by Ray Kuhn
Good thing we got through, for better or worse, last week with six teams on bye. This week there are only four teams on the sidelines and while by no means are we out of the woods, we have a few more options to choose from. Of course it’s becomes clear that things/decisions aren’t about to get any easier, for various reasons. How to we make the hard decisions? Let’s take a look at how our options rank:
- Melvin Gordon – LA Chargers – at Oakland
- Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Arizona
- Todd Gurley – LA Rams – vs. Seattle
- Saquon Barkley – NY Giants – at San Francisco
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Cincinnati
- James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Carolina
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at Philadelphia
- Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. New Orleans
- James White – New England Patriots – at Tennessee
- Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at Pittsburgh
- David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – at Kansas City
- Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – vs. Atlanta
- Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – at Cleveland
- Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. Detroit
- Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – at Tampa Bay
- Sony Michel – New England Patriots – at Tennessee
- Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Jacksonville
- Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – vs. Miami
- Matt Breida – San Francisco 49ers – vs. NY Giants
- Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Indianapolis
- Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. Detroit
- Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Cincinnati
- Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – at Green Bay
- Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans – vs. New England
- Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – at Chicago
- Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – at Tampa Bay
- Aaron Ekeler – LA Chargers – at Oakland
- LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – at NY Jets
- Jalen Richard – Oakland Raiders – vs. LA Chargers
- Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – at LA Rams
- Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Dallas
- Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – vs. Atlanta
- Ito Smith – Atlanta Falcons – at Cleveland
- Doug Martin – Oakland Raiders – vs. LA Chargers
- Nyheim Hines – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Jacksonville
- Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Washington
- Corey Clement – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Dallas
- Elijiah McGuire – NY Jets – vs. Buffalo
- Frank Gore – Miami Dolphins – at Green Bay
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. New England
- Leave it to the Patriots to turn Cordarrelle Patterson into a productive player. We know all about James White and his role in New England’s offense, but with Sony Michel sidelined the last two games someone else needed to take on the workload. Last week Patterson gained 61 yards on 11 carries while scoring a touchdown, and so far this season he has 28 carries for 135 yards. It is not enough to warrant Patterson being considered a a true fantasy contributor, especially as Michel should slide back into his role in the Patriots’ offense. It is rare when it comes to the Patriots, but we have true clarity on their backfield from a fantasy perspective. Michel has had success when healthy averaging 4.4 yards per carry on 95 carries with two games of more than 100 yards rushing and 4 TD. While White is still the back to own with his 61 receptions for 531 yards and 6 TD, there is enough value to support both running backs.
- The early season success we saw from Isaiah Crowell is long gone. To be honest the entire Jets’ offense leaves a lot to be desired as they are struggling to move the ball. Last week Crowell had 49 yards on 13 carries. While he is still averaging five yards per carry, he has 322 yards in two games with just 211 yards in his other seven games. Despite their struggles Buffalo’s defense is actually better than they get credit for, which makes counting on Crowell a fool’s errand. For the remainder of the season Elijah McGuire might prove to be the running to own. He made his season debut after a foot injury this summer, and the second-year running back was able to slide right in behind Crowell with Bilal Powell out for the season. Game flow didn’t exactly work in McGuire’s favor, but he did carry the ball seven times for 30 yards while catching three passes for 37 yards. McGuire was targeted five times by Sam Darnold, and I would look for that to continue as the rookie quarterback needs a safety net.
- Despite missing his last game with a hamstring injury, he also benefited from a bye the following week and Melvin Gordon appears to be in full health. That is a good sign as he has been one of the top options at the running back position all season. In five of his seven games Gordon has eclipsed the century mark in combined rushing and receiving yards. With a combined 868 yards (579 rushing and 289 receiving), he is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and 9.3 yards per reception on 31 catches. This week Gordon gets to face the Raiders, whose defense might actually be worse than previously expected, which means he should feast.
- All it took was a coaching change for Duke Johnson to have value this past week. While the PPR option scored his first 2 TD of the season, I’m not sure that it’s reasonable to expect a repeat performance. After all, entering last week Johnson had 20 receptions for 203 yards, but then caught nine passes for 78 yards. As far as his value as a runner goes, he has just 23 carries for 115 yards so there isn’t much to see there. Yes he has a track record of being a receiving threat, 74 receptions for 693 yards last season, but it’s hard to count on consistent production. What we are also seeing, is that Nick Chubb really does have Top 15 value as last week he had 85 yards on 22 carries with a TD. While he is not a factor in the receiving game, Chubb is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and that clearly has fantasy value.
- While fantasy owners haven’t exactly been pleased with the Seattle backfield, there at least has been a clear structure to it. The fact that the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round of April’s draft doesn’t appear to have much meaning, and with 3.5 yards per carry on 46 carries he’s best left to the waiver wire. I know that isn’t breaking news, but we are at the point in the season where it’s quite reasonable for fantasy owners to throw some darts in the search of lightning in a bottle. It has become clear, if it wasn’t already, that Chris Carson is the back to own. Entering last week there were some doubts about his health and availability, but he still managed to get the start. However, after gaining 40 yards on eight carries, Carson couldn’t do it and he spent the second half on the bench. Instead of turning to Penny, Mike Davis carried the load for Seattle touching the ball 22 times; 15 carries for 62 yards and 45 yards on seven receptions. At this point it is too early to speculate on Carson, but it’s hard to feel any initial optimism. With 288 yards on 67 carries and 3 TD Davis has proven to be a solid option, but I would likely look in another direction this week as Seattle faces a Rams’ team looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season. If Carson has to miss time again, and this appears like it might be a nagging issue, Davis is the only other running back worth your attention.
- Here we go again. It’s time to cryptically interpret Le’Veon Bell’s tweets and figure out if he is going to report to Pittsburgh this week. Even if he does, by the time you read this article he might have, his role is still going to be unclear. Why would Pittsburgh be in a hurry to transition away from John Conner? Now this is not to say they aren’t going to utilize Bell, as he is one of the most talented running backs in the game, but they will take it slow. For that reason he isn’t going to find his way onto my rankings for this week while Conner remains an elite option. Despite facing a tough Baltimore defense, it was just another standard day at the office for Conner who eclipsed the century mark for the fourth straight week as he carried the ball 24 times for 107 yards. He is not just a bell-cow carrying the ball, but he also picked up another 56 yards on seven receptions while scoring a TD. Conner’s first receiving touchdown of the season came after three straight weeks of two rushing touchdowns each as he is now over the 1,000 yard mark for the season; 706 rushing and 379 receiving. With 4.7 yards per carry and five games of greater than 100 yards rushing, it’s hard for Pittsburgh to be looking for anything more out of their running back.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 10 rankings: