Four running backs had correction games in Week 4 to push them inside the top 15 rankings at the position. Here’s a look at the best five backs from Week 5 and their fantasy output:
· Austin Ekeler (34.90)
· Josh Jacobs (34.50)
· Miles Sanders (29.60)
· Rashaad Penny (28.70)
· Dameon Pierce (25.90)
The success of Ekeler moved him to third in running back scoring (77.80 fantasy points) behind Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb. Jacobs moved to seventh and Sanders to ninth. All three players more than doubled their stats compiled over the previous two matchups. Pierce climbed to 14th and Penny to 24th.
The biggest underachievers in fantasy points at the top end of the running back pool were James Robinson (2.90), Javonte Williams (3.80), and Jonathan Taylor (4.30). The latter two got injured with Williams now out for the season and Taylor missing the game on Thursday night.
Fifteen running backs are averaging more than 14.00 fantasy points and 11 more over 11.00 fantasy points. Last year 22 backs had a floor of 11.00 fantasy points (22 in 2020 and 23 in 2019).
Here’s a look at the top three high-priced running back plays in Week 5 in the daily market.
Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (DraftKings – $7,800/FanDuel – $9,000)
It doesn’t take much for a player to go from foe to friend in the fantasy world. Coming into last week, Ekeler gained only 80 yards rushing on 32 carries (2.5 yards per rush) while struggling to get into space as well in the passing game (21/139 – 6.6 yards per catch). A favorable matchup against Houston in Week 5 led to a breakout game (109 combined yards with three scores and six catches). Despite his success, the Chargers still rotated in two other backs while playing with the lead all game. In 2021, Ekeler had similar success in Week 5 vs. the Browns (119 combined yards with three touchdowns and five catches). Cleveland ranks 23rd defending the running back position (82/431/4 with 16 catches for 93 yards and one touchdown). I don’t expect a repeat game, but Ekeler looks poised to be more relevant in the Chargers’ offense in this matchup.
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (DraftKings – $7,900/FanDuel – $9,000)
My timing with Barkley in the daily market has been off all year. I used him in Week 2 (88 combined yards with three catches) and Week 4 (31/146 with two catches for 16 yards) in two favorable matchups at home, but he failed to score. Last week, Daniel Jones sniped a pair of rushing touchdowns, crushing Barkley's potential big day. The Giants had Barkley on the field for a season-high 94 percent of their snaps last week. He already has 99 touches (just under 25 per game), leading to 570 yards with two scores and 15 catches. Green Bay sits 13th in running back defense (93/488/1 – 5.3 yards per rush with 17 catches for 97 yards). New York heads into this game in London with an empty passing attack and health concerns at QB, making Barkley their only offensive star. His three-down window set a high floor, but impact games require New York to produce more scoring chances.
Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (DraftKings – $8,000/FanDuel – $9,400)
Chubb seems to be one of the safest running back plays at this point in the season despite his rising salary. He gained more than 100 combined yards in each contest while adding five scores over the past three games. Cleveland gave him a minimum of 20 touches in all four of his starts. The only strike is his value in the passing game (6/37), which is more of Kareem Hunt getting in the way. Chubb has been on the field for 55.8 percent of the Browns’ plays this season. The Chargers are trending in the wrong direction against running backs (29.98 FPPG) after losing Joey Bosa in Week 3 with a groin injury. Los Angeles allows a whopping 5.8 yards per carry to running backs (75/434/2), partly due to Dameon Pierce hitting on a 75-yard touchdown last week. For Chubb to fill his salary bucket, he needs about 160 yards with two scores and one catch.