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?

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?

Entering Monday Night Football, Alvin Kamara was already the season-long RB1 overall in half-PPR and PPR formats despite having one less game played than much of the competition. So although his 15.9-point performance in half-PPR represented his weakest game of the season, it did very little to change his standing atop the top 60 rest of season running back rankings. Kamara rushed 11 times for 45 yards on Monday, fulfilling his usual role in the passing game with eight catches on 10 targets for another 74 yards. Latavius Murray (eight carries, 34 yards; two receptions, 23 yards) was effective but unspectacular, as it was the QB-duo of Drew Brees and Taysom Hill that punched in both of the Saints’ rushing touchdowns in the red zone. Yep, just how the fantasy gods drew it up.

As for the Chargers, the one-two replacement punch of Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson didn’t exactly play out the way many anticipated. Although Kelley was the popular pick to step into startable RB2 status with the absence of Austin Ekeler, he averaged a measly 2.6 YPC while totaling 29 yards on 11 carries, catching just one pass for nine yards. In fact, it was Jackson who handles lead back duties, out-touching Kelley 19-to-12. Jackson rushed 15 times for 71 yards (4.7 YPC), but the major takeaway was how much more effective he was in the passing game: five receptions on six targets for 23 yards. Both look to be risky plays until Ekeler returns, likely lending no value outside of weekly Flex consideration — but the unpredictable split between the two makes even that risky.

In other news, Le’Veon Bell is back, Todd Gurley finished as an RB1, Raheem Mostert’s return rendered Jerick McKinnon all-but-irrelevant and Chase Edmonds appears to be overtaking Kenyan Drake in Arizona. Before we get into the Week 5 rankings, let’s take a look at all of that and more via a quick trip around the league.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

On Monday Night Football (the second one, not the first one), Todd Gurley finally broke out for fantasy owners (kind of). By “broke out,” I mean that he found the end zone not once, but twice — despite averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. That’s as hot as a lukewarm cup of coffee — as sexy as assless chaps with patches sewn in. It was the kind of performance that you had to be pleased with if you had him in your lineup, but at the same time, you were probably also clapping slowly while shooting those around you sneaky glares out the corner of your eyes to see if they were equally excited. On the plus side, Gurley out-touched Brian Hill 17-to-six, one week after Hill appeared to be the much more explosive back even as Gurley rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown. On the down side, Gurley caught just one pass for the second consecutive week (Ito Smith and Hill combined for five grabs), bringing his season total to a measly four receptions. Gurley clearly isn’t the back he once was, however, he did show some elusiveness inside the green zone on his first rushing touchdown, even shaking a second would-be tackler for the score. This is the point we’re at with running backs in 2020, as both Austin Ekeler and Nick Chubb went down in Week 4 with significant injuries. I am actually, tentatively, kind-of excited about Gurley. This is not good.

On the opposing sideline, Aaron Jones enjoyed yet another strong week, rushing 15 times for 71 yards (4.7 YPC) and hauling in five passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. The Packers look like the cream of the crop in the NFC (right alongside Seattle), as the Super Bowl could (I said could) potentially pit two State Farm figureheads against one another in Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. Can you imagine the marketing potential for State Farm!? Let’s all buy stock now! *does quick Google search* It’s already up 4.2% since Sept. 23 — people must really be catching on. Unfortunately, my popularity stock over on Reddit — and in life — is doing the exact opposite. My parents visited last week, and somehow, my father locked himself in the stairwell three different times. Again, this is 2020. This is real. And this is not good.

Before I lose everyone’s attention, let’s get into the Week 5 rest of season top 60 running back rankings. But first — a quick trip around the league.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Our football editor, you know him as MB, would recommend a team full of Ryan Fitzpatricks to stream at every position. He made him the lead of his week 1 recap article and has changed his photo on every social media feed to Fitzmagic. I mean his current Twitter name is HarvardQBGawd. He is all in on the Fitz experience, which should serve as a reminder to reign in your overreactions from week 1.

Fitzy had a great week 1, but he also played the Saints who couldn’t cover rock with paper. We’ve seen him have big games before, but let us not forget that he also has a game of 20/44 with 6 interceptions and 0 TDs in his game log. Fitzpatrick takes on the Eagles defense that still looks completely legit, and I’d be a little concerned about a roadrunner/cliff situation coming that reminds us why Jameis is coming back to his job as soon as he’s eligible.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Happy Halloween fantasy football team owners! Hopefully this week’s bye week teams won’t haunt you for the rest of the season. The league’s third-highest scoring QB (Tom Brady), best WR (Antonio Brown), two of the league’s best RBs (Le’Veon Bell and Melvin Gordon) and the league’s 2nd best TE (Rob Gronkowski) are all out this week so you’ll need to make smart adds to stay floating down here!

Speaking of Tom Brady — I need your help to solve an argument. I was discussing with some of my friends about who is the best player of all time in each of the four major sports. Hockey is obviously Wayne Gretzky, basketball is Michael Jordan (for now), baseball could be Barry Bonds, but who is the best NFL player of all time? I’m leaning towards Brady, but was told to “chill” on that assessment. What do you all think?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Sometimes you’re the dog — sometimes you’re the hydrant. Ben Roethlisberger was one of my QB sit recommendations last week and this week he is my first QB start recommendation. Last week I recommended you start 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin and this week I want nothing to do with anyone on offense for San Francisco. What a difference a week makes!

I’ve got your cure for the bye week blues right here:

Please, blog, may I have some more?