Fantasy Football Week 10 Workload Watch

Matt Camp@TheMattCampFantasy Football Lead WriterNovember 8, 2018

Fantasy Football Week 10 Workload Watch

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    The Browns got a big game out of Duke Johnson in Week 9.
    The Browns got a big game out of Duke Johnson in Week 9.Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

    The rise of the multiheaded backfield was one of the turning points in the history of fantasy football. While a handful of teams give most of the snaps and touches to one player, many are using two or three running backs on a weekly basis. The best teams get the most out of these situations when roles are well-defined. 

    It's taken some time and a trade, but the Cleveland Browns seem to be figuring out what they have in Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson Jr. The former is the workhorse and the latter is pass-catching back. In their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, both Chubb and Johnson finished inside the top 13 among all fantasy running backs.

    Miami hasn't been quite as successful with its running back committee. The Dolphins seem insistent on having Frank Gore lead the rushing attack, but they also fail to utilize Kenyan Drake as the more versatile option consistently. Drake is the team's best offensive weapon, yet his fantasy value is difficult to project with his touches and role varying from week to week with no rhyme or reason. 

    To learn more about what’s going on in the backfields of the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars, check out the Week 10 B.S. Meter. For more on the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers and New York Jets, check out the Week 10 Big Board. The Workload Watch covers eight other running back situations that have the most fantasy implications.

             

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Cleveland Browns

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    The combination of Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb looks promising.
    The combination of Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb looks promising.Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Week 9 Workload Distribution

    Nick Chubb: 49.3% snaps, 22 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD; 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards, 0 TD

    Duke Johnson: 46.7% snaps, 1 carry, 8 yards, 0 TD; 9 targets, 9 receptions, 78 yards, 2 TDs

    In the first game after Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were fired, Johnson had his best performance of the season. Is that a coincidence? Probably not, but that doesn't mean Johnson should be expected to play at an RB1 level moving forward.

    Before Week 9, Johnson didn't have a game with more than four receptions. He had only two other games with at least 40 receiving yards. He also topped his season average of 43 percent of the snaps. It makes sense for Johnson to be more involved against an offensive juggernaut like the Chiefs, but it should not have taken this long for him to play a featured role, especially since the Browns are so thin at receiver.

    To the Browns' credit, Chubb and Johnson both had their busiest performances of the season in the same game. Each finished as a top-13 fantasy running back, so it's clear both players can play busy roles and provide reliable fantasy production. Chubb has only seven targets on the year, while Johnson has only 23 carries. A meager four those have come since Chubb took over the lead role in Week 7.

    It's fair to say Chubb has cemented himself as a reliable RB2. You're better off calling Johnson a locked-in RB3/flex with RB2 upside until the team shows a consistent commitment to his role in the offense.

Denver Broncos

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    Phillip Lindsay was busy, but not very productive in Week 9.
    Phillip Lindsay was busy, but not very productive in Week 9.Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Week 9 Workload Distribution

    Phillip Lindsay: 57.6% snaps, 17 carries, 60 yards, 0 TD; 3 targets, 2 receptions, 24 yards, 0 TD

    Devontae Booker: 39.4% snaps, 3 carries, 15 yards, 1 TD; 4 targets, 2 receptions, 9 yards, 0 TD

    Royce Freeman: inactive

    The second game without Freeman didn't go as smoothly as the first for both Lindsay and Booker. 

    With Booker sidelined against the Houston Texans, Lindsay had his second-busiest game of the season. However, he was unable to stretch his streak of 90-yard games to three. Lindsay, who averaged at least 4.5 yards per carry in every game before Sunday, ran for only 3.5 yards per carry against Houston. The rookie has rarely disappointed this year, so he gets a pass, especially after handling another heavy workload.

    Surprisingly, Booker had another quiet week as a receiver. In the last two games without Freeman, Booker has six receptions for 32 yards on eight targets. He was busier than expected on the ground in Week 8 with 78 yards on nine carries, but he felt like more of an afterthought against Houston outside of his 14-yard rushing touchdown. Coming into Week 9, Booker was averaging about 31 percent of the snaps, so he didn't see a big rise in snap share after playing 44 percent in Week 8. 

    Through nine weeks, Lindsay remains a reliable RB2 at 13.2 fantasy points per game. Whenever Freeman returns to action, Lindsay's ceiling will drop a bit, although he'll still be a safe RB2 as the lead back in Denver.

Detroit Lions

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    Theo Riddick's presence capped Kerryon Johnson's fantasy value.
    Theo Riddick's presence capped Kerryon Johnson's fantasy value.Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

    Week 9 Workload Distribution

    Kerryon Johnson: 55.7% snaps, 12 carries, 37 yards, 0 TD; 5 targets, 3 receptions, 7 yards, 0 TD

    LeGarrette Blount: 15.7% snaps, 5 carries, 8 yards, 0 TD; 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards, 0 TD

    Theo Riddick: 55.7% snaps, 0 carries; 8 targets, 7 receptions, 36 yards, 0 TD

    In Week 8, the Seattle Seahawks held Johnson to only eight carries for 22 yards. However, he made up for lost ground by turning eight targets into six receptions for 69 yards, which was his best receiving performance to date. Theo Riddick was inactive for Weeks 7 and 8 due to a knee injury, so Johnson handled the pass-catching work that would usually fall to Riddick. 

    Johnson again struggled on the ground in Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings, but he couldn't make up for those disappointing rushing numbers as a receiver. Riddick led the backfield in receiving, although those numbers were underwhelming.

    The Lions were down 17-6 at the half, and that lead didn't expand until the Vikings went up 24-6 with 6:57 to go in the fourth quarter. Detroit still gave Johnson and Riddick the same percentage of snaps, even though Riddick failed to do much as the team's de facto third receiver following the trade of Golden Tate. 

    If you're wondering why Johnson didn't get more carries, you aren't alone. He has only four games with double-digit carries and two with at least 15 carries. Even though he's clearly in front of Blount, the Lions seem hesitant to make him a featured part of the offense. At 3-5, they might want to rethink that strategy.

    Johnson can be a good RB2 with upside, but at 12.1 fantasy points per game, he's on the RB2/RB3 border.

Houston Texans

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    Lamar Miller cooled off in a big way in Denver.
    Lamar Miller cooled off in a big way in Denver.Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Week 9 Workload Distribution

    Lamar Miller: 64.5% snaps, 12 carries, 21 yards, 0 TD; 2 targets, 2 receptions, 27 yards, 0 TD

    Alfred Blue: 35.5% snaps, 15 carries, 39 yards, 0 TD; 0 targets

    Just when it seemed safe to believe in Miller, he lays a massive egg in a great matchup against the Denver Broncos. That doesn't completely explain why he Blue outtouched him, though.

    Before heading to Denver, Miller was rolling with 233 yards and two scores on 40 carries against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. Even after the Texans stumbled against them, the Broncos rank sixth in rushing yards allowed per game (131.6). That's why it's so baffling that Blue had more carries than Miller, as both players clearly struggled and Miller had a huge snap advantage.

    In eight games, Miller has at least 14 carries on six occasions and never had fewer than 10 carries in any appearance. For the season, he has 125 carries for 525 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. In the passing game, he has 13 receptions for 105 yards and a score on 20 targets. The Texans picked a strange time to give Blue a bigger workload considering Miller doesn't seem to be overworked.

    Blue now has 15 carries in each of the last two games, but a total of only 81 rushing yards and no trips to the end zone. On the season, he has 94 carries for 297 yards (3.2 YPC) and one touchdown with 11 receptions for 94 yards on 15 targets. 

    The Texans have given no indication as to when they'll activate D'Onta Foreman (Achilles) from the physically unable to perform list, so they head into the bye leaving that question unanswered. Miller remains the top and only true fantasy option in this backfield, but he's more of an RB3 at 11.5 fantasy points per game.

Miami Dolphins

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    The Dolphins got away from Kenyan Drake in Week 9.
    The Dolphins got away from Kenyan Drake in Week 9.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Week 9 Workload Distribution

    Kenyan Drake: 49.1% snaps, 3 carries, 9 yards, 0 TD; 6 targets, 4 receptions, 26 yards, 0 TD

    Frank Gore: 50.9% snaps, 20 carries, 53 yards, 0 TD; 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards, 0 TD

    Every time it seems like it's safe to put Drake in your lineup, the Miami Dolphins pull the rug out from underneath him with unexplainable usage. Week 9 was one of those weeks. 

    In the four games prior to the Week 9 matchup with the New York Jets, Drake carried 37 times for 233 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Over that same span, Gore ran it 49 times (5.0 YPC) without a touchdown. Both players were running the ball well, with Gore having a decent but not huge lead in carries.

    The Dolphins veered away from that approach against the Jets. Gore had his heaviest workload to date, while Drake matched his season low in carries. It's beyond explanation why the Dolphins kept going back to Gore given his struggles on the ground (2.7 YPC). Meanwhile, Drake was second on the team in targets and receptions, yet he barely produced for fantasy owners.

    In nine games, Drake is averaging 12.9 fantasy points per game, which is right on the RB2/RB3 borderline. He has the talent and upside to be a strong RB2, but the way he's yo-yoed in and out of the game plan each week is maddening.

    For a team that lacks talent, Drake should be in a featured role week in and week out. Even though he often plays more snaps than Gore, the coaching staff refuses to feature him.

New Orleans Saints

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    Alvin Kamara won the battle of top fantasy backs in Week 9.
    Alvin Kamara won the battle of top fantasy backs in Week 9.Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Week 9 Workload Distribution

    Alvin Kamara: 57.7% snaps, 19 carries, 82 yards, 2 TDs; 5 targets, 4 receptions, 34 yards, 0 TD

    Mark Ingram: 47.9% snaps, 9 carries, 33 yards, 0 TD; 2 targets, 1 reception, 3 yards, 0 TD

    Taysom Hill: 15.5% snaps, 2 carries, 10 yards, 0 TD; 1 target, 0 receptions

    The Week 9 win over the Los Angeles Rams told us a lot about what the New Orleans Saints think of their backfield. 

    Last season, Kamara never had more than 12 carries in a game, and he had only five games with double-digit carries. In the four games without Ingram to open this season, Kamara's carry totals were 8, 13, 16 and 19. Kamara improved each week, including 134 yards and three touchdowns on the 19-carry day against the New York Giants.

    When Ingram returned to action, he immediately had 16 carries to Kamara's six, although Kamara was dealing with a knee issue that week and Ingram was fresh and ready to handle a sizable workload. Since that game and the Week 6 bye, Ingram has 34 carries for 128 yards without a score, while Kamara has 49 carries for 191 and four touchdowns. 

    In Ingram's four games, he has only eight receptions for 62 yards on 10 targets, while Kamara has 16 receptions for 91 yards and two scores on 19 targets. You'd expect Kamara to outperform Ingram through the air, but he's also doing so on the ground with more volume. 

    The Saints are firmly committed to Kamara, so you won't have to worry about him as an RB1. Ingram isn't getting the same opportunities on the ground or through the air that he did last season, which has pushed him down into the RB3/flex tier.

Oakland Raiders

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    Last week's blowout loss to the 49ers didn't result in a big role for Jalen Richard.
    Last week's blowout loss to the 49ers didn't result in a big role for Jalen Richard.Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Week 9 Workload Distribution

    Doug Martin: 45.6% snaps, 11 carries, 49 yards, 0 TD; 2 targets, 1 reception, 20 yards, 0 TD

    Jalen Richard: 38.6% snaps, 2 carries, 3 yards, 0 TD; 4 targets, 4 receptions, 45 yards, 0 TD

    DeAndre Washington: 17.5% snaps, 5 carries, 27 yards, 0 TDs; 0 targets

    Whether you're deciding between players in your draft, starting lineup or waivers, it's often wise to avoid bad teams. When the Oakland Raiders placed Marshawn Lynch on injured reserve, fantasy owners sought to figure out who was next up.

    In two games without Lynch, we've seen a mix of Martin, Richard and Washington and not much fantasy production from any of them.

    Lynch's last two games were one-sided losses to the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks, so he had only 22 carries for 76 yards without a score. In Martin's two games as Lynch's replacement, he has 24 carries for 121 yards and no touchdowns in two lopsided losses. Unlike Lynch, Martin hasn't been given many opportunities in the passing game; he has three receptions for 37 yards on four targets.

    When the Raiders lost to the Colts in Week 8, Richard kept busy as a receiver with eight receptions for 50 yards on eight targets. It marked the fifth time this season he had at least six receptions. He failed to hit that number in Week 9, but had his sixth game with at least 45 yards. 

    Richard should stay involved regardless of what the scoreboard says, although the Raiders won't have many chances to win over the rest of the season. Staying competitive is the only way Martin has a chance to produce. That seems unlikely, especially if Washington continues to work his way into the mix.

Tennessee Titans

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    It's taken a while, the Titans are finally featuring Dion Lewis.
    It's taken a while, the Titans are finally featuring Dion Lewis.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Week 9 Workload Distribution

    Dion Lewis: 84.3% snaps, 19 carries, 62 yards, 0 TD, 4 targets, 4 receptions, 60 yards, 1 TD

    Derrick Henry: 20% snaps, 6 carries, 27 yards, 1 TD, 2 targets, 2 receptions, 5 yards, 0 TD

    The Tennessee Titans might be figuring this backfield out. It only took them two months.

    For the first time this season, Lewis had more carries than Henry in back-to-back games. He rushed 13 times for 91 yards in Week 7, while Henry had 12 carries for 33 yards and a touchdown in that close loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Neither player made much of an impact on the ground in the win over the Dallas Cowboys, but Lewis had more than three times as many carries as Henry. 

    On the season, Lewis has a slight advantage with 92 carries for 339 yards and a score to Henry's 300 yards and two touchdowns on 90 attempts.

    The biggest difference is in the passing game. Outside of Corey Davis, Lewis has been Tennessee's busiest and most productive receiver. In the last two games, he has 10 receptions for 124 yards and a score on 10 targets. He's hit 60 receiving yards three times this season. Lewis has been efficient with 33 receptions for 259 yards and a touchdown on 37 targets. By comparison, Davis has 36 receptions on 66 targets for 451 yards and a score. Henry has only eight catches for 54 yards on 10 targets. 

    If the Titans keep featuring Lewis, he can reach the RB2 upside he had coming into the season. His best performances have come in wins or competitive games, so Tennessee would be foolish to dial back his role. Henry doesn't have much value since he needs volume and a chance to score to even be considered for the last spot in your lineup.