Miller owners to be alarmed of Ajay's 28 percent share of the offensive snaps. It's clear that the team is dedicated to feeding Miller the ball and he'll continue to be an RB1 in fantasy until further notice. His 840 yards from scrimmage and seven total touchdowns are enough to rank him as fantasy's fourth highest scoring running back of the season. The Dolphins are at home in Week 11 and face the Cowboys who have had trouble stopping running backs, so lock Miller into your lineup and keep Ajayi stashed as a handcuff.
Washington trio explodes
Matt Jones | Alfred Morris | Chris Thompson // Washington
Following several weeks of dreadful backfield production, Washington's running backs enjoyed a solid day against the New Orleans Saints horrible defense. Matt Jones, Alfred Morris and Chris Thompson combined for 370 total yards on the day. Both Jones and Morris eclipsed the 100-yard mark, and Jones scored on a dazzling 78-yard play-action screen pass. According to NexGenStats, Jones reached a top speed of 19.82 miles per hour on his touchdown catch-and-run, one of the fastest scoring plays of the week.
It's also worth noting that Morris was the clear starter in this game as he was on the field for Washington's entire first drive. Jones came in on the second drive and picked up big chunks of yardage, but was spelled by Morris after his big plays. The duo ended up splittling snaps right down the middle over the course of the game, but Morris was much more effective on the ground, while Jones collected 70 percent of his yards in the passing game, with 41 percent of his total yardage coming on the big scoring play.
Of course, we know that this kind of fantasy production cannot be relied upon on a weekly basis. This is an outlier game and was a result of horrible defensive play. It will be a much different story when Washington heads to Carolina in Week 11. So while we might suggest scooping Jones up off the waiver wire, you might want to stash him on your bench for at least a game before deploying him against the Giants in Week 12.
Eagles RBs fly again
Over the last five games, Murray has averaged 24.6 touches per game and 119.2 total yards per game with three total touchdowns. That's RB1 production that his fantasy owners should be taking advantage of. Murray ran well against the Dolphins, frequently finding big holes to power through and even managed to get to the outside and turn the corner on a few occasions. He did have two runs inside the 10-yard line early in the first quarter but he couldn't punch it into the end zone.
Mathews only came away with 10 total touches, but he too had three runs inside the 10-yard line in the first quarter and converted on his third try for a score which salvaged his fantasy day as he wasn't able to gain many yards following his touchdown. Mathews left the game with a concussion so his fantasy owners will have to wait out his Week 11 status. His production over the last five games has warranted a fantasy start despite his lesser share of opportunities than Murray. Mathews has averaged about 11 fantasy points per game in that span on just 51 total touches. Murray's average over the same span has been around 15 fantasy points per game on a total of 123 total touches.
When healthy, both running backs are worth starting every week, but we'll have to keep an eye on Mathews' health before we can safely roll him out against the Buccaneers in Week 11.
Don't overreact to Ellington's big game
Chris Johnson | Andre Ellington | David Johnson // Cardinals
For the first time in a while, Andre Ellington actually out-produced Chris Johnson. But nearly 55 percent of Ellington's total yardage came on a single 48-yard touchdown run late in the game. Johnson predictably had trouble running the ball against the Seahawks as his 25 rush attempts netted him just 58 yards in the game. Ellington gained 61 rush yards on his five carries and another 27 through the air.
Still, the snap count tells the story of what we should trust here. Johnson's usage in a high-scoring offense keeps him in the RB1 conversation on a weekly basis, while Ellington is viewed as more of a "specialty back." That may result in a few blow up games here and there, but it's not enough to rely on for fantasy purposes. For the season, Johnson owns a 50 percent share of snaps while Ellington and David Johnson have split 23 percent each. Over the Cardinals' last five games, Johnson has averaged 19.8 touches per game and 87.4 total yards per game. Ellington has averaged 5.6 touches per game and 50.8 yards per game in that same span. So don't overreact to one big play from Ellington, he's not an every week starter in fantasy football.
Blount dominates touches for Patriots
LeGarrette Blount | James White | Brandon Bolden // Patriots
Welp, all of the fantasy mangers who rushed out to pick up James White in hopes that he would produce in the absence of Dion Lewis came away disappointed after Week 10. White had just two touches the entire game for a total of 11 yards. If there's one positive takeaway here, it's that White did assume some Lewis' playing time. He just didn't assume Lewis' usage.
LeGarrette Blount, however, was the volume back again as the Patriots handed off to him often right from the start. His 19 carries were right on par with his average of 16 rush attempts per game since Week 3, and that trend should continue going forward. As we've seen in the past with the Patriots, as the weather gets colder they like to feed their power back more and more, so Blount's opportunity volume should remain high as the season draws on. There is a chance that White and even Brandon Bolden get more involved in the weeks to come, but it won't be enough to take away from Blount's usage whatsoever. Blount can be started confidently again as an RB2 in Week 11 against the Bills on Monday night.