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Week 15 Running Backs
RB Notes: Jonathan Taylor is the lone Colt you have to game plan to stop. Bill Belichick is famous for taking away your best player. Unstoppable force, immovable object, etc. We will put our faith in Taylor against a run defense that has faced one of the league’s softest backfield slates and still emerged middle of the pack. … Dalvin Cook has the most rushing yards of any player over the past two weeks … in one game. Even if Akiem Hicks (ankle) returns for the Bears, there is nothing standing between Cook and another monster day. … Almost literally the last man standing amidst the Browns’ COVID outbreak, Nick Chubb will be running behind an offensive line missing LT Jedrick Wills and RG Wyatt Teller. He will thankfully be doing so against one of the league’s softest run defenses in the Raiders. Only the Steelers permit more RB fantasy points. 20 carries will be Chubb’s absolute floor. With the passing game ravaged, D’Ernest Johnson should see enough work to be FLEX viable. … Apparently a true game-time decision, Austin Ekeler (ankle) nevertheless sounds on the right side of questionable. Were he to sit, there would be no point in digging for value behind him. It would be a dart throw committee of Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree, with Jackson the slight touch favorite.
Even if Darrell Henderson (COVID-19) is active, the Rams seem full-steam ahead on making Sony Michel their lead back. Only the Jets permit more RB fantasy points than the Seahawks. … Josh Jacobs’ sole Week 15 variable is the return of reserve pass-catching back Jalen Richard (COVID-19). 2-3 Richard receptions would not take a bite out of Jacobs’ RB1/2 apple in what should be a close, run-dominated affair. … Cordarrelle Patterson got a fourth quarter breather in Week 14. He is not playing as many passing downs of late. The Falcons seem to be acknowledging he has never handled these kinds of workloads before, and recently suffered an injured ankle. Regardless of the usage patterns, C-Patt remains a compelling RB1/2 as someone getting all the Falcons’ most valuable touches. … Elijah Mitchell (concussion, knee) has yet to resume practicing. We suppose it will be another week of 12-15 cannon fodder Jeff Wilson carries, with Deebo Samuel getting the only totes that matter. Wilson is a zero-ceiling RB3/FLEX. … Antonio Gibson got game scripted in Week 14. That remains a concern for Week 15 with Washington operating as 8.5-point road underdogs, but I have a difficult time believing Philadelphia will make life miserable the way Dallas did. J.D. McKissic (concussion) has also failed to resume practicing, boosting Gibson’s floor and ceiling.
This would be around where D’Andre Swift (shoulder) was ranked if he returned, but it is sounding unlikely. We have to assume it will remain another week of Craig Reynolds at lead back. Although the Cardinals are a run funnel, the FLEX appeal is negligible with the Lions running as colossal underdogs. … James Conner had been on pace to remain a top-10 back even following Chase Edmonds’ (ankle) expected Week 15 return. Then he picked up an ankle issue of his own, and coach Kliff Kingsbury admitted the team probably rode Conner too hard during Edmonds’ lengthy absence. As such, even for this dream matchup in the Lions, Conner probably deserves a fade, with it frankly being unlikely he suits up even if he’s only dealing with a “low” sprain. Why would the No. 1-seed hunting Cardinals further risk Conner’s health in a contest where they are two-touchdown favorites? If Conner sits, Edmonds will vault into the top 20. … Tony Pollard (foot) seems likely to sit again. Ezekiel Elliott is claiming he is feeling healthier, but his seven-game high for rushing yardage is 51. Ay caramba. … The situation continues to tighten between Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Frankly, Dillon’s workload is more dependable. Jones’ upside gets him the benefit of the doubt one more time.
With Carlos Hyde in the concussion protocol and Urban Meyer no longer around to kick him around anymore, James Robinson is worth an RB2 shot vs. the Texans’ comically-bad run defense. … With Damien Harris dealing with a tender hamstring, we will give Rhamondre Stevenson the 1A benefit of the doubt in this two-man backfield. Just know it is little more than educated guessing. Brandon Bolden will undoubtedly catch a pass or two. … If Myles Gaskin (COVID-19) gets cleared, it could be to a backfield that has Malcolm Brown (quad) back in the mix. Gaskin has not passed the every-down audition. On the other hand, Jaylen Waddle’s (COVID-19) absence frees up easy looks. … The variables are too numerous to count in the Eagles’ backfield, with Jordan Howard (knee) returning as the team comes off bye. Miles Sanders had his best game of the season heading into the open date, though any time the Eagles have had other options, they have tended to use them. Sanders has by far the highest ceiling in the Eagles’ backfield. We are just never sure when the floor might fall out. … The RB2, and even FLEX, case is feeling pretty bleak for Chuba Hubbard, who isn’t the preferred goal-line option and is getting yanked off the field on every third down.
D’Onta Foreman remained the Titans’ lead back upon Jeremy McNichols’ Week 14 return. In fact, McNichols was mostly limited to mop-up duty vs. the pathetic Jags, with Dontrell Hilliard still operating as the primary change-of-pace. All three will be facing a Steelers run defense that has completely collapsed, making Foreman a legitimate top-30 option for the first week of the fantasy playoffs. … Rashaad Penny had the best game of his career against the Texans, as well as the best effort by any Seahawks back this season. It was four years too late, but Penny lived up to his big-play pedigree with touchdowns of 32 and 47 yards. It was against one of the worst defenses in the league, something the Rams are not. Penny is still worth betting on as an upside FLEX as what has been a desperately-missing element for an offense in disarray for most of 2021. … Michael Carter (ankle) is coming off injured reserve, but Tevin Coleman is returning from the concussion protocol. Unsurprisingly, Coleman was only moderately effective and quickly injured during Carter’s absence. Pass-catcher Ty Johnson was also ineffective during Carter’s absence. We would not expect Carter to be ready for an every-down role, but he should be the preferred option on all three downs. It will just be a matter of stamina.