Bye weeks and injuries will continue to impact our ability to set fantasy football lineups that include fantasy relevant running backs (RBs) whose potential snap counts, receiving targets, and carries give us the best chance to win our weekly matchups in Week 7.

For instance, there’s a chance Cardinals RBs James Conner (ribs) and Darrel Williams (knee) could be inactive again this week. That would pave the way for Eno Benjamin to once again be the Cards’ primary back on Thursday night, with Keaontay Ingram filling the change of pace role. Falcons RB Tyler Allgeier played more snaps than Caleb Huntley last week, but Huntley had one more carry (16) than Allgeier. With Damien Williams eligible to be reinstated from the IR, that distribution of playing time may soon be changing. Chargers RB Sony Michel will now be Austin Ekeler’s handcuff with Joshua Kelley (sprained MCL) likely to miss a few games. Will Kelley’s injury also provide rookie RB Isaiah Spiller with the opportunity to finally make his season debut?

In this week’s column we’ll identify some additional RBs who could see increased or decreased opportunities this week. We’ll also take a closer look at a few backfields that are in flux and analyze their recent and potential future RB usage in an attempt to project how their RBs will be utilized moving forward.


NFL Week 6 Running Back Usage Report

Los Angeles Rams

Cam Akers was inactive for Week 6 due to “personal reasons”.  Head coach Sean McVay has candidly said that the team was actively trying to trade Akers and find “a good situation for him with another team”. Some reports suggest that the Rams may end up releasing Akers if they can’t work out a mutually beneficial trade. That leaves Darrell Henderson as the Rams’ lead back moving forward. He led Rams RBs in snaps played and routes run in Week 6. Henderson also had four red zone opportunities, converting one of them, into a two-yard TD run. Malcolm Brown was Henderson’s backup and had one red zone carry. Kyren Williams, the Rams’ 2022 fifth round pick who is on the IR recuperating from a high ankle sprain, should be on your watch list. Williams rushed for 2127 yards and caught 77 passes in his final two seasons at Notre Dame. Based on his original injury timeline of six to eight weeks, Williams could return to action as soon as Week 8.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are said to be entertaining trade offers for Christian McCaffrey and the above-mentioned Rams, 49ers and Bills have been named as potential trade partners. McCaffrey looked like his old self in Week 6, rushing for 69 yards (5.3 YPC) and adding seven receptions for 89 yards. Under recently fired Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, Chuba Hubbard was McCaffrey’s handcuff last season. In the eight games in which he had double digit carries last season Hubbard rushed for 469 yards (3.75 YPC) and scored four TDs. However, in Steve Wilks’ first game as Panthers interim head coach, D’Onta Foreman more than doubled Hubbard’s snap count (10 to 4) and routes run (5 to 2). Foreman and Hubbard’s usage will have to be closely monitored in the coming weeks leading up to the NFL’s November 1st trade deadline. 

Denver Broncos

When Javonte Williams season ended after he tore his ACL in Week 4, offensive coordinator Justin Outten said that Melvin Gordon would be the Broncos RB who would “carry the load obviously”. Just a couple of weeks later, Gordon was benched mid-way through the first quarter of the Broncos’ Monday night matchup against the Chargers. He carried the ball just three times. Some Twitter users wondered how the Broncos could justify using Gordon in a timeshare with Javonte Williams to start the season, and then bench him just a few weeks later in favor of newly acquired 32-year-old Latavius Murray and perennial backup Mike Boone. Head coach Nathaniel Hackett confirmed that Gordon’s in-game benching was not injury related but didn’t provide much more information about how he’ll be used moving forward. Murray was effective Monday night, rushing 15 times for 66 yards (4.4 YPC) and for now, appears to be the Broncos’ primary early down back. He seems to be the safest Bronco RB to start in Week 7 but until we have a better understanding of how the team intends to utilize their backfield, do so at your own risk. Gordon shouldn’t be in any starting fantasy lineups this week but unless the Broncos trade or release him, he’ll still likely be part of the Broncos’ RB rotation at some point this season. If you have room on your roster don’t drop Gordon just yet.

New York Giants

Saquon Barkley is fantasy football’s second-best RB in points per reception (PPR) scoring formats this season. Unfortunately, he’s been playing with a sore shoulder for the past couple of weeks. It’s not going to keep him from playing in Week 7, but at one-point last week his shoulder was clearly in pain, and it forced him to the sidelines for a short period. If you roster Barkley do yourself a favor and grab Matt Breida off the waiver wire just in case… 

Baltimore Ravens

Speaking of injuries, J.K. Dobbins sat out the second half of the Ravens’ matchup against the Giants last week after his surgically repaired knee tightened up on him. Kenyan Drake played the majority of snaps with Dobbins sidelined, carrying the ball 10 times for 119 yards (11.9 YPC) and scoring a TD. If Dobbins is inactive this week Drake will again likely be the Ravens’ primary back with Mike Davis filling the change of pace role. The Ravens’ backfield will have a lot of mouths to feed once Justice Hill (hamstring) and Gus Edwards (knee) are healthy enough to return to action. 

Indianapolis Colts

We’re going to have to watch the Colts’ injury report very carefully as we head into Week 7. Jonathan Taylor (ankle) and  Nyheim Hines (concussion) were inactive Week 6 and Deon Jackson left Sunday’s game early due to a quad injury. Jackson, has 104 rushing yards (4.16 YPC) and 14 catches as the Colts’ primary back over the past two weeks and should continue to have a role in the team’s offense moving forward. It appears that he’ll be Taylor’s handcuff from now on and with his proficiency at catching passes he might eventually cut into Hines’ playing time. Philip Lindsay had three carries and three targets in Week 6, but the number of snaps he plays in the coming weeks will depend on the health of his fellow Colts RBs. 

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