Updated 12/11 at 12:10 PM ET. Decided to leave Travis Homer ahead of Tony Jones. I think he will win the overall snaps war.
Week 14 Running Backs
RB Notes: Seeing Derrick Henry-type workloads while actually being involved in the passing game, Josh Jacobs has become too big to fail. That is especially true as a touchdown road favorite for a short-week matchup with the Rams' collapsed defense. … Brock Purdy may have finally solved the 49ers' Christian McCaffrey identity crisis. With no Jimmy Garoppolo and Elijah Mitchell, there is no Plan B, other than perhaps increased Deebo Samuel change-of-pace touches. McCaffrey has to be the heartbeat of the offense. Purdy, naturally, locked onto him in Week 13. The only fly in the Week 14 ointment is a Bucs defense that has surrendered the second fewest RB receptions. … Austin Ekeler is on pace for 121 receptions, which would break Christian McCaffrey's 2019 running back record by five. … Derrick Henry is averaging just 2.77 yards on 75 carries over his past four appearances. It's not like the Big Dog, who is usually grinding defenses into dust at this point of the season. A Jaguars D that didn't even appear to be on the field against the Lions last Sunday could be the get-right spot Henry has been waiting for.
Speaking of wearing down, Saquon Barkley is averaging only 2.82 yards per carry over the past three weeks, notching just one 10-plus yard rush in the process. Although they are more forgiving on the ground than through the air, the Eagles won't make life any easier on Sunday. … Averaging five weekly catches and 93 yards from scrimmage, Rhamondre Stevenson is the only player doing his job in the Patriots' offense. At least according to EPA per rush, the Cardinals are a perfectly average run defense. Damien Harris' (thigh) status is unclear. … If Week 13 was any indication, the Browns haven't nailed down their post-Deshaun Watson offensive approach. Expect a greater Nick Chubb commitment against a Bengals defense that is bottom seven in EPA per rush. That is as long as the nearly touchdown road 'dog Browns can keep things close. … I can't remember ever ranking two running backs from the same team inside the top 12, but Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott will be there for Week 14. It helps that six backfields are on bye. It really helps that the Cowboys are 17-point home favorites against the league's worst run defense. Let's just hope Malik Davis doesn't get too much second half time to kill.
Fun as the Lions have become, they are still a bottom-three run defense by EPA, one coughing up 5.2 yards per carry. Dalvin Cook will have plenty of room to work inside the contours of the 52.5 over/under. … Joe Mixon (concussion) returns against a Browns run D that is by some metrics the worst in the league. The only concern might be the Bengals lighten his load a bit after Samaje Perine's successful two-game fill-in stint. … The Jags couldn't sustain drives in Week 13, limiting Travis Etienne's volume. That he reached 16 touches in a 40-14 loss was something of a triumph. Unfortunately, the Titans are lockdown on the ground, making Etienne a floor-based rather than ceiling-seeking Week 14 option. … Despite allowing a few blow-up games, the Pats have generally held their own against the run. James Conner is nevertheless well rested coming off both his bye and best week as a Cardinal. The Cardinals may want to limit Kyler Murray's attempts vs. Bill Belichick. …Dealing with foot and rib issues coming out of the Panthers' bye, D'Onta Foreman is a riskier RB2 than he otherwise would be for a plus matchup against the Seahawks.
Back to tha old me? Off the injury report for the first time since the opener, D'Andre Swift reached 18 touches and cleared 100 yards from scrimmage for the first time since Week 1, leading the Lions' backfield in snaps. He is now back on the injury report as limited with an ankle issue, but it should just be rep management after his season-best workload. Swift must be in lineups for this 52.5-totaled showdown. … It's tough to say what happened to Jeff Wilson in his one-touch Week 13. I would have to imagine it was a game script aberration in a contest where the Dolphins simply played poorly against an elite defense. The Dolphins' lead pure runner, Wilson has an A+ bounce-back spot against the Chargers' historically bad run defense. … Rachaad White and Leonard Fournette played to a touch and snap standstill in Week 13. I'm expecting something similar on Sunday, but I'll give the more explosive White the rankings edge vs. the 49ers' elite defense. … Just trying to survive, I would expect the Rams to stick with Cam Akers for Thursday night's short-week date with the Raiders. He's one of the few skill players left who has any meaningful experience in Sean McVay's offense.
James Cook's Week 13 backfield takeover was one game, but it was quite a convincing one. Showing everything the Bills aren't getting out of Devin Singletary — most notably receptions and chunk gains on the ground — I would expect Cook to get a long look as lead back before the Bills embark on the postseason meat grinder. … Michael Carter (ankle) is off the injury report, but Jets coach Robert Saleh has insisted Zonovan Knight is “not going anywhere.” Coming off a pair of performances better than anything Carter has mustered this year, we would expect Knight to remain the Jets' lead back. Gang Green looks for reasons not to use Carter. Knight has given them another. … Travis Homer (knee) is practicing. Ken Walker (ankle) and DeeJay Dallas (ankle) are not. Tony Jones isn't good enough to be on the field. Homer is worth a desperation gambit against the Panthers. … The Browns seem to have lost all interest in Kareem Hunt as a concept. … With the Ravens back to square one at quarterback, expect yet another running game re-commitment to Gus Edwards despite last week's bizarre usage.