Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23): The past couple of weeks have brought fantasy players many new options at the running back position. Nick Chubb set a new career-high in rushing yards, thanks in large part to a 92-yard touchdown run. The Packers and HC Mike McCarthy finally freed second-year RB Aaron Jones who also set a new career-best mark. The Jaguars got starting RB Leonard Fournette back on the field and he scored twice. Two weeks ago, Dalvin Cook was back in the Vikings lineup after dealing with a hamstring injury and Colts RB Marlon Mack posted a pair of top three RB weeks. Seattle’s pair of “backup” RBs Mike Davis and rookie Rashaad Penny has been productive in recent weeks, too.
Which of these RBs would be your top choice to plug into a starting spot as the fantasy playoffs near? Also, which players are you not quite ready to trust until you see more production?
Rich Hribar (@LordReebs): AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRROOOOOOONNNNNNN JJJJJJJOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS
Jesse Pantuosco (@JessePantuosco): Maybe it’s recency bias coming off a big game in Week 10, but I’d lean Fournette here. Obviously, he’s not the most durable back in the league, but he is one of the most productive. Rather than easing him in coming off a month-long absence, the Jags immediately handed Fournette the keys to their backfield kingdom, affording him 29 touches in Sunday’s loss to the Colts. Fournette definitely had some rust to shake off against Indy—he averaged an underwhelming 2.2 yards per carry—but he had a monopoly on goal-line work (two touchdowns) and also played an active role in the passing game with five catches for 56 yards. Even if he doesn’t crack four yards per carry, Fournette’s sheer volume will keep him in play as a weekly RB1 going forward. I think he’s a rock-solid option this week against a Steelers Defense he annihilated twice last season (290 rushing yards, five touchdowns).
Consistent volume is what we aim for in fantasy, which is why I’m skeptical of the Seahawks’ backfield. Penny is finally getting on the field, an improvement from early in the year when he was glued to the bench, but he’s still a distant second to Chris Carson in the backfield pecking order. Mike Davis is the best receiver of the group, though his fantasy significance is directly tied to game script. He’ll come up big when the Seahawks are in catch-up mode, but otherwise, he’s not of much use to fantasy owners. Penny and Davis are worthy bench stashes, especially considering Carson’s durability concerns, but they’re not guys I’m relying on down the stretch.
Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat): Aaron Jones' hostile takeover of the Packers' backfield is now complete. When you marry his kind of talent to this kind of usage, you have a player who is going to be winning leagues for people. Chubb is a close second of his monster workloads. He's touched the ball 18, 20, 23 and 23 times in four games since Carlos Hyde's trade. When you groove a home run hitter that many pitches, he is going to deposit some into the bleachers like Chubb did in Week 10 with his 92-yard touchdown.
The rest of the guys are fine, but Fournette's effectiveness is a concern. The Seahawks' backfield is looking a little more sprawling each week. We still haven't seen a "normal" game from Cook.
Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23): With the Thursday night game in the books, we now have a better idea on some of these players. Jones went off again and his former competition Jamaal Williams only earned one touch the entire game. There's no question now that this backfield belongs to Jones. I don't think he's the only answer to this question but he might be the best.
Seattle is a different story. Barring another injury to one of Davis, Penny or Chris Carson, this looks like a true three-man committee the rest of the season, which will obviously make it difficult for fantasy players to pick from week to week. As for Cook, Fournette and Mack, I'm still a little worried about injuries and not yet confident in them to assume they'll be in my lineup the rest of the way.