Week 5 Running Backs
RB Notes: Dalvin Cook (ankle) struggled to finish last week’s contest and admitted he is going to have to play hurt. There is a real concern the Vikings take it easy on their bell-cow in a home contest where they are 9.5-point favorites. Cook’s upside is nevertheless too boundless to fade. … Alvin Kamara checks in as the RB13 by total half PPR points. 75 percent of Kamara’s career 20-carry efforts have come in his past four games, though Week 4 was his first ever zero-target performance. The trade off isn’t always going to be that stark, but it will be in that neighborhood until Michael Thomas returns and the Saints can begin running a more normal offense. With No. 2 RB Tony Jones (ankle) now on injured reserve, those carry counts aren’t going to be coming down any time soon. … Say what you will about the eye test, Saquon Barkley aced it in Week 4. He looked like a receiver on his 54-yard passing score, while his jump cuts were of the LeSean McCoy variety. His role was already all the way back. Now his health is. The Cowboys are surrendering 4.7 yards per carry, while no team has permitted more running back receptions.
As was the case with the Rams, new Chargers coach Brandon Staley doesn’t mind conceding run production. It’s an offer the Browns will be all too happy to accept, to the point where even Staley might adjust against an offense that is humming in the backfield and stalling through the air. We still have to treat it as one of Nick Chubb’s best setups of the entire season. … Ezekiel Elliott continues to get stronger even as Tony Pollard has cleared 10 carries in three consecutive contests. The Cowboys want to run, and the Giants have been soft on the ground. The Cowboys are touchdown home favorites. The dot connecting is easy in this one. … Only Derrick Henry has more half PPR points than Austin Ekeler. His Week 5 concern is a stout Browns run D, one that has permitted just 12 running back receptions through four games. Although Ekeler is not an every-down back, he’s an every important snap back. … It’s been a strange start for Aaron Jones. The Bengals are tough on the ground but have silver plattered the second most running back receptions. As usual, catches and goal-line carries will be Jones’ Week 5 path to RB1 status. … Jonathan Taylor has risen above questionable game scripts to clear 6.0 yards per carry each of his past two starts. He will have to do so again vs. a Ravens D that’s been tougher against the run than pass.
I was as wrong about Darrell Henderson’s Week 4 usage as I have been anything all season. A humbling moment. Hopefully I am not overcorrecting for Week 5, but Henderson’s setup is simply gorgeous vs. a short-week Seahawks defense that has been getting trampled by the run. Henderson looked like the Rams’ best offensive player against the Cardinals. … The second D’Andre Swift seemed too big to fail, he did, finishing as the RB40 against the Bears after previously falling no lower than RB22. The face plant came as Jamaal Williams logged 12-plus carries for the second consecutive game. ESPN believes the Lions may go with the dreaded “hot hand” approach. Thankfully for Swift’s drafters, he should usually have the hot hand. The Vikings are soft on the ground. … James Robinson has gone from Jags afterthought to centerpiece of the offense. Considering the Jaguars’ decimated passing-game personnel, Robinson should get his touches even as a 4.5-point home underdog. … Antonio Gibson is averaging 17 touches. He will probably need a big play or two to get home against the Saints’ solid run defense, though Saquon Barkley managed to do so behind a worse offensive line in Week 4. … Joe Mixon (ankle) is trending toward sitting against the Packers. If he misses, Samaje Perine will be plugged into the RB20-26 range.
Damien Williams won’t be an every-snap player in David Montgomery’s (knee) absence, but he will be his team’s first option on both running and passing downs. The Raiders are surrendering nearly 5.0 yards per tote, and have a rough linebacking group. … Clyde Edwards-Helaire has posted back-to-back 100-yard efforts even as Darrel Williams has gotten more involved behind him, totaling 17 carries over the past two weeks. Taking advantage of a soft schedule, the Bills have eliminated the run and stamped out RB pass catching. … Leonard Fournette’s 23 Week 4 touches were tied for his most as a Buc (including the postseason). It was partly a function of the Patriots’ game plan, but also the culmination of something that had been building all season. The awful Dolphins will surrender plenty of volume on the ground, also creating the opportunity for some “cannon fodder carries” for Ronald Jones. … Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) is practicing. I bet he gets one more week. If not, he will slide in as the RB2 behind Derrick Henry. If Chuba Hubbard starts, it will vs. an Eagles run D getting smashed for volume because of the Eagles’ struggles on the other side of the ball. … Chase Edmonds is truly a poor man’s Austin Ekeler. His between-the-20s, pass-catching skill-set will do nicely in this likely shootout with the 49ers.
It has been a disastrous two weeks for Damien Harris. The Texans are the ultimate pillow matchup. 20 carries are well within reach. … This feels too high for Zack Moss as Devin Singletary remains highly involved in the Bills’ offense. I am betting on there being drives to finish in this 56.5-totaled affair. … Even as Cordarrelle Patterson destroys Mike Davis’ RB2 value, it is difficult to say he is creating his own. He needs to establish a higher carries floor to get the true top-24 treatment. He is still right there this week vs. the pathetic Jets. … There is nothing inspiring about Latavius Murray other than what his coaches want for him, which seems to be 15-20 totes per game. Goal-line profit is inevitable. … Although I am not yet ranking Elijah Mitchell (shoulder), I am hedging Trey Sermon’s rank a bit. Either way, this probably won’t be Sermon’s final rankings resting place. ... Josh Jacobs isn’t healthy and doesn’t catch passes. His 12-15 carries are about as empty as it gets. … Chris Carson (neck) seems highly unlikely to play. I’ll probably rank Alex Collins in the RB27-32 range. .. I am struggling for reasons to keep ranking Miles Sanders ahead of Kenneth Gainwell. Pass catching seems like the only place this backfield will provide any fantasy value. … I will be a victim to the moment in the Dolphins’ awful running back group, giving Malcolm Brown the higher rank.