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Updated 12/26 at 11:45 AM ET.
Week 16 Running Backs
RB Notes: Alexander Mattison remains a true plug-and-play replacement for Dalvin Cook (COVID-19). … It was a rough Week 15 for Alvin Kamara. It should be better for the fantasy semifinals — if you are still alive — vs. a Dolphins defense operating as something of a run funnel. I admittedly don’t feel great about this rank, but there aren’t many to feel great about this week. … Nick Chubb was predictably the only functional Brown for Monday’s slopfest with the Raiders. Although the Browns are seven-point road ‘dogs for their Christmas Day road trip. they quite literally have no choice but to feature Chubb no matter the game script. The ground is also where you get the Pack. … How bad is the Jets’ run defense? It made Duke Johnson relevant in Week 16. The world will be James Robinson’s oyster for this embarrassing “pick ‘em” in the Meadowlands. Carlos Hyde (concussion) is on injured reserve. … The “will he or won’t he?” of Austin Ekeler and reserve/COVID-19 sadly ended with Ekeler hitting the list on Wednesday. The most consistent running back in fantasy not named Jonathan Taylor has nothing but inconsistency behind him on the depth chart. Justin Jackson is the “first man up,” if not necessarily the “next man up.” Jackson will have low-end FLEX appeal vs. the run-permissive Texans.
Najee Harris has become a blind workload bet in this barely-functional offense. That is still more than you can say for a lot of running backs. The Chiefs have coughed up the third most RB receptions (92). … A strong bet for 18-20 carries and 4-7 catches, David Montgomery’s workload is unfadable vs. a Seahawks D allowing the second most running back fantasy points and most RB receptions. … Just like that, Ronald Jones is an RB1. And honestly, not just an RB1, but a safe RB1. The Bucs have nowhere else to send these carries, while the run game will be more important with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans on the shelf. The Panthers are also weaker on the ground than through the air. As long as Jones avoids multiple gaffes, he should keep this up the final three weeks of the season. … The RB3 by average half PPR points over the past three weeks — and RB5 over the past five — even as Melvin Gordon remains heavily involved, Javonte Williams figures to have an iron-clad run game commitment to go along with an A+ matchup in the Raiders. That is because there is no way in hell the Broncos don’t ride Williams and Gordon until the wheels fall off with Drew Lock under center. Gordon remains a strong RB2 in his own right.
Joe Mixon is going to play through his low-ankle sprain. Although the Ravens are most vulnerable through the air, Mixon seems a shoo-in for another 16-22 carries with the Bengals operating as three-point home favorites. … Jalen Richard didn’t claim any of the Raiders’ pass-catching pie in his Week 15 return. Josh Jacobs’ touches over/under vs. the Broncos is 20. … Although Cordarrelle Patterson’s usage has become a bit wonky, he still handled 62 percent of the Falcons’ Week 15 snaps. Now running as a 5.5-point home favorite against the Lions, he seems like a good bet to reach 15 carries and find the end zone. … Ezekiel Elliott will be catching the COVID-rocked Washington Football Team on a very short week for Ron Rivera’s squad. He is a good bet for his “patented” 15/50/1 on the ground and 3/20/0 through the air. … Behind Elliott, there should be plenty of change-up work for Tony Pollard in a game where Big D is getting 10.5 points at home. … Even with Darrell Henderson returning, Sony Michel received 73 percent of the Rams’ Week 15 snaps. The Vikings are bailing water at every level of their defense. … Aaron Jones rebounded to 63 percent of the Packers’ snaps in Week 15 after that number was 45 in Week 14. Although there is every reason to believe AJ Dillon will continue to handle FLEX workloads, Jones maintains a slight usage lead.
Jeff Wilson received his biggest workload of the season against the Falcons. The Titans are tougher on the ground, but 15-20 handles seems a safe bet. At some point, he is going to get to cash in some 1-2 yard carries instead of watching Deebo Samuel score 8-12 yard red zone touchdowns. Wilson did get in from five yards out vs. Atlanta. … Miles Sanders finally led a full-strength Eagles backfield and turned it into 18/131. He did pick up a quad ailment in the process, though his status does not seem to be in doubt. Famous last words, but Sanders is RB2 safe. … Speaking of RB2 safe, that’s the zone D’Onta Foreman has reached. He has a strong carries floor and decent touchdown odds. … Rhamondre Stevenson is battling a non-COVID illness as Damien Harris (hamstring) still fails to practice in full. Keep an eye on this one, but Stevenson would be a low-end RB2 vs. the Bills’ soft run defense if Harris sits again. If Harris is back, both will slot into the RB24-32 range. … Clyde Edwards-Helaire has a glorious matchup in the Steelers’ collapsed run defense. Let’s just hope he’s not the soft matchup Pittsburgh is desperately seeking. Both CEH’s floor and ceiling will be sent higher if one or both of Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill remain on the COVID-19 list through game time.
Duke Johnson is coming off the first 20-carry effort of his career, the first 100-yard rushing performance of his career, and first two-rushing score day of his career. That was against the Jets. This will be vs. New Orleans’ top-three run defense. Johnson was good enough to get a FLEX shot in an offense that had been hunting for answers on early downs, but his situation is fragile. It did become less so when the Saints ruled out Taysom Hill (COVID-19). Miami will dominate time of possession. … Devin Singletary played 93 percent of the Bills’ Week 15 snaps. Most dawns are false in this backfield, but you have to run to beat the Pats. Singletary could get another big workload. … Jamaal Williams is finally off the COVID-19 list, but he wasn’t doing much before his I.R. sojourn. Craig Reynolds figures to get another lead back shot in a winnable matchup … is what I wrote before D’Andre Swift resumed practicing. Swift will be a high-end FLEX if he is finally back to lead the Lions’ backfield. His touch count will be a wee bit uncertain coming off his lengthy absence. … Michael Carter came off injured reserve to a timeshare with Tevin Coleman. He is a bet-on-talent FLEX play, nothing more. Don’t be surprised if you end up wishing you had not started him.