All season long, we’ve been grinding through the top-60 rest of season running backs. There has been a lot of turnover, an excess of movement both in and outside of the top-24, and a heck of a lot of injuries and COVID-19 to navigate around — both in the fantasy realm and the real world. But, alas, we’ve finally made it to Week 14. Hopefully, for many of you, this means the start of a successful playoff run, as Weeks 14-16 is when the vast majority of fantasy playoffs occur. For this very reason, I find myself feeling sentimental as I write this. At times, I led you stray, and at others, I did my job well. Now, as we leave the regular season behind and enter the postseason threshold, I have the opportunity to provide you with one last set of running back rankings as it relates to the 2020 season. In this final installment, I’ll be focusing on the set of matchups each running back faces over the next three weeks, as I’ve replaced the previous “bye” week component in the rankings with a look at each respective player’s “upcoming schedule.” And before you ask, yes — I do have David Montgomery ranked as a top-10 rest of season, fantasy playoff run option for that very reason, among others.

But before we get to the rest of that top 10, let’s take one final, albeit emotional trip around the league together. Feel free to bring a pack of Kleenex or, if you wish, simply deploy your own makeshift snot sleeve. Personally, I haven’t cried this hard since I said goodbye to my foreign exchange student in 10th grade. It was emotional. We played a lot of ping pong together. To fully appreciate this last ROS top-60 segment, I highly recommend playing the song “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. Blast it from the speakers as you digest the fickle words to follow.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There’s a very important place that I want to start today’s fantasy football conversation. Imagine getting fined $100K at work, just like Pete Carroll, Vic Fangio, Jon Gruden, Sean Payton and Kyle Shanahan did this past week. Not by Feds. Not by the IRS. Not by your local county judge. Think about that — just for one second. Fined 100-grand, at work. For me, this would bring up a concerning follow-up meeting: “So, uhh… are you asking me to quit? No? Ok… so the next three years are just pro-bono? Got it. Okay. I’ll be over here pummeling my head into this wall. Forever.” Although I don’t have a vendetta against any of those five head coaches, it’s an absolutely insane concept to even consider. In Green Bay, head coach Matt LaFleur actually has an assistant whose job it is to make sure he’s wearing a mask at all times. That’s literally his job! I don’t know if this is better or worse than Sean McVay’s “Get Back” assistant. I guess better, because this at least helps promote safety. Meanwhile, we’ve got reigning Super Bowl Champion Andy Reid looking one step away from being the next Power Ranger with the face shield he’s donning out there. Can you imagine being the intern that was tasked with finding a face covering that would please Andy Reid? Bet you it took weeks. I’d rather work as Philip Rivers’ governess. It’s just like I always say, if Julie Andrews can do it, so can I!

Shame on me for using the NFL’s current sideline mask fiasco for a lede two weeks in a row, but everything starts to get hazy on these late Monday nights. There’s a lot of movement in the rankings this week and even more question marks with certain running backs going down with injuries for undetermined periods of time, but it’s a job that has to be done nonetheless. Am I a hero in plain man’s cloth? No, I am but a man. Before we get into the rankings, let’s take our weekly trip around the league.

Please, blog, may I have some more?