The choice for this week’s lede seemed obvious heading into the final game of the Week 6. Fresh off the Chiefs’ signing of Le’Veon Bell to a one-year deal, Clyde Edwards-Helaire erupted for 161 yards on 26 carries, adding another four receptions on four targets for eight yards. Other than the fact that CEH remains allergic to the end zone, it was an outstanding performance, as he cruised to 6.2 yards-per-carry while handling all of his targets with ease. Meanwhile, Bell saw a much different line in the box score: three plane rides, two luxury hotel stays, seven tweets and a new Mahomes. A big boost to the fantasy value? Well, it depends on how you look at it, as they say. All things are relative. It’s certainly a worse landing spot compared to somewhere like Miami or Buffalo where Bell would have a much greater likelihood of handling lead-back duties. However, playing second fiddle to CEH (which we have to assume for now, based on his Week 6 performance) still beats being the feature back for the New York Jets. Hell, being Andy Reid’s butt-scratcher beats being the No.1 running back for Gang Green. Still, I have to mention that it was in fact Darrel Williams (six carries, 16 yards, one rushing TD; one reception, 15 yards) that found pay dirt, running in a 13-yard score in the third quarter.
As of 8:15 ET on Monday night, that was the clear headline for my top 60 rest of season running back rankings. Well, that was until early in the second quarter of the nightcap between the Cowboys and Cardinals, where we saw the second highest paid running back in the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott, cough up his fourth and fifth fumbles of the season — and it’s only Week 6! By the way, that gives Elliott a share of the NFL lead for fumbles alongside Joe Burrow, Derek Carr and Carson Wentz. That’s right, he leads all running backs. Notably, the Cowboys actually showed a willingness to move away from Elliott for much of the second quarter after that, likely out of an attempt to both wake Elliott up and prioritize salvaging the game as it quickly got away from them. Tony Pollard ended up with a season-high seven carries in the first half, which he turned into 26 yards on the ground. In the end, however, it was obviously still Zeke’s backfield in the second half. Zeke finished with 12 carries for 49 yards, but he also caught eight of 11 targets (most on team) for 31 yards. Pollard finished with 10 carries for 31 yards, adding another two catches for nine yards. It’s reasonable to be concerned if you own any fantasy weapons in the Dallas offense after their performance on Monday night. Abysmal just doesn’t seem to be the right word, but it’ll do for now. The remainder of Dallas’ schedule is also pretty tough against running backs, so I’ve downgraded Elliott one spot.
Before we get to the Week 7 rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.
Derrick Henry – 22 carries, 212 yards, two rushing TD; two receptions (five targets), 52 yards. Henry was actually on his way to a somewhat mediocre fantasy day before scampering for a 94-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and then adding yet another touchdown plunge to win the game in overtime. As a result, Henry ended up with a Week 6-leading 39.4 half-PPR points. Weeks 7-13 represent a pretty brutal stretch for Henry, as he’ll face Pittsburgh, Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland and Indianapolis (twice) during that span. Even so, his volume and skillset make him a weekly top-five play and top-three running back for ROS purposes. Although if you prefer Aaron Jones or Dalvin Cook over Henry in addition to Zeke, I see no issue with that. Then again, I also see no issue with putting pasta in sandwiches.
Christian McCaffrey – Could now be out until Week 9, but head coach Matt Rhule is not sure exactly when he’ll return. This means that fantasy managers should expect to be without his services for another two weeks, maybe more — maybe less. We don’t really know. As a result of the added uncertainty, I’ve downgraded McCaffrey from RB5 to RB8. I’ve also downgraded Matt Rhule to the role of my new least favorite coach in the league. And I even went to Temple, Matt! What have you done!?
Kareem Hunt – 13 carries, 40 yards; two receptions (three targets), 17 yards. Hunt is positioned as RB7 overall according to the expert consensus rankings over at FantasyPros, but is he deserving? Last week, I had him at RB9, as he took over lead back duties for Nick Chubb and was handed 24 of the 33 touches in the Cleveland backfield. As a result, Hunt finished as a fringe RB1 at RB12 overall. Enter the Steelers front seven in Week 6, which limited Hunt to just 6.7 half-PPR points on 15 touches. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a top-10-ranked RB struggle against Pittsburgh, so I’m going to give Hunt a pass. he remains an RB1 play for as long as Chubb is out and until we hear a definitive timeline on his progress towards returning, I’m not down-grading Chubb based solely off his diminishing starting RB clock. To those desperately relying on a hasty Chubb return, Week 11 against Philadelphia seems like an optimistic target based on his past knee issues. Hopefully, you won’t need to Hunt for your Chubb much longer than that. I mean that in more ways than just one. Seriously.
Jonathan Taylor – 12 carries, 60 yards; four receptions (four targets), 55 yards. In one of my medium-stakes money leagues, I have the pleasure of owning Taylor, James Conner, David Montgomery and Mike Davis. That made this past Sunday’s start/sit decision incredibly difficult and I actually opted to sit Taylor considering Montgomery was facing Carolina and the fact that there remains short-term questions about Taylor’s role and workload. From the onset, I found myself screaming at the TV as the Colts’ first play from scrimmage was a 22-yard completion to Taylor — encouraging seeing as we’ve been waiting to see Frank Reich trust him more in the passing game, something that has been missing from the equation save for Week 1. The fact that Taylor caught all four of his targets is a good sign. The 12 total carries, not so much, however Taylor did suffer from negative game script as Indianapolis played from behind most of this game including much of the second half. Despite the up-and-down start to his rookie season, Taylor is positioned as RB14 overall, so it’s not difficult to see his upside as a ROS RB1 as his role in the passing game grows and he gets better acclimated with one of the NFL’s premier offensive lines.
Miles Sanders – Nine carries, 118 yards; one reception (two targets), -6 yards. Sanders looked great in a tough match-up against the Ravens defense, but unfortunately left the game early with a knee injury. Prior to his exit, Sanders was incredibly efficient with his nine carries, showing outstanding vision on a 74-yard rush that he ultimately fumbled into the end zone for a JJ Arcega-Whiteside touchdown. Now, there’s a name I never thought I’d type in a top 6o running backs post! Back to the injury: After undergoing an MRI on Monday, the Eagles expect Sanders to be out 1-2 weeks. If Sanders is able to return in Week 8 against Dallas, he would automatically be a top-10 weekly play. However, with Philadelphia’s bye week coming Week 9, it seems highly likely Sanders won’t return until Week 10 against the Giants. As a result, he’s down into RB2 range for ROS until he’s back on the field, at which time he will in all likelihood return to ROS RB1 status. In the interim, Boston Scott (two carries, four yards; two receptions, four targets, five yards) and Corey Clement will share this backfield, although fantasy managers should proceed with caution in regard to both backs. Remember, Philadelphia was without Sanders back in Week 1, and Scott and Clement combined to run just 15 times for 54 yards, sprinkling in another four catches for 22 yards. If I had to choose, I’d rather own Scott — but neither offer anything beyond bottom-barrel Flex consideration.
Joe Mixon – 18 carries, 54 yards, one rushing TD; two receptions (three targets), 15 yards. Thanks to a seven yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Mixon managed to finish as RB8 overall in Week 6 despite averaging just 3.0 yards-per-carry. To be fair, that came against one of the NFL’s more stout front sevens in the Colts, but Mixon has gained just 3.6 YPC on the season overall as is, and Indianapolis was once again without Darius Leonard in this one. Fantasy owners should also monitor Mixon heading into Week 7 against the Browns, as he missed time due to a foot injury on Sunday before returning in the third quarter. Even before the injury, Mixon ceded some goal-line work to Giovani Bernard (eight carries, 15 yards, one rushing TD; three carries, 13 yards), who took advantage of the opportunity with his first touchdown since 2018. Although Mixon’s ECR pins him as an RB1, he remains a mid-tier RB2 in my rankings.
David Montgomery – 19 carries, 58 yards; four receptions (five targets), 39 yards. Since Tarik Cohen’s season-ending ACL injury, Montgomery has seen 19 targets over the past three weeks combined. In each of those three games, he recorded 30+ receiving yards while hauling in 11 catches in the last two weeks alone. Truthfully, Montgomery’s 11.7 half-PPR points against a Carolina defense that has provided a fantasy haven for running backs left a lot to be desired. Still, it doesn’t alter the fact that Montgomery’s uptick in usage in the passing game elevates his floor. He’s a ROS mid-tier RB2, up from the bottom-tier RB2 status he occupied prior to the Cohen injury.
Raheem Mostert – 17 carries, 65 yards; two receptions (two targets), 11 yards. Although he averaged under 4.0 yards-per-carry, Mostert looked strong in Week 6. Prior to exiting in the third quarter with an ankle injury, Mostert appeared to be cutting well and was finding space to run creatively. Mostert actually suffered the injury in the second quarter and tried to return in the third, but was unable to continue on after testing it out after just one play. According to Adam Schefter, Mostert “most likely” will be placed on IR with a high ankle sprain, putting him on the shelf for a minimum of three weeks. Jerick McKinnon (six carries, 18 yards; two receptions (three targets), 10 yards) is undoubtedly the back to own in San Francisco and instantly has weekly RB2 value. Just when Raheem returned and you thought it was your time to ketchup, you lost your Mostert.
David Johnson – 19 carries, 57 yards, one rushing TD; one reception (two targets), 12 yards. Like Mixon, Taylor, James Robinson and Adrian Peterson, Johnson finished as a top-12 weekly RB in Week 6 despite having a rather pedestrian performance. Johnson averaged just 3.0 yards-per-carry, yet as was the case this past week, his ability to find pay dirt salvaged fantasy value in a week where few running backs popped off. DJ is unexciting, but he’s seeing healthy volume on the ground in addition to three-to-four targets per week. I don’t see a scenario where Johnson can climb much higher in the rankings, but barring injury, he shouldn’t fall much, either. One thing fantasy managers should be wary of is that although Johnson faces a moderate ROS RB schedule, he will face the Colts twice and Bears once during Weeks 13-15, when most leagues begin their playoff schedules. I wouldn’t rely on him much in a playoff match-up against those front sevens (if at all), so if your team is off to a strong start and making it to the playoffs is a foregone conclusion — I would look to trade Johnson. Johnsons for sale! Come and get it!
Ronald Jones – 23 carries, 113 yards, two rushing TD; two receptions (two targets), eight yards. RJIII finished as the RB4 overall in Week 6 — his third straight game with 100+ rushing yards, 17+ carries and 14+ half-PPR points. While he won’t provide a ton of value in the passing game, he’s now penciled in as a legitimate RB2 even with the impending return of Leonard Fournette. Furthermore, Jones will face one of the easiest ROS schedules for running backs in the entire NFL moving forward. 2020 brought us a lot of negativity and insecurity, but it was finally the year to draft and own Jones. I guess we shouldn’t even be surprised anymore.
Devin Singletary – 10 carries, 32 yards; one reception (two targets), 13 yards. This may sound rash, short-sighted and entirely anecdotally-based, but I’m no longer the least bit excited about Singletary. Back-to-back pedestrian weeks mixed with the return of Zack Moss (five carries, 10 yards) and I’m struggling to see his week-to-week upside. Josh Allen will continue to steal carries and ground yards, so there’s still that, too. I’m not saying dump him, as he’s still deployable in the right match-ups as a fringe RB2 — but that’s about it. It’s just like my good friend Marv used to tell my good friend Terry when we’d hit the bars… “Are you seeing anyone these days, Marv?” Terry would ask. ” Still single…Terry. Single.” Marv would reply, then sheepishly gaze into his beer glass and take a sip.
Myles Gaskin – 18 carries, 91 yards; four receptions (four targets), 35 yards. For the second time in as many weeks and the third time in four weeks, Gaskin was handed 20+ touches out of the Miami backfield. As a result, he finished as RB7 in Week 6 with 14.6 half-PPR points. After the Dolphins get through their Week 7 bye, Gaskin is poised to face a relatively easy schedule moving through the rest of the season. The Gas Kin should continue to run for Myles. Speaking of Myles/Miles, anyone else getting into The Haunting of Bly Manor? That kid gives me the creeps. And don’t even get me started on “delightfully splendid.”
Antonio Gibson – Nine carries, 30 yards; four receptions (five targets), 25 yards. Gibson’s versatility as an NFL running back continues to make him an attractive weekly play, but some of the numbers are hard to look past. His season-high in carries and rushing yards are 13 and 55, respectively. On top of that, his 3.8 YPC don’t make it easy for him to translate the low volume on the ground into attractive yardage, as he’s topped 60 multi-purpose yards just once in the past four weeks. Nevertheless, he remains useful in the passing game and has now seen five targets in three consecutive weeks. Also on the plus side, his schedule is attractive between now and Week 13, before it takes a turn for the worst against Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Still, you can’t look past the fact that J.D. McKissic (eight carries, 41 yards; six receptions, 43 yards) out-produced Gibson 11.4 half-PPR points-to-7.5, while his 5.1 YPC was also more efficient. I’d still prefer to Gibson by a fair margin, but I don’t feel good about ranking him as a bottom-end RB2. It’s more lack of options as a result of injuries than it is me truly feeling he’s deserving of RB2 status.
Kenyan Drake – 20 carries, 164 yards, two rushing TD; zero receptions (two targets). WOW! Where did that come from? Was it everyone and their mothers (and fathers and sisters and grandchildren and even the Ewoks) screaming from the rooftops that Chase Edmonds (five carries, 23 yards; one reception, two targets, six yards) deserved the lead role in the Cardinals backfield? I mean, hell, I was one of them. To be fair, a good chunk of Drake’s production came on a 69-yard garbage time touchdown in the fourth quarter. It was third down, otherwise Arizona likely would have simply performed a kneel-down. Still, the Dallas defense being as bad as it is (fifth-most points allowed through six games all-time), allowed Drake to break through the line of scrimmage for an easy score. His 28.4 half-PPR points were good for RB2 overall on the week. I still think there’s room for some caution here and I wouldn’t be argue against selling high after the big night. As one of his biggest early-season supporters, I say this while giving my pride a good kick in the ass.
Darrell Henderson – 14 carries, 88 yards; zero receptions (zero targets), four yards. Main takeaway: Sean McVay is a sick, cunning little man that I no longer care for. Yes, Sean, you have nice hair and a great set of teeth, but you’re a damn liar. One week after saying Cam Akers would see more usage moving forward, the Rams rookie was completely absent from the game plan and saw zero touches. Meanwhile, Henderson led the backfield yet again, averaging 6.3 YPC and miraculously accumulating four receiving yards despite not even being targeted through the air. Malcolm Brown (two carries, four yards; three receptions, four targets, 18 yards) managed to scrape together 3.7 half-PPR points in addition to Henderson’s 9.2. It’s getting increasingly difficult to continue to stash Akers, but I also know that as soon as I drop the few shares of him I have left, his usage will double. Good thing is, zero doubled is still zero. As in, last week Donkey Teeth struck out with the ladies, getting zero numbers. This week he was twice as successful, but came home without any digits. Anywho, Henderson can be deployed as a Flex option based on the weekly match-up, but I won’t personally be going there. I’d actually advocate for fantasy owners to hold onto Akers for a couple more weeks and if he hits the waiver wire, scoop him up if you can afford to.
J.K. Dobbins – Nine carries, 28 yards; two receptions (four targets), one yard. Could this be the moment we’ve all been anxiously awaiting for Dobbins the Take-it-to-the-House Elf? Has Lucius Malfoy finally gifted Dobby a sock, thus allowing him to run free? In this scenario, Mark Ingram’s (five carries, 20 yards) ankle injury represents Lucius giving Dobby a sock. Unfortunately for Dobbins but fortunately for Ingram, the ankle injury the latter suffered on Sunday is believed to be minor. On top of that, the Ravens now head into a Week 7 bye before a home contest with the Steelers in Week 8, making Dobbins’ short-term outlook even less attractive. The blip for Ingram certainly doesn’t hurt Dobbins’ stock, but it isn’t the moment Dobbins owners have all been waiting for, either. Still, Dobbins has outscored Ingram this season on 17 fewer touches as is, so I don’t really understand rankings that have Ingram ahead of Dobbins for ROS.
Phillip Lindsay – 23 carries, 101 yards; zero receptions (zero targets). Melvin Gordon was out with strep throat in this one, resulting in Lindsay handling lead-back duties as he returned from a turf toe injury after being out since Week 1. Oddly enough, Lindsay wasn’t targeted a single time in the Broncos’ 18-12 victory over the Patriots. Even with Gordon potentially returning in Week 7 against Kansas City, Lindsay should remain a viable Flex option. However, it’s worth remembering that Gordon is having his fair share of off-field issues, as he received a DUI on Oct. 13 and could be in store for punishment from the NFL. Although a suspension is unlikely, it isn’t out of the question. Lindsay would be elevated to fringe RB1 status if Gordon were to miss time, seeing as he just rattled off 4.4 YPC against a talented Patriots front seven, totaling 10.1 half-PPR points without his usual contributions as a pass-catcher. Royce Freeman (eight carries, 26 yards; one reception, four yards) is not yet worth an add and remains on the outside of the top 60.
D’Andre Swift – 14 carries, 116 yards, two rushing TD; three receptions (four targets), seven yards. Although Swift saw one less carry than Adrian Peterson (15 carries, 40 yards, one rushing TD; one reception, one target, 18 yards), he still found the end zone on two short-yardage runs (one yard and six yards) while displaying game-breaking potential via a 54-yard run. Peterson’s performance was respectable and he should remain owned as a bottom-tier RB3 type, but Swift is one of this week’s biggest risers in the rankings. He was far more explosive, averaging 8.3 YPC to Peterson’s 2.7, and is clearly the preferred back in the passing game. Swift isn’t in RB2 territory quite yet, but he’s trending in that direction. Any old-school Pokemon fans out there? If so, just remember: Swift never misses.
Alexander Mattison – 10 carries, 26 yards; one reception (two targets), four yards. It was heavily debated leading up to Week 6 whether Mattison was a weekly RB1 play or not. Many felt he was a clear-cut top-12 play, while others, such as Razzball’s own MB, lobbied for otherwise, arguing that Mattison simply is not the same caliber of player as Dalvin Cook and possesses an inferior, less-versatile skill set. That was made obvious in the Vikings’ loss to the Falcons, but Mattison also suffered from game script as Minnesota found themselves down 20-0 at halftime. Dalvin Cook should return after Minnesota’s Week 7 bye, leaving Mattison and Mike Boone (one carry, -1 yard; one reception, one target, six yards) irrelevant for weekly fantasy lineups. Mattison should remain owned in most leagues, but Boone has less value than Daniel Boone. It’s never good when your fantasy outlook mirrors an American pioneer that has been dead since 1820.
Frank Gore – 11 carries, 46 yards; four receptions (four targets), 24 yards. With nine half-PPR points, Gore finished as an RB2 in Week 6 — his best fantasy finish of the 2020 season. La’Mical Perine (seven carries, 27 yards; two receptions, three targets, nine yards) played second fiddle while being out-touched 15-to-nine. Save for the desperate of desperate weeks when your team is dealing with a heavy dosage of byes, I don’t see how you can start a running back in this Jets backfield. Gore is a fringe RB4 while Perine is in the RB5 range.
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.
And there you have it: the ROS top 60 running back rankings for Week 7. I began them during Game 7 of the NLCS and finished them while burning my hand attempting to cook some Annie’s Shells and White Cheddar. Until next time, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.