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TRAPS & TRENDS: Week 7

Should Charles Edward-Helaire managers hit the panic button with a still very capable Le’Veon Bell in the backfield mix? Senior FantasySharks.com writer Matt Wilson answers that question and takes a look at three other changing backfields in his newest edition of Traps & Trends.

What an exciting Sunday of Week 7 NFL action! Six of the 12 games played were decided by eight or fewer points; two rookie quarterbacks – Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert – played and produced gobs of passing yards and touchdown strikes like seasoned veterans; and Tyler Lockett racked up 200 receiving yards while Davante Adams finished with just four fewer receiving yards. On the downside, the vaunted Dallas Cowboys passing attack fizzled hard for the second week in a row, and the Atlanta Falcons found a new way to lose a game. There were also a lot of high-profile injuries:

Week 7 Injury Report

QB Andy Dalton (concussion)

QB Drew Lock (knee)

RB Devonta Freeman (ankle)

RB Jeff Wilson (calf)

RB Phillip Lindsay (concussion)

RB Chris Carson (foot)

RB Kenyan Drake (ankle)

RB Chris Thompson (COVID-19)

WR DeSean Jackson (ankle)

WR Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)

WR Odell Beckham (knee)

WR Diontae Johnson (ankle bruise)

WR Marquez Callaway (ankle)

WR Russell Gage (knee; returned)

WR Deebo Samuel (hamstring)

WR Breshad Perriman (concussion)

WR N’Keal Harry (concussion)

WR Dede Westbrook (leg)

TE Dawson Knox (COVID-19)

TE Virgil Green (ankle)

 

We’re just seven weeks into the 2020 NFL fantasy football season, but…

1. Will the Kansas City Chiefs backfield morph into a 50/50 timeshare or something close to it soon?

The Dudes: Clyde Edwards-Helaire & Le’Veon Bell

The Damage: During Kansas City’s 43-16 blowout win blowout win over the Denver Broncos this past Sunday, the Chiefs offense didn’t have to do much because the defense amassed two interceptions, two fumbles, three sacks, a kick return for a touchdown and an interception return for a touchdown. Edwards-Helaire carried eight times for 46 yards and one touchdown, and caught one pass for 17 yards on four targets (he dropped what could have been a touchdown reception).

Bell, making his Chiefs debut, toted the rock six times for 39 yards but didn’t draw any targets. Is the 28-year-old Bell still capable of playing well enough to force his way into a 50/50 timeshare with Edwards-Helaire?

The Diagnosis: TREND

Going just by the numbers, some think Bell’s debut was inconclusive. The final touch count was nine for Edwards-Helaire and six for Bell, but CEH owners have reason to panic: Bell passed the eye test easily. He ran very well (6.5 yards per carry), often resembling the talented runner that most of us remember from his days with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In case you’re wondering, Bell wasn’t limited to fourth-quarter clock-killing duty in the Denver game. His first three touches came in the first quarter of the Chiefs/Broncos game on Kansas City’s second possession. Does a low-level backup usually receive touches that early?

Although Bell didn’t draw any targets or receive any goal-line touches against the Broncos, I suspect he’ll be sharing those with his rookie backfield wingman even though Edwards-Helaire will remain the primary runner with Bell operating in a complementary role. CEH will offer solid RB2 value most weeks while Bell looks like a fantasy RB4 assuming that he has some kind of role as a receiver. It would be crazy to exclude one of the NFL’s best receiving tailbacks from the passing attack. I’m expecting a 60/40 split in the touches eventually…with a 50/50 split still possible.

 

2. Compiling three 100-yard rushing efforts in a row doesn’t guarantee job security in the Tampa Bay backfield.

The Dudes: Ronald Jones & Leonard Fournette

The Damage: Lineup decisions were so much simpler for Jones managers while Fournette missed Week 4 through Week 6 because of an ankle injury. During the first three weeks of the regular season, the two ball carriers operated in an unpredictable hot-hand timeshare. When Fournette landed on the injury shelf, Jones operated in a workhorse role for the next three games and was very productive:

RONALD JONES GAME LOGS (Week 4 – Week 6)
WK OPP ATT YDS TD TAR REC YDS TD
4 LAC 20 111 0 9 6 17 0
5 @CHI 17 106 0 5 3 19 0
6 GB 23 113 2 2 2 8 0

It seemed reasonable to think that Jones, based on his obvious success pounding the rock, would remain the lead dog in the backfield when Fournette returned for his team’s Week 7 clash with the Las Vegas Raiders. That’s not how things went down though. During the Raiders game, the “Tampa Bay Timeshare” returned. Jones, posting his worst rushing numbers since Week 2, toted the rock 13 times for 34 yards and one touchdown and caught one of his two targets for two yards while Fournette topped him with 11 carries for 50 yards and a season-best six receptions for 47 yards on seven targets. Is the Tampa Bay Timeshare here to stay?

The Diagnosis: TREND

It’s a tough break for you Jones managers. There’s nothing fluky going on here. The Buccaneers used Jones and Fournette in a committee to open the season, and, with both runners healthy, they’ve gone back to it. The final touch count in the Las Vegas game was Jones, 14 and Fournette, 17. Barring unexpected game situations, expect what’s close to a 50/50 split to continue. Jones likely will remain the starter while Fournette handles the change-of-pace/passing-down/clock-killing duties. For lineups, I would treat both as a fantasy RB3 option at best.

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson has played NFL fantasy football since 1994 and has been a featured columnist at FantasySharks.com since 2008. His 18 combined years of professional writing experience includes a five-year stint as a contributing writer/editor at KFFL.com. He has been a featured contributor to The Fantasy Football Guide since 2008 and has been published regularly in the award-winning USA Today Sports Fantasy Football preview. Matt is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and holds a degree in journalism from Northern Illinois.