Week 13 of the 2015 NFL season is over and the fantasy football running back landscape is as volatile as it always is at this moment. We are at a point where it is unclear if there are more than 15 RBs who are safe to start, which means there is a lot of confusion for owners to fill their RB2 and flex spots, make trades, craft our benches to cover our tails. But we are at a point where well over half of the primary jobs are solidified; and--with bye weeks over--handcuffs to our starters are more valuable than replacement level RBs on our bench.
This weekly post has looked solely at the safety of primary and passing downs roles around the league up to this point. For the remainder of season, we will contextualize the individuals with rest of season rankings in a separate post. Injuries have taken away so many options, bellcows are taking away snaps from receiving backs, and passing down backs are being used so much for blocking as offensive lines have depleted that without three of the top-25 RBs on our roster, we are best off going with low-floor-high-ceiling WRs in our flex spots than RBs with low ceilings.
Remember we are gauging volatility here more situationally than based on the skill of the players. On one hand, a very talented back can not get the ball enough to trust while a mediocre back is higher in ranks simply because he can be trusted to get a high quantity of touches. No matter what the talent level of the back, an RB is only good in fantasy as his situation.
Ranking volatility is trite and oversimplifying. We will separate them into tiers, from the most to least volatile. The most volatile situations are mostly ones to avoid, unless otherwise noted; and the least are one where roles are shared, but there is still startable weekly fantasy value to be had.
Notable situations not ranked in volatility this week:
- The Giants, Texans, Titans, Browns, Washington RBs: We are in playoff mode. There is no reason to be rostering Rashad Jennings, Orleans Darkwa, Alfred Blue, Chris Polk, Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, Isaiah Crowell, or Chris Thompson. Shane Vereen and Duke Johnson, Jr. as a PPR stashes or Antonio Andrews in any format for the desperate situation of our starting RB with an unattainable handcuff going down is reasonable, but that is about it. There is literally nothing else to reasonably gain with them.
Tier 1: Timeshares where no one is startable
Danny Woodhead and Melvin Gordon, Chargers: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Only weeks ago, Danny Woodhead was a top-10 RB in standard and top-5 in PPR. This offense has become a complete mess. It started with the injuries to the line, then Antonio Gates being up and down, to Keenan Allen being lost for the year. It is reasonable to roster these two, but Woodhead is the only must-own as a high-upside RB3 in PPR. I was going to throw the numbers at you, but we do not need convincing that there is little hope for this situation.
Tier 2: Timeshares with a startable option
Tier 3: Timeshares with multiple startable options
Patriots, Jets, Eagles, Bears
in the pass game again.
The Jets found themselves down by ten after the Giants scored 20 in the second quarter in Week 13, so Powell was on the field for 43 snaps to Ivory's 30, but Ivory still got his 15 touches. Is Powell 8/91/1 line in the pass game repeatable? No, Powell should be in the 40% snap range and be a safe PPR flex for James White type volume with less scoring upside.
Demarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Sproles, Eagles: Mathews (concussion) is expected to return in Week 14 after missing the last three weeks. He scored six TDs in the Eagles first games, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, while active in the passing game with 14 catches. Murray's dwindling touches to single digits is perplexing, but they have trended downward after consistently smashing 20 touches with Mathews active.
We cannot predict this timeshare, but we can probably safely treat Murray as an RB2 and Mathews as a flex against a struggling Bills run defense this week and then we can re-evaluate. Sproles is still just a desperation high-upside flex in PPR, despite his 19 touches in Week 13.
Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford, Bears: The Bears are out of the playoffs and reports are that Forte will be a free agent after the season. Does this mean they limit Langford's touches to the 12-14 range and run Forte into the ground with 18-20 or split them? We don't know, but both are low-end RB2s with chances to get into the end zone every week.
Week 14 RB Depth Charts
|Bengals||Jeremy Hill||Giovani Bernard||Giovani Bernard|
|Bills||LeSean McCoy||Karlos Williams|
|Broncos||Ronnie Hillman||C.J. Anderson|
|Browns||Duke Johnson, Jr.||Isaiah Crowell|
|Buccaneers||Doug Martin||Charles Sims||Charles Sims|
|Cardinals||David Johnson||Andre Ellington||Andre Ellington|
|Chargers||Danny Woodhead||Melvin Gordon||Danny Woodhead|
|Chiefs||Charcandrick West||Spencer Ware||Spencer Ware|
|Colts||Frank Gore||Dan Herron|
|Cowboys||Darren McFadden||Robert Turbin|
|Dolphins||Lamar Miller||Jay Ajayi|
|Falcons||Devonta Freeman||Tevin Coleman|
|Giants||Rashad Jennings||Orleans Darkwa||Shane Vereen|
|Jaguars||T.J. Yeldon||Toby Gerhart|
|Jets||Chris Ivory||Bilal Powell||Bilal Powell|
|Lions||Theo Riddick||Ameer Abdullah||Theo Riddick|
|Packers||Eddie Lacy||James Starks|
|Panthers||Jonathan Stewart||Cameron Artis-Payne|
|Patriots||LeGarrette Blount||White/Bolden||James White|
|Raiders||Latavius Murray||Jamize Olawale|
|Rams||Todd Gurley||Benny Cunningham|
|Ravens||Javorius "Buck" Allen||Terrance West|
|Seahawks||Thomas Rawls||Fred Jackson|
|Steelers||DeAngelo Williams||Jordan Todman|
|Texans||Alfred Blue||Jonathan Grimes|
|Titans||Antonio Andrews||David Cobb|
|Vikings||Adrian Peterson||Jerick McKinnon|
Stats via Pro-Football-Reference.com.