by Ray Kuhn
It might just be the beginning, but the NFL schedule is beginning to look like a game of 52 card pickup. All that planning you did surrounding bye weeks is now out the window as it is all about survival. Currently, we have four teams on bye (Seahawks, Chargers, Saints, and Raiders) so we are without a few strong options at the running back position. Let’s take a look at what we are working with this week, as while it’s not going to be easy, powering through is what must be done.
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Arizona
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Houston
- Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at Tampa Bay
- Jonathan Taylor – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Cincinnati
- Kareem Hunt – Cleveland Browns – at Pittsburgh
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Kansas City Chiefs – at Buffalo
- Alexander Mattison – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Atlanta
- Mike Davis – Carolina Panthers – vs. Chicago
- David Montgomery – Chicago Bears – at Carolina
- Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Green Bay
- Todd Gurley – Atlanta Falcons – at Minnesota
- John Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Cleveland
- James Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Detroit
- Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Baltimore
- David Johnson – Houston Texans – at Tennessee
- Melvin Gordon – Denver Broncos – at New England
- Raheem Mostert – San Francisco 49ers – vs. LA Rams
- Devin Singletary – Buffalo Bills – vs. Kansas City
- Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Indianapolis
- Myles Gaskin – Miami Dolphins – vs. NY Jets
- Kenyon Drake – Arizona Cardinals – at Dallas
- Devonta Freeman – New York Giants – vs. Washington
- Antonio Gibson – Washington Football Team – at NY Giants
- Adrian Peterson – Detroit Lions – at Jacksonville
- Cam Akers – Los Angeles Rams – at San Francisco
- Mark Ingram – Baltimore Ravens – at Philadelphia
- Jerrick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers – vs. LA Rams
- Darrell Henderson – Los Angeles Rams – at San Francisco
- Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – at New England
- Duke Johnson – Houston Texans – at Tennessee
- Leonard Fournette – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Green Bay
- La’Mical Perine – New York Jets – at Miami
- Chase Edmonds – Arizona Cardinals – at Dallas
- J.D McKissic – Washington Football Team – at NY Giants
- D’Andre Swift – Detroit Lions – at Jacksonville
- J.K. Dobbins – Baltimore Ravens – at Philadelphia
- Frank Gore – New York Jets – at Miami
- Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – at Tampa Bay
- Chris Thompson – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Detroit
- Brian Hill – Atlanta Falcons – at Minnesota
- In taking advantage of a positive match-up against the Panthers on Sunday, Todd Gurley turned back the clock to his Rams’ days. Gurley looked good and ran with an explosiveness and a purpose we haven’t seen in a while as he gained 121 yards on 14 carries while scoring his fifth touchdown of the season. That gives Gurley 375 rushing yards on the season and he also was involved in the passing game four receptions for another 29 yards. This week we should expect more of the same from Gurley as he faces a Vikings team that has allowed the sixth most rushing yards to opposing running backs so far this season.
- Dalvin Cook’s initial MRI appears to be without issue, but it is still a long way to go until next week after he exited last week’s game with a groin injury. Early indications are that Minnesota isn’t going to rush his return, so for that reason he was omitted from the above rankings. Prior to that point Cook rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown as he continues his strong season. Entering last week, Cook had 424 rushing yards while averaging 5.7 yards per carry with six touchdowns. The good news in Minnesota is that there is a clear handcuff situation with Alexander Mattison. With 112 rushing yards on 20 carries, Mattison showed that what he is capable of and fantasy owners should be confident as a close to interchangeable option.
- On Thursday, Ronald Jones was the only Tampa Bay running back to even register a carry. Leonard Fournette was active but he didn’t touch the ball and rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn left with a chest injury in the second quarter. That left Jones to eclipse the century mark for the second week in a row as he looks to take a control of the Buccaneers’ backfield as part of what is shaping up to be a pretty good offense. Jones rushed for 106 yards on just 17 carries against the Bears while also catching three of his five targets for another 19 yards. That included a 37 yard run and we should be confident in Jones moving forward.
- We have to remember that there are just 32 teams, so that means at most we have 32 bell cows so each one has value. Then with four teams on bye, our options compress even further. This means we have to give real thought and attention to Devonta Freeman even if it has been a while since he was fantasy relevant. Freeman signed with the Giants following Saquon Barkley’s season ending injury and it has taken him a few weeks to find his footing. While he is not all of the way there, Freeman is making progress and it is clear that New York’s backfield belongs to him. Against the Cowboys, he carried the ball 17 times for 60 yards and a touchdown while catching two passes for 29 yards. New York’s offensive line is still a work in progress, but we know that the role and workload is there as he gains comfort in the offense each week.
- On the surface, it looks like Miles Sanders had a pretty solid game with 80 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries along with two receptions for 19 yards. But if we remove Sanders’ 74 yard touchdown run, there is going to be a vastly different conclusion. In fairness to Sanders, he has had a solid start to the season with 236 rushing yards in his first three games, but we need to temper our expectation in a tough match-up this week against Baltimore.
- It’s going to be pretty difficult to top Joe Mixon’s three touchdown performance two weeks ago, so it shouldn’t his letdown against Baltimore shouldn’t have been completely surprising. The good news though is that Cincinnati certainly leaned on Mixon as he was a large part of their game plan with 30 touches. The problem though is that Mixon gained just 95 combined yards and this week things could get even more difficult against a stout Indianapolis defense. But with his consistent workload, Mixon still is worthy of a starting spot.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 6 rankings: