by Ray Kuhn
I feel like the season just started and here we are inching closer and closer to the playoffs. That means each week becomes that much more critical, but you already knew that. The good news is that there are just four teams on bye this week and while that means we have to replace quantity, Wayne Gallman is the best running back we will be without. Of course that doesn’t mean the rest of our options are incredibly enticing. Let’s take a look at how those options rank:
- Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Dallas
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – vs. Atlanta
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – at Baltimore
- James Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Pittsburgh
- Josh Jacobs – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Kansas City
- Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – vs. Philadelphia
- Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles – at Cleveland
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at Minnesota
- D’Andre Swift – Detroit Lions – at Carolina
- Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at Indianapolis
- Mike Davis – Carolina Panthers – vs. Detroit
- Antonio Gibson – Washington Football Team – vs. Cincinnati
- Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Arizona
- Kenyan Drake – Arizona Cardinals – at Seattle
- James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Jacksonville
- Todd Gurley – Atlanta Falcons – at New Orleans
- Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Washington
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Kansas City Chiefs – at Las Vegas
- Damien Harris – New England Patriots – at Houston
- Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. LA Rams
- Kareem Hunt – Cleveland Browns – vs. Philadelphia
- Kalen Ballage – Los Angeles Chargers – vs. NY Jets
- Salvon Ahmed – Miami Dolphins – at Denver
- J.D. McKissic – Washington Football Team – vs. Cincinnati
- Melvin Gordon – Denver Broncos – vs. Miami
- Duke Johnson – Houston Texans – vs. New England
- Nyheim Hines – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Green Bay
- La’Mical Perine – New York Jets – at LA Chargers
- Malcolm Brown – Los Angeles Rams – at Tampa Bay
- Chase Edmonds – Arizona Cardinals – at Seattle
- J.K. Dobbins – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Tennessee
- Jonathan Taylor – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Green Bay
- Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots – at Houston
- Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – at Indianapolis
- Latavius Murray – New Orleans Saints – vs. Atlanta
- Le’Veon Bell – Kansas City Chiefs – at Las Vegas
- Leonard Fournette – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. LA Rams
- Brian Hill – Atlanta Falcons – at New Orleans
- Tony Pollard – Dallas Cowboys – at Minnesota
- Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – vs. Miami
- It is a quick turnaround for the Cardinals as they take on Seattle in what should actually be an exciting Thursday night game. Kenyan Drake returned from a one game absence (Arizona’s bye gave him two weeks off) and while he was on the field for 52% of the offensive snaps, the production was there. As of Tuesday Drake is a limited participant in practice, but I wouldn’t be concerned as he looks to build on his 100 rushing yards from last week. I just wish he would have some kind of role in the passing game as Drake has caught just eight passes on the season.
- Across the field the Seahawks have their own question marks in the backfield. Chris Carson is back practicing in a limited capacity and it does look like all systems are a go for Carlos Hyde. In Hyde’s most extensive action of the season he gained 68 yards on 15 carries while scoring a touchdown, but his value is solely dependent upon Carson’s status. At this point we have to assume that Carson will be back in the lineup after missing the last three games. He has been effective when given a chance as he is averaging 4.9 yards per carry on 66 carries while scoring three touchdowns, but more importantly he has been more active than ever before in the passing game with 22 receptions for 147 yards and three touchdowns. I wouldn’t waste anytime putting him back in my lineup, and Hyde is strictly a replacement option.
- Now let’s try to figure out who Salvon Ahmed is. Two weeks ago we had our first sighting of the undrafted rookie as he gained 38 yards on seven carries for Miami. Injuries have left the Dolphins backfield lacking and there certainly was opportunity for someone to step in to replace Myles Gaskin. Last week Ahmed played his initial success into a larger role with 21 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown. To some degree Miami liked what they saw as they released Jordan Howard. The expectation is that Ahmed, for at least this week, will continue to be in control of the backfield. A positive sign, and possibly what played a part in Howard’s release, is the fact that Ahmed’s touchdown came via a one yard run so we don’t have to worry about him in short yardage situations.
- The talent is there and we know the Jets are playing for next season so let’s see what pieces are useful for 2021. Coming off a bye week is the perfect time to give a rookie a larger role, and that is the expectation with La’Mical Perine. Nothing against Frank Gore and his Hall of Fame worthy career, but do we really need to see him carry the ball 12 times for 46 yards again like he did two weeks ago? In the same game Perine carried the ball six times for 19 yards while catching two passes for another 19 yards as we still wait for him to reach his potential. The expectation is that he takes a step in the right direction this week.
- Based on his 132 carries so far this season we have to keep James Conner in our starting lineups, but his upside is limited. There have been multiple situations so far this season where Conner appeared to be in position to have a strong game but instead disappointed. Part of the problem is that Pittsburgh’s passing game has been so good, but they also jump out to large leads and Conner should be in position to help run out the clock. Last week all he was able to muster was 36 yards on 13 carries. On the season he has 556 rushing yards and 5 TD, and with three games of greater than 100 rushing yards, he has had success but I’m tempering my expectations.
- Fantasy owners couldn’t have been happy with Nick Chubb’s decision to run out of bounds on the last play of the game, but we can’t complain with how he looked in his return from a knee injury. With 19 carries for 126 yards and a touchdown, Chubb wasted no time picking up right where he left off and we should expect more of the same this week.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 11 rankings: