Week 17 Running Backs
RB Notes: Christian McCaffrey has at least one touchdown in seven of his eight full contests as a 49er. The Raiders permit the third most RB fantasy points. … Speaking of touchdowns, Austin Ekeler has four in his past three games, and a league-leading 16 on the year. The Rams are a tough matchup, but Ekeler gets home in too many ways to drop outside the top three. … While we are on the subject of tough matchups, the 49ers have allowed the league's fewest rushing yards and RB fantasy points. They are No. 1 in run defense EPA. I'm keeping Josh Jacobs in the top five based on volume alone, especially since the Raiders no longer have a Plan B with Jarrett Stidham under center. … Saquon Barkley has 13 catches over his past two appearances. Finally. The folded-up Colts hand out the sixth most RB fantasy points, and the Giants are nearly touchdown home favorites, foreshadowing positive game script. … With Thursday evening's game against the Cowboys immaterial to their flickering AFC South hopes, it appears the Titans will shut down Derrick Henry (hip) against the Cowboys. A calamity for fantasy managers, and an opportunity for Hassan Haskins. Haskins is still merely a desperation FLEX. We don't truly know how the Titans might deploy their RBs, and their offensive environment profiles as absolutely terrible.
Over his mid-season malaise, Dalvin Cook gets the Packers' bottom-three run defense for finals week. … The RB1 by average points over the past five weeks, James Conner is catching passes and scoring touchdowns. Colt McCoy's Week 17 return boosts the Cardinals' entire offense, if modestly. The Falcons are a top-tier matchup for the fantasy finals. … Travis Etienne was rockin' and rollin' in tough Week 15 and 16 matchups with the Cowboys and Jets. Now he gets a Texans defense coughing up both the most weekly rushing yards and RB fantasy points. An RB1 overall finish is within the range of outcomes. … It's been a painful few weeks of mistakes for Rhamondre Stevenson. Perhaps he might lose a little more work than expected if Damien Harris (thigh) ever returns. He's still a home favorite against an ordinary Dolphins run D. … Nick Chubb has struggled for traction since Deshaun Watson's insertion under center but has still legged out 90-plus yards on the ground each of the past two weeks. He picked up a foot injury in the process but already played through it in Week 16. The Commanders are something of a rough spot for Week 17.
Aaron Jones got out-touched 13-8 by AJ Dillon in Week 16. Bizarre, though also likely a fluke. Especially with Christian Watson (hip) looking shaky, Jones' 3-5 weekly receptions keep him in the RB1 mix for what is projected to be a high-scoring contest with the Vikings. … A projected high-scoring contest is what Joe Mixon is hanging his Week 17 hat on. The Bengals' lead back is merely the RB19 by average PPR points since returning from his concussion three weeks ago. The good news there is, that production has come without a touchdown. No TDs is something of a fluke for Mixon in this offense. … The Seahawks finally got back to Ken Walker in tough Week 16 conditions vs. the Chiefs. Things won't be easing up against the Jets, though even with Mike White returning, Gang Green doesn't have the kind of offense likely to put Seattle behind the eight ball at home. Game script should remain friendly enough for Walker to approach 20 handles. … Tony Pollard (thigh) is highly questionable for Thursday Night Football. I've removed him from the rankings. If he plays, it's probably back to his “volatile FLEX” days, a massive shame for managers who have come to rely on him as an upside RB1.
I was expecting the Cowboys to finally dial back Ezekiel Elliott's workload a bit as they shift into playoff mode, but that was before Tony Pollard (thigh) landed on the wrong side of questionable. Now Elliott should be considered likely to see his normal workload, though monster road favorites Dallas could also end up leaning on Malik Davis in what figures to feel like a preseason game. … Alvin Kamara has reached 20 carries in back-to-back games for the first time all season. That didn't stop him from complaining about his role during the week. Kamara has been yanked off the field for a disturbing amount of third downs. That has to change against the Eagles, who are leaky vs. both the run and pass-catching RBs. … It's been back-to-back fiascos for Miles Sanders, who is losing fumbles and making mental mistakes. He also wasn't even the goal-line back in Dallas despite Jalen Hurts' absence. This is not a player coach Nick Sirianni trusts with his life even if he tolerates him between the 20s. … The Bucs no longer seem interested in benching Leonard Fournette, who keeps catching passes and maintains solid touchdown odds despite his recent scoring cold snap. His 29 Week 16 touches were his most of the season. The Bucs will have to keep their short-passing attack revved up vs. Carolina's strong defense.
Mammoth 12.5-point home favorites vs. the coach-fired Broncos, expect the Chiefs to rely on clock-drainer Isiah Pacheco more than pass-catcher Jerick McKinnon. As for McKinnon, this might finally be the week Mecole Hardman (abdomen) returns and competes for some of the same looks through the air. … Finishing the year strong, Tyler Allgeier has a plus Week 17 matchup in a Cardinals defense handing out the fifth most RB fantasy points. The Falcons are tidy home favorites vs. the Colt McCoy-starting Cards. … Just like that, Cam Akers has reached 15 touches and averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in back-to-back weeks. Although they have cleaned up some of their ground struggles, the Chargers remain highly permissive to the run. … Brian Robinson has become the Commanders' clear ground focus over a knee- and ankle-hobbled Antonio Gibson. … It was a quieter Week 16 for J.K. Dobbins, who nevertheless remained efficient in Baltimore's win over the Falcons. The workloads have become reliably FLEX. … Wildly variant, D'Onta Foreman has a tough Week 17 assignment in the Bucs. … Both Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift have been face-planting of late, but the week's highest-totaled game with the Bears represents a bounce-back opportunity vs. the No. 28 run defense by EPA.