To begin Week 9’s rest of season top 60 running back rankings, I’m going to get up on my body wash box. What is a body wash box, you ask? Well, I don’t use soap, so I don’t have a soap box to stand on. *someone whispers* “That’s just a phrase, Mr. Hobbs.” To which I reply, “Your face is just a term, and Mr. Hobbs is not my name.” Anywho, as I was balancing on top my mountain of body wash bottles, which was rather precarious and not at all safe, there was a particular player I kept thinking about; a running back I love for the rest of the 2020 fantasy football season and don’t quite understand why he’s being undervalued in so many industry circles. And to be clear, this is a player I have zero — you heard that right — zero, total shares of across the 11 fantasy football leagues I play in. None. Zip. So, there’s no self-serving bias here. That player is Josh Jacobs (31 carries, 128 yards; zero receptions on one target). Jacobs is currently positioned as RB9 overall on the season, averaging 14.5 FPPG, which is tied for 13th among running backs. So why do I like him even more than that as we forecast the rest of the 2020 season?
For starters, I’ve taken some heat as a result of my bullish ROS ranking of Jacobs in recent weeks. I expect to take even more this week, as I’ve moved him up to RB6 overall despite an RB15 finish in Week 8. But with my madness, comes reason. Through Week 8, the Raiders are 4-3 despite playing a brutal schedule that featured a combined opponent winning percentage of .623. Five of their seven games have come against teams with five-plus wins and, amazingly enough, they have won three of those games (Chiefs, Saints, Browns). Now, that doesn’t mean all of those high caliber teams Las Vegas has played feature elite front sevens, but the point is as follows. Jacobs didn’t exactly have positive game script on his side throughout the first half of the season, but he will moving forward, as the Raiders face one of the NFL’s easiest remaining schedules. Jacobs will see even more positive game scripts as the Raiders play with a lead more frequently. Plus, Jacobs is third in the entire NFL in touches with 165, trailing only Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliott. That’s 23.6 touches per game. On top of that, much of Jacobs’ issues in 2020 have come via a lack of ground efficiency, but I don’t think any of us are doubting his talent between the tackles. If Las Vegas can get Trent Brown and Richie Incognito back healthy, which appears to be on the horizon, Jacobs could very well be one of the five best backs to have in your lineup for the remainder of the season. He’s up to RB6 overall this week. I already told you to buy low last week, and now this window is closing faster than my high school ex-girlfriend’s when she saw me coming down the street with a boom box.
Before we get to the entirety of the week 9 rest of season running back rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.
Derrick Henry – 18 carries, 112 yards, one rushing TD; zero receptions (one target). Although Henry’s 18 carries were his lowest of the season thus far, he finished as RB8 overall on the week thanks to a 100+ yard day and his excellent ability in the green zone, pounding in a short, three-yard score. After failing to score in Weeks 1 and 2, Henry has now found the end zone in five consecutive games, totaling eight touchdowns over that span. By his own standard, Henry’s touches were lower than usual in Week 8, but the Titans surprisingly found themselves down 17-7 at halftime to the Bengals in this one, so he suffered from some negative game script. As we all know, volume is perhaps the most attractive component when it comes to Henry as a fantasy asset. He’s leading the NFL with 171 touches on the season, which equates to 24.4 touches per game. When you have that level of workload to go with red zone efficiency, you don’t need passing production to be a top three fantasy back.
Dalvin Cook – 30 carries, 163 yards, three rushing TD; two receptions (three targets), 63 yards, one receiving touchdown. Back into the fold after missing just one game to a groin injury (I feel ya, man), Cook totaled four touchdowns and a Week 8-leading 47.6 half-PPR points. He finished with 32 total touches, with the majority of his passing game production coming on a 50-yard touchdown reception on a Kirk Cousins dump-off. Yep, you heard that right. Even with Minnesota claiming a huge win, we still got to see Kirk take a dump. If the Vikings’ game plan to win despite Cousins’ inconsistencies is going to be “don’t let him throw, unless it’s a Dalvin dump,” great things lie ahead for Cook owners.
Christian McCaffrey – Positioned to (possibly) return in Week 9 at Kansas City on Monday Night Football. Last Friday, head coach Matt Rhule’s exact words were “I hope Christian will be back next week.” Ditto, Matt. If he is indeed activated prior to Carolina’s game against the Chiefs, you can fire him up as a slam-dunk top five running back for the rest of the season. I have him ranked at RB4 overall for ROS due to the concerns that come with a player returning off an injury such as his, coupled with the potential for some degree of workload split with Mike Davis (13 carries, 66 yards; one reception on two targets, 11 yards). Despite not really producing for fantasy purposes in Week 8, Davis did look good against Atlanta, but the touches simply weren’t there. Truthfully, I expect CMC to step right into 80-90% of the workload if fully healthy. The main reason he isn’t ranked higher is because I believe a higher percentage of Minnesota’s offense will run through Dalvin than Carolina’s will run through CMC for the remainder of the 2020 season.
Aaron Jones – Missed the Packers’ Week 8 game against the Vikings with a calf injury. His status for Week 9 against the 49ers on Thursday is in question. I’d love to assume he plays, but I did that last week while ranking him at RB3 overall in my rankings — and I would have had him lower if I knew he’d be out. As a result, I’ll be updating these rankings at the end of each week to better reflect injury updates moving forward. Jamaal Williams (16 carries, 75 yards; six receptions on six targets, 27 yards) has been excellent with Jones out, turning in an RB1 finish in Week 8. Williams remains a weekly RB1 play in any week in which Jones is sidelined. I can’t predict the future, but I can fit 37 cheese puffs in my mouth at one time. Due to the limitations that come with that skill set, I’m not moving Jones any lower than RB5 until I know he’s inactive Thursday night against the 49ers. It’s a relatively big game, so Jones owners should be optimistic. More optimistic than my dentist after hearing about those cheese balls, at least.
Ezekiel Elliott – 19 carries, 63 yards; one reception (two targets), 10 yards. Hey, I love me a good, heartwarming story as much as the next guy — but Ben DiNucci is not very good. The fantasy ceiling for all Dallas players is caving in even further for as long as he’s under center, but the hope is that Andy Dalton will be ready to return in Week 9. Unfortunately, Week 9 pits the Cowboys against the Steelers — a team Dalton has historically struggled against and a team that has also been elite against the run, save for the Ravens exposing them on the ground in Week 8. Does any of this really have anything to do with Elliott? Of course, it does. Elite running backs can produce RB1 value despite being in a lackluster offense (although it’s difficult), but I think it’s a legitimate question whether Elliott can pull off that feat for ROS. This offensive line isn’t the same and with who Dallas is putting under center, NFL head coaches know they only need to do one thing to beat Dallas: stop Zeke. Tony Pollard (seven carries, 40 yards; two receptions on two targets, 24 yards) has nine touches in this one, but even his value as a handcuff isn’t nearly what is was one month ago at this point. I would rather own James Robinson for the remainder of the 2020 season than Elliott. There, I said it (and ranked it). The tattoo might say “feed me,” but Zeke if running like someone fed him a cow and three buffalos. I also don’t like the fact that Zeke is playing behind a meh O-line for the first time in his career, and showing signs he can’t overcome it. Even with the second-most touches in the NFL, Elliott currently ranks ninth among backs in FPPG. And I don’t see that narrative trending in the right direction the same way I do for Jacobs. 11/6 UPDATE: With his fantasy stock already plummeting, Elliott apparently also tweaked his hamstring in Week 8. Although he practiced in a limited capacity on Thursday and is expected to be good to go come Sunday, it’s enough for me to downgrade him one additional spot and leapfrog James Conner ahead of him.
Jonathan Taylor – 11 carries, 22 yards; two receptions (three targets), nine yards. This was the runner-up for this week’s lede. The Colts pounded their way to 119 yards on the ground as not one, but two Colts running backs finished inside RB1 territory in Week 8. The bad news is that neither one of those backs was Taylor. Both Jordan Wilkins (20 carries, 89 yards, one rushing TD; one reception, one target, 24 yards) and Nyheim Hines (five carries, eight yards; three receptions, five targets, 54 yards, two receiving TD) had field days, posting 19.8 and 19.7 half-PPR points, respectively. What beautiful, beautiful symmetry. There’s no way of knowing what the dispersion of touches will look like for Indy next week, but Wilkins has to be a waiver wire add in all leagues, as he at least has the potential to take on a permanent, increased role in the offense. I’m utterly baffled as to why Taylor hasn’t been able to be more productive behind one of the NFL’s premier offensive lines. Perhaps he’s been moonlighting as Phillip Rivers’ au pair and just needs to catch up on some rest. Even so, Taylor can’t be viewed as anything more than a mid-tier RB2 moving forward due to the uncertainty and instability of his role. It appears as though a portion of Taylor’s lack of productivity was due to what head coach Frank Reich described Monday as “a little bit of an ankle injury.” However, Reich reportedly did not know about said injury until after the game, meaning he opted to go with Wilkins out of preference and not due to health. It’s concerning no matter which way you look at it. I have hope, but it’s fleeting.
Todd Gurley – 18 carries, 46 yards, one rushing TD; zero targets. In my preseason rankings, I had Gurley ranked at RB13 — far above industry consensus. Here’s what I said: “Seemingly everyone is afraid of Gurley’s past ankle and knee injuries that appeared to slow down his ability as a rusher over the past two seasons. Drafting Gurley supposedly came with legitimate injury risk especially when considering the large workload he’s expected to carry in Atlanta. But fancy this: Gurley has played in at least 13 games in all five of his NFL seasons and has averaged 15 starts over the previous four seasons. All things considered, he’s been far more durable than most realize and even closed out 2019 with 98 touches over the final five weeks of the season. There’s still RB1 potential in Gurley, but luckily, he doesn’t even need to return that to be a bargain at his ADP of RB15.” And that’s me pretending to be Grey Albright by quoting me! Gurley is fourth in total touches this season, while also averaging 19.1 per game. Although he’s been inefficient on the ground most of the season (3.8 YPC), he scored his eighth rushing touchdown of the season on Thursday, which trails only Dalvin Cook for the NFL lead. His ROS schedule is daunting, but his touches and weekly probability of finding the end zone have cemented him as a high-to-mid tier RB2.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Six carries, 21 yards; three receptions (three targets), 10 yards. With Le’Veon Bell (six carries, seven yards; three receptions on three targets, 31 yards) active for the second straight week, Andy Reid’s newly-minted RB duo split the touches evenly with nine apiece and an equal six attempts on the ground. Neither turned in much fantasy value, as both finished outside of weekly RB2 status despite the Chiefs ripping the Jets (*sigh*) for 35 points; CEH with 4.6 half-PPR points and Bell with 5.3. CEH is still the Chiefs back to own, but the argument for him as a ROS RB1 no longer exists with Darrel Williams (three carries, 19 yards; one reception on one target, seven yards) also cycling into the mix.
Joe Mixon – Missed Sunday’s game with a foot injury. In his stead, Giovani Bernard (15 carries, 62 yards, one rushing TD; three receptions on four targets, 16 yards, one receiving TD) came away as the week’s RB2 overall, finding pay dirt both in the ground game and through the air. With the Bengals facing a Week 9 bye fresh off an impressive win against Tennessee, Mixon will look to return in Week 10, although he’ll have a tough match-up in the Steelers. There should be minimal concerns about Mixon’s availability in that contest, yet expectations should be tempered as he’d be nothing more than an RB2 against Pittsburgh.
Myles Gaskin – 18 carries, 47 yards, one rushing TD; three receptions (six targets), 16 yards. Gaskin may have only produced 11.8 half-PPR points in Week 8, but that was good enough to finish as a weekly RB2. It wasn’t the easiest of match-ups, either, as Miami faced the Rams front seven in Tua Tagovailoa’s debut. All things considered, owners should be happy that Gaskin salvaged startable RB production despite being limited to just 2.6 YPC. He saw 20+ touches for the third straight week and was targeted six times in the passing game by Tua — his second-highest such mark of the season. Gaskin is no longer a fringe RB2, but rather a high-to-mid tier RB2 with weekly RB1 upside. 2018 was the year of Phillip Lindsay. 2020 is the year of J-Rob and and Myles the Gas Kin. 11/6 UPDATE: Gaskin suffered a sprained MCL in Week 8 against the Rams — a development that did not come out until Tuesday evening. As a result, the Dolphins placed him on IR (minimum three weeks) and effectively acquired DeAndre Washington from Kansas City. Due to COVID-19 protocols, Washington is not eligible to play in Week 9. If active, Matt Breida would likely be in store for the lion’s share of the touches, but he’s currently questionable as he nurses a hamstring. Jordan Howard has been a healthy scratch the past few weeks and so was Lynn Bowden Jr. in Week 8. Both would have added short-term value if Breida is inactive in Week 9, but Washington and Breida are the backs to keep an eye on while Gaskin is out.
D’Andre Swift – Six carries, one yard; three receptions (four targets), 22 yards. Swift was stymied by arguably the best front seven in football in the Indianapolis Colts, who were further aided by the return of Darius Leonard. Adrian Peterson (five carries, seven yards; one reception on one target, five yards) didn’t do much of anything, either, as it was in fact Kerryon Johnson (zero carries; two receptions on two targets, 15 yards, one receiving TD) who had the best fantasy day of the Detroit trio. Despite the ugly showing, Swift is still the Lions back to own and has by far the most upside in this backfield. Even so, head coach Matt Patricia’s reluctance to give Swift the reins is concerning and further evidence that as fantasy managers, we can never expect NFL head coaches to do what appears to be logical. The Lions face a favorable ROS schedule for running backs beginning in Week 10, so fortune may turn around for Swift in the weeks ahead. Swift is a fringe RB2 for ROS.
Melvin Gordon – Eight carries, 26 yards; six receptions (seven targets), 21 yards. Gordon was third on the Broncos in targets this past week, but was outperformed yet again by Phillip Lindsay (six carries, 83 yards, one rushing TD; one reception on three targets, three yards) and was far less efficient, as Lindsay posted 13.8 YPC to Gordon’s 3.3 YPC. To be fair, the majority of Lindsay’s production came on his 55-yard touchdown run, but still, it’s more-or-less clear this backfield will be a 50-50 split with some minor variance week-to-week. Both running backs are bottom-end/fringe RB2s moving forward. It appears as though other industry ‘perts’ are consistently a week or so behind me in their rankings of Lindsay. Was that a horn toot? Maybe a real toot? Just a real toot. He’s a top 30 ROS back. Have you seen the options?
J.K. Dobbins – 15 carries, 113 yards; one reception (two targets), eight yards. With Mark Ingram out with an ankle injury, Dobbins the Take-it-to-the-House Elf popped off for 7.5 YPC against the stout Pittsburgh defense. He looked excellent, extended runs when it appeared that was very little space and cut tremendously well. As we’ve been saying at Razzball since draft season, if Dobbins gets unleashed in this offense, he’ll be a league winner. He’s quite clearly the most dynamic, talented back the Ravens have, but it’s still evident that John Harbaugh prefers a committee approach, as Gus Edwards (16 carries, 87 yards, one rushing TD; zero targets) actually took the larger portion of the rush attempts on Sunday. If Ingram remains out, both have weekly Flex appeal, with Dobbins closer to RB2 range than Edwards. If Ingram were to miss extended time, I find it hard to fathom that Baltimore would hold Dobbins back. If that situation were to arise, Dobbins would be a high-end ROS RB2 with RB1 potential. For now, he’s still just a fringe RB2-RB3 type. But if you’re like me, you’ll be dreaming about him until the sun comes up — which will be at roughly 3 a.m. thanks to archaic daylight savings time. Damn you, wholesome farmers! 11/6 UPDATE: With Mark Ingram sidelined throughout Thursday’s practice, it’s looking more and more likely that at the very least, Dobbins should see increased touches in Week 9. That increases the outlook for both Dobbins and Gus Edwards, but remember they’re facing Indianapolis this week. Still, after what we saw from that duo against Pittsburgh, it’s hard to not be interested in either back as a potential Flex option.
Zack Moss – 14 carries, 81 yards, two rushing TD; zero receptions (one target). Moss split the carries evenly with Devin Singletary (14 carries, 86 yards; one reception, one target, six yards), but the former was the Bills’ go-to back in the red zone, punching in a pair of touchdowns on the ground from eight and four yards out. That production helped power Moss to 20.1 half-PPR pts, while Singletary finished as a fringe RB2 with 9.7 points. The days of Singletary being a back-end RB2 are over and both Buffalo backs should be viewed as RB3s containing nothing other than weekly Flex consideration. Hopefully, you have better options until one of these two emerges as something more.
Darrell Henderson – Eight carries, 47 yards; one reception (two targets), 11 yards. Averaging nearly six yards per carry, Henderson began Week 8’s game as the Rams’ lead back yet again, but was forced to exit the contest with a thigh injury and did not appear in the second half. Malcolm Brown (10 carries, 40 yards; two receptions on two targets, 17 yards) assumed lead back duties with him out, but it’s worth keeping an eye on rookie back Cam Akers (nine carries, 35 yards; one reception on one target, 19 yards) as the Rams head into a Week 9 bye. It’s quite possible Sean McVay will use the extra time to get Akers more involved, paving a route to fantasy relevance similar to what we observed from Swift earlier in the season. Akers should be a high priority waiver add if he’s been dropped in your league, although it’s certainly possible he could let us down yet again.
Damien Harris – 16 carries, 102 yards, one rushing TD; zero targets. Harris led the New England backfield with 16 touches — all on the ground — as he turned in RB1 production in this one, while James White (two carries, zero yards; two receptions on four targets, 35 yards) had just four touches and finished outside of RB2 range. Harris’ 16.2 half-PPR points marked a season-high and was his second double-digit fantasy game in his four active weeks this season. Harris’ number of carries this season are as follows: 17, six, 10, 16. In the games where Harris saw more than 10 carries, he rushed for over 100 yards. He has also averaged 5.8 YPC in three of his four games, with his lone down performance being the six-carry game against Denver. Harris is the back to own in New England, but his weekly variance in touches makes him unreliable and nothing more than a back-end RB3. You can consider him at Flex based on game script.
JaMycal Hasty – 12 carries, 29 yards, one rushing TD; one reception (one target), two yards. I find the 49ers’ running back usage outside of Raheem Mostert this season to be quite perplexing. During Mostert’s first injury hiatus of 2020, Jerick McKinnon (three carries, -1 yard; four carries on four targets, 40 yards) was excellent in his absence, but has hardly been relied upon at all on the ground in the second go-around. However, McKinnon did pace this backfield in snaps (35) in Week 8, slightly topping Hasty (29) in that department. Still, it was clear that McKinnon will handle the bulk of the passing duties, while Hasty is the preferred early down back. Tevin Coleman (three carries, 20 yards) didn’t last long in his return, leaving the game in the first quarter with a knee injury, perhaps reaggravating his previous injury. It’s not yet known how long he’ll be out, but I’m going to assume Mostert will be back before he’s worth owning, rendering him all-but-irrelevant. Hasty can be started as an RB3/Flex in the meantime, while McKinnon is a risky play across all formats given his oddly low number of touches.
DeeJay Dallas – 18 carries, 41 yards; one rushing TD; five receptions (five targets), 17 yards. With Carlos Hyde (hamstring) and Chris Carson (foot) ultimately inactive, Dallas handled lead back duties for the Seahawks, seeing 80% of snaps and converting the opportunity to an RB4 overall finish with 20.3 half-PPR points.. Travis Homer (one carry, four yards; zero targets) had a very minor role, making Dallas a clear RB2 with upside in Week 9 if both Carson and Hyde were to miss another game. Head coach Pete Carrol said Monday that Hyde may miss yet another game, as hamstring injuries typically take more than one week to heal up. It’s possible Carson misses another game as well, but considering his status had improved to reportedly being a 50-50 chance of playing in Week 8, there’s a much higher probability he’ll suit up in Week 9 against Buffalo. As a result of Carson’s enhanced injury outlook, he’s back up into RB1 range — where he belongs as long as he’s active. 11/6 UPDATE: Chris Carson did not practice on Thursday, meaning fantasy owners need to keep a close eye on his Friday practice status. He could end up being a game time decision. Dallas would have instant Week 9 relevance if Carson can’t play, and Carson’s inability to get healthier in advance of the weekend means Dallas gets to debut at the tail-end of the rankings.
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 they are: perhaps my most controversial rest of season running back rankings yet. I began them whilst waltzing around my apartment in my robe and finished them whilst sobbing in the bathtub as I thought about Daniel Jones’ comeback-fallen-short. Until next time, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.