In Oakland, Marshawn Lynch is the clear lead back. Jalen Richard is splitting backup duties with Deandre Washington. Richard has two more carries than Washingon. Washington has two more targets than Richard. So both are averaging seven touches per game. Richard also returns kicks, but that only adds a little value. Unless Lynch gets hurt, Richard is just a boom or bust flex play, where you're hoping for a big play for a touchdown.
Rex Burkhead does not have a clear role with the Patriots. And now he has a rib injury and is listed as questionable for this week. He is fourth on the team in carries, behind Gillislee, White and Lewis. He is second among backs with seven targets. He may have a single game better than either of the other two backs (Richard or Powell) this season, but the problem is guessing when that game will happen. The way the Patriots change game plans makes it difficult to know who might be featured from game to game; sometimes even quarter to quarter.
Powell is on the weakest offense of the three. But he's will consistently get more touches than the other two players. And he is the most likely to see his role expand later in the season. Right now, Matt Forte and Bilal Powell have nearly a 50/50 split. Forte has 15 carries and 9 targets. And Powell has 13 carries and 9 targets. So far, Forte has been the more successful back. But some are speculating that the 32 year old Forte may begin to wear down later in the series. That would elevate Powell's touches. I would feel comfortable to have Powell on my bench as a flex option.
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