Fantasy football is a funny game. Just take a look at the recommended starts for Week 6. Most of these players were either late-round fliers or weren’t even drafted at all. If they were drafted, most likely they were cut from many fantasy teams after Week 1 or 2, and someone scooped them up off the waiver wire.
With a rash of running back injuries (Leonard Fournette, Devonta Freeman and Jay Ajayi) these players could be essential to your fantasy success this week. There are only two teams on bye (Detroit, New Orleans) but that also means no Alvin Kamara or the just-returned Mark Ingram (as well as Kerryon Johnson or LeGarrette Blount).
So which running backs should you trust in Week 6 and which ones should you try and avoid? Before we focus on that let's take a look back and see how Week 5 turned out.
Good Calls for Week 5...
Not the best week. That’s what happens when you take risks and go outside the box instead of being boring and say things like start James Conner, start T.J. Yeldon or start Kenyan Drake.
Bad Calls for Week 5...
Start Aaron Jones (7.9 fantasy points) – It appears that the Packers' coaching staff doesn’t trust Jones enough to give him many touches, even though he is the best running back on the roster.
Start Derrick Henry (5.6 FP) – So much for Henry being a “breakout” stud this year. He couldn’t get much going against the Bills last week and is barely worth having on your roster at this point.
Teams on bye: Detroit, New Orleans
START THESE RBs...
T.J. Yeldon, JAC (at DAL)
With Leonard Fournette sidelined with a hamstring injury, Yeldon is once again in a great spot this week. Last week Yeldon was dominant against the Chiefs with 10 carries for 53 yards, as well as eight catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. He's now scored at least 14 PPR points in four of five games, and he has a favorable matchup in Week 6 against Dallas, especially if linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) misses another game. The Cowboys have allowed eight running backs to either score or gain 80 total yards each game this season, including Kerryon Johnson and Alfred Blue the past two weeks.
Tevin Coleman, ATL (vs. TB)
Devonta Freeman popped up on the injury report with what is being called a bone contusion to his foot. If Freeman is out (and it looks like he will miss the game), Coleman automatically jumps up to high-end RB2 status. In Weeks 2-4 with Freeman out because of a knee injury, Coleman averaged 18 touches and scored a touchdown. If he can be the lead dog in this barn-burner NFC South shootout, there’s no cap on Coleman’s upside. The Bucs are yielding the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs as well as seven catches per game to the position. Last time out, they were the victim of Tarik Cohen’s 20-touch, 174-yard (with a TD) breakout in Week 4. James Conner totaled 95 yards in Week 3. Corey Clement went for 85 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. And Alvin Kamara had 141 yards and three scores Week 1. You’re going to want as many pieces as possible from this 57.5-point total.
Phillip Lindsay, DEN (vs. LAR)
Lindsay is still the feature running back in Denver, who is a seven-point home underdog vs. the Rams with a 52.5 over/under. That total sets up best for Lindsay’s change-of-pace work compared to Royce Freeman’s two-down role. Yes, it’s annoying that Devontae Booker won’t go away, but game script could favor Lindsay (and Freeman) and the Rams did yield 202 total yards to Chris Carson and Mike Davis last week.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Nyheim Hines, IND (at NYJ)
Even if Marlon Mack (hamstring) plays this week, I'm still rolling with Hines in PPR. He has at least five catches in four of five games, including 16 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns on 20 targets in his past two outings. The Jets are tied for seventh for most receptions allowed to running backs at 34.
SIT THESE RBs...
Kenyan Drake, MIA (vs. CHI)
Drake is featured on both rushing and receiving plays yet will be stuffed by a Bears defense that is playing as good as any unit in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, Chicago boasts the league’s top run-stopping unit, the fourth-best pass rush and the best secondary of 2018. With such a fearsome unit hounding Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill all game long, there simply won’t be enough quality opportunities for Drake to make any meaningful impact.
Alex Collins, BAL (at TEN)
An early-round fantasy pick as an RB2, Collins has been a huge disappointment, checking in at 27th in rushing yards, sandwiched between fellow disappointments Derrick Henry and Jordan Howard. Collins’ 3.8 yards per carry is tied for 36th with Theo Riddick and LeSean McCoy. He’s scored a pair of touchdowns to keep him afloat on fantasy rosters, but fumbles have been an issue, and it has led to decreased playing time. The Titans have yet to allow a rushing touchdown and are surrendering the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position. Ravens-Titans has the second-lowest total of the week at 41 points. Collins is averaging 10.67 carries per game on the road compared to 12.5 at home. He’s a tough sell as anything more than a flex.
Chris Carson, SEA (vs. OAK, London)
It’s hard to trust Carson right now, even as a RB2, because you just don't really know who is going to get the ball in Seattle right now. Even Doug Baldwin couldn’t buy more than one target in a full game! Mike Davis is a thing and while you shouldn’t ever want to rely on Rashaad Penny to contribute to your fantasy team, Pete Carroll could suddenly give him 15 touches. Both Carson and Davis did well in last week, with Carson playing 58 percent of the snaps, so it’s possible this works out. But it’s also possible the Seahawks keep us guessing with their RB usage.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
LeSean McCoy, BUF (at HOU)
This week will see a double whammy against McCoy, the Texans have the fourth-best run defense this season (3.4 ypc allowed) and have surrendered just one rushing touchdown thus far. Plus, the Bills are an underdog on the road, meaning they should be trailing more often than they lead, leading to fewer carries for McCoy. This season, the Bills have run the ball 64 percent of the time when ahead but just 36 percent of the time when trying to catch up.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.