by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Week 4 created numerous opportunities for running backs who could quickly emerge as must use fantasy options on a weekly basis. There were some significant injuries (Chris Carson, Dalvin Cook), while others continued to underperform. Let’s take a look at the running backs you are going to want to target off the wire, and which ones you may want to ignore:
Wayne Gallman – New York Giants – Running Back
Paul Perkins has been a bitter disappointment over the first few weeks, with 32 carries for 61 yards (1.9 yards per carry) and 0 TD. You could argue that the Giants need to look elsewhere, even if Perkins hadn’t gone down with a rib injury. Instead that just expedited the process, and Gallman stepped in and showed more upside immediately:
- Rushing – 11 carries for 42 yards
- Receiving – 2 receptions for 8 yards and 1 TD
A fourth round draft pick, Walter Football compared him to former Giant starter Rashad Jennings prior to the draft. It’s an interesting comparison, as he had some solid seasons in New York and shows that Gallman has the potential to run with the role.
Verdict – Must add in all formats
Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings – Running Back
The Vikings lost their dynamic rookie runner, Dalvin Cook, and are now left to try and pick up the pieces. Murray has shown ample potential as a starter in the past, his biggest problem has been more based on injuries than anything (and talk is he’s currently not 100%). In 14 games last season with Oakland Murray averaged 4.0 yards per carry after eclipsing 1,000 yards in 2015. The biggest upside is in the TD department, having scored 12 TD last season, and he’s also shown an ability to catch passes.
There are other options for the Vikings, including Bishop Sankey and Jerrick McKinnon, so Murray will likely share the snaps (though he should dominate the early down work). He may not have elite upside, but we know what he is and the potential for him to contribute. Consider him a must own.
Verdict – Must add in all formats
Andre Ellington – Arizona Cardinals – Running Back
The Cardinals have appeared committed to Chris Johnson over the past few weeks, though it’s obvious that he’s not the running back with the highest potential. Just look at the Week 4 production:
- Chris Johnson – 13 carries for 32 yards
- Andre Ellington – 5 carries for 18 yards
Obviously Ellington’s 3.6 YPC isn’t going to blow you away, though he was targeted 14 times (team leader) and turned it into 9 receptions for 86 yards. Ellington is never going to be the lead runner, as Arizona looks to limit his touches and keep him healthy, and you also can’t bank on this many targets on a weekly basis. He’s ownable, especially in PPR formats, but he’s not going to be among the top waiver targets.
Verdict – Must add in PPR formats; worth stashing in standard leagues with 14+ teams
Elijah McGuire – New York Jets – Running Back
He exploded for 93 yards and 1 TD on 10 carries in Week 4, and now has taken 23 carries for 156 yards and 1 TD in his rookie season (6.8 yards/carry). He wasn’t the only Jets’ running back who stepped up in the absence of Matt Forte, as Bilal Powell took 21 carries for 163 yards and 1 TD. The question is if McGuire will take on a bigger workload, and if Matt Forte is going to eat into both players touches.
Time will tell how the situation plays out, but for as long as Forte is out (and look for the Jets to be “cautious”) expect Powell to lead the pack with McGuire syphoning off 10-12 touches per week. That brings potential FLEX appeal, and if Powell were to get hurt McGuire would have the opportunity to step in and thrive.
Verdict – Worth adding as depth option, if you have the roster spot
Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore offense is in shambles, but Collins was an obvious bright spot in Week 4 as he was by far the best runner:
- Alex Collins – 9 carries for 82 yards
- Javorius Allen – 2 carries for 7 yards
- Terrance West – 4 carries for -7 yards
Allen is going to remain the primary pass catcher, but Collins should get an opportunity to operate as the early down runner moving forward (as long as he can hold onto the football, with fumble issues quickly cropping up). That makes him worth the add as a depth option, but we’ll have to wait and see before plugging him into your lineup.
Verdict – Must add in leagues of 14+ teams
Green Bay Running Backs
The word now is that Ty Montgomery isn’t injured as badly as originally thought, and we know when healthy he’s going to be the lead back. Aaron Jones is the top healthy back is worth adding, while Jamaal Williams is also worth stashing, but neither offer long-term appeal at this point.
Verdict – Jones may be a short-term play, but nothing more
Higher Ownership Options
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – He exploded for 10 catches, 71 yards and 1 TD, while adding 5 carries for 25 yards. He’s clearly one of the two main parts of the committee, with Adrian Peterson (4 carries for 4 yards) falling out of the mix. Kamara doesn’t offer lead back upside (if Mark Ingram were to get hurt, Peterson will likely assume the opportunities), but in PPR formats he’s a must add.
- Thomas Rawls – Seattle Seahawks – He was a healthy scratch in Week 4, but with Chris Carson getting injured Rawls is going to jump back into a prominent role. Of course Eddie Lacy is going to have something to say about that, though Rawls is the preferred addition.
- Eddie Lacy – Seattle Seahawks – He was the backup to Carson in Week 4 and turned 11 carries into 52 yards. He’s also hard to trust, and is going to be part of a three or four man timeshare (C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic). The Seattle situation remains one that’s best left ignored.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 5 rankings: