What in the Anthony Lynn is going on in San Diego!? I mean, Los Angeles!? Justin Jackson (zero carries; zero targets) seemed like a safe RB2 play with upside heading into the weekend, but suffered a first quarter knee injury and exited the contest prior to receiving a touch. In his stead, it was Kalen Ballage (15 carries, 69 yards, one rushing TD; two receptions on three targets, 15 yards) who burst onto the scene and answered the call. With the opportunity, Ballage finished as Week 9’s RB4, posting 15.4 half-PPR points. That was good for RB4 overall, you might say? Yes, indeed. Times are tough. The RB landscape has a bleaker outlook than the FBI Director’s job security. Joshua Kelley (nine carries, 28 yards; five receptions on five targets, 31 yards) did very little with his 14 touches, managing just 3.1 YPC and finishing outside RB2 range as the week’s RB25 with 8.4 points. Ballage, on the other hand, cruised his way to 4.6 YPC and was targeted three times by Justin Herbert in his debut. If you didn’t even know Ballage was on the Chargers until this past Sunday night, don’t fret! You’re not alone! With Troymaine Pope out with a concussion, Los Angeles elected to activate Ballage off their practice squad just over one month after the New York Jets cut him on Oct. 5 — making this entire situation all the more hilarious.
As we attempt to forecast the weeks ahead, there is still no official word as to when fantasy managers might expect Austin Ekeler to return outside of details provided on his Instagram account. For some of you, that may be the definition of a scholarly source. Ekeler showed that he started running last week and is ever-so-slowly increasing his activity, making a Week 12 return seem like a possibility, albeit an optimistic one. I speculated last week that his chances of returning at all seemed to be dwindling, but we may in fact see him on the field again in 2020. In the interim, I’m going to go out on a limb and state that Ballage is the Chargers running back to own. *hears a crack, stops to think, then plummets to the ground* It was an incredibly precarious limb.
There’s a lot more to discuss and break down this week, so before getting into the Week 10 rest of season running back rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.
Christian McCaffrey – 18 carries, 69 yards, one rushing TD; 10 receptions (10 targets), 82 yards, one receiving TD. Returning from IR and seeing his first action since Week 3, McCaffrey received 18 of 19 running back carries for Carolina, as Mike Davis (one carry, three yards; five receptions on six targets, 34 yards) was only given one touch on the ground. However, CMC reportedly banged up his shoulder on Carolina’s final drive of the game, putting his availability in Week 10 status against Tampa Bay “very much in doubt,” according to Ian Rapoport. As of right now, he’s day-to-day. This information is a useful reminder as to why it’s smart to not jump the gun by dropping someone like Davis too early, as he’d be right back into low-end RB1-to-high-end-RB2 consideration if CMC misses time. If CMC does play Week 10, he’s automatically a high-end RB1. Remember, CMC was expected to rotate series at running back as he returned to the field in Week 9, but ended up playing 71% of offensive snaps while out-touching Davis, 28-to-six. Whoever starts for the Panthers in Week 10, fire them up in your lineup, but have lesser expectations for Davis as he’d represent more of an RB2 against the Buccaneers defense. For now, CMC is at RB4 for ROS due to the injury uncertainty. Otherwise, he’d be at RB1 or 2. 11/13 UPDATE: McCaffrey is out for Week 10, but it could in fact be just a one-week absence. After seeking a second opinion on his shoulder injury, there’s reportedly some newfound optimism that McCaffrey could suit up in Week 11 against Detroit. It’s optimistic, but quite attainable. He remains at RB4 overall due to his Week 10 absence and the uncertainty that lies ahead in Week 11.
Alvin Kamara – Nine carries, 40 yards, one rushing TD; five receptions (six targets), nine yards. It wasn’t the most efficient ground game for Kamara, but he still managed to accrue over four YPC while finding the end zone and garnering six targets. The result was an RB8 overall finish in half-PPR for Kamara. Meanwhile, Latavius Murray (10 carries, 39 yards; two receptions on two targets, three yards) saw one more carry than Kamara did, but this game was a blowout in which the Saints had little reason to over-expose Kamara on Sunday Night Football.
Dalvin Cook – 22 carries, 206 yards, two rushing TD; two receptions (two targets), 26 yards. That’s back-to-back weeks in which Cook has finished as RB1 overall and totaled 200+ multi-purpose yards. In Week 9, Cook’s output translated to 38.2 half-PPR points, following up his 47.6-point showing last week. He certainly had the luxury of some attractive match-ups while facing Green Bay and Detroit the last two games, but have you seen anyone else produce at a comparable level against those front sevens this season? I sure haven’t. Looking ahead, Cook’s remaining schedule should be quite manageable for him. He faces Dallas, Carolina and Jacksonville during Weeks 11-13, with the only truly tough match-ups remaining coming in Weeks 14 and 16 against Tampa Bay and New Orleans, respectively. Chicago in Weeks 10 and 15 aren’t the most enticing, either, but owners will still be able to fire up Cook as a high-end RB1 in all of the aforementioned match-ups. Also in this game, Alexander Mattison (12 carries, 69 yards; zero targets) touched the ball 12 times while seeing zero involvement in the passing game. If you’re a Cook owner without a Mattison share, it’s time to circle back and cover your buttocks. Cook looks primed to be a league-winner, so make sure you’re cuffed up like a fat old man in a porno.
Aaron Jones – 15 carries, 58 yards; five receptions (five targets), 21 yards. Jones returned to action in Week 9 and looked to be past the calf injury that held him out two weeks, averaging 3.9 YPC against the 49ers. With the Packers playing on Thursday night, Jones will now have the luxury of extra time off to stay healthy before the team’s Week 10 game against Jacksonville — a highly attractive fantasy match-up. With Jamaal Williams on the reserve/COVID list, Tyler Ervin (eight carries, 24 yards; four receptions on five targets, 48 yards) handled change-of-pace duties. Jones owners should breathe out a sigh of relief now that Jones as back. He’s a top-five ROS option at the position.
Josh Jacobs – 14 carries, 65 yards, one rushing TD; one reception (one target), three yards. The running back usage by the Raiders was perplexing at times in Week 9, but ultimately both Jacobs and Devontae Booker (eight carries, 68 yards, one rushing TD; zero targets) finished inside RB1 range. Although Booker was much more efficient with his carries, as evidenced by his 8.5 YPC, Jacobs looked better and better as the game wore on, and his efficiency wasn’t necessarily poor, either (4.6 YPC). At times in this game, it appeared as though Jon Gruden was content to roll with more of a two-man tandem approach, riding Booker on certain drives and leaving Jacobs owners to resort to Twitter for answers as to why their fantasy RB1 wasn’t on the field. Still, there’s no reason for an overreaction here. Jacobs still saw 15 touches and was utilized in the green zone (Booker’s rushing touchdown came from 23 yards out). It’s worth remembering that Jacobs carried the ball 31 times one week ago against the Browns and was effective with those touches (129 yards, 4.2 YPC). Therefore, it made sense to lean more heavily on Booker this week, as Las Vegas still has four divisional games remaining on their schedule. Jacobs remains a top-six ROS play in my rankings — top-eight is as low as I’m willing to entertain in any rankings discussions.
James Robinson – 25 carries, 99 yards, one rushing TD; zero receptions (two targets). Mmmmmm mmm mmm! Gimme some of dat, and by dat, I mean those 25 carries. The first half of this line, we love. The second half, which sports zero catches on two targets, not so much. But even with the lack of usage in the passing game, which could possibly be a result of Jake Luton being under center, Robinson finished as Week 9’s RB3 overall with 15.9 half-PPR points. Let’s not forget that Robinson was averaging 5.4 targets-per-game in the five preceding contests, so I’m not overly concerned by the lack of targets. It sounds as though Gardner Minshew is going to miss Week 10, but J-Rob will be a weekly RB1 even with Jacksonville’s starting signal caller out another game.
James Conner – Nine carries, 22 yards; two receptions (two targets), -2 yards. Floor alert! Or should I say, “honey, the basement is flooding again!” Listen, I’m not promoting a Conner overreaction here, but I’ve had Conner ranked in the RB 9-11 range the previous two weeks because of the possibility for a game such as this one. That said, Conner is the most popularly deployed RB2 on my fantasy teams this season, as I scooped up plenty shares of him as my RB3 (at the time) in rounds four and five of drafts. Conner finished outside the top 50 fantasy running backs in Week 9 with just 3.0 half-PPR points, but his lack of usage (just 11 touches) was primarily a result of negative game script, as Pittsburgh surprisingly played from behind for much of their game against Dallas. Look for Conner to bounce back the next two weeks against Cincinnati and Jacksonville. His expert consensus ROS ranking of RB6 over on FantasyPros is too rich for me, but as someone who owns numerous Conner shares, I’m happy to fire him up as a top-ten ROS option. In my rankings, he’s at RB9.
Nick Chubb – Designated by the Cleveland Browns to return from IR. Chubb has been out since suffering a sprained MCL in Week 4. Chubb’s returns brings him back into ROS RB1 status as he faces an up-and-down, but ultimately highly manageable schedule for the remainder of the season. Although Kareem Hunt’s degree of involvement with Chubb returning to the fold remains uncertain, he should be a serviceable mid-range RB2 due to his usage in the passing game and the lack of other, high-upside RB2 options in the fantasy football world right now. 11/13 UPDATE: After participating in individual drills at Thursday’s practice, Chubb is trending towards playing in Week 10. Providing further optimism, he finally shed his knee practice for those individual drills. Managers should deplot him as a back-end RB1 for ROS assuming he maintains his health.
Chris Carson – 11/13 UPDATE: Carson failed to practice on Wednesday and was again listed as a non-participant on Thursday. Although Pete Carroll expected both Carson and Carlos Hyde to practice this week, both backs are running out of time to make that happen. Unfortunately, this is one that managers will have to monitor following Friday’s practice and keep an eye on as the weekend progresses. I’ve flip-flopped Carson and Gurley in my rankings to reflect the news.
Joe Mixon – 11/13 UPDATE: Mixon did not practice on Thursday after participating in individual drills on Wednesday. His status for Week 10 is now questionable, enhancing the outlook for Giovani Bernard. He remains at RB13 as a result of the gap between him and Elliott, and fact his status reads as slightly more encouraging to me than that of Carson.
Ezekiel Elliott – 18 carries, 51 yards; two receptions (three targets), 18 yards. With many people scrambling to unload shares of Elliott, it was a positive sign to see him receive 20 touches in a game he entered with a questionable designation. It was not a positive sign to see him lumber to 2.8 YPC, further evidence he is going to continue to struggle for as long as the Dallas O-Line is less-than-elite. If you’re looking for hope, it’s true that the Steelers sport one of the NFL’s premier front sevens, but then you look to Tony Pollard (nine carries, 57 yards; one reception on two targets, one yard) and realize the Cowboys back-up managed to put up 6.3 YPC in the same match-up. I think it’s time for many of us to admit, myself included, that Elliott can no longer be relied upon as a ROS RB1. Let’s do a quick experiment. Step outside and scream for a moment, let it all out, then yell this question from the rooftops: Todd Gurley or Elliott for the remainder of 2020? Many would have gawked at such a question ten weeks ago, but now it’s quite easy to make a case for Gurley as the preferred option between the two.
Jonathan Taylor – Six carries, 27 yards, one rushing TD; two receptions (two targets), seven yards. If it wasn’t for a one-yard touchdown rush in the first quarter, Taylor’s day would have been a disaster. Jordan Wilkins (11 carries, 39 yards; two receptions on two targets, -1 yard) saw the bulk of the work, out-touching Taylor, 13-to-eight. After Wilkins came away in Week 9 as Frank Reich’s go-to back, Taylor actually started the game with the Colts feeding him early, evidenced by his early touchdown plunge. However, shortly thereafter he coughed up a fumble that Baltimore returned for a defensive touchdown, and it was clear Taylor lost some touches in favor of Wilkins thereafter. Also in this game, Nyheim Hines (two carries, 18 yards; two receptions on three targets, 20 yards) remained involved in a change-of-pace role. As I stated last week, Wilkins should be stashed in all leagues. Taylor is nothing more than a Hail Mary Flex option until this backfield sorts itself out. Notably, Frank Reich has come out and said he still has faith in Taylor. Which is saying a lot, because the only thing I still have have faith in during 2020 is that cheeseburgers will remain good. That and Bradley Cooper having dreamy eyes. DO NOT take that away from me!
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Five carries, 14 yards; three receptions (five targets), 20 yards, one receiving TD. This was another game in which a running back suffered from unfavorable game script, as the Chiefs trailed the Panthers by a field goal at half and Patrick Mahomes (372 yards, four passing TD) came out guns blazing in the second half. Thankfully, CEH owners were saved by a four-yard receiving touchdown in the third quarter, which paved the way for a finish inside RB2 range. While we’re all still waiting to see what this carry split will look like in a game that lends itself to a more run-heavy script, owners can be encouraged by the fact that CEH saw five targets, while Le’Veon Bell (four carries, eight yards; one reception on one target, -5 yards) received just one. With that in mind, coupled with my belief that Edwards-Helaire represents the more dynamic, talented back in this stage of Bell’s career, CEH is a ROS RB2 while Bell remains an RB3 with weekly Flex consideration.
D’Andre Swift – 13 carries, 64 yards; three receptions (five targets), 33 yards. Swift out-touched Adrian Peterson (eight carries, 29 yards; three receptions on five targets, 14 yards) 16-to-11 in Week 9, while Kerryon Johnson (four carries, 29 yards; three receptions on three targets, 36 yards) received seven touches. It’s disappointing to see 18 touches going to running backs not named Swift, but at least the rookie was handed more than half (52%) of running back carries and was targeted five times while finishing at RB16. In fact, Swift has now been targeted four-plus times in all but one game (Week 3 vs. Arizona) this season, which gives him a higher floor than the rest of the Detroit backfield. Unfortunately, that floor resembles something similar to that of the bottom shelf of my coffee table. Which is not high. It’s roughly the height of seven Tic Tacs stacked on top of one another. Owners need look no further than Week 8 for evidence.
Chase Edmonds – 25 carries, 70 yards; three receptions (three targets), 18 yards. 28 touches for Edmonds! Even better, the third-year pro out of Fordham played 96% of snaps in Week 9, validating his ranking as an RB2 with upside in Kenyan Drake’s absence. His 2.8 YPC was underwhelming and we would like to see those 28 touches translate to more than just an RB21 overall finish, but the volume and opportunity lends itself to endless possibilities of even more explosive fantasy days moving forward, should Edmonds hang onto his lead role. *my assistant buzzes into my earpiece, updating me on Drake’s timetable for return* Speaking of which, it sounds as though Drake will indeed be returning in either Week 10 or 11. Oh, terrific! Not. Kliff Kingsbury again referred to Drake as “day-to-day” on Monday, the same phrase he used last week. If Drake follows the same trajectory he did last time around and misses Week 10 against Buffalo, it sounds as though he’ll at least be back for Week 11 versus Seattle. This hurts Edmonds’ ROS outlook, but we have to expect a more even split of carries upon Drake’s return. Right? No, seriously. I’m asking you. 11/13 UPDATE: With Drake practicing in a limited capacity on both Wednesday and Thursday, he now has a very realistic shot at suiting up in Week 10. While this would certainly eat into Edmonds’ upside as a potential weekly RB1, let’s not jump to assume that Drake will become the better weekly play. I’m moving Edmonds down slightly and moving Drake up one spot until we see Drake on the field and are given evidence of how this is going to shake out.
Antonio Gibson – Six carries, 20 yards, one rushing TD; three receptions (three targets), 35 yards. Gibson saw as many touches (nine) as J.D. McKissic (three carries, 17 yards; nine receptions on 14 targets, 65 yards) received in the passing game alone. McKissic’s 14 targets were incredible, but likely represent an outlier moving forward. If you listen to NFL Network for fantasy advice, then you A) heard that you need to pick-up McKissic and B) are a loser who listens to NFL Network for fantasy advice. While Gibson may have lost a fumble in this one, he’s just one game removed from his 20-carry showing against Dallas. Don’t overreact to the stat lines from this game and continue to deploy Gibson as a back-end RB2. McKissic gets a pickaxe and some ore. Get it? A minor boost.
J.K. Dobbins – 12 carries, 30 yards; two receptions (two targets), five yards. My first question is, does Indianapolis have a better front seven than Pittsburgh? My second question is, does the fact that that is my first question make me a nerd? *my fiancé subsequently shouts from the kitchen* “Can you please turn off those Bill Nye the Science Guy re-runs?” No. I will never. One week after Dobbins and Gus Edwards (11 carries, 23 yards, one rushing TD; two receptions on two targets, 11 yards) combined for 200 rushing yards against the Steelers, the duo mustered just 53 combined yards against the Colts. Does John Harbaugh care? No, since the Ravens lost in Week 8 but won in Week 9. Dobbins out-touched Edwards 14-to-13, but we already knew it would be roughly the same 50-50 split we saw one week ago. Mark Ingram (ankle) was inactive for the second straight game, but his Week 10 status is not yet know. Moving forward, Dobbins remains with the most ROS upside, while Edwards is trending closer to RB3 territory. Ingram should not be rostered at this point.
David Johnson – Two carries, 16 yards; zero receptions (one target). Exited Week 9’s game against Jacksonville in the second quarter and was later ruled out with a concussion. In his absence, DUKE Johnson (16 carries, 41 yards, one rushing TD; four receptions on four targets, 32 yards) was as excellent as we knew he’d be with a lead-back role — something NFL coaching staffs always seem reluctant to hand over to him despite his remarkable efficiency. DUKE finished inside RB1 territory on the week, but his opportunity to continue to do so may be short lived. DAVID likely won’t miss more than one game, if at all. The situation should be monitored heading into the weekend and this is one I will be updating come Friday morning should there be any new details. If DAVID is out, DUKE would be an automatic weekly play in Week 10 against Cleveland — likely as a high-end RB2 with upside. 11/13 UPDATE: DJ missed Thursday’s practice and is expected to be out in Week 10. Duke Johnson is a must-play in his absence.
David Montgomery – 14 carries, 30 yards; three receptions (three targets), 12 yards. It happened! The Chicago Bears’ running back had that big, post-Tarik Cohen breakout game, finishing as Week 9’s RB14! Wait! It was who!? Ryan Nall (zero carries, four receptions on four targets, 35 yards, one receiving TD)!? *stands up, gently places laptop in trash can, pulls phone out of pocket, tosses it in, walks across room, unplugs TV, crams it inside said trashcan, lights match, drops in, makes signature hand cleaning motion as it bursts into flames* Yes, Montgomery suffered a head injury in this game, but it came in the latter stages. Montgomery is now in concussion protocol, but even with him fully healthy, I will reiterate my stance that he is merely a mid-to-back-end RB2 with very little room to produce inside weekly RB1 range. I went back and forth with some readers on this last week. Heading into Week 9, Monty had finished as RB30, RB15, RB13, RB24 and RB21 in games following Cohen’s season-ending injury. He hasn’t finished as an RB1 a single time and his top finish was RB13. On top of that, you look at how pedestrian the Bears offense has been (actual statistics unnecessary) and I need to crane my neck worse than the bent-neck lady in Haunting of Hill House to see the RB1 upside. If Monty misses time, we’re probably looking at a time share between Nall and Cordarrelle Patterson, but Lamar Miller is waiting in the wing as well. Artavis Pierce would be the first member of the practice squad to be activated, if it comes to that. If Monty is out in Week 10, Nall should be a priority waiver add. Luckily for fantasy owners, there is ample time for Montgomery to get healthy for a sexy upcoming window in Weeks 12-14, when Chicago faces the Packers, Lions and Texans on the heels of the Bears’ Week 11 bye. 11/13 UPDATE: Montgomery remained sidelined with a concussion at Thursday’s practice. Although he’ll have the luxury of some extra time to get right with the Bears playing on Monday night, he certainly isn’t trending in the right direction.
Ronald Jones – Three carries, nine yards; three receptions (four targets), nine yards. By the look of Jones’ line, you’d think he took a back seat to Leonard Fournette (one carry, zero yards; six receptions on six targets, 41 yards), but that wasn’t the case. Tampa Bay got bludgeoned by the New Orleans on Sunday Night, as the Buccaneers found themselves down 31-0 at half-time, thus creating an unfavorable game script for both Jones and Fournette — but even more so for the former. The Bucs managed just eight total rushing yards in the game while running the ball just five times (four of which were RB carries). Although Jones looked like the preferred early-down back at this game’s beginning stages, Fournette remained the go-to man in the passing game, seeing six targets to Jones’ four. Moving forward, those who have stock in this backfield should be more optimistic, as we shouldn’t expect Tom Brady and the Bucs to experience any more games mirroring this type of game script. Fournette comes with the higher floor due to his passing involvement, but Jones owners should at least be encouraged by the fact that Fournette saw three-of-four RB carries one week after coughing up a crucial fumble. I understand if people think Fournette should be ranked ahead of Jones, but I’m holding out on that for at least one more week.
Zack Moss – Nine carries, 18 yards, one rushing TD; two receptions (two targets), 30 yards. Moss’ Week 9 touchdown marked his third rushing score in the past two weeks, as he’s emerged as Buffalo’s clear go-to back in the red zone. In the meantime, Devin Singletary (two carries, one yard; three receptions on three targets, 33 yards) has seen his snap percentage drop while Moss’ has grown incrementally since returning in Week 6. I don’t think it’s wise to rely on either back right now outside of Moss as a match-up dependent Flex option, but I’ve officially flip-flopped these two running backs in my rankings. By season’s end, this should be Moss’ backfield.
JaMycal Hasty – Four carries, three yards; two receptions (two targets), 10 yards. Dud alert! If you needed a streamer as a result of bye weeks, then Hasty likely took a big fat dump all over your fantasy app. At long last, Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers did the logical thing and handed Jerick McKinnon (12 carries, 52 yards, one rushing TD; three receptions on four targets, 16 yards) the bulk of the touches. It worked well earlier in the season and fared well for McKinnon in Week 9, as he finished inside RB1 territory as the week’s RB5 overall. I’m not trusting anyone in this backfield until Mostert returns, but if I have the choice between starting one at Flex, it would be McKinnon. Once Mostert is back, he’ll be a high-to-mid tier RB2. He’s eligible to be activated off IR this week, which is why he’s climbing in the rankings. However, Mostert could return in Week 12 to face the Rams after the team’s Week 11 bye. It’s a situation worth monitoring heading into the weekend.
Note: Rankings are constructed for half-PPR fantasy scoring. Rest-of-season strength of schedule was considered in these rankings using Fantasy Pros’ Easiest Remaining Schedule feature.
Tah dah! Those are the rankings for this week, my dearly beloved readers. I began them while singing and dancing to “Rockin’ Robin” and finished them while descending a nearby, albeit very steep mountain. Until next time, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.