News & Analysis

Committee Report: Relevant backup fantasy RBs heading into Week 9

CARSON, CA - AUGUST 20: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints runs the ball down field during the first quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at the StubHub Center on August 20, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

For fantasy owners, staying on top of fluid backfield situations from week to week for all 32 teams is quite the tedious task, even for fantasy diehards. To help with your fantasy preparations, my weekly RB Committee Report is intended to be your one-stop shop for tracking each and every fantasy backfield. Each week, we’ll go around the league to hone in on who’s trending up or down in terms of workload distribution and volume, as well as efficiency, in order to pinpoint which backs are making the most (and least) of their opportunities.

Alfred Morris 8.8 / 7.4 LeGarrette Blount 50.0 / 34.6
Kenyan Drake 18.2 / 12.0 D’Onta Foreman 1.4 / 18.6
Jerick McKinnon 63.5 / 42.5 Buck Allen 47.7 / 59.6
Tevin Coleman 43.9 / 38.0 Doug Martin 58.2 / 51.6
Devontae Booker 34.2 / 23.8 Orleans Darkwa 35.6 / 28.2

Arizona Cardinals

Fantasy Starter Backup to Know
Adrian Peterson Andre Ellington (PPR)

The Cardinals come off their bye to face the 49ers, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing RBs.

Adrian Peterson came back down to earth after his big Cardinals’ debut, but a lot of that had to do with the fact that Arizona was shutout in London and wound up throwing the ball 75 percent of the time. Still, the offensive line has generated only 1.2 yards before contact this season, and the injury to Carson Palmer isn’t going to keep defenses honest. Peterson may be the only Cardinals’ RB worth rostering at the moment, but he’s little more than a flex option most weeks in standard leagues.

Atlanta Falcons

Starter Backup to Own
Devonta Freeman Tevin Coleman

Tevin Coleman logged double-digit carries for the first time all season and was quite impressive against the Jets, with 80 of his 82 yards coming after contact. Devonta Freeman owns the league’s second-best elusive rating since Week 5 (110.0) and is not going anywhere. However, he’s totaled just 33 carries over the last three weeks, only four more than Coleman in that span.

Baltimore Ravens

Starter Backup to Own
Alex Collins Danny Woodhead (PPR)

Alex Collins has been a “Stock Up” player since debuting in the Week 4 installment of the RB Committee Report. This week, coach Jim Harbaugh made the long overdue statement that Collins has earned more playing time moving forward. Collins posted the second-best elusive rating in Week 8 (90.0) with a season-high 133 scrimmage yards. He ranks sixth out of 41 qualifiers in that category since Week 2, whereas Javorius Allen ranks 39th with a missed tackle forced only once every 11 touches. Collins’ season average of 6.0 yards per carry is a league-best, and he also caught 2-of-2 targets for 30 yards against Miami. Danny Woodhead’s looming return should put the final nail in the coffin of Allen’s fantasy stock, leaving Collins with most of the early-down work.

Buffalo Bills

Starter Backup to Know
LeSean McCoy Mike Tolbert (12+)

Replacement-level backups

Carolina Panthers

Starter Backup to Know
Christian McCaffrey Jonathan Stewart (12+)

Christian McCaffrey has out-snapped Jonathan Stewart by nearly 60 percent this season and remains on pace for about 100 catches. Currently the RB19 in PPR points per game, McCaffrey could even be in line for more targets in the wake of the Kelvin Benjamin trade. Stewart still sits outside the top-50 PPR RBs in fantasy points per game yet remains owned in almost 75 percent of ESPN leagues for some reason.

Chicago Bears

Starter Backup to Know
Jordan Howard Tarik Cohen (PPR)

The Bears have their bye this week. Even though he vulture a goal-line touchdown from Jordan Howard last week, Tarik Cohen should have been dropped in all formats weeks ago. Howard is on pace for a second straight 1,300-yard rushing season to start his career.

Cincinnati Bengals

Starter Backup to Know
Joe Mixon Giovani Bernard (PPR)

Joe Mixon may be the only Bengals’ running back worthy of a fantasy roster spot, but he remains tough to trust as anything more than a flex option behind an O-line that’s afforded him only 0.6 yards before contact. For some perspective, the rookie currently sits 37th in fantasy points per game (PPR), right between Marlon Mack and Ameer Abdullah.

Cleveland Browns

Starter Backup to Own
Isaiah Crowell Duke Johnson (PPR)

Isaiah Crowell finally awoke from his fantasy slumber and produced a season-high 118 yards from scrimmage along with a score against Minnesota in London. The Browns’ OL generated 2.23 yards before contact, but perhaps most encouraging is that Crowell out-touched Duke Johnson, 15-9, in a game that saw Cleveland throw it 70 percent of the time. Crowell also lost a fumble on his first carry. It’s worth noting that Johnson was sent to the locker room in the fourth quarter with a head injury but was cleared of a concussion. Johnson remains the preferred fantasy option in PPR formats when the Browns come out of their bye – he’s the RB20 in points per game – but Crowell is back in the flex conversation for owners seeking a bye-week replacement.

Dallas Cowboys

Starter Backup to Own
Ezekiel Elliott Alfred Morris

Assuming his suspension is upheld through last barrage of appeals, Ezekiel Elliott would be eligible to return Week 15 at Oakland. Alfred Morris is working with the first team in practice this week and is expected to get the most carries, although the Cowboys will also use Darren McFadden and Rod Smith to some degree. While Dallas owns one of the top-graded run blocking O-lines, it bears mention that Elliott has gotten 2.65 yards before contact during his three-game tear, while his 13.5 elusive rating in that span is tied with Javorius Allen for the second-worst in the league. In other words, a big opportunity is at hand here.

Denver Broncos

Starter Backup to Know
C.J. Anderson Devontae Booker

Brock Osweiler may not necessarily qualify as an upgrade to Denver’s offense, but things certainly can’t get much worse than they had been with Trevor Siemian at the helm. C.J. Anderson had one of his best performances of the season Sunday at Kansas City, as he rushed 15 times for 78 yards, with three missed tackles forced and 4.2 yards after contact. However, he played only 10 more snaps than Devontae Booker, who scored on a six-yard run and has caught 10 passes for 114 yards over the last three games. Jamaal Charles was given only 13 snaps after playing 15 the previous week.

Detroit Lions

Starter Backup to Know
Ameer Abdullah Theo Riddick (PPR)

Ameer Abdullah has been one of the more elusive backs in the league this season, but at the end of the day he hasn’t eclipsed five PPR points in a game since Week 4. He’s 38th in PPR scoring per game while Theo Riddick is 43rd. In case you forgot, the Lions haven’t had a 100-yard rusher since 2013. There’s just no fantasy appeal here.

Green Bay Packers

Starter Backup to Know
Aaron Jones Ty Montgomery

The Packers are set to come of their bye this week and host Detroit. Ty Montgomery managed only six yards on four carries his last time out and need not be owned. Rookie Aaron Jones entered the scene in Week 4 and proceeded to rank ninth in fantasy scoring during his four-game stint as Green Bay’s lead back.

Houston Texans

Starter Backup to Know
Lamar Miller D’Onta Foreman

Alfred Blue has passed D’Onta Foreman on the depth chart, with Foreman failing to notch a single touch in Week 8. Blue isn’t someone who needs to be rostered, but the Texans backfield is certainly worth monitoring. Lamar Miller’s big Week 8 performance was buoyed by two touchdowns, but he is also tied for the fewest fantasy points per opportunity (0.37) of the top-20 PPR backs this season. In fact, Miller’s 16.8 elusive rating since Week 2 is the second-worst out of 41 RBs. By and large, Miller has been carried by volume, as well as the play of Deshaun Watson.

Indianapolis Colts

Starter Backup to Own
Frank Gore Marlon Mack

Frank Gore turned in his best outing of the season with 101 yards on 20 touches, forcing four missed tackles and averaging 4.3 yards after contact along the way. The Colts had explored a few possible trades involving Gore prior to Tuesday’s deadline but wound up standing pat. Still, Marlon Mack has earned the trust of the coaching staff, and he’s absorbed Robert Turbin’s touches with a personal-best 14 touches on Sunday and has seven catches plus a receiving score over the last two weeks. Mack is also involved in the red zone; he actually has one more touchdown than Gore on the season (plus another TD that replays showed would have counted if it were challenged).

Jacksonville Jaguars

Starter Backup to Know
Leonard Fournette T.J. Yeldon (12+)

Leonard Fournette is a full practice participant this week as the Jaguars are set to come off their bye at home against Cincinnati. Thanks to his big performance in Week 7 when Fournette was sidelined, T.J. Yeldon may have leapfrogged Chris Ivory into the backup RB gig. There’s obviously no standalone value with Fournette occupying the lion’s share of the work, but Yeldon showed why he was such a highly touted back at Alabama and suddenly looks like one of the more appealing handcuffs.

Kansas City Chiefs

Starter Backup to Own
Kareem Hunt Charcandrick West (12+)

Charcandrick West has performed well enough in the past for RB2 consideration if anything were to happen to Kareem Hunt, who is coming off his first dud of the season. However, West hasn’t had more than two carries in a game all season.

Los Angeles Chargers

Starter Backup to Know
Melvin Gordon Branden Oliver (12+)

Replacement-level backups

Los Angeles Rams

Starter Backup to Know
Todd Gurley Malcolm Brown (12+)

Replacement-level backups

Miami Dolphins

Starter Backup to Own
Kenyan Drake Damien Williams (PPR)

Earlier this week I broke down the fantasy impact of the Jay Ajayi trade here. Kenyan Drake is the priority add, but keep in mind Damien Williams is the passing-down back, and the Dolphins haven’t run the ball even once inside the 5 all season.

Minnesota Vikings

Starter Backup to Know
Jerick McKinnon Latavius Murray (12+)

Jerick McKinnon rebounded from a down week to post the league’s top elusive score (100.7) in Week 8, as he forced six missed tackles on 20 touches and averaged 3.4 yards after contact. McKinnon has now eclipsed 20 PPR points in three of four outings since Dalvin Cook went down, whereas nearly half of Latavius Murray’s 249 rushing yards this season came in Week 7. McKinnon heads into Minnesota’s bye having established himself as an upside RB2 fantasy option.

New England Patriots

Starter Backup to Own
Dion Lewis James White (PPR)

Dion Lewis trails only LeGarrette Blount and Kareem Hunt in elusive rating on the season, as he’s taken over the Patriots’ early-down role. Still, with only one double-digit fantasy performance on the season, his upside is limited as long as James White is dominating passing downs.

New Orleans Saints

Starter Backup to Own
Mark Ingram Alvin Kamara (PPR)

On a per-game basis, Mark Ingram is the RB11 in PPR this season and Alvin Kamara is the RB17. In the three weeks since Adrian Peterson’s departure, Ingram leads all running backs in fantasy scoring, and Kamara is ninth. Ingram forced six missed tackles on 24 touches against Chicago on Sunday, while Kamara even found pay dirt in the red zone. All of which is to say, don’t overthink matchups. Both backs can be started with confidence.

New York Giants

Starter Backup to Know
Orleans Darkwa Wayne Gallman

Orleans Darkwa owns the worst elusive rating in the league since Week 5, with only one missed tackle forced on 43 touches. Just like we saw with Paul Perkins before him, there’s little fantasy value to be had behind the Giants’ outmatched offensive line. Rookie Wayne Gallman actually paced the backfield in snaps in Week 7, leaving the situation as muddled as ever with New York set to emerge from its bye.

New York Jets

Starter Backup to Own
Bilal Powell Matt Forte

Bilal Powell had a team-high 17 touches against Atlanta in Week 8, but Matt Forte turned in the better fantasy outing despite just seven yards on the ground. Forte has come on strong as a pass catcher of late, hauling in 19-of-20 targets for 145 yards over the past three games. He and Powell continue to limit each other’s fantasy upside while splitting the snaps virtually right down the middle. Neither RB is inside the top-25 PPR backs in points per game on the season.

Oakland Raiders

Starter Backup to Own
Marshawn Lynch Jalen Richard (12+)

With Marshawn Lynch suspended against Buffalo in Week 8, DeAndre Washington out-performed Jalen Richard with 88 total yards and a TD. Lynch returns this week, but it’s important to keep in mind that he’s averaged only 10 carries per game with two touchdowns this season and sits outside the top-50 in PPR points per game. Until we start to see more volume, there’s little incentive for deploying Lynch in any format even though he ranks ninth in elusive rating with a missed tackle forced once every 4.8 touches.

Philadelphia Eagles

Starter Backup to Own
Jay Ajayi LeGarrette Blount

Earlier this week I broke down the fantasy impact of the Jay Ajayi trade here In short, the upgrade to a better offense is somewhat offset by the presence of LeGarrette Blount, who is still the starter for the time being, according to GM Howie Roseman.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Starter Backup to Own
Le’Veon Bell James Conner

Le’Veon Bell has played 93 more snaps than the next-closest RB in the league and has played just one 16-game season in his four-year career. Rookie James Conner (4.9 YPC) would be a plug-and-play RB2 if Bell were to miss time for any reason.

San Francisco 49ers

Starter Backup to Own
Carlos Hyde Matt Breida

After totaling only 32 snaps over his previous two games, rookie Matt Breida put himself back on the radar with 56 yards and a score on nine touches against Philadelphia this past Sunday. Still, Carlos Hyde out-snapped him by a 45-21 margin, and the veteran ranks ninth in PPR scoring on the season as well as eighth in missed tackles as a rusher. There is, however, a narrative that shouldn’t be ignored the later we get into the season. A draft selection of the previous regime, Hyde is set to hit free agency at season’s end, and so the winless 49ers may want to give more of a look to Breida at some point.

Seattle Seahawks

Starter Backup to Own
Eddie Lacy Thomas Rawls

Eddie Lacy will get the start this week against Washington, and the Seahawks coaches say they will “let him go a little bit.” With six teams on bye in Week 9 and the Redskins owners of PFF’s No. 29 run defense grade, those looking for a spot start or GPP dart throw could do worse. But the floor in Seattle’s backfield is about as low as it gets. In the three games since Chris Carson’s season-ending injury, Eddie Lacy has 26 carries for 53 yards, and Thomas Rawls has 25 for 55. C.J. Prosise also appears to have a good chance to return this week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Starter Backup to Know
Doug Martin Jacquizz Rodgers

Doug Martin didn’t force any missed tackles on 19 touches last week, and he’s yet to eclipse 75 rushing yards in any of his four games this season. Still, he’s averaging 18 touches and playing more than half of the backfield snaps.

Tennessee Titans

Starter Backup to Own
DeMarco Murray Derrick Henry

DeMarco Murray had a chance to let his body heal up during the Titans’ bye and is a full participant at practice this week. Derrick Henry has looked like a force to be reckoned with at times this season, but he’s also been held below 15 rushing yards in three of his last four games and has played more than half of the offensive snaps in only one game this season. But in that one game, he did run for 131 yards and a score on 19 carries for a top-five fantasy RB finish in Week 6, illuminating his handcuff appeal.

Washington Redskins

Starter Backup to Own
Chris Thompson (PPR) Robert Kelley (standard)

Another week, another RB1 fantasy showing for Chris Thompson despite minimal touches. On pace for a 1,000-yard receiving season, Thompson ranks 10th among RBs with 18.0 PPR points per game. Given how little production the Redskins have gotten from Robert Kelley and Samaje Perine, it really is a wonder what exactly it will take for Thompson to get more rushing opportunities behind Washington’s No. 8-graded run-blocking unit. He’s basically Tarik Cohen without a Jordan Howard blocking his path.

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