Running Back Opportunity Share Report: Week Six

David Wright

Welcome back to the Running Back Opportunity Share Report, the second installment in this weekly series examining how teams are deploying their running backs. Volume is king for running backs in fantasy football. Please refer to last week’s article for analysis from weeks one through five and for more information on the importance of volume for running backs.

What is RB Opportunity Share?

RB Opportunity Share is calculated by combining a player’s carries and targets and dividing them by the team’s total non-quarterback carries and running back targets.* This provides a single metric to illustrate the percentage of the team running back opportunities a player is receiving.

Bellcow Report

For this series, bellcow running backs will be defined as running backs with an Opportunity Share greater than or equal to 70 percent.

Blue Chips: Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Committee Backfields: Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Football Team, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, and Los Angeles Rams.

Medical Tent: Joe Mixon, Miles Sanders, and Raheem Mostert

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Derrick Henry, RB TEN

Henry lived up to his nickname “King Henry” this week. He finished as the RB1 and had a 75.0 percent Opportunity Share (seventh). Henry carried the ball 22 times for 212 and two touchdowns. He also produced through the air this week catching two of five targets for 52 yards. It was an ideal game-script for Henry this week with the Titans leading for the majority of the game and winning the coin toss to start overtime.

Looking ahead, Henry does have a difficult upcoming schedule with Pittsburgh (first in Football Outsiders Run Defense DVOA) and Chicago (fifth in Football Outsiders Defense DVOA). Regardless of his schedule, fantasy managers are enjoying Henry’s Opportunity Share after he’s finished four of his five weeks with over 75.0 percent of Tennessee’s opportunities.

Phillip Lindsay, RB DEN

Lindsay returned to game action in week six after missing the last three games with a turf toe injury. Lindsay gashed New England and their Football Outsiders 18th-ranked rush defense for 101 yards on 23 carries. He had a 71.9 percent Opportunity Share (ninth) and was the RB23 with Melvin Gordon missing the game with strep throat.

All of Lindsay’s work came on the ground after not being targeted through the air by Drew Lock. Fantasy managers should be excited because Lindsay looked explosive in his first game back from injury. However, the Denver backfield should revert to a committee approach when Gordon returns next week.

Ronald Jones, RB TB

Jones is making a convincing case he should be the lead back for the Buccanneers. Jones had a 69.4 percent Opportunity Share (12th) and was the fantasy RB4 overall against the Packers in week six. He is bringing a smile to all of the RoJo truthers out there in fantasy land as he rushed the ball 23 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Jones also secured both of his targets for eight yards. Leonard Fournette missed this week’s game with an injury and Rojo’s performances over the last few weeks should continue to allow Bruce Arians to gradually bring Fournette back to action. Nevertheless, it appears Jones has earned a valuable role when Fournette returns from injury.

Myles Gaskin, RB MIA

Fantasy managers now know why Le’Veon Bell didn’t sign with Miami: Myles Gaskin. Gaskin had a 71.0 percent Opportunity Share (tenth) in week six and rushed 18 times for 91 yards. He was effective through the air earning a 13.8 percent target share by catching all four of his targets for 35 yards. Gaskin finished as the fantasy RB7 this week but more importantly, he seems to have established himself as the clear back in Miami.

He has finished with an Opportunity Share above 70.0 percent in three of the past four weeks and his 14.7 percent target share is giving him a solid weekly floor. As a stash or an early waiver wire pick up in deep dynasty leagues, Gaskin is proving to be a valuable asset this season and possibly beyond.

David Johnson, RB HOU

Last week Johnson was listed in the “Better Days Ahead” category. Unfortunately, the better days didn’t come this week. Johnson still had a 77.8 percent Opportunity Share (fourth) but only managed 57 yards on 19 attempts. A rushing touchdown saved his day but one reception on two targets for 12 yards didn’t do much to help his production.

On the season, the lack of targets is really preventing him from being a top-12 running back. He has yet to eclipse four targets in a game after averaging 7.5 targets per game during his overall RB1 season in 2016. Johnson’s opportunity will keep him in the top-24 RB territory each week until he’s used more in the passing game. However, on a positive note, Houston scored 36 points in week six which could lead to more scoring opportunities for Johnson in the weeks ahead.

Devonta Freeman, RB NYG

A friendly reminder the year is 2020, not 2015 and Freeman secured a 90.9 percent Opportunity Share (second) in week six. Freeman carried the ball 18 times for an uninspiring 61 yards. It’s difficult to get excited about a running back on the second-worst scoring offense (16.8 points per game) and the slowest paced offense (58.2 plays per game) in the NFL. However, Freeman’s workload provides a safe option for managers dealing with bye weeks and injuries.

James Robinson, RB JAC

Robinson detractors finally witnessed what happens when Jacksonville’s offensive struggles catch up to him. Robinson fought his way to a 76.2 percent Opportunity Share (fifth) on 12 carries for only 29 yards. Luckily, he rescued his fantasy day with a receiving touchdown on four receptions for 24 yards. A bad offensive day overall for the Jaguars but Robinson still was the fantasy RB9 in week six. Robinson remains the feature back in Jacksonville for the foreseeable future.

Mike Davis, RB CAR

Week six was the first game since taking over for Christian McCaffrey in which Davis struggled with his efficiency. He had -3.4 fantasy point over expected. Davis still had a 77.8 percent Opportunity Share (third) with 18 rush attempts for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Week six was also the first game Davis didn’t see at least six targets in a game as he caught two of three targets for three yards. Despite underwhelming counting stats Davis finished as the fantasy RB20 and will remain the primary back in Carolina until McCaffrey returns.

David Montgomery, RB CHI

The good news for Montgomery is he had a 100.0 percent Opportunity Share (first). The bad news is he didn’t do very much with it. With back-to-back inefficient weeks, Montgomery only managed 58 yards on 19 rush attempts and caught four of five targets for 39 receiving yards. The receiving production is helpful for fantasy managers, but most were expecting Montgomery to do a little more than 13.7 PPR points with his 19 weighted opportunities in week six.

Kenyan Drake, RB ARI

Things in Arizona’s backfield look a lot different after week six compared to the first five weeks of the season. Drake exploded with 20 rush attempts for 164 rush yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals were a boom or bust offense all night and it was epitomized late in the fourth quarter by Drake’s 69-yard touchdown run to make him the fantasy RB2 on the week.

After being outplayed by Chase Edmonds most of the season, Drake’s Opportunity Share actually increased to 75.9 percent (sixth) in week six. Kliff Kingsbury looks confident in Drake as the primary back in Arizona for at least the foreseeable future.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB DAL

The floor caved in around Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys early in their week six matchup against the Cardinals. Elliott fumbled twice on back-to-back drives and saw his Opportunity Share plummet to a season-low 57.5 percent. Zeke rushed 12 times for 49 yards and zero touchdowns on Monday night. His fantasy night was saved by catching eight of eleven targets for 31 yards to make him the fantasy RB18.

Tony Pollard handled a season-high 35.0 percent Opportunity Share in week six but did little with his opportunities by rushing for only 31 yards on ten attempts. Zeke’s fantasy managers need to have a short memory after this week and can start by realizing he is still the fantasy RB2 in 2020 and is on pace for over 115 targets on the season.

Devin Singletary, RB BUF

Week six was another disappointing night for Singletary as he had ten carries for 32 yards and only one catch on two targets against Kansas City. The only thing to raise the spirits of Singletary’s fantasy managers is to highlight Singletary’s 70.6 Opportunity Share (11th) compared to Zach Moss’s 29.4 percent Opportunity Share. Singletary should struggle to find fantasy lineups until Buffalo starts targeting him more out of the backfield or faces an extremely favorable matchup.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB KC

On the season, Edwards-Helaire has a 76.0 percent Opportunity Share (ninth) but after the Le’Veon Bell signing, fantasy players were abandoning ship. Edwards-Helaire responded in a big way on national television in week six. He handled the load with 26 carries for 161 yards and catching all four of his targets for eight yards. He had another touchdown taken away by a penalty to keep him at one touchdown on the season.

Edwards-Helaire remains unlucky and only has scored one rushing touchdown on 505 rushing yards. The league average for running backs is currently one touchdown for every 122.6 rushing yards. Reports indicate Edwards-Helaire will remain the primary back in Andy Reid’s offense and should still be a high-end RB2 this season.

Committee Backfields

New England Patriots

In week four, Damien Harris led the New England running backs with a 41.5 percent Opportunity Share on 17 carries for 100 yards. James White and Rex Burkhead had a 26.8 percent and 29.3 percent Opportunity Share respectively. However in week six, James White earned a 52 percent Opportunity Share on four rush attempts for eight yards and eight receptions on nine targets for 65 yards.

White’s increased usage in week six was most likely due to the Patriots playing from behind most of the game. In the Patriots five games this season, there have been four different running backs to lead the team in Opportunity Share. Fantasy managers don’t have an easy choice when it comes to running backs in New England. Not only are the Patriots inconsistent with their running back usage but Cam Newton functions as the primary goal-line back.

The safest choice in New England is still White in PPR leagues and he is leading the Patriot’s running backs in opportunities with 12.9 weighted opportunities per game (an opportunity metric that adjusts for how valuable targets are in fantasy football). Meanwhile, Damien Harris does appear to have the most upside in New England but is a risky play due to his fluctuating opportunities from week to week.

Detroit Lions

A fun way to troll fantasy managers with D’Andre Swift on their team is to simply mention Adrian Peterson. Their blood pressure spikes immediately. Mostly because the veteran running back and early-September free-agent acquisition is leading the Detroit backfield with a 47.2 percent Opportunity Share.

Week six had the feeling of a Swift break-out party as he more than doubled his carries on the season going for 116 rush yards and two scores on 14 attempts. Swift had a 41.9 percent Opportunity Share (27) in week six and had more opportunities than Peterson for the first time since week two. Peterson still had 15 attempts for 40 yards and a touchdown after he missed practiced with an illness earlier in the week.

Swift’s overall touch increase had a lot to do with the Jacksonville Jaguars and their Football Outsiders league bottom Defense DVOA. The Lions’ had their opportunity jump from 28 opportunities in week four to 43 against the Jaguars in week six. This is not meant to throw a wet blanket on Swift’s week six fantasy RB3 performance because his performance was excellent. Swift managers should remain hopeful but also realistic as Peterson was still heavily involved and Kerryon Johnson still had a 14.0 percent Opportunity Share in week six.

Baltimore Ravens

An ankle sprain for Mark Ingram in week six shuffled up the Ravens’ touch distribution but he is expected to return in week eight after their week seven bye. With Ingram only playing nine snaps, Gus Edwards led the way in week six with a 42.4 percent Opportunity Share (26th) and JK Dobbins was close behind with a 39.4 percent Opportunity Share (30th). Edwards and Dobbins didn’t produce on their opportunities in week six as they both failed to eclipse 30 yards from scrimmage.

Fantasy managers looking for Dobbins to emerge might notice Dobbins exclusively handled the receiving work earning four targets last week. This was offset by Edwards converting on the goal-line for a touchdown. The Ravens and John Harbaugh seem to be content with a three-way committee going forward.

Washington Football Team

After seeing a 54.5 percent and 64.0 percent Opportunity Share in weeks four and five, Antonio Gibson’s Opportunity Share fell to 41.2 percent (28th) in week six. This correlates with JD McKissic’s emergence over the last three weeks. McKissic has seen his Opportunity Share increase from 30.3 percent in week 3, to 36.0 percent in week 5, to 41.2 percent in week six. McKissic outperformed Gibson in week six totaling 84 yards on 14 touches while Gibson had 13 touches for 55 yards.

The Gibson breakout was predicated on him securing a large portion of the opportunities in Washington but things are headed in the opposite direction over the last several weeks. Meanwhile, McKissic has emerged as a solid depth piece in PPR formats through six weeks.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts backfield has been frustrating at times for fantasy players. Since having a season-low 38.9 percent Opportunity Share in week three, Jonathan Taylor’s Opportunity Share has increased to 45.0 percent in week four, 62.5 percent in week five, and 64.0 percent in week six. During the same time period, Nyheim Hines has seen his Opportunity Share decrease from 33.3 percent in week three to 30.0 percent in week four, 25.0 percent in week five, and 24.0 percent in week six. Additionally, Jordan Wilkins averaged a 25.3 percent Opportunity Share from week two through week four but has only seen six snaps in the last two weeks.

Overall, things are trending in a positive direction for Taylor and he’s even seen a 9.4 percent target share the last two weeks. Taylor’s rookie season is a classic example of failing to meet lofty expectations. He’s still the fantasy RB15 through six weeks and is the RB22 in points per game. Taylor should continue to be a good fantasy option following the Colts’ bye in week seven.

Pittsburgh Steelers

James Conner is in firm control of the Steelers backfield this season. He has a 54.9 percent Opportunity Share (23rd) and is averaging 16.2 fantasy points per game (RB14). Benny Snell is handling the backup duties with a 27.4 percent Opportunity Share and Anthony McFarland is sprinkled in with a 14.0 percent Opportunity Share. As long as Conner remains healthy, he projects to be the Steelers primary back this season.

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Jones is the clear primary running back in Green Bay. Jones has a 57.9 percent Opportunity Share on the season (21st). Jones’ backup Jamaal Williams has a 26.4 percent Opportunity Share and AJ Dillon has worked his way up to an 8.8 percent Opportunity Share after seeing five carries for 31 yards in week six. Fantasy managers would like to see Jones up around the 70 percent Opportunity Share threshold but are more than happy with his overall fantasy RB3 rank on the season.

Los Angeles Rams

Malcolm Brown led the Rams in Opportunity Share through the first four weeks of the season with a 41.6 percent Opportunity Share. Brown has a 26.8 percent Opportunity Share the last two weeks in large part due to the emergence of Darrell Henderson. After only seeing a 37.3 percent Opportunity Share in weeks one through four, Henderson has averaged a 56.8 percent Opportunity Share the last two weeks.

Over the last two weeks, Henderson has finished as the fantasy RB6 and RB27. The real surprise for the Rams’ backfield in week six was Cam Akers only seeing one snap and zero touches after a promising return from injury the previous week. Henderson has control of the Rams’ backfield situation for the moment.

Medical Tent

Joe Mixon, RB CIN

Mixon battled through a foot injury in week six. He left the game for a short period of time and returned briefly before finally leaving the game half-way through the fourth quarter. Mixon still handled 60.0 percent of the opportunities for the Bengals but lost out on two goal-line touchdowns to Giovani Bernard and Joe Burrow.

He finished the day with 18 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught two of three targets for 15 yards. Fantasy managers should monitor the injury reports throughout the week and if Mixon fails to suit up on Sunday, Bernard should be a solid flex option.

Miles Sanders, RB PHI

Sanders suffered a knee injury on a long run in his week six matchup against the Ravens. Despite leaving the game with an injury, Sanders still posted nine carries for 118 yards and one reception for negative six yards. Sanders did drop a wide-open touchdown pass from Carson Wentz earlier in the game as he continues to just miss putting it all together on Sundays. According to Chris Mortenson Sanders is expected to miss one to two weeks due to his injury.

Doug Pederson is expected to go back to a committee approach with Boston Scott and Corey Clement during Sanders’ absence. Scott had a 55.0 percent Opportunity Share compared to Clement’s 40.0 percent Opportunity Share back in week one when Sanders missed the game with a hamstring injury. Due to bye weeks and injuries, both Scott and Clement are realistic options for week seven.

Raheem Mostert, RB SF

Mostert was placed on injured reserve following a high-ankle sprain in week six. Tevin Coleman is still currently on injured reserve with a knee injury but original estimates indicate he could be returning as soon as this week. If Coleman is not ready to go, Jerick McKinnon, JaMycal Hasty, and Jeff Willson all figure to be involved going forward.

Hasty had a 24.4 percent Opportunity Share in week six while McKinnon had a 22.0 percent Opportunity Share. Hasty did see the majority of the touches down the stretch against the Rams with nine carries for 37 yards and also was targeted once by Jimmy Garoppolo. Hasty could be a very interesting option for fantasy managers regardless of format heading into week seven but McKinnon could also have value. McKinnon was the fantasy RB14 and RB6 in the two previous weeks Mostert missed due to injury.

This wraps up the RB Opportunity Share Report for week six. The stats used in this article can be found in my free spreadsheet here. Thank you to, Football Outsiders,, and for the stats and information provided in this article.


*Some sites use only running back carries instead of non-quarterback carries. Due to an increased number of designed wide receiver and tight end runs in today’s NFL non-running back carries presents a more complete picture of a running back’s opportunity. If there was a better and more readily available stat for quarterback designed runs they would be included as well.

david wright