Week 10 has now concluded and folks are finally in the home stretch of their fantasy leagues. This is usually the point in the season when owners ramp up their efforts in hopes of either dominating the playoffs or squeaking right into that last playoff spot. Regardless of which owner you are, these next few weeks are crucial and as always, I have a hell of a Rushing Report for you.
This week, we’re going to take a look at a team that has not lived up to the expectations they had in the offseason. A recent injury at the running back position left the door open for a new tandem to form and so far, it has been interesting. The team I’m talking about is the Oakland Raiders. As always we’ll dive in on a week 10 recap, some data, and give some insight on how the Raiders backfield may look going forward.
FFStatistics Rushing Report:
The 2018 Raiders came into the season with some pretty high expectations. Most of their core was set to return but some new faces accompanied them. Freshly signed head coach Jon Gruden played around in free agency and brought in some veteran running back talent in Doug Martin. A move that many owners didn’t buy into with Marshawn Lynch still present. Regardless, most of Oakland’s offense remained intact and they looked poised to shake things up in the AFC West. 10 weeks later and the Raiders now sit at 1-8, they’ve traded away Amari Cooper, and Marshawn Lynch is rotting on the IR.
The Raiders have been a massive let down under Jon Gruden and the most consistent piece of the offense (Lynch) is now gone. After being placed on IR, owners thought the Raiders backfield was nearly untouchable. Doug Martin had seen limited playing time behind Lynch and Richard doesn’t profile as a workhorse back. Going into week 10, the Raiders ranked 25th in rush attempts and 24th in rushing yards per game. But, they ranked 15th in pass attempts and 16th in passing yards per game. All signs pointed to the offense being carried by the passing game going forward. Although that is what happened in week 10, the running game didn’t look as bad as people thought.
Doug Martin and Jalen Richard showed potential against the Chargers on Sunday. But for owners, is their performance enough to convince them that one of these guys could be fantasy relevant in the coming weeks? Let’s dive in on a week 10 recap and break down what the game against the Chargers showed us.
Week 10 Recap
Oakland faced off against the 7-2 Chargers this past week. Despite the Chargers record, they ranked 20th against the run allowing 120 rushing yards per game. A hopeful hole for Doug Martin and Jalen Richard to exploit. And they somewhat did. The first half was a slugfest between the two AFC West rivals. The run game was leaned on early. Both Martin and Richard were involved in what was a balanced offensive attack to start the game. Both backs mixed in plenty but Martin was the clear-cut through the tackles runner as he notched 15 rush attempts to Richards three.
Richard made his hay in the receiving game as Carr’s dump off and short yardage guy. He notched five receptions on six targets for 51 yards through the air. Martin was also used in the receiving game but not as often. He was able to snag three receptions on three targets for 31 yards against the Chargers. Both backs saw a near even split. Martin saw a total of 30 offensive snaps for 47.6%. Richard saw 27 snaps for 42.9% of the Raiders offense.
Week 10 was a perfect example that the Raiders backfield is going to be a dead even split. But both backs have a clear role. Martin was used as an early-down back as Richard was used in more play action and passing down work against the Chargers. Although they did split, Martin was the clear winner of the day as he had yards from scrimmage than Richard. Martin finished the day with 18 total touches and 91 yards from scrimmage. Richard totaled eight touches for 59 yards. Week 10 gave us some good perspective on the two. Now we go to the data.
What The Data Tells Us
Not that anyone fully trusted him, but Gruden telling the media that Martin was “ready” to be the “lead back” seemed a little nieve. Martin has been a hot and cold running back throughout his entire career. Mostly cold if you take out his 2012 and 2015 campaigns. Regardless, He has flashed the ability to be a workhorse back when healthy. So, It makes sense that owners would have hopes that Martin could become a thing in fantasy after Lynch went down.
Week 10 was a perfect example of Martin still having juice, but also being game script dependent. From the chart above, we can see that this season hasn’t been bad for Martin between the tackles. He’s had good success at getting to the edge but also succeeds in being north and south between the tackles. This isn’t a surprise. In fact, this is who Martin has always been. A between the tackles hammer who makes his money on the ground. Martin was clearly the better runner of the two. He had 12 more attempts than Richard and averaged two more YPC than him despite splitting snaps. He also saw all of the goal-line carries over Richard. Obviously they didn’t amount to anything, but still.
Although Martin can catch the ball, he just doesn’t get the volume in the passing game. He has just six receptions on seven targets so far in 2018. On the season, Martin boasts a 1.90 aDOT and a 4.0 RACR score. His aDOT suggests that he is running short routes and being used at decent depth in the passing game. His RACR also looks good from an efficiency standpoint. It suggests that he’s creating plenty of YAC. Some good metrics for owners to take note of going forward.
Since 2016 Richard has been the “little brother” running back in Oakland. He’s followed around the likes of Latavius Murray and Marshawn Lynch and now finds himself as Doug Martins sidekick in 2018. From the moment that Lynch was put on IR, the fantasy world knew that Richard would have a role in the coming weeks. Although he is the secondary back, he does have a role in Oakland’s gameplan.
Richard has never been an efficient ball carrier in terms of yardage in his time in the NFL. In 32 games he’s totaled just 823 yards on the ground. Largely due to being behind more efficient runners in his career. In the same span, Richard has never seen more than 83 rushing attempts in a single year. The chart above shows that Richard is actually a more than capable runner at the edge of the line and between the tackles. However, he doesn’t see enough volume there to be considered a threat on the ground. He’s seen just 18 rushing attempts for 57 yards on the ground in 2018.
Where Richard succeeds is in the passing game for Oakland. He has racked up 48 receptions on 55 targets for 400 yards through the air this season. Compared to his statistics as a runner, that’s very telling as to what the Raiders use him for. Richard has an aDOT of 1.80 which suggests he’s targeted in short yardage and dump off situations when needed. However, his RACR score of 4.23 is indicative that he is much more efficient in turning those targets into large gains after the catch. Also that he’s getting into space on the targets he receives.
We now have a good sample size of the Martin and Richard tandem. We also have some good data on how both of them will factor into Oakland’s offense. Despite both backs splitting the workload evenly, each one displays a different skill set that will be used in different situations. Martin is clearly separating himself in the running game but Richard is still seeing viable snaps and usage in the receiving game.
Week 10 was yet another strong indicator that this committee approach is here to stay, regardless of what Gruden told the media a few weeks ago. Derek Carr loves to open up the field with play action which likely benefits Richard more with his receiving efficiency. But as we saw against the Chargers, when the Raiders go with a more balanced approach, Martin tends to be the beneficiary in the end stat-line.
The Raiders currently rank in the top half of the league in passing offense and the bottom half in rushing offense. I don’t see that changing in 2018 with Derek Carr at the helm. With the landscape of fantasy running backs, it’s likely that owners need depth at the position. Especially for a playoff push. With that, I believe both of these guys are deserving of a roster spot in deeper leagues. Beware, this will be a hot and cold backfield and you’ll need to play the matchups with both of them. But they do present upside for your fantasy team. in standard and half PPR the nod goes to Martin as the better option. In full PPR, Jalen Richard is the guy to own here.
Thanks for stopping in for another Rushin Report! You can reach out to me on twitter @JesseReevesFF. See you next week!