The headline of the week is Alvin Kamara’s historic game on Christmas. The pro bowl back destroyed the Vikings with a record-tying 6 rushing touchdown performance. It should be no surprise that he takes the crown entering the final week of the season . But to find out where other running backs place, read my week 17 running back rankings.
Please note: If you’re wondering where Dalvin Cook is on my list, he is left out because he is missing this week of football. His father tragically just passed away, and Cook is mourning in Florida with his family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him
|13||3||Jeff Wilson Jr.||49ers|
|14||4||Ronald Jones II||Buccaneers|
|25||6||Melvin Gordon III||Broncos|
|42||8||Lynn Bowden Jr.||Dolphins|
Tier 1 Running Backs
Alvin Kamara is coming off one of the biggest fantasy games of all time. The pro bowler ran for 155 yards, and an NFL record tying 6 touchdowns. He could’ve had another one, too. On 3rd & goal on the Vikings 1 yard line, Sean Payton called a run play for Taysom Hill. He punched it in for the score. But it didn’t matter, Kamara’s performance of 56.2 fantasy points was historically good. Somehow it’s just the second best fantasy game of any player this season, however. Tyreek Hill’s 57.9 point performance in week 12 just tops Kamara. But it doesn’t take away from his amazing performance. Look for Kamara to have yet another great game against the Panthers this weekend.
Derrick Henry had a much less eventful week of football. The Titan ran for 98 yards in what was considered an off game for him. He scored no touchdowns, and didn’t catch a single reception. The 9.8 fantasy points was just his 4th game all season he failed to hit double-digits. There is no doubt he will do much better this week against a Houston defense that allows the most points to running backs in fantasy (26.7 per game).
Jonathan Taylor’s rise to the top of fantasy rankings is not talked about enough. The rookie is averaging 23 fantasy points per game in his last 4 weeks. He’s been incredibly consistent, too. Taylor scored at least 19.4 fantasy points in each of those outings. This week the Titans take on a Jacksonville team that ranks 29th against running backs in fantasy, he remains an obvious must start.
David Montgomery has similarly emerged as one of the best fantasy players over the last several weeks. The Bear now has 5 consecutive games with at least 20 fantasy points, the most of any active player let alone running back (not including McCaffrey’s 7 game streak but he remains sidelined this week). Chicago has a rivalry game this Sunday against a Packers team that struggles against running backs. They allow the 7th most points the position by any team this season (21.1 per game). Expect Montgomery’s streak to continue.
High Tier (not 1) Running Backs
Myles Gaskin returned last week and had a huge game for the Dolphins. The 23 year old tallied over 160 yards from scrimmage and two total touchdowns for a 33.9 fantasy game. In the run game specifically, Gaskin was unable to be stopped. He ran for 2 scores in the endzone through the ground. He is unlikely to have quite the same stellar performance this weekend against a respectable Bills defense, but look for him to maintain his momentum to close the season.
David Johnson has strung together really solid performances nearing the end of this season. In his last two games, he combined for 155 rushing yards, 117 receiving yards, and two total touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving). Each of his performances saw at least a 24 fantasy point score total. This weekend he faces a Tennessee defense that ranks 25th against running backs in fantasy. He should certainly be started.
Mid-Tier Running Backs
Alexander Mattison will serve as the Vikings’ lead back this weekend while Cook is out for personal reasons. Mattison has been the league back just once this year, and did not make much of his opportuntiy. He ran for just 26 yards in 10 attempts against the Falcons week 6. His best game of the season actually came a week earlier than that, as a backup. He talled well over 100 rushing yards against the Seahawks. To close the season, Mattison faces a Lions defense that allows the 2nd most fantasy points to running backs. He could have a great game, but it’s far from guaranteed.
Melvin Gordon III has done considerably better in the last few weeks after not doing much all season. The Bronco is averaging 14.8 fantasy points per game in that time period. Last week was an off-game, rushing for just 49 yards at Los Angeles. This weekend he’s at home against a horrendous Raiders rush defense that allows the 3rd most fantasy points to running backs. Gordon, like Mattison, has the potential for a great game.
Low-Tier Running Backs
Samaje Perine had a huge game last week that largely flew under the radar. The RB2 on the Bengals (usually the RB3 but Joe Mixon is injured), ran for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was a fantasy game of 29.6 points, by far his best of the season. Giovani Bernard will remain as the team’s lead back, however, and I find it unlikely that Perine will earn another strong performance. He is worth watching though as we end the fantasy season.
Tony Pollard’s big game as a backup came two weeks ago against the 49ers, when he put up 31.2 fantasy points. Last week, however, the Dallas Cowboy could only manage to tally 3 points against the Eagles. Pollard is facing a Giants team to close the season that allows the 10th most points to running backs, but I can’t see him doing much from his backup position considering the importance of this game.
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