Week 9 Running Backs
RB Notes: Dalvin Cook has reached 130 yards rushing in three of his past four games, with the only exception being Week 5 when he left early against the Seahawks. The Lions’ defense has improved against the run in recent weeks, but they could be missing Jarrad Davis (COVID-19) in the middle. … Set to suit up for the first time since Week 2, Christian McCaffrey should immediately reclaim his every-snap role from a game-but-fading Mike Davis. The ground remains the place to get the Chiefs, with Andy Reid’s defense coughing up 4.8 yards per carry and 143 rushing yards per contest. … Aaron Jones (calf) is a game-time call for Thursday night’s tilt with the 49ers. With Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon on the COVID-19 list, the typically conservative Packers will be more apt to force the issue with their bell-cow back as his absence continues to drag on longer than expected. If Jones cannot go, Dexter Williams will vie for low-end RB2 value as an early-down basher, with special teamer Tyler Ervin getting some run in the passing game. … Derrick Henry continues to heat up. He will be a volume play vs. a good, not great Bears run defense.
Alvin Kamara fully expects to play through his foot “injury.” Kamara has 17 more receptions than any other running back. Even with Michael Thomas (hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) returning for Week 9, Kamara’s catch floor remains 4-5. … Kenyan Drake (ankle) apparently avoided serious injury, but all signs point toward Drake sitting against the Dolphins. That leaves an every-down role for Chase Edmonds, who is seventh in running back receptions (27) and has as many 20-yard rumbles as Drake (three) despite handling 90 fewer carries. Edmonds could take 1A duties and run with them. … James Conner has a touchdown in 5-of-7 appearances. The Steelers are 13.5-point road favorites against the astoundingly bad Cowboys. … Josh Jacobs is second in carries (147) even though the Raiders have already had their bye. As feared, more work in the passing game has not materialized, but with more and more backfields devolving into 2-3 man committees, Jacobs’ touch certainty keeps him in the top 10. It helps that the Chargers give away 4.7 yards per carry, and that the Raiders are modest one-point road ‘dogs. … Todd Gurley has made back-breaking mental mistakes in back-to-back games, while the Falcons seem interested in getting Brian Hill more involved. For now, Gurley’s carry and goal-line supremacy keep him ranked higher than his talent would otherwise merit.
It’s impossible not to love James Robinson’s Week 9 setup against a Texans Defense allowing the third most RB fantasy points and 166 rushing yards per game. Let’s just hope Jake Luton’s first career start is good enough to prevent the Jags’ offense from going off the rails in a contest where they are 6.5-point home ‘dogs. … The RB21 by average half PPR points, David Johnson has an aces Week 9 matchup in a Jags run D handing out the sixth most RB fantasy points. … The Giants stamp out the run. We are betting on Antonio Gibson in the top 18 because he has now established both floor and upside. … Ezekiel Elliott will be playing through a hamstring injury against the 7-0 Steelers’ foreboding defense. The bigger concern is that either Cooper Rush or Garrett Gilbert will be under center. Zeke has reached 75 yards rushing once since Week 2. … Justin Jackson has provided 20 touches twice in three games. The Bolts’ touch distribution can be a bit unpredictable, but Jackson has clearly established himself ahead of Joshua Kelley in the overall workload department. … The Week 8 answer to “Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Le’Veon Bell?” was “neither.” The Panthers are worse on the ground than the Jets, but through two weeks, the polls have been off on the Chiefs’ backfield. I’m hedging with CEH as a mid-range RB2 and Bell as a low-ceiling FLEX.
JaMycal Hasty is the last man standing on early downs for the biblically banged up 49ers. With Kyle Shanahan’s passing attack bombed out by injury, Hasty’s number will be called early and often vs. a Packers Defense silver plattering the most enemy RB fantasy points. Dead-legged Jerick McKinnon should not be considered a real carries threat until further notice, though he will be needed for targets. … J.K. Dobbins vs. Gus Edwards is a loaded question. Dobbins had the Week 8 snaps advantage, while Edwards doesn’t contribute in the passing game. On the other hand, the Ravens still seem to slightly prefer Edwards on early downs, while the targets advantage doesn’t get you very far with a quarterback who rarely checks down to running backs. I will bet on Dobbins’ overall talent and Week 8 “breakout.” Edwards still can’t be forgotten as an RB2. … With injury uncertainty in the passing game, you can bet the Lions are focusing on the backfield in this week’s practices. D’Andre Swift is just a little too volatile to squeeze into the top 18. The Vikings’ defense is better on the ground than through the air. … Jonathan Taylor (ankle) and Jordan Wilkins (groin) are both banged up. Taylor’s issue clearly affected him in Week 8. We don’t want to live in this fantasy world, but no responsible ranker can have Taylor ahead of Wilkins right now. Both could have trouble providing RB2 returns vs. the Ravens’ elite front.
The time appears to be now for Damien Harris, who is operating as the only effective player in the Patriots’ broken offense. Lights don’t get more green than the Jets. Even in their current state, the Patriots are touchdown road favorites. … Chris Carson (foot) won’t be evaluated until Friday. Carlos Hyde (hamstring) is out. Travis Homer (knee) is good to go. DeeJay Dallas will get another lead look after playing 79 percent of the snaps in the Seahawks’ win over the 49ers. … The Bucs seem to be daring Ronald Jones to drop the ball, and he is obliging. Jones is a better runner than Leonard Fournette, but Fournette has the current advantage in (almost) every area that counts for fantasy. RoJo remains involved enough that Fournette does not rise above low-end RB2 status. … The gap is narrower between Zack Moss and Devin Singletary. Nevertheless, it seems to be Moss emerging with the money touches. There will be drives to finish against the Seahawks. ... Phillip Lindsay continues to outplay Melvin Gordon. The problem is, he’s not 100 percent. Now he’s dealing with a toe injury. Both have safe FLEX floors vs. an improved but still far from stay-away Falcons run D. … Myles Gaskin’s injury brings Jordan Howard back from the dead. Matt Breida would be the heavy touch favorite, but he is on the wrong side of questionable with a hamstring issue.