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 NFC 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 to check out the AFC Backfield Breakdowns.
San Francisco 49ers
Top fantasy target: Tevin Coleman
Others in the mix: Raheem Mostert, Jerick McKinnon
When you’re not sure what to make of a backfield, take the cheapest reasonable option.
Some might say that’s McKinnon in this case, but he remains an unknown quantity coming off 2 years lost to a knee injury.
Coleman, however, began last year leading the San Francisco backfield. He reclaimed that mantle after returning from an injury that cost him weeks 2 and 3. He slipped behind Raheem Mostert in the middle of the year, but then re-emerged for a 22-105-2 rushing line in the playoff-opening win over the Vikings.
More recently, Matt Barrows of The Athletic wrote: “[HC] Kyle Shanahan and [RBs coach] Bobby Turner liked starting games with Coleman because he’s a little bigger and more physical runner than the others. So my guess is that the arrangement will be the same as last season: Coleman starts, with Turner then using his feel for who’s hot that day dictating the snap loads for the rest of the game."
That sounds frustrating for fantasy, and it often was in 2019. Coleman carried 16+ times in weeks 5, 6 and 7 after returning from his injury, but then he only topped 12 carries 1 more time the rest of the regular season. Mostert stayed in the single digits whenever Coleman was on the field until Week 13. He then averaged 14.6 rushes per game from Week 13 through the 3 playoff victories, but Mostert never reached 13 attempts in consecutive games over that span. He also topped 2 targets just 3 times all year.
If the 49ers hadn’t led all RB groups in non-PPR scoring and ranked 4th in PPR in 2019, this might just be a situation to avoid. Instead, consider grabbing the best value among Kyle Shanahan RBs.