by Ray Kuhn
Finally we have made it through the bye weeks, so Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt are back in action, and we have a full slate of running backs to consider. Of course stress levels are heightened as we make our final push towards the playoffs. Let’s not waste any time as we jump right into the rankings:
- Todd Gurley – LA Rams – at Detroit
- Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – at Oakland
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New Orleans
- Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at Tampa Bay
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Dallas
- Saquon Barkley – NY Giants – vs. Chicago
- James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. LA Chargers
- David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – at Green Bay
- Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – vs. Arizona
- Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Denver
- Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – at Houston
- Matt Breida – San Francisco 49ers – at Seattle
- Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – at Cincinnati
- Austin Ekeler – LA Chargers – at Pittsburgh
- Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – vs. Cleveland
- Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans – vs. NY Jets
- Sony Michel – New England Patriots – vs. Minnesota
- Josh Adams – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
- Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – vs. LA Rams
- Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – vs. San Francisco
- Gus Edwards – Baltimore Ravens – at Atlanta
- Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – at Philadelphia
- Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Baltimore
- Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Dallas
- James White – New England Patriots – vs. Minnesota
- Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. Buffalo
- Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – at New England
- T.J. Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Indianapolis
- Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts – at Jacksonville
- Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Carolina
- LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – at Miami
- Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – at NY Giants
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. NY Jets
- Carlos Hyde – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Indianapolis
- Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – at Houston
- Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – at NY Giants
- Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – vs. LA Rams
- Ito Smith – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Balimore
- Nyheim Hines – Indianapolis Colts – at Jacksonville
- Justin Jackson – LA Chargers – at Pittsburgh
- As fantasy owners make that final push towards the playoffs they can’t be too pleased about Leonard Fournette’s one game suspension. The one bright spot, if you can find one, is that he did rush for 95 yards and two touchdowns prior to his ejection but that just makes his absence hurt even more. Since the acquisition of Carlos Hyde he has been getting more carries than T.J Yeldon, but it is the incumbent who I would look for this week. In the last two weeks Hyde has carried the ball a combined 18 times for 77 yards while not catching a pass (something he hasn’t done since landing in Jacksonville). Yeldon, on the other hand, hasn’t been as busy, eight carries for 39 yards, but in the case of a potential timeshare with Hyde he will still have more value. That is due to his value in the passing game , 46 receptions for 423 yards and 4 TD, while also averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The situation isn’t ideal, both Hyde and Yeldon do have value, but the back who can catch passes gets the edge.
- A knee injury, a bye week, and some struggles, but it appears that Sony Michel is back. The timing is good as it comes on the heels of Rex Burkhead’s return from Injured Reserve, but while he likely will eat into the workloads of both Michel and White, their values are still in tact. Michel took advantage of a weak Jets’ defense last week as he gained 133 yards on 21 carries while also picking up his fifth touchdown of the season. Through eight games Michel is now up to three games of 100-plus yards, and he also has a fourth in which he finished with 98 yards. The rookie is also showing a nose for the end zone with 5 TD and he has proven that he can sustain both his value and a regular workload.
- It’s not like Ezekiel Elliot was a slouch earlier this season, but after the addition of Amari Cooper has opened up the passing game he has been unstoppable. Elliot is now up to three straight games of more than 100 yards (394 yards in total), and he has eclipsed the century mark six times overall this season. For the year he has 1,074 yards and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. While Elliot only has 6 TD on the season, he has scored in each of the last three weeks. What is even more impressive is how valuable of an asset he has been in the passing game. Elliot has 47 receptions for 363 yards and he has been even busier in the last three weeks with 18 receptions for 137 yards. He certainly is proving himself to be a top option.
- While it is not an ideal situation for owners of Melvin Gordon, at least we now have some clarity over the next few weeks. After entering this week with his status in doubt, Gordon ended up taking the field and gaining 61 yards on 10 carries before exiting due to his knee injury. However it was far from a lost day as his parting gift was two rushing touchdowns. Now that we know he is going to be sidelined for a few weeks, Aaron Ekeler immediately becomes a Top 24 running back (at worst). His true value comes in the passing game, and we got a look at that last week as he caught 10 passes for 68 yards. On the season Ekeler has 32 catches and 3 TD while averaging 11.1 yards per reception. The fact that he is going to get more work as a runner can’t be denied, he picked up 35 yards on five carries last week, but the Chargers are also going to want to keep him healthy since he is on the smaller side. As a complement to Gordon Ekeler has 409 rushing yards on 70 carries, but he hasn’t carried the ball more than 12 times in a game. That means there is room for rookie Justin Jackson to have some value moving forward. After Gordon’s injury Jackson gained 57 yards on seven carries after carrying the ball just five times in his career prior to yesterday. With Ekeler owned in the majority of leagues, there are worse fall back options than Jackson.
- After practicing on Friday it was expected that Alex Collins would be taking the field on Sunday. That ultimately wasn’t the case and Baltimore didn’t need him. At this point, even if Collins plays, it’s hard to have any confidence in him as the focus is squarely on Gus Edwards. We highlighted Edwards here last week after he emerged onto the scene with 115 rushing yards, and this week he kept the momentum going. Yes he did take advantage of a poor Oakland defense, but it’s hard to argue with the results (118 yards on 23 carries). In a crowded Baltimore backfield it also appears that Ty Montgomery has emerged as the other option with fantasy value. Once the game was more securely in hand he carried the ball eight times, as a means of spelling Edwards, for 51 yards while also catching three passes for 13 yards. At the same time Javorius Allen was a non factor for the second straight week with his lone production being back to back one carry games for two yards each. Baltimore is having success under the current arrangement, and while it may be bold there is no reason why we shouldn’t expect to see Edwards eclipse the century mark for the third straight week against a weak Atlanta run defense.
- To call the San Francisco backfield anything but the “Matt Breida show” would be incorrect. It appears that Breida’s health issues are behind him and he has also taken control of the job. While the 49ers never really had much of a chance to get things going last week, it didn’t have a negative impact on Breida as he gained 106 yards on 14 carries while, once again, showing the ability to rip off big chunks of yards at once. It was his second straight, and third overall, game in which he eclipsed 100 yards on the ground and he has 738 rushing yards on the season. That is good for 5.8 yards per carry, and the one complaint is that he has just three rushing touchdowns. He also caught three passes for the second week in a row, and that appears to be his maximum output in the passing game, but when he is doing what he is doing on ground, we don’t need to get too picky.
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 13 rankings: