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Weekly Fantasy Finishes - Running Backs



By Doug Orth | 11/12/20 |

About this time every year, I like to shine a light on each position and focus on how they fared among their peers on a weekly basis. While I am very much a believer that fantasy football is a weekly game and play the matchups as much as anything when it comes to fringe players, knowing how each player ranked among his position group each week is a handy little tool - whether you want a quick reference guide in your redraft leagues to help set expectations for a certain player or need an idea on the range of a player's performances to help break a tie between two or three options in your DFS lineups.

For the sake of time and space (not to mention my sanity), not every player that has scored a point appears below. My qualifications at running back: at least five games played and one top-30 finish. (I kept a non-qualifier such as Christian McCaffrey on the table below for the sake of reference.) "Best" refers to the player's highest weekly fantasy finish, while "worst" obviously refers to his lowest. "Aver" is the player's average weekly finish. Squares were left blank when the player was active but failed to register a fantasy point. Got it? Good.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
 Weekly Ranks for RBs
Rk Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Best Worst Avg
1 Alvin Kamara 8 2 1 10 9 b 3 2 5 1 10 5.0
2 Dalvin Cook 9 17 6 2 9 DNP b 1 1 1 17 6.4
3 Aaron Jones 12 1 15 7 b 15 DNP DNP 14 1 15 10.7
4 James Robinson 34 9 4 20 29 9 2 b 5 2 34 14.0
5 Derrick Henry 13 37 5 b 12 1 15 9 40 1 40 16.5
6 Miles Sanders DNP 12 20 32 3 17 DNP DNP b 3 32 16.8
7 Chris Carson 7 13 26 4 9 b 43 DNP DNP 4 43 17.0
8 Ezekiel Elliott 3 7 13 11 4 18 39 35 30 3 39 17.8
9 Todd Gurley 20 47 18 12 2 24 4 23 12 2 47 18.0
10 Kareem Hunt 24 6 22 13 14 31 8 30 b 6 31 18.5
11 Mike Davis 21 9 7 1 20 30 32 31 1 32 18.9
12 Josh Jacobs 1 24 30 29 5 b 39 20 11 1 39 19.9
13 Clyde Edwards-Helaire 11 26 12 22 26 5 19 41 19 5 41 20.1
14 Myles Gaskin 30 22 21 36 8 7 b 17 DNP 7 36 20.1
15 Antonio Gibson 48 28 24 5 28 26 9 b 18 5 48 23.3
16 Joe Mixon 49 27 34 1 18 11 DNP DNP b 1 49 23.3
17 James Conner 62 10 7 b 20 6 17 13 53 6 62 23.5
18 Jonathan Taylor 15 14 23 37 18 8 b 47 27 8 47 23.6
19 Melvin Gordon 14 18 38 3 b DNP 20 22 55 3 55 24.3
20 David Montgomery 38 8 41 25 13 14 21 21 49 8 49 25.6
21 Ronald Jones 32 32 30 14 17 4 23 39 50 4 50 26.8
22 David Johnson 10 44 25 23 25 13 12 b 63 10 63 26.9
23 D'Andre Swift 28 28 62 17 b 3 16 45 17 3 62 27.0
24 Jerick McKinnon 22 23 14 6 54 39 68 16 7 6 68 27.7
25 Chase Edmonds 21 57 48 19 7 48 5 b 21 5 57 28.3
26 Kenyan Drake 17 31 32 57 24 2 43 b DNP 2 57 29.4
27 Damien Harris DNP DNP DNP 31 b 42 32 11 38 11 42 30.8
28 Darrell Henderson 83 10 11 45 6 27 28 37 b 6 83 30.9
29 Devin Singletary 31 33 16 15 48 36 36 25 42 15 48 31.3
30 Leonard Fournette 66 3 54 DNP DNP DNP 14 26 25 3 66 31.3
31 Jamaal Williams 40 38 64 16 b 51 6 8 DNP 6 64 31.9
32 Giovani Bernard 44 39 34 66 59 19 7 3 b 3 66 33.9
33 Nyheim Hines 4 77 28 42 43 31 b 5 45 4 77 34.4
34 Zack Moss 27 60 DNP DNP DNP 71 27 7 15 7 71 34.5
35 J.D. McKissic 82 50 37 32 27 12 35 b 3 3 82 34.8
36 James White 40 DNP DNP 21 b 9 56 44 42 9 56 35.3
37 J.K. Dobbins 19 42 36 62 30 38 b 19 48 19 62 36.8
38 Phillip Lindsay 57 DNP DNP DNP b 23 33 12 60 12 60 37.0
39 Joshua Kelley 25 25 49 48 45 b 26 55 24 24 55 37.1
40 Adrian Peterson 18 58 29 32 b 16 46 61 37 16 61 37.1
41 Wayne Gallman 70 57 47 47 12 18 10 10 70 37.3
42 Malcolm Brown 5 54 69 27 50 37 22 36 b 5 69 37.5
43 Rex Burkhead 65 35 2 43 b 68 34 50 8 2 68 38.1
44 Latavius Murray 56 50 39 9 31 b 37 41 44 9 56 38.4
45 Justin Jackson 85 52 22 b 25 9 9 85 38.6
46 Devonta Freeman DNP DNP 77 24 15 33 60 DNP DNP 15 77 41.8
47 Jeff Wilson DNP 84 10 61 53 DNP 1 DNP DNP 1 84 41.8
48 Gus Edwards 75 40 56 54 54 29 b 14 27 14 75 43.6
49 Duke Johnson 77 DNP DNP 41 52 57 29 b 9 9 77 44.2
50 Brian Hill 61 55 19 48 35 51 41 33 59 19 61 44.7
51 JaMycal Hasty DNP DNP 63 DNP DNP 49 31 26 56 26 63 45.0
52 Mark Ingram 66 19 61 25 41 58 b DNP DNP 19 66 45.0
53 Alexander Mattison 25 64 64 40 16 46 b 67 39 16 67 45.1
54 Devontae Booker 42 76 60 31 b 49 43 15 15 76 45.1
55 Frank Gore 70 46 42 46 51 22 41 57 34 22 70 45.4
56 La'Mical Perine 74 52 70 35 18 45 45 18 74 48.4
57 Tony Pollard 54 72 81 30 42 34 51 33 40 30 81 48.6
58 Kerryon Johnson 77 34 55 65 b 54 29 26 26 77 48.6
59 Jordan Wilkins 59 46 52 68 73 b 6 45 6 73 49.9
60 Boston Scott 43 40 81 80 65 55 10 28 b 10 81 50.3
61 Kyle Juszczyk 50 64 72 64 37 62 23 50 64 23 72 54.0
62 Dion Lewis 87 20 68 54 56 58 64 31 52 20 87 54.4
63 Benny Snell 28 88 76 b 57 28 38 72 28 88 55.3
64 Jeremy McNichols 74 b 49 30 66 48 68 30 74 55.8
65 Darrel Williams 55 67 64 77 44 21 54 65 21 77 55.9
66 Tyler Ervin 52 77 58 67 b DNP DNP 64 22 22 77 56.7
67 Travis Homer 72 68 70 38 59 b 59 68 23 23 72 57.1
68 Peyton Barber 15 86 80 74 58 49 b 15 86 60.3

Stating the obvious, there's a reason why teams with Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook and Aaron Jones are probably among the best in your league(s). Among that group, Cook's 17th place finish in Week 2 is the worst weekly finish by any member of that trio. Of the 21 games that threesome has totaled this season, they have posted an RB1 finish (inside the top 12 backs for the week) 17 times.

Just over a month ago, it would have seemed ridiculous to think Ezekiel Elliott could be considered an RB2. He hasn't even come all that close to being more than a mid-level flex play recently though. After finishing inside the top 18 in each of the first six games, he has placed no better than RB30 since. Even though the overwhelming percentage of fantasy owners understand why it is happening, it is still a shock to the system. Zeke has scored fewer than nine PPR points in three straight weeks after failing to reach double digits only once in each of the previous two seasons.

How ironic is it that two Wisconsin running backs by themselves next to each other on this list? (And no, I'm not trying to poke fun at the former Badgers.) Melvin Gordon entered the season was expected to be part of a committee - even though his ADP largely reflected an expectation he would eventually push Phillip Lindsay into more of a true backup role. In the four games the two have played together, Gordon has generally been a low-end RB2 (average finish of 18.7, not including Week 9). In three games without Lindsay around, his average weekly finish was 19.7.

Jonathan Taylor was also expected to enter the season in a committee, although it was considered a given he would eventually beat out Marlon Mack. His timetable was sped up exponentially when Mack was lost for the season in Week 1. While his fantasy efforts were generally slightly disappointing for a player many expected to be an RB1 as soon as he was named the starter, his average weekly finish was still a respectable 19.2 through six games. The Colts' response since their Week 7 bye: feed him less and resort to a system in which running backs coach Tom Rathman determines which running back plays after head coach Frank Reich makes the call on personnel on his first 15 scripted plays. The last time Rathman spoke to the media (sometime around the bye week), he said Taylor had done everything the team has asked him to do and the only thing he needed was a little more experience. So the response is giving him less opportunity to gain experience now? His snaps have dropped from roughly 50 percent before the bye to 32.4 percent in the two games since. The result: a back-end RB4 finish followed by a high-end RB3 finish since the bye. It appears Taylor's path to fantasy relevancy at the moment depends on his ability to make a big play while Reich is working off his script.

It took nearly half of the season for Zack Moss to reward the patience of his fantasy owners after suffering a toe injury in Week 2, but he's starting to justify the faith many in the industry had in him (myself included). Just as most of us expected, he's getting the money touches (near the goal line) and mostly sharing the work with Devin Singletary everywhere else. The result has been top-30 finishes in each of the last three weeks, including two inside the top 15. Meanwhile, Singletary has posted an RB3 finish or worst in five straight.

J.D. McKissic was generally considered a nuisance for fantasy owners in September - one more hurdle (albeit an easy one) to keep rookie Antonio Gibson from reaching his fantasy ceiling. While Gibson continues to hang around low-end RB2/high-end flex territory, McKissic has emerged as something of a poor man's James White. A negative game script running back for a team that is unlikely to win more than one or two more times this year and now operating with a quarterback known for checking down, McKissic is a viable flex starter moving forward with decent upside. While he may not see 14 targets in a game ever again, we need to ask ourselves how many running backs not named Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara have that kind of opportunity in the passing game to begin with. McKissic's snaps have held steady all season long, so playing time should not be an issue. It's a real possibility Washington finds itself in negative game scripts in each of its games from now until Week 16. If we need a reminder of what that means for McKissic, he has totaled eight fantasy points in Washington's two wins. In the WFT's other six games, he is averaging 10.9 points (with two RB1 efforts over his last three games).

Of note: In three games with Leonard Fournette sidelined, Ronald Jones' average weekly rank was 11.7 and his worst finish was RB17. In five games with Fournette around, Jones' average weekly rank is 34.3 and his best finish is RB23 (with five finishes of RB30 or worse). Fantasy owners can make whatever excuse they want about Sean McVay's running back usage, but Darrell Henderson has finished inside RB1 range (the top 12) three times and outside flex range (RB25 or lower) in his other five games. As hard as it may be to believe, the lead back for the Bengals (Joe Mixon in Weeks 4-6 and Giovani Bernard in Weeks 7-8) has finished as an RB1 in four of the team's last five contests.


Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”. Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.