Throughout the 2023 season, fantasy football analyst Jorge Martin will provide a weekly analysis of some of the most confusing fantasy RB situations as he looks ahead to future matchups.
It’s time to take a look at some running rooms that after a week, well, the outlook is confusing at best. As much as the numbers are crunched and the films are viewed, there is still a darkness that makes it too difficult to get a clear look at the future of who to recommend for fantasy football.
So here are 10 backfields, with some analysis and a look at Week 2’s opponent to get an idea of how to predict whether there will be starting-caliber players for this week or in the future.
The numbers say this backfield is incredibly skewed toward David Montgomery, who was on the field for 55 total snaps while rookie Jahmyr Gibbs only saw 19. Montgomery was very dependable, as he was asked to block 10 passes versus none for Gibbs. That usage translated into touches, as Montgomery drew 21 carries for 74 yards and a score. The rookie turned seven carries into 42 yards and caught his two targets for 18 yards. He could have scored if he hadn’t slipped into the red zone.
One thing the numbers don’t tell you is the different speed Gibbs has shown on the field. The acceleration was special, and the time has come before the Lions start giving Gibbs more touches.
Seattle comes to Motown this week, fresh off a 30-13 win at the hands of the Rams, who ran the ball 40 times for 92 yards and three touchdowns. Montgomery should continue to get the majority of carries, with Gibbs getting more involved.
Quick reminder: Last year Seahawks-Lions was a Week 4, 48-45 slugfest at Ford Field. Could it be a replica?
It wasn’t the plan to include the Ravens in this article after just one week. An Achilles tear for JK Dobbins changes things dramatically and throws some chaos into the Ravens’ backfield. Just look at the in-game adjustments Baltimore makes, Justice Hill and Gus Edwards will share the load.
Hill scored on a pair of 2-yard runs but finished with 9 yards on eight rushing attempts. Edwards rushed for 32 yards on eight carries and is the big North-South running back who has been a mainstay for the Ravens. Neither rear drew a target.
The Ravens travel to Cincinnati for a rock-solid AFC North battle, and the Bengals are hurting after being paced by Nick Chubb for 106 yards and 18 carries last week. Even though Hill scored twice, my money – FAAB and figuratively speaking – is on Edwards to own the majority of the load.
But it won’t be much of an asset, and there’s a chance the Ravens sign Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt or another running back before Sunday. Or promote Melvin Gordon from the practice squad.
All offseason the chatter in the fantasy community was that Antonio Gibson would fill this hybrid role, as a pass-receiving threat off the field, while Brian Robinson would be a two-down banger who gives up the field in obvious passing situations .
Both ran 17 routes and caught just one pass each against Arizona. “This is why they play the game,” Chris Berman said.
Robinson dominated rushing attempts, 19-3, as well as being on the field for 43 snaps compared to 25 for Gibson. Even though ADP had Gibson on the RB33 versus Robinson’s RB35, this seems like a clear advantage for Robinson.
The Broncos, Washington’s Week 2 opponent, were expected to be tougher against the pass than the run this season, but 2022 NFL rushing champion Josh Jacobs was held to 48 yards on 19 attempts last week.
The recommendation is to bench Gibson until he becomes a bigger part of the offense. As for Robinson, if there were options for a better running back, he could sit out a week. For the rest, for the moment he is at most an RB2.
Toward the end of training camp, The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue highlighted the growing role Kyren Williams was taking in the Rams’ offense, which was a similar drumbeat to what we heard last year before Williams got hurt in the first quarter of the 2022 opening game.
Then came Sunday, and Williams dominated Akers in every snap, 51-27. Williams also ran 26 routes to Akers’ route. Carries went Akers’ way, 22-15, though the incumbent gained just 29 yards. Williams will clearly be a factor in this offense, and the distribution of touches between these two will be a headache for fantasy managers who used a fifth-round pick on Akers. Williams must be placed in all formats of 12 teams and above for the remainder of the season.
This week, though, it will be difficult to start from scratch, as the Rams are facing the 49ers, who were the No. 2 run defense in 2022 and just went to Pittsburgh and stifled the Steelers running backs to 52 rushing yards combined. .
So how many people accidentally left Rashaad Penny in the starting lineup because they were playing in the afternoon game? Here I raised my hand. Experts had looked at this backfield as D’Andre Swift was a dual threat in the passing and running games, with Penny being the starting defender. Kenneth Gainwell was supposed to pick up the scraps at garbage time.
All Gainwell did was more than double Swift’s snap count, 38-16, and turn 18 total touches into 74 yards. Swift had two total touches. Gainwell injured his ribs during the New England game and hasn’t practiced since. He’s already been ruled out for Week 2, which raises question marks about how this backfield will split touches next game and beyond.
This Thursday night, the Eagles get the Vikings, who are still vulnerable to the pass: 31st in passing yards allowed last year. He looks for this to be an aerial assault from Jalen Hurts, with little answers to be had in the backfield unless Swift gets more targets.
Keep an eye on Penny’s usage if they activate him for TNF. If Boston Scott gets more opportunities, it could be an early sign to cut bait on Penny.
This is a backfield that will qualify as a good problem to have because both running backs are very startable. Bijan Robinson, well, fantasy managers spent a first-round pick on the rookie and he delivered both the WOW factor and the fantasy points with that screen pass that he turned into an electric 11-yard touchdown reception. With 83 total yards on 16 touches, Robinson is in position to live up to the “Weapon” nickname he’s been given.
The “problem” is that Tyler Allgeier had 19 touches and 94 yards, and scored on a pair of 3-yard runs. Robinson did not see any carries inside the 5-yard line. All fantasy managers start Robinson, but does Allgeier have what it takes too? At least this week, yes.
Green Bay ranked 26th in rushing yards allowed in 2022 and has been among the lowest defenses against the run in recent years. Last week the Bears rushed for 122 yards as a team. Allgeier starts with confidence, as this should be another week of minimal passing if the Falcons can keep this game close.
My feet are on shaky ground. Before the season I put Najee Harris on one of “My Guys.” Then came Sunday and Harris was on the field for 32 of 61 total snaps for the Steelers. And teammate Jaylen Warren had 24 snaps, and also out-targeted Harris, 6-2.
Now, the opener against the 49ers was almost a success right from the start, as it was 20-0 San Francisco not even halfway through the second quarter. So touch distribution will be more significant in a closer match.
That could happen on “Monday Night Football” against Cleveland.
The Browns shut down the Bengals, 24–3, and held running backs to 75 yards overall. This game being Pittsburgh, it will be another test for the Steelers running backs. I’m still starting with Harris because he was a third or fourth round draft pick. Warren is someone to keep an eye on to see if his snap count remains similar to Harris’ and remains a major factor in the passing game.
What a mess we have here. Jonathan Taylor is on the shelf for at least three more games. Evan Hull just went on IR. Deon Jackson got the bell cow workload — 50 of the team’s 69 total snaps — but turned 13 carries into 14 yards and two fumbles.
Zack Moss has returned to full participant status in practice and could be the clear standout until Taylor returns. In four games as Taylor’s replacement late last season, Moss averaged 83.5 rushing yards per game. He picked a good game to respond, as the Texans were dead last in rushing yards allowed in 2022.
Moss is the only startable player in this group. Aside from that, he’s counting the days until Taylor returns.
On the surface, Derrick Henry dominated the Titans’ touch count, 17-4, over rookie Tyjae Spears. Henry also had 119 total yards — 56 of them via passing — versus 28 for Spears. So why is this team listed here? Well, Spears was actually on the court eight more plays than Henry (36-28). It is obvious that since Spears is on the field for quite a while, he will start touching the ball more often.
For now, Henry is stuck the man in Tennessee, because when he was on the field he almost always caught the ball. The fact that Spears is taking some snaps away from Henry could be helpful in keeping the King fresher later in the season. A date with the Chargers means starting Henry, and Spears could be a consideration in deep leagues with plenty of flex.
Ah, Da Bears. This is more like Philadelphia-Lite when it comes to running back drama.
Khalil Herbert, D’Onta Foreman and Roschon Johnson each saw between 21 and 26 touches last week, though Johnson appeared to have the decisive advantage when garbage time arrived in the fourth quarter.
If I’m targeting anyone from this trio to start, for now it’s still Herbert. Johnson’s usage in the passing game – 17 routes run and seven targets – promises to be one to keep an eye on in the future, however.
A road matchup at Tampa Bay – 15th against the run last year and third in 2021 – could be tough if the 62 combined rushing yards for the Vikings’ running backs were an indicator of the Bucs’ run-suppressing performance going forward.