Fantasy Football Week 2 Workload Watch

Matt Camp@TheMattCampFantasy Football Lead WriterSeptember 14, 2017

Fantasy Football Week 2 Workload Watch

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    Is Adrian Peterson already regretting signing with the Saints?
    Is Adrian Peterson already regretting signing with the Saints?Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    It's too early to look for patterns in backfields.

    After four or five weeks, you can look back at snaps and touches to see what roles are taking shape and who is leading the way, if anyone, for each team. No one should be rushing to judgment when it comes to a poor performance, like what we got out of Isaiah Crowell and the Browns, or even a less than spectacular performance, like what happened with the Atlanta Falcons. 

    A big development out of Week 1 that could be telling is the lack of use Adrian Peterson got in his Saints debut. Peterson clearly wasn't happy, but was it that surprising considering the Saints were playing from behind all game? The Saints could be brutal to deal with as it relates to their RBs.

    Some backfield situations like the Seahawks, Patriots and Bears were addressed earlier this week in the BS Meter, but nine more sets of RBs are discussed in this week's look of the workloads around the league.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Joe Mixon outsnapped Jeremy Hill in Week 1.
    Joe Mixon outsnapped Jeremy Hill in Week 1.Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
    Week 1Snap % Att/Yd/TD Tgt/Rec/Yd/TDs
    Bernard487/40/02/1/39/0
    Mixon368/9/03/3/15/0
    J. Hill166/26/01/1/-2/0

    If you were hoping to get clarity from the Bengals backfield, Week 1 didn't provide it. Because they played the majority of the game from behind, the Bengals used Giovani Bernard more than Joe Mixon and Jeremy Hill. Bernard is the best receiver in the backfield, so his role as a hurry-up back makes sense, although his usage was totally connected to game flow.

    For those looking for Mixon to move to the top of this depth chart, it may not happen right away, but Week 1 was a small step in the right direction. Mixon has a bigger and better skill set than Hill, which likely earned him more playing time in the loss to the Ravens. Obviously, his production wasn't impressive, yet head coach Marvin Lewis still praised the rookie.

    According to Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk, when asked about Mixon, Lewis said, "He's way better than I expected. He's very, very talented. As a football player, he's excellent."

    For fantasy purposes, it's hard to trust any of these RBs, especially on a short week against the Texans on Thursday night. Mixon is the most talented of the group, so he could be a good buy-low candidate if his slow start continues.

Carolina Panthers

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    The Panthers used a healthy dose of Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey.
    The Panthers used a healthy dose of Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey.Tony Avelar/Associated Press
    Week 1Snap %Att/Yd/TD Tgt/Rec/Yd/TDs
    McCaffrey 7013/47/07/5/38/0 
    Stewart 43 18/65/0 2/2/17/1 
    Whittaker 1/1/0 

    On a day when Cam Newton attempted just 25 passes, the Panthers put a clear focus on their backfield, which led to busy days for both Christian McCaffrey and Jonathan Stewart. As you can see by the snap count, McCaffrey held a big advantage, although both players were on the field at the same time quite often. 

    For those who questioned just how big of a role McCaffrey would play with Stewart still in the mix, his workload in Week 1 should be more than enough evidence to prove he'll be a key contributor. However, head coach Ron Rivera tried to curb some of the enthusiasm as it related to McCaffrey's high snap count. 

    According to David Newton of ESPN.com, Rivera said of McCaffrey, "It's like getting that new toy at Christmas. You open up the box and there's what you'd hoped for. But you also have to be wise and smart about when you play with it and when you don't, because you don't want to wear the batteries out. You don't want to break it."

    Rivera should probably be more concerned about wearing out Stewart. The veteran missed at least three games in each of the last five seasons and played at least 14 games just four times in nine years. Featuring a rookie who doesn't have anywhere near the wear and tear of Stewart is the way to go, especially if it takes some of the pressure off Stewart and Newton.

Detroit Lions

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    Theo Riddick outplayed Ameer Abdullah in Week 1.
    Theo Riddick outplayed Ameer Abdullah in Week 1.Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
    Week 1Snap %Att/Yd/TD Tgt/Rec/Yd/TDs
    Abdullah 5115/30/0 4/3/11/0 
    Riddick 30 1/-1/0 7/6/27/1 
    Washington 206/22/0

    Can the Lions support two fantasy RBs? After one week, the answer is still unclear, but they did produce one good option in Theo Riddick. Riddick's TD reception was the difference in what was an otherwise quiet day for Detroit's backs. Riddick had almost no role in the ground game, yet kept himself in the mix as the top receiver in the backfield. 

    Obviously, Ameer Abdullah's rushing numbers were disappointing and that wasn't a total surprise considering the matchup against the Cardinals. What should be a concern was the presence of Dwayne Washington. His snaps and carries may not seem like much, but four of his six carries came in the red zone.

    We already knew Riddick and Abdullah would likely limit each other's ceilings in sharing snaps and targets, but if Washington remains in the mix in red-zone and short-yardage situations, Abdullah's margin for error will be even smaller. Riddick may be the only Lion RB to use with confidence in his role until further notice.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Darren Sproles led the Eagles' RBs in snaps.
    Darren Sproles led the Eagles' RBs in snaps.Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
    Week 1Snap %Att/Yd/TD Tgt/Rec/Yd/TDs
    Sproles 49 2/2/0 8/5/43/0 
    Blount 34 14/46/0 1/1/1/1 
    Smallwood 22 4/4/0 1/1/5/0 

    It's been pretty easy to see that the Eagles were setting up Darren Sproles to be their top back, or at least the one with the most consistent role. His snaps and targets back that up in Week 1, although he fell a little short of expectations by failing to reach 10 fantasy points.

    For only the second time in his career, LeGarrette Blount caught a TD, which saved his fantasy owners and shocked everyone else. His only other TD through the air came in Week 6 of the 2015 season when he hauled in an 11-yard score from Tom Brady. Don't expect Blount to play a regular role in the passing game.

    Of the Eagles RBs, Blount had the only three touches in the red zone, which included a goal-line carry and the goal-line target that resulted in a TD. For the time being, he's holding off Wendell Smallwood, although that may not be a huge lead. Sproles and Blount are the only two backs to consider using for fantasy with Sproles looking safer since he isn't as TD-reliant as Blount.

New Orleans Saints

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    Adrian Peterson barely saw the field against his old team.
    Adrian Peterson barely saw the field against his old team.Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press
    Week 1Snap %Att/Yd/TD Tgt/Rec/Yd/TDs
    Kamara 50 7/18/0 6/4/20/0 
    Ingram 42 6/17/0 5/5/54/0 
    Peterson 15 6/18/0 1/0/0/0 

    Head coach Sean Payton put Adrian Peterson on the field for the first play of the game against his old team in what seemed like an easy indication of a busy night. Peterson would see just eight snaps the rest of the game and clearly looked upset with Payton on the sidelines. None of the Saints had anything to be happy about after a 29-19 loss that wasn't as close as the score might make you believe.

    Coming into the season, this looked like a problematic backfield for fantasy, and Peterson, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara all felt the effects in Week 1, although Kamara wasn't much more than a bench stash. Unlike years past, Peterson won't be needed at all times and will likely be off the field when the Saints are playing from behind, which could be often with how bad their defense is.

    With the Patriots visiting the Saints in Week 2, we could see similar game-flow issues that keep Peterson off the field. He needs to get his looks near the goal line, and he didn't get them against the Vikings. Ingram saw four goal-line carries and Kamara had two, while Peterson was completely shut out. Peterson might be frustrating until the Saints figure out how to work him in regardless of the situation.

Atlanta Falcons

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    The Falcons kept Tevin Coleman in the mix.
    The Falcons kept Tevin Coleman in the mix.Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
    Week 1Snap %Att/Yd/TD Tgt/Rec/Yd/TDs
    Freeman 61 12/37/1 2/2/2/0 
    T. Coleman 41 8/16/0 6/4/42/0 

    Under former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the Falcons produced two top-20 fantasy backs in 2016, which isn't easy to replicate, especially with a coordinator change. In his first game as an NFL play-caller, new OC Steve Sarkisian did a solid job of keeping both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman involved. 

    The Bears had enough talent up front to slow down the Falcons' ground game, so we didn't see big performances out of Freeman or Coleman. That part was disappointing, yet it's hard to be too mad to see both players play at least 40 percent of the snaps. Plus, Atlanta kept WRs Taylor Gabriel (3 receptions, 36 yards) and Mohamed Sanu (6 receptions, 47 yards) involved along with Julio Jones (4 receptions, 66 yards) and Austin Hooper (2 receptions, 128 yards, 1 TD).

    When you see how many players were in the mix, it's almost a little alarming. That creates a lower ceiling for the top talent like Freeman and Jones. It could take a little while for Sarkisian to figure out his best plan of action, so we'll see if he continues to keep the same split between Freeman and Coleman.

Denver Broncos

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    C.J. Anderson still has a firm grasp on the starting role in Denver.
    C.J. Anderson still has a firm grasp on the starting role in Denver.Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
    Week 1Snap %Att/Yd/TD Tgt/Rec/Yd/TDs
    Anderson 7020/81/03/1/7/0 
    Charles 30 10/40/0 1/0/0/0 

    The name value of Jamaal Charles excited those who were looking for a late-round stash, even though he was useless in Kansas City last year. If you want a positive for Charles coming out of Week 1, it was basically just a two-headed backfield with him and C.J. Anderson. Unfortunately, it didn't produce much for fantasy, not that he belonged anywhere near a starting lineup.

    Anderson easily outsnapped and outperformed Charles, who also fumbled in a key spot, so there shouldn't be anyone worried about Anderson losing touches anytime soon. Anderson had five red-zone carries to Charles' four. Anderson was been firmly in the RB2 category for all of draft season and should remain there as long as he stays on the field. With Trevor Siemian under center, the Broncos will need to rely on Anderson and the ground game to be an important part of the offense.

    Charles is long past the point of being someone you can rely on for fantasy, and it's fair to wonder if Devontae Booker will cut into more of Charles' role than Anderson's role. According to Mike Klis of 9News, head coach Vance Joseph said Booker wouldn't play in Week 2 despite returning to practice this week. Anderson should get enough touches to be a solid option against the Cowboys. Charles should be on the bench.

Tennessee Titans

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    DeMarco Murray had a clear snap advantage over Derrick Henry.
    DeMarco Murray had a clear snap advantage over Derrick Henry.Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
    Week 1Snap %Att/Yd/TD Tgt/Rec/Yd/TDs
    Murray 73 12/44/0 2/2/16/0 
    Henry 28 6/25/0 

    Those expecting Derrick Henry to take on a bigger role in 2017 didn't get their wish in Week 1. The assumption that the Titans would just go away from Murray after a very successful 2016 campaign never made much sense, and as we saw in the opener, he is still very much leading the way.

    Of course, you had every reason to be disappointed by the output of Murray and Henry in the loss to the Raiders. With just 18 carries between the two, it seemed like the Titans had trouble committing to the run despite the score never getting out of hand. Plus, Murray posting just two receptions on two targets didn't help offset the lack of carries.

    There's no reason to panic when it comes to the Titans. Sometimes, good teams just have bad games. The same thing happened to the Patriots and Seahawks, and even some winning teams weren't at their best like the Steelers and Falcons. What you should take away from Week 1 is that Murray is still firmly ahead of Henry, which makes Henry tougher to trust as a potential fantasy starter, even as an RB3 or flex.

Cleveland Browns

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    Isaiah Crowell's carries were hurt by game flow.
    Isaiah Crowell's carries were hurt by game flow.Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
    Week 1Snap %Att/Yd/TD Tgt/Rec/Yd/TDs
    Crowell 79 17/33/0 2/2/33/0 
    Johnson 76 05/2/20/0 

    Is Duke Johnson turning into a reverse Ty Montgomery? In Week 1, Johnson didn't register a carry because he worked out of the slot, as opposed to the backfield. As you can see by his receiving numbers, it didn't translate to much, but it was still an interesting development.

    Before you go running to your league hosts to get Johnson WR eligibility, take note of what head coach Hue Jackson said about Johnson's role. According to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, Jackson said Johnson isn't "strictly" a WR because he is "very valuable for [the] run game and pass game." Jackson indicated that the way Johnson was used was just for that game and not indicative of a permanent move.

    Meanwhile, Crowell played nearly 80 percent of the snaps, yet couldn't get anything going on the ground and had just a pair of receptions. The concern for Crowell was always about game flow and how he could lose touches if the team fell behind. It was a problem last season, and it's not like the Browns have significantly improved, if at all.

    Johnson's role should be monitored closely, as he could end up helping both his and Crowell's value if both are on the field at the same time with Johnson working out of the slot.

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