Week 5 Rankings (2019): Top 40 Running Backs: Identifying The Evolving Roles, Potential Breakouts To Consider & More


With just two teams on bye, Detroit and Miami (and Dolphins running backs really aren’t worthy of fantasy consideration), it is a relatively calm week. While we are monitoring a few health situations, John Conner and Damien Williams most notably, at this point we are operating under the assumption that they will be on the field.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t decisions to be made, and some less than ideal situations, but it wouldn’t be fantasy football if that weren’t the case. So let’s take a look at how our options rank for this week:

  1. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – vs. Tampa Bay
  2. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Green Bay
  3. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – at NY Giants
  4. Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – at San Francisco
  5. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – vs. Jacksonville
  6. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – at Cincinnati
  7. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Carolina
  8. Le’Veon Bell – NY Jets – at Philadelphia
  9. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Arizona
  10. James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Baltimore
  11. Todd Gurley – LA Rams – at Seattle
  12. Mark Ingram – Baltimore Ravens – at Pittsburgh
  13. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Buffalo
  14. Austin Ekeler – LA Chargers – vs. Denver
  15. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – vs. LA Rams
  16. Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – at LA Chargers
  17. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at Dallas
  18. Wayne Gallman – NY Giants – vs. Minnesota
  19. Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts – at Kansas City
  20. James White – New England Patriots – at Washington
  21. Josh Jacobs – Oakland Raiders – vs. Chicago
  22. Damien Williams – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Indianapolis
  23. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – at Houston
  24. Jordan Howard – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. NY Jets
  25. Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at New Orleans
  26. David Montgomery – Chicago Bears – at Oakland
  27. LeSean McCoy – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Indianapolis
  28. Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. NY Jets
  29. Carlos Hyde – Houston Texans – vs. Atlanta
  30. Tevin Coleman – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Cleveland
  31. Sony Michel – New England Patriots – at Washington
  32. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – at LA Chargers
  33. Melvin Gordon – LA Chargers – vs. Denver
  34. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – at Oakland
  35. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – vs. New England
  36. Frank Gore – Buffalo Bills – at Tennessee
  37. Nyheim Hines – Indianapolis Colts – at Kansas City
  38. Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – vs. New England
  39. Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at New Orleans
  40. Jaylen Samuels – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Baltimore


  • Let’s start with the disclaimer that it was against the Redskins defense, but we got our answer on Wayne Gallman. While he is certainly not Saquon Barkley, Gallman appeared to more than hold his own, and once again this week we can think of as a legitimate RB2. Unless you picked Gallman up strictly as a replacement for Barkley he will be more of a FLEX option for your roster, which is perfectly acceptable. Gallman, and the Giants’ offense in general, will find things to be a lot tougher as they face the Vikings, but the main thing is that the workload will be there. Last week he carried the ball 18 times for 63 yards, but what really made his day was his two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving). Gallman’s role in the receiving game, six receptions for 55 yards, helps to provide a steady floor.
  • While he is still searching for his first touchdown of the season, fantasy owners should not be complaining about Leonard Fournette’s performance last week. Despite being in negative territory for most the game two weeks against the Titans Fournette busted lose for 60-plus yard run, and that success just continued into last week’s match-up with the Broncos. It is clearly his show in Jacksonville’s backfield, and he carried the ball 25 times for 225 yards in Denver. More importantly he imposed his will on the Broncos’ defense with 150 of those yards coming after contact. So far Fournette has also chipped in with a few receptions (16 in total), and this is why you don’t sell low early in the season on stud running backs.
  • With the return of Melvin Gordon, there are going to be questions about Aaron Ekeler, and they are warranted. Ekeler has more than carried the load in Gordon’s absence, both this year and in 2018, and he has simply been too good for the Chargers to send him right back to the bench. Through the first four games Los Angeles has leaned on Ekeler while Justin Jackson has played a supporting role. Health woes notwithstanding, Jackson’s days of fantasy relevance are likely past unless there is an injury. There is no disputing the fact that Ekeler’s carries will go down, but with an average of just 3.9 yards per carry you aren’t missing all that much by ceding some ground to Gordon. We also can, most likely, assume that the Chargers might take things slowly bringing Gordon back into the fold, but Ekeler’s role in the receiving game should likely go unchanged. Considering the fact that Ekeler has 24 receptions for 270 yards and 3 TD, there is a lot to like about that.
  • While Tarik Cohen is going to continue to have a role in Chicago’s backfield, of course more as a receiver than anything else, it is clear that we don’t have to worry about workload when it comes to David Montgomery. Last week, despite facing a tough Minnesota defense, the rookie set a career high with 21 carries, although he gained just 53 yards. For the second straight week Montgomery caught three passes for 14 yards, and it’s likely going to be another week before he truly takes off as the Raiders defense has proven to be tough. Montgomery is up to 200 yards on 58 carries, and while I’m not overly excited about his prospects for this week, at least we can be secure in his role.
  • After seeing Jordan Howard reach the end zone three times last week, including a receiving touchdown, you could likely find reactions on each end of the spectrum. There are going to be those owners who rush to the waiver wire to acquire him, or insert him blindly into their starting lineup, or those who chalk it up to being his best of the season. As with a lot of things, I’d venture to guess that the right answer will end up somewhere in the middle. As the Eagles face the Jets game flow should clearly work in Howard’s favor after he gained 87 yards on 15 carries. By the end of this season this conversation will likely change it’s tune, as Miles Sanders is the more explosive player, but the rushing touchdowns will belong to Howard. Last week he carried the ball 11 times for 72 yards, but it was a little concerning to see that he didn’t catch a pass.
  • When you draft Sony Michel you know what you are getting into, but things have been especially difficult so far this season. We saw Brandon Bolden pick up a rushing touchdown last week, and Michel had a rather boring 17 carries for 63 yards. So far he is averaging 2.7 yards per carry (171 yards) while scoring 2 TD. Without a reception it is clear that Michel is not a part of New England’s passing game, so that eliminates some of his value floor. In order for Michel to have any type of fantasy value he has to find the end zone, and in facing the Redskins it’s hard to find a better match-up.

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

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends


  1. Tough matchups for some of my flexes this week, need two between Breida/Coleman depending on Coleman’s availability, Golden Tate, Auden Tate, and Josh Jacobs.

    • That is a tough call, but I’d gamble on Jacobs and then Auden Tate (if there’s any clarity in the usage, I’d go with one of the 49ers before that)

  2. Hello Professor,

    Great stuff as always! Would you rather have Derrick Henry or Joe Mixon ROS in full point PPR?

    Also, is it a good idea to sell high on Chubb given Hunt will be coming back later or is he a guy you’d hold on to?


    • I’d lean Mixon, but it’s pretty close

      As for Chubb, it all depends on what you can get back for him. I don’t know how big of a role Hunt is going to assume, but it’s worth exploring if you really can get a huge return


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