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Week 6 Running Backs
RB Notes: The Panthers are claiming Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) is “50-50” to return against the Vikings, but they released one of his fill-ins, Rodney Smith, from the practice squad earlier this week. Actions always speak louder than words in these situations. If CMC goes, fantasy managers should consider him a no-brainer top-two back. The Panthers have shown zero introspection with their bell-cow’s usage, giving him full workloads any time he is healthy enough to take the field. … Dalvin Cook (ankle) is on track to return after getting in a limited practice on Wednesday, though the Vikings’ Week 7 bye does loom. It would make all the sense in the world to get Cook some extra rest. Sitting at 2-3, the Vikings probably don’t feel like making sense, however. You can debate the particulars, but if Cook goes, he will be top five. If Alexander Mattison gets the call, he will be top-three. … Austin Ekeler is the half PPR RB2 by both total and average points. The Ravens have surrendered a whopping 342 running back receiving yards, second to only the Jets. … Nick Chubb has been grounding his opponents into dust. Now he gets the Cardinals’ bottom-five run defense, one surrendering 5.4 yards per carry. The Cards don’t mind if their opposition runs. The Browns will happily oblige.
Ezekiel Elliott is the RB3 by total half PPR points over the past three weeks after his quiet Weeks 1-2. The Cowboys are comfortable road favorites in New England, though the Pats have limited enemy rushing production. This is a tough matchup to prognosticate after the Patriots handled Tom Brady before getting shredded by Davis Mills. … Making explosive plays every week, Jonathan Taylor is living up to his Wisconsin pedigree even as the Colts’ passing attack struggles to find an identity. Now he gets to run as a 10-point favorite vs. the expansion-level Texans. They don’t make setups better than this. … Najee Harris’ light could not be greener vs. the Seahawks’ bottom-two run D. The Seahawks’ offense could struggle to stay on the field sans Russell Wilson, creating monster volume opportunity. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s loss for the season also ups Harris’ targets floor. … Packers coach Matt LaFleur’s takeaway from the Week 5 running game was that he wished he had gotten AJ Dillon even more involved than his 12 touches, and that he trusts the sophomore back as a pass catcher. Is this backfield trending back to its 1A/1B roots with Dillon’s role suddenly looking more like Jamaal Williams? Even if it is, we know that’s a setup where Aaron Jones consistently provided RB1 returns. As for Dillon, with 28 combined touches over two very different game flows the past two weeks, he has established a FLEX floor.
Regardless of their durability concerns, the Rams are comfortable riding Darrell Henderson until the wheels fall off. He has a delectable Week 6 matchup in a Giants D coughing up the fifth most running back fantasy points, as well as sixth most rushing yards. The Rams will not struggle to dictate the game’s tempo and pace. … James Robinson made himself inevitable in the Jags’ backfield, and receiver injuries have made him too big to fail. The Dolphins permit the second most RB fantasy points. Urban Meyer’s lone offensive bright spot wasn’t even supposed to be a focal point. … Jamaal Williams’ increased involvement in the Lions’ ground attack has kneecapped neither D’Andre Swift’s floor nor ceiling. With Quintez Cephus landing on injured reserve, the Lions have even fewer pass-catching options than before. The entire offense has to be funneled through the backfield, and it’s a two-man job. Swift’s upside keeps him affixed to the RB1/2 borderline. He is the RB13 by average half PPR points. … Speaking of two-man backfields, Kareem Hunt is the RB5 by total half PPR points over the past three weeks. The Browns’ passing attack is ice cold. The ground is the place to get Arizona. Hunt can keep his hot streak going. … Leonard Fournette has 39 touches over the past two weeks. Giovani Bernard can’t seem to graduate from “two-minute back” to “third-down back.” There is no need to overthink these touches in this lethal offense.
The warning signs get a little brighter with each passing week for Antonio Gibson. After being limited throughout the offseason with a lingering toe issue, Gibson is dealing with a painful, seemingly escalating shin ailment. The Chiefs are burnable on the ground, but the air will have to be Washington’s emphasis. … Is this too high for Darrel Williams? It could be as early as next week if the Chiefs acquire Marlon Mack. For now, it’s a perfectly reasonable resting place. The Chiefs will dictate the terms in Washington, and there are still plenty of drives to finish near the goal line in this offense. Williams can basically be Clyde Edwards-Helaire without the baggage. We aren’t counting on catches or big plays. We are just hoping Patrick Mahomes’ running back gets some scoring-area looks. … Joe Mixon (ankle) played only 28 percent of the Bengals’ Week 5 snaps and was MIA in the passing game. His third-down usage had been in decline even before his injury. The good news is, he avoided setbacks against the Packers, and this is a game where the Bengals will be dictating. 15 carries is a solid bet as a 3.5-point road favorite. … Khalil Herbert got more work than expected in Week 5, but Damien Williams still led the way, posting decisive advantages in both targets and carries inside the 10-yard line. He will be the Bears’ first choice for any important situation.
The Giants seem to lack a Plan C behind Devontae Booker, making him a plug-and-play RB2 even for this tough matchup with the Rams. … With their franchise in the gutter, expect a reset week from the Raiders. That means leaning on the run. Incredibly, disgraced coach Jon Gruden had finally been increasing Josh Jacobs’ usage in the passing game. We’ll see if that continues under “Rich Bisaccia.” … Zack Moss has been a safe RB2 since rejoining the Bills’ lineup in Week 2. The Titans are soft on the ground and 5.5-point underdogs in a probable shootout. Moss will get some high-value touches. ... I’m going bullish on my Alex Collins rank if Chris Carson (neck) remains sidelined. Pete Carroll wants to lean on the run in the best of times, and Geno Smith is not the best of times. If Carson returns, it becomes a muddle where Carson is more FLEX than RB2 and Collins is off the map. … Myles Gaskin’s Week 5 usage was game-plan specific vs. the Bucs’ shutdown run defense, but his pass catching was the first plus attribute shown by a Dolphins back all season. The Jags are soft on the ground, and Gaskin is back in the lead. … It will be difficult for the Patriots to establish Damien Harris against the Cowboys’ elite offense. … The Eagles, who already don’t run, really won’t run against the Bucs. Can Miles Sanders catch more passes than Kenneth Gainwell, who has hit a rookie speed bump?