This week's 6 fantasy football running back committees to watch

BY John Halpin • December 19, 2016

Welcome to our final weekly look at fantasy football running back committees. The foundation for this piece is workload - mainly snaps and touches. Touchdowns and yards are great, but without the volume, you can’t count on them on a regular basis.

We hope you found this series helpful, and that you’re on the road to a fantasy title if you’re reading this edition. Good luck!

Baltimore Ravens

Terrance West: 26 snaps; 13 carries, 77 yards; four targets, four receptions, 45 yards

Kenneth Dixon: 15 snaps; nine carries, 36 yards, TD, one target

Remember last week, when we were bullish about Dixon but wondered if the Ravens’ early deficit against the Patriots resulted in a Dixon-friendly game flow? Bingo! West out-snapped and out-touched Dixon in Sunday’s win over the Eagles, and if you know how we should handle this backfield for the Christmas Day game at Pittsburgh’s fourth-ranked rushing defense, let us know. Betting on one of these guys to be productive in Week 16 seems unwise.

Green Bay Packers

Ty Montgomery: 51 snaps; 16 carries, 162 yards, 2 TD; three targets, two receptions, one yard

Christine Michael: Five snaps; four carries, 45 yards, TD

This isn’t a committee anymore. After a week of strong hints from Mike McCarthy – Montgomery can handle a 20-carry load, hasn’t been to a WR meeting in months, etc. - it’s Montgomery’s gig -  the former wideout was fantastic against the Bears. The Packers’ Week 16 opponent is the Vikings, who just allowed a 100-yard rushing day to 78-year-old Frank Gore. Look for another strong outing from Montgomery, who is a rock-solid fantasy RB2.

Minnesota Vikings

Jerick McKinnon: 34 snaps; three carries, 12 yards; nine targets, nine receptions, 59 yards

Adrian Peterson: 12 snaps; six carries, 22 yards, fumble; one target, one reception, one yard

Matt Asiata: 12 snaps; one reception, 20 yards

Peterson’s return was a letdown, huh? The future Hall of Famer started, lost a second-quarter fumble and didn’t touch the ball during the final 28 minutes of Sunday’s blowout loss to the Colts. Peterson says he’ll play Saturday at Green Bay, but with the Vikes’ playoff hopes close to extinguished, plans could change. You should plan to avoid him in most cases.

Sunday’s bright spot in the Vikings’ backfield was the continued PPR relevance of McKinnon, who has caught 20 passes over the last three games. Who knew that instead of being a productive replacement for Peterson, McKinnon would become a poor man’s Gio Bernard?

New England Patriots

Dion Lewis: 28 snaps; 18 carries, 95 yards; three targets, two receptions, nine yards

James White: 24 snaps; three carries, 11 yards; eight targets, three receptions, 24 yards

LeGarrette Blount: 23 snaps; 17 carries, 31 yards, TD

Why the weird, Lewis-centric gameplan? MassLive.com Pats beat writer Kevin Duffy saw it coming, noting the Broncos’ struggles against what he called “smaller, dual threat running backs.” The Pats host the Jets in Week 16, and it’s worth noting that Blount had a season-low 11 carries against the Jets in Week 11, while Tom Brady attempted a season-high 50 passes. Though the Pats are likely to take to the air on Saturday, Blount is still playable as an RB2. I’m inclined to think that Lewis’ heavy Week 15 workload was specific to the Broncos, and not something we’ll see again.

New Orleans Saints

Mark Ingram: 41 snaps; 17 carries, 78 yards; four targets, two receptions, 14 yards

Tim Hightower: 27 snaps; 11 carries, 37 yards, 2 TD; three targets, three receptions, 11 yards

Travaris Cadet: 15 snaps; one carry, 16 yards; five targets, five receptions, 30 yards, TD

Ingram was more productive than Hightower in the Saints’ shootout win at Arizona … if you don’t count the touchdowns. It looks like Sean Payton has returned to his two-headed monster backfield, which is fine in real life, but not so great for fantasy owners. Ingram seems like a low-end RB2 for Saturday’s home game against the Bucs, with Hightower being more flexy. I can’t say I’d be excited about using either back.

New York Giants

Paul Perkins: 25 snaps; 11 carries, 56 yards; one target

Rashad Jennings: 25 snaps; 18 carries, 38 yards

Shane Vereen: 14 snaps; two carries, 11 yards; four targets, two receptions, nine yards

Maybe it was a coincidence, but the return of LG Justin Pugh had the Giants’ running game looking almost competent. Perkins has rushed 33 times for 139 yards (4.2 ypc) over his last three games, while Jennings has 104 yards on 39 carries (2.7 ypc) during the same span. Unfortunately, Vereen’s return as the passing-game option makes both Perkins and Jennings too risky to use against the Eagles on Thursday.

Extra points

* Matt Forte (knee) was active on Saturday for the Jets, but ceded most of the workload to Bilal Powell against the Dolphins. If Forte’s health improves this week, he and Powell could share the load. Wouldn’t you simply turn Powell loose if you were the Jets? Let’s see what the coaching staff says as the week progresses.

* With Chris Ivory healthy again, he and T.J. Yeldon shared the Jaguars’s backfield work. Against the Titans’ solid run defense, this is a situation to avoid in Week 16.

* Rookie Byron Marshall (nine carries, 22 yards) got some work for the Eagles after Kenjon Barner left Sunday’s game with an injury, and actually outsnapped Ryan Mathews by a 39-36 margin. However, Mathews’ 20-128-1 line reminds us that he’s the clear lead back when healthy. I’d start Mathews as an RB2 against the Giants on Thursday.

* Chargers RB Kenneth Farrow played plenty in place of Melvin Gordon, but wasn’t productive, gaining just 39 yards on 15 carries against the Raiders. The Bolts hope to get Gordon (hip, knee) back for their Week 16 matchup at pitiful Cleveland.

* Derrick Henry had all five red-zone carries for the Titans on Sunday, while DeMarco Murray got only one reception in that area of the field. Henry has been running well, posting a 29-160-3 line in his last three games. Normally, it wouldn't be advisable to flex a guy unlikely to carry the ball more than 10 times. Henry looks like an exception to that rule in Week 16 at Jacksonville. He was 16-60-1 against the Jags in Week 8.

* Browns RBs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson shared the … zzzzz. We’ve heard this before. Nothing new to see here, unless you want to get excited about Duke’s five receptions. If you drafted him in Round 5 or 6, you’re long past being excited.


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