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Week 5 saw some dominant performances by running backs we were counting on, with David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarco Murray, Jordan Howard (told you!), and the Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman two-headed monster delivering for their owners. But this week also saw its fair share of disappointments, both from new faces fantasy owners were taking chances on and from running backs drafted to be fantasy starters.

If you picked up Wendell Smallwood, Kenneth Dixon, or Orleans Darkwa and threw them right into your starting squad, you paid for it with essentially a blank spot in your lineup. If you started regulars such as Jeremy Hill, Isaiah Crowell, Matt Jones, or Lamar Miller, you didn’t do much better. This second list of names hurts a bit more, though (except for maybe Jones), because you likely plugged them into your lineups without a second thought. On the plus side, you can look forward to now having that second thought for the rest of the season.

Cameron Artis-Payne bounced back on Monday night after a certain Razzball contributor lamented his performance last week. Artis-Payne scored two touchdowns and rushed for 85 yards on 18 carries, but both Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart, so our days of starting CAP and crossing our fingers are likely over, at least until Stewart gets hurt again. Don’t drop CAP just yet, but you can start cracking your fingers.

And now, to the report…

NOTE: In the tables below, I’ve removed running backs who have been placed on Injured Reserve. If the running back is injured but is not on IR, then he has a + next to his name.

National Football Conference
NFC East Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Giants Rashad Jennings + Orleans Darkwa Bobby Rainey Paul Perkins
Eagles Ryan Mathews Wendell Smallwood Darren Sproles Kenjon Barner
Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Alfred Morris Lance Dunbar Lance Dunbar
Washington Matt Jones Chris Thompson Chris Thompson Robert Kelley
NFC North Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Vikings Jerick McKinnon Matt Asiata Jerick McKinnon Zach Line (FB)
Packers Eddie Lacy James Starks James Starks Aaron Ripkowski (FB)
Lions Theo Riddick Dwayne Washington + Theo Riddick Zach Zenner
Bears Jeremy Langford + Jordan Howard Ka’Deem Carey + Joique Bell
NFC South Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Buccaneers Doug Martin + Jacquizz Rodgers Jacquizz Rodgers Peyton Barber
Saints Mark Ingram Tim Hightower Travaris Cadet Tim Hightower
Panthers Jonathan Stewart + Cameron Artis-Payne Fozzy Whittaker Cameron Artis-Payne
Falcons Devonta Freeman Tevin Coleman Tevin Coleman Terron Ward
NFC West Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
49ers Carlos Hyde Shaun Draughn Carlos Hyde Mike Davis
Seahawks Christine Michael Thomas Rawls + C.J. Spiller C.J. Prosise +
Cardinals David Johnson Andre Ellington David Johnson Stepfan Taylor
Rams Todd Gurley Benny Cunningham + Benny Cunningham + Malcolm Brown

If you’re a Devonta Freeman or a Tevin Coleman owner, you successfully survived a matchup against the Denver Broncos. I guess the Atlanta Falcons did, too. Both backs ran all over the place on Sunday, and they combined to put up almost 300 yards. Freeman did most of his damage on the ground (88 yards and a touchdown), while Coleman caught four passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. There is, however, one small concern here for Coleman owners: he only got 10 touches to Freeman’s 26. Both running backs are must-starts going forward, but Coleman owners would like to see that touch percentage tilt back in the other direction.

Jacquizz Rodgers was the next man up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night, with Charles Sims being ruled out and placed on injured reserve. The only thing more surprising than Rodgers’s production was his workload, as the Bucs gave him 35 touches on the night. He made the most of them, too, with 129 total yards on 30 carries and five receptions. The bad news here is that the Buccaneers are on a bye in Week 6, and Doug Martin will likely be back for Week 7.

Ladies and gentleman, Jordan Howard. Jordan Howard, this is everybody. Let’s get acquainted because Jordan Howard probably isn’t going anywhere, even when Jeremy Langford is healthy. Howard had his second good week in a row, and this one was even better than the first, as he racked up 163 total yards, a 7.4 YPC, and a receiving touchdown on 19 touches. Even with Howard and 400 yards passing from Brian Hoyer, the Bears still managed to lose. We all just have to hope that they keep giving Howard the ball 20 times a game once Langford comes back. 

American Football Conference
AFC East Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Patriots LeGarrette Blount Brandon Bolden James White D.J. Foster
Jets Matt Forte Bilal Powell Bilal Powell Troymaine Pope
Dolphins Arian Foster+ Jay Ajayi Arian Foster Kenyan Drake
Bills LeSean McCoy Mike Gillislee LeSean McCoy Reggie Bush
AFC North Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Bengals Jeremy Hill Giovani Bernard Giovani Bernard Rex Burkhead
Ravens Terrance West Kenneth Dixon Javorius Allen Kenneth Dixon
Steelers Le’Veon Bell DeAngelo Williams Le’Veon Bell Fitzgerald Toussaint
Browns Isaiah Crowell Duke Johnson Duke Johnson George Atkinson
AFC South Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Texans Lamar Miller Alfred Blue Lamar Miller Jonathan Grimes
Jaguars T.J. Yeldon Chris Ivory T.J. Yeldon Denard Robinson
Colts Frank Gore Robert Turbin Josh Ferguson Josh Ferguson
Titans DeMarco Murray Derrick Henry DeMarco Murray Antonio Andrews
AFC West Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Chiefs Jamaal Charles Spencer Ware Jamaal Charles Charcandrick West
Broncos C.J. Anderson Devontae Booker Devontae Booker Kapri Bibbs
Raiders Latavius Murray + DeAndre Washington Everyone Jalen Richard
Chargers Melvin Gordon Kenneth Farrow Dexter McCluster Dexter McCluster

I have covered Matt Forte almost every week since the beginning of the year, and Week 5 was his third straight poor showing. Bilal Powell handcuffers, rejoice! While Powell only carried the ball four times for 10 yards, he did add six catches for 41 yards. For Powell owners who started him in a pinch because of bye weeks, that is really all you were looking for. While Forte was on pace to shatter running back touches records after the first two weeks, he had only 14 touches this week. Maybe the Jets realized that pace was unsustainable, or maybe the game scripts have just favored the pass-catching Powell more, but Forte’s production has plummeted while Powell has returned to fantasy relevance.

The Oakland Raiders are another topic we have discussed ad nauseam in these articles, and they seem to always keep things interesting. The Raiders backfield was already shaping up to be a strange committee every week, and Latavius Murray missing this week’s game only made it weirder. DeAndre Washington was expected to start in place of Murray and be in line for an increased workload, but he and Jalen Richard both received 14 touches. And if that isn’t strange enough for you, 11 of their 28 touches were catches, and fullback Jamize Olawale grabbed seven touches and a goal-line touchdown. If you started Washington or Richard in place of Murray, you were likely satisfied with the moderate production you got in return, but this backfield is as unpredictable as they get.

The Baltimore Ravens, another team with a messy backfield, fired offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, and they promoted Marty Mornhinweg to the position. What that means for the running back production in Baltimore is not immediately known, but Mornhinweg is known more for passing offenses than rushing ones. Terrance West rushed the ball 11 times for 95 yards (8.6 YPC) on Sunday, which makes you wonder why he didn’t get the ball more against one of the league’s worst rush defenses. But hey, maybe that’s why Marc Trestman got fired…

Additional Thoughts and Observations…

My LORD, David Johnson is a bad man. Coming into this year, I was skeptical of taking Johnson at the top of fantasy drafts because of the small sample size and because I normally prefer an elite wide receiver over a running back, whenever possible. I am no longer skeptical.

Justin Forsett signed with the Detroit Lions on Tuesday. I’m not sure he will have much immediate fantasy football relevance, but they will likely start to work him into the rotation sooner rather than later. With Ameer Abdullah on injured reserve and rookie Dwayne Washington missing last week with an ankle injury, the Lions relied on Theo Reddick, Zach Zenner, and even wide receiver Golden Tate in the backfield. Forsett left a crowded backfield in Baltimore for another one in Detroit, especially once Washington comes back.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, you can own Wendell Smallwood but shouldn’t start him. This past week is why. Until we hear differently, the starting job is Ryan Mathews’s to lose, and Smallwood is too risky of a play until we know that he is going to get touches (he had zero on Sunday). The same is true for Kenneth Dixon. Stash him if you have the roster spots, but don’t risk him in your lineup right now. That should be obvious for those two after this week, but this is exactly what I was talking about a few weeks ago.

 

 

If you want to talk fantasy football or have players you want Mike to feature, hit him up on Twitter at @mikeMaher or post a comment below!

  1. omar says:
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    12 team 1pt PPR. Made some recent trades and am now real thin at RB.

    Roster:
    QB – Big Ben
    WR – A-Rob
    WR – Hopkins
    RB – Lamar Miller
    RB – Kenneth Dixon
    TE – Gronk
    FLX – Diggs
    BN – Tyrell Williams
    BN – Tyler Eifert
    BN – Dion Lewis
    BN – Enunwa

    Thinking about offering Gronk for Carlos Hyde and Barnidge. Drafted Gronk at the first turn, even though I didn’t feel good about it. Hyde has been a bell cow, and I’m intrigued by what he could do with Kaep potentially opening up running lanes for him. Barnidge would hold me over (and McCown will be back soon) until Eifert starts producing.

    Too much to give up? My other option would be to play the WW until Dion Lewis comes back, but we don’t know when that will be or how effective that will be. Just thinking if Eifert can give me anything close to Gronk, I could really use the RB upgrade.

    Thanks

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @omar:

      I like it only because you have Eifert to replace Gronk. I think Gronk will still end the year as one of the top tight ends when it is all said and done, but if you can plug in Eifert and get a RB for Gronk then it could be worth it. I like Hyde, but I don’t like-like Hyde. Anyone better you can get for Gronk?

      • omar says:
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        @mikeMaher:

        Jamaal Charles??

        • mikeMaher

          mikeMaher says:
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          @omar:

          That’s actually not a bad idea. A healthy Charles could be a steal.

  2. Rob says:
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    Hey you have Jordan Howard as the cuff but isn’t he the starter? I’d say he’s over Langford

    With forsett signing with lions does that hurt Dwayne Washington? Washington is available in my league are you adding?

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Rob:

      Howard is only starting because Langford is injured and has been inactive. There hasn’t been any kind of announcement from the team, and Langford might still start when he comes back (God, I hope not). Until we get some clarity on that situation, I left the incumbent Langford as the starter.

      I don’t know how much Forsett hurts Washington, but he certainly doesn’t help him. I added Washington a few weeks ago, but he got hurt almost immediately. Riddick has been OK without him, and even Zenner ran the ball OK this past week. Forsett makes that situation a bit more crowded. It’s hard to know what Washington’s value is right now, but it isn’t much until we know he is going to 1. Be healthy, and 2. Get touches.

      • Rob says:
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        @mikeMaher:

        I added Howard & I like what I see, just hope the bears don’t go back to Langford as the starter when healthy , Howard has played much better than Langford

        • mikeMaher

          mikeMaher says:
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          @Rob:

          They certainly shouldn’t. It’s night and day, right now.

        • Rob says:
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          @Rob:

          Out of these available RBs who are you adding just as depth? Josh ferguson, CJ spiller, Alex Collins, darkwa, Paul Perkins, Smallwood, Dwayne Washington, karlos Williams (just signed with Steelers), zenner, rob Kelley

          • Rob says:
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            @Rob:

            Speaking of RBs thoughts on buying low on Doug Martin? Do you like him ROS? Was thinking trading my Shepard + Meredith for Doug Martin . He needs WRs he just lost decker & decker was his WR1. His RBs are bell, Crowell, CJ Anderson, Charles, Martin

            • mikeMaher

              mikeMaher says:
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              @Rob:

              I think Doug Martin should come back after the bye week and be fine. I would be fine with that trade.

              • Rob says:
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                @mikeMaher:

                Or what about instead of going for Martin, do you feel I need a WR? I’m looking into either Larry Fitzgerald or cooks could a package of Shepard + fuller be enough for fitz or cooks? Or Shepard + fuller or Shepard + Meredith for Doug Baldwin?

                • mikeMaher says:
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                  @Rob:

                  I like the deal for Baldwin best. I would sell high on Meredith if I could.

          • mikeMaher

            mikeMaher says:
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            @Rob:

            If I were adding based on future potential alone I would take Smallwood. He is one Ryan Mathews injury (or maybe another costly fumble) away from starting in Philly. But that is only if I had the roster spot and didn’t need to play him right away. After that, maybe Dwayne Washington and just hope for the best for the next couple weeks. Crap shoot, though.

  3. John says:
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    What are your thoughts on Jamaal Charles? Do you think his floor is a solid RB2 the rest of the season?

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @John:

      IF HEALTHY, yes.

  4. Randy says:
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    In a 12-team standard league, I have Rivers at QB. At RB (start 2 + flex), I have McCoy, Ingram, Gordon, Ware, Coleman, Dwayne Washington, and Dixon. Someone is offering me Russell Wilson for Ware or Coleman. Would you consider this move? Is it an upgrade for my QB? Rivers has been strong but sometimes falls off.

    Also, would you drop anyone above for Deanglo just to have a high-upside stash on the bench? Thanks!

    • mikeMaher says:
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      @Randy:

      That is great RB depth. I don’t usually advocate RB for QB deals, but I wouldn’t pass up Wilson for Ware. Ware’s value is going to drop with Charles back, and you have the depth. I wouldn’t deal Coleman though.

      2nd question is a tough call. If there’s an injury to Bell, Williams’s value skyrockets. If he doesn’t, he has little value. That said, with depth like yours, I might consider dropping Dixon for him.

  5. Charles In Charge says:
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    When do you start considering picking up Dion Lewis?

    • Chicken Dinner says:
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      @Charles In Charge: PPR. Now!

      Has been seen quite a bit around the stadium. A good sign for a player on the PUP list.

      • mikeMaher

        mikeMaher says:
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        @Chicken Dinner:

        Yes, this ^^^. You can pick him up now if you have the roster spot and need a RB. I actually drafted and stashed in a couple leagues.

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