Hidden Stat Line: Week 1 Backfield Breakdown

Hidden Stat Line: Week 1 Backfield Breakdown

This article is part of our Hidden Stat Line series.

When it comes to evaluating roles and usage, the first week of the regular season is generally the most important. We're guaranteed a few big surprises (Myles Gaskin in a lead role?) and a few major sources of frustration (Peyton Barber with a 17-29-2 rushing line).

The goal below is to focus on usage — breaking down snaps, carries, target and routes run, both in terms of the raw numbers and as a share of each team's RB production. We also provide observations and tweets to provide context for other stuff, including goal-line usage and the impact of garbage-time stats.

If you don't care for the nitty-gritty and simply want a quick overview, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page for leaders in some key volume stats, or take a look right below where we divide each backfield into different categories, e.g., every-down workhorses vs. two-man splits vs. committees. Keep in mind this is based on what we saw Week 1; it isn't a prediction or promise about what will happen in the future. 

You'll also notice that we include two percentages in parentheses when evaluating targets. The first number represents the player's targets divided by the total number seen by RBs on his team. The second number is target share relative to the entire team (including WRs and TEs). For routes run, we show the number of routes divided by the number of team QB dropbacks.

First, let's divide the 32 backfields into categories based on Week 1 usage:

Not Allowed to Come Off the Field Unless You Can't Breathe

  1. Carolina Panthers - Christian McCaffrey
  2. Dallas Cowboys - Ezekiel Elliott
  3. New York Giants - Saquon Barkley

Three-down Role, Sometimes Subbed Out

  1. Houston Texans - David Johnson
  2. New York Jets - Le'Veon Bell (hamstring)
  3. Green Bay Packers - Aaron Jones
  4. Minnesota Vikings - Dalvin Cook
  5. Los Angeles Chargers - Austin Ekeler
  6. Arizona Cardinals - Kenyan Drake
  7. Los Angeles Rams - Malcolm Brown
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers - James Conner (pre-injury)

Clear Lead Back, But Usually Off the Field for Obvious Passing Situations

  1. Kansas City Chiefs - Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  2. Las Vegas Raiders - Josh Jacobs
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars - James Robinson
  4. Atlanta Falcons - Todd Gurley
  5. Cincinnati Bengals - Joe Mixon
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ronald Jones
  7. San Francisco 49ers - Raheem Mostert

Two-Man Split

  1. Cleveland Browns - Nick Chubb (1A) & Kareem Hunt (1B)
  2. Chicago Bears - David Montgomery (thumper) & Tarik Cohen (scatback)
  3. Indianapolis Colts - Jonathan Taylor (thumper) & Nyheim Hines (scatback)
  4. Buffalo Bills - Devin Singletary (1A) & Zack Moss (1B)
  5. Philadelphia Eagles - Boston Scott (1A) & Corey Clement (1B)
  6. New Orleans Saints - Alvin Kamara (1A) & Latavius Murray (1B)

Full-Fledged Committee

  1. Baltimore Ravens - Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards
  2. Detroit Lions - Adrian Peterson, D'Andre Swift, Kerryon Johnson
  3. Seattle Seahawks - Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Travis Homer
  4. New England Patriots - Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, J.J. Taylor
  5. Washington Football Team - Peyton Barber, J.D. McKissic, Antonio Gibson

Miami Dolphins

  1. Miami Dolphins! - Myles Gaskin, Jordan Howard, Matt Breida, Patrick Laird

(Snap totals, snap shares, carries and targets come from pro-football-reference.com. Data on dropbacks and routes run comes from Pro Football Focus.)

Houston Texans (20) @ Kansas City Chiefs (34)

Houston

Snaps:  David Johnson - 48 (81%) — Duke Johnson - 14 (24%)

Carries:  David Johnson - 11 (69%) — Duke Johnson - 5 (31%)

Targets:  David Johnson - 4 (80% RB share, 13% team share) — Duke Johnson - 1 (20%, 3%)

Routes:  David Johnson - 33 (0.80 routes/db) — Duke Johnson - 5 (0.12 r/db)

Notes

  • Houston ran three plays early in the game with both Johnsons on the field, but we didn't really get to see if it was a staple or just part of the first-15 gameplan, as an ankle sprain ended Duke's night midway through the third quarter.
  • David had only eight carries and three targets when Duke left the game, so the backfield split wasn't quite as drastic as the final stat line suggests.
  • Despite Duke's early exit, No. 3 RB Buddy Howell strictly played special teams. In other words, David should get a huge workload if Duke is out for Week 2 vs. Baltimore.

  

Kansas City

Snaps:  Clyde Edwards-Helaire - 46 (67%) — Darrel Williams - 23 (33%)

Carries:  Edwards-Helaire - 25 (76%) — Williams - 7 (21%)

Targets:  Edwards-Helaire - 2 (50%, 6%) — Williams - 2 (50%, 6%)

Routes:  Edwards-Helaire - 18 (0.51 r/db) — Williams - 11 (0.31 r/db)

Notes

  • This was the 26th time the Chiefs have logged 30+ carries in Andy Reid's 113 regular-season games as head coach, but it was only the third time it's happened with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, and the other two instances were exactly 30 carries (the Chiefs had 34 on Thursday, including one from Sammy Watkins and one from FB Anthony Sherman, but none from Mahomes).
  • Maybe Reid will run more now that he has the RB he wants, or maybe it was a one game anomaly. FWIW, the team's run rate was 42 percent (16/38) in the first half, with Mahomes throwing 21 passes and taking one sack, while CEH and Co. got 16 carries en route to a 17-7 lead at the break.
  • Edwards-Helaire got nine carries in the red zone and six inside the 5-yard line, yet his one TD came from 27 yards out. He also had gains of 18, 14, 11, 9, 9, 9, 8 and 8, picking up four or more yards on 13 of his 19 non-goal-line carries. He produced 7.4 YPC on those 19 carries. The only concern is that the might lose some of those high-value touches to Williams if the short-yardage struggles become a trend.
  • FB Anthony Sherman had one carry, converting a 4th-and-1.

Seattle Seahawks (38) @ Atlanta Falcons (25)

Seattle

Snaps:  Chris Carson - 28 (45%) — Carlos Hyde - 21 (34%) — Travis Homer - 13 (21%)

Carries:  Hyde - 7 (44%) — Carson - 6 (38%) — Homer - 3 (19%)

Targets:  Carson - 6 (75%, 17%) — Homer - 2 (25%, 6%)

Routes:  Carson - 18 (0.43 r/db) — Hyde - 11 (0.26 r/db) — Homer - 8 (0.19 r/db)

  Notes

  • Carson had 6-21-0 on the ground and 6-45-2 receiving... exactly what you expected, right?
  • The only goal-line carries came with about four minutes left in the game and Seattle up by 13 points. Homer picked up a yard from the 2-yard line, then Hyde punched it in on the next snap to seal the game.
  • Prior to that final drive, the carry split was Carson (5), Hyde (5), Homer (2), i.e., garbage time wasn't really a factor in the numbers above. It really was a three-way split. Of course, it was also Carson's first game back from a major hip injury.

  

Atlanta

Snaps:  Todd Gurley - 36 (46%) — Brian Hill - 21 (27%) — Ito Smith - 20 (25%)

Carries:  Gurley - 14 (78%) — Hill - 3 (17%) — Smith - 1 (6%)

Targets:  Gurley - 5 (50%, 10%) — Smith - 3 (30%, 6%) — Hill - 2 (20%, 4%)

Routes:  Smith - 18 (0.31 r/db) — Gurley - 16 (0.27 r/db) — Hill - 13 (0.22 r/db)

Notes

  • Gurley caught just two of five targets for one yard, but he did have 14-56-1 on the ground, with the TD coming from one yard out after he was stopped from the 4-yard line and the 3-yard line on the previous two snaps.

Cleveland Browns (6) @ Baltimore Ravens (38)

Cleveland

Snaps:  Kareem Hunt - 36 (49%) — Nick Chubb - 35 (48%) — D'Ernest Johnson - 4 (5%)

Carries:  Hunt - 13 (54%) — Chubb - 10 (42%) — Johnson - 1 (4%)

Targets:  Hunt - 6 (86% RB, 17% team) — Chubb - 1 (14% RB, 3% team)

Routes:  Chubb 17 (0.40 r/db) — Hunt 14 (0.33 r/db) — Johnson 2 (0.05 r/db)

Notes

  • Chubb and Hunt took six carries apiece in the first half, with the former producing 42 yards and the latter 37. Chubb finished with 6.0 YPC, and Hunt with 5.5, but their five receptions produced only 18 total yards.
  • Hunt got the lone goal-line carry, which he fumbled but then recovered himself. Later on, Chubb lost a fumble on the final play of the third quarter.
  • Chubb didn't see any more touches after his fumble, while Hunt had six carries and a catch in the fourth quarter. In other words, Chubb had a 10-7 carry advantage at the time of his final touch (the fumble).
  • The two-back sets with Chubb and Hunt on the field together weren't really a thing. They may have done it once or twice, but I watched the entire game  — apart from the opening drive and final drive — without noticing it.

  

Baltimore

Snaps:  J.K. Dobbins - 23 (39%) — Mark Ingram - 21 (36%) — Gus Edwards - 15 (25%)

Carries:  Ingram - 10 (45%) — Dobbins - 7 (32%) — Edwards - 4 (18%)

Targets:  None

Routes:  Dobbins - 15 (0.48 r/db) — Ingram - 7 (0.23 r/db) — Edwards - 3 (0.10 r/db)

Notes

  • Ingram took his final carry at the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter. After that, Edwards took three carries and Dobbins got one more.
  • Dobbins ran a route on 15 of 16 pass snaps, while Edwards blocked on four of his seven.
  • Lamar Jackson's seven carries were tied for his second fewest through 25 career starts, including playoffs. Only the Week 1 blowout in Miami last season had fewer rush attempts.
  • Despite the final score, Baltimore had only two goal-line carries, the first being a three-yard TD for Dobbins in the second quarter, and the second being a two-yard TD for Dobbins ealy in the fourth quarter.

New York Jets (17) @ Buffalo Bills (27)

New York

Snaps:  Le'Veon Bell - 32 (57%) — Frank Gore - 14 (25%) — Josh Adams - 13 (23%)

Carries:  Bell - 6 (43%) — Gore - 6 (43%) — Adams - 2 (14%)

Targets:  Bell - 2 (50%, 6%) — Adams - 2 (50%, 6%)

Routes:  Bell - 22 (0.54 r/db) — Adams - 10 (0.24 r/db) — Gore - 4 (0.10 r/db)

Notes

  • Bell injured his hamstring and didn't play after the opening drive of the second half. At the time of Bell's final touch, Gore had one carry and Adams had none, i.e., Bell was getting the vast majority of snaps and opportunities.
  • Rookie fourth-round pick La'Mical Perine (ankle) was inactive Sunday, but he seemed to be ahead of Adams for the No. 3 role this summer. FWIW, Perine didn't practice at all last week, so he isn't looking great for Week 2.

  

Buffalo

Snaps:  Devin Singletary - 51 (59%) — Zack Moss - 39 (45%)

Carries:  Singletary - 9 (50%) — Moss - 9 (50%)

Targets:  Singletary - 7 (64%, 16%) — Moss - 4 (36%, 9%)

Routes:  Singletary - 27 (0.47 r/db) — Moss - 20 (0.35 r/db) 

Notes

  • Josh Allen led the team with a 14-57-1 rushing line, including only five plays that PFF charted as scrambles from dropbacks. So, you might say this was a three-way backfield split between Allen, Singletary and Moss, though it's worth notting that the QB averaged only 3.9 designed runs per game last year.
  • Moss got four carries and two targets inside the Jets' 10-yard line, including a four-yard TD catch in the first quarter and three consecutive carries late in the fourth quarter (one from the 7, then from the 4, then from the 3, then the Jets kicked a FG).
  • Singletary got one carry and one target in the red zone, but nothing inside the 10.

Las Vegas Raiders (34) @ Carolina Panthers (30)

Las Vegas

Snaps:  Josh Jacobs - 49 (78%) — Devontae Booker - 8 (13%) — Jalen Richard - 7 (11%)

Carries:  Jacobs - 25 (86%) — Booker - 4 (14%)

Targets:  Jacobs - 6 (60%, 21%) — Booker - 3 (30%, 11%) — Richard - 1 (10%, 4%)

Routes: Jacobs - 18 (0.56 r/db) — Booker - 3 (0.09 r/db) — Richard - 3 (0.09 r/db)

Notes

  • Sunday was a very good day for anyone who drafted Jacobs in the second round or even the later part of the first round. The massive usage resulted in 25-93-3 and 4-46-0, with his snap share going above 68 percent for the first time since his NFL debut. Just keep in mind that the Raiders never trailed by more than three points and didn't have many third-and-medium/longs or a two-minute drills. Jacobs stayed on the field for in-between type situations, but Richard got five of the seven snaps on third downs with more than two yards needed for the first down.
  • The three RBs accounted for 10 of the Raiders' 28 targets (36 percent).
  • Jacobs scored from 7, 6 and 1 yards out.

  

Carolina

Snaps:  Christian McCaffrey - 65 (97%) — Mike Davis - 3 (4%)

Carries:  McCaffrey - 23 (92%)

Targets:  McCaffrey - 4 (100%, 12%)

Routes:  McCaffrey - 35 (0.85 r/db) — Davis - 2 (0.05 r/db)

Notes

  • New coaches, similar story. CMac finished with 23-96-2 and 3-38-0, playing all but two snaps.
  • FB Alex Armah got two carries; one from the Raiders' 4-yard line (no TD) and one on 4th-and-1 (unsuccessful) in the final two minutes of the game.

Chicago Bears (27) @ Detroit Lions (23)

Chicago 

Snaps:  Tarik Cohen - 30 (46%) — David Montgomery - 29 (45%) — Cordarrelle Patterson - 10 (15%)

Carries:  Montgomery - 13 (54%) — Cohen - 7 (29%) — Patterson - 4 (17%)

Targets:  Montgomery - 3 (50%, 8%) — Cohen - 2 (33%, 6%) — Patterson - 1 (17%, 3%)

Routes:  Cohen - 18 (0.45 r/db) — Montgomery - 14 (0.35 r/db) — Patterson - 6 (0.15 r/db)

Notes

  • Per PFF, Patterson took six of his 10 snaps in the backfield, so we'll count him as an RB for our purposes. Meanwhile, Cohen got only three snaps out wide and three in the slot, compared to 24 from the backfield.
  • Montgomery handled 57 percent snap share last season, with Cohen at 50 percent.
  • The Bears didn't have any goal-line carries, but Montgomery did get an incomplete target from the Detroit 2-yard line.

  

Detroit

Snaps:  D'Andre Swfit - 34 (44%) — Adrian Peterson - 24 (31%) — Kerryon Johnson - 20 (26%)

Carries:  Peterson - 14 (58%) — Johnson - 7 (29%) — Swift - 3 (13%)

Targets:  Swift - 5 (63%, 12%) — Peterson - 3 (37%, 7%)

Routes:  Swift - 24 (0.47 r/db) — Peterson - 9 (0.18 r/db) — Johnson - 9 (0.18 r/db)

Notes

  • Swift scored a one-yard TD on Detroit's lone goal-line carry, but that doesn't mean he's the goal-line back. It was at the very end of the second quarter when the Lions were running their hurry-up offense, i.e., they had their passing-down personnel on the field.
  • Swift dropped what would've been a game-winning, 16-yard touchdown with six seconds remaining.
  • Peterson averaged 6.6 YPC and 7.0 YPT en route to 114 total yards, while Johnson and Swift combined for 37 total yards on 13 touches.

Indianapolis Colts (20) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (27)

Indianapolis

Snaps:  Nyheim Hines - 39 (53%) — Jonathan Taylor - 26 (35%) — Marlon Mack - 11 (15%)

Carries:  Taylor - 9 (45%) — Hines - 7 (35%) — Mack - 4 (20%)

Targets:  Hines - 8 (47%, 17%) — Taylor - 6 (35%, 13%) — Mack - 3 (18%, 7%)

Routes:  Hines - 29 (0.58 r/db) — Taylor - 14 (0.28 r/db) — Mack - 7 (0.14 r/db)

Notes

  • Mack had an eight-yard catch on the first snap and got each of his seven touches before Taylor had even a single touch.
  • Taylor had a 35-yard reception shortly after Mack suffered what's believed to be a season-ending injury. Taylor was then stuffed from the two-yard line on the next snap, and Nyheim Hines had an eight-yard TD catch a couple plays later (Hines already had a 12-yard TD run in the first quarter).
  • In addition to the touchdowns, Hines was stopped short on a 4th-and-1 from the Jacksonville 3-yard line late in the first quarter. The play wasn't from a power formation; it was a "long" one yard, and the Colts ran the snap out of shotgun with three WRs on the field.
  • Early in the third quarter, Taylor was stuffed on a 2nd-and-1 and a 3rd-and-1 on back-to-back snaps, which was followed by the Colts converting the fourth down with a pass to Jack Doyle.
  • Hines finished with 7-28-1 on the ground and 8-45-1 through the air.
  • Taylor finished with 9-22-0 and 6-67-0.

  

Jacksonville

Snaps:  James Robinson - 34 (68%) — Chris Thompson - 12 (24%)

Carries:  Robinson - 16 (100%)

Targets:  Thompson - 2 (66%, 10%) — Robinson - 1 (33%, 5%)

Routes:  Thompson - 12 (0.41 r/db) — Robinson - 11 (0.38 r/db)

Notes

  • The Colts ran 74 plays to Jacksonville's 50, so there wasn't a ton of volume to go around.
  • Per PFF, Laviska Shenault also took two snaps in the backfield, plus a third on a direct snap.

Green Bay Packers (43) @ Minnesota Vikings (34)

Green Bay

Snaps:  Aaron Jones - 42 (54%) — Jamaal Williams - 31 (40%) — AJ Dillon - 5 (6%)

Carries:  Jones - 16 (64%) — Williams - 7 (28%) — Dillon - 2 (8%)

Targets:  Jones - 6 (60%, 15%) — Williams - 4 (40%, 10%)

Routes:  Jones - 19 (0.42 r/db) — Williams - 15 (0.33 r/db)

Notes

  • I'm not counting Tyler Ervin, because PFF charted him with just two of his 14 snaps in the backfield (11 slot, one wide). But he did have three carries and a target.
  • Dillon's two carries came on 1st-and-10s while the game was still competitive. In other words, he wasn't the goal-line specialist and he didn't get work in garbage time.
  • Jones got three of the four carries inside the 5-yard line, including a five-yard TD run. He also had a catch from the 5-yard line, but gained only a yard on the play.
  • Jones finished with 16-66-1 rushing and 4-10-0 receiving. Williams was 7-21-0 & 4-21-0.

  

Minnesota

Snaps:  Dalvin Cook - 30 (58%) — Alexander Mattison - 19 (37%) — Ameer Abdullah  - 2 (4%)

Carries:  Cook - 12 (67%) — Mattison - 6 (33%)

Targets:  Mattison - 4 (67%, 16%) — Cook - 2 (33%, 8%)

Routes:  Cook - 14 (50%, 0.44 r/db) — Mattison - 12 (43, 0.38 r/db) — Abdullah - 2 (.07 r/db)

Notes

  • The Packers ran 78 plays to Minnesota's 52, so there wasn't a ton of opportunity here.
  • Mattison's 4-30-0 receiving line was entirely produced on the Vikings' final drive when they were trailing by 17 points. Garbage time distorted the snap and target numbers here, though Mattison did get some carries before things got out of hand.
  • Cook had a one-yard TD, a three-yard TD and a pair of two-point conversions, plus he easily ran more routes than Mattison before the final drive. Cook's fantasy managers should feel good about this one, even though their guy had only 48 yards (50 rushing, -2 receiving).

Miami Dolphins (11) @ New England Patriots (21)

Miami

Snaps:  Myles Gaskin - 39 (63%) — Matt Breida - 14 (23%) — Jordan Howard - 9 (15%) — Patrick Laird - 4 (6%)

Carries:  Gaskin - 9 (41%) — Howard - 8 (36%) — Breida - 5 (23%)

Targets:  Gaskin - 4 (100%, 13%)

Routes:  Gaskin - 26 (0.68 r/db) — Breida - 7 (0.18 r/db) — Laird - 2 (0.05 r/db) — Howard - 1 (0.03 r/db)

Notes

  • Howard got the start and the first five carries, with Gaskin initially subbing in on third downs but then also picking up carries starting in the second quarter. Breida mixed in throughout, while Howard essentially disappeared between the first quarter and the fourth.
  • Howard reemerged from irrelevance to take three consecutive goal-line carries early in the fourth quarter, scoring from one yard out on his final attempt. There was a report that Howard's absence was injury-related, but it seems to have been a mistake (someone confused him with WR DeVante Parker, who did in fact injure his hamstring).
  • Gaskin had 9-40-0 rushing and 4-26-0 receiving, with Breida adding 5-22-0 and Howard 8-7-1.
  • Gaskin got half the opportunities (carries+targets) and nearly two-thirds of the snaps, so while it may be best to treat this as a committee going forward, it's probably more accurate to say the second-year pro was the lead guy Week 1. Anyway, this didn't really fall into any of our categories at the top of the page... Gaskin got three-down playing time, but not the carries to match.

New England

Snaps:  Sony Michel - 19 (30%) — James White - 19 (30%) — Rex Burkhead - 19 (30%) — J.J. Taylor - 9 (14%)

Carries:  Michel - 10 (38%) — Burkhead - 7 (27%) — White - 5 (19%) — Taylor - 4 (15%)

Targets:  White - 3 (75%, 16%) — Taylor - 1 (25%, 5%)

Routes:  Burkhead - 8 (0.33 r/db) — White - 7 (0.29 r/db) — Michel - 4 (0.17 r/db) — Taylor - 2 (0.8 r/db)

Notes

  • The Patriots ran eight plays with an extra O-lineman and used FB Jakob Johnson on 33 percent of their snaps, averaging only 2.36 WRs on the field per snap. Last year, with Tom Brady at QB, they averaged 2.63 WR snaps per play. It's obviously a small sample after just one game, but if it continues, that won't be good news for James White, who mostly gets playing time in three-wide formations.
  • Cam Newton did 15-75-2 on the ground, with Michel at 10-37-1, Burkhead at 7-32-0, Taylor at 4-28-0 and White at 5-22-0.
  • Newton and Michel got one carry apiece from inside the 5-yard line, both converting for TDs. Newton had four carries inside the 10-yard line, accounting for 80 percent of the team total.
  • This looks like an absolute mess for fantasy purposes.

Philadelphia Eagles (17) @ Washington Football Team (27)

Philadelphia

Snaps:  Boston Scott - 38 (56%) — Corey Clement - 25 (37%) — Jason Huntley - 1 (1%)

Carries:  Scott - 9 (56%) — Clement - 6 (38%) — Huntley - 1 (6%)

Targets:  Scott - 2 (50%, 5%) — Clement - 2 (50%, 5%)

Routes:  Scott - 24 (0.47 r/db) — Clement - 15 (0.29 r/db)

Notes

  

Washington

Snaps:  J.D. McKissic - 31 (44%) — Peyton Barber - 29 (41%) — Antonio Gibson - 18 (26%)

Carries:  Barber - 17 (59%) — Gibson - 9 (31%) — McKissic - 3 (10%)

Targets:  McKissic - 5 (71%, 17%) — Gibson - 2 (29%, 7%)

Routes:  McKissic - 21 (0.58 r/db) — Gibson - 8 (0.22 r/db) — Barber - 6 (0.17 r/db)

Notes

  • Barber finished with 17-29-2, taking 10 carries in the red zone, seven inside the 10-yard line and five inside the 5-yard line. He accounted for Washington's last 10 carries of the game, so really it was close to an even split between him and Gibson until the end.
  • Per PFF, Gibson played 15 snaps in the backfield,  two in the slot and one out wide. McKissic was a little more varied, with three from the slot and five out wide.
  • McKissic caught just one of five targets for one yards, and he lost two yards on three carries. Gibson, meanwhile, had 9-36-0 on the ground and 2-8-0 receiving. (McKissic could lose his role to the rookie if he doesn't do more with his touches in the future.)

Los Angeles Chargers (16) @ Cincinnati Bengals (13)

Los Angeles (NOT San Diego)

Snaps:  Austin Ekeler - 50 (68%) — Joshua Kelley - 18 (24%) — Justin Jackson - 11 (15%)

Carries:  Ekeler - 19 (58%) — Kelley - 12 (36%) — Jackson - 2 (6%)

Targets:  Ekeler - 1 (100%, 3%)

Routes:  Ekeler - 23 (0.62 r/db) — Jackson - 7 (0.19 r/db) — Kelley - 3 (0.08 r/db)

Notes

  • Ekeler didn't see any targets, but he did run 23 routes, a hair above last year's mark of 22.6 per game. He was never going to match last year's 2.74 yards per route, but the usage here is actually pretty encouraging if you can look past the PPR disappointment. The 19 carries were a career high.
  • Jackson suffered a quad injury and didn't take any carries after the first quarter.
  • Kelley didn't get his first touch until the three-minute mark of the second quarter, but he ended up playing a big role in the win, finishing with 12-60-1. He scored a five-yard TD early in the fourth quarter, then saw carries from the 6-yard line and 2-yard line on the next drive. Ekeler's closest shot was a four-yard gain from the Cincinnati 9-yard line on the snap right before Kelley's TD.
  • Although he lost more playing time to Kelley in the second half, Ekeler still had nine touches (45 percent of his total) after the break.

  

Cincinnati

Snaps:  Joe Mixon - 40 (59%) — Giovani Bernard - 20 (29%)

Carries:  Mixon - 19 (95%) — Bernard - 1 (5%)

Targets:  Bernard - 5 (71%, 14%) — Mixon - 2 (29%, 6%)

Routes:  Mixon - 17 (0.38 r/db) — Bernard - 12 (0.27 r/db)

Notes

  • This was similar to last season, with Mixon getting nearly all of the carries and only coming off the field in clear passing situations.
  • Bernard drew five targets, but he also was used as a pass blocker seven times, per PFF. Bernard had the fourth-most pass blocking snaps (100) of any RB last season, and Mixon (78) had the 10th-most, i.e., don't expect huge receiving numbers from Zac Taylor's backfield.
  • Mixon finished with 19-69-0 and 1-2-0, plus he lost a fumble in the fourth quarter. PFF gave him the worst grade (49.6) of any player in the Cincinnati offense.
  • Joe Burrow had 8-46-1 on the ground, but his TD came from 23 yards out. The Bengals ran only three plays in the red zone, all passes. And Burrow's carries were evenly split between designed runs (four) and scrambles (four), according to PFF.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23) @ New Orleans Saints (34)

Tampa Bay

Snaps:  Ronald Jones - 33 (47%) — LeSean McCoy - 25 (36%) — Leonard Fournette - 9 (13%)

Carries:  Jones - 17 (77%) — Fournette - 5 (23%)

Targets:  Jones - 3 (60%, 9%) — McCoy - 1 (20%, 3%) — Fournette - 1 (20%, 3%)

Routes:  McCoy - 21 (0.46 r/db) — Jones - 13 (0.28 r/db) — Fournette - 4 (0.09 r/db)

Notes

  • Jones finished with 17-66-0 and 2-16-0, while Fournete managed only 5-5-0 but did at least gain 14 yards on his lone reception.
  • Tom Brady had the lone goal-line carry (a TD sneak) but Jones did get two inside the 10.

  

New Orleans

Snaps:  Alvin Kamara - 45 (66%) — Latavius Murray - 23 (34%) — Ty Montgomery - 4 (6%)

Carries:  Murray - 15 (54%) — Kamara - 12 (43%) — Montgomery - 1 (4%)

Targets:  Kamara - 8 (89%, 27%) — Murray - 1 (11%, 3%)

Routes:  Kamara - 25 (0.71 r/db) — Murray - 3 (0.09 r/db) — Montgomery - 1 (0.03 r/db)

Notes

  • Kamara finished with 12-16-1 rushing and 5-51-1 receiving, and he came within inches of a third TD when Sean Payton decided to run up the score in garbage time (Kamara was pushed out of bounds just shy of the goal line on a fourth down with about 25 seconds left in the game). Kamara had a 38-yard catch on a trick play earlier that drive... prior to that, he had two TDs but only 30 total yards.
  • Kamara had a 9-7 carry advantage over Murray before the fourth quarter.

Arizona Cardinals (24) @ San Francisco 49ers (20)

Arizona

Snaps:  Kenyan Drake - 58 (71%) — Chase Edmonds - 28 (34%)

Carries:  Drake - 16 (73%) — Edmonds - 6 (27%)

Targets:  Drake - 2 (29%, 5%) — Edmonds - 5 (71%, 14%)

Routes:  Drake - 27 (0.51 r/db) — Edmonds - 15 (0.28 r/db)

Notes

  • Drake got the lone goal-line carry and converted it for a one-yard, game-winning TD.
  • Drake was used as a pass blocker nine times, and Edmonds six times, per PFF. It may have been gameplan-specific, considering Drake averaged only five pass-blocking snaps in his eight games with the Cardinals last year (despite playing 80 percent of snaps overall).
  • Drake finished with 16-60-1 and 2-5-0, while Edmonds had 6-26-0 and 3-19-1.

  

San Francisco

Snaps:  Raheem Mostert - 37 (60%) — Jerick McKinnon - 19 (31%) — Tevin Coleman - 6 (10%)

Carries:  Mostert - 15 (65%) — Coleman - 4 (17%) — McKinnon - 3 (13%)

Targets: Mostert - 5 (42%, 16%) — McKinnon - 5 (42%, 16%) — Coleman - 2 (17%, 6%)

Routes:  Mostert - 17 (0.45 r/db) — McKinnon - 14 (0.37 r/db) — Coleman - 2 (0.05 r/db)

Notes

  • Coleman's lack of playing time likely was related to the poor air quality (he has sickle cell trait, putting him at greater risk for health complications).
  • Mostert had a 76-yard touchdown catch en route to a 15-56-0 and 4-95-1 day.
  • McKinnon put up 3-24-0 rushing and 3-20-1 receiving. Coleman had 24 yards on five touches.
  • Mostert got the lone carry inside the 5-yard line, but McKinnon did get two inside the 10 (plus the target he caught for a TD)

Dallas Cowboys (17) @ Los Angeles Rams (20)

Dallas

Snaps:  Ezekiel Elliott - 63 (88%) — Tony Pollard - 10 (14%)

Carries:  Elliott - 22 (92%) — Pollard - 2 (8%)

Targets:  Elliott - 4 (57%, 11%) — Pollard - 3 (43%, 8%)

Routes:  Elliott - 31 (0.65 r/db) — Pollard - 8 (0.17 r/db)

Notes

  • Elliott put up 22-96-1 and 3-31-1, first scoring on a 19-yard reception and later on a one-yard run.
  • Dak Prescott didn't have any designed runs. His 3-30-0 rushing line was entirely from scrambles, per PFF.

  

Los Angeles

Snaps: Malcolm Brown - 44 (60%) — Cam Akers - 24 (33%) — Darrell Henderson - 5 (7%)

Carries:  Brown - 18 (51%) — Akers - 14 (40%) — Henderson - 3 (9%)

Targets:  Brown - 4 (80%, 14%) — Akers - 1 (20%, 4%)

Routes:  Brown - 21 (0.60 r/db) — Akers - 10 (0.29 r/db) — Henderson - 1 (0.03 r/db)

Notes

  • Brown stole the night with 18-79-2 and 3-31-0, while Akers managed only 14-39-0 and one catch for four yards. Henderson was healthy enough to play after dealing with a hamstring injury the past few weeks, but he wasn't a big part of the gameplan.
  • Brown got both of the inside-the-5 carries and converted both for scores.

Pittsburgh Steelers (26) @ New York Giants (16)

Pittsburgh 

Snaps:  Benny Snell (45%) — Jaylen Samuels (31%) — James Conner (23%)

Carries:  Snell - 19 (73%) — Conner - 6 (23%) — Samuels - 1 (4%) 

Targets:  Conner - 4 (67%, 13%) — Snell - 1 (17%, 3%) — Samuels - 1 (17%, 3%)

Routes:  Samuels - 19 (.53 r/db) — Conner - 9 (.25 r/db) — Snell - 7 (.19 r/db)

Notes

  • Conner got off to a slow start with only nine yards on six carries, but he was staying on the field for at least some third downs before an ankle sprain ended his night early in the second quarter.
  • After the Conner injury, Snell dominated carries but gave way to Samuels in obvious passing situations. Ben Roethlisberger threw only five passes in the fourth quarter.

  

New York

Snaps:  Saquon Barkley (87%) — Dion Lewis (9%) — Wayne Gallman (4%)

Carries:  Barkley - 15 (94%) — Lewis - 1 (6%)

Targets:  Barkley - 9 (90%, 23%) — Lewis - 1 (10%, 3%)

Routes:  Barkley - 32 (.67 r/db) — Lewis - 3 (.06 r/db)

Notes

  • Barkley somehow managed only six yards on 15 carries, but he did catch six passes for 60 yards. Lewis is no more relevant than any other backup RB in the Barkley era.
  • We don't include MNF on the leaderboards below, but if we did, Barkley would've placed third in snap share, fourth in RB carry share, second in target share and fifth in routes per dropback. The only knock on his usage was 11 pass-blocking snaps, which likely was at least somewhat related to the brutal matchup against the Steelers defense. Barkley averaged 7.1 pass-blocking snaps per game last year, per PFF.

Tennessee Titans (16) @ Denver Broncos (14)

Tennessee

Snaps:  Derrick Henry (75%) — Jeremy McNichols (16%) 

Carries:  Henry - 31 (100%)

Targets:  Henry - 3 (75%, 8%) — McNichols - 1 (25%, 3%)

Routes:  Henry - 20 (0.44 r/db) — McNichols - 6 (0.13 r/db)

Notes

  • My hopes of Henry joining the McCaffrey/Elliott/Barkley usage tier didn't come to fruition, as the Titans subbed in McNichols for some passing downs. Still, it was a bit less than what Dion Lewis typically took last year, so this is a good first sign for Henry seeing a small increase in catches. And, of course, the rushing usage remains massive.
  • Henry got 0.38 routes per QB dropback in his 15 games last year, per PFF.

  

Denver

Snaps:  Melvin Gordon (63%) — Phillip Lindsay (32%) — Royce Freeman (10%)

Carries:  Gordon - 15 (65%) — Lindsay - 7 (30%) — Freeman - 1 (4%)

Targets:  Gordon - 3 (60%, 9%) — Lindsay - 1 (20%, 3%) — Freeman - 1 (20%, 3%)

Routes:  Gordon - 18 (0.53 r/db) — Lindsay - 6 (0.18 r/db) — Freeman - 2 (

Notes

  • Lindsay left early with a toe injury, taking his final touch around the five-minute mark of the second quarter. At the time, Gordon had only five carries and one target, while Lindsay had seven and one.
  • Gordon lost a fumble on one of his three catches. He scored a one-yard TD in the fourth quarter, but only after Freeman was stuffed on the previous snap from the 1-yard line.

Week 1 Leaders (doesn't include MNF)

Snap Share

 PlayerSnap Share
1Christian McCaffrey97%
2Ezekiel Elliott88%
3David Johnson81%
4Josh Jacobs 78%
5Kenyan Drake71%
6James Robinson68%
7Austin Ekeler68%
8Clyde Edwards-Helaire67%
9Alvin Kamara66%
10Myles Gaskin63%
11Raheem Mostert60%
12Malcolm Brown60%
13Devin Singletary59%
14Joe Mixon59%
15Dalvin Cook58%
16Le'Veon Bell57%
17Boston Scott56%
18Aaron Jones54%
19Nyheim Hines53%
20Kareem Hunt49%
21Nick Chubb48%
22Ronald Jones47%
23Tarik Cohen46%
24Todd Gurley46%
25David Montgomery45%

  

RB Carry Share

 PlayerRB Carry Share
1James Robinson100%
2Joe Mixon95%
3Christian McCaffrey92%
4Ezekiel Elliott92%
5Josh Jacobs 86%
6Todd Gurley78%
7Ronald Jones77%
8Clyde Edwards-Helaire76%
9Kenyan Drake73%
10David Johnson69%
11Dalvin Cook67%
12Raheem Mostert65%
13Aaron Jones64%
14Peyton Barber59%
15Austin Ekeler58%
16Adrian Peterson58%
17Boston Scott56%
18Kareem Hunt54%
19David Montgomery54%
20Malcolm Brown51%
21Devin Singletary50%
22Zack Moss50%
23Mark Ingram45%
24Jonathan Taylor45%
25Alvin Kamara43%

  

Team Target Share

 PlayerTeam Target Share
1Alvin Kamara27%
2Josh Jacobs 21%
3Kareem Hunt17%
4Chris Carson17%
5Nyheim Hines17%
6J.D. McKissic17%
7Raheem Mostert16%
8Devin Singletary16%
9Alexander Mattison16%
10Jerick McKinnon16%
11Aaron Jones15%
12Malcolm Brown14%
13Giovani Bernard14%
14David Johnson13%
15Jonathan Taylor13%
16Myles Gaskin13%
17Christian McCaffrey12%
18D'Andre Swift12%
19Ezekiel Elliott11%
20Todd Gurley10%
21Ronald Jones9%
22Zack Moss9%
23Dalvin Cook8%
24David Montgomery8%
25Adrian Peterson7%

  

Routes per QB Dropback

 PlayerRoutes per QB Dropback
1Christian McCaffrey0.85
2David Johnson0.8
3Alvin Kamara0.71
4Myles Gaskin0.68
5Ezekiel Elliott0.65
6Austin Ekeler0.62
7Malcolm Brown0.6
8Nyheim Hines0.58
9J.D. McKissic0.58
10Josh Jacobs 0.56
11Le'Veon Bell0.54
12Clyde Edwards-Helaire0.51
13Kenyan Drake0.51
14J.K. Dobbins0.48
15Devin Singletary0.47
16D'Andre Swift0.47
17Boston Scott0.47
18Raheem Mostert0.45
19Tarik Cohen0.45
20Dalvin Cook0.44
21Chris Carson0.43
22Aaron Jones0.42
23Nick Chubb0.4
24Alexander Mattison0.38
25Joe Mixon0.38

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Donabedian
Jerry was a 2018 finalist for the FSWA's Player Notes Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year awards. A Baltimore native, Jerry roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.
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