Is there anything worse than a shared backfield? That feeling of anger and disbelief when your running back carries the ball five or six times on a drive, just to get vultured on the goal line by his backfield mate? Well, you're in luck because the 2019 Fantasy Football Backfield Committees article is here to help you sort through the mess!
For our purposes, a committee backfield is a situation where two or more running backs are projected to split carries. This means one or both will have their Fantasy value severely affected.
As the NFL moves towards multiple running backs to preserve the health and longevity of their players, it has become more important for Fantasy owners to pick the right members of the committee. Evaluating how these committees will distribute volume is key to winning your league.
2019 Fantasy Football Backfield Committees
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New England Patriots
Players of Note: Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, James Develin
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New England has been the champagne of backfield committees for years and things are shaping up that way for the 2019 season.
The Patriots' running backs (and Cordarrelle Patterson) combined for nearly 1,800 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Rookie Sony Michel led the team with 931 yards on 209 attempts. The explosive three-down back was New England's main early-down RB who should get the majority of touches.
James White was second on the team in rushing attempts and receptions, making him one of the best receiving backs in the league. White will be the most consistent player in this backfield with an established dual-threat role. If N'Keal Harry struggles to acclimate to the NFL, White could see a lot of touches as a route runner, making him a great option in PPR leagues.
Rex Burkhead is a good all-around back that could steal 5-10 touches any given week. Third-round rookie Damien Harris doesn't have an established role to start the season but represents one of the best handcuffs in football.
James Develin is the ultimate vulture, scoring four touchdowns on just six regular-season carries. Anytime the Patriots get inside the five-yard line, Develin is a threat to steal a touchdown.
San Francisco 49ers
Players of Note: Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida
The 49er's backfield may be the hardest to decipher going into draft season. Matt Breida performed well last season, rushing for 814 yards and three touchdowns. Breida's biggest flaw was his proneness to injury. The 24-year-old played in 14 games but was hobbled with several injuries, even when dressed resulting in just 153 carries.
Tevin Coleman enters the fray as the most experienced RB, having shouldered starting duties in Atlanta when another injury-prone RB, Devonta Freeman, missed time. In two seasons with Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator, Coleman averaged 4.4 yards per carry. In the 2016 season, Coleman also caught 31 passes for 421 yards.
The wildcard in the equation is former Minnesota Viking Jerick McKinnon. After signing with the Niners last offseason, McKinnon tore his ACL before stepping into a game. The 27-year-old is a talented pass-catcher and prior to the Coleman signing, Shanahan said that McKinnon would be the starter.
Coleman's experience and success as the lead back for the Falcons likely makes him the favorite for early-down touches. But this is one of the most volatile backfields in football and owners who draft one of these backs should strongly consider drafting a second.
Players of Note: Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery, Mike Davis
The NFC North Champions made a big splash at the draft, trading up in the third round to take David Montgomery. The Iowa State product rushed for 1,215 yards and 13 TDs in his final season looks to be the starter in his first year with the Bears.
According to Pro Football Focus, Montgomery broke a college-best 99 tackles last season. He has the inside track on the early-down work, but his ceiling is limited by Cohen.
The diminutive pass-catcher is one of the best receiving threats in the league having reeled in 71 catches for 725 yards last season. His performance was enough to give him a PFF grade of 82.3, making him their No. 8 receiving RB.
Despite Montgomery's pass-catching ability (36 receptions last season), Cohen will always demand the majority of the passing down work.
Mike Davis is a solid backup and could present problems for Montgomery owners if the rookie is unable to quickly adjust to being an NFL starter.
The best-case scenario for Fantasy owners is a situation similar to Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill in Cincinnati. They each carve out their own niche and become good-to-great options on their own.
Players of Note: Kenyan Drake, Kallen Ballage
Another season, another would be "breakout year" for Kenyan Drake. As frustrated as owners were with Drake last season, he did have a productive Fantasy season finishing with 53 catches for 477 yards and 535 rushing yards on 120 carries. Those numbers were good for 38th among WR/RB with 208.2 points in PPR leagues.
With Frank Gore out of the picture, why wouldn't Drake become the bell cow in Miami? Especially after new Dolphins head coach had to sit and watch as Drake ran past a helpless Rob Gronkowski to finish off the Miami Miracle last season.
IT'S A MIAMI MIRACLE! 😱😱😱 #FinsUp#NEvsMIA https://t.co/qvzsiI9a5g
— NFL (@NFL) December 9, 2018
For two years the Dolphins have been hesitant to make Drake their starting running back and the presence of the 6'2, 237-pound Ballage presents a solid challenge for touches.
The knock against Drake last season was his boom-or-bust running style and Ballage's combination of size and speed may make him a more appealing option to make consistent gains on the ground.
Drake has not carried the ball more than 133 times in a season and has not been the lead-back on his team since high school. Miami may elect to keep their most explosive playmaker healthy but employing a "less is more" strategy.
Players of Note: Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson
Guice is the future of this backfield but will have to compete with Adrian Peterson for touches. The 34-year-old signed a new two-year contract to stay in Washington.
The former rushing leader took the backfield reigns in 2018, following Guice's preseason ACL tear that sidelined him for his entire rookie year. Peterson did an admirable job, posting his eighth 1,000 yard rushing season and first since 2015.
Washington has insisted that Guice's rehabilitation is going well but bringing Peterson back and drafting Bryce Love in the fourth round show that the need for depth behind an unknown commodity.
Regardless of health, both Guice and Peterson will not be involved in the passing game thanks to the receiving ability of Chris Thompson.
The best-case scenario for Fantasy owners is that Guice beats out both Peterson and Love for early-down work. Worst case, the Redskins bring Guice along slowly and the backfield becomes a three-headed mess.
For more on this backfield and the rest of the NFC East check out our NFC East Preview
Bonus: Los Angeles Chargers
After speaking to a handful of sources, #Chargers’ stance is dug in with Melvin Gordon. Barring a change in his camp’s expectations, an extension isn’t coming soon. His threat to potentially hold out will be put to the test. The extension straddling the next CBA isn’t helping.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) July 22, 2019
If Melvin Gordon decides to hold out this backfield will become an absolute free for all. When Gordon got injured last year both Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson had good and bad games in his absence.
Ekeler managed just 21 yards on 13 carries in Week 13 while Jackson had eight carries for 63 yards and a touchdown.
In Week 14, Ekeler had 15 carries for 66 yards while Jackson struggled to just 12 yards on seven carries.
Ekeler is a much better pass-catcher but had durability concerns. Jackson may be a better runner but has just 50 career carries to his name.
If Gordon is gone for an extended period of time, the two backs will likely split touches 50-50.
Get prepared for the 2019 Fantasy Football season by checking out the rest of our Fantasy Football content.
[…] I discussed the Dolphins and Chargers situations in the RB Committees article. […]
[…] know going into the 2019 NFL Season. He also gave us the backfields that are leaning more towards the committee approach. The question now is how to differentiate this information into a running back handcuff […]