Running Back Rundown: Who To Buy, Who To Sell & More After Week 5 (Devin Singletary, Damien Williams, Sony Michel & 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:

Atlanta Falcons

Giving up 53 points obviously had an impact on the game script, but that doesn’t soften the blow for Devonta Freeman owners:

  • Devonta Freeman – 11 carries for 30 yards; 5 receptions for 40 yards and 1 TD
  • Ito Smith – 5 carries for 19 yards; 6 receptions for 45 yards

Obviously Freeman’s usage in the passing game saved his day, but you take out his one 21 yard run he managed 10 carries for 9 yards. In fact he’s averaged more than 2.7 yards/carry in a game once all season and he has yet to find the end zone on the ground.

Smith hasn’t gotten more than 6 carries in a game yet this season, but you have to wonder if his usage could start to increase? Given how poorly Freeman has performed on the ground, it wouldn’t hurt to preemptively stash him to find out.

Buffalo Bills

It was a solid, though unspectacular, performance from Frank Gore as he posted 60 yards on 14 carries (and also delivered 2 receptions for 9 yards). After having back-to-back strong performances this one raises a little bit of a red flag with Devin Singletary nearly a lock to return after Buffalo’s Week 6 bye.

The question now is whether or not Gore is going to continue to carry the load, or if Singletary will quickly start to eat into his touches. Gore has averaged 15 carries/game over the first two weeks, and any type of decline could eliminate his value. Don’t be surprised if the explosive Singletary gets an opportunity, sending Gore’s value crashing. Consider shopping him now before it’s too late.

Chicago Bears

You could argue that David Montgomery’s day was saved by a touchdown, but taking 11 carries for 25 yards against the Raiders can only be considered a bitter disappointment. For the second straight week (and third time in five games) he failed to break a run for more than 7 yards and he’s routinely averaged 3.4 yards/carry or worse.

While part of the problem could be attributed to the offensive line play, the fact that Tarik Cohen (10 touches) was utilized nearly as much (Montgomery had 12 touches) is a red flag. Obviously no one is going to completely write Montgomery off, but would anyone consider him more than a FLEX option at this point (at best)? Next week he draws a New Orleans defense that has actually been stingy against the run, so start searching for your potential alternative now.

Kansas City Chiefs

While none of the Chiefs’ running backs were productive, seeing the breakdown in touches was intriguing:

  • Damien Williams – 9 carries for 23 yards; 3 receptions for 15 yards
  • LeSean McCoy – 2 receptions for 23 yards

The thought had been that McCoy would be the early down runner, but he wasn’t given a single carry with Williams back in the mix. If that continues remains to be seen and game flow could change things from week-to-week. For now that risk devalues both, but Williams should be seen as a potential RB2/FLEX with McCoy more of a depth option.

Los Angeles Chargers

Both Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon struggled on the ground against the Broncos, but it was Gordon who saw heavier usage in terms of carries:

  • Melvin Gordon – 12 carries for 31 yards
  • Austin Ekeler – 3 carries for 7 yards

Of course Ekeler had a record setting day through the air, turning 16 targets into 15 catches and 86 yards. It’s hard to anticipate that type of opportunity routinely, but for those in PPR formats Ekeler remains squarely on maps. In terms of ground duties Gordon has clearly assumed the bulk of the opportunities. Consider him a potential RB1 moving forward.

New England Patriots

We all know that Sony Michel has been a disaster through the first quarter of the season, but Week 5 finally gave us our breakout performance:

  • Rushing – 16 carries for 91 yards and 1 TD
  • Receiving – 3 receptions for 32 yards

The Patriots have stuck with him, as Michel has 15+ carries in four of five games. He’s now registered a rushing touchdown in 3 of the past 4 games and should be able to continue to build on this against a Giants’ defense that was gashed by Dalvin Cook (21 carries for 132 yards, 6 receptons for 86 yards) in Week 5. While it’s still hard to fully trust him, he should be a locked in RB2 with the potential to sneak into the backend WR1 status.

Philadelphia Eagles

The two running backs split the touches equally, with Jordan Howard thriving on the ground (13 carries for 62 yards and 1 TD) and Miles Sanders performing better in the air (4 catches for 49 yards). Over the past three weeks Howard has locked himself into the back to end, though as more of a RB2, averaging 13 carries per contest and scoring 4 TD.

Sanders may have the upside, but he’s been inconsistent running the football (2.8 yards/carry in three of five games). Currently he’s a better fit for those in PPR formats, but even there he’s no guarantee after failing to get a target in Week 4. Consider him more of a player to stash for down the road as opposed to a RB to utilize (even as a FLEX).

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 6 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses

4 COMMENTS

  1. Hey professor,

    I have both Conner and JuJu in a PPR-league and would love to lower my exposure to the Steelers O. I’m trying to flip Conner for M. Gordon, but just read that Samuels is out for a month. Would you still do the trade, even if it should increase Conners work going forward?

    Thanks!

    • Long-term yes, but we’ve also seen holdouts struggle upon their return so I wouldn’t call it a slam dunk either. That said, Gordon does have the higher upside

      • Appreciate it!
        Also, I’ve given up on the Jags DST. Which one do you prefer ROS out of the Bills, Vikings, Steelers, Eagles and Titans?
        Many thanks!

        • Honestly, I’d probably be willing to stream those options depending on matchup. That said the Bills/Vikings stand out as having the most potential

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