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The 2018 Fantasy Football Playoffs are almost here but it’s never too early for a sneak peek into 2019, right? There have been several running backs who have helped their draft stock heading into next season, so it’s time to look at guys that will see a significant rise in ADP from this year till next.

This article is all about watching how a backfield is being used for every team. Snap counts are very useful, but I want to know what a player is doing when he has the ball in his hands. Anytime a running back gets a touch, what is being done with that touch?

Watching a trend with touches for running backs will not only let us know their usage for any given week or period, but how effective they are with the ball. High volume plus high effectiveness is always the best outcome. High volume with low effectiveness can be great and low volume with high effectiveness can be streaky at times. Let’s dive into our Week 13 preview.

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RB Touches and Efficiency Breakdown

Aaron Jones

 

This one must be one has to be the easiest of them all. It’s been a roller coaster season for Aaron Jones who was suspended to start the season, then found himself not being used nearly as much as his talent or efficiency called for all the way to must-start status the rest of the season. Jones is going to be a legitimate second-round pick in 2019.

Jones has increased his touches over the course of the last four weeks to reach a season-high 95% in Week 12. Not only is he becoming a volume monster, but he is becoming an efficiency monster as well, averaging 4.7 yards per touch in Week 12 which dropped his season total to 6.5 yards per touch. There is growing speculation that Mike McCarthy will be fired at the end of the 2018 season and you would imagine a new head coach could help rejuvenate this offense and utilize Jones more, shifting the focus from an aging Aaron Rodgers to Jones who could become one of the most dynamic backs in the game. Start with confidence the rest of the season and draft early in 2019.

Marlon Mack

 

The Indianapolis Colts spent picks on Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins in the 2018 draft, so did they really trust Marlon Mack to become the lead back? It took till Week 6 for him to get healthy but the results when he has been in are undeniable. Mack has a chance to make a huge jump in ADP from 2018 to 2019. You will want to be careful with Mack heading into Week 13 as he is still in the concussion protocol at the time this was written, but long-term, Mack is an RB1 if he can stay healthy.

Mack only saw 55% of the touches in Week 12, but it would have been higher if he didn’t have to leave the game early. He had been averaging more than 60% of the touch share since Week 7, and if he continues to average 5.3 yards per touch, he could put up some top-tier numbers behind a great offensive line and dynamic offense led by Andrew Luck. Apart from two tough matchups against the Jacksonville and Tennessee run defense, Mack has also averaged more than five yards per carry since Week 6.

Nick Chubb

 

Okay, I lied. This one is the easiest. Nick Chubb was up to 91% of the touches in Week 12 for Cleveland running backs and even showed off his pass-catching abilities on a tremendous touchdown. There really isn’t anything else to write about here. Chubb is a first round pick in all fantasy football formats next season.

Sony Michel

 

This one will be an interesting story to watch over the next couple of weeks. Sony Michel is coming off 70% of the running back touches in Week 12, but now we have Rex Burkhead returning. I don’t think Burkhead will do anything to make himself fantasy relevant, but he could do just enough to drop some of Michel’s value the rest of the season. As far as 2019 goes, Michel could be more of a third-round pick for those owners who wish to start their drafts with receivers. Potential for RB1 or high RB2 numbers, but injury concerns and lack of pass-catching opportunities due to James White will cause some concern for owners. Michel is averaging 4.8 yards per touch compared to 6.2 from White, but Michel has dominated the ground game while White has seen most of his work in the air. This will be a backfield to closely monitor the rest of the season.

Josh Adams

 

A favorite of the waiver wire here the last few weeks, Josh Adams appears to be taking over as the lead back in Philadelphia. In a situation like Michel though, the large part of his contributions will likely be on the ground and not through the air. Adams has 5.5 yards per touch this season and has seen his touches per game increase from 39% in Week 10 to 76% in Week 12. Will the Eagles feel the need to add a running back through the draft or free agency though? For the rest of 2018, Adams will offer the appeal of a mid to low-end RB2 based on volume but lack of catches. If the Eagles offense was playing much better, his ceiling would be higher.

Matt Breida

 

One of my favorite players this season and I didn’t even buy into him prior to the year. FYI, that was a huge mistake on my part and honestly, was also one the 49ers made because they signed Jerick McKinnon and if it wasn’t for the injury, we may not have seen how good Breida is. Now the hope is the 49ers stay away from free agent running backs this off-season and maybe add a couple guys through the draft like what Indianapolis did to protect Mack. I don’t know about you, but I want to see Breida as the lead back in San Francisco next season. Considering he is averaging 6.2 yards per touch on 50% of the San Francisco running back touches this season, he has earned it barring health.

Gus Edwards

 

96% of the running back touches. That was the share Gus Edwards had in Week 12 for Ravens running back touches. This was supposed to be a backfield led by Alex Collins and it hasn’t been anything close. Collins will likely be out this off-season since he was only on a one-year deal and Edwards could find himself leading the backfield heading into 2019. Fantasy owners will likely be hesitant, especially those burned by Collins this season, but if Edwards continues to average 5.4 yards per touch the rest of the year, he could be an excellent mid-round pick as an RB2 for a lucky team.

Phillip Lindsay

Has there been a bigger value this season outside of Phillip Lindsay? The guy was probably 0% owned heading into Week 1 of the NFL season as most fantasy owners turned their attention to Royce Freeman. Lindsay changed that quickly as he started off hot and hasn't looked back. Lindsay is averaging six yards per touch on 159 total touches this season and is closing in on 1,000 total yards as well. This guy is going to be a second or third round pick in 2019 and wasn't even heard of by most owners before 2018 started. Not only that, but his value will only get better. Lindsay has three matchups left this season against teams in the top eight of most points allowed to opposing running backs.

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