by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
With six teams on bye this week there is definitely a smaller talent pool to choose from. Saquan Barkley is obviously the biggest name that won’t be available to fantasy owners, but he’s joined by Joe Mixon, David Johnson, the emerging Marlon Mack and a host of others. Running back is always a difficult position to maneuver, given the general committee approach that’s often taken in today’s NFL, but with so many options missing it is that much more difficult. Who should we be focusing on? Let’s take a look at how our rankings currently stand for Week 9:
- Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams – at New Orleans
- Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – at Cleveland
- Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – vs. Tampa Bay
- Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers – at Seattle
- James White – New England Patriots – vs. Green Bay
- James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Baltimore
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – vs. Los Angeles Rams
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Tennessee
- Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – vs. Houston
- Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Detroit
- Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – vs. Atlanta
- Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – at Denver
- Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – at Buffalo
- Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – vs. Kansas City
- Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. New York Jets
- Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – at Minnesota
- Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Los Angeles Chargers
- Matt Breida – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Oakland
- Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. Los Angeles Rams
- Jalen Richard – Oakland Raiders – at San Francisco
- Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans – at Dallas
- Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Carolina
- Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – at Washington
- Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – at Buffalo
- Isaiah Crowell – New York Jets – at Miami
- Doug Martin – Oakland Raiders – at San Francisco
- Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – vs. Atlanta
- Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at New England
- LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. Chicago
- Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers – at Seattle
- Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Pittsburgh
- Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – vs. Kansas City
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – at Dallas
- Devontae Booker – Denver Broncos – vs. Houston
- Trenton Cannon – New York Jets – at Miami
- Raheem Mostert – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Oakland
- Frank Gore – Miami Dolphins – vs. New York Jets
- Alfred Blue – Houston Texans – at Denver
- Mike Davis – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Los Angeles Chargers
- Ito Smith – Atlanta Falcons – at Washington
- While Alvin Kamara hasn’t been producing big yardage of late, he’s averaged 19.5 touches per game over the past two weeks and has delivered 3 TD. That’s promising, though Mark Ingram is going to take away some opportunities and the Rams aren’t an ideal matchup. Kamara is obviously a proven RB1, while Ingram is a viable RB2 as well, but it’s fair to be a little bit down on him for the coming week.
- Melvin Gordon isn’t a guarantee to play this week, though it appears likely. Remember he wasn’t ruled out for Week 7 until the pregame workout and then benefited from a Week 8 bye to help him get healthy. We’ll have to monitor the news, just in case, but fantasy owners should feel comfortable having him in their starting lineup and continue to view him as one of the elite in the game.
- Over the past two weeks James White has averaged 18.5 touches and 95.5 yards while scoring 3 TD. Obviously he is a significant presence in the passing game (he’s had 7+ targets in seven of eight games and 10+ targets in four of his past five games), but as the injuries have mounted he’s seen his carries rise as well (19 over the past two weeks). If Sony Michel is healthy White will likely will take a hit, but for now he has to be viewed as one of the best in the league.
- The trade of Carlos Hyde was always going to open up carries for Nick Chubb, who has 18 carries in each of the past two games. While the production hasn’t been elite (145 yards and 1 TD), the workload and a favorable matchup against the Chiefs (who are allowing the second most points per week to opposing running backs) should be a good combination. Of course a new head coach, with the potential for more opportunities for Duke Johnson, could change things. Don’t ignore that extra level of risk, but Chubb clearly remains a top RB2.
- A healthy Matt Breida would likely have been ranked a few spots higher, but it was somewhat of a surprise that he was able to play in Week 8 and now has a quick turnaround. In other words there’s a good chance he sees his workload capped, with Alfred Morris and Raheem Mostert (who also is battling an injury) getting more touches and lowering Breida’s upside.
- After a monster game in Week 7 (19 carries for 158 yards), Kerryon Johnson turned in a dud running the football in Week 8 (8 carries for 22 yards). He saved his day in the passing game (6 receptions for 69 yards), something that could continue as long as Theo Riddick is out of action. With Minnesota having allowed 445 receiving yards, seventh most in the league, that’s enough to alleviate some of the underlying concerns.
- While the Redskins should continue to lean on Adrian Peterson, as that has proven to be a winning formula, Chris Thompson should play a bigger role now that he’s healthy. He’s clearly the pass catching back and the Atlanta Falcons have allowed the third most receiving yards to opposing running backs (476). He may not be a must start, but he should be viewed as a solid FLEX play and potentially a plug in RB2 depending on your alternatives.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 9 rankings: