Fantasy Football Week 5 Workload Watch

Matt Camp@TheMattCampFantasy Football Lead WriterOctober 4, 2018

Fantasy Football Week 5 Workload Watch

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    When will the Lions fully commit to Kerryon Johnson?
    When will the Lions fully commit to Kerryon Johnson?Eric Gay/Associated Press

    It's easy to analyze statistics to see who is performing well and who isn't. Box-score analysis is only part of the process when it comes to figuring out the best fantasy options.

    Opportunity is also a factor, but it's more than just playing the most snaps or getting the most touches. Predicting how and when opportunities will come is also important. When Alex Collins fumbled near the goal line in Week 4, he wound up benched for the rest of the first half and may have cost himself future carries in scoring opportunities. 

    There's no doubt Kerryon Johnson has been the best running back for the Detroit Lions this season. However, he has just three more carries than LeGarrette Blount, so it's hard to set expectations too high for the rookie when he's not dominating the touches, even if we all think he should be based on his play in the first month.

    To learn more about what's going on in the backfields for the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars, check out the Week 5 B.S. Meter. The Workload Watch covers eight other running back situations with the most fantasy implications.


Baltimore Ravens

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    Alex Collins' performance in Week 4 was a mixed bag.
    Alex Collins' performance in Week 4 was a mixed bag.Don Wright/Associated Press

    Week 4 Workload Distribution

    Alex Collins: 47.4% snaps, 11 carries, 42 yards, 0 TD, 1 target, 1 reception, 1 TD

    Javorius Allen: 43.4% snaps, 10 carries, 30 yards, 0 TD, 2 targets, 17 yards, 0 TD

    The latest look at the Baltimore Ravens' backfield shows a near-even split of snaps, carries and targets between Collins and Allen, much to the chagrin of those who banked on Collins to be a rock-solid RB2. After four weeks, Collins checks in as RB24 at 11.2 fantasy points per game, while Allen is RB17 at 13.5 FPG. At this point, Allen is a solid RB2, while Collins is barely hanging on in the RB2 category.

    Things appeared to be looking up for Collins in Week 4, when he turned his only target of the night into a three-yard touchdown on the second drive of the game. With 12:45 remaining in the second quarter, Collins had a chance at his second score of the night, but he lost a fumble on a carry from the 2-yard line. He was benched for the rest of the half and didn't see another touch until a carry at the 12:54 mark of the third quarter. 

    Collins did have seven touches after the fumble, so while the initial benching was a concern, at least the Ravens didn't totally bail on him. It was Collins' second lost fumble this season. According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, head coach John Harbaugh was asked about the fumbling issues and simply said, "Can't have it." 

    The Ravens have no problem turning to Allen at the goal line, so Collins is likely treading on thin ice. The next fumble could cost him significant carries.

Chicago Bears

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    Tarik Cohen excelled in a featured role.
    Tarik Cohen excelled in a featured role.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Week 4 Workload Distribution

    Jordan Howard: 54.1% snaps, 11 carries, 25 yards, 0 TD, 1 target, 0 receptions

    Tarik Cohen: 47.5% snaps, 13 carries, 53 yards, 0 TD, 8 targets, 7 receptions, 121 yards, 1 TD

    The quiet start to Cohen's season was put in the rearview mirror thanks to a monster performance in Week 4 against the atrocious Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. Was this a sign of things to come or a product of the matchup? 

    Coming into Week 4, Cohen had just seven receptions for 48 yards on eight targets compared to Howard's 10 receptions for 78 yards on 11 targets. While Howard was expected to have a clear advantage in carries, Cohen appeared primed for a significant role in the passing game. When he didn't have one and Howard was contributing as a receiver in a somewhat steady role, Cohen's fantasy value looked to be minimal.

    His huge performance in the win over the Buccaneers was a good example of what he's capable of when featured, although that doesn't mean it will happen every week. Attacking the Buccaneers through the air made sense, as they have the worst pass defense in the league, and the Bears were able to score at will. Even though Cohen should be used more than we saw in the first three games, don't let one huge game inflate his fantasy value. He's still just a good RB3/flex with upside. 

    At the same time, don't start panicking about Howard. The Bears attacked through the air with success, so Howard wasn't needed. He's still leading this backfield and should be in the 15-carry range most weeks with at least a few targets. With Mitchell Trubisky still developing in his second year in a new offense, the Bears need Howard to avoid putting too much on Trubisky's plate. He's a good buy-low candidate with bounce-back potential after the bye week.

Cleveland Browns

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    It might be time to increase Nick Chubb's touches.
    It might be time to increase Nick Chubb's touches.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Week 4 Workload Distribution

    Carlos Hyde: 60.5% snaps, 22 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD, 1 target, 0 receptions

    Duke Johnson: 35.8% snaps, 2 carries, 11 yards, 0 TD, 6 targets, 4 receptions, 45 yards, 0 TD

    Nick Chubb: 3.7% snaps, 3 carries, 105 yards, 2 TDs, 0 targets

    Hyde is the No. 8 fantasy running back after the first month. Anyone who drafted him would tell you they are thrilled with his performance over the first four weeks, yet the presence of Chubb looms large. Could the rookie really be threatening one of the most consistent fantasy performers of recent seasons? 

    Big plays tend to stand out, and Chubb had one in Week 4 with a 63-yard touchdown run on his first carry. That came with 12:46 to go in the first half. His next carry was a one-yard run with 4:20 remaining in the second quarter. His third and final carry was a 41-yard touchdown run with 4:30 left in regulation to extend the lead to 41-34. To sum up Chubb's afternoon, he had three touches on three snaps and turned those into two long scores.

    Chubb has played a grand total of 15 snaps this season with 10 carries for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Hyde's snap share has increased every week after starting at 52.8 percent in Week 1 and rising to 60.5 percent in Week 4. He's been busy, with 83 carries for 285 yards (3.4 yards per carry) and five touchdowns, along with four receptions on seven targets for 15 yards. Could the Browns get more efficiency out of Hyde by using Chubb more? 

    According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, head coach Hue Jackson was asked about Chubb and said:

    "He has to get some. Hyde is playing well, but this guy is scoring touchdowns from long ways away. I was impressed. I watched those two touchdowns on tape, and they were even better than they were on the field. He ran away from some people on the first one and ran away from some people on the second one. It just looked natural and easy. He was gone. They could not touch him."

    Jackson added, "I think we have three good answers back there. We have to continue to find ways to use all three." That's easier said than done, although with Hyde averaging nearly 21 carries per game and just 3.4 YPC, it makes sense to cut back on his carries and give them to Chubb. That doesn't mean the Browns will make that happen, and even if they do, it doesn't mean Chubb will get enough looks to confidently plug into your startling lineup. 

    For now, Hyde is a locked-in fantasy starter, while Chubb is just a bench stash until his role increases. Johnson, meanwhile, isn't doing enough to be anything more than bench depth in PPR leagues.

Denver Broncos

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    Phillip Lindsay was back out in front against the Chiefs.
    Phillip Lindsay was back out in front against the Chiefs.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Week 4 Workload Distribution

    Phillip Lindsay: 40% snaps, 12 carries, 69 yards, 1 TD, 2 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards, 0 TD

    Royce Freeman: 26.7% snaps, 8 carries, 67 yards, 1 TD, 0 targets

    Devontae Booker: 33.3% snaps, 1 carry, 5 yards, 0 TD, 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards, 0 TD

    If you were worried about Lindsay's role after his ejection in Week 3, his snaps and touches in Week 4 should have wiped away those concerns. That might not make Freeman owners happy, but for now, we have to recognize that the Denver Broncos are going with a near-even split between Lindsay and Freeman, with Lindsay slightly out in front. Both players are handling the roles well with good production. 

    Lindsay has 45 carries for 267 yards (5.9 yards per carry) with a score and five receptions for 45 yards and a receiving touchdown on eight targets. Freeman carried 44 times for 219 yards (5.0 YPC) with three touchdowns and just one receptions for five yards on two targets. Freeman has eight red-zone carries to Lindsay's seven, including a 5-4 lead inside the 10-yard line. Both players have two carries inside the 5-yard line.

    Perhaps the biggest annoyance in this backfield is the presence of Booker. After playing 25.7 percent of the snaps in Week 1, he's been on the field for at least a third of the snaps in each of the last three games. However, he has just 11 carries for 36 yards and eight receptions for 54 yards on 11 targets. He's stealing useful snaps from both Lindsay and Freeman without producing.

    If you have Lindsay or Freeman and are frustrated by the split, you can't knock the Broncos for keeping both involved since they've both played well. It's the use of Booker that is maddening. Unless that changes, it's hard to get too high on Lindsay or Freeman, so they are just decent RB2s at best.

Detroit Lions

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    Week 4 brought another solid performance from Kerryon Johnson.
    Week 4 brought another solid performance from Kerryon Johnson.Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Week 4 Workload Distribution

    Kerryon Johnson: 37% snaps, 9 carries, 55 yards, 1 TD, 1 target, 1 reception, 1 yard, 0 TD

    LeGarrette Blount: 25.9% snaps, 7 carries, 12 yards, 0 TD, 0 targets

    Theo Riddick: 46.3% snaps, 1 carry, 7 yards, 0 TD, 5 targets, 4 receptions, 20 yards, 0 TD

    If the fantasy community were coaching the Detroit Lions, Johnson would be guaranteed 15 carries and at least half the snaps in this backfield. Unfortunately, the Detroit Lions have a coaching staff in place to make those decisions, and they haven't been quite as fantasy-friendly with Johnson's role.

    In Week 3, Johnson and Blount each got 16 carries. Johnson turned his into 101 yards, while Blount managed just 48 yards. You'd think that would necessitate a wide gap in carries between the two in Week 4. Instead, Johnson had just two more carries than Blount, and his snap percentage was the second-lowest of the season. Was game flow to blame? The Lions trailed by 10 with 2:59 to go in the third quarter and cut that lead to three with 14:20 left in the game, so they had no reason to abandon the run. 

    Riddick saw his biggest snap share since he played 58.6 percent in Week 1, yet he had just five targets. It's odd to see Riddick lead the team in snaps yet get the fewest touches. Maybe that's why the Lions lost the game and fell to 1-3. 

    Johnson owners may want to stop reading right now. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, when head coach Matt Patricia was asked about his backfield, he said:

    "I think we have a lot of really good running backs, and I think we try to use them appropriately. I think Kerryon played a significant amount of the game. He played 20 snaps of 55; that's a good amount. Plus, we have two other running backs; plus we have two-minute drives and other two-minute personnel packages and things like that. There was quite a bit of reps in there for Kerryon."

    If you want to get excited about Johnson's ability, that's fair, but until the Lions fully commit to him—and that may not happen based on those comments—it's hard to see him breaking out of the low-end RB2 conversation anytime soon. If the Lions would like to outsource their running back decisions to the fantasy community, it might help them get out of the NFC North basement.

Miami Dolphins

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    Frank Gore leads the Dolphins in carries.
    Frank Gore leads the Dolphins in carries.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Week 4 Workload Distribution

    Kenyan Drake: 44.9% snaps, 3 carries, 3 yards, 0 TD, 2 targets, 1 reception, 13 yards, 0 TD

    Frank Gore: 51% snaps, 11 carries, 41 yards, 0 TD, 3 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards, 1 TD

    In last week's Workload Watch, the conundrum that is the Miami Dolphins' backfield was broken down with little hope of major change since the team was 3-0. Will an ugly loss to the New England Patriots snap the team out of this ridiculous workload distribution between Drake and Gore?

    Week 4 was the first time Gore out-touched Drake this season, and it came in a game that saw the Dolphins score just seven points on a garbage-time touchdown pass to Gore with 2:42 remaining in the fourth quarter. Looking back, it seems indefensible that Drake had just four touches, especially since the Dolphins played from behind for the entire game. 

    You don't have to think Drake is a special player to believe he should be getting more carries than Gore. For the season, Gore has 35 carries for 139 yards, while Drake has 33 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown. Neither player has been impressive, but Drake isn't getting much of a chance with a total of eight carries in the last two games. Plus, he has just 14 targets with 10 receptions for 55 yards. That would be defensible if the Dolphins were loaded with talent in the receiving corps, but that's not the case. 

    Once again, it might be easy to see that Drake deserves a bigger role, but you can't make lineup and roster decisions based on what should happen, even if it is painfully obvious. Clearly, the Dolphins don't believe in Drake as a lead back, so he can't be trusted for fantasy as anything more than a bench player until something changes. We can't assume the Dolphins will shake things up to get Drake back into a significant role.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Alfred Morris' fantasy value continues to dwindle.
    Alfred Morris' fantasy value continues to dwindle.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Week 4 Workload Distribution

    Matt Breida: 63.3% snaps, 9 carries, 39 yards, 0 TD, 3 targets, 3 receptions, 32 yards, 0 TD

    Alfred Morris: 23.3% snaps, 4 carries, 14 yards, 0 TD, 3 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards, 0 TD

    The San Francisco 49ers may not be a complete lost cause with CJ Beathard taking over for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, but the upside potential of this team has faded away, and the number of useful fantasy options is starting to dwindle.

    If you just saw Breida's touches, you wouldn't think he had a huge snap advantage over Morris. His snap share was a near 18 percent increase over his previous high of 45.5 percent in Week 1. Morris' snap count has dropped every week after opening the season at 51.5 percent. His value was always connected to the optimism for this offense. With that gone, Morris doesn't have the same quality of touches, nor is he getting enough to stay fantasy-relevant.

    After a month, Breida is the No. 14 RB at 14 fantasy points per game. He's battled knee issues over the last couple of weeks, so that's something to monitor, as it will likely be the only reason he doesn't further the gap between himself and Morris.

    Even though his ceiling isn't as high as it was with Garoppolo, Breida should be busy enough to stay in the RB2 conversation since he'll be able to contribute as a runner and a receiver. Morris doesn't need to be on fantasy rosters.

Tennessee Titans

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    The Titans aren't getting much out of Derrick Henry.
    The Titans aren't getting much out of Derrick Henry.Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Week 4 Workload Distribution

    Dion Lewis: 67.6% snaps, 4 carries, 0 yards, 0 TD, 9 targets, 9 receptions, 66 yards, 0 TD

    Derrick Henry: 39.4% snaps, 8 carries, 24 yards, 0 TD, 2 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards, 0 TD

    The Tennessee Titans are 3-1, and it has nothing to do with Henry. He continues to eat up carries and snaps with little return, yet the Titans keep going back to him as if something will change. Hopefully, the team learned who should be the featured back after what Lewis did in Week 4. 

    Tennessee came back from a 17-3 deficit halfway through the third quarter to grab a 20-17 lead with 5:01 remaining, only to see the Philadelphia Eagles kick a field goal to send the game to overtime. Philadelphia would take a 23-20 lead in overtime, but the Titans made another comeback capped by a Corey Davis touchdown with five seconds remaining. 

    Who played a bigger role in helping them get there? Lewis had six of his nine receptions come once the Titans were down 17-3. He provides more value because he can be effective as a runner and a receiver, yet he had just four targets in his previous two games and just 13 carries over Weeks 3 and 4. Getting away from Lewis after such a strong start to the season doesn't make any sense since Henry has just 163 yards and no touchdowns on 54 carries (3.0 yards per carry). 

    While Lewis hasn't fared much better with 43 carries for 143 yards and a score (3.3 YPC), the Titans aren't giving him enough chances to show what he can do if allowed to carry the majority of the workload. Henry has already proved he can't handle that role, so the team needs to recognize that and feature Lewis. Despite the lack of full commitment to Lewis, he sits at RB20 for the season. If the Titans get him going, it'll be much easier to call him a strong RB2 going forward.


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