Week 13 Running Backs
Updated 12/5 at 11:30 AM ET. Removed Darrell Henderson. Moved James Robinson down. Finally flipped Eagles' backs. Could never figure out what to do with SEA backs.
RB Notes: Joe Mixon has 62 touches in two games since the Bengals’ bye. Now he gets a Chargers defense still allowing by far the most rushing yards in the league. That gives Mixon floor, and a home date with a 50.5 over/under gives him upside. … Opposite Mixon, the Bengals have coughed up the second most RB receptions with 81, setting up nicely for Austin Ekeler in what we hope will be a shootout. … Alexander Mattison hasn’t always been a plug-and-play beast during Dalvin Cook’s various absences, but he was in Week 3, turning a whopping 32 touches into 171 yards from scrimmage. He would be hard pressed to find a better Week 13 setup than the Lions. Behind Mattison, the Vikings have teased at some change-of-pace touches for rookie return dynamo Kene Nwangwu. He’s worth a flier if you need some shoot-for-the-moon upside in deeper leagues. … Elijah Mitchell bookended his Week 11 absence with 27-carry performances, handling a mammoth 32 touches in Week 12. Now “change-of-pace back” Deebo Samuel (groin) seems likely to miss Week 13. Mitchell might actually miss Samuel’s dynamism scaring/softening up of defenses, but he won’t miss Samuel stealing goal-line carries. The Seahawks possessed the ball for fewer than 20 minutes vs. run-heavy Washington. San Francisco is going to dominate time-of-possession.
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Najee Harris has hit a sudden rough patch, first face-planting in a shootout then face-planting in, well, a face-plant. The Ravens aren’t anyone’s idea of an elite running back matchup, but the Steelers’ passing struggles should ensure Harris’ run-game volume is back sooner rather than later. … The engine of the Football Team’s offense since their Week 9 bye, Antonio Gibson has 81 touches over his past three starts, including a new career-high 36 in Week 12. For Week 13 he will be facing a Raiders defense permitting the fourth most RB fantasy points as J.D. McKissic races to clear the concussion protocol. If McKissic sits, another 30-plus handles is eminently realistic. … With Alvin Kamara (knee) sitting again, a returning Mark Ingram (knee) will be operating alongside a dual-threat quarterback in Taysom Hill who might finally open up some running lanes. Much was made of Hill’s inconsistent 2020 targeting of Kamara, but he is going to have to look Ingram’s way in the passing game. The Saints have so few places to funnel the ball. … With Chase Edmonds (ankle) missing another contest, James Conner is a good bet for 20-plus touches vs. the Bears’ Khalil Mack-less defense.
Leonard Fournette’s 20-touch Week 12 was his first such effort in five weeks, and only his third of the year. The Falcons are an obviously golden matchup, but Fournette is merely an ordinary bet for this third multi-score effort of 2021. Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans provide serious competition in the red zone. … It is astonishing to type this, but few offensive players are more important to their teams than Cordarrelle Patterson. Atlanta basically doesn’t have an attack when C-Patt sits. Tampa is not a plus matchup, though the first time these sides squared off in Week 2, he found the end zone via both land and air. The high-value touches will never stop coming. … Saquon Barkley was a Week 12 mega bust, parlaying 17 touches into 53 scoreless yards. However, no back played a higher percentage of his team’s snaps, with Barkley checking in at 87 percent. With Daniel Jones (neck) unlikely to suit up this week, Barkley is going to be needed for massive touches in addition to massive snaps. We’ve seen far too many busts, but Barkley remains a boom threat. … James Robinson has almost C-Patt levels of importance in Jacksonville’s talent-less offense. The Rams are not a plus matchup. This is a usage-based rank.
Ezekiel Elliott isn’t doing much of anything, failing to clear 10 carries in either of his past two starts while being held below 30 yards receiving in four of his past five. He has a 3.57 YPC since Week 5. The only reason he is still being afforded high-end RB2 benefit of the doubt is because the Cowboys can’t stop going his way in high-leverage situations. … David Montgomery was a brutal Week 12 bust, but he still handled 84 percent of Chicago’s snaps. This is a one-man backfield. The Cardinals are more burnable on the ground than through the air. … Darrell Henderson has faded badly since his hot start, being held under 60 yards rushing in three straight games and below 20 yards receiving in five straight. He has caught 27 passes but has yet to clear 30 yards through the air. About the only thing Jacksonville does well is defense the run. … Continuing to gobble up touches, Myles Gaskin maintains workload-based RB2 appeal vs. a Giants D handing out the third most RB fantasy points. … Josh Jacobs has seen at least four targets all four weeks since Henry Ruggs’ release. The increased passing-game usage has gone a long way toward stabilizing Jacobs’ floor. It should be a tight game with Washington in a contest where the total is creeping toward 50.
Darrel Williams out-snapped Clyde Edwards-Helaire 36-32 in Week 11, though CEH won the handles war 14-6. He is being prioritized touches, while his snap share should increase along with his health following Kansas City’s off date. … 20-plus touches are likely for Jamaal Williams in D’Andre Swift’s absence. Their quality just might not be any good. Don’t lose sleep projecting Godwin Igwebuike vs. Jermar Jefferson behind Williams. … As is so often the case with Miles Sanders, the Eagles went a different direction when the going got tough in Week 12. The only consistent Sanders pattern is the Eagles looking for reasons to not give him the ball. … It is the status quo for Damien Harris vs. Rhamondre Stevenson. Harris has a modest touch advantage and major goal-line advantage. … The Bills reducing their backfield from three men to two didn’t make a whole heck of a lot of difference in Week 12, though as Sigmund Bloom astutely observes, the smart money is on the Pats daring the Bills to run. Don’t be surprised if Zack Moss is active. … Tevin Coleman appears to be safely ahead of Ty Johnson in the Jets’ Michael Carter-less rushing attack. … Alex Collins has failed his lengthy audition in Seattle’s backfield.