NFL teams may like to spread backfield touches between two or three guys, but we, as fantasy owners, hate the idea. It’s that easy. We are looking for a high ceiling and a reasonable floor from our running backs, and when they have to share the wealth when it comes to carries and receptions, that ceiling is severely capped.
Here are five of the worst running back situations in the NFL right now. Fantasy owners: steer clear!
New York Jets
It’s baffling that the Jets haven’t won a game this season. But it’s even more baffling, and disappointing, that they don’t seem to be open to exploring what they have in young running back Lamical Perine.
Instead, Adam Gase and the Jets are running a 37-year old Frank Gore. Goodness gracious. This is not a knock on Gore. It is admirable that he is still grinding it out at this stage of his career. But as his 3.6 YPC indicates, he should be a backup, not a starter in a team that should be rebuilding.
On Monday’s incredible loss to the Patriots, Gore outcarried Perine 12-6. Because of negative game scripts, there usually aren’t too many carries to go around, and most of them are going to the veteran.
All in all, this is a running back situation to avoid. Gore, the starter, hasn’t gotten 15 carries since Week 3, and both men have scored one (ONE!) touchdown between the two in the whole season (Perine in Week 7). Until the younger back passes the veteran one on the depth chart, I’m completely avoiding this mess.
David Montgomery, who has been extremely underwhelming this season, entered the league’s concussion protocol after exiting Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titants. With yet another dud—14 rushes, 30 yards, three catches, 12 yards—to his name, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Montgomery is not a special talent. He is averaging a meager 3.6 yards per carry and has only two scores in the season.
If he’s unable to return, the Bears are probably looking at a Cordarrelle Patterson/Ryan Nall timeshare, with Lamar Miller possibly entering the mix. It’s not a particularly impressive group and situation.
Deep leaguers may consider any of those names if Montgomery misses time as hail mary options, but I’m not touching this backfield.
For the sake of keeping their personnel fresh and to involve different weapons on offense, the Colts sure do love using a three-headed running back committee. For fantasy owners though, the fact that these three runners—Jordan Wilkins, Jordan Taylor and Nyheim Hines—cancel each other out is especially frustrating.
Basically, Wilkins and Taylor handle early-down work, with the latter getting most of the goal-line work. Hines is the one who is involved in most passing situations.
Wilkins has earned more snaps (62-47) and touches (34-21) than Taylor in the last two weeks, but Taylor is the most likely to score week in and week out. They basically kill each other’s value.
As long as these patterns continue and no one really sets himself apart in the competition (both Wilkins and Taylor are averaging less than 4.0 YPC for the season) fantasy owners will be forced to look elsewhere if possible.
As long as the Cowboys keep sending backup quarterbacks out there (and they will, since Dak Prescott is out for the season and Andy Dalton is in the reserve/COVID-19 list for the time being) and their defense keeps allowing loads of points, they won’t have much of a running game.
Opposing defenses are focusing on stopping the run knowing that Ezekiel Elliott is more likely to beat them than Ben DiNucci or Garrett Gilbert (who had a decent debut, though). That, and the offense continually playing from behind, continue to devaluate Elliott’s weekly fantasy prospects.
Zeke usually gets volume as the go-to guy in the Cowboys’ backfield, but he hasn’t gotten more than 20 carries since Week 2 and hasn’t had a 100-yard game on the ground in 2020. Lately, he’s been frequently bottled up—Sunday’s tilt against the Steelers marked the third consecutive game averaging less than 4.0 yards per carry—and to make matters worse, Tony Pollard bettered his rushing yards output (57 to 51) in half the carries (9 to 18.)
To me, Elliott looks like a touchdown-dependent RB2 going forward. And that’s not what you drafted.
New England Patriots
When you have a clear-cut passing down back (James White), a talented early down back (Damien Harris) a reliable veteran (Rex Burkhead) and a quarterback who likes to run the football himself (Cam Newton), how do expect someone to stand out?
We don’t need to tell you that “timeshare” means “nightmare” in the fantasy world. And, to make matters worse, Sony Michel (yes, the same with two consecutive 900 rushing yards seasons to start his career) is about to return and kill whatever value Harris managed to build.
Harris was dealing (14 carries, 71 yards) against the Jets before going out with a chest injury in the second half, opening more opportunities for Burkhead (12 carries, 56 yards, three catches, 11 yards). It’s unclear if the former will miss games, but overall, this is a less than ideal situation for running back-hungry fantasy owners.