Josh Jacobs: One of the Many Options for RB1

Josh Jacobs (5’10”, 220) Running Back, Alabama
18.5 Aggregate Score (3.5 Star Prospect)

Josh Jacobs has risen to the top of a running back class that lacked a stud type of guy. Jacobs has had an interesting road but has risen to the top of the Alabama RB depth chart which means he certainly has NFL level talent. A smooth runner and a hands catcher, there is a lot to like in Jacobs physical and film profile. His stats remain a red flag, but there are many points that can explain the issues that many have there. Jacobs will remain polarizing until he is drafted in the first or second round of the NFL draft which seems to be the consensus on his value.  A first round draft pedigree would make it hard to argue against Jacobs as the first running back off the board in your rookie drafts.

College Production

As I alluded to, Jacobs college production left something to be desired. With only 887 total yards in his junior season and only 640 of those on the ground, he didn’t show much to say he can be a workhorse. He never put up big numbers across an entire season. He didn’t even put up many hundred yard games. Was it due to scheme, competition, game script? It was most likely a combination of reasons, but it remains a valid concern especially since we didn’t see many big plays from him throughout his college career.

Speed & Agility: Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 4)

Jacobs is plenty fast despite a 4.6 40 at his pro day. He looks significantly faster than that on tape and I am not concerned about his long speed as that is not what his game is predicated on. Jacobs running style is very smooth and his ability to make defenders miss in space is a plus trait as well.

Receiving Ability: Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 4)

Jacobs caught well over 1 ball a game in college which is plenty to show his receiving chops in an Alabama offense that is historically run heavy. Even with Tua last year, Jacobs had to compete with Jerry Jeudy and a bevy of other talented pass catchers for those targets. He was also more efficient after the catch than he was on the ground.

Vision: Aggregate Score: 3.5 (Personal Score: 3)

I do not feel this is a major strength for Jacobs. Afforded a lot of big holes by one of the best offensive lines in the country and working in conjunction with the newly revitalized passing game that kept defenses as honest as they’ve had to be against Bama in 25 years or more, he still did not find a way to create high efficiency yardage with his touches.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 3)

Not a strength of any lead backs game, but he can hold his own in pass protection. Will he succeed against NFL pass rushers? No. But he can chip and block in play action just fine.

Strength: Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 4)

Jacobs isn’t the strongest back in this class, but he runs low and strong. He is more likely to hit you than to put forth a lot of effort to make you miss. He would rather go through than around. He does keep his balance well and can bounce off tacklers in the open and around the line of scrimmage.

Conclusion: Early to Mid 1st Round Pick

Jacobs is a talented player, there is no doubt about that. Whether he can be a three down workhorse at the NFL level is the question for me. Is Jacobs a high risk pick?  No, especially not in a draft class with less running back talent than normal. My ideal landing spot for Jacobs though, would be somewhere with a veteran running back that can help take some of that load early in the season and really make way for him to shine down the stretch. He could be absolutely explosive in an Alvin Kamara-Mark Ingram type situation. Pre-draft he sits around the 1.07 or 1.08 for me. Landing spot could bring him into the top 3 or 4, but it is more likely I will be targeting him in the middle of the first.

Extreme Running Back Fantasy Point Variances

Aside from the fantasy playoffs, redraft and dynasty leagues can be viewed from a macro level where you can survive two or three bad weeks or roster decisions and succeed.  That’s quite the contrast from daily fantasy where every option on a slate is put under a microscope and one mistake can make or break your week. 

NFL players have their own tendencies where they perform better in various scenarios whether it be as a favorite or underdog, playing at home or in hostile territory, or when their respective team wins or loses a game.  We’re going to explore which players at each position performed at their best or worst in various situations from last season to try and help us discover ideal roster opportunities in daily lineups.  Note that these figures can vary from year to year when someone who performed better indoors the year before now suddenly performed better outside the following year.  Viewed in another light, these figures can be interpreted as an extension of consistency rankings.  

This piece isn’t just exclusive to DFS and has a place in non-DFS leagues where an available free agent may be in a better spot to perform than a rostered option that should be on the bench for a specific week.  This will be part two of a three-part series that continues with the running back position and only evaluates those that played a minimum of 12 games. 

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP WIN

James White: 10.43: Dion Lewis heading to Tennessee and Rex Burkhead being injured for most of the season set James White for a career-high 87 receptions in 2018.  Considering his usage out of the backfield and the Patriots unusually lost five regular season games, you’d think this variance would be the inverse.  However, White averaged 5.9 receptions in wins vs 4.4 of them in losses.  

Marlon Mack: 9.25: When the Colts were victorious last season, Marlon Mack played an important role in those games.  He was rarely used out of the backfield which translated into horrible fantasy performances in games the Colts lost as Mack’s 10 carries and 0 touchdowns per game would indicate.  In games the Colts won, he saw 17.5 carries and averaged 1 touchdown per contest.

Philip Lindsay: 8.41: The undrafted rookie out of the University of Colorado turned heads when he averaged 6.14 yards per carry in the first two weeks against Seattle and Oakland.  Lindsay definitely turned heads in Bronco victories as he posted 102.33 rushing yards and 1.16 touchdowns compared to just 47 rushing yards and .22 touchdowns in Bronco losses

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP LOSS

Tarik Cohen: 8.63: Matt Nagy utilized his talented pass catching back more than Dowell Loggains did in the Bears mundane offense in 2017.  Tarik Cohen had some solid games in those that the Bears won but he was much more impactful in ones that the Bears lost.  He saw more than double the receptions in Bears defeats at 7.5 per game compared to 3.42 of them in Bear victories.

Christian McCaffery: 7.81 (Excluding Week 17): It’s hard to believe that Carolina was 6-2 at one point before a tumultuous seven-game losing streak ruined the season.  At 30.79 FPPG in PPR scoring during that tailspin, Christian McCaffery was the #1 overall fantasy performer with 215.5 fantasy points, 27.9 points more than Ezekiel Elliott who was #2 in that seven-week span. 

Alvin Kamara: 6.54: Alvin Kamara didn’t suit up in Week 17 so he was only part of two of the three games the Saints lost in the regular season.  A large part of this variance is from Kamara’s season-best 43.1 fantasy point performance of 2018 in a Week 1 loss to the Buccaneers.  It will be interesting to see how he is utilized now that Mark Ingram has departed via free agency and replaced with Latavius Murray.

SMALLEST WIN/LOSS VARIANCE

Saquon Barkley: -.4: The rookie out of Penn State was a high floor, high ceiling option that was as reliable in five Giant wins as he was in 11 Giant defeats.  He surpassed double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring in all but one game last year and exceeded 20 fantasy points a remarkable 12 times.  He is a true gamescript-independent back with a bright future at the pro level.  

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN HOME GAMES

Austin Ekeler: 8.46: Ekeler was nonexistent in games away from the StubHub Center.  In front of the home crowd, Ken Whisenhunt made sure to incorporate his pass catching back in the game plan.  69.2% of Ekeler’s receptions, 80.2% of his receiving yards, and 83% of his total touchdowns all occurred in home games last season.

Sony Michel: 7.35: The Patriots went undefeated at Gillette Stadium in 2018 which translated into an abundance of positive gamescript for Michel to operate.  He saw 19.5 carries for .83 touchdowns in home games compared to 13.29 carries for .14 touchdowns in hostile territory.

James White: 5.95: Gillette Stadium was where White excelled as he had a solid floor of 13.4 fantasy points along with eight of his 12 total touchdowns in 2018 occurring in Foxboro.  Those that rostered him in the divisional round weren’t the least bit surprised when he posted 15 catches against a Chargers defense susceptible to running backs out of the backfield.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN AWAY GAMES

Dion Lewis: 5.34: While Derrick Henry’s splits favored him playing at Nissan Stadium, the contrary applied to Dion Lewis who was more productive in enemy territory.  64.6% of his scrimmage yards along with all of his touchdowns took place outside of Nashville.  He certainly cashed in on his career year in New England in 2017 as he only hit double-digit fantasy points six times with the Titans after doing so eight times the year before.

Peyton Barber: 5.21: The Buccaneers rushing offense wasn’t anything to brag about in 2018 as Buccaneer running backs averaged 3.9 yards per carry, tied for the second-fewest with the Eagles.  Barber averaged 43.25 yards on the ground at Raymond James Stadium but was more useful in road games with 65.63 yards per game and four of his six touchdowns occurring in enemy territory.

Kenyan Drake: 4.33: Drake’s home/road rushing attempts and yards were all but identical but he was more involved out of the backfield in road games as the Dolphins went 1-7 away from Hard Rock Stadium.  Not to mention 67% of his touchdowns came in road affairs, a trend that carried over from 2017 as 75% of his touchdowns were road ones.

SMALLEST HOME/ROAD VARIANCE

Melvin Gordon: -.22: After nearly registering a double-digit variance that favored rostering him in road games, Gordon was the most consistent running back in this metric.  An MCL sprain in Week 12 put a damper on what was an incredible season for the fourth-year running back out of the University of Wisconsin.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN THE RESPECTIVE TEAM IS A FAVORITE

Joe Mixon: 11.58: 24.12 FPPG in PPR scoring as a favorite vs 12.54 FPPG as an underdog, no one saw a greater variance in this category than Joe Mixon as his Bengals went 4-1 in games they were favored.  He made his presence felt in those games as he converted 23 touches per game as a favorite into 1.4 touchdowns vs 18.33 touches per game as an underdog into .22 touchdowns.

Marlon Mack: 9.26: As indicated above, there was a strong positive correlation in Marlon Mack’s performance when the Colts won and that correlation is just as strong in games the Colts are favored.  9 of his 10 touchdowns took place with the Colts listed as a favorite along with a +6.67 touch differential for Mack in those games.  

Mark Ingram: 8.7: With the emergence of Alvin Kamara, 2018 was a disappointing season for Mark Ingram who went from 18 touches per game in 2017 to 13.25 touches last year.  Those who rostered him in matchups the Saints were underdogs were burned to the tune of a minuscule 4.9 FPPG when in that role compared to 13.6 FPPG when the Saints were favorites.  He’s bound for a rebound season in a Baltimore offense that should be rush-heavy with Lamar Jackson under center.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN THE RESPECTIVE TEAM IS AN UNDERDOG

Ezekiel Elliott: 9.73: Zeke possessed the highest variance as a favorite in 2017 with a +15.8 FPPG differential in games the Cowboys were favored.  He was on the opposite side of the spectrum last season as he posted the highest differential in games the Cowboys were getting points from their opponent.  Zeke averaged 131.75 scrimmage yards per game as an underdog with seven of nine touchdowns in that role.

Kenyan Drake: 6.95: In four games that the Dolphins were favorites, Kenyan Drake saw 7.75 touches for 35.75 scrimmage yards and .25 TDs.  He was much more productive when the Dolphins were underdogs as his 11.83 touches for 72.41 scrimmage yards and .66 TDs indicates.

Jordan Howard: 5.98: His yards per carry dropped from 4.06 in 2017 to 3.74 in 2018 and now finds himself as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Not known for his work out of the backfield, he was more efficient in games that Chicago was an underdog with a floor of 11.3 FPPG in PPR scoring.

SMALLEST FAVORITE/UNDERDOG VARIANCE

Christian McCaffery: +.03 (Excluding Week 17): For those running backs that don’t see work out of the backfield, glancing over weekly spreads can be an indicative measure on what to expect from a certain player.  When your running back leads the league in receptions and targets, Christian McCaffery’s has a role whether the Panthers are leading or trailing.  Only he and Zeke had a floor of double-digit fantasy points last season after McCaffery had the highest floor among qualified running backs in 2017.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS RANKED IN THE TOP HALF IN RUSH DVOA

Ezekiel Elliott: 5.35: Against top 10 defensive rush DVOA opponents in Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, Ezekiel Elliott plowed his way for a league-best 105.42 rushing yards per game against top-ranked rushing defenses.  Having one of the better offensive lines in the league was a big contributor as well as slaughtering the Eagles to the tune of 132 yards per matchup on the ground.  That line returns intact with the hopes of getting Travis Frederick back from Guillain-Barré syndrome, something that can only help Zeke heading into 2019.

Kenyan Drake: 3.89: Consistency wasn’t Drake’s cup of tea last season as observed above by posting the second-highest variance in games the Dolphins were underdogs and having seven games where he didn’t reach double-digit fantasy points.  However, this variance is a compliment as he posted two of his three best performances against a Texans defense ranked 1st overall in rushing DVOA and a Colts defense ranked 4th.  The hope heading into 2019 is Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea utilizing him more than his 10.81 touches per game with Adam Gase in 2018.

Marlon Mack: 3.03: Used to seeing Mack’s name in this article yet?  He’s back for a third mention as his +3.03 FPPG differential against the better half in defensive rush DVOA last season was the third highest among qualified backs.  With the exception of two matchups against Jacksonville, Mack fared well against defenses that shut down the run, his primary means of producing on the field and in fantasy lineups.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS RANKED IN THE BOTTOM HALF IN RUSH DVOA 

Nick Chubb: 12.83: Stout rushing defenses were able to contain the rookie out of Georgia last season.  Inferior rushing defenses were subject to a thrashing as Nick Chubb scored all 10 of his touchdowns against defenses ranked in the bottom half in rush DVOA, something to keep in mind next season as eight matchups are against teams in the bottom half of this metric.  The eight doesn’t include two matchups against a Baltimore defense that suffered heavy losses in free agency.

Tarik Cohen: 8.04: He isn’t the primary rushing option in the Bears offense which means he needs to thrive in the passing game.  In six games against top-rated rushing defenses, they contained Cohen to 20 receiving yards and .17 receiving touchdowns per game out of the backfield.  Against the 10 other opponents ranked in the bottom half of defensive rush DVOA, Cohen tripled his receiving yard output and averaged .4 receiving touchdowns in those games.

James Conner: 7.79: Like Nick Chubb, James Conner pummeled those that were unable to shut down running backs.  With a +6.93 FPPG differential in games the Steelers were victorious and a +8.05 differential in games the Steelers covered the spread, it’s no surprise Conner was less impactful in games that featured defenses in the top half in rush DVOA as the Steelers went 2-3 against such opponents with Conner active (2-4 overall) vs 6-1-1 against the bottom half (7-2-1 overall)

SMALLEST RUSH DVOA VARIANCE

Todd Gurley: -.09: Not that you would have considered benching Gurley at any point but there’s a comfort in knowing you’re going to get a consistent level of fantasy production regardless of the opponent.  That’s what Gurley gave his fantasy owners last season with an average of 26.6 FPPG against defenses in both the top and bottom half in rush DVOA.  Now we await further clarification on whether arthritis in Gurley’s surgically repaired left knee will impact him moving forward.

WHO WERE THE MOST CONSISTENT RUNNING BACKS OF 2018?

Naturally, there is more of a positive correlation in running back production in games their respective teams win.  Those that see backfield involvement may see correlations that are stronger in losses, more specifically in PPR leagues than standard ones.  Thus, for determining who was most consistent, three of the other four metrics covered in this article will be used.  However, knowing how your running back is utilized in positive and negative gamescript is critical as you’re not going to roster one that sees no targets in games that you expect a certain team to lose and/or play catchup.

Two running backs stood out above their counterparts in 2018.  Todd Gurley may have burned some unlucky owners in the finals but he was certainly a key component in helping your fantasy team advance to that point.  He was also an automatic roster in the DFS landscape last season regardless of salaries creeping as high as 10K on DraftKings and 11K on FanDuel.  Undoubtedly, Gurley was the most consistent fantasy running back in 2018 as he didn’t possess a variance over one fantasy point in either of the evaluated home/road, favorite/underdog, or top/bottom rush DVOA metrics.  He is an important cog in Sean McVay’s high-octane offense that has the coaching staff and fans praying for a clean bill of health heading into 2019.

Seattle entered 2018 with a crowded backfield that eventually saw Chris Carson emerge as the #1 option.  He will enter training camp as that option but we’ll see how Pete Carroll better utilizes former 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny now that Mike Davis resides in Chicago.  Carson was important in Seattle’s push for a wild card as he had a floor of 13.3 fantasy points in Seattle’s final seven games in which they went 6-1.   In the three metrics being evaluated, Carson had a differential lower than 2.2 fantasy points in each.

Justice Hill: Building Hype After An Electric Combine

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

Justice Hill (5’10”, 190), Running Back, Oklahoma State

15.3 Aggregate Score (3 Star Prospect)

Justice Hill is a very intriguing prospect.  He has been hanging around in that second tier of running backs most of the pre-draft process.  That all changed when he had one of the best performances for a running back at the 2019 NFL Combine.  Hill ranked first amongst running backs in the 40-yard dash (4.40), broad jump (10’10”) and vertical jump (40’).  Since then, Hill has been gaining hype and rising up rookie draft boards.

Out of Booker T. Washington High School in Oklahoma, Hill was a 3-star recruit, based on 247Sports Composite.  His senior year, Hill was an all-state selection and the 6A-II offensive player of the year.  After receiving offers from Houston, Kansas and Louisville, Hill decided to commit to Oklahoma State.

College Production

Hill was very productive while at Oklahoma State.  As a true freshman, Hill had 206 carries for 1,142 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. His performance earned him Second-Team All-Big 12 honors and broke the OSU freshman rushing record.  As a sophomore, Hill had his best season at OSU with 268 carries for 1,467 yards and 15 touchdowns.  Hill also added 31 receptions for 190 yards and 1 touchdown.  Hill earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors and was a Doak Walker Award Semifinalist.  In 10 games as a junior, Hill had 158 carries for 930 yards and 9 touchdowns.

This is great production for Hill, even if the majority of it came against Big 12 defenses.  The only thing I would have liked to see more from Hill is a bit more production in the receiving game.  He only had 49 receptions for 304 yards and 1 touchdown in three seasons.  It is better than nothing, but for a guy who projects best to be a third down back, I would have liked to have seen more out of him.

Speed & Agility: Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 4)

Hill is extremely quick.  He does a great job of accelerating to open space. Along with being fast, Hill does a great job of changing direction.  When he cuts or has to change direction, he is very fluid and accelerates forward very well. I wish Hill would have displayed more of his agility and elusiveness in open space to avoid/break some more teams.

Receiving: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 3)

As I mentioned above, this is an area I expected to see more out of Hill.  In terms of running routes, Hill mainly ran swings and flats.  The promising thing is that Hill looks comfortable catching the ball and is great after the catch.  He uses his acceleration and vision to get to space and make plays.

Vision: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 4)

This an area of Hill’s game that I seemed to like more than my fellow raters.  When looking at Hill’s vision, I think he does a great job of identifying when he needs to change direction or reverse the field.  He turned countless broken plays into positive plays just by changing direction and accelerating to space.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 3)

I think the best way to describe Hill as a blocker is competent.  As a smaller back, he wasn’t asked to block a ton in college.  He was mainly used to chip defenders and then release to his route.  When he was asked to stay in to pass block, Hill showed willingness and aggression when going up against defenders.

Strength: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 3)

I really enjoy watching Hill run because he is aggressive and attacks defenders.  He does a great job of fighting for extra yards by being physical.  The only problem is that he doesn’t have the size to consistently overpower defenders and break tackles.  I really wish I could give him 25 extra pounds and watch him run over people.

Conclusion: Mid-Late 2nd round pick

Because of his combine performance, Hill has started catching more people’s attention.  So long are the days of thinking you could grab him late in the third round of rookie drafts. Hill has the skill set to be a reliable third down back that will definitely get his looks on early downs as well.  Again, my only issue with Hill is that since he projects to be primarily a receiving back, I would have liked to see more production in college.  Still, with big play upside, I would feel really comfortable with taking Hill in the middle of the 2nd round of rookie drafts.

Mike Weber: 3 Star Fantasy Prospect

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

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Mike Weber (5’10”, 214) Running Back, Ohio State

14.3 Aggregate Score (3 Star Prospect)

Mike Weber is not the most exciting player in this class. He is fairly average across the board, but he performs well enough in all the necessary facets of the game. Earning an aggregate score of 14.3 from our rankers and not a single 4 in any category from any of us does not inspire a great deal of confidence in Weber. Draft capital will tell a lot about how the NFL views Weber and will truly determine whether or not he is worthy of a roster spot in fantasy.

College Production

Weber has had an interesting college career.  He was very good during his redshirt freshman year in 2016, finishing the year with almost 1100 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground. A big boost to these numbers came in the form of 23 receptions out of the backfield. About 2 catches a game isn’t super special, but as a redshirt freshman, that is plenty to show capable hands. Weber regressed some as JK Dobbins burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2017.  With his touches cut almost in half, the 6+ yards per carry efficiency remained, but the overall numbers dipped significantly. In 2018, he turned in a statline similar to his freshman year. However, with similar opportunity, you would hope for some improvement on those numbers. Weber is the lesser talent in the Ohio State backfield and that has become very clear as the touches shifted to Dobbins.

Speed & Agility: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 3)

Weber looks fine behind a beefy Ohio State offensive line, but I don’t expect him to experience the same success at the NFL level. I expect the combine numbers to be lackluster especially in the 40 and 3 cone drill. He doesn’t show a whole lot of breakaway speed or great change of direction.

Receiving Ability: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 3)

While Weber hauled in over 20 receptions in both his redshirt freshman and junior seasons, he was not efficient once the ball was in his hands. Averaging less yards per reception than yards per carry in both years is an interesting stat to say the least. On the plus side, Ohio State trusted him enough to get him involved in the passing game. However, he was not very productive with the targets he received.

Vision: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 3)

This is another chance to mention a rock solid Ohio State offensive line. Weber is not bad in this category, but a lot of his efficiency can be explained by the play of the big boys up front. Not often able to make something out of nothing, but consistently able to take what is given to him.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 3)

You may be sensing a theme here.  Weber can block, yes, but he is just alright at it. Usually able to find his assignment and solid at chipping to help his linemen, he did struggle against unhindered blitzers as almost any running back will.

Strength: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 3)

This is one my favorite aspects of Weber’s game, when it shines through. He shows great contact balance when he runs angry and he finishes runs in a big way.  The problem is this only seems to happen when he is involved in the game and can get fired up. I don’t see many opportunities to get involved that heavily in the NFL.

Conclusion: 4th Round Flier

The problem I have with Weber is that he has nothing to hang his hat on. He is fine, solid, sometimes good at almost every aspect of the game, but he doesn’t have game breaking speed or strength. He doesn’t demand receiving work. He doesn’t show the consistency you need to see from someone who doesn’t have a high ceiling. I expect solid numbers at the combine which will keep him on NFL draft boards, but I don’t expect a long career or much fantasy relevance.

Week 11 RB/TE Start ’em Sit ’em

Week 10 surprised us all! Nick Chubb was the top RB for the week. Christian McCaffrey and Ezekial Elliot both had absolutely stellar weeks in difficult matchups. Eric Ebron scored a rushing touchdown (and two more through the air). Finally, Austin Hooper returned for a great week. Too bad he was on your bench.

The beginning of week 11 has been interesting after Thursday nights entertaining game. I sincerely hope you started Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, and Doug Baldwin! Your week is off to a good start, if you did!

And how about the upcoming Monday night game? I think my grandmother could see a snap in this game and walk away with 7.5 fantasy points (PPR, of course). Neither grandmother is with us anymore, so obviously I still believe they could get 7.5 points in that game.

Running Back: Start ’em

Alex Collins (Baltimore Ravens)

The Baltimore Ravens travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals. The same Bengals who have been absolutely skewered by Running Backs all season long. The Running Back position averages 32.8 points when facing the Bengals with almost 1600 total yards and 13 touchdowns. But wait! There’s more!!

Who will be under center on Sunday afternoon? If it’s Joe Flacco, he will be even MORE immobile than he is on a normal Sunday while nursing a hip injury. Necessity will force the Ravens into using their Running Backs. If it’s Robert Griffin III then they will want him controlling the ball. Take away his rookie season SIX years ago and you’re left with a TD:Int ratio that is almost 1:1. Against this Bengal defense, they won’t need him throwing the ball recklessly. Finally (and hopefully), they might go with Lamar Jackson. Again, they will need the youngster to control the ball and utilize the run game. I would love to see this dynamic and exciting QB get a chance against a suspect defense.

No matter who is “throwing” the ball, Alex Collins will have a career day. At worst, he will be an RB1.

Doug Martin (Oakland Raiders)

Speaking of defenses who are weak against the run, the Raiders travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals. Let’s think back to week 5 when the Cardinals let Alfred Morris look like a fantasy relevant Running Back. They have allowed approximately 1500 yards and 13 touchdowns to the Running Back position during this season.

Let’s not mince words, the Raiders are a train wreck. They’re going to lose this game. They are the odds on favorite to secure the 1.01 in the 2019 NFL Draft. HOWEVER, the Cardinals are in the same ballpark when considering team ability this year. The result? A close game filled with LOTS of running back scoring (Hello, David Johnson, and welcome to another stellar game!). Since the Raiders won’t be playing from too far behind, Doug Martin will see his fair share of work. He is averaging 13 attempts and almost 5 yards per run in the last 3 games. Throw in a few passes per game and you have yourself a decent fantasy week.

Running Back: Sit ’em

Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears)

Which Jordan Howard will show up this week? The one who scored 4 touchdowns over 3 games in weeks 7-9? Or the one that ran for 1.9 yards per carry and possibly lost weeks for his fantasy owners in week 10? He is so talented. I am quite confused by his usage. But the Bears are doing well either way, so we’re at that point where we won’t know HOW they will use him.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough for a fantasy week, the Bears are at home against a Minnesota Vikings defense who have been incredibly stingy to all Running Backs not named Alvin Kamara or Todd Gurley. I hope you aren’t going to argue that Jordan Howard is in the same tier as those two. (Psst, he’s not.)

Sit him. I’m sorry that you spent a second or third round pick on him.

Eagles Backfield (Philadelphia Eagles)

Josh Adams is emerging as the best back in Philadelphia, but it’s still a committee. In their last three games, the Eagles have used the three running backs in a 33.3/33.4/33.3 split, with Adams getting that slightly higher number of touches. (For the record, Wendall Smallwood appears to be the passing down back.) Based on this information, we couldn’t really trust one of them specifically in week 11. But wait! There’s more!!

Whether through necessity because they are playing from behind or strength of the opposing defense, Running Backs facing the Saints have not done very well. There are a couple of exceptions (Saquon, Gurley, Latavius), but the Saints have held opposing Running Backs to only a few points. This game won’t be any different. They’re playing in New Orleans and the scoring will likely be high. Both are a recipe for tempered expectations for the Eagles backfield.

Tight End: Start ’em

Vance McDonald (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Throughout the season, the Jaguars have been beaten through the Tight End position, particularly in the red zone. Vance McDonald has been getting a decent target share lately and has normally done well with it. If he can continue to be targeted 6 times per game against this defense who is on a decline, he might find the end zone. And in this 2018 Tight End position for fantasy, that’s all you can really hope for if you don’t own Kelce, Ertz, Kittle, or Ebron. (Let’s be honest though, Touchdowns are the reason Ebron is in the top Tight End discussion.)

Note for 2019, draft one of the top 3 or 4 Tight Ends early or don’t draft one until your last pick. I’d rather spend draft capital on the DEF position at this point. I’m exaggerating there, but Tight Ends are frustrating and almost impossible to predict.

Ricky Seals-Jones (Arizona Cardinals)

Speaking of impossible to predict……

I’m throwing RSJ into the mix because his role in the Cardinals offense has improved since Byron Leftwich took over at OC. His snap counts have increased. In week 10, he was targeted 9 times! And now, we’re reminded of the fact that the Cardinals are facing the Raiders. The Raiders defense is like Oprah: “You get a touchdown! You get a touchdown! You get a touchdown!” You could certainly do worse than selecting RSJ. Kittle is on bye this week, you might be forced into playing Ricky Seals-Jones. You’re allowed to be nervous.

Tight End: Sit ’em

CJ Uzomah (Cincinatti Bengals)

The Bengals are imploding. They just hired Hue Jackson. Finally, they’re facing the Ravens in a divisional battle. There is not much more to say when considering any Bengals pieces in week 11.

On the positive side, AJ Green is out. Therefore, CJ Uzomah could see his targets increase. Plus, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, Tight Ends that I place in the “Sit ’em” category tend to go off and have stellar games.

To sum it up, I hate the Tight End position.

Good luck to each of you in week 11! Unless you’re facing me. In that case, I hope your relatives from out of town have arrived and that you’re spending time with them instead of paying attention to your lineups.

Week 9 RB/TE Start ’em Sit ’em

Week 9. WOW! The fantasy football season is just flying by. Most leagues will be starting the playoffs in 5 short weeks. I sincerely hope that you are doing well. Let’s see if we can find some interesting choices during the bye week madness and through all of the injuries.

Running Back: Start ’em

Adrian Peterson (Washington Redskins)

Essentially, AP will be the lone running back this week. Chris Thompson is out with an injury. Kapri Bibbs is there. Remember before the season when he was cut? It doesn’t matter if Adrian Peterson WAS sharing carries, the Falcons are just miserable against the run. They let Peyton Barber run for 82 yards and get 24 more yards and a touchdown through the air. AP should be locked and loaded. He will be an RB1 in Week 9.

Duke Johnson (Cleveland Browns)

Freddie Kitchens is the new offensive coordinator in Cleveland. Guess what position he was promoted from? Running Backs coach! For the foreseeable future, I believe this Browns offense will put a heavier focus on the Running Backs.

But wait! There’s more! The Browns face off against the Chiefs! The Chiefs seem to be satisfied with standing aside while their opponents run past them. KC is allowing 127 yards per game on the ground; 7 touchdowns on the ground and 3 more to running backs through the passing game.

To top it off, the Browns are playing at home!

Nick Chubb will do just fine! My reason behind the Duke choice is because KC is going to win this game. The Browns will be playing from behind which means more work for the passing down back. Duke is fresh due to under-utilization this season. He will be put to work on Sunday.

Running Back: Sit ’em

Alex Collins (Baltimore Ravens)

The Ravens face the Steelers in Pittsburgh in a divisional matchup that has teeth. Both sides will be bringing their A game.

Pittsburgh has been relatively stingy against Running Backs this season allowing only 5 touchdowns to the position. Adding to the position misery for the Ravens, Alex Collins only had limited practice on Wednesday and sat out of Thursday’s practice. Yes, he practiced in full on Friday but Alex Collins is not the picture of health. Ty Montgomery has been added to the mix too. I’ll try to find my points elsewhere this week and you should too!

Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)

It’s redundant, but I had to include Derrick Henry just in case his absence confused people into thinking that I thought he would do well. He will not.

The Titans offense has not been productive. This week, they face the Cowboys who have been good at stopping the run.

Vegas has the over/under at 41 points. That is terribly low and I’m still taking the under. Tennessee is scoring just over 15 points per game. “Any Given Sunday” could rear it’s funny head, but this matchup promises to be a dull one filled with mediocre, at best, offensive players not named Ezekial Elliot. While we’re here, sit all of your Titans players until further notice. I’ll still be interested in this game because I’d like to see what the Cowboys do with Amari Cooper.

Tight End: Start ’em

David Njoku (Cleveland Browns)

Last week, we all believed in David Njoku. He did not see a single target despite playing in 83% of offensive snaps. It was such a great matchup! Maybe this was the reason that Todd Haley was shown the door. (That’s a joke, folks.)

This week, they’re facing the Chiefs. Remember above, where I talked about Freddie Kitchens being the RB coach before his promotion to offensive coordinator? Guess what he was before being an RB coach. Hopefully, you see where I’m going: Tight Ends Coach!! David Njoku will have a great game in a great matchup.

One other note. In 2016, Baker Mayfield and Pat Mahomes faced off in an offensive masterpiece of a game. In the end, the two QBs combined for 1279 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air, 104 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. If you look at the box score, you’ll see names like Joe Mixon, Dede Westbrook, and Keke Coutee. It was a College Football classic! I’m not suggesting that we’ll see a repeat. But, these two players sure know how to make football look fun!

Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers)

I know, this one reeks of the “no brainer” territory. With Gronk’s regression/injuries, we’re down to Kelce and Ertz with the rest of the TE position going into a barf bucket. Not so fast! I think we have found the replacement in the top 3. Greg Olsen has returned from injury with a solid floor for targets and a big smile in the red zone. This week, we will all be smiling as the Panthers face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs give up almost 14 points per game to the Tight End position (0.5 PPR format).

Tight End: Sit ’em

Ed Dickson (Seattle Seahawks)

Since the Tight End position is a cesspool of muck and dread, you might have seen the sparkling clean Ed Dickson return from injury and score a touchdown in week 8. Folks, he had 2 targets. He scored a touchdown on a 42 yard catch with one of them. I’ll be the first to admit that I could be wrong. This position consistently smacks me in the face. Ed Dickson, the 2 targets, and an opposing defense (L.A. Chargers) who is usually good against the Tight End position when your name isn’t George Kittle equals a bad week. Don’t chase the touchdown from week 8!

Good luck to each of you in week 9! Unless you’re facing me. In that case, I hope your local high school football team won their district championship game last night. While you’re busy celebrating, Oops! I forgot to set my lineups!