- Everything you need to craft a winning fantasy football lineup in Week 6.
Every Sunday, the combined SI.com and 4for4 Football team will answer a question about the day that is to unfold before our eyes. The question will change every week. Some weeks, it will be quite specific, and others it will be broader in nature. No matter what the question is, though, we’ll strive to give you a last few pieces of wisdom before you officially set your lineups for the week, kick up your feet, and enjoy the football. Let’s get to it.
Few classes of player disappoint with more regularity than the mid-round running back, and this year is no exception to that rule. Four disappointments among that class who jump out this season are Alex Collins, Lamar Miller, LeSean McCoy and Kenyan Drake. If you had to bet on one turning it around, who would it be and why?
Michael Beller (@MBeller): I was bullish on Lamar Miller—again—entering this season, but he just hasn’t delivered, is losing volume by the week, and is staring at the impending return of D’Onta Foreman. I’ll go with Alex Collins, who has dealt with more unfriendly game script than any back in the league this season. In Week 1, the Ravens destroyed the Bills, and didn’t need to put any unnecessary wear and tear on Collins’ body. In Week 2, they fell behind the Bengals by multiple scores early, and Joe Flacco ultimately threw 55 passes in a quixotic attempt to get them back in the game. In Week 4 against the Steelers, the Ravens again chose to ease Collins’ load with a comfortable lead in the second half, giving Buck Allen nearly as many carries. That’s not going to be the case every week, and it’s worth noting that he has had double-digit carries in all of his last three games after getting just 16 combined the first two weeks of the season. Collins should be a reliable RB2 the rest of the way.
John Paulsen (@4for4_John): I’m not too optimistic about Miller or Drake. Miller’s touches have declined every week and D’Onta Foreman is supposed to be back soon, so the writing appears to be on the wall for Miller. Drake’s touches have been all over the map, so barring an injury to Frank Gore, it’s hard to see him getting the sort of consistent workload he needs to be an every-week RB2.
I do see the light at the end of the tunnel for McCoy and Collins. McCoy has had a real tough stretch of matchups, with four top 10 defenses (in RB aFPA) in his first five games. He only has two tough matchups (Chicago in Week 9 and Jacksonville in Week 12) in his next 10 weeks. Plus, I think McCoy is still good.
As for Collins, he has seen double digit touches in each of the last four games, so a consistent workload is there. After his Week 10 bye, he has five straight games against defenses that are currently in the 20s in RB aFPA.
Chris Allen (@ChrisAllenFFWX): Is None of the Above an option? No? Well, then let’s talk it out. LeSean McCoy jumps out at first glance due to the recent trade rumors. McCoy only has 45 attempts on the season (35th in the league entering Week 6), 170 rush yards (36th), and a 42% success rate (28th). The Bills’ offense (25th-ranked offensive line, 32nd-ranked points per game) doesn’t help, but a return to Philadelphia would instantly turn his season around. Until then, his RB22 performance in Week 5 could be his ceiling. Conversely, Lamar Miller’s best performance came back in Week 1. Since then, his attempts per game have dropped, and Alfred Blue got 89% of Miller’s targets on the season in one game. D’Onta Foreman is due back from his Achilles injury in Week 7, muddying the waters further. If Miller couldn’t stand out with a 73% share of the running back touches, adding a third to the rotation doesn’t help his prospects. So, for me, it comes down to Kenyan Drake or Alex Collins. Drake’s 43% touch share has been baffling, given his 2017 performance. His target increase (11 in Week 5) has stabilized his fantasy output, but Miami’s offense still ranks 27th in yards per game. The Dolphins’ offensive game plan doesn’t involve Drake like fantasy GMs would expect for an RB2. It’s too tough to trust, giving us our last man standing. Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a situation I’d want to buy into. Collins is tied for the most running back fumbles, and Buck Allen has out-touched him in the red zone, 10 to six. If I drafted Collins, though, I’d have more optimism for him than the other guys in consideration. Since Kenneth Dixon went down after Week 1, Collins has maintained a 61% share of the RB touches, and is on pace to set a career-high in targets. Most surprisingly, he’s 14th in the league in success rate. His offensive environment makes him the most logical candidate to turn it around, given his and his team’s performance through five weeks of the 2018 season. If the volume holds, he’s a legitimate bounce-back candidate over the second half of the fantasy season.
Jennifer Eakins (@themondaymommy): By default of sorts, I'm going with McCoy. Miller is dealing with injury and production issues that have landed him in a committee situation with Alfred Blue, and likely D'Onta Foreman upon his return in Week 7, as well. Collins is already losing work to Buck Allen, as he played just 27 of the team’s 87 snaps compared against the Browns in Week 5. Drake is being underutilized in Miami's offense, with the 24-year-old averaging just one more carry per game than Frank Gore. Even if Gore begins to slow down, the Dolphins schedule in the fantasy playoffs is a rough one for running backs, with matchups against the second- and fourth-ranked defenses in rushing aFPA in Weeks 15 and 16. That leaves McCoy, a lead back on an offense that has started out slow, but is starting to put some points on the board with rookie Josh Allen under center. McCoy leads the Bills' offense in touches with 13.8 per game, and from Week 13 on, Buffalo's opponents rank 21st or worse in running back aFPA.