Zero RB Watchlist: Week 15

Welcome to the Ultimate Zero RB Watchlist where we follow usage patterns, advanced stats, and injuries to locate RB targets for your teams before anyone else even knows about them.

It’s me again, writing words to an intro that’s preventing us from diving into the running back usage. So let’s stop doing that and drive right into it. Good luck for Week 15!

Observations:

  • Ezekiel Elliott led all RBs in Week 14 with 33.3 total expected points. In a bit of a surprising twist, Elliott led all NFL RBs with 19.1 receiving expected points. As Blair Andrews has noted, Elliott was one of the biggest winners of the Amari Cooper trade. zeke-cooperElliott currently accounts for 19 percent of the Cowboys’ target share and is fairly reliable when targeted at shallower depths. Ezekiel Elliott AYAElliott’s increased usage in the receiving game has propelled him to the top of all NFL players in total EP. The Buy Low Machine indicates that Dallas RBs have favorable matchups over the next two weeks. RB BuysGiven the Cowboys’ matchups over the next two weeks, Elliott could single-handedly win gamers their fantasy championships.
  • Unfortunately Corey Clement suffered a knee injury and is out for the rest of the season.  In Clements’ absence, I expect that Josh Adams will work as the Eagles’ primary RB with Wendell Smallwood operating in a change-of-pace role. Boston Scott was recently added to the Eagles’ roster and makes for an intriguing stash candidate if you play in a deep dynasty league.
  • Austin Ekeler suffered a stinger in Week 15 and was added to the League’s concussion protocol on Monday. As of this article, it seems like Ekeler will not play this Thursday. Melvin Gordon returned to practice Tuesday and practiced on a limited basis. Gordon mentioned that he expects to suit up against the Kansas City Chiefs, but I expect that he might see less rushing work than usual.1 Justin Jackson should be added if possible, since he could have a role for this week and beyond.  
  • Despite Todd Gurley’s Week 14 dud, he racked up 15.1 total expected points. Gurley’s a game-flow independent RB and he should be back to setting your fantasy opponents’ team on fire given his outsize rushing and receiving workload.2 
  • Both Spencer Ware and Damien Williams performed much better in Week 14.Chiefs RBsAlthough the numbers don’t show it, Ware was the lead RB for the Chiefs against the Ravens. Williams was able to convert two touchdowns, and could be in-line for an increased workload if Ware is unable to play this Thursday.
  • Isaiah Crowell was unfortunately forced from the game with a foot injury and was spotted in a walking boot on Tuesday. In his absence, Elijah McGuire posted 83 yards and a touchdown from scrimmage. McGuire was fifth in total EP for Week 14, trailing only Elliott, Joe Mixon, Christian McCaffrey, and David Johnson. It’s possible that the Jets might shut Crowell down for the rest of the season, which bodes well for McGuire’s fantasy playoff outlook.
  • Newly appointed interim head-coach Joe Philbin utilized Jamaal Williams as the starter for the Packers. It worked about as well as it has all season3 and Aaron Jones quickly re-asserted his backfield dominance.Green Bay RBsWilliams should continue to play a role as the change-of-pace RB in this offense.
  • Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen split work evenly, amassing nearly equal EP numbers, but in close game situations, Matt Nagy opted to prioritize Cohen as the Bears’ primary RB against the Los Angeles Rams.Bears RBsCohen’s rushing workload came with an average scoring margin of 0.9 points, indicating that he saw most of his rushing usage when the game was close. Howard took over rushing duties when the Bears were able to play with a comfortable lead. Howard didn’t see much work as a receiver, despite facing positive game-script. Unfortunately Howard is reliant on finding the end zone in order to achieve his ceiling. Given that the Bears RBs face the second best schedule4 over the rest of the fantasy season, it’s possible that both Howard and Cohen turn in big playoff performances.
  • I’ve spent the last few weeks asking if Alvin Kamara was abducted by aliens and replaced by a body-double. Turns out, screaming “What did you do to Kamara!” into the speaker at every drive-through is a surefire way to get banned from a variety of fast-food restaurants.5 Thankfully, the RotoViz Screener indicates that Kamara hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s simply been incredibly inefficient with his volume over the last few weeks.Saints RBsOver the last four weeks, Kamara maintains his lead over Mark Ingram in total EP. Additionally, Kamara continues to see increased usage during close games.6 Kamara also has a significant edge over Ingram in the receiving game, but has posted a total of -2.7 reFPOE compared to Ingram’s 4.6 reFPOE. Hopefully Kamara’s on the verge of a bounceback game, as he’s far too good to remain inefficient for too long. Unless he has actually been replaced by a body-double, in which case several fast-food franchises owe me an apology and possibly some coupons.
PLAYERSEASruATTS.Q1ruEP.Q1ruFPOE.Q1reTRGS.Q2reEP.Q2reFPOE.Q2Total EP
Ezekiel Elliott20182814.2-2.91319.10.833.3
Joe Mixon20182618.3-1.269-1.327.3
Christian McCaffrey20181612.95.4790.821.9
David Johnson2018156.8-1.91015.1-5.921.9
Elijah McGuire20181715.1-3.145.10.220.2
Phillip Lindsay2018149.8-0.879.4-3.319.2
Damien Williams201887.20.2511.6018.8
Leonard Fournette20181413.1-9.534.3-1.817.4
Dion Lewis2018109.9-8.657.51.417.4
Doug Martin20181617-7.800017
Lamar Miller2018149.3067.6-0.716.9
Jaylen Samuels2018117.3-4.579.4416.7
Alvin Kamara2018126.6-1.569.1-0.515.7
Todd Gurley2018115.3-2.579.8-3.815.1
Nick Chubb2018137.35.367.6-1.914.9
Austin Ekeler20181584.656.4-1.614.4
Saquon Barkley2018148.214.856.20.514.4
Jeff Wilson20182312-322.1-0.514.1
Mark Ingram2018138.13.135.8-4.713.9
Spencer Ware2018157.10.456.63.813.7
Derrick Henry2018171334.800013
Aaron Jones2018178.65.2341.812.6
Sony Michel20182012.5-6.800012.5
Peyton Barber2018149.6-5.422.7-1.512.3
Wayne Gallman2018147.6-3.823.5-3.511.1
Jordan Howard2018199.1111.3-0.110.4
Tarik Cohen201894.32.646.1-0.110.4
Ito Smith2018114.81.245.5-1.110.3
LeGarrette Blount2018125.6-2.334.3-0.59.9
Theo Riddick201863.3-0.545.81.29.1
Marlon Mack2018147.41.911.5-1.58.9
Zach Zenner2018128.92.50008.9
Jacquizz Rodgers201841.9-0.356.90.98.8
Chris Thompson201831.60.756.8-2.38.4
Gus Edwards2018168.3-1.60008.3
Darren Sproles201810.5-0.337.84.68.3
Nyheim Hines201831.6-1.556.5-1.98.1
James White201842.5-1.245.4-1.97.9
Frank Gore20181263.211.427.4
Giovani Bernard201833.3-2.623.9-0.67.2
Alfred Blue201864.93.212-26.9
Chris Ivory2018125.6-1.411.3-1.36.9
Kenneth Dixon201885.46.511.41.76.8
Tevin Coleman2018105.2-0.711.3-0.76.5
Adrian Peterson2018104.7-3.111.4-0.16.1
Ty Montgomery201821.4-1.334.6-3.56
Justin Jackson201873-1.822.71.65.7
Jalen Richard201884.3-1.911.40.15.7
Trenton Cannon201853.62.711.6-0.25.2
Byron Marshall201810.4034.6-0.35
Royce Freeman201863.40.211.5-1.54.9
Rex Burkhead201841.8-1.623.1-1.84.9
Kenyan Drake201863.1-0.711.7-0.44.8
Rod Smith201841.90.822.51.14.4
Kyle Juszczyk201800034.4-0.34.4
Stevan Ridley201854.32.10004.3
Zach Line201810.6-0.213.73.44.3
Josh Adams201873.9-0.30003.9
Elijhaa Penny201852.6-0.511.21.43.8
Jamaal Williams201842-0.311.4-1.43.4
Alex Armah201813.2-3.20003.2
Dontrell Hilliard201800023.10.93.1
LeSean McCoy201821.5-1.411.5-1.53
Brandon Bolden201821.516.511.4-0.42.9
Devontae Booker201800022.90.22.9
Marcus Murphy201841.7-0.711.10.72.8
Tommy Bohanon201800012.8-2.82.8
James Develin201812.63.60002.6
Anthony Sherman201810.3-0.112.1-2.12.4
Alfred Morris201821.1-0.711.20.12.3
Isaiah Crowell201820.9-0.411.4-0.22.3
T.J. Yeldon201810.50.211.60.42.1
Darrel Williams201800011.801.8
Chase Edmonds201831.6-0.20001.6
Patrick DiMarco201800011.4-1.41.4
Derek Watt201800011.3-0.11.3
Carlos Hyde201800011.2-0.51.2
Duke Johnson201821-1.60001
Wendell Smallwood201810.7-0.40000.7
Brian Hill201810.6-0.10000.6
Cameron Artis-Payne201810.500000.5
Taquan Mizzell201810.5-0.40000.5
Corey Clement201810.4-0.80000.4
Justin Davis201810.41.50000.4
Andy Janovich201810.20.10000.2
  1. Largely as an attempt to keep Gordon healthy for, and during, the playoffs.  (back)
  2. Assuming his poor Week 14 performance didn’t knock you out.  (back)
  3. i.e., not working  (back)
  4. per the Buy Low Machine  (back)
  5. In other news, my new diet begins today!  (back)
  6. Indicated by Kamara’s ruAGMGN and reAVGMGN.  (back)

Hasan Rahim

Lead Writer, Co-Host of the Fantasy Football Report. The road to the Super Bowl is long and pointless.
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