Ten weeks of NFL football are (mostly) in the books! This one was a return to form for my priors, what with James Conner, CeeDee Lamb and Aaron Jones all (finally) coming through at the same time. We had some chaos to the games, though, with Zach Ertz and Cooper Kupp going down with injuries that we need to monitor. We also had the entire Josh Allen Elbow Watch that was followed more closely than the ongoing ballot counting from last week’s election (and I’m sure Josh Allen was yelling STOP THE COUNT when he fumbled that ball). But, what are some things from Sunday’s action that we can sink our teeth into? Let’s take a look at some pressing questions from Week 10 of NFL action. Please note that all week 10 snaps and routes are per this very good ProFootballFocus.com article.
Did Rachaad White Tank Leonard Fournette’s Fantasy Value?
For weeks, the Rachaad White drumbeat has pointed to White taking over for Fournette, and it hadn’t really come to fruition. Prior to Sunday’s action, he topped 40% of snaps just once—a 43% share in week seven against Tampa Bay—and he never topped 11 touches. Well, all that went out the window this week. Rachaad White flipped it on Leonard Fournette, playing 65% of snaps (though a late Fournette injury might have skewed this, it only skewed it a handful of snaps) and had 22 carries for 105 yards (4.8 yards per carry), though he had no targets. And, unfortunately for Leonard Fournette, the offense straight up worked better with White, and not Fournette, toting the rock. Still, Fournette had the goal-line carries in this one, converting a goal-line carry into a score.
This could be that drumbeat that we’ve heard of, that the Buccaneers are going from a Fournette-forward offense to a White-forward offense. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to turn the backfield over entirely to Rachaad White, as we saw they didn’t turn the backfield over entirely to Leonard Fournette. But, that doesn’t mean that White won’t get enough carries to matter when he’s the 60% of a 60-40 backfield. After all, Fournette had 24 touches back in week 5, when White played 39% of plays.
And what of Fournette? Well, there’s one big statistic from White’s week ten game that tells me that Fournette will still be involved: zero targets. In fact, when Fournette went out with his injury, the Buccaneers put in Ke’Shawn Vaughn (remember him?) to handle a couple of carries and to get a target. So, even if the Chargers decide to turn the offense over to Rachaad White as their RB1, the pass-catching role should remain Fournette’s, meaning that his value is greatly diminished, but not gone.
Is Kareem Hunt Now Just a Handcuff?
We frequently joke around these parts that Kareem Hunt should have a permanent seat at RB25 every week. He’s not an RB2, but he’s probably the best handcuff that you could have. Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be the case. The Browns gave Kareem Hunt just 24 snaps and 7 opportunities this week, after getting 15 opportunities and 33 snaps two weeks ago prior to the Browns’ bye week. The snap rate (35%) is a new year-long low, and the 7 opportunities mark the third time in the last four games that Hunt failed to get double-digit opportunities, after averaging 14.6 over the first five weeks of the season.
We dismissed the touch issues as the Browns keeping Kareem Hunt healthy to trade him. But, that doesn’t account for what happened today. The Browns went down early, which could have accounted for Hunt not getting a lot of carries, but he ran just ten routes, three fewer than Nick Chubb and the same number of routes as D’Ernest Johnson. So, at this point, I don’t know how you can put Kareem Hunt in your lineup. He had 15 touches in the Browns’ game prior to this week, but it marked the only time in the last four games that’s happened. You can’t cut Kareem Hunt, because if something happens to Nick Chubb, then you have a top-fifteen running back. But, with the current usage, and the Bills & Buccaneers on the horizon, I don’t know how you can use Kareem Hunt in your starting lineup right now.
Have Jerick McKinnon and Isiah Pacheco Destroyed Clyde Edwards-Helaire?
We begged. We pleaded. And in the end, if you didn’t listen, you still have Clyde Edwards-Helaire on your roster. Unfortunately, you and I had as many carries as CEH did this week (unless you’re reading this, Christian McCaffrey, in which case, thank you for being a Niner). Isaiah Pacheco played 56% of snaps today, which gives him one game with over 50% of snaps. That’s the same number that CEH has had this year. Jerick McKinnon was also highly involved, notching 38% of snaps. CEH had 4 snaps (6.3%). This marks the third-straight game that Edwards-Helaire failed to pass 27% of snaps, and gives him four games under 40% of snaps and just one game over 50% of snaps. This has been a concerted effort by the Chiefs to completely erase Edwards-Helaire from the game plan. Even if he dealt with an injury (which, at this point, we have no indication that that’s the case), this is merely the culmination of weeks of CEH marginalization. You probably don’t want to jettison him, not yet, but he’s definitely getting close to that point.
Should We Ditch the Broncos’ Running Backs?
Chase Edmonds joined the crowded Broncos’ backfield this week, and he finished with 3 touches for 9 yards. That wasn’t exactly a great start to his tenure with the Denver Broncos, and his backfield mates didn’t fare much better. Melvin Gordon had 11 touches for 70 yards, and Latavius Murray had 12 touches for 47 yards. None of the backs had a particularly great game, and the fact that they split touches 12/11/9 isn’t exactly inspiring, either. If they split the 30-35 touches per game three ways, I’m not entirely sure how you can trust this offense. This has been a concerted effort by Denver since losing Javonte Williams, with Melvin Gordon getting 57 touches (11.4 per game), Latavius Murray getting 65 (13 per game), and Mike Boone/Chase Edmonds getting 5 touches per game in their healthy games without Javonte Williams. So, this is telling me that the Broncos’ plan for their lead back is to… not have a lead back. With that in mind, if you are in a roster crunch, you can drop one of the running backs. But, if one of them goes down, the other two are set to go off. I would not ditch the Broncos’ running backs, but they are on the short list to get ditched.