Zach Zenner

Zach Zenner

Running Back #34
Ht / Wt:5'11" / 223 lb.
College:South Dakota State
Born:September 13, 1991
Drafted:2015 / UDFA

Zach Zenner: Gets competition from CJA

Zenner and recent signing C.J. Anderson figure to compete for carries behind Kerryon Johnson,'s Michael Rothstein reports.

Analysis: The Lions also have Theo Riddick in a crowded backfield, though the pass-catching specialist might be traded or released before Week 1 to free up $3.7 million in cap space. Johnson is the only one of the bunch signed beyond 2019, and he already proved his merit as a lead back with 5.4 yards per carry and 32 catches in 10 games during his rookie season. Zenner's wealth of experience on special teams could allow him to stick on the 53-man roster even if he lands fourth on the depth chart at running back.

April 2, 2019 11:22 AM EST

Zach Zenner: Re-signs with Lions

Zenner is re-signing with the Lions, Kyle Meinke of reports.

Analysis: Zenner's strong finish in 2018 could put him second in line for carries behind Kerryon Johnson, though it's still too early in the offseason to project the 27-year-old's role with much certainty. Zenner took 51 carries for 237 yards (4.6 average) and three touchdowns over the final four weeks of the 2018 campaign, plus he maintained a key role on special teams even after his involvement on offense skyrocketed.

March 12, 2019 11:56 AM EST

Zach Zenner: Finishes season strong

Zenner's strong finish to the 2018 season likely strengthened his position with the Lions, Mike O'Hara of the team's official site reports.

Analysis: This is an understatement considering Zenner turned out to be everything head coach Matt Patricia could really ask for in a backup running back -- an effective runner (4.8 YPC on 55 attempts) whose ability on special teams can allow for more roster flexibility on gamedays. The question now is where Zenner will sign this offseason once he becomes an unrestricted free agent in March. Given the promise he showed down the stretch, it's possible Zenner will have a number of suitors for his services.

January 11, 2019 8:36 AM EST

Zach Zenner: Blows past 100 yards, scores in win

Zenner rushed for 93 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries, adding a 30-yard reception during Sunday's 31-0 win against the Packers.

Analysis: Detroit hasn't exactly handed the keys over to Zenner since Kerryon Johnson (knee) fell victim to injury Week 11 against the Panthers. In six games since, LeGarrette Blount has been entrusted with 76 carries to Zenner's 54. Zenner has been significantly more productive with those opportunities, however, averaging an impressive 4.7 yards per carry during that span compared to Blount's average of 3.1 yards per rush. The fourth-year back has given Detroit's front office something to ponder with his contract expiring over the offseason. Having compiled 192 rushing yards and three touchdowns in his three appearances with 10-plus carries this season, Zenner has proven himself to be a capable backup option behind the 21-year-old Johnson.

December 30, 2018 1:50 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Leading rusher in convincing loss

Zenner rushed eight times for 45 yards and added two catches for 22 yards on three targets in Sunday's 27-9 loss to Minnesota.

Analysis: Zenner was easily Detroit's best option on the ground, as LeGarrette Blount (calf) was held to 29 yards on 11 carries. It's a bit puzzling why a beat-up Blount got more work than Zenner, but odd coaching decisions are nothing new to Lions fans. Zenner should push for double-digit touches against the Packers in Week 17.

December 23, 2018 3:49 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Primed for more work if Blount sits

With Kerryon Johnson (knee) on injured reserve and LeGarrette Blount (calf) listed as questionable, Zenner and Theo Riddick are the Lions' only healthy running backs heading into Sunday's game against Minnesota, Kyle Meinke of reports.

Analysis: Zenner already appeared to usurp Blount for the lead role during last week's 14-13 loss at Buffalo, getting the start and posting a 10-45-1 rushing line while the 32-year-old produced just nine yards on seven carries. Of course, Riddick contributed 47 yards on eight carries and nine yards on two receptions, so we can still expect a timeshare even if Blount doesn't play Sunday. The prospect of sharing with one player instead of two obviously boosts Zenner's fantasy outlook, but there's no guarantee it comes to fruition and also no guarantee the injury-riddled Lions have any success against a tough Minnesota defense.

December 21, 2018 2:32 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Won't face competition from Johnson

Zenner's teammate Kerryon Johnson (knee) has been placed on injured reserve, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.

Analysis: With the rookie second-round pick officially ruled out, Zenner figures to maintain his role at the front of a committee over the final two weeks of the regular season. He leads the Lions with 22 carries over the past two games, most recently getting the starting nod over LeGarrette Blount in Sunday's 14-13 loss to the Bills. A Week 16 matchup with the Vikings doesn't look too appealing, though Zenner could push for an even larger share of the workload after Blount fell flat on his face (19 carries for 42 yards) the past two games. Either way, Theo Riddick will continue to handle passing downs in a struggling, injury-plagued offense.

December 19, 2018 10:24 AM EST

Zach Zenner: Scores short TD in loss

Zenner rushed 10 times for 45 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 14-13 loss to Buffalo, adding three catches for no gain on four targets.

Analysis: Zenner had a short touchdown overturned by replay in the second quarter, only to find the end zone from one yard out on the very next play. Receiving back Theo Riddick surprisingly led the team in rushing with 47 yard on eight carries while LeGarrette Blount managed just nine yards on seven carries. The trio appears primed to split work in a similar fashion against the Vikings in Week 16, barring the return of Kerryon Johnson (knee).

December 16, 2018 1:47 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Impressive in Arizona

Zenner rushed 12 times for 54 yards and one touchdown during Sunday's 17-3 victory over Arizona.

Analysis: While he wasn't targeted in the passing game, Zenner was easily Detroit's most effective option in the run game. He ultimately gained nearly 20 more yards than LeGarrette Blount despite seeing the same number of carries. Zenner caught 18 balls for 196 yards for the Lions in 2016, so he has the capability to contribute in the passing game if he continues to see this kind of playing time, but that opportunity may not come if Kerryon Johnson (knee) is able to return to the lineup this week.

December 9, 2018 5:21 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Given one carry

Zenner recorded seven rushing yards on one carry during Sunday's 30-16 loss to the Rams.

Analysis: In Kerryon Johnson's (knee) continued absence, LeGarrette Blount (16 carries) and Theo Riddick (eight) once again dominated the available carries. It's clear the Lions don't view the South Dakota State product as anything more than a serviceable backup who will make his biggest impact on special teams.

December 2, 2018 6:37 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Minimal role in Johnson's absence

Zenner rushed twice for nine yards and secured his only target for a four-yard reception during Thursday's loss to the Bears.

Analysis: There seemed to be a chance Zenner would have a significant role in the offense with Kerryon Johnson (knee) sidelined, but LeGarrette Blount ended up dominating the snaps on early downs. If Johnson is able to make it back for Week 13, Zenner stands to see an even lighter workload.

November 22, 2018 7:19 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Could have role on offense Thursday

Zenner could be part of a backfield committee Thursday against the Bears, Michael Rothstein of reports.

Analysis: With Kerryon Johnson (knee) set to miss at least one game, the Lions are left with Zenner, LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick in the backfield. Blount and Riddick are the safe bets to handle significant roles, though neither has offered much on the ground this season. Zenner owns a career average of just 3.6 yards per carry and has mostly played special teams since 2016.

November 21, 2018 12:45 PM EST

Zach Zenner: No touches against Carolina

Zenner didn't touch the ball during Sunday's 20-19 win over the Panthers.

Analysis: Zenner was contained to special teams in this one, but it's possible he could be needed on offense more often going forward if Kerryon Johnson's knee injury forces the rookie to miss time. However, Zenner still wouldn't be an advisable fantasy option in Week 12 against the Bears' stout defense.

November 18, 2018 4:38 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Gains 12 yards on lone carry in return

Zenner rushed once for 12 yards during Sunday's 34-22 loss to the Bears.

Analysis: While most of Zenner's action came on special teams, he nonetheless made a mark on offense considering the 12 yards he gained on a draw play marked the Lions' longest run of the game. However, it's unlikely Zenner's role will grow so long as Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, and Theo Riddick are healthy. As a result, the South Dakota State product is nowhere near the fantasy radar as Detroit enters a Week 11 home against Carolina.

November 11, 2018 5:09 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Rejoins Lions

Zenner agreed to a deal with the Lions on Tuesday.

Analysis: Zenner was waived from injured reserve by the Lions in September, but now seemingly fully healthy, rejoins his former squad. In three years with the Lions, Zenner rushed 119 times for 420 yards and five touchdowns. The 27-year-old won't likely see the field much, as he's expected to be buried on the depth chart behind Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick.

November 6, 2018 5:04 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Waived from IR

Zenner (back) was waived from injured reserve Wednesday.

Analysis: Zenner was placed on IR after injuring his back in the Lions' preseason finale. While it isn't clear where he currently stands health-wise, the running back is a versatile special-teams contributor who stands to have a solid chance of being claimed off waivers. If not, Zenner shouldn't have much trouble landing a new deal before long.

September 12, 2018 11:36 AM EST

Zach Zenner: Placed on IR

Zenner (back) was placed on injured reserve Saturday, Tim Twentyman of the Lions' official site reports.

Analysis: Zenner injured his back during the Lions' preseason finale against the Browns and will miss the 2018 season as a result. The Lions kept four additional running backs on their 53-man roster in LeGarrette Blount, Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah.

September 2, 2018 8:46 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Won't return Thursday

Zenner (back) has been ruled out of Thursday's preseason game versus the Browns, Justin Rogers of The Detroit News reports.

Analysis: With a roster spot on the line, Zenner was knocked from the contest due to a back injury, finishing exhibition season with nine carries for 16 yards and one reception for 11 yards. Thursday's development may have been enough to determine his fate in his competition with Ameer Abdullah and Dwayne Washington (undisclosed).

August 30, 2018 4:52 PM EST

Zach Zenner: Picks up back injury

Zenner is questionable to return to Thursday's preseason game against the Browns due to a back injury, Kyle Meinke of reports.

Analysis: Zenner is firmly on the roster bubble along with fellow Lions running backs Ameer Abdullah and Dwayne Washington (undisclosed). Through three exhibitions, Zenner boasted a dismal 17 yards on eight carries (2.1 per) and one 11-yard catch. Before picking up the injury, he didn't help his cause, taking one rush for minus-one yard and failing to haul in his only target. With perhaps one opening on the line, he'll play the waiting game until Saturday's 4 PM cut-down date.

August 30, 2018 4:45 PM EST

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