Fantasy football managers might be looking for advice on what to do at running back given the Week 5 absence of Indianapolis Colts standout Jonathan Taylor and the season-ending injury to Denver Broncos dual-threat back Javonte Williams.
There have been a number of running backs who have impressed at the quarter pole, some of which might have been expected and others a bit more of a surprising development. Those players are worthy of an elevation into the starting lineup. And, of course, there is always the plug-and-play option which would include Taylor’s backup Nyheim Hines and Williams’ handcuff Melvin Gordon, who are both set to take the field for “Thursday Night Football.”
Here are four starts and four sits entering Week 5 in the NFL:
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
Something about the addition of Josh McDaniels and wideout Davante Adams might have caused fantasy football managers to temper their expectations for Jacobs entering the season, but the fourth-year running back has had a great start to the season. Jacobs ranks RB8 in average scoring while his 82 touches from scrimmage — including 12 receptions on 13 targets — rank sixth among players at the position, per Sportradar. They’re allowing him to become a lineup mainstay. Jacobs’ ability to gain yards after contact, as on display in Week 4, has helped him record eight carries of 10-plus yards through four games, which is another area he ranks inside the top 10. Jacobs is viewed as Yahoo’s RB17 entering Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs, who have allowed 17.7 points per game to running backs.
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Managers would be wise to stick with Robinson despite the third-year ball carrier coming off an underwhelming showing against the Philadelphia Eagles. Jacksonville’s Week 5 opponent, the Houston Texans, though, aren’t the same enemy. Houston is allowing the most fantasy points to running backs (27.0) and has allowed the most rushing yards to players at the position. Robinson, who ranks 12th in average scoring this season, per Sportradar, is viewed as a top-10 play on Yahoo given the matchup and the fact he’s top 20 in touches this season.
Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots
There are not many NFL teams with multiple running backs worthy of starting spots, but the Patriots are turning into one of them. Stevenson and Damien Harris each rank inside the top 30 in average scoring, per Sportradar, and now go against a Detroit Lions team that allows the second-most points to running backs. Detroit has allowed more rushing touchdowns than any team in the league (eight) and New England’s question mark at quarterback make Patriots running backs all the more enticing. Stevenson’s potential in the passing game — he has four catches of five targets in each of the previous two games — makes him a well-deserving flex play as Yahoo’s RB22.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Denver Broncos
The season-ending knee injury to Williams creates a massive void for the Broncos, and one Gordon should be able to run with. Gordon, who coughed up a game-altering fumble in Week 4, was in the doghouse after the contest, but head coach Nathaniel Hackett seemed more forgiving this week. And his potential against the Colts, who have allowed 16.5 points and the seventh-most receiving yards to running backs, makes him a worthy Week 5 play. Williams saw the sixth-most targets among running backs from Russell Wilson (5.5 per game) and Gordon has similar potential.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Both Elliott and teammate Tony Pollard, perhaps for different reasons, have been largely underwhelming for fantasy football managers this season. Elliott ranks RB39 in average scoring while Pollard sits at RB40, both averaging single digits, per Sportradar. For Elliott, though, it’s not due to lack of attempts as he ranks 18th in running back touches with 21 more than Pollard. Elliott’s one touchdown this season also has plagued his fantasy production. On top of all that, the Cowboys now will go up against a Los Angeles Rams defense that is allowing the fewest amount of points to fantasy running backs, which explains his RB28 ranking at Yahoo this week.
Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks
There likely are some fantasy owners eager to get Smith into the lineup given the fact he’s a top-10 quarterback in average scoring this season (18.47 points in full-point leagues), per Sportradar. But while Smith has impressed with 21 “explosive” passes of 16 or more yards and his 80% on-target rate, which ranks third among QBs, it’s probably still worth keeping the Seahawks veteran signal-caller on the bench. The Seahawks benefitted from facing the abysmal Lions’ defense last week, but have a tougher test with the New Orleans Saints in Week 5. He’s viewed as QB16 on Yahoo entering the slate.
D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
It’s been a rough start for Moore, and Week 5 probably won’t offer much of a change of pace. Moore has averaged 8.98 points in full-point leagues through four weeks, despite seeing 29 targets from quarterback Baker Mayfield, per Sportradar. Moore has eclipsed 50 yards receiving in just one game this season with his only touchdown coming in Week 2. Now, he’ll go up against a San Francisco 49ers defense that has allowed just 17.0 points per game to receivers and ranks second in passing yards and first in passing touchdowns allowed.
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Hines undoubtedly will see an uptick in snaps with Taylor set to miss “Thursday Night Football,” but being worthy of a starting spot is another question. Hines’ managers probably held on to him specifically for a situation like Week 5, however the Broncos have limited opposing running backs to the sixth-fewest points per game. Denver also has allowed merely two rushing touchdowns through four games and ranks in the middle of the pack in rushing yards allowed. The fact Hines is viewed as RB37 on Yahoo best indicates how managers should proceed with caution.