Week 11 Running Backs
RB Notes: Who finishes as the RB5 without a touchdown and only 13 carries? Christian McCaffrey, who caught 107 balls from Cam Newton in 2018. … No team permits fewer running back fantasy points than the Bills, who could make life difficult for Jonathan Taylor by erasing Carson Wentz. We still keep Mr. Big Play in the top five. Taylor’s nine 20-plus yard carries lead the NFL. … Dalvin Cook was a surprising Week 10 disappointment vs. the Chargers. We are not expecting the same for Najee Harris, who is averaging 24 carries and 28 touches over his past five contests. His last appearance without 20 handles was Week 2. Even after containing Cook, the Chargers are allowing 19 more rushing yards per game than any other team. … Nick Chubb returns from the COVID-19 list to a home date with the Lions as an 11.5-point favorite. Ranking Chubb as Week 11’s RB1 overall would be defensible. … With Aaron Jones (knee) on the shelf, AJ Dillon is a cut-and-dry, plug-and-play RB1. The Vikings do far worse work on the ground than through the air, while the Packers’ passing attack is still looking like a sleepier version of last year’s unit. There is almost no conceivable universe where Dillon sees fewer than 20 carries, with probably at least 2-3 of them coming at the goal line.
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Ezekiel Elliott has been held under 20 carries and 70 yards rushing in four straight contests, though he is still averaging 19 touches in that timeframe. There aren’t really any metrics where Elliott is performing better than Tony Pollard, but there has been zero indication the Cowboys are considering a change, and that workload is going to lead to big things in a 55.5-totaled showdown with the Chiefs. … Joe Mixon comes off bye as the RB8 overall by average half PPR points. Despite his somewhat nonsensical third-down see-sawing with Samaje Perine, Mixon is scoring touchdowns and supplementing his carries with 3-4 weekly receptions. The Raiders are soft on the ground. … James Conner’s expected Week 10 usage bonanza submarined in a blowout loss, though he still provided a touchdown on 13 touches. With Kyler Murray (ankle) seemingly lurching toward a return, Conner should be able to take advantage of an excellent matchup in the Seahawks as a 2.5-point road favorite. Only the Jets cough up more RB fantasy points than Seattle. … Alvin Kamara (ankle) has resumed practicing. I’ll slot him in as the RB6 vs. Philly’s decent run defense if he can go. Mark Ingram will still be guaranteed 10-plus touches as a FLEX even if Kamara plays.
Dan Campbell assumed Lions play-calling duties in Week 10 and immediately proceeded to give D’Andre Swift 36 touches. Lol. Jermar Jefferson’s mid-game injury helped, of course. Out since Week 7, Jamaal Williams (thigh) has finally resumed practicing. Williams’ return would make another 30-touch day a pipe dream, but Campbell’s play-calling is not about to hollow out Swift’s top-15 floor and top-five ceiling. … At long last, Saquon Barkley is returning from the flukiest high-ankle sprain in NFL history. It’s to the worst possible matchup in the Bucs, who stamp out the run and have the front-seven to make life difficult for Daniel Jones. We can still count on a near every-down role for Barkley, and when a player of Barkley’s talent gets that workload, an RB1 day is always within reach. … Clyde Edwards-Helaire (knee, injured reserve) has had his practice window opened, but with the Chiefs’ bye looming in Week 12, coach Andy Reid has indicated the team could take it slow with its starting back. Darrel Williams will have RB1 upside vs. Dallas if CEH sits another week. If he plays, both will find themselves on the RB2/3 borderline.
Elijah Mitchell is dealing with a broken finger but expected to play against the Jaguars, who have actually been decent on the ground. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan only has eyes for Mitchell when he’s active, though Jeff Wilson could improve on last week’s 10 handles if Mitchell is in any way compromised. The 49ers are 6.5-point road favorites. … The Bears immediately forgot impressive rookie Khalil Herbert existed upon David Montgomery’s Week 9 return. With D-Mont well rested following Chicago’s Week 10 bye, we would not expect a change-of-plans vs. a Ravens D that is much tougher on the ground than in the air. … Damien Harris (concussion) will be back vs. the Falcons, returning himself to RB2 valuation for an incredibly soft matchup while tumbling Rhamondre Stevenson back to FLEX status following two highly-impressive outings. With the Pats operating as 6.5-point road favorites on a short week, there is room for both backs to exceed 15 touches. Brandon Bolden (hip) is questionable. … James Robinson now has a knee injury in addition to his troublesome heel. Carlos Hyde will find himself in the Devonta Freeman zone if Robinson has to sit against San Francisco.
The Eagles are claiming Miles Sanders (ankle) will immediately reassume starting status if he returns from injured reserve. Much has changed since the last time Sanders played, with the Eagles averaging 209 yards rushing in their three games without Sanders compared to 117 in the seven with their supposed starter. The good news for Sanders is that even if Jordan Howard and Boston Scott remain involved, the floor for all Eagles backs has been jacked up with this change in philosophy. … Even in last week’s seeming return to relevance, Antonio Gibson still played only 63 percent of the Football Team’s snaps. That’s not a bad clip, but J.D. McKissic remained on the field 38 percent of the time. The Panthers are another concerning matchup, one who could make life hell for Taylor Heinicke. That means limited possession and carries for the Football Team. … The Falcons admitted after Sunday’s blowout loss that Wayne Gallman’s heavy usage was a function of the scoreboard. With Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle) a game-time decision bordering on doubtful, we would expect Mike Davis to lead this moribund backfield in touches vs. the Pats’ elite defense. … Jeremy McNichols is in the concussion protocol. Adrian Peterson is in the old man protocol. D’Onta Foreman could be a top-30 back by the time Sunday morning rolls around.