My goodness, it's a war zone out there.
As the dust settles on Week 8, the running back situation in fantasy is a desolate wasteland. Not only did we lose several top rushers to injury this week (Le'Veon Bell, Matt Forte) but a total of just five running backs broke the 15 point mark in standard leagues, and two of them were on the same team (Broncos). It's really a sad situation right now. And with six teams going on bye in Week 9, it's about to get even worse, as fantasy owners won't be able to deploy Marshawn Lynch (not that he's been very productive), Charcandrick West, Chris Johnson or Justin Forsett.
So while I'm having trouble figuring out where to start here, I guess I'll just dive right in.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs scored four rushing touchdowns with four different players against the Lions in London on Sunday. Unfortunately, you probably only started one of them in fantasy. For the second straight game, Charcandrick West totaled over 100 yards from scrimmage on 24 touches and found the end zone. He's an every-week starter in all fantasy formats, but you'll have to find a fill-in next week with Kansas City on a bye. West was a victim of touchdown vultures three times, all on red zone snaps: once by Alex Smith, once by De'Anthony Thomas and once by Spencer Ware. He still ended up as the second-highest scoring fantasy back of the week, but could have had a monster day if he had scored just once more.
Oakland Raiders:Taiwan Jones ended up out-scoring Latavius Murray against the Jets. Go figure. Murray touched the ball 21 times and had 119 total yards posting his second straight double-digit fantasy outing. Jones, who had just three touches the entire game, scored on a ridiculous 59-yard TD catch-and-run starting and stopping to juke out New York defenders on his way to the end zone for his first career touchdown in 46 games, because fantasy football is awesome.
The almost good:
Arizona Cardinals:Chris Johnson continues to get the lion's share of carries out of the Arizona backfield (30 carries against Cleveland), and it's no surprise. He posted his third 100-yard game in his last four outings against the NFL's worst run defense. Unfortunately, he lost two fumbles to the Browns which really put a dent in his fantasy total for owners who play in standard leagues. He could have finished with over 10 fantasy points but finished with just 6.9 due to the turnovers. Johnson remains a must-start on a weekly basis, but will have a week to rest as Arizona is on a bye in Week 9. Andre Ellington and David Johnson have become afterthoughts in the Cardinals' offense.
Cleveland Browns: The Browns tied a season low of 39 total rush yards as a team on Sunday against the Cardinals, a mere 20 of which were gained by running backs. Isaiah Crowell ran for 14 yards on 10 carries and over his last three game has collected an abysmal 55 rush yards on 29 attempts. Robert Turbin and Duke Johnson combined for six rushing yards, but at least Johnson was able to gain 68 yards in the passing game on just two receptions. We don't suggest starting anyone from this backfield if you can avoid it.
New York Jets:Chris Ivory ran for just 17 yards on 15 carries against the Raiders on Sunday. It was disappointing but the Jets found themselves down early, lost their starting quarterback on the sixth play of the game and were without their All-Pro center, Nick Mangold, due to a neck injury. We've seen what Ivory can do when he's healthy and the offensive line is clicking, but not much was working out for the Jets on Sunday. Hopefully Ivory can get back on track against a Jaguars defense that has allowed 21.56 FPPF to running backs this season.
San Diego Chargers: Consider this your weekly reminder that Melvin Gordon is not a viable fantasy running back in standard leagues. The rookie had just 54 yards on 18 attempts against the Ravens on Sunday, and looked indecisive, slow and was unable to break tackles. Through eight weeks, Gordon has just 41.50 total fantasy points in standard leagues with zero touchdowns and three lost fumbles. That averages out to 5.1 fantasy points per game. For an early-down back that's averaging 15.1 touches per game, he has been one of the biggest busts in fantasy this year and needs to be left on your bench until further notice. The Chargers' backfield as a whole had a down game against the Ravens, as Danny Woodhead had just six touches the entire game, notching just over 40 total yards. But Woodhead remains the Bolts back to start going forward.
Denver Broncos: Surprisingly, the most successful running back committee split of the week came from the Broncos. Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson rushed for a combined 161 yards on 33 attempts and scored three touchdowns in the Sunday night game against the Packers. Anderson was the more efficient runner in the game with a 7.2 YPC average compared to Hillman's 3.2 YPC average. Anderson looked like he was out to prove something and he succeeded in that sense. But, while we so badly want Ronnie Hillman to not be a thing, the Broncos are evidently going to continue to use him. There's really no way to know who will come out on top when the Broncos head to Indianapolis in Week 9. But the Colts have struggled to stop the run this year, allowing nine touchdowns to the running back position, so the Denver duo has a nice matchup if you're forced to roll one of them out during a week with six teams on bye.
Cincinnati Bengals: If you're just looking at the box score, you might be alarmed at the volume that Jeremy Hill got compared to Giovani Bernard. Hill had 16 touches compared to Bernard's two. Yes, two touches the entire game for Bernard. But while Hill ran well, (60 rush yards on 15 carries) he still split snaps almost evenly with Bernard. Hill was on the field for 35 offensive snaps while Bernard saw 32. It was a close game, so as has been the case all season, the Bengals backfield split was a matter of game script. We're looking for Hill to have a big game on Thursday night in Week 9 against a Browns defense that has allowed more rush yards to running backs than any other team in the NFL this season.
Dallas Cowboys: Considering he had one of the toughest matchups of the week, Darren McFadden's 100-plus yards from scrimmage was impressive against the Seahawks. With the recent news that Joseph Randle was released by the Cowboys, McFadden's lead role is all but solidified in what's becoming less of a committee backfield in Dallas. Even with Randle inactive in Week 8, Christine Michael still only had five rush attempts compared to McFadden's 20 rush attempts. Going forward, McFadden will be a borderline RB1 as long as he is healthy, though he faces another tough matchup in Week 9 against an Eagles defense that is allowing the fourth-least FPA running backs this season.
New York Giants: With his 12.30 fantasy point game against the Saints in Week 8, Shane Vereen inched closer to surpassing Rashad Jennings's total fantasy points for the season. Vereen rushed the ball just twice for three yards but produced in the passing game with 60 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions. He remains a viable flex-play in PPR, while the rest of the Giants backfield is borderline unusable in any format. Even though Jennings led the Giants in rushing with 54 yards, he hasn't posted double-digit points in fantasy since Week 4.
In the latest episode of the NFL Fantasy LIVE podcast the gang discusses injury fallout with Le'Veon Bell, Matt Forte and Keenan Allen, then looks ahead at Week 9 waiver wire targets. They also discuss the top RB handcuffs to add and some sell-high candidates before the trade deadline. Don't forget to subscribe and listen in HERE!