Unstoppable force Jonathan Taylor greets immovable object Tampa Bay, Kareem Hunt (calf) aims to return for the Browns, and AJ Dillon readies for another RB1 day if Aaron Jones (knee) remains sidelined.
Week 12 Running Backs
RB Notes: Christian McCaffrey has 17 receptions in two games since returning. It’s like he never left. … On a rare run with 15 touchdowns over his past eight games, unstoppable force Jonathan Taylor meets the immovable object of the Bucs’ run defense. Concerning, though Taylor has reached his Derrick Henry phase where he is his team’s entire offense. Finally seeing 20-plus carries per game, Taylor is unfadable out of the top three. … It has been a quiet two weeks for Dalvin Cook, though his volume (52 touches) and touchdowns (two) didn’t go anywhere. All systems go vs. San Francisco. … A surprising face-planter vs. the Chargers’ league-worst run defense, Najee Harris gets a mulligan in a Bengals unit permitting the sixth most running back fantasy points. All you need to know about Harris’ 17 Week 11 touches is that they tied for his second fewest of the year. His volume is bulletproof. … Week 11 would have been the four-touchdown Austin Ekeler week if not for the five-touchdown Jonathan Taylor week. The Broncos play tough run defense, but no one has had an answer for how the Chargers use Ekeler, which is every which way.
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Nick Chubb matched his season high for carries (22) in Week 11 as he posted his third highest rushing total (130). Now he must contend with the expected return of Kareem Hunt (calf). Considering the Browns’ passing-game deficiencies, Chubb managers have nothing to worry about. We have ample proof Chubb remains an RB1 even with Hunt in the lineup, while Hunt’s primary role should be vacuuming up cheap targets in the passing game. Only seven teams have coughed up more running back receiving yardage than Baltimore. Hunt will be pushing for RB2 valuation. … All the way up to RB7 status on the year, Joe Mixon is the RB2 by average half PPR points over the past five weeks. He is finally consistently scoring touchdowns and catching passes despite the occasional zero-target day. A 4.5-point home spread will help against the Steelers’ tough-but-injured defense. … Coming off the Bears’ bye, David Montgomery played 95 percent of Chicago’s snaps against the Ravens. No other back was used more heavily in Week 11. With the Bears on a short week with their backup quarterback, expect the exact same formula against a Lions defense permitting the third most running back fantasy points.
With the Lions in an actually competitive game, D’Andre Swift out-touched Jamaal Williams “just” 17-7 upon Williams’ return. Thankfully for fantasy managers, Swift made big plays and scored a touchdown on the ground. The scoring environment is going to be poor on Turkey Day, but the game should remain close enough for Swift to get his volume and explosive-play opportunities. … AJ Dillon was a Week 11 disappointment, though he gets an immediate do-over with Aaron Jones (knee) unlikely to return against the Rams. Dillon’s passing-game usage against the Vikings was a major positive. He will have top-five upside any time Jones sits. … Vegas has installed a surprisingly-robust 46 over/under for Jags/Falcons. 15 touches should be the absolute minimum for three-down back James Robinson. … Elijah Mitchell (finger) will slot into the RB10-14 range if he’s active for Week 12. If he can’t go, Week 11 bust Jeff Wilson will see another big workload vs. the Vikings’ bottom-six run defense. … Looking slow and battling a knee injury, Ezekiel Elliott is the RB18 by average half PPR points over the past five weeks. It stands to reason Tony Pollard could see increased volume on this short week. Zeke is always a two-touchdown threat, but his floor will be lower than normal for Thursday afternoon’s turkey coma hour.
Leonard Fournette has looked sleepy the past few weeks but stacked up 14 receptions over his past two games. With the Bucs’ receiver corps still not particularly close to full health, Fournette should maintain his high-end RB2 usage against the Colts. … Darrell Henderson was one of the biggest losers of the Rams’ pre-bye offensive implosion. I’m expecting a smoother operation in Green Bay. Sony Michel continues to not threaten Henderson’s RB2 status. … The Giants are resetting at offensive coordinator. For struggling teams, that almost always means a greater reliance on the run. The Eagles are a tough matchup for Saquon Barkley, but this is a conservative ranking. … Miles Sanders can thank his lucky stars he was able to reach 16/94 in his Week 11 return after he committed two fumbles inside the Eagles’ own 10-yard line. Only one of them counted thanks to a forward-progress ruling. Sanders’ workload would have been less impressive had Jordan Howard not departed with a knee issue. With Howard out for Week 12, Sanders is a clear-cut RB2 with Boston Scott a legit FLEX. There is little reason to expect Kenneth Gainwell to have a meaningful role. … Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle) seems likely to return. Even with his re-injury risk, C-Patt’s status as one of literally two weapons for the Falcons basically locks in high-value touches and RB2 floor/upside.
Antonio Gibson has 45 touches in two games since Washington’s bye as the Football Team dabbles with an Eagles-type rushing approach. He is once again a safe RB2. … Josh Jacobs’ increased passing-game usage since Henry Ruggs’ release has made him a safer RB2 even as Kenyan Drake mixes in for ample work. … It’s now or never time for the Broncos to commit to Javonte Williams’ explosiveness. If they don’t do it after their bye week against a bottom-tier run defense, it is never happening. For better or worse, I am placing the bet. … With Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, it’s really as simple as I expect Harris to have preference near the goal line, even though Stevenson figures to be left in the game if the Pats are marching up the field. Both are RB2/FLEX live. … Alvin Kamara (knee) is out. Mark Ingram (knee) is questionable, though probably trending toward suiting up against the Bills after practicing Wednesday. He will remain a workload-based RB2 if he goes. Tony Jones Jr. is the desperation backup option. … I will bet on Ty Johnson’s pass catching over Tevin Coleman’s early-down banging, but Coleman will likely lead in carries. … Jeremy McNichols (concussion) has yet to resume practicing. I suppose D’Onta Foreman is still the preferred option over pass-catching fill-in Dontrell Hilliard.