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AFC Team-by-Team Backfield Breakdowns (Updated)

By Jared Smola 8:09am EDT 9/1/20


Deciphering all 32 backfields is as important now as it’s ever been. Committee attacks have made those true 3-down workhorses more rare (and valuable). But they’ve also deepened the pool of viable fantasy RBs.

So let’s dive into the AFC backfields and determine how the touches and fantasy points will be divvied. The “top fantasy target” for each team below is the best value at ADP, not necessarily the highest-ranked player in that backfield.

Note: This article was originally published on August 12 and updated on September 1. Updates are in bold.

Don't forget the check out the NFC Backfield Breakdowns.


Baltimore Ravens

Top fantasy target: J.K. Dobbins

Other notables: Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill

We start with the team that just set the record for rushing yards in a season (3,296). Baltimore’s 596 rushing attempts were 98 more than any other team last year. They also led the league with a 56% run rate.

Of course, QB Lamar Jackson accounted for a big chunk of that rushing production. But Ravens RBs still combined for 393 carries, 1,954 yards and 14 TDs. That’s a lot of fantasy goodness.

Ingram was the lead dog last year, turning 202 carries into 1,018 yards and 10 TDs. He chipped in a 26-247-5 receiving line to finish 11th among RBs in PPR points and 8th in non-PPR. He was obviously in a fertile spot for production — but Ingram was solid in his own right, ranking 17th in Elusive Rating among 45 RBs with 100+ carries.

There are reasons to be wary of him in 2020 drafts, though. For starters, he’s a near lock for negative TD regression after scoring 15 times on 228 touches last year. He’s also 30 now, an age at which we see very few big fantasy seasons from RBs. Over the past 10 years, there have been only 7 RBs to reach 1,000 rushing yards at 30+ years old. (And 3 of those came from the evidently ageless Frank Gore.)

But the biggest concern for Ingram is the arrival of 2nd-round rookie J.K. Dobbins. He set the Ohio State freshman record with 1,403 rushing yards back in 2017, followed that up with a 230-1,053-10 rushing line in 2018 and then exploded for 2,003 yards and 21 scores this past season. Dobbins ranked top 12 among draft-eligible backs in both yards after contact and missed tackles forced in 2019, per Pro Football Focus. And 57% of his runs last year came on run-pass option plays. Baltimore easily led the league in RPO rush attempts last year.

So Dobbins looks like a perfect fit in this offense. At minimum, we’re expecting him to absorb the 7.5 carries per game Gus Edwards averaged in Ingram’s 15 games last year. But if Ingram shows any signs of decline, Dobbins will be there to snatch up a bigger role. And the rookie might just prove too talented to keep under wraps even if Ingram doesn’t take a step back.

We’d rather take a shot on Dobbins’ ceiling in fantasy drafts — especially since he’s going over 2 rounds later than Ingram (7.01 vs. 4.11).

Ravens OC Greg Roman has talked up using all 4 of his RBs this year, but Edwards and Hill will very likely need Ingram or Dobbins to get hurt or falter to have a shot at real fantasy value.

Dobbins has been 1 of the stars of Ravens training camp, impressing as both a runner and receiver. Expect him to have a role right out of the gate. Exactly how big a role is uncertain, but he remains a recommended target in the 7th round of fantasy drafts.

Ingram is still going in the 4th or 5th round of most drafts. He's a stay-away at that price.


Buffalo Bills

Top fantasy target: Zack Moss

Other notables: Devin Singletary

Under OC Brian Daboll the past 2 seasons, Buffalo has ranked 4th and 7th in run rate and 6th and 6th in rush attempts. This figures to remain 1 of the run-heavier offenses in the NFL in 2020.

Singletary is coming off a nice rookie season. He popped off 5.1 yards per carry and ranked 9th in Elusive Rating among 45 RBs with 100+ attempts. We saw his upside when he took over as the Bills’ clear lead back over the final 9 games (including playoffs). Singletary averaged 16 carries, 4 targets and 82 total yards per game during that stretch.

But we have concerns. First, Singletary was inefficient in the passing game last year, ranking 40th in yards per target and 41st in yards per route run among 43 RBs with 30+ targets. Second, Singletary was rarely used near the goal line. He carried just twice inside the 5-yard line all last season. RB Frank Gore and QB Josh Allen combined for 16 totes inside the 5.

Then there’s Moss, who was the 86th overall pick of this spring’s draft — just 12 picks later than Singletary went back in 2019. The 223-pound Moss has 20 pounds on Singletary, so we’re betting on the rookie taking over Gore’s goal-line role. And don’t be surprised if Moss turns this into a pure committee backfield. He turned in 3 straight seasons of 1,000+ rushing yards and double-digit TDs at Utah, while also totaling 65 receptions. Moss ranked 2nd last year among all draft-eligible RBs with 89 missed tackles forced and 8th with 1,042 yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus.

We’d much rather take a shot on Moss in the 9th or 10th round of a fantasy draft than spend a 4th- or 5th-rounder on Singletary.

Moss seems to have made up ground on Singletary over the past couple of weeks. The rookie has reportedly received lots of 1st-team reps and showed well as a runner, receiver and pass blocker. Singletary, meanwhile, has had some ball-security issues, losing at least 2 fumbles.

Most Bills beat writers expect this to be a committee backfield, with Moss even leading the way in some matchups. Moss' ADP has climbed into the 8th round in sharper drafts. He's fairly priced there. Singletary still tends to go in the 5th, which is too pricey.


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