In a casual conversation with my future mother-in-law this past week, she adamantly described Derrick Henry as “sexy.” Now, I’m no expert on the perceived attractiveness of 6-foot-3, 250-pound behemoth running backs, but I do know one thing: there’s only one. There’s only one Derrick Henry, and as he approaches a fantasy playoff schedule as easy as hiding a piece of Thanksgiving stuffing in Matt Patricia’s beard at the end of No-Shave November, we’re likely to see history repeat itself yet again. Remember, Henry averaged 24.2 half-PPR points in his final five games of 2019, which was only slightly better than the 23.1 points he averaged across the final five games of 2018. Historically, Henry is stretch-run hero — a fantasy playoff superman in a class all his own. Even if Henry hadn’t erupted for 37.5 half-PPR points in Week 12, he would likely enter the Week 13 rankings as the RB1 overall, as an upcoming matchup with the Browns is the only thing that stands between him and a remaining schedule against the Jaguars, Lions, Packers and Texans. No matter how your league is structured, those matchups scream league-winning upside, and there’s no doubt in my mind Henry will again have a high ownership percentage on championship rosters. But, since Henry did pop off in Week 12, let’s unpack it: 27 carries, 178 yards, three rushing touchdowns; two receptions (four targets), seven yards. All three of Henry’s rushing touchdowns came in first half, as he legitimately provided three healthy weeks of fantasy value in a single half. Now I understand the “sexy” part.
While Henry is up to RB1 this week, there’s a lot of other movement on the top-60 list and, as always, an overwhelming amount of injury updates to digest. So, before we get to the rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.
Dalvin Cook – 18 carries, 61 yards; four receptions (four targets), 21 yards. It was a pedestrian performance for Cook in what was supposed to be a highly-favorable matchup against the Panthers. However, Cook lumbered to 3.4 YPC and eventually exited the game in the second half with an ankle injury — which is the single and only reason I’m writing this blurb. Although he ultimately returned and closed out the game, owners should keep a close eye on his practice status throughout the week based on his past injury history.
Alvin Kamara – 11 carries, 54 yards; one reception (two targets), -2 yards. Over the past two weeks, Kamara has just one reception on three targets. In Week 12, he was out-touched by Latavius Murray, 20-to-12. Much of that can be attributed to the Saints holding a 17-0 lead at halftime to a team without an actual NFL quarterback in the form of the Broncos. Still, this certainly isn’t good news for Kamara owners, and it all correlates directly with Taysom Hill taking the reins in New Orleans. Truth be told, Murray should be the title name for this blurb, as he carried the ball 19 times for 124 yards and two rushing touchdowns, adding another two yards on one catch. That equated to 25.1 half-PPR points, which was good for RB3 overall. Conversely, Kamara’s 5.7 points represented back-end RB3 production. That’s bad. Over the last two weeks with Hill under center, Murray is outscoring Kamara in fantasy, 34.5-16.2. Where do we go from here? Well, if you’re playing season-long, you likely have to keep trotting Kamara out there. But his weekly bust potential is now enormous, creating a floor much lower than we could have imagined. Kamara was averaging 19 touches per game before Hill took over, but since, he’s seeing just 12.5 per game. While New Orleans has rushed for seven touchdowns on the ground, Kamara has contributed just one of those scores. With the Falcons, Eagles, Chiefs and Vikings on the Saints’ remaining schedule, there’s a good chance Kamara won’t return respectable fantasy value until Drew Brees returns in Week 15.
Nick Chubb – 19 carries, 144 yards, one rushing TD; three receptions (three targets), 32 yards. Last week, I dropped Kareem Hunt from RB13 to RB18 in my rankings. My reasoning was that the Browns appear inclined to hand Chubb 20 or so carries per week, if not more, which effectively pushes Hunt into a touchdown-or-bust type of back with some added receiving upside. Week 12’s game against the Jaguars was a highly competitive one and close throughout, but Chubb ultimately out-touched Hunt 22-to-10 and saw three targets to Hunt’s one. Chubb totaled 22.9 half-PPR points while Hunt posted just 6.2 points after rushing 10 times for 62 yards and failing to haul in either of his two targets. Many “perts” continue to rank Hunt far too bullishly, but he’s only a back-end RB2 for the remainder of the fantasy season. It’s like I always say: better to be bullish on your Chubb than on your Hunt.
James Robinson – 22 carries, 128 yards, one rushing TD; five receptions (six targets), 31 yards. There’s lots of good to unpack for J-Rob in Week 12. The rookie popped off for 159 multi-purpose yards on 27 touches, marking his fifth straight game of 19+ touches. Over that span, Robinson is in elite RB1 territory with 24.4 touches per game. With 24.4 half-PPR points, J-Rob was this past week’s RB5 overall. He remains an excellent option for late season/the early stages of fantasy playoffs (up next: Vikings, Titans), but the sledding gets tough in Week 15, when Robinson caps off his fantasy campaign with the Ravens and Bears. What he has accomplished as an undrafted rookie in 2020 has been nothing short of amazing, but if you’re in a semi-final or championship matchup in Weeks 15 and 16, you’re better off viewing him as more of a high-end RB2 type.
Austin Ekeler – 14 carries, 44 yards; 11 receptions (16 targets), 85 yards. Ek-alert! Holy mother of McKissic! The 3.1 YPC wasn’t all that encouraging, but the degree to which Justin Herbert turned to Ekeler in his first game back was. Ekeler doubled Joshua Kelley (seven carries, 35 yards; zero targets) in carries and saw six targets more than the next closest Chargers receivers (Hunter Henry and Keenan Allen). With matchups against the Patriots, Falcons, Raiders and Broncos remaining, expect Ekeler to turn in RB1 production from now through the conclusion of fantasy playoffs. He’s a top-10 ROS play. Unless you’re an Ekeler owner holding Kelley or Kalen Ballage (inactive with an injured ankle/caff) for playoff insurance, there’s no need to own any other runners in this backfield. As for Kelley and Ballage, your guess is as good as mine as to who backs up Ekeler moving forward. Based on the recent draft capital used on Kelley, he’s the one sneaking into the tail-end of the rankings this week.
Josh Jacobs – Seven carries, 27 yards; three receptions (three targets), 17 yards. Also worthy of note, Jacobs exited this one near the end of the game with a reported ankle injury. It was a drubbing all around, as Chucky evidently placed his slasher radar on the wrong sideline, inadvertently slashing his entire team’s chances to shreds. Luckily, it appears as though Jacobs avoided major injury and may be able to escape without missing a game. It’s certainly possible, as Jacobs has powered through injuries all season long and has yet to sit one out. But even so, this was a truly ugly game for the Raiders — one in which they were favored to win, yet lost by 37 points. How Raiders is that? As for Jacobs, he finished well outside of RB2 range with 3.9 half-PPR points. With Las Vegas’ outlook as a true contender in question coupled with Jacobs’ minor injury, I’m less optimistic about his ROS outlook than I was one week ago. Jacobs ROSZN was off to a strong, two-week start, but he’s now a back-end RB1 as opposed to the high-end RB1 he could have been. Should JJ miss time, Devontae Booker (five carries, six yards; one reception on four targets, -1 yard) would jump into weekly RB2 range.
Antonio Gibson – 20 carries, 115 yards, three rushing TD; five receptions (seven targets), 21 yards. Gibson delivered the second-most points (34.1) of any running back in Week 12, trailing only Henry in that department. The rookie used 5.8 YPC to total 115 yards, but it was the trio of touchdowns that really put an exclamation point on his day. Perhaps most notably, Gibson finished second on the team in targets behind Terry McLaurin, more than tripling J.D. McKissic (one carry, six yards; two receptions on two targets, 21 yards) in targets. McKissic was barely used in the rushing attack at all, as Peyton Barber (11 carries, 57 yards; zero targets) handled change-of-pace duties. Up next for Gibson: Steelers, 49ers, Seahawks and Panthers. The front half of that four-game stretch is brutal, but the latter portion should provide enough opportunity to allow Gibson to finish out the season as an RB1.
Raheem Mostert – 16 carries, 43 yards, one rushing TD; two receptions (two targets), zero yards. Upon activation off IR, Mostert immediately handled lead-back duties, seeing four more carries than the newly-healthy Jeff Wilson (12 carries, 43 yards; zero targets). Jerick McKinnon (three carries, 21 yards; two receptions on three targets, 11 yards) assumed his usual role as the team’s passing back, but Week 12 made it resoundingly clear than McKinnon does not have legitimate starting value as long as Mostert is in the fold. After struggling to get much going on the ground against the Rams and finishing as a fringe RB2, look for Mostert to fill in as a mid-tier RB2 with matchup-based upside moving forward. I haven’t been this excited about a Gibson since the last time I watched Braveheart. Which was like, last week. And the week before that. But who gives?
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – 11 carries, 37 yards; one reception (one target), two yards. This accurately describes the curious case of CEH. Not only did CEH finish outside of RB3 territory in a game in which the Chiefs posted 27 points and led 20-7 at the half, but Le’Veon Bell (five carries, 22 yards; two receptions on two targets, 10 yards) failed to eclipse RB3 range as well. While this game did little to change Bell’s ranking, it provided a much-needed kick-in-the-ass type reminder that the Kansas City offense in no way runs through Edwards-Helaire, and his production is not a necessity to a successful week on the gridiron for the team. He comes with tremendous weekly upside as this high-powered offensive could ignite him at any given moment, but he also comes with an unappealing floor.
David Montgomery – 11 carries, 103 yards; five receptions (six targets), 40 yards, one receiving TD. Look, I’m not saying Mitchell Trubisky is a good NFL quarterback, but with him under center, at least this Bears offense has some personality. With Montgomery back in Week 12, he posted a season-high 103 rushing yards — his first game all season eclipsing the 90-yard threshold on the ground — on his fewest number of rushing attempts since Week 5. However, it’s the six targets that we really love here, mixed with the fact Monty hauled in five of them, one of which went for score. Moving forward, Montgomery will have the benefit of arguably the easiest remaining schedule for any starting running back in the NFL: Lions, Texans, Vikings, Jaguars and Packers. Fire him up as a rising, mid-tier RB2 that certainly could finish as a ROS RB1 if the stars align properly.
Ezekiel Elliott – 10 carries, 32 yards; one reception (three targets), seven yards. Zeke’s last three weeks slightly resemble that of a typical, fast-paced David Baldacci novel: up and down — a true emotional roller coaster. Most millennial readers: “who is David Baldacci?” Most teenage readers: “what’s a novel?” Literature aside, Zeke’s stock has primarily been plummeting since Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury, but then came a Week 11 spark in which he popped off for 18.4 half-PPR points. Well, expectations came back down to the Earth’s core in Week 12, when Elliott saw just 11 touches and totaled a season-low 2.4 fantasy points — a number that placed him outside of the week’s top-50 running backs. Luckily, with the state of the NFC East, I don’t think worries of Tony Pollard (four carries, 12 yards; two receptions on two targets, 10 yards) taking over are legitimate. Still, things aren’t likely to improve, as the Cowboys are set to face the Ravens, Bengals, 49ers and Eagles in the next four weeks, all of which represent relatively difficult matchups for running backs. I’d expect Zeke to turn in a double-digit fantasy week or two in that span, but when exactly that comes will likely be the product of sheer, dumb luck for fantasy owners. The day that I rank Montgomery ahead of Zeke has finally come. It might be time to quit this business for good.
Kenyan Drake – 22 carries, 78 yards, two rushing TD; three receptions (four targets), 15 yards. Drake finished as an RB1 with 22.8 half-PPR points and out-touched Chase Edmonds 25-10, as Edmonds rushed six times for 29 yards (4.8 YPC) and added four receptions on five targets for an additional 14 yards. This was by far the most touches Drake has received since returning from injury in Week 11, having put his hands on the pigskin 17 and 15 times the previous two games, respectively. With this level of unexpected volume and some newfound energy, Drake might actually be able to reward owners who used a first-to-second round draft pick and waited him out.
Todd Gurley – Missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury, interim head coach Raheem Morris is “hopeful” he’ll return to the field this upcoming week. Based on Gurley’s past injury history with arthritis, this isn’t good news, although he had been incredibly durable from a games played standpoint since his arrival to the NFL. Continue to monitor Gurley throughout the week and be sure to have a backup plan that, if you’re wise, doesn’t include Brian Hill (13 carries, 55 yards; zero receptions on one target). If anything, I’d take Ito Smith (12 carries, 65 yards, one rushing TD; four receptions on five targets, 10 yards) due to his goal-line abilities, increased passing role and overall better performance.
Wayne Gallman – 24 carries, 94 yards, one rushing TD; three receptions (five targets), -3 yards. The division is well within reach for the New York Giants. Yes, it’s a shame Daniel Jones went down, but give me one good reason Gallman shouldn’t remain the feature back upon Devonta Freeman’s activation. He’s been excellent. He’s been as useful as gall, man. The only problem is that his remaining schedule is brutal, so while I’m ranking him as a fringe RB2, he’s best deployed as a Flex/bench depth piece for teams aiming to make serious noise in their fantasy playoffs.
Damien Harris – 14 carries, 47 yards; zero targets. “How can you rank an injured Joe Mixon ahead of Damien Harris?” That’s how. Hindsight bias? Without a doubt. But no matter who is in the fold on any given week, who receives touches in this backfield (and where they occur on the field) will always be concerning for fantasy owners given Bill Belichick’s history. Harris obviously has the largest guaranteed piece of that pie, but he’s quite frankly as touchdown-dependent of a fantasy running back as there is in the game, and he comes without any passing game upside (unlike a Hunt-type). James White (five carries, 18 yards, two rushing TD; one reception on one target, -1 yards) is the only one in this committee trending upward, but even the fact that his 14.2 half-PPR points came on just one target seems unsustainable. Expect White to bounce back in the targets department, but he’s a fringe RB3 at best.
David Johnson – Expected to be designated for return from IR. As of this moment, I expect Johnson to suit up, but owners should monitor his practice involvement throughout the week. Ahh, yes. Just in time to return for the stretch run from hell: Colts, Bears, Colts, Bengals. Hey, at least Will Fuller is opening up the ground game by running wild past opposing secondaries, right? *Donkey Teeth whispers into the Xbox 360 headset I got in seventh grade that I continue to use for work purposes* Nevermind about Fuller. Poor DJ is screwed. In his stead this past week, DUKE Johnson (nine carries, 37 yards; three receptions on four targets, 43 yards, one receiving TD) averaged just over four yards per carry and finished as a fringe RB1 with 15.5 half-PPR points. Don’t dump him yet, as DAVID playing in Week 13 is no sure thing.
Cam Akers – Nine carries, 84 yards, one rushing TD; zero targets. Hot take: Akers is the Rams back to own for the remainder of the season. Lukewarm take: Hobbs is the best-looking writer on staff at Razzball. As for Mr. Akers, he ripped off a 61-yard scamper in the third quarter, which powered the rookie to 9.3 YPC on nine carries. That was just one carry less than Darrell Henderson (10 carries, 19 yards; zero receptions on one target), who averaged 1.9 YPC. Malcolm Brown (three carries, four yards; two receptions on three targets, 15 yards) saw the most passing work, but should continue to be avoided in all formats. Akers has been trending up ever since the Rams’ Week 9 bye, with Sunday’s performance marking his second double-digit touch game in the previous three weeks. The result was a high-end RB2 finish thanks to 14.4 half-PPR points. It’s not farfetched to believe such production might be sustainable against a remaining schedule that features the Cardinals, Jets, Patriots and Seahawks. I’m not moving Akers ahead of Henderson in my rankings just yet, but I think it’s quite possible Akers posts the most points in this backfield moving forward. I have been screaming “ADD CAM AKERS!” from the rooftops for four weeks now. If you haven’t heard me, then we clearly do not live in the same complex.
Nyheim Hines – 10 carries, 29 yards; eight receptions (10 targets), 66 yards. Hines led all Colts players in targets and had twice as many receptions as any other player. Phillip Rivers was 2-for-9 throwing to rookie Michael Pittman Jr. Think that isn’t relevant to the running back position? It surely is, as it beautifully dictates just why Captain Checkdown is, in fact, called Captain Checkdown. Jordan Wilkins (six carries, 22 yards; three receptions on four targets, 35 yards) took a backseat in this one and will be relegated to the trunk, or perhaps the role of Mitt Romney’s dog, when Jonathan Taylor returns. According to Mike Chappell, Jonathan Taylor was deemed a high-risk COVID-19 contact, but did not test positive and should be back this week. The contact was his girlfriend, who traveled out of town and reportedly tested positive upon her return. Talk about Tool Time. If Taylor is back this week, he’ll instantly slot in as a ROS RB2 as Indy faces the Texans twice and Raiders over the next three weeks prior to a Week 16 date with the Steelers. More power! You’re darn right more power!
Devin Singletary – 11 carries, 82 yards; three receptions (three targets), 20 yards. Although Singletary saw just two more carries than Zack Moss (nine carries, 59 yards; two receptions on two targets, nine yards), his 7.5 YPC and moderate passing involvement powered him to an RB2 finish. Both Singletary (24 yards) and Moss (31 yards) ripped off 20+ yard carries in the game, while Singletary topped Moss by just one target. Moss continues to be the goal-line back, but this is looking like an even split with Josh Allen stealing carries as well. Neither will be in any of my 11 fantasy lineups between now and the end of the season.
Frank Gore – 18 carries, 74 yards; three receptions (three targets), 12 yards. Gore saw 21 touches in Week 12, which is roughly the age of his eldest child. He rushed for 4.1 YPC, caught all three of his targets and finished with 10.1 half-PPR points, which was good for a high-end RB2 finish. At age 37, that’s impressive — and I’m not just joshing. His ceiling is as low as the one in Bilbo Baggins’ Hobbit-hole, but he has the vast majority of touches in this backfield to himself with the Raiders and Seahawks on the schedule the next two weeks. For that reason, he’s up from being a borderline top-60 option two weeks ago into fringe RB3 territory.
Adrian Peterson – 15 carries, 55 yards, two rushing TD; zero targets. With D’Andre Swift out with a concussion, Peterson and Kerryon Johnson (11 carries, 46 yards; four receptions on four targets, 52 yards) split the carries and finished with an identical 15 touches apiece. Both of Peterson’s touchdowns were one-yard goal-line carries in the first half, as he was effective in the green zone and could continue to see goal-line work upon Swift’s return. However, with Swift previously questionable for Thanksgiving Day, it seems likely he’ll be ready to go with 10 days in between their Week 12 and Week 13 games. It’s a ham sandwich made of stale bread for Swift here on out, as attractive matchups against the Packers and Titans are sandwiched between grotesque meetings with the Bears (Week 13) and Buccaneers (Week 16). Still, Swift will have the talent, touches and passing game usage to give him borderline, fringe RB1 status for the remainder of the season.
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.
There they are, dearest readers: the week 13 rankings. We’re almost at the end of our memorable journey — a journey I began whilst whistling a happy and optimistic tune and finished while humming after realizing I can’t whistle. Until next time, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.