Thursday Night Football has had a slight dampening effect on scoring since it became a full-time part of the NFL schedule in 2006, with scoring down nearly 5 percent on Thursdays in that span. However, running back production has not been impacted much at all, which should be good news for Rashad Jennings and Alfred Morris, who could beat up on tired defenses in Week 4.
As Dave Richard noted a year ago, running backs have been just about the only winners in TNF from a Fantasy perspective. Looking back to 2006, 114 running backs have received at least 15 carries in games played on Thursdays, and 50 of them have run for at least 90 yards. Additionally, 59 have found the end zone at least once, for an average of 0.649 touchdowns per game.
The chart below compares per-game production for running backs with at least 15 carries on Thursday night since 2006 to running backs with at least 15 carries in a game so far this season:
|TNF, since 2006||20.03||85.73||4.24||0.649|
It isn't a huge gap, but it is enough that we can clearly see running backs fare better on the short week. Despite receiving nearly a full carry less per game on average, they have had more success with each carry, while finding the end zone more often -- 20 percent more often, on a per-carry basis.
The Giants defense did a fine job against the Lions running backs in Week 1, holding them to 2.8 yards per carry, but have been gashed for nearly 5 yards per carry in two games since. That should bode very well for Alfred Morris, who seems to be exactly the kind of back who can thrive after wearing down a weakened defense. He has rushed for 252 yards on 50 carries with a touchdown in two career Thursday games.
Rashad Jennings has a tougher matchup against the Redskins, who have held backs to a miniscule 2.7 yards per carry and 5.7 Fantasy points per game. That number is inflated a bit by games against the hapless Jaguars rushing attack and an Eagles' offensive line that has been destroyed by injuries so far. Still, both Dave and Jamey Eisenberg have Jennings ranked as a top-7 back for Week 3, so he should be worth the gamble, even if the team does try to limit his workload on the short week.