RB Phillip Lindsay surprisingly led Denver’s backfield in touches in week 1. (Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

To be a successful fantasy running back, you need to get a lot of touches over the course of the game. Sure, it’s possible we see a guy like Mike Gillislee score 3 TD’s with 3 carries from the 1-yard line (John Kuhn-esque) but it’s not very likely. Fantasy football is a game of numbers and in the case of Running backs, the amount of touches directly correlates with statistics produced. No wonder why the top running backs are the players that get a large percentage of touches on his team’s backfield. If you have 25+ touches a game at running back, you are bound to break free for a couple big runs or even passes out of the backfield. The two running backs this week that had 25+ touches (prior to the Monday night games) were James Conner (28 pts in standard leagues) and Adrian Peterson (20 pts).

Player Team Touches Team RB Touches % of RB Touches
James Conner PIT 36 36 100.0%
Adrian Peterson WAS 28 42 66.7%
Melvin Gordon LAC 24 35 68.6%
Carlos Hyde CLE 23 32 71.9%
Joe Mixon CIN 22 24 91.7%
Dalvin Cook MIN 22 33 66.7%
Saquon Barkley NYG 21 26 80.8%
Lamar Miller HOU 21 27 77.8%
Dion Lewis TEN 21 32 65.6%
Jordan Howard CHI 20 29 69.0%
Peyton Barber TB 19 23 82.6%
Rex Burkhead NE 19 37 51.4%
Ezekiel Elliott DAL 17 18 94.4%
Alvin Kamara NO 17 21 81.0%
Kenyan Drake MIA 17 26 65.4%
T.J. Yeldon JAX 17 30 56.7%
Jordan Wilkins IND 17 31 54.8%
Phillip Lindsay DEN 17 36 47.2%
Kareem Hunt KC 16 22 72.7%
Christian McCaffrey CAR 16 24 66.7%
Jamaal Williams GB 15 19 78.9%
Jay Ajayi PHI 15 29 51.7%
Royce Freeman DEN 15 36 41.7%
David Johnson ARI 14 22 63.6%
Kenneth Dixon BAL 13 30 43.3%
Alfred Morris SF 12 25 48.0%
Matt Breida SF 12 25 48.0%
Leonard Fournette JAX 12 30 40.0%
Nyheim Hines IND 12 31 38.7%
Rashaad Penny SEA 11 22 50.0%
Derrick Henry TEN 11 32 34.4%
Tevin Coleman ATL 10 19 52.6%
Chris Carson SEA 10 22 45.5%
Devonta  Freeman ATL 9 19 47.4%
Frank Gore MIA 9 26 34.6%
Chase Edmonds ARI 8 22 36.4%
LeSean McCoy BUF 7 16 43.8%
Marcus Murphy BUF 6 16 37.5%

Titanic Disappointment

On the other hand, a talented Running back that many people were high on going into this season, Derrick Henry, did not receive the volume. He had 10 carries for 26 yards and 1 catch for 5 yards. Sure, he did not have a good game but given 10-12 more touches at that pace with the exception of one big run/catch of around 20 yards and he is looking at a game with around 80 yards from scrimmage. 8 points as opposed to 2 is a big difference, not just on the scoreboard but for owners’ confidence in that player going forward. Unfortunately for Henry, Dion Lewis received 21 touches and turned them into 110 yards from scrimmage, padded by a nice 26-yard run. If Henry is to get more touches in the future, he’ll become a much less frustrating player to own. Chances increase that the long 26-yard run could be from Henry instead of Lewis next time. It’s all a matter of volume. Enough of the Titans backfield now, there were some surprises Week 1 worth pointing out when it comes to running back volume.

Bye Bye Bell?

Le’Veon who? James Conner had himself a day and kept Steelers fans minds off all the Bell drama. Conner took on 31 carries for 135 yards and 2 TDs along with 5 receptions for 57 yards to end his day with 28 fantasy points. Even though they tied with the Browns, the Steelers will gladly take 4.4 YPC from someone that was going to start the season as a backup and probably not receive more than a handful of touches per game. If you’re the one in your league that picked up Conner, give yourself a pat on the back. No one knows how long Bell will be out and while he is, Conner will continue to have a huge role in the Steelers offense. He should be owned in 100% of leagues. In ESPN leagues he is still available in 12.1%, so check the waiver wire!

Breakout Bronco

Another surprise yesterday was Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay, former member of the Denver Broncos middle school program. He grew up in Denver and played his college ball locally at the University of Colorado where he started 30 of 51 games, finishing his career as CU’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards (5,926) and yards from scrimmage (4,849). He finished his last season at CU with 244 carries for 1,252 yards (5.1 avg) with 16 touchdowns in addition to catching 53 passes for 493 yards (9.3 avg) with one touchdown. The Broncos signed him as an undrafted free agent in May.

Lindsay played as well if not better than the Broncos listed starter Royce Freeman. Freeman was a hot commodity  in the preseason as the coaching staff loved him, and he easily surpassed Devontae Booker on the depth chart. But then week 1 came around and Lindsay suddenly became a big threat to Freeman’s workload. On the ground, Freeman and Lindsay both had 15 carries for 71 yards. However, Lindsay outperformed Freeman in the pass game with 2 receptions for 31 yards while Freeman did not catch a pass. It’s tough to say how this backfield will be handled in the future. It appears the coaching staff will use them both which hurts Freeman’s stock. Freeman will have to pick things up if he wants to get a larger percentage of the carries for the improved Denver offense. Bottom line: It is safe to say that Lindsay will be a popular pickup on the waiver wire this week.


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