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We’re going to get a lot of stuff wrong, but sifting through usage metrics can help us work through what matters and what doesn’t. That’s the goal of this article: to break down the most actionable takeaways from each week in a concise, numbers-filled format and work through what’s important. Let’s get right to it.

 

Texans revert to three-RB committee in Week 13

In Week 12, Devin Singletary out-snapped Dameon Pierce 49-11 and ran 35 routes on 47 C.J. Stroud dropbacks as the Texans made Mike Boone (who had previously operated as the third-down back) inactive. While Singletary only out-carried Pierce 6-5, their overall usage made it seem like Pierce was being phased out — and there were some whispers that the Houston coaching staff simply viewed Singletary as the better scheme fit.

On Sunday, those talks were largely dispelled, as Pierce out-carried Singletary 15-8 and scored a short goal-line touchdown. Dare Ogunbowale also played seven of nine third-down snaps (via PFF’s Nate Jahnke), effectively filling the role Boone had played earlier in the season. Singletary still out-snapped Pierce 31-26, but they preferred Pierce running the ball and took Singletary out on clear passing downs. Singletary ended up running just X routes on X Texans dropbacks. All of this put together is not a good combination, plus Houston has the lowest RB target share in the league (11.6%).

Moving forward, it seems like we should basically expect this backfield to be a messy committee like we saw before Pierce got injured. Considering Singletary still played more overall, we likely shouldn’t expect a 15-8 carries gap, but both backs will be involved on early downs with Ogunbowale a potential factor in passing spots (HOU has been volatile in terms of whether they use Ogunbowale or Boone or just give those snaps to Singletary, so that at least seems subject to change). With matchups against the Jets and Browns in two of their next three games, it will be difficult to start a Houston running back in the short term.

 

Rams return to full Kyren, as Royce Freeman plays four snaps

Kyren Williams has had one of the most insane workloads in the NFL this season when healthy, as he’s one of only two backs (the other is Christian McCaffrey) to have a game with a 100% snap share in 2023. That wild early-year workload led to him getting hurt, and the Rams publicly said that they planned to take it easier on him upon his return to the field. They stuck to that promise in Week 12, giving Royce Freeman 13 carries to Williams’ 16. In the first half of their Week 12 game, that gap was 10-6, so it wasn’t just garbage-time carries for Freeman either.

They shifted back to workhorse Kyren on Sunday, as Freeman played only four offensive snaps and had one carry for zero yards. Meanwhile, Williams toted the rock 21 times and played the other 94% of snaps. Jahnke pointed out that the Rams didn’t have many long drives on Sunday, preventing Williams from coming off the field. They also had 22 RB carries in Week 13 compared to 32 in Week 12, so the Rams’ overall team rushing volume is likely inversely correlated to the share of carries that Williams gets. In other words, if the Rams are running the ball all game and have 30+ team attempts, they will get Freeman more involved. Otherwise, it may be all Williams.

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