The Oakland Raiders were all set to have their running back committee shredded to pieces in Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers when it was announced that starter Latavius Murray would sit out. While the door was swung wide open for the likes of DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, the pair of young running backs were unable to make any real push for why they deserve to out-touch Murray moving forward. In turn, the Raiders’ running back committee is going to stay intact over the coming weeks, which isn’t good news for fantasy football owners.
When looking at the numbers, Richard “led the charge” you could say, totaling 31 yards on eight carries (3.9 yards per carry) while Washington struggled with just 23 yards on nine carries (2.6 yards per carry). The good news is that both players were active in the passing game, and showed their ability to step up as pass-catching backs. Richard was the second-leading receiver for the Raiders during the 34-31 victory, tallying six receptions for 66 yards. Washington caught five passes of his own for 29 yards.
On paper, the numbers don’t really look like all that big of a deal, and technically they aren’t. The only reason for that is because Murray is the experienced running back of the bunch, and it seems as though there may have been a reason why Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio continuously calls him the starter. The only issue is that Del Rio’s comments don’t exactly line up with how things have gone in the weeks prior to Week 5.
In Week 1, Murray totaled 15 combined touches, but the numbers have dropped since then. In Week 2 he totaled 14 touches, followed up by just 10 touches in Week 4. When looking at Washington, he’s hung around the 6-8 touch range before this week, while Richard has been somewhere in the 5-7 touch range, which the exception of Week 4. The issue here is that when you put all those touches together, you’re left with the definition of a committee, which isn’t exactly what Raiders fans were left to expect when the 2016 season began.
When Murray wasn’t getting touches in the preseason, Del Rio chalked it up to the fact that he was attempting to figure out who the backup running back was going to be. Per the team’s official website, the Raiders head coach stated the following:
“We saw him last year,” Del Rio said. “We have a body of work under Latavius. For us the bigger question coming in was to find out who would be able to be the backup back for us. Obviously, we didn’t feed him tonight. We gave him two carries and that was it for the night. So, no. I think for us, we wanted to make sure we gave the two young guys an opportunity to run with the first group and give them that exposure in this third game.”
While both Washington and Richard had the opportunity to take over the run game and grab the label of “starter” from Murray on Sunday, just the opposite happened. The Raiders will be looking at a three-man committee moving forward, and don’t expect those touch totals above to change very much.