NFL Running Back Report - Week 17

Shawn Childs

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey, RB (DK – $10,000/FD – $11,000)

With Lamar Jackson sitting out this week, McCaffrey needs 6.60 Fantasy points to be the top-scoring Fantasy player in 2019. He averages 29.89 FPPG with eight games with over 30.0 Fantasy points. McCaffrey has 2,294 combined yards with 18 TDs and 109 catches (most in NFL history at RB). He needs 216 combined yards to rank first in NFL history (136 yards to finish second). Even with his success, McCaffrey rushed for fewer than 90 yards in each of his previous six contests. In Week 12, he gained 133 combined yards with two TDs and nine catches vs. the Saints. New Orleans ranks 6th in RB defense (19.74 FPPG), with three teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points (34.40, 45.40, 32.55). They allow 4.3 yards per rush with RBs scoring 11 TDs. Stud of studs who will be playing with a downgrade at QB. On the positive side, Will Grier connected with him all 15 times in the passing game in Week 16. In the mix for sure as a hot start could lead to a huge push for the best RB season in yards from scrimmage.

Saquon Barkley, NYG (DK – $8,700/FD – $9,300)

For the Fantasy owners that survived the first 14 weeks with Barkley, he delivered back-to-back impact games (30.30 and 43.90 Fantasy points) thanks to 422 combined yards with four TDs and eight catches on 54 touches. Despite missing three games, Barkley needs 89 rushing yards to reach 1,000 and 176 combined yards to reach 1,500 on the year. His most significant regression in 2019 came in TDs (7 – 15 in 2018) and catches (49 – 91 in 2018. The Eagles held him to 67 yards with three catches on 20 touches in Week 14. Philadelphia grades 7th vs. the RB position (20.52 FPPG). The Eagles had the most prominent issues with RBs in Week 4 (31.70), Week 6 (31.65), and Week 13 (31.45). They allow 4.0 yards per rush with RBs scoring 12 TDs. Trending forward along with the Giants' overall offense, but a 4 X game would mean the worst showing of the year by Philly’s defense.

Aaron Jones, GB (DK – $8,200/FD – $8,000)

After a monster game in Week 16 (160 combined yards with two TDs and two catches on 25 touches), Jones moved to second in RB scoring (20.04 FPPG) in PPR leagues. His success is a meer 147.80 Fantasy points lower than Christian McCaffrey. Jamaal Williams left last week’s game with a shoulder issue, which may lead to Jones receiving the whole show in Week 17 with the Packers making a push for the number one seed in the NFC. He needs 16 rushing yards to reach 1,000 on the year and one more TD to reach 20. The Lions held him to 60 combined yards with four catches on 15 touches in Week 6. Detroit ranks 29th in RB defense (28.69 FPPG), with four teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. They have risk vs. RBs in the passing game (79/817/8 on 105 targets) while rushers gain 4.1 yards per carry with 13 TDs. Jones seems overpriced, but no Williams paired with his matchup points to a high volume game with a chance at multiple TDs.

Derrick Henry, TEN (DK – $8,100/FD – $8,800)

Over his last two games, Henry battled a quad/hamstring issue leading to a drop in playing time (60 and 58 percent) plus a missed game in Week 16. He still finished with 21 rushes for 86 yards in Week 15 vs. the Texans, which came after a great run over five games (740 combined yards with nine TDs and ten catches – 29.6 FPPG in DraftKings scoring). After 14 games, Henry has 1,535 combined yards with 15 TDs and 18 catches). Houston fell to 27th defending the RB position (27.01 FPPG) with failure in five games (36.60, 33.90, 30.40, 44.40, and 43.70). They allow 4.7 yards per rush with RB scoring six rushing TDs. Much of the Texans’ struggles come via the RB position in the passing game (104/913/8 on 122 targets). Houston doesn’t need this game, and they will rush their starters, which gives Henry a better opportunity for success. The Titans expect him to play on Sunday.

Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (DK – $8,000/FD – $8,700)

With Dak Prescott struggling to make plays in the passing game, Elliott finished with a down game in Week 16 (84 combined yards with seven catches on 20 touches). Over the previous two games, Elliott had four TDs. His success in Week 15 ended a streak of five games with fewer than 90 yards rushing. Elliott averages 22.3 touches per game with 1,653 combined yards with 12 TDs and 51 catches. In Week 2, he gained 120 combined yards with TD and two catches vs. the Redskins. Washington fell to 30th in RB defense (28.97 FPPG) after two disaster showings (48.70 and 43.90 Fantasy points). They also struggled against RBs in three other contests (32.30, 47.20, 32.20, and 33.60 Fantasy points). The Redskins allow 4.6 yards per rush with RBs scoring 17 TDs. At times, Washington has risk defending RBs in the passing game (92/802/4 on 119 targets). Dallas needs a big win, and they tend to play much better at home. In the mix at the top end.

Alvin Kamara, NO (DK – $7,800/FD – $7,900)

With one week to go in the season, Kamara ranks 11th in RB scoring (15.33 FPPG) after a plus game vs. the Titans (110 combined yards with two TDs and six catches on 17 touches). He ended his nine-game scoreless streak, but he entended his run of fewer than 100 yards rushing to 13 games. Kamara gains only 6.5 yards per catch with 50 receiving yards or fewer in his last ten games. In Week 12, he finished with 102 combined yards with nine catches vs. the Panthers. On the year, Kamara has 1,273 combined yards with four TDs and 79 catches. Carolina remains last in the NFL defending RBs (31.20 FPPG) with eight of their previous nine opponents scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. The Panthers allow 5.3 yards per rush with RBs scoring 31 TDs. Kamara averages 18.6 touches per game, which does limit his upside unless he scores a couple of TDs.

Nick Chubb, CLE (DK – $7,500/FD – $7,900)

Chubb leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,453) and rushing attempts (285). The Ravens held him to a season-low 45 yards in Week 16 on 15 touches. He has fewer than 20 rushers in four straight games. The Browns continue to give Chubb plenty of touches per game (21.3). He’s rushed for over 100 yards in seven of 15 contests while gaining over 100 combined yards in one other game. Chubb has eight TDs while gaining 1,730 combined yards and 35 catches. He scored over 20.0 Fantasy points in three games (29.90, 25.40, and 23.80 Fantasy points). In Week 14, Chubb gained 117 combined yards with one catch on 16 touches vs. the Bengals. Cinci ranks 26th in RB defense (26.96 FPPG) with four poor showings (55.80, 50.45, 36.20, and 40.40 Fantasy points). The Bengals allow 4.8 yards per rush with RBs scoring 17 TDs. A favorable matchup with plenty of touches expected, but his payoff rate in fewer than 14.0 percent in 2019 based on his salary.

Joe Mixon, CIN (DK – $7,200/FD – $7,300)

The rumor on the street was that Mixon didn’t feel well in Week 16 due to some late-night partying in Miami. He gained 73 combined yards with two catches on 23 touches in a winnable game. After a tough start to the year over the first seven games (353 combined yards with two TDs and 15 catches), Mixon revived his season and Fantasy hopes over his next seven games (822 combined yards with four TDs and 17 catches) while averaging 23.4 touches per game over his hot run. Mixon ran the ball the best in Week 14 (against the Browns) and Week 15 (23/146/1 and 25/136) with improved value in the passing game over his previous three weeks (10/86) before last week. Cleveland fell to 22nd in RB defense (25.97 FPPG) after struggling vs. RBs over their previous three games (34.20, 40.20, and 39.50 Fantasy points). The Browns allow 5.0 yards per rush with 16 TDs. Worth a ticket or two if you want to throw out his poor play in Week 16.

Kenyon Drake, ARI (DK – $7,100/FD – $7,300)

Over the previous two weeks, Drake turned into a beast. He gained 330 combined yards with six TDs and four catches on 50 touches. His success in Arizona over seven games (731 combined yards with seven TDs and 25 catches) pushed him 16th RB scoring (13.19 FPPG) in PPR leagues. Drake also shined in Week 9 (162 combined yards with a TD and four catches). In Week 13, he gained 51 combined yards with two catches on 15 touches vs. the Rams. Los Angeles sits 15th in RB defense (23.77 FPPG) with failure in two games (49.00 and 53.30 FPPG). They allow 4.1 yards per rush with RBs scoring 16 TDs. Tempting for sure, but Drake did get banged up a couple of times in Week 16 plus his matchup isn’t ideal. Overpriced for me.

Leonard Fournette, JAC (DK – $7,000/FD – $7,400)

As the NFL season comes to an end, Fournette should finish as a win Fantasy owners based on his draft value. Unfortunately, his lack of scoring (three TDs) crushed his Fantasy value and explosiveness in too many weeks. Fournette played well in three games (26.50, 23.70, and 36.90 Fantasy points) while scoring between 12.00 and 19.00 Fantasy points in ten contests. He averages 22.7 touches per game, but this week Fournette has a neck issue that may put him at risk to play on Sunday. The Colts held him to 57 combined yards with seven catches on 15 touches in Week 11. Indy ranks 9th in RB defense (21.79 FPPG) with two poor showings (46.90 and 33.50 Fantasy points). The Colts give up 4.2 yards per rush with RBs scoring eight TDs. Without TDs, he can’t fill his salary bucket.

Marlon Mack, IND (DK – $6,900/FD – $7,300)

Mack played well last week (16/95/1 with two catches for six yards), but the Colts stole his upside by giving plenty of chances to Jordan Wilkins (9/84/1). Since returning for his hand injury before Week 16, Mack gained only 57 yards with a TD on 24 carries in two games while failing to see a target. His salary ($6,900) seems above his path in 2019 when adding in his weakness in the passing game (14/82). Mack played well in Week 1 (25/174/1) and Week 5 (148 combined yards with a TD and three catches), but he scored only six TDs in 13 contests. The Jaguars rank 31st in RB defense (30.08 FPPG) with failure in five of their previous seven games (34.10, 45.10, 35.00, 59.60, and 46.60 Fantasy points). Jacksonville allows 5.1 yards per rush with 19 TDs. Mark averages 18.9 touches per game, which he hasn’t achieved over the previous three weeks. Without a full ride, he’s tough to trust even with a winnable matchup.

Miles Sanders, PHI (DK – $6,800/FD – $7,400)

The Eagles came up big on Sunday, and they couldn’t have done it without Sanders. His star rose in Week 15 (172 combined yards with two TDs and six catches on 25 touches). In a must-win game vs. the Cowboys, Sanders had his second straight impact game. He gained 156 combined yards with a TD and five catches. Over the last two games, Philly gave him 50 touches. Sanders will finish as a top 15 RB in 2019 with over 1,300 combined yards with six-plus TDs and over 50 catches. He did all of this despite starting the season as a rotational player with Jordan Howard, and no chances at goal-line carries over the first half of the season. In Week 16, Sanders gained 69 combined yards with four catches on 19 touches. New York worked its way to 13th in RB defense (23.67 FPPG) with four teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points (35.40, 39.40, 35.20, and 36.20). The Giants will give up rushing TDs (19) with RBs gaining 3.9 yards per carry with risk at times in the passing game (83/675/0). A hot player with an improved role, but a trip on the road should lead to a step back in production.

Todd Gurley, LAR (DK – $6,600/FD – $7,800)

Even with short yards (38 and 48) over the past two games, Gurley held value thanks to four TDs. He extended his scoring streak to four weeks and raising his TD total to 14. Entering Week 16, he’s the 14th ranked RB (14.05 FPPG) with 975 combined yards with 29 catches while averaging 16.6 touches per game. In Week 13, Gurley gained 115 combined yards with one TD and one catch vs. the Cardinals. Arizona slipped to 23rd in RB defense (26.11 FPPG) with four teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points (43.40, 41.30, 36.70, and 39.40 FPPG). With LA not needing the game, Gurley won’t see the whole show at RB with a chance at an early shower, which makes him an avoid in the daily games.

Devonta Freeman, ATL (DK – $6,500/FD – $6,700)

Atlanta had his best game of the season in Week 16 (127 combined yards with two TDs and nine catches). He needs 9.70 Fantasy points to reach 200 Fantasy points on the year despite missing two games. On the year, Freeman has 993 combined yards with six TDs and 57 catches on 17.2 touches per game. Tampa is third in RB defense (17.21 FPPG), with no team scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. The Bucs allow 3.2 yards per rush with RBs scoring ten TDs. Wrong kind of matchup with a huge jump in salary after his big game in Week 16.

Josh Jacobs, OAK (DK – $6,300/FD – $7,600)

After missing Week 14 with a shoulder issue, Jacobs gained 109 combined yards with two catches on 26 touches vs. the Jaguars. Even with elite touches, he missed his last week’s game with his shoulder issue. His best value continues to come at home (20.41 FPPG in DraftKings scoring) with no TDs on the road (10.78 FPPG). In Week 1, Jacobs gained 113 combined yards with two TDs and one catch vs. the Broncos. This week he suffered in infection in his leg that required minor surgery that put him at risk to play on Sunday. Denver ranks 8th in RB defense (21.63 FPPG), with two teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. Tons of risk with no real upside if he does play based on his injury status.

Austin Ekeler, LAC (DK – $6,200/FD – $6,800)

Last week the Chargers only gave Ekeler nine touches, which led to 69 combined yards with five catches. He needs 17 catches to reach 100 for the year and 50 receiving yards to reach 1,000. Over his previous 11 games, Ekeler rushed for 291 yards on 67 carries (4.3 yards per rush) with his best success coming in Week 14 (8/101). His value in the Chargers’ offense is driven via the passing game (83/950/8). He’s scored a receiving TD in five of his previous nine games. RBs have 87 catches for 845 yards and five TDs on 123 targets against the Chiefs. In Week 11, Ekeler gained 132 combined yards with eight catches vs. Kansas City. May surprise.

Phillip Lindsay, DEN (DK – $6,100/FD – $6,600)

Lindsay played well last week, which led to a 4 X game (118 combined yards with a TD and two catches on 21 touches). He is the 18th ranked RB in PPR leagues (12.85 FPPG) with two other games of value (29.00 and 24.70 Fantasy points), with the latter coming in Week 5. Lindsay averages 16.1 touches per game while needing 42 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season straight year. In Week 1, he gained 66 combined yards with four catches on 15 touches against the Raiders. Oakland is 21st in RB defense (25.90 FPG) with six teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points (39.90, 37.90, 33.20, 32.70, 34.70, and 34.60 Fantasy points). The Raiders allow 4.0 yards per rush with RBs scoring 19 TDs. A home game bodes well, but his higher salary does hurt his chance at success in a split role.

Melvin Gordon, LAC (DK – $6,000/FD – $7,200)

After a poor showing vs. Vikings (64 combined yards with five catches on 12 touches), Gordon gained only 47 combined yards last week. He did score two TDs with six catches, helping him hold value. LA had him on the field for 61 percent of their snaps in Week 16. Over the previous seven games, he scored 125.7 Fantasy points in DraftKings scoring (17.96 FPPG) while averaging 18.4 touches per game. Gordon gained 637 combined yards with six TDs and 25 catches over this span. In Week 11, he finished with 90 yards vs. the Chiefs with three catches. Kansas City allows 5.0 yards per rush with RBs scoring 14 TDs. The Chargers will try to run a ball-control offense, which favors the RB position. Only a flier.

James White, NE (DK – $5,900/FD – $6,300)

White lost some of his chances in Week 16 to Rex Burkhead, which led to a short game (29 combined yards with four catches on seven touches). Over his previous three contests, he gained 299 combined yards with three TDs and 16 catches highlighted by his game in Week 13 (177 combined yards with two TDs and eight catches). In Week 2, White finished with 29 yards, one TD, and three catches vs. the Dolphins. RBs have 70 catches for 569 yards and five TDs on 79 targets vs. Miami. With New England expected to play form the lead, White looks to be a boring option in the daily games.

Le’Veon Bell, PIT (DK – $5,800/FD – $7,100)

Last week Bell had a season-high in rushing attempts (25), but he gained only 72 yards with low value in the passing game (4/21). He’s gained fewer than 90 yards rushing in each game in 2019 with only three TDs. His highlight game in Fantasy points (23.20) came in Week 1 vs. the Bills. Bell sits 15th in RB scoring (13.55 PFFG) with 20.7 touches per game. He gains only 3.3 yards per rush with no runs over 20 yards. Buffalo ranks 14th in RB defense (23.70 FPPG) with two bad games (47.30 and 36.70 Fantasy points). The Bills will rest their starters, which helps Bell. Even so, I can’t trust his ability to make big plays or score TDs.

Kareem Hunt, CLE (DK – $5,200/FD – $6,100)

Over seven games, Hunt has been a reliable option at RB2 or Flex in the season-long contests. He scored between 11.80 and 15.60 Fantasy points in each week except for Week 16 (41 combined yards with four catches). His best value comes in the passing game (34/253/1). The Browns have had him on the field for about 59 percent of their plays while running many two RB sets. Overall, Hunt averages 10.6 touches per game with some chances at the goal-line. RBs have 72 catches for 663 yards and four TDs on 90 targets vs. the Bengals. Priced above his opportunity, but Hunt may see a bump in chances in Week 17.

David Montgomery, CHI (DK – $5,100/FD – $6,300)

When 2019 is over, Montgomery will fail to live up to expectations, along with many of the Bears’ offensive players. Heading into Week 17, he has 961 combined yards with six TDs and 25 catches while averaging 16.3 touches per game. Montgomery gains only 3.5 yards per rush with two games of value (24.70 and 22.60 Fantasy points). The Vikings held him to 67 combined yards with three catches on 24 touches in Week 4. Minnesota drifted back to 11th RB defense (22.10 FPPG) after struggling in two of their previous four games (47.50 and 38.30 Fantasy points). Tough to trust, but the Vikings don’t have anything to play for in Week 17.

Tarik Cohen, CHI (DK – $4,900/FD – $5,500)

Cohen should catch more balls than 2018 (71 – 70 in 2019), but his lost value in yards per rush (3.2 – 4.5 in 2018) and yards per catch (5.9 – 10.2 in 2018). He only has 605 combined yards after 15 games compared to his success in 2018 (1,169 combined yards). Cohen ranks 28th in RB scoring (9.91 FPPG) in PPR leagues with no impact games. In Week 4, Cohen scored 9.80 Fantasy points vs. the Vikings. RBs have 70 catches for 542 yards and four TDs in 99 targets against Minnesota. Less than a flier with an underachieving resume in 2019.

Sony Michel, NE (DK – $4,900/FD – $6,500)

Michel played better in the last two games (103 combined yards with one catch and 101 combined yards with one catch), but he didn’t score a TD for the eighth straight contest. Michel needs 162 rushing yards to reach 1,000 while averaging 16.1 touches per game. In Week 2, he gained 83 yards with a TD vs. the Dolphins. Miami allows 4.4 yards per rush with RBs scoring 17 TDs. Possible TD with a run at 100-plus rushing yards with New England expected to play from the lead.

Ronald Jones, TB (DK – $4,900/FD – $6,200)

Jones played well last week (109 combined yards with a TD and three catches on 17 touches). His only other game of value came in Week 10 (23.60 Fantasy points). After 15 games, he gained 917 combined yards with six TDs and 29 catches while averaging 12.7 touches per game. In Week 12, Jones had 67 yards with a TD and three catches vs. the Falcons. Atlanta moved up to 12th in RB defense (22.73 FPPG) with three teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points (31.70, 42.90, and 32.90). A rotational player with some scoring ability and occasional chances in the passing game.

Gus Edwards, BAL (DK – $4,800/FD – $6,600)

With Mark Ingram out this week with a calf issue, Edwards should earn the lead RB role for the Ravens. As a part-time player, he gained 581 yards rushing on 112 carries with two TDs. His best showing came in Week 11 (8/112/1). Pittsburgh plays well vs. the run (3.7 yards per carry) with RBs scoring four rushing TDs. Not a great matchup when adding in a dropoff at QB for the Ravens.

Damien Williams, KC (DK – $4,700/FD – $6,400)

After missing three games, Williams moved right back into the starting role for the Chiefs in Week 16. They had him on the field for 54 percent of their RB plays, which led to 92 combined yards with one TD and three catches on 19 touches. His best game came in Week 9 (128 combined yards with one TD and two catches). Kansas City tried to ride him hard in Week 10 (24 touches – 109 combined yards with five catches), pointing to a high-volume role if he can stay healthy and be productive. The Chargers rank 19th in RB defense (25.57 FPPG), with six teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. His direction gives him a chance when adding his lower salary.

Justice Hill, BAL (DK – $4,600/FD – $5,900)

Baltimore may give Hill a high-volume of chances in Week 17 to see how he responds. Over the last two years at Oklahoma State, he gained 2,655 yards with 24 TDs and 44 catches on 470 touches. His calling card is breakaway speed, which he hasn’t been able to show in his short touches in his rookie season. Over 48 carries for the Ravens, Hill gained 196 yards with one TD with no runs over 20 yards. Possible flier while offering failure risk.

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