Fantasy Football Week 17 Workload Futures Watch

Matt Camp@TheMattCampFantasy Football Lead WriterDecember 28, 2017

Fantasy Football Week 17 Workload Futures Watch

0 of 8

    Jamaal Williams was one of three lead backs for the Packers.
    Jamaal Williams was one of three lead backs for the Packers.David Richard/Associated Press

    There's no need to monitor backfield workloads in Week 17. Instead, we'll look to the future.

    Ty Montgomery opened the season as the lead back in Green Bay, but multiple injuries limited and eventually ended his season. Aaron Jones picked up the slack for a short time, although that didn't last long due to injury issues of his own. Jamaal Williams was the most productive back for the Packers, yet it's hard to say who will be the top fantasy RB for Green Bay in 2018.

    In San Francisco, Carlos Hyde proved himself to the new regime by fighting off the competition in training camp and preseason. He had his busiest and healthiest season to date, although he could still be playing his last game with the team in Week 17. Hyde will be a free agent in 2018, and he's not a lock to be back with the 49ers.

    The Buccaneers knew they'd be without Doug Martin for the first three games of the season, as he had to finish serving a suspension that began in 2016. For most of the season, the team stuck with him despite underwhelming performances. The Bucs started to go away from Martin in the final weeks, which could be an indication they are ready to move on.

    This workload watch will examine average snap percentage per game and touch distribution for eight backfields with the most questions and fantasy implications heading into 2018.

Denver Broncos

1 of 8

    When given the chance, C.J. Anderson performed well.
    When given the chance, C.J. Anderson performed well.Associated Press

    Snap Average Per Game Played/Workload Distribution

    • C.J. Anderson: 55% snaps, 227 carries, 946 yards, 3 TDs, 39 targets, 28 receptions, 224 yards, 1 TD
    • Devontae Booker: 33% snaps, 76 carries, 278 yards, 1 TD, 37 targets, 29 receptions, 250 yards, 0 TD
    • Jamaal Charles: 21% snaps, 69 carries, 296 yards, 1 TD, 28 targets, 23 receptions, 129 yards, 0 TD

    If you want to see how to not get the most out of a backfield, look no further than the Denver Broncos. Either the Broncos were too naive about their ugly QB situation or they just failed to commit to their backfield. Whatever the excuse, it was a failure for the offense. 

    As we've seen in the last two weeks, Anderson has plenty left in the tank and could have been a great fantasy asset all season if not for his inconsistent role. In the last two games, he has 46 carries for 246 yards and a TD in addition to seven receptions for 45 yards on 10 targets.

    Anderson had at least 20 carries in three of the first four weeks with the Broncos winning each of those three games. In the next seven games, he had 15 carries one time. During that seven-game stretch, the Broncos didn't win a game. He's averaging 4.2 yards per carry through 15 games and didn't miss any significant time due to injury.

    The Broncos kept Charles around all season, yet his presence meant little. He was nothing more than a backup and never had any fantasy value. Once Devontae Booker returned in Week 4, it was only a matter of time before he became more important than Charles.

    Booker struggled as a runner at 3.7 yards per carry with only two games of double-digit carries, but he was a solid contributor as a receiver. Once Booker was healthy, the Broncos could have easily gone with a one-two punch of Anderson and Booker to carry their offense, especially since it worked before Anderson was injured in 2016.

    Finding a QB will be a priority for the Broncos this offseason, but the team should know it has a talented backfield to help whomever it picks to be the new signal-caller. Hopefully Denver can correct the mistakes of the 2017 season.

Green Bay Packers

2 of 8

    Ty Montgomery couldn't stay on the field.
    Ty Montgomery couldn't stay on the field.Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Snap Average Per Game Played/Workload Distribution

    • Jamaal Williams: 45% snaps, 131 carries, 474 yards, 4 TDs, 29 targets, 22 receptions, 231 yards, 2 TDs
    • Aaron Jones: 38% snaps, 81 carries, 448 yards, 4 TDs, 18 targets, 9 receptions, 22 yards, 0 TD
    • Ty Montgomery: 52% snaps, 71 carries, 273 yards, 3 TDs, 31 targets, 23 receptions, 173 yards, 1 TD

    The Packers entered the season with Montgomery leading a backfield that included two rookies in Williams and Jones. Even though the plan was for Montgomery to lead the way all season, the depth of this backfield was tested and the results were mostly positive. However, the Packers couldn't overcome the loss of Aaron Rodgers, so the positive production was more valuable to fantasy owners. 

    After converting Montgomery from WR to RB during the 2016 season, he had his first full offseason to prepare for his role as the starter heading into 2017. The Packers showed full commitment to Montgomery with snap percentages of 90, 86 and 93 to open the season.

    Unfortunately, he suffered a rib injury in Week 4 and never returned to the same busy role, before a wrist injury landed him on injured reserve after playing in just eight games. Montgomery wasn't cut out to carry a heavy workload, but he might be able to contribute as a reliable pass-catching back in the future. 

    When Montgomery went down the first time in Week 4, Williams was given the first chance to replace him, but he suffered a knee injury in the same game. That opened the door for Jones, who carried 13 times for 49 yards and a TD in that game and followed that up with 100-yard efforts in two of the next three contests.

    At the time, he had supplanted Montgomery as the lead back, but it didn't last long thanks to a knee injury that took him down in Week 10. Jones would miss two games and has just 11 carries for 78 yards and a TD with one reception since returning to a backup role.

    Williams never missed a game due to his knee injury, but he took a backseat to Jones until he was sidelined. When Williams was called on to lead the way, he wound up being the best of the group in both fantasy and reality.

    In the last seven games, Williams has 120 carries for 441 yards and three TDs. He's been surprisingly productive as a receiver during that span with 18 receptions for 193 yards and two TDs, which was the big boost to his fantasy value.

    While injuries plagued this backfield and the Packers as a whole, there's enough talent here to provide reliable production both on the ground and through the air. However, it might take some time for the Packers to figure out the best role for each player, which could be annoying for fantasy owners.

Indianapolis Colts

3 of 8

    Marlon Mack may not be a lead back.
    Marlon Mack may not be a lead back.Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

    Snap Average Per Game Played/Workload Distribution

    • Frank Gore: 53% snaps, 237 carries, 861 yards, 3 TDs, 35 targets, 26 receptions, 234 yards, 1 TD
    • Marlon Mack: 34% snaps, 86 caries, 330 yards, 2 TDs, 30 targets, 19 receptions, 215 yards, 1 TD
    • Robert Turbin: 33% snaps, 23 carries, 53 yards, 1 TD, 11 targets, 9 receptions, 56 yards, 0 TD

    With Andrew Luck never making it back from shoulder surgery, the Indianapolis Colts didn't have much of a chance this season. The inability to establish a reliable passing attack put more pressure on the backfield with disappointing results.

    Through 15 games, the Colts rank 22nd in rushing yards (1,515) despite ranking 12th in rushing attempts (27.7 per game). That's because they average just 3.7 yards per rushing play (tied for 26th). Jacoby Brissett doesn't scare defenses like Luck does, so putting more focus on stopping the run makes sense. That made life difficult for Gore and the backfield. 

    Amazingly, Gore will play all 16 games for the seventh consecutive season of his career. In the previous six seasons, he's had at least 255 carries, so with 237 carries entering Week 17, he'll have a chance to hit that mark once again.

    During that six-season span, Gore rushed for at least 1,000 yards five times. He will struggle to get there again barring what would have to be his best rushing performance of the season against the Houston Texans. Gore will be a free agent after this season, but according to Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star, Gore said returning to the Colts in 2018 is a possibility if Luck is healthy.

    While Gore was durable enough to last the season, you'd think they take a longer look at Mack since Gore isn't a lock to return. The Colts didn't do that, as Mack had just two games with double-digit carries and only two games with more than two receptions.

    Mack flashed on some big plays but never jumped off the page as a potential lead back of the future. With or without Gore in 2018, Mack likely won't have a lot of fantasy value.

New York Giants

4 of 8

    Wayne Gallman didn't do enough to establish a role for 2018.
    Wayne Gallman didn't do enough to establish a role for 2018.Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Snap Average Per Game Played/Workload Distribution

    • Orleans Darkwa: 31% snaps, 151 carries, 597 yards, 4 TDs, 27 targets, 19 receptions, 116 yards, 0 TD
    • Wayne Gallman: 36% snaps, 96 carries, 387 yards, 0 TD, 46 targets, 34 receptions, 193 yards, 1 TD
    • Paul Perkins: 25% snaps, 38 carries, 83 yards, 0 TD, 9 targets, 7 receptions, 35 yards, 0 TD
    • Shane Vereen: 31% snaps, 42 carries, 150 yards, 0 TD, 51 targets, 44 receptions, 253 yards, 0 TD

    A forgettable season for the New York Giants is nearly over, but have we learned anything about the future of their backfield? Paul Perkins was in line to take over in his second season after working in a tandem with Rashad Jennings in the second half of 2016. To say that didn't go to plan would be an understatement. 

    He was dreadful over the first four games of the season with just 32 carries for 61 yards and seven receptions for 35 yards on nine targets before going down with a rib injury. That kept him out for the next three games.

    Upon his return, Perkins didn't have a touch in the next four games. He had three carries for 12 yards in Week 13, yet he wound up as a healthy scratch in Week 15 before coming back with three carries for 10 yards in Week 16. Perkins was a bust for fantasy.

    Because of that, the Giants needed someone else to take over the backfield. From a carry standpoint, that became Darkwa. He was the only Giants RB to record a 100-yard rushing effort this season and the only guy to rush for at least 70 yards in a game, which he did four times. He wasn't as busy as a receiver. Darkwa had just one game with more than two receptions and didn't have any games with at least 20 receiving yards. 

    The Giants seemed to favor Darkwa over the rookie Gallman, at least early in the season. Gallman had double-digit carries in his first two games after being inactive for the first three weeks of the season. However, he didn't record another game with double-digit carries until Week 14; he's hit that mark twice in the last three weeks.

    Gallman hasn't rushed for more than 59 yards in any game and doesn't have a rushing TD. He's been more active as a receiver, especially in the last three games. He posted 19 receptions for 124 yards on 24 targets during that span. 

    Based on the 2017 season, it's hard to see any of the Giants RBs in line for major roles in 2018. This is a position of need heading into the offseason and one that should be addressed in the draft. Gallman is the only one of the group with a glimmer of hope for fantasy.

New York Jets

5 of 8

    The Jets refused to commit to Bilal Powell.
    The Jets refused to commit to Bilal Powell.David Richard/Associated Press

    Snap Average Per Game Played/Workload Distribution

    • Bilal Powell: 41% snaps, 165 carries, 726 yards, 5 TDs, 31 targets, 22 receptions, 160 yards, 0 TD
    • Matt Forte: 46% snaps, 103 carries, 381 yards, 2 TDs, 45 targets, 37 receptions, 293 yards, 1 TD
    • Elijah McGuire: 26% snaps, 84 carries, 321 yards, 1 TD, 20 targets, 14 receptions, 161 yards, 1 TD

    The New York Jets didn't get a lot of love from fantasy owners during 2017 fantasy draft season. Of course, it was hard to be excited about a team lacking established fantasy producers at almost every position. The exceptions to that were Powell and, to a lesser extent, Forte. Because the team didn't have much to be excited about in the receiving corps, Powell looked primed for a busy season as a runner and a receiver.

    Surprisingly, the Jets seemed reluctant to make Powell their true lead back. Two of his busiest games came when Forte was injured early in the season. In Week 3, Powell carried 15 times for 37 yards when Forte went down with a toe injury. Forte sat out the next week, which allowed Powell to carry 21 times for 163 yards and a TD.

    He didn't have another game with at least 15 carries until Week 13 and didn't have another 100-yard rushing effort until last week, when he posted 19 carries for 145 yards and a TD. It was a bigger surprise to see Powell's lack of production as a receiver. He has just four games with at least three receptions and only one game with at least 40 receiving yards. 

    Forte battled through his toe injury early in the season and a knee injury for much of the year. He's missed three games as a result and lots of practice time all year. Still, he was the busiest receiver in the Jets backfield.

    He caught at least three passes seven times and had at least 30 receiving yards five times. He stayed in the mix as a runner but led the team in carries just three games. He had just one game with at least 60 rushing yards. Forte was more of an annoyance to fantasy owners, especially those who had Powell. 

    McGuire's rookie season wasn't terrible, and he was able to keep himself involved for most of the year. That didn't mean much for fantasy, but it showed he could be a potential contributor in the future. Both Forte and Powell are under contract for another season, although the Jets could revisit those situations in the offseason.

    Powell has plenty left to contribute, but Forte's days are likely winding down.

San Francisco 49ers

6 of 8

    Does Carlos Hyde have a future in San Francisco?
    Does Carlos Hyde have a future in San Francisco?Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Snap Average Per Game Played/Workload Distribution

    • Carlos Hyde: 71% snaps, 225 carries, 850 yards, 6 TDs, 84 targets, 57 receptions, 340 yards, 0 TD
    • Matt Breida: 28% snaps, 93 carries, 393 yards, 2 TDs, 34 targets, 20 receptions, 148 yards, 1 TD
    • Kyle Juszczyk: 40% snaps, 7 carries, 31 yards, 0 TD, 38 targets, 29 receptions, 296 yards, 1 TD

    The 49ers have not been anywhere close to a playoff contender throughout Hyde's four-year tenure, and he's had to battle through multiple injuries over those seasons. While he probably hasn't lived up to the high expectations set coming out of Ohio State in 2014, he's done a good job overcoming a lot of obstacles. 

    Hyde had more obstacles to deal with in 2017. He had to prove himself to a new regime and coaching staff in the final year of his rookie deal. He faced competition from Joseph Williams and Matt Breida but was able to hold both off when Williams landed on injured reserve and Breida came into the season as Hyde's backup.

    While Hyde will need a huge performance in Week 17 to match the 988 rushing yards he had in 2016, he blew away his previous receiving records of 27 receptions and 163 receiving yards set last year. After missing 14 games in his first three seasons, Hyde will play all 16 games for the first time in his career. 

    Breida did a fine job as the No. 2 back behind Hyde. He never did enough to be anything more than a fantasy handcuff, yet he likely would have been a top-20 RB if Hyde missed any time.

    For the most part, Breida never threatened Hyde for the top spot on the depth chart, but he did have double-digit carries four times, including three times in the last four games. It's fair to wonder if the 49ers believe he can be the lead back of the future, especially with Hyde scheduled to be a free agent.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7 of 8

    Doug Martin never got going after his suspension.
    Doug Martin never got going after his suspension.Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Snap Average Per Game Played/Workload Distribution

    • Peyton Barber: 26% snaps, 91 carries, 352 yards, 2 TDs, 15 targets, 14 receptions, 96 yards, 0 TD
    • Doug Martin: 42% snaps, 135 carries, 409 yards, 3 TDs, 18 targets, 9 receptions, 84 yards, 0 TD
    • Charles Sims: 35% snaps, 20 carries, 89 yards, 0 TD, 46 targets, 35 receptions, 249 yards, 1 TD
    • Jacquizz Rodgers: 19% snaps, 64 carries, 244 yards, 1 TD, 9 targets, 7 receptions, 54 yards, 0 TD

    The Buccaneers knew they'd be without Doug Martin for the first three games of the season due to a four-game suspension that started at the end of 2016. Fantasy owners may have drafted Martin to stash away for a few weeks until his return. Unfortunately, a hurricane canceled the Buccaneers' first game of the season and Martin's return was delayed until Week 5.

    It was only the start of things going off course for the Buccaneers. 

    In Martin's first game back, he rushed for a TD and 74 yards on 13 carries and caught one of three targets for eight yards. That would mark the high point of Martin's season. He had just one other game with at least 70 yards despite seven games with double-digit carries.

    Martin missed Week 13 with a concussion but was able return a week later. However, he was deactivated for Week 15 for violating team rules and had just six carries for seven yards on 25 percent of the snaps in Week 16.

    Barber has been the only other Buccaneers RB to have fantasy value, and that only came in the final month of the season. Barber scored twice when Martin had to leave Week 12 with a concussion. When Martin missed Week 13, Barber led the team with 23 carries for 102 yards and four receptions for 41 yards on four targets.

    In the final four weeks of the season, Barber posted 10 receptions for 65 yards on 10 targets and 61 carries for 264 yards. When called upon, he has responded well when the Buccaneers haven't been able to rely on Martin. Barber was the lone bright spot for a disappointing backfield.

    It's tough to forecast this backfield for 2018 since the team could make a coaching change.

Washington Redskins

8 of 8

    Before his injury, Chris Thompson was easily the top back in Washington.
    Before his injury, Chris Thompson was easily the top back in Washington.Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Snap Average Per Game Played/Workload Distribution

    • Chris Thompson: 52% snaps, 64 carries, 294 yards, 2 TDs, 54 targets, 39 receptions, 510 yards, 4 TDs
    • Samaje Perine: 46% snaps, 173 carries, 600 yards, 1 TD, 24 targets, 22 receptions, 182 yards, 1 TD
    • Rob Kelley: 31% snaps, 62 carries, 194 yards, 3 TDs, 7 targets, 4 receptions, 18 yards, 0 TD

    When Matt Jones (remember him?) faltered in 2016, Kelley took over the starting job in Washington with moderate success. He did enough to establish himself as the front-runner to lead the backfield once again in 2017, although Perine's presence loomed large.

    Neither Kelley nor Perine ended up being the best Redskins RB in 2017. That distinction fell to Thompson. 

    Thompson got off to a white-hot start with four TDs in the first three games. He posted at least 105 receiving yards twice in the first six games. He was the team's most dangerous back because of his big-play potential.

    That is why he was such a hot commodity for fantasy until he broke his fibula in Week 11. At the time, he led the team in rushing yards (294), receiving yards (510), receptions (39), receiving TDs (four) and overall TDs (six). The offense took a major hit when his season ended prematurely.

    Kelley opened the season as the lead ball-carrier, but multiple injuries plagued him throughout the year. That opened the door for Perine to play sooner than expected, although that didn't turn into immediate fantasy production.

    It wasn't until Kelley landed on injured reserve with a sprained MCL and high-ankle sprain suffered in Week 10 that Perine started to produce. He had 217 yards and a TD on 47 carries in the next two weeks. However, he hasn't had more than 53 rushing yards in any of the last four games despite averaging 15 carries per game in that span. 

    There's enough talent in this backfield to be productive in both fantasy and reality next season. Thompson would be the top option for fantasy, but either Kelley or Perine would have to emerge as the lead ball-carrier to be a reliable fantasy option. That's assuming the team doesn't make any major additions.