Running Back Rundown: Who To Buy, Who To Sell & More After Week 4 (David Montgomery, Ronald Jones, Darrel Williams & More)

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With many teams heading towards a running back by committee, fantasy owners constantly need to be analyzing the situations and determining who has value and is worth utilizing.  Let’s take a look at some of the key situations from yesterday and try to determine who should be used and who should be ignored:

Chicago Bears

After minimal usage in Week 1, David Montgomery has seen his carries increase over the past three weeks though the results have been mediocre:

  • Week 2 – 18 carries for 62 yards (3.4 YPC) & 1 TD
  • Week 3 – 13 carries for 67 yards (5.2 YPC)
  • Week 4 – 21 carries for 53 yards (2.5 YPC)

His longest run yesterday went for 7 yards, and while the matchup came against a tough Minnesota defense it’s not enough of a reason to give him a pass. The Bears are going to continue to give him opportunities and things should get easier next week against the Raiders, but it will be telling if he can actually get things going or not. Continue to view him as a high volume RB2/FLEX option, but if he disappoints again in Week 5 his outlook will change dramatically.

Denver Broncos

At this point do you want to trust either of the Broncos running backs, as they are used virtually interchangeably each week? Just look at the split from yesterday:

  • Phillip Lindsey – 10 touches for 60 yards
  • Royce Freeman – 10 touches for 50 yards

With this type of timeshare it’s impossible to trust either on a weekly basis (overall this season Lindsey has 67 touches vs. 56 for Freeman). At best they are low-end RB2 options, though they are better fits as FLEX plays (or better yet as a depth option sitting on your bench until someone emerges).

Kansas City Chiefs

There was a bit of hype and intrigue surrounding Darrel Williams entering the day, and those who used him were saved by a pair of touchdowns:

  • LeSean McCoy – 11 carries for 56 yards and 1 TD (plus 2 receptions for 33 yards)
  • Darrel Williams – 8 carries for 13 yards and 2 TD (plus 3 receptions for 43 yards)

Williams was much more productive a week ago, when he took 9 carries for 62 yards, though that was buoyed by a 41 yard romp. It’s clear that when everyone is healthy he’s going to be third on the depth chart and even now is a TD dependent FLEX play. He’s going to be intriguing, but it all depends on your alternatives and the news as to whether or not you are going to roll the dice in Week 5.

Los Angeles Chargers

Austin Ekeler underwhelmed in the matchup against the Dolphins, taking 18 carriess for 60 yards (3.3 YPC) and 1 TD. He salvaged his day with 5 receptions for 62 yards and 1 TD, and the latter is a role he should continue to be utilized in moving forward.

That said, Melvin Gordon could step back into the lead role as soon as Week 5 (despite not getting a touch in Week 4). That would leave Ekeler as a PPR FLEX option, as opposed to the potential RB1 he’s operated as for the first month. We all knew this time would come, though Ekeler owners were likely hoping it was a few more weeks down the road.

New England Patriots

It was always going to be a difficult matchup with the Bills, but that doesn’t help to ease the concerns that are growing regarding Sonny Michel. Sadly this week represented one of his better performances of the season:

  • Week 1 – 15 carries for 14 yards
  • Week 2 – 21 carries for 83 yards & 1 TD
  • Week 3 – 9 carries for 11 yards & 1 TD
  • Week 4 – 17 carries for 63 yards

He hasn’t averaged more than 4.0 YPC in a game and overall has 171 yards, putting him on pace for 684 yards on the season. If he was a factor in the passing game he could overcome these struggles, but that’s simply not the case.

That’s not to say that Michel can’t reclaim his value down the line, and he’s well worth stashing on your bench to find out (or trying to buy low on if you have the opportunity). However he can’t be utilized in your starting lineup until he proves otherwise.

Seattle Seahawks

Chris Carson has gone from potential breakout candidate to someone to potentially lose his job and back again, after he got a second (or third chance) with Rashaad Penny out. This time he delivered, with 104 rushing yards on 22 carries and an additional 41 yards on 4 receptions. The big key is that this was the first time this season Carson didn’t lose a fumble, after coughing it up in each of the first three games.

The Seahawks had shown support for Carson earlier in the week, though would it have been surprising if this was nothing more than coach speak:

If Penny is able to step in and take some of the workload remains to be seen, but for now Carson is back to being viewed as “the man” and a potential RB2.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers and Rams combined to score 95 points, which may have been the biggest surprise coming out of the game. However Ronald Jones seemingly establishing himself as the lead back for Tampa Bay may not be too far behind:

  • Ronald Jones – 19 carries for 70 yards and 1 TD
  • Peyton Barber – 9 carries for 19 yards and 1 TD

This marks the second straight week that Jones was the best rusher, and while the carry split is about even overall his 4.7 YPC is far better than Barber’s 3.4 YPC. While we’d still consider this a situation in flux, clarity appears to be setting in. Jones should be viewed as a low-end RB2 and a viable FLEX option, with Barber being more of a bench stash just in case.

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 5 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses

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