Week 12 Rankings (2019): Top 40 Running Backs: Making Sense Of The Questionable Backfields & More

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By no means are things any easier this week, but the good news is that the last four teams have their byes in Week 12. Of course we have our usual injury issues and question marks at the start of the week, but what else is new? All we can do, is jump into the rankings, so here we go:

  1. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at New Orleans
  2. Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – vs. Miami
  3. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – vs. Carolina
  4. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Jacksonville
  5. Saquon Barkley – NY Giants – at Chicago
  6. Josh Jacobs – Oakland Raiders – at NY Jets
  7. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at New England
  8. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Tennessee
  9. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – at Philadelphia
  10. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at San Francisco
  11. Todd Gurley – LA Rams – vs. Baltimore
  12. Mark Ingram – Baltimore Ravens – at LA Rams
  13. Tevin Coleman – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Green Bay
  14. Le’Veon Bell – NY Jets – vs. Oakland
  15. David Montgomery – Chicago Bears – vs. NY Giants
  16. James White – New England Patriots – vs. Dallas
  17. Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Atlanta
  18. Kareem Hunt – Cleveland Browns – vs. Miami
  19. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Pittsburgh
  20. Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – at Buffalo
  21. Devin Singletary – Buffalo Bills – vs. Denver
  22. Brian Hill – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Tampa Bay
  23. Jordan Howard – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Seattle
  24. Carlos Hyde – Houston Texans – vs. Indianapolis
  25. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. NY Giants
  26. Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Seattle
  27. Sony Michel – New England Patriots – vs. Dallas
  28. Benny Snell – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Cincinnati
  29. Bo Scarbrough – Detroit Lions – at Washington
  30. Duke Johnson – Houston Texans – vs. Indianapolis
  31. Derrius Guice – Washington Redskins – vs. Detroit
  32. Kalen Ballage – Miami Dolphins – at Cleveland
  33. Nyheim Hines – Indianapolis Colts – at Houston
  34. Jaylen Samuels – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Cincinnati
  35. Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – at San Francisco
  36. Matt Brieda – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Green Bay
  37. Latavius Murray – New Orleans Saints – vs. Carolina
  38. Jonathan Williams – Indianapolis Colts – at Houston
  39. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – at Buffalo
  40. Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots – vs. Dallas

Thoughts:

  • While we try to avoid “coach speak” as much as possible, it also cannot be avoided, and in some situations there is some value to it. Leonard Fournette has been a workhorse for the most part this season, he averaged 26 touches per game over the last six weeks, but last week that dropped down to just 15. It was in a game that the Jaguars lost to the Colts so game flow does come into play, but given Fournette’s previous usage I wouldn’t have many concerns. To be honest, it’s hard to find much fault in his performance this season (854 rushing yards at 4.7 yards per carry and 47 receptions for 329 yards), except for one glaring issue. It’s hard to write it off as anything more than a fluke, as Fournette has just 1 TD. We know that it is a problem, and to some extent there is a greater force at play here as it relates to Jacksonville’s offense, but he is simply just too good a player to only have one touchdown. The yardage and workload is there, and with Nick Foles back under center perhaps things will be different as he finds his groove. Either way, now is not the time to move away from him.
  • At this point no one truly knows if John Conner will be on the field this coming Sunday, but after leaving last week’s game extremely early (five carries for 10 yards) I wouldn’t bank on it. That then brings us to Benny Snell as we look for him to return from a knee injury. Snell only has 118 rushing yards on the season, but his health hasn’t properly correlated with the health of Conner up to this point, but in Week 12 it appears that will be changing. Jaylen Samuels is still the name to know in Pittsburgh’s backfield, but his value lies more as a passing game threat. Even despite Conner’s injury last week Samuels had just five carries for 26 yards, although he did catch five passes for 19 yards and a touchdown. Samuels season high for carries is 14, and that also gave him his season high in yards of 29. In PPR leagues he warrants your attention, but Snell is really the running back to watch.
  • At this point I’m beginning to think that Detroit’s objective this season is to deplete every fantasy owner of their FAAB budget. This week’s target, Bo Scarbrough, wasn’t even promoted from the Practice Squad until the day before the game. The Lions have proven that they can’t be trusted with how their running backs have been deployed, but at the same time Scarbrough’s production last week (14 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown) has to catch your attention. With 31 snaps he was the clear leader in Detroit’s backfield last week, and I would expect to see that continue this week. Before we go too crazy, we have to remember that Matthew Stafford will still be sidelined so the Lions’ offense does lack a punch with Jeff Driskel now under center; although he didn’t look terrible last week. What works in Scarbrough’s favor is facing Washington, but don’t go too crazy trying to chase last week’s performance if you have better options.
  • And now we move on to the next backfield to unpack; Indianapolis. Marlon Mack was on his way to a banner day last week against Jacksonville before breaking his hand, and what is clear is that he will be sidelined against Houston. The problem for Jordan Wilkins is that he wasn’t active last week to pick up for Mack, and that led to Jonathan Williams gaining 116 yards on 13 carries. Our issue now is that Wilkins practiced on Tuesday, so ahead of Thursday’s game it is unclear what his role will be. Wilkins has 161 rushing yards on the season, so neither option has much of a track record, so Williams is the leader for me at this point but it is a situation that needs close watching. If there is one running back to target in the Colts backfield, Nyheim Hines is it. Hines did steal a rushing touchdown with one of his three carries last week, but it is the passing game where he holds his value. After catching three passes for 24 yards last week he has 30 receptions for 242 yards on the season. Both runners are FLEX options at best for me, but at least with Hines we know what his role will be and I would imagine he gets a slight uptick in volume with Mack sidelined.
  • Of course Todd Gurley has his best game of the season heading into one of his toughest match-ups as he faces the Ravens. A running back of Gurley’s caliber is match-up proof. After nine games of taking things relatively easy the Rams finally let him loose with 25 carries on Sunday and it paid off. Gurley picked up 97 rushing yards while also scoring his seventh rushing touchdown of the season and catching three passes for 36 yards. There is no reason not to count on a similar effort from Gurley this coming week.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 12 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses

23 COMMENTS

  1. Based on your ranking, you assume howard is playing. Do you think sanders earned more of a look or do you think they’ll continue to split like they have? And does ajayi factor into the mix as well or is he just there as insurance?

  2. Standard league

    Is Sony Michel droppable at this time or do you think with some better matchups coming up he is worth holding? I have Waller and Henry at TE. Considering dropping Henry or Michel for Jaylen Samuels. Thoughts?

    Thanks.

  3. Standard scoring. 2 RB, 2 WR & a Flex.Henry, Ingram,Coleman & Hunt (also Edwards as a handcuff) D. Adams, Godwin, Chark & M. Brown. Currently going with Henry & Ingram; Adams & Godwin with Chark at flex. Have hunch that Hunt will have a big game. What do you think? If Hunt plays what line-up do you like?

  4. Hey prof,
    Thanks to persistent injuries w/ Conner, I’m left with either Jamaal Williams or Guice for my second RB. given the matchup I’m leaning towards Guice. What do you think?

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