Seven of the top nine running backs in Week 5 were drafted as top 12 backs this year in season-long fantasy football. The most significant improvement came from Alvin Kamara (24.40 fantasy points – only 15.90 over the first four weeks). Clyde Edwards-Helaire (6.50 fantasy points) finished with the most disappointing game for a running back still ranked in the top 10 (9th). Here’s a look at the three backs that scored more than 30.00 fantasy points last week:
· Austin Ekeler – 35.90
· Leonard Fournette – 35.90
· Josh Jacobs – 30.30
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (DraftKings – $7,700/FanDuel – $8,800)
Over the past three weeks, Barkley has settled into a high-floor player (22.60, 18.20, and 19.60 fantasy points). However, a shoulder issue vs. the Packers led to him being on the field for a season-low 69 percent of the Giants’ plays. New York will limit his practice time this week while expecting him to suit up against the Ravens. Barkley averages 23 touches per game, with his three scores coming in odd-numbered weeks. Baltimore sits 20th defending the running back position (23.00 FPPG). Every opponent has rushed for at least 4.8 yards per carry (109/540/5), with some of the damage coming from rushing quarterbacks (21/108/3). The Giants don’t have the receiving talent to take advantage of the Ravens' weakness in the secondary. As a result, they should move up their safeties to attack the run game. Barkley has gained 20-plus yards on seven plays this season, with three reaching the 40-yard mark.
Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (DraftKings – $8,200/FanDuel – $9,500)
The Browns continue to rotate in two running backs, leading to Chubb being on the field for only 55.2 percent of their plays. Cleveland has won the time of possession in all five matchups, helping them run the ball 180 times (36 per game). The Browns already have 10 rushing scores, with Chubb leading the way on the ground (98/593/7 – 6.1 yards per rush). New England ranks sixth against running backs (19.20 FPPG). Despite the appearance of success, Baltimore (26/188/4) and Green Bay (35/199/1) ran the ball well vs. the Patriots. Both teams want to run the ball, suggesting a lower-scoring game. Chubb ranks highly this week, but he needs about 33.00 fantasy points at DraftKings to offer an edge.
Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (DraftKings – $8,100/FanDuel – $9,200)
After two impact games (308 combined yards with five touchdowns and 10 catches), Ekeler surged to first in running back scoring (22.74 FPPG). He is on pace to gain 1,791 yards with 17 touchdowns and 105 catches). Last year, Ekeler finished with two productive games in fantasy points (21.90 and 20.20) against the Broncos. Denver has the ninth-best defense against running backs (19.68 FPPG), with their only disaster showing coming in Week 4 vs. the Raiders (202 combined yards with two touchdowns and six catches). The Chargers gave Joshua Kelley a heavier workload against Cleveland (10/49/1 with two catches for 33 yards). Chasing a hot player for three weeks rarely pays off in the NFL, but Ekeler’s high floor in the passing game helps his impact value if he continues to score at a high rate.