He’s back, again! Christian McCaffrey is expected to return after a second injury in week 9 forced the pro bowler to miss even more of this season. The Panther star was the number one fantasy running back last year with 29.5 fantasy points per game, and looked to remain with the crown this season after starting strong in the first two games. Injuries cut short his year, and he’s only played in one game since. But he is set to return in time for a home game against Denver on Sunday. To find out where he ranks, and much more, check out my week 14 fantasy running back rankings.
|Ronald Jones II
|Melvin Gordon III
|Todd Gurley II
|Jeff Wilson Jr.
Tier 1 Running Backs
Dalvin Cook went back to his usual scoring after a disappointing week 12. His 32 carries were not just a season high, but the most of his entire 4 year career. Cook used the heavy workload to torch Jacksonville for 120 yards on the ground and an additional 59 through the air. He has a tough challenge ahead, however, against the number one ranked rushing defense in the league (74.2 ground yards allowed per game). But with 8 games of 20 or more fantasy points, Cook has already proven he is matchup-proof. I like Cook’s chances of maintaining a heavy workload and continuing his epic 2020 season. He is still my RB1 overall.
Aaron Jones similarly had a great game on Sunday. His 130 ground yards, 18 yards through the air and 3 receptions with a touchdown all added to his 2nd best fantasy game of the season. The 23.8 fantasy points was the first time he reached 20+ since week 4. In between, his fantasy performances consisted mostly of low 10+ point games. They were strong numbers, but far from what we saw from the Packer early in the season. Jones will look to return to that glory with strong back-to-back performances this week against a horrendous Lions rushing defense. No football team allows more points to running backs in fantasy than Detroit. The combination of momentum, and the easiest matchup in the NFL, makes Jones my number two running back in week 14.
Derrick Henry disappointed his fantasy managers maybe more than any other player in the NFL did this week. After a monstrous 38.5 point performance in Indianapolis, Henry returned to Nashville and rushed for just 60 yards. It was almost exactly one third of his rushing yards from the week prior (178). More strikingly, it was a carry drop of almost half (27 to 15). But I’m not worried about Henry. He is a proven elite running back capable of scoring a ridiculous amount of points against any defense. In-fact Derrick Henry is one of just 3 running backs with multiple 35+ fantasy point games this season, (Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara are the others). This weekend he faces a very weak Jacksonville rushing defense that ranks 28th against running backs in fantasy. He remains a no-brainer type of start.
James Robinson continued his unlikely strong rookie season at Minnesota last week when he rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown. His additional 6 receptions for 30 yards helped his fantasy game reach a total of 22.8 points. In-fact his pass-catch ability is where Robinson really excels in PPR leagues. His 42 receptions this season ranks tied for 6th among running backs. Notably, he is the only running back in the league with consecutive games of 5+ receptions. Robinson can extend his streak to 3 games this week against a Titans’ defense that ranks 26th against running backs in fantasy. He sits comfortably at my RB4 spot in week 14.
The headliner of this article is set return this week after missing 9 of the Panthers last 10 games. Christian McCaffrey returned briefly in week 9 at Kansas City, but was sidelined again for a shoulder injury. But in the 3 games he has played in, the pro bowler is actually averaging the most fantasy points per game out of running back – or wide receiver for that matter. His 30.1 fantasy points per game, if maintained for all 16 games, would easily rank as one of the best fantasy seasons by any player of all time. So based on what we know for how McCaffrey is playing, he should be an easy top start. I am worried, however, about a usage decline or ongoing pain that reduces the level of fantasy production we’ve seen in the past. I am optimistic about the Colorado native, but not enough to have him in the top 4. He’s my RB5 entering week 14.
High-Tier (Not 1) Running Backs
The Washington Football Team managed to upset the undefeated Steelers despite Antonio Gibson leaving the game early due to a toe injury. It didn’t just cost Washington a key member of their offense, but ended Gibson’s 5 game touchdown streak. He has been nothing short of a star for a team that is struggling to find pro bowlers on offense. He is listed as doubtful entering week 14, but I decided to include in this ranking to emphasize the importance of starting him in-case his status changes. But if Gibson does miss this week, he is a must start as soon as he gets healthy.
David Montgomery deserves a mention for a very sudden and surprise rise to near the top of my rankings. The Bears running back suffered a concussion in week 9 that sidelined him for a game before a timely bye week. In his week 12 return, he rushed for over 100 yards against Green Bay. Last week, he rushed for 72 and scored 2 touchdowns on the ground. For those who love stat nuggets, he is one of just two players in the entire NFL with active streaks of 25+ fantasy points (PPR). The other is rookie receiver Justin Jefferson of the Vikings. They both possess a streak of just two, but it is impressive nonetheless. Montgomery stays at home this week to play a very poor rushing defense in the Texans. Houston allows the 2nd most fantasy points to running back, trailing just the Detroit Lions. It’s not unimaginable that Montgomery continues his hot streak. He should be started in every league week 14.
Wayne Gallman had yet another strong fantasy outing last week for the Giants. While he couldn’t keep his touchdown streak alive, he managed to rush for 135 yards against Seattle for a 13.5 fantasy point game. The game only continued an impressive 2020 campaign for Gallman in replace of Saquon Barkley. In-fact, his active 6 game streak of 13+ fantasy point PPR ranks 2nd longest among all running backs, with only the injury-plagued Christian McCaffrey coming ahead of him. Gallman can continue his success this weekend at home against an unimpressive Cardinals rushing defense. They allow 123 yards on the ground per game, a dismal 22nd ranked rushing defense in the league. Even if Daniel Jones does return, the Giants strong rushing defense is what carries this offense. Start Gallman if you have him rostered.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that Jonathan Taylor owns this Colts backfield. Since Indianapolis’ week 7 bye, Taylor has out-carried teammate Nyheim Hines 59 to 41. Not to mention that Taylor missed one of those games. Last week was no exception. Taylor more than doubled Hines’ attempts rushing the football (13 to 6). He used his workload to rush for 91 yards, an insane 7 yards per attempt. He also reeled in 3 catches for 44 yards and a receiving touchdown. Taylor travels to Las Vegas this week for a very easy matchup. The Raiders rank 29th in stopping opposing running backs in fantasy. The Wisconsin rookie should be started by all managers who own him in leagues.
Myles Gaskin returned from injury last week to pick up where he left off; playing very well. His 90 rushing yards with 2 receptions for 51 more yards contributed to an impressive 14 point per game average. Gaskin looks to continue his strong 2020 campaign this week at home against Kansas City. Allowing 132.4 ground yards per game, the Chief’s rushing defense ranks 27th in the league. We already know Gaskin earns a strong number of attempts 15.12 per game (11th most in the league), but that’s likely to grow even higher as the Dolphins look to take advantage of this defense’s weakness. Gaskin should be started in the vast majority of leagues in week 14.
Mid-Tier Running Backs
James Connor will be back this week after missing two games because of a covid. Before the illness, however, Connor was not having the year he had hoped for. After a 2019 season riddled with injuries and setbacks, Connor looked to bounce-back in 2020 and earn a pro bowl spot for a second time. But even before being sidelined this year, his 64.5 rushing yards per game was short of 1000+ yard pace. But it’s been far from a disaster. Connor averages over 13 fantasy points per game for the 10 games he’s played this season. It’s underwhelming for such a talented player, but a low RB2 or strong flex start in most leagues. In his big return week 14, he travels to Buffalo to face the 22nd ranked defense against running backs in fantasy. Expect at least 10 points from the 25 year old. He’s my RB21.
Devontae Booker had a very disappointing start in replace of Josh Jacobs last week. With a season high 16 carries, Booker rushed for just 50 yards. He had 1 one catch for an additional 1 yard. The Raider had 4 games as a backup this year that was better than his 6.1 fantasy point performance. He plays a tough Colts defense this weekend, but will likely own another starting role with Jacobs probably remaining out. Don’t start Booker, but keep him on your bench for now.
There was belief among fantasy analysts, including myself, that Giovani Bernard would sore in fantasy value after Joe Burrow went down with a tragic season ending injury. But in the two games he has played for a Burrow-less Bengals unit, the 29 year old veteran has averaged just 5.9 fantasy points per game. I still have him as RB31 because there remains some optimism for fantasy value, but will need to prove his worth this weekend a disastrous Cowboys team. Dallas ranks 27th against opposing running backs in fantasy. Avoid starting Bernard this week, but watch for how he does. If he disappoints again, feel free to drop him to the waivers.
Low-Tier Running Backs
Jamaal Williams may be ranked 38th on my list, but he has fair upside. He has scored double-digits fantasy points in 4 games this season, as recently as week 12. Most RB2 on teams with workhorse backs may not have any fantasy value, but Williams clearly does. His value as a backup may be especially prevent this weekend facing an awful Lions rush defense. When Jones gets tired, Williams will have huge opportunities to score. Consider streaming Williams this week in deeper leagues.
Ty Johnson had a breakout game last week at home against the Raiders. His 22 attempts were more than every other game he has played in this year combined. The Jets were relying on Frank Gore in replace of injured La’Mical Perine, but the veteran running back had to leave early for concussion protocol. Johnson took center stage and had a very strong outing. He rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders defense. It is unclear whether Gore will return this week against Seattle, but seriously consider looking for Johnson on the waiver wire if his veteran teammate is ruled out.
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