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

Welcome back to our weekly look at fantasy running back committee situations. The foundation for this recurring 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.

The season’s final byes are scheduled for Week 13, with the Browns and Titans both off. Take your well-deserved rest, DeMarco Murray.

Atlanta Falcons

Devonta Freeman: 39 snaps; 16 carries, 60 yards, 2 TD; three targets, two receptions, 17 yards

Tevin Coleman: 32 snaps; eight carries, nine yards, TD; two targets, two receptions, four yards

Coleman’s third-quarter touchdown against the Cardinals salvaged an otherwise poor day. He hasn’t touched the ball more than 11 times since Week 3 and will remain very TD-dependent moving forward. It’s sometimes an easy crutch to call an inconsistent running back flex-worthy, but that’s about what Coleman is for Week 13’s home matchup with the Chiefs. In a vacuum, I’d rather not start him.

Freeman is a top-10 fantasy running back for the season, averaging 17.6 touches per game, and his volume didn’t change much while Coleman was out from Weeks 8 through 10. He has 21 touchdowns in 26 games since the start of last season. All is (obviously) well.

Baltimore Ravens

Kenneth Dixon: 31 snaps; 13 carries, 49 yards; four targets, four receptions, 31 yards

Terrance West: 23 snaps; 13 carries, 48 yards; four targets, three receptions, 16 yards

Hey there, Kenneth Dixon! The rookie finally saw more snaps than West and will be worthy of fantasy RB2 status against the 30th-ranked Dolphins’ run defense in Week 13. You think that’s too conservative? Sorry, but even though Dixon should get a bit more work than West moving forward, West isn’t going away. Check out this note from Monday’s Baltimore Sun:

"(Dixon) and Terrance West are both tough runners whose styles seem likely to play well in the cold weather to come."

The key word there is both. I’ll rank Dixon ahead of West this week, but this still looks like a timeshare.

Cleveland Browns

Isaiah Crowell: 40 snaps; 16 carries, 44 yards; seven targets, six receptions, 47 yards

Duke Johnson: 35 snaps; five carries, 14 yards; five targets, three receptions, 26 yards

This backfield hasn’t changed much over the course of the season. Crowell gets a lot more carries than Johnson, doesn’t gain many yards, and then keeps getting a lot more carries. Crowell has averaged 2.16 yards per rush over the last five games, and you’re probably thinking, "Hue Jackson HAS to change things at some point!"

Maybe, but the next time we’ll see these guys is Week 14, which is when most fantasy playoffs start. You can’t bet on Johnson until you see something, and you’re almost out of time to see it, as he hasn’t surpassed 10 touches since Week 4. It’s a bummer for those who drafted Duke in the middle rounds this year – we swung and missed.

New England Patriots

LeGarrette Blount: 27 snaps; 11 carries, 67 yards; one target

James White: 26 snaps; nine targets, four receptions, 22 yards

Dion Lewis: 23 snaps; six carries, 24 yards; seven targets, four receptions, 34 yards

Lewis went from eight touches in Week 11 to 10 in Week 12, and that looks about right. Do you want to start a guy who plays one-third of his team’s snaps, even in PPR formats? Seems risky.

White saw more targets than Lewis in the passing game but didn’t run the ball for a second consecutive game. He has 10 touches in two games since Lewis’ return to action. Ugh. Too many cooks in this receiving back kitchen.

Blount didn’t get any touchdowns against the Jets, but he still has as much TD upside as any fantasy back. He’ll be a solid, low-end RB1 at home against the Rams.

New Orleans Saints

Mark Ingram: 42 snaps, 14 carries,146 yards, TD; two targets, one reception, 21 yards, TD

Tim Hightower: 25 snaps; 15 carries, 51 yards; two targets, two receptions, 51 yards, TD

Travaris Cadet: Two snaps

Other than his 50-yard TD catch from Willie Snead, Hightower didn’t have such a good day, while Ingram had a terrific one. However, even though the Saints seem content with somewhat of a timeshare, note that Ingram has rushed 47 times for 382 yards since his Week 8 benching. Ingram is clearly a better fantasy option than Hightower, and if the Saints ever want to completely turn their backfield over to one guy, it’ll be Ingram.

With that said, Hightower will still be playable against the Lions in Week 13, since he’ll probably get a dozen carries. Lions-Saints opened with an over-under of 53.5, suggesting that there should be scoring opportunities.

New York Jets

Matt Forte: 34 snaps; 13 carries, 27 yards; four targets, three receptions, 23 yards

Bilal Powell: 32 snaps; eight carries, 36 yards; three targets, one reception, seven yards

So, Powell basically split snaps with Forte but got used less in the passing game? How does that make sense? Arrrggggghhhh!

It’s tempting to think that Powell will get an increased role, but we’ve been thinking that since August, and we’re about to enter Week 13. Forte has 202 carries to Powell’s 48 this season and is a strong play against a Colts defense that has allowed 4.6 yards per carry. Powell hasn’t touched the ball more than 11 times in a game all year and is an unwise fantasy start under most circumstances.

Extra points

* Matt Asiata (23 snaps) vultured another TD for the Vikings on Thanksgiving, but Jerick McKinnon (36 snaps) posted a respectable 76 yards from scrimmage on 12 touches. You’d rather avoid both backs against the Cowboys on Thursday night.

* The Redskins played from behind for most of Thursday’s loss to the Cowboys, and even though they weren’t far behind, Chris Thompson (43 snaps) saw more playing time than the struggling Rob Kelley (32 snaps, 14 carries, 37 yards). Kelley has another tough matchup coming at Arizona, but he’s still in the RB2 conversation based on workload — averaging 20.2 carries over his last four games.

* Chris Ivory was playing well Sunday (nine carries, 44 yards, TD) before leaving with a hamstring injury, and with T.J. Yeldon still hobbled due to a bad ankle, Denard Robinson took over the Jags’ backfield with 31 snaps, 13 carries and 39 rushing yards. Grabbing Robinson from the free-agent pool would be more flier than smart play until we know more about Ivory’s status.

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