Frank Reich is a fine man. A good man, even. Sometimes, I sit around daydreaming, wondering what it would be like if he were my father. He would no-doubt instill many wholesome values in me, his son, and be a great fishing partner. He simply has that look about him — the one that comes with a Geppetto-eque twinkle in one’s eye — that exudes wisdom and level-headedness. Personally, I believe he’s a tremendous football coach, perhaps one of the most underrated in the entire league. The Indianapolis Colts are incredibly fortunate that Josh McDaniels spurned their head coaching offer back in the February of 2018 to remain with New England, leading to Reich landing the job as a sort of second choice candidate at the time. Since then, he’s done wonders with the team and carries many strengths as the man in charge, but he’s largely been a fantasy enemy to this point — especially as it relates to the running back position. That’s because he treats his backfield like a true father figure would: he believes in all of his backs, especially the young Jonathan Taylor, and is always willing to give dish out a second chance. The issue is… it’s hard to predict when those second chances are going to come. Heading into the week, Nyheim Hines was one of the highest risers up most rest-of-season rankings after receiving 12 carries in Week 10, rushing for 70 yards and one touchdown in addition to his typical receiving workload: five receptions for 45 yards and another touchdown. Jonathan Taylor saw just seven carries in that game, to which he translated to a mere 12 yards, which came on the heels of a Week 9 game in which Reich gave Taylor a measly six carries. Fast-forward to Week 11: Taylor rushed 22 times for 90 yards, also catching four passes (on four targets) for 24 yards. Those 22 carries equated to 68.8% of running back carries (22/32), as his 26 total touches were by far the highest amongst the Indy trio. Jordan Wilkins (four carries, 21 yards; one reception on one target, 15 yards) touched the ball just five times, while Hines (six carries, two yards; three receptions on four targets, 31 yards) registered nine touches. It’s certainly encouraging to see Taylor so involved in a crucial, competitive game that the Colts ultimately won in exciting fashion — but what can we expect from him moving into the home stretch of the 2020 fantasy football season?
After sinking to RB30 overall in my rankings last week, Taylor is back up into RB2 territory thanks in large part to an incredibly easy schedule from here on out. The only truly difficult matchup remaining for Taylor will come in Week 16 against the Steelers, which isn’t ideal as it’s when most fantasy championships will occur, but until then he’ll go up against the Titans, Texans, Raiders and Texans, again. There are certainly RB2 options with safer floors, but Taylor is once again trending up and represents a much more attractive Flex play than he did one week ago.
There’s a lot more to dive into this week, so before getting to the rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.
Aaron Jones – 10 carries, 41 yards, one rushing TD; four receptions (four targets), 30 yards. Right, right, We can’t forget the other side of Week 11’s fantastic Colts-Packers game. It wasn’t a sexy performance, but Jones managed to finish as a back-end RB1 with 15.1 half-PPR points. Seeing as he accomplished that on 14 touches against the Indy D, owners have to be more than satisfied, especially considering he has two more tough matchups (Bears, Eagles) ahead before entering a cake playoff schedule (Lions, Panthers, Titans). Jamaal Williams (five carries, 12 yards; one reception on two targets, four yards) was quiet on six touches, seeing half as many carries as Jones.
Dalvin Cook – 27 carries, 115 yards, one rushing TD; five receptions (five targets), 45 yards. Is Cook the most matchup-proof back in fantasy football? That’s the question to be asking as we inch closer to playoff season, where Dalvin will face the Buccaneers, Bears and Saints defenses from Weeks 14-16. It wasn’t a difficult matchup in Week 11, but still, Cook paced all running backs yet again with 22.5 half-PPR points, marking his third finish at RB1 overall in the past four weeks alone. During that four-week span, Cook has averaged 30.4 points per matchup. We should expect that to dip come Weeks 14-16, but not so much as to remove him from being a top-three weekly option. He’s still the RB1 overall for me until we hit the Week 14 playoff edition, where Derrick Henry’s enticing schedule will likely see him rise to the top and trade places with Cook.
Alvin Kamara – 13 carries, 45 yards, one rushing TD; zero receptions on one target. Taysom Hill was fantastic, but ZERO catches for Kamara in the big man’s debut!? One target? On top of that, Kamara saw just one more carry than Latavius Murray (12 carries, 49 yards; two receptions on two targets, 36 yards) while averaging fewer YPC. Hell, even Murray caught two passes! It’s best not to overreact to the one-game sample size from Hill, but Hill’s debut also correlated directly with Kamara’s first career game without one single reception. Owners can fire him up as a ROS RB1, but not the top overall dog he was in previous weeks.
Ezekiel Elliott – 21 carries, 103 yards; two receptions (two targets), 11 yards. The return of Andy Dalton coincided with Elliot again returning legitimate fantasy value. Elliot’s 23 touches were his most in a single game since Week 2, and he tied as Week 11’s RB4 overall with Melvin Gordon as a result. This was a fantastic sign for Elliott owners, although the Cowboys do face a very, very difficult remaining schedule for running backs. It was clear that Elliott was playing the role of feature back in this one, as Tony Pollard (five carries, 60 yards, one rushing TD; zero targets) only saw five touches while not being targeted a single time. 42 of Pollard’s 60 yards came on a 42-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter, which turned what was seemingly going to be a lost day into a top-20 performance. Although this is a promising showing for Elliott, owners should tempter expectations due to his ROS schedule. He’s better deployed as an RB2 as you head into playoff season.
Antonio Gibson – 16 carries, 94 yards, one rushing TD; one reception (two targets), 10 yards. This was Gibson’s second consecutive week finishing as a top-10 fantasy running back and his third such finish in Washington’s last four games. Gibson has now produced as an RB2 or better in every matchup dating back to Week 6. The rookie back out of Memphis continue to trend upward, even with tough matchups against Pittsburgh and San Francisco primed for Weeks 13 and 14. There will still be plenty of opportunity for Gibson to stockpile points in Weeks 12 (Cowboys), 15 (Seahawks) and 16 (Panthers), making him an excellent stretch run option for semi-final and championship matchups. While Gibson averaged 5.9 YPC on Sunday, J.D. McKissic (six carries, 43 yards; three receptions on four targets, 26 yards) was impressive with his nine touches, running for 7.2 YPC himself. The four targets represented a significant drop-off from the number of looks Alex Smith gave him the previous two weeks, however, in which he was targeted a combined 29 times. Gibson is a high-end ROS RB2 who can be relied on to be an RB1 in Weeks 12, 15 and 16. McKissic is better deployed as a depth piece under consideration for an emergency Flex spot come playoff season. If you’re in a high stakes match-up, hopefully you don’t need him.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – 14 carries, 69 yards, two rushing TD; one reception (two targets), eight yards. This backfield finally has clarity, as CEH carried the ball twice as many times as Le’Veon Bell (seven carries, 25 yards, one rushing TD; one reception on one target, 11 yards). With two rushing touchdowns inside the red zone, CEH averaged 4.9 YPC and finished as Week 11’s RB2 overall with 20.2 points. It was a better showing than that of Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones and Josh Jacobs — albeit against a questionable Las Vegas front seven. Bell ended up as a fringe RB2/RB3 thanks to his fourth quarter touchdown, but I think there was a clear and discerning narrative to take away from this game. The workload split seems to be hitting a plateau and the Kansas City backfield belongs to CEH. Bell is going to remain involved, but I expect CEH to continue to receive 66% or more of the carries on a weekly basis — as he did on Sunday night. There’s a tough schedule ahead for CEH, but he’s back into the top-15 ROS running back conversation.
Austin Ekeler – Expected to return in Week 12, although no official word from the team has been given as of yet. Kalen Ballage (16 carries, 44 yards; seven receptions on nine carries, 27 yards) is the Chargers back to own should he remain out after turning in RB2 production with another double-digit fantasy performance in Week 11.
Raheem Mostert – Roughly one week ago, Kyle Shanahan said he hoped Mostert would play in Week 12 against the Rams. That’s a tough matchup and it’s possible Tevin Coleman will be active as well, but Mostert is instantly a top-20 back once he’s back on the field. Like Ekeler, there’s still no official word or update on Mostert’s status, so continue to monitor this one heading into the weekend.
David Montgomery – Practiced on Monday and appears to be recovering well from his concussion. Although it’s not yet certain he’ll suit up in Week 12 against the Packers, it seems to be trending in that direction. Are you noticing a common theme with the last three blurbs? Ah, 2020. A year of such certainty. He’s up to RB19 and will face one of the easiest remaining schedules among all running backs. He could certainly turn out to be a stretch-run hero.
Todd Gurley – Eight carries, 26 yards; one reception (two targets), three yards. Gurley dropped eight spots in the rankings this week. I hate to overreact to one ugly performance, but Gurley only touched the ball nine times while running for 3.3 YPC — somehow his best mark in the last four games. As we’ve known all season long, Gurley remains highly touchdown dependent, but the situation in Atlanta appears to be getting less and less appealing from a fantasy perspective. To be fair, Gurley has more than returned his draft day value and has been a pleasant surprise for owners in 2020, but his best days of the season are likely behind him as he enters a bumpy, up and down ROS schedule. Luckily, one of his two remaining games against Tampa comes in Week 17 — after many leagues have concluded. Still, going over the list of names ranked 13-19 on this last, you’d have a hard time convincing me you’d rather have Gurley ROS over any one of them. That’s why he fell as far as he did this week, mixed with the returns of Ekeler and Mostert, as well as big weeks from Elliott, Gibson and Edwards-Helaire. Call it an epiphany or call me a shmuck, it won’t change the future none.
Kenyan Drake – 11 carries, 29 yards, one rushing TD; four receptions (five targets), 31 yards. Although the Cardinals handed the ball to their running backs just 13 times, Drake earned 11 of those carries. He also topped Chase Edmonds (two carries, 13 yards; four receptions on four targets, 36 yards) in targets. At this point, we know there isn’t an RB1 or even high-end RB2 in this backfield, but from what I saw Thursday night, Drake is a ROS top-20 back and Edmonds’ outlook is much more bleak. He’s an RB3 that shouldn’t be in too many playoff lineups come Week 14.
Melvin Gordon – 15 carries, 84 yards, two rushing TD; zero targets. The Denver duo of Gordon and Phillip Lindsay (16 carries, 82 yards; zero targets) split the carries almost 50/50 in Sunday’s win over Miami. Although Drew Lock didn’t target either of his backs a single time, both were efficient on the ground with Gordon rushing for 5.6 YPC and Lindsay for 5.1 YPC. These two continue to eat into each other’s ceilings, but Gordon is the safer RB2 play moving forward, albeit as a back-end option. Lindsay is an RB3 who will have a difficult time making his way into weekly lineups barring a Gordon injury.
Damien Harris – 11 carries, 43 yards, one rushing TD; one reception (two targets), 11 yards. Five different Patriots recorded a rushing attempt in Week 11, but 11 of 24 total carries and 11 of 20 RB carries went to Harris. He lumbered to 3.9 YPC with a long of nine yards, but was able to find the end zone which effectively salvaged a top-20 performance. Most importantly, Rex Burkhead is believed to have suffered a torn ACL in the game — an unfortunate development but one that undoubtedly opens up the room for more work from Harris. Some of that could go to the recently-activated Sony Michel, but overall, this is a nice boost for Harris owners. James White (five carries, 19 yards; six receptions on nine targets, 64 yards) returned to prominence in the passing game, pacing New England in targets and finishing second on the team in yardage. His role should stay more or less the same, but you’d be hard-pressed to recommend starting anyone in this backfield besides Harris, whos currently positioned as a Flex play with emergency RB2 appeal. Harris has a very manageable ROS schedule, but it’ll probably be best to keep him on your bench come Week 14, when he takes on the Rams on the road. Don’t forget about Michel, but I don’t see him becoming fantasy relevant by season’s end.
J.K. Dobbins – 15 carries, 70 yards, one rushing TD; two receptions (two targets), 15 yards. Dobbins received 75% of the carries out of the backfield in the Ravens’ 30-24 loss to the Titans on Sunday. Gus Edwards and Mark Ingram were only involved on the ground, seeing three and two touches apiece, respectively. The opportunity allowed Dobbins to finish as a high-end RB1 in Week 11 with 17.5 half-PPR points. This is the second time in the last four weeks that Dobbins has finished as a top-20 running back and if it had not been for news Monday that Dobbins and Ingram were each headed for the Reserve/COVID list, Dobbins would have a legitimate case to be a top-20 ROS running back, or at least a back-end RB2. Now that he’ll be out for at least one week, he’s ranked just outside of RB2 territory until we know more about the length of his absence. Any remaining Ingram owners can probably part ties. This is clearly a huge boost to Edwards’ short-term stock, although it could be a relatively brief boost should Dobbins spend minimal time on the COVID list.
Giovani Bernard – Nine carries, 18 yards; four receptions (five targets), 37 yards. The main storyline here is that the Bengals placed Joe Mixon on IR over the weekend. It got worse, as they also lost Joe Burrow for the season on Sunday after he suffered an ACL/MCL injury. Say it ain’t so, Joe(s). With Mixon out in Week 11, Bernard was the lead back, but he saw only four more carries than Samaje Perine (five carries, 19 yards; one reception on two targets, two yards), who apparently still exists. With Mixon now out for the foreseeable future, Bernard represents an intriguing weekly RB2/Flex play. Over the next two weeks, he’ll have the benefit of attractive matchups against the Giants and Dolphins on his side, so there will be plenty of opportunity for Bernard to produce if Cincinnati believes he can handle a substantial workload. If he can hover more around 15-18 touches, much like the 18 he saw in consecutive matchups back in Weeks 7 and 8, then he can certainly be an RB2 with upside. The Bengals are hoping Mixon can return in Week 14 against the Cowboys, which would represent a minimal stay on IR. That would bring him back just in time for fantasy playoffs, where he’d face the ‘Boys, Steelers and Texans. That’s an up-and-down schedule, but one owners are hoping to have him for even with the presence of that Week 15 tilt.
Frank Gore – 15 carries, 61 yards, one rushing TD; two receptions (two targets), 10 yards. Gore was quoted as saying “I can’t go out with that” regarding his interest in dating Adam Gase’s wife. It was later revealed that he was actually referring to the prospects of going 0-16 in his final NFL season. I don’t know if that means he’s going to be more motivated to run angry down the stretch, but I also am not quite sure it matters. It’s perplexing why the 0-10 Jets won’t rely more on rookie La’Mical Perine (eight carries, 33 yards, one rushing TD; zero receptions on one target), just as a means to see what he has to offer, but Gase doesn’t appear interested. Gore is now ahead of Perine in the rankings, but both are gross options as weekly plays.
Carlos Hyde – 14 carries, 79 yards, one rushing TD; two receptions (three targets), 16 yards. Filling in for the injured Chris Carson (foot), Hyde finished inside RB1 territory with 16.5 half-PPR points. Bo Scarbrough (six carries, 31 yards; zero targets) actually played second fiddle and not DeeJay Dallas, although both will have even smaller roles moving forward if Chris Carson is indeed ready to return. Pete Carroll expects Carson to be back in Week 12 when the Seahawks play the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, effectively bringing him back into the RB1 conversation. Weeks 13 (Giants) and 14 (Jets) are potential boom matchups for Carson, but Weeks 15 (Football Team) and 16 (Rams) will be bigger challenges. If Miles Sanders or James Conner had significantly easier ROS schedules, that would push the needle in the rankings in this range — but they don’t.
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.
Once again, there you have it: the Week 12 ROS RB rankings. I keep writing them, and you keep skimming them and reading very little of what I actually wrote, if you have an ounce of sanity. I began them while sipping some fine wine and finished them while drinking crappier wine. Until next time, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.