NFL depth charts are always in a constant state of flux due to transactions, injuries, performance and at-times questionable coaching decisions. The RB position in particular can be tough to stay on top of, as an overwhelming majority of offenses have replaced a single three-down back with committees of various shapes and sizes.
What follows is a breakdown of each team's backfield ahead of Week 14 in order to better determine:
- Offenses that are featuring a single workhorse
- Fantasy-friendly committee backfields
- Situations that fantasy football owners should avoid
This isn't a full depth chart listing; I'm not concerned about special teams RBs or guys that will be lucky to play more than an offensive snap or two come game time. Rather, the goal here is to get an early idea of the league's various committee situations in an effort to see undervalued backfields. We’ll also take a quick look at Week 14 matchups.
Each back’s Week 13 snap rate, carries and targets is listed next to his name in parenthesis. Every team’s RB1 is simply whoever played the most snaps the previous weeks. Note that the snap rates denote total snaps, so teams with a dual-threat RB/WR like Austin Ekeler or Tarik Cohen will have a total percentage higher than 100% since those backs typically spend a solid chunk of time lined up in the slot or out wide.
Notes: The disparity in snaps here was more due to negative game script than a changing of the guard in this backfield. The difference in performance between Drake and Edmonds has been a bit overblown this season, particularly in regards their respective abilities as a pure rusher:
- Drake: 68.5 PFF rushing grade, 0.13 missed tackles forced per attempt, 4.3 yards per carry, 2.5 yards after contact per rush
- Edmonds: 62.2 PFF rushing grade, 0.12 missed tackles forced per attempt, 4.9 yards per carry, 2.6 yards after contact per rush
Edmonds has been more dynamic as a receiver, mostly because the third-year back has looked like one of the league’s better receiving talents at the position all season. Overall, Edmonds is one of just six backs with a PFF receiving grade of at least 80 among 35 RBs with at least 25 targets this season.
Drake is the RB14 on the season and has seen both his targets and scoring production spike in recent weeks with Kyler Murray (shoulder) rushing far less. The Giants hardly present an easy matchup, although they have allowed the 10th-most PPR points per game to opposing RBs this season. Fire up Drake as a top-16 option at the position, while Edmonds is nothing more than a low-end flex/high-end handcuff.
- RB1: Ito Smith (37% snaps, 8 carries, 1 targets)
- RB2: Todd Gurley (30%, 8, 1)
- RB3: Brian Hill (17%, 5, 0)
Notes: Stay the hell away, people. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the plan was to use Gurley (knee) on third down and in the red zone. Smith (head) is banged up. Perhaps we could get behind Hill if both backs are ruled out, but even then we’re talking about a likely mini-committee between him and Qadree Ollison. No single RB from this backfield has been handed 15 rushes or more than five targets in a game since Week 9. The Chargers aren’t a difficult matchup, but three-headed committees in a pass-first offense aren’t exactly the sort of situations we want to be prioritizing in fantasyland.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (from Week 12)
Notes: J.K. Dobbins has been the leader of this backfield in recent weeks but the situation remains fairly fluid, and the reality that Lamar Jackson siphons away plenty of rushing production doesn’t help matters for every RB involved. The rookie will continue to be the preferred fantasy option; just realize the 2020 Ravens offense boasts a 1) lower scoring ceiling, and 2) defined pecking order in the backfield, compared to the 2019 edition.
Don’t get it twisted: Dobbins is the best back in Baltimore.
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 8, 2020
Week 14’s road matchup against the Browns’s 23rd-ranked defense in yards before contact allowed per rush is winnable enough, although it’s difficult to rank Dobbins too far inside of the position’s top-20 backs within an offense that has looked fairly broken more weeks than not since their Week 7 bye.
Notes: Moss lost a fumble from inside the Bills’ own 5-yard line and was essentially benched during the team’s Monday night win over the 49ers. Singletary dominated usage the rest of the way, although he failed to make too much of an impression with the enhanced workload. A true benching of Moss probably wouldn’t lead to a true workhorse role for Singletary anyway; T.J. Yeldon has seamlessly slid into a 1.B committee role whenever Singletary, Moss or Frank Gore missed time over the past two seasons.
The Bills are capable of scoring on anybody, but this is in large part thanks to Josh Allen and the team’s plethora of talented receivers. The Bills’ young QB has been one of the league’s most-frequent TD scorers on the ground since entering the league in 2018:
- Derrick Henry (40 rushing TDs)
- Todd Gurley (38)
- Aaron Jones (31)
- Alvin Kamara (28)
- Dalvin Cook (28)
- Christian McCaffrey (27)
- Melvin Gordon (24)
- Nick Chubb (23)
- Ezekiel Elliott (23)
- Allen (23)
Allen usually doesn’t waste his time doing boring things like checking the ball down to his backs. Even with assurance that Singletary will be the offense’s three-down back it’d be difficult to treat him as more than a low-end RB2 in a tough spot against the Steelers’ second-ranked defense in PPR points per game allowed to the position. Considering we’ll likely have no such assurance by Sunday, Singletary is the Bills’ only fantasy-viable back and a low-ceiling RB3 at that.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (from Week 12)
- RB1: Mike Davis (58% snaps, 15 carries, 4 targets)
- RB2: Rodney Smith (23%, 7, 1)
- RB3: Trenton Cannon (14%, 3, 1)
Notes: Davis’ stranglehold on featured back duties hasn’t been quite as tight in recent weeks. He’s still clearly the RB1 with Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) sidelined; the Panthers just aren’t giving their backup a true three-down role anymore.
Davis probably deserves it; he’s been putting defenders into a blender all season. Prior to Week 13 only Dalvin Cook (56), Davis (55) and Derrick Henry (50) had forced at least 50 missed tackles, and nobody had a better rate of forced missed tackles per touch than Davis (0.31) among 37 backs with at least 100 touches.
This newfound lack of a workhorse role will render Davis as more of an upside RB2 as opposed to a locked-in RB1 if McCaffrey remains sidelined following the Panthers’ Week 13 bye. It seems likely that CMC will be active against the Broncos, locking him in as a top-three option at the position. McCaffrey has only played three games this season, but he’s actually averaging more PPR points per game in 2020 (30.1) than he did in 2019 (29.5). The man is a baller; that doesn’t mean I have to like his subjectively awful Next Gen Stats commercial, though.
Notes: The Bears have happily handed Montgomery a true three-down role with Tarik Cohen (knee, IR) sidelined:
- Week 4: 10-27-0 rushing, 3-30-0 receiving, 85% snaps, PPR RB27
- Week 5: 10-29-1 rushing, 7-30-0 receiving, 81% snaps, PPR RB13
- Week 6: 19-58-0 rushing, 4-39-0 receiving, 85% snaps, PPR RB14
- Week 7: 14-48-0 rushing, 5-21-0 receiving, 83% snaps, PPR RB24
- Week 8: 21-89-0 rushing, 2-16-0 receiving, 88% snaps, PPR RB19
- Week 12: 11-103-0 rushing, 5-40-1 receiving, 86% snaps, PPR RB6
- Week 13: 17-72-2 rushing, 4-39-0 receiving, 75% snaps, PPR RB1 (pre-TNF)
Only 10 RBs have scored more PPR points than Montgomery this season. Yes, he’s benefited from facing two of the league’s bottom-three defenses in yards before contact per rush allowed against the Lions and Packers over the past two weeks, but guess what? The Texans are the third-such defense, and they’re up next. Fire up Montgomery as a volume-induced RB1 in his third-consecutive cake matchup in as many weeks.
Notes: The post-Burrow Bengals have largely been a dumpster fire. They’ve scored three TDs in eight quarters courtesy of a 1) kick return, 2) prevent-induced fourth quarter drive against the Giants down multiple scores, and 3) 72-yard screen to Tyler Boyd. Gio’s stranglehold on the backfield’s three-down role isn’t all that tight, while the combination of Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley have fed him a total of just five targets over the past two weeks.
It remains to be seen if Joe Mixon (foot, IR) will return to action this season. We could have a little more confidence in the Bengals handing Mixon 20-plus touches compared to Bernard, but both backs will likely be dealing with a lack of fantasy-friendly pass-game and goal-line opportunities regardless. Gio is more of a borderline RB2 if Mixon remains sidelined in this week’s dream matchup against the Cowboys’ atrocious run defense, while the team’s incumbent starter would be a top-20 option at the position if activated ahead of this smash spot.
Notes: Chubb has ripped off 22-124-2, 19-108-2, 19-126-1, 20-114-0, 19-144-1 and 18-80-1 rushing lines in his past six fully healthy games. Madness. The third-year back has a real case as the league’s single-best rusher since entering the league in 2018:
- PFF rushing grade: 92 (No. 1 among 49 backs with 200-plus carries)
- Yards per carry: 5.3 (No. 2)
- Yards after contact per carry: 4.1 (No. 1)
- Missed forced tackles on carries: 147 (No. 2)
- Missed forced tackles per carry: 0.24 (tied for No. 1)
Chubb happens to be tied with Hunt as well as Josh Jacobs for the lead in the latter metric. Both players are top-10 real-life backs in their own right, although this offense treats Chubb as the 1.A and Hunt as the 1.B more weeks than not. There’s generally been enough production and efficiency from both backs for each to continue to warrant top-15 treatment; just realize the floor is far higher for Chubb ahead of Week 14’s potential season-defining matchup against the Ravens.
DALLAS COWBOYS (from Week 12)
Notes: This Cowboys offense has basically looked competent for four quarters in their post-Dak era, and it’s tough to believe the best is yet to come with all-world OL Zack Martin (calf, IR) likely done for the year. Don’t expect Zeke’s bell-cow role to go anywhere, although more touches for Pollard would be warranted at this point. The second-year back has truly been one of the league’s best pure rushers over the past two seasons (pre-TNF):
- PFF rushing grade: 88.4 (No. 4 among 68 RBs with at least 100 carries)
- Missed tackles forced per rush: 0.27 (No. 1)
- Yards per carry: 5.2 (No. 3)
- Yards after contact per rush: 4.3 (No. 1)
The Bengals *should* represent a matchup that leads to more scoring opportunities for Elliott, but the general pitifulness of the Cowboys’ offensive line makes him more of a borderline RB1 as opposed to the weekly top-five option that we saw for most of the 2016-2019 seasons.
Notes: Gordon and Linsday continue to essentially split reps right down the middle when both are healthy. An injury to Lindsay would lead to a featured role for Gordon, while the ex-Chargers RB missing time would likely result in a 1.A/1.B situation between Linsday and Royce Freeman.
Ultimately, a committee backfield inside of the league’s 31st-ranked scoring offense is no bueno in fantasyland. Credit to Gordon for making the most out of his opportunities in recent weeks; it’s just tough to expect much high-end production with 10-15 carries per game and minimal pass-game work inside the Broncos’ aforementioned porous offense.
The matchup against the Panthers’ sixth-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing RBs is solid, but be careful about ranking Gordon as anything more than a borderline RB2 due to the general volatility of this entire Drew Lock-led offense.
Notes: D’Andre Swift (illness) should be considered questionable for Week 14. The rookie seemed to take over the backfield the last time we saw him in Week 10, but there were already reports of him being limited if active last week. His presence against the Packers would render all three backs as non-viable fantasy assets due to the likely three-headed committee at hand.
If Swift does remain sidelined: Fire up Peterson as a legit low-end RB2. All Day has posted 15-55-2 and 16-57-2 rushing lines over the past two weeks, even posting his highest snap rate since September in Week 13 despite trailing for most of the afternoon. Does it make sense for the Lions to prioritize feeding Peterson 15-plus touches with one of the game’s most-talented gunslingers under center? Probably not, but that’s the reality of the situation, so we need to prioritize Peterson as a waiver wire pickup this week ahead of a matchup against the Packers’ 30th-ranked defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to the position.
Notes: Jones finished off the Eagles with a 77-yard score last week. It was just his second trip to the end zone since Week 6, but the performance was also a good reminder that Williams’ involvement in the offense is largely dependent on 1) blowout game script, or 2) an injury to either Aaron Jones or Davante Adams.
The smash spot of all smash spots is up next against the Lions’ league-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing RBs. Jones posted 18-168-2 rushing and 4-68-1 receiving lines against this defense back in Week 2; he’s worthy of top-six treatment at the position this week. Nobody is implied to score more points than the Packers in Week 14 (FantasyLabs).
Notes: David was the backfield’s clear-cut workhorse prior to suffering a concussion, as he was relegated to more of a true two-back committee with Duke in Week 14.
This sucks. Deshaun Watson is sort of like Josh Allen only in the sense that his dual-threat ability vultures away scores near the goal line, and his gunslinger mentality tends to not lead to many targets for his RBs. Either David or Duke would be at least a solid RB2 without the other involved, but in this split situation David is more of a low-ceiling RB3, and Duke a low-end flex.
The matchup in Chicago certainly isn’t ideal. Anyone involved in an offense with Deshaun Watson remains worthy of fantasy consideration; just realize there appears to be a much lower touch-floor for David compared to what we saw earlier in the season.
- RB1: Jonathan Taylor (49% snaps, 13 carries, 3 targets)
- RB2: Nyheim Hines (33%, 6, 3)
- RB3: Jordan Wilkins (18%, 5, 2)
Notes: Taylor caught a 39-yard score in Week 13 when he was uncovered in the flat and simply out-raced the defense. The fact that he’s capable of catching the ball is great; he’s caught 29 of 30 targets for 271 yards and a score this season. Still, Nyheim Hines is going absolutely nowhere as the primary pass-down option in this offense.
The real reason for optimism behind Taylor ahead of his appetizing two-game stretch against the Raiders and Texans is the reality that he’s seeing the field better as a pure runner. Taylor forced just nine missed tackles in Weeks 1-10 combined; he’s totaled that mark in his past two matchups against the Packers and Texans.
Jonathan Taylor starting to make some playz (other than catching a ball uncovered and running 40 yards into the end zone) pic.twitter.com/4XMHJGNGuq
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 8, 2020
Taylor and Hines are the PPR RB16 and RB15 on the season, respectively. The latter back’s receiving talents are a bit too game-script dependent to fire him up as more than a low-ceiling RB3, but the former is looking like a lock to flirt with 15-plus touches more weeks than not from here on out. Philip Rivers (toe) is playing through the pain; expect Indy to lean on Taylor more than ever down the stretch. Fire him up as a top-20 option at the position against the league’s fifth-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to RBs.
Notes: Robinson continues to flirt with 20-plus touches on a weekly basis regardless of who is under center. He’s truly been one of the most-fed backs in the league all season:
Mike Glennon will be back under center to take on a Titans defense that had absolutely zero answers for the Browns in Week 13. RB1son popped off for 16-102-1 rushing and 3-18-0 receiving lines against this defense back in Week 2; fire up the RB6 in PPR points per game as the high-end RB1 that he’s been all season.
Notes: CEH was active on an emergency only basis in Week 13 due to an illness. Bummer. Bell didn’t exactly make the most out of the enhanced opportunity, showing limited burst despite his (wait for it) patented patience. Williams remains the offense’s preferred back in clear pass-first situations.
The Chiefs have to go on the road in Week 14 to take on the Dolphins. Obviously Patrick Mahomes is capable of dealing against any secondary, but this truly might be a matchup where CEH and company could be leaned on against the league’s 28th-ranked defense in fewest yards before contact allowed per rush. If we see full practices out of Edwards-Helaire all week, fire him up as a low-end RB2. If not, treat Bell as more of a borderline RB2.
Fantasy managers haven’t gotten the production out of this backfield that they hoped for; just realize it’s still good to have someone projected for double-digit touches inside of the league’s second-ranked scoring offense.
- RB1: Devontae Booker (43% snaps, 16 carries, 2 targets)
- RB2: Jalen Richard (39%, 4, 1)
- RB3: Theo Riddick (18%, 3, 1)
Notes: The snaps were tight in Week 13, but Booker did emerge as the lead dog. We saw DeAndre Washington assume a similar role down the stretch last season during three spot starts:
- Week 14: 14-53-1 rushing, 6-43-0 receiving, 63% snaps
- Week 16: 23-85-1 rushing, 2-21-0 receiving, 63% snaps
- Week 17: 17-77-0 rushing, 8-55-0 receiving, 74% snaps
Josh Jacobs (ankle) seems iffy at best to return in Week 14. It’s not an easy matchup: Darius Leonard and company haven’t allowed more than 125 rushing yards to anybody other than the Titans this season. Booker didn’t give us the high-end production we were hoping for, but another projected workload featuring 15-plus touches again lands him in low-end RB2 territory.
- RB1: Austin Ekeler (61% snaps, 8 carries, 6 targets)
- RB2: Kalen Ballage (37%, 7, 4)
- RB3: Joshua Kelley (4%, 0, 2)
Notes: Kelley (ankle) was injured in Week 13, leading to Ballage soaking up plenty of early-down work as a complement to Ekeler.
Ultimately, we don’t really care about Ekeler’s rushing workload. The man is basically the AFC’s version of Alvin Kamara. Overall, Kamara (299.8 PPR points) has a razor thin edge over Ekeler (297.4) in terms of most fantasy points from purely receiving production over the past two seasons.
The important thing for Ekeler is that he looks fully recovered from his hamstring injury. The Falcons have been a bit of a punching bag in recent years against receiving-friendly RBs; don’t expect them to have an answer for the Chargers’ RB1. Fire up Ekeler as a legit top-five RB thanks to his possession of one of the position’s most fantasy-friendly workloads.
- RB1: Cam Akers (65% snaps, 21 carries, 1 target)
- RB2: Darrell Henderson (20%, 3, 2)
- RB3: Malcolm Brown (15%, 3, 1)
Notes: The discrepancy in snaps and touches was partially so stark last week because Henderson missed most of the first half with a knee injury. Credit to Akers for still leading the way in the second half, but now he’s banged up with a shoulder injury. The Rams tabbed Akers as a DNP on their estimated Monday practice report, while Henderson wasn’t even listed. Normally we could look at an early-week DNP as a potential sign of rest after a large workload — but why on earth would the Rams make up a shoulder injury to signify “rest” for a practice that didn’t even happen?
Ultimately, Sean McVay said after the game that he was happy with the contributions from all three of his backs. This has been his same tone all season. Akers and Henderson have pulled away from Brown in terms of touches, but we should continue to expect all three backs to be at least somewhat involved on a weekly basis. Akers could’ve been more of a low-end RB2 without this shoulder issue; I’m forced to drop him alongside Henderson in the mid-tier RB3 range instead. This is probably a situation to avoid in Week 14 with a date against Bill Belichick and company on the horizon.
Check out the Tuesday waiver wire edition of The PFF Fantasy Football Podcast for my full thoughts on how to approach this backfield moving forward.
Notes: Each of Matt Breida (covid), DeAndre Washington (hamstring) and Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) were out in Week 13 during Gaskin’s return to action. The Dolphins’ starting RB largely picked up where he left off, working as the offense’s lead early-down, pass-down and goal-line back.
We saw more good than bad from Tua Tagovailoa last week.
Thought Tua had his best game of the year in Week 13. Still not being asked to do too much and was far from a tough matchup, but the man isn't turning the ball over and is starting to make some plays on his own. pic.twitter.com/nfTDlOKKAx
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 7, 2020
The Dolphins have handed Gaskin 27, 13, 21, 22, 21 and 23 touches in six starts this season. Week 14’s date against the Chiefs likely won’t feature much positive game script for this rushing attack to sink their teeth into, but Gaskin still boasts mid-range RB2 appeal thanks to his proven potential to make the most out of his target share.
Notes: Cook failed to find the end zone in Week 13, but his status as the league’s single most-fed RB continued to lock him in as the position’s No. 1 overall option. Obviously Cook is at his best when the Vikings can play with a lead, but he’s hardly struggled to put up production when the offense has leaned more on Kirk Cousins. Overall, Cousins has thrown at least 30 passes in four straight games after doing so just twice in Weeks 1-9, and Cook has responded with PPR RB15, RB1, RB23 and RB2 performances. The potential absence of Alexander Mattison (appendicitis) further cements Cook as the league’s biggest volume hog. The Buccaneers’ sixth-ranked defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to the position has been an issue for opposing backfields all season, but Cook earned matchup-proof RB1 treatment a long time ago.
- RB1: Damien Harris (48% snaps, 16 carries, 1 target)
- RB2: Sony Michel (33%, 10, 1)
- RB3: James White (29%, 0, 4)
Notes: Welp. So much for that two-headed backfield. White takes the backfield’s (minimal) receiving work, Harris gets most of the early-down and short-yardage carries, and Michel also sees run-down work in addition to garbage time goodness. We could still find some fantasy success out of this sort of backfield in a better offense, but the Patriots have been rather inconsistent in the point scoring department all season, and Cam Newton is as big a threat as anybody to score once they get inside the 5-yard line.
The Patriots’ willingness to feed Newton near the goal line has been borderline absurd:
- Dalvin Cook (17 carries inside the five-yard line)
- Newton (16)
- Kenyan Drake (15)
- Ezekiel Elliott (15)
- Derrick Henry (14)
Treating Harris and White as borderline RB2s without Michel was probably a stretch. With him involved? I’m passing on the entire situation, particularly ahead of a matchup against Aaron Donald and the Rams’ beastly front-seven.
Notes: I wrote at length last week about the Saints’ decision to sacrifice Kamara for Taysom Hill. The main three takeaways were:
- The Saints aren’t as good with Hill as they are with Drew Brees (ribs/lung, IR), but they’re still an above-average unit thanks to a large increase in rushing efficiency with the former QB under center.
- Hill himself is an excellent fantasy asset thanks to this willingness to run.
- The lack of goal line rushes and targets has turned Kamara from a world-beating fantasy football cheat code to more of a ho-hum borderline RB1.
Hill’s involvement in the run game has truly bordered on ridiculous: Only Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb and Antonio Gibson have more fantasy points from purely rushing production than Hill over the past three weeks.
Kamara managed to find the end zone last week from 11 yards out. Thank god that he crossed the plane, because there’s no doubt in my mind who was getting the next opportunity from the 1-yard line had he been short. Hopefully Drew Brees (ribs/lung, IR) is back this week and we can get back to firing up Kamara as a top-three fantasy asset at the position. If not, our jokes about him reaching 81 receptions for the fourth consecutive season will be even more realistic this time next week. Kamara will be on the RB1 borderline if Hill remains under center against the Eagles’ ninth-ranked defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to the position.
Some confused Murray’s boost in production in Weeks 11-12 with Hill’s presence under center; in reality it was more of an after effect of the Saints playing with extremely positive game script during blowout wins. Ultimately, Murray will continue to see roughly double-digit touches per week. His efficiency might be boosted with Hill under center, but the scoring upside sure isn’t. Overall, The Saints have posted two of their three lowest point totals of the season with Hill under center over the past three weeks.
- RB1: Wayne Gallman (49% snaps, 16 carries, 0 targets)
- RB2: Dion Lewis (22%, 3, 0)
- RB3: Alfred Morris (20%, 8, 1)
Notes: Devonta Freeman (ankle/covid, IR) remains sidelined. His return would further lower Gallman’s floor. There’s no question who the lead back is at the moment, but Lewis continues to play the majority of pass downs, and Morris is always a candidate to vulture away a short-yardage score (as he did in Week 13).
Credit to Gallman for ripping off a 60-yard run last week; this is an offense that has scored a combined 36 points in their last two games against the Bengals and Seahawks. The lead back of a three-headed committee in a bad offense, Gallman is a low-end, volume-based RB2 that shouldn’t be started in the fantasy playoffs if you can help it.
- RB1: Ty Johnson (62% snaps, 22 carries, 2 targets)
- RB2: Josh Adams (32%, 8, 0)
- RB3: Frank Gore (3%, 1, 0)
Notes: Johnson posted the first 100-yard rushing performance of the Adam Gase tenure after Frank Gore (concussion) went down with an injury.
Honestly, Sam Darnold has been the team’s best rusher this season.
I think this just might be my masterpiece pic.twitter.com/Va1kuUcqpu
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 8, 2020
Johnson is fine, but this is the league’s 32nd-ranked scoring offense. The Jets will likely enter Sunday’s game with a third RB if Gore is ultimately sidelined; last week’s usage likely won’t carry over into a matchup that is expected to feature a much more negative game script.
If Gore is out and the Jets don’t make an addition to their backfield, Johnson will be an upside RB3. If the position is addressed in literally any manner, he’ll be more of a borderline top-36 option at the position. Adrian Peterson is my preferred waiver wire add of the week among RBs.
- RB1: Miles Sanders (59% snaps, 10 carries, 1 target)
- RB2: Boston Scott (22%, 2, 2)
- RB3: Jordan Howard (19%, 4, 0)
Notes: Jalen Hurts will be under center for the Eagles in their Week 14 matchup against the Saints. Dual-threat QBs are a bit of a catch-22 for their RB. On the one hand, we often see enhanced efficiency from rushing attacks with a mobile QB thanks to the added threat they present to opposing defensive lines. On the other hand, the presence of a rushing QB under center means that there’s suddenly another candidate to soak up carries and fantasy-friendly goal line opportunities.
Ultimately, Hurts can provide a boost to this offense if he can help them engineer more points; the Eagles haven’t surpassed 17 points in a game since Week 8. I’m bullish on what Hurts can bring to the table in Weeks 15 and 16 against the Cardinals and Cowboys, respectively, but expecting much from this backfield against the Saints’ league-best defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to opposing RBs seems like wishful thinking. Sanders is best approached as a low-end RB2 that doesn’t need to be forced into starting lineups by any stretch of the imagination.
- RB1: Benny Snell (48% snaps, 8 carries, 2 targets)
- RB2: Jaylen Samuels (36%, 1, 3)
- RB3: Anthony McFarland (16%, 4, 1)
Notes: I wrote the following last week:
“Coach Mike Tomlin said the following back in March:
“I’m a featured-runner type guy by mentality. No question in today’s game, a featured runner needs to be supplemented and supplemented by guys who are capable of doing similar things in case he misses time. Usually when it’s going well, it’s because you have a lead dog out front, and that guy is the featured runner. James is a featured guy and proven runner when healthy. We’re excited about him getting back to health and displaying that in 2020.”
Tomlin did note that Snell is ‘capable of being a James-type of guy if James is unavailable.' Again: Snell is the preferred fantasy back to own in Pittsburgh and could see 15-20 carries in a best-case scenario. Just realize this situation is fluid with McFarland serving as the wild card, and we should expect Jaylen Samuels (quad) to get most of the pass-game work when healthy. It’d make more sense than ever to see the Steelers lean on their passing game against the Football Team’s beastly defensive line; be careful about treating Snell as more than a volume-based lower-end RB2 during Conner’s absence.”
Snell had three chances to score from the goal line on Monday night, but it wasn’t meant to be. This sort of three-headed committee in a pass-first offense is a no go in fantasy land. The potential for James Conner (covid, IR) to be eased back into action as early as Week 14 further complicates matters.
Conner will be a low-end, rather TD-dependent RB2 if active against the Bills; just realize this offense basically gave up on the idea that you should #EstablishTheRun about six weeks ago.
- RB1: Jeff Wilson (47% snaps, 7 carries, 4 targets)
- RB2: Raheem Mostert (45%, 9, 1)
- RB3: Tevin Coleman (7%, 2, 0)
- RB4: Jerick McKinnon (2%, 0, 0)
Notes: Mostert joins Tyreek Hill as the only players to reach a top speed over 23 miles per hour over the past five seasons (Next Gen Stats). Unfortunately, he’s stuck in a fairly evenly split two-back committee that doesn’t prioritize getting him pass-down or goal-line work. This isn’t to say Mostert is completely devoid of these fantasy-friendly opportunities; this is just a muddled situation with no real clarity at the moment.
The good news is that Coleman and McKinnon are distant afterthoughts in the game plan at this point. The bad news is that Kyle Juszczyk and Deebo Samuel are often involved in this already-crowded run game as well. We know coach Kyle Shanahan is going to scheme somebody into oodles of success; it’s just tough to figure out who that person is going to be on a weekly basis.
I’d rather take my chances on a bounce-back week from Mostert against the Cowboys in Week 15 as opposed to against the Football Team this week. Treat the 49ers’ lead early-down back as a boom-or-bust RB3, while Wilson is more of a dart throw RB4 in this tough spot.
- RB1: Chris Carson (59% snaps, 13 carries, 6 targets)
- RB2: Carlos Hyde (24%, 2, 3)
- RB3: DeeJay Dallas (17%, 0, 3)
Notes: Carson caught a 28-yard TD in Week 13 after a few frustrating drops that seemingly led to Dallas’ enhanced involvement. The larger issue is that coach Pete Carroll said that the Seahawks’ starting RB isn’t quite functioning at full capacity at the moment:
“He's making it to the game is what he's doing it right now. His foot is still sore but he can play, so you can see, he looked good, but it's just not 100 percent and so we're trying to not overload him. We've got a lot of games left and we're just trying to make sure that he can play and contribute, which is what he's doing.”
Meh. I’m not quite buying this as a reason to back off of Carson this week. Hyde (hamstring) doesn’t seem to be at 100 percent either, and the team hasn’t been all that willing to get Dallas involved in the run game all season. The Seahawks’ idea of not overloading Carson still produced 19 combined carries and targets; fire him up as an upside RB2 against the Jets’ 30th-ranked scoring defense.
Rashaad Penny (knee, PUP) is expected to resume practicing this week. He quietly split snaps with Carson when healthy down the stretch in 2019. We shouldn’t expect that level of involvement in his first game back; just realize it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Seahawks squeeze their 2018 first-round pick into this committee once he’s healthy enough to suit up.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (from Week 12)
Notes: Coach Bruce Arians said after Week 12 that Jones needs to have 20 touches. Note that Arians, notorious for exaggerating claims to the media, said he wanted to get 1) Andre Ellington 20 touches per game back in August, 2015, 2) David Johnson 30 touches a game back in March, 2017, and 3) Adrian Peterson 25 carries per game back in October, 2017.
RoJo has rather clearly been the best Buccaneers RB since the beginning of last season. Perhaps Arians is telling the truth this time; it’d seemingly be in the best interest of his football team if he was. Still, if there’s anything we’ve learned from this Tampa Bay backfield over the past two seasons it’s that the only consistency is the general inconsistency involved.
Jones is an upside RB2 in Week 14 against the Vikings; Fournette is a TD-dependent RB3 at best. It’s tough to assume rational coaching in the NFL, particularly with a wordsmith like Arians, but it’d make all the sense in the world to feature RoJo moving forward following the team’s Week 13 bye. He’s earned it.
Notes: Henry has a league-high 1,317 rushing yards after 12 weeks of action. He needs to average 171 rushing yards per game to get to 2,000; it’s not out of the question with his cozy-as-hell end-of-the-season stretch:
- Week 14: Jaguars (No. 16 in yards before contact allowed per rush, No. 29 in fewest PPR per game allowed to RBs)
- Week 15: Lions (No. 7, No. 32)
- Week 16: Packers (No. 26, No. 30)
- Week 17: Texans (No. 30, No. 31)
McNichols isn’t a viable handcuff option with Darrynton Evans (hamstring, IR) a candidate to return sooner rather than later and D’Onta Foreman also waiting in the wings. Continue to fire up Henry as a top-three RB for the rest of the season, and pray for those poor defenders that have to deal with him as winter comes nearer.
- RB1: J.D. McKissic (73% snaps, 14 carries, 0 targets)
- RB2: Peyton Barber (33%, 5, 10)
- RB3: Antonio Gibson (6%, 2, 0)
Notes: Gibson (toe) could be forced out of action or at least limited moving forward after getting hurt on just his second touch of the game against the Steelers.
It’s impossible to overstate just how poorly Barber has performed this season, but here’s a shot:
- PFF rushing grade: 58.2 (tied for No. 63 among 68 RBs with at least 50 carries)
- Missed tackles forced per carry: 0.04 (No. 68)
- Yards per carry: 2.7 (No. 68)
- Yards after contact per rush: 1.5 (No. 68)
McKissic is low key the PPR RB24 on the season. Barber is going to get carries and likely be the preferred option at the goal line, but this sort of receiving potential for McKissic is worthy of legit RB2 treatment with Gibson sidelined. The 49ers’ fifth-ranked defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to opposing RBs isn’t a great spot; it doesn’t matter because full point-per-reception scoring makes receiving-friendly backs like McKissic a cheat code in fantasy land. He’ll be a recommended start if Gibson is out, and probably in line for at least high-end RB3 treatment even if the Football Team’s stud rookie RB manages to play through the pain.
Don’t play Barber. Not even if there’s a fire.