One of the key priorities for the Buffalo Bills moving forward was to surround quarterback Josh Allen with a sufficient run game. Allen ended the 2022 season as the team’s second-leading rusher, which isn’t as promising of an accolade given that he’s the franchise quarterback of the future. To provide support on the ground, Buffalo will rely on a mix of youth and veteran experience as it pertains to their backfield.
Bills RB depth chart
Early-down back: James Cook
Third-down back: James Cook
Goal-line back: Damien Harris or Latavius Murray
Change-of-pace back: Damien Harris or Latavius Murray
What has preseason usage told us about Buffalo’s backfield?
With Cook as the presumed RB1 in Buffalo, the team has unsurprisingly limited his touches in the preseason. He’s logged seven carries across two games with one touchdown, which speaks to the team prioritizing his health before the regular season. Damien Harris, who is currently listed second on the depth chart, has not logged a preseason carry as he’s been working through a knee injury.
The veteran Latavius Murray, who is listed as RB3 on the depth chart, has had no shortage of touches throughout the preseason. He’s logged 11 carries across two games for 44 yards while finishing first and second in attempts through those two games, respectively. At 32 years old he won’t be expected to shoulder most of the carries, but he could prove valuable in short-yardage and goal-line scenarios.
In the team’s final preseason game, though, Harris returned from injury and was used as the team’s goal-line back, which could give Harris value and hurt Cook’s ceiling.
How might RB touches in 2023 be distributed?
With Devin Singletary now out of Buffalo, it opens the door for Cook to take a majority of the carries on a weekly basis. In 2022, Cook finished third with an average of 5.7 rushing attempts per game. With a clear RB1 role ahead of him, I expect that number to jump to at least double-digit carries per contest. Behind him, when healthy, should be Harris as he’s averaged 11.8 carries per game throughout his career, and at 26 years old can still be an impact player.
Murray should provide great value for the team as an RB3.