Week 6 Rankings (2019): Top 40 Running Backs: Maneuvering Around A Slew Of Injuries, Surprising Names Rise Into Viability & More

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And here we are for another week. We saw more of the same this past week then had for the previous four. There were a few top performances (Aaron Jones, anyone?), our usual share of duds, and then performances spread out in between.

Of course there are some situations that do require a closer look, but there weren’t really any running backs who emerged directly into fantasy relevance. However, that doesn’t mean we didn’t see any touchdowns or performances that left us shaking our heads for the lack of impact to anyone’s fantasy teams (Reggie Bonnafon, anyone?). Melvin Gordon returned, Saquon Barkley is going to miss another week, and someone named Jonathan Hilliman has fantasy value.

So yes, just another week in the life. Let’s dig into how our options rank for this week:

  1. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at Tampa Bay
  2. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Jacksonville
  3. Le’Veon Bell – NY Jets – vs. Dallas
  4. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Philadelphia
  5. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at NY Jets
  6. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. New Orleans
  7. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – vs. Detroit
  8. Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – vs. Seattle
  9. Todd Gurley – LA Rams – vs. San Francisco
  10. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Atlanta
  11. Mark Ingram – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Cincinnati
  12. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – at Cleveland
  13. Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – vs. Tennessee
  14. James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – at LA Chargers
  15. Damien Williams – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Houston
  16. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – at Denver
  17. Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – at Green Bay
  18. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – at Arizona
  19. Melvin Gordon – LA Chargers – vs. Pittsburgh
  20. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Baltimore
  21. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – at Miami
  22. James White – New England Patriots – vs. NY Giants
  23. Austin Ekeler – LA Chargers – vs. Pittsburgh
  24. Tevin Coleman – San Francisco 49ers – at LA Chargers
  25. Jordan Howard – Philadelphia Eagles – at Minnesota
  26. Jonathan Hilliman – NY Giants – at New England
  27. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – vs. Tennessee
  28. Matt Brieda – San Francisco 49ers – at LA Chargers
  29. Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles – at Minnesota
  30. Carlos Hyde – Houston Texans – at Kansas City
  31. Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Carolina
  32. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. Washington
  33. Sony Michel – New England Patriots – vs. NY Giants
  34. Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – at Miami
  35. LeSean McCoy – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Houston
  36. Chase Edmonds – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Atlanta
  37. Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Carolina
  38. Ito Smith – Atlanta Falcons – at Arizona
  39. Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans – at Denver
  40. Duke Johnson – Houston Texans – at Kansas City

Thoughts:

  • Let’s start off with Hilliman. By the nature of the situation, the un-drafted rookie running back needs to be on your radar as Barkley is slated to miss another week with his ankle injury and Wayne Gallman will be sidelined with a concussion. While Daniel Jones has provided some optimism, New York’s offense leaves a lot to be desired and facing the Patriots won’t make things any easier. After carrying the ball nine times last week, Hilliman will be the bell-cow on Thursday. So far this season the rookie has 19 carries for 53 yards, so we haven’t seen much in the way of performance yet. The other issue to consider is the fact that the game might end up being lopsided, which could lead to a lack of opportunities. Based on the the expected workload, he has to be on your radar.
  • Four out of five weeks of Christian McCaffrey’s performance has been nothing short of elite. The running back has, without question, earned his ADP and last week was no different. Even while being limited by cramps he made the most of his 25 touches, with 19 carries for 176 yards along with six receptions for another 61 yards. He also found the end zone three times, twice on the ground and once through the air, to give him seven total touchdowns for the season. We expected McCaffrey to be an elite option, but 5.6 yards per carry is just taking things to another level and he is also a legitimate option in the passing game (31 receptions for 279 yards). This week is a little interesting as the Panthers face Tampa Bay for the second time, but this time in London. There is also the revenge factor, as in their last meeting McCaffrey managed just 37 yards on 16 carries. Why wouldn’t we expect a bounce back effort?
  • For the purposes of doing these rankings early in the week, I’m going to operate under the assumption that David Johnson will be active. If that is the case he has to be in your lineup as an RB1, and Chase Edmonds does have some FLEX appeal. Should Johnson be sidelined, his understudy vaults into RB2 territory as he would be a complete, three down replacement. Through five games Johnson is averaging 4.1 yards per carry while also catching 24 passes for 247 yards, so the production is there despite the sometimes questionable nature of Arizona’s offense. Last week Edmonds gained 68 yards on eight carries, and I would expect to see him touch the ball a minimum of 10-15 times this week even if Johnson is in the lineup, as the Cardinals look to keep him fresh.
  • The flow of last week’s game didn’t work in Melvin Gordon’s favor, but he did lead the Chargers in carries with 12. I wouldn’t read too much into that as Aaron Ekeler only carried the ball three times, so it is Gordon who is Los Angeles’ primary ball carrier. As we suspected Ekeler wasn’t exactly devoid of value, in fact he was actually more valuable thanks to his role in the passing game. With the Chargers falling behind so early, it was an unusual situation as Ekeler was targeted 16 times for 15 receptions and 86 yards. That won’t be an every week event, but at least we get the point that both running backs are viable options.
  • Nothing about doubling your season total for rushing touchdowns in one week. With four in the first four weeks of the season, we aren’t exactly taking the easy way out here either for Aaron Jones. Regardless of how optimistic you might have been about the Green Bay running back last week, you never could have predicted four touchdowns and 107 rushing yards on 19 carries. I would resist the urge to elevate Jones too much as he truly has been hit or miss this season. That was the second 100-plus yard game of the season for Jones, but in his other three games he has a combined 79 rushing yards. The fact that Jamaal Williams was sidelined with a concussion last week did work in Jones’ favor, and that should continue this week against the Lions who happen to be one of the more favorable defenses to opposing running backs. Then factor in Jones’ 13 combined receptions over the past two weeks, and maybe there should be some overreaction? At the very least, he is an RB1 this week.
  • In total it was a very successful week for Matt Brieda. I mean, isn’t that is what is supposed to happen you kick things off with an 83 yard touchdown run. Aside from that he gained just 31 yards on 10 carries, but overall it was his second 100 yard game of the season. The San Francisco backfield is a little on the crowded side with Tevin Coleman’s return, but Brieda is the most explosive option. With 16 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown, Coleman is going to see a slightly larger portion of the work going forward, and that puts him slightly ahead of Brieda. However, we should also note that with the result of the game firmly in place, San Francisco was in the position of just running out the clock for most of the game.

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

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses

21 COMMENTS

  1. PPR 1 pt Need 2 from the following:
    RB Breida SF
    RB Michel NE
    RB T Coleman ATL
    WR JuJu PIT
    WR Kirk ARI

    QB Minshew JAX or Garoppolo SF?

  2. Two questions (Non-PPR league):

    1) Do I roll with Mixon or pick-up/start Malcom Brown or Reggie Bonnafon (if Gurley and/or CMC are out)? Though, the odds that either Gurley or CMC will be out are probably low.

    2) Do I flex Marvin Jones, Byron Pringle, Devante Parker/Preston Williams, or one of the above (again, if Gurley or CMC is out)? Who has the best floor, and who has the higher boom chance (in your opinion)?

    • 1) I’m going Mixon, because like you said it’s highly unlikely one of those guys sits

      2) It’s hard to envision one of those guys missing, so I’d go Jones (with Williams as my second choice)

  3. Hi, Prof. My league awards 0.5 PPR. Wondering if I should start RB Chase Edmonds over WR Terry McLaurin at FLEX, if David Johnson doesn’t end up playing. What do you think? Thanks.

  4. I was offered this trade:
    Give: Devin Singletary
    Get: Calvin Ridley & Hunter Henry

    My team:
    QB: Carson Wentz & Josh Allen
    RB: Mark Ingram, Joe Mixon, Devin Singletary, Latavius Murray, & Malcolm Brown
    WR: Deandre Hopkins, Robert Woods, John Brown, Marvin Jones, & Sterling Shepard
    TE: TJ Hockenson & Chris Herndon

    His team:
    QB: Tom Brady & Jimmy G
    RB: Sony Michel, Tevin Coleman, Chris Thompson, Adrian Peterson, & Darrell Henderson
    WR: Devante Adams, Sammy Watkins, Michael Gallup, & Calvin Ridley
    TE: Travis Kelce, George Kittle, & Hunter Henry

    I think the trade as proposed leaves me too weak at RB (especially since there’s essentially none left on the wire) and don’t want to take it. I was thinking of countering with Singletary & Jones for Thompson, Ridley, & Henry. What are you thoughts? Is there a different trade that might give him the RB help he wants, the WR/TE help I want, and doesn’t make me too weak at RB (at least for bye weeks & bad matchups for Mixon)?

    • Agreed on the current trade leaving you far too thin at RB. Granted Singletary is a gamble and there’s no guarantee, but he has the highest upside to be a solid option and without him an injury could sink your season.

      The counter isn’t crazy, though it all depends on the PPR rules. If it isn’t PPR, Thompson also doesn’t offer too uch value

      • It’s a straight standard league, so Thompson loses a lot of his value, but I figure he’s the best RB the other guy would actually give up as part of a package deal. It sounds like, though, that my proposed counter just not quite worth it in a non-ppr. I’m 1-4, so I’m just trying to see what moves I can make to dig myself out of this hole.

  5. Hi Professor

    this week’s perplexing conundrum – standard scoring

    I have Carson and Fournette in at RB and Godwin in at WR

    the head scratching begins with injury issues

    I have Tyreek Hill and Ridley for other WR or Flex

    I have Malcolm Brown and Chase Edmonds available for Flex

    should I trust Tyreek to get enough run at other WR and if so who is best to Flex among Ridley Malcolm Brown or Edmonds (if Gurley out)?

    thank you sir!

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