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!
- 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. Elliott currently accounts for 19 percent of the Cowboys’ target share and is fairly reliable when targeted at shallower depths. Elliott’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. Given 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.Although 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.Williams 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.Cohen’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.Over 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.
- Largely as an attempt to keep Gordon healthy for, and during, the playoffs. (back)
- Assuming his poor Week 14 performance didn’t knock you out. (back)
- i.e., not working (back)
- per the Buy Low Machine (back)
- In other news, my new diet begins today! (back)
- Indicated by Kamara’s ruAGMGN and reAVGMGN. (back)