Najee Harris, Ezekiel Elliott, Austin Ekeler, Dalvin Cook, James Robinson — all gone this week. But while those five running backs (and Zack Moss, Devin Singletary, and Tony Pollard) take some well-deserved time off, fantasy football owners are left trying to figure out who to start. Our Week 7 fantasy RB rankings can help, but finding sleepers at fantasy’s most important position isn’t easy in a week like this, especially when key guys like Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb figure to be ” questionable” and several more star RBs will be out.
When a lot of key starters are out, at least a few fantasy owners won’t be happy with their RB2s or flexes. That’s just the way it goes. When you look at this week’s rankings and see someone like Michael Carter (@ Patriots) around the top 25, it’s a bit jarring, but who do want to put in front of him? Sure, you can make arguments for some of the backs below him, but the bottom line is there aren’t a lot of “sure starters” based on usage, and it gets worse when you start looking at matchups.
Perhaps the most eye-catching thing about these rankings is Cordarrelle Patterson (@ Dolphins) in the RB1 range. Patterson got more than seven carries for the first all year last game (14), and he’s had at least five catches in each of his past four games. Perhaps most important, his snap share saw a huge jump prior to the bye, as he was in on 59 percent of plays. Touchdowns are still a potential worry, so perhaps we’re being generous with our near-RB1 ranking of him in standard leagues, but Patterson is explosive and has a highly favorable matchup against Miami. That’s why his running mate, Mike Davis, is also worth starting this week.
Damien Harris (vs. Jets), Mike Sanders (@ Raiders), Myles Gaskin (vs. ATL), and James Conner and Chase Edmonds (vs. Texans) also get big boosts from their matchups. These are guys that have looked unplayable at times this year, but, again, in a week with fewer options, they stand out as relatively “safe” plays, as crazy as that sounds. Obviously, Gaskin and Edmonds are worth more in PPR leagues, but you still have to take shots on them in standard. Yes, even Gaskin. We all saw what happened when he disappointed and was universally faded the next week (he scored twice). Don’t let that happen again.
The biggest matchup worries are Devontae Booker (vs. Panthers), Elijah Mitchell (vs. Colts), Damien Williams/Khalil Herbert (@ Bucs), Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams (@ Browns), and Mark Ingram (@ Cardinals). It will be tough to sit the primary backs like Booker and Mitchell, as their workloads figure to be high, but committee backs like Gordon and Williams are much riskier. Chances are, many will have to use those guys as RB2s or flexes, but there’s always hope for a short TD. If Barkley is back, then he has a lower ceiling than usual, but he’s still a must-start. Mitchell might get a bump down in the rankings depending on if JaMycal Hasty (ankle) and/or Jeff Wilson Jr. (knee) are due back for San Francisco.
If you have to dig deep this week, guys like Malcolm Brown (vs. Falcons), Samaje Perine (@ Ravens), Rhamondre Stevenson (vs. Jets), and Sony Michel (vs. DET) at least have favorable matchups on paper. It’s always tough to guess how many touches they’ll get, but if they get close to 10, then they’ll have some value in a week like this.
Ultimately, these are the types of weeks where you should count yourself lucky if you have two legitimate starters, never mind three. If you’re walking in tall cotton with a trio (or quartet) of high-quality backs, then it might not be a bad idea to see what’s available in a trade. Some owners might be desperate, so you never know much extra value you could net.
Note: We’ll be updating these RB rankings throughout the week, so check back for analysis and the latest player movement.
Fantasy RB Rankings Week 7: Who to start at running back
Rankings are based on standard, non-PPR scoring
|1||Derrick Henry, TEN vs. KC|
|2||Alvin Kamara, NO @ SEA|
|3||Aaron Jones, GB vs. WAS|
|4||Jonathan Taylor, IND @ SF|
|5||Darrell Henderson, LAR vs. DET|
|6||Antonio Gibson, WAS @ GB|
|7||Chuba Hubbard, CAR @ NYG|
|8||Joe Mixon, CIN @ BAL|
|9||Leonard Fournette, TB vs. CHI|
|10||D’Andre Swift, DET @ LAR|
|11||Damien Harris, NE vs. NYJ. Harris stayed out of Bill Belichick’s doghouse despite fumbling woes, running 18 times for 101 yards and a score last week. This week he faces a Jets’ defense that’s been in the top 10 for fantasy points per game (FPPG) allowed to RBs all year. Expect another solid, high-volume game from Harris.|
|12||Cordarrelle Patterson, ATL @ MIA. As we said in the intro, Patterson saw a big jump in snap share in Atlanta’s last game, and given his explosiveness, it’s time we start ranking him as an upper-tier back. He’s destined to disappoint soon, but with Miami in the top three for FPPG allowed to RBs, it’s tough to imagine it being this week. That’s why both Patterson and Mike Davis, who’s had at least 15 touches in every game this year, are at least RB2s this week.|
|13||Josh Jacobs, LV vs. PHI. Jacobs gets volume (at least 17 touches in each of the past three games), and he has a nose for the end zone (four TDs in four games). However, it doesn’t feel like he’s been productive, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and 6.5 yards per catch. Jacobs is almost an RB version of a “TD-or-bust” tight end, but given his matchup this week against the 28th-ranked Eagles run defense, he’s still in play a sure starter. There’s some worry he won’t see as many targets now that Jon Gruden as out, as his looks dropped from an average of five in Weeks 4 and 5 to just one last week, but that could be more a product of game script than anything. Either way, Jacobs should get enough touches to pay off.|
|14||Miles Sanders, PHI @ LV. Sanders has been a colossal bust this year. He’s still looking for his first TD, and he’s only once gone over 100 total yards in a game. So, this lofty ranking probably seems ridiculous, but the Raiders have struggled against RBs most of the year and Sanders’ snap share is actually increasing. He was in on a season-high 83 percent of snaps last week (Kenneth Gainwell played a season-low 23), so that’s a positive trend. Given the playing time and the expected better game script than last week, Sanders could finally have a breakout game. We’re clearly being optimistic with his high-end RB2 ranking, but at the very least, he’s a low-end RB2 this week.|
|15||Darrel Williams, KC @ TEN. The volume was there for Williams in his first start, as he saw 24 touches, 89 total yards, and two scores. With game script not expected to be quite as positive against the Titans, Williams is more of a risk, but he should still see 15-plus touches. The Chiefs offense will move the ball, so it’s just a question of how much Williams will be involved. We’ll bet on the touches and slightly positive matchup.|
|16||Mike Davis, ATL @ MIA. See Cordarrelle Patterson.|
|17||Damien Williams, CHI @ TB. Williams missed last week while on the COVID/reserve list, but even after Khalil Herbert shined in his absence, we expect Williams to return to the starter’s role if he’s back. That should mean a role similar to Week 5 when he garnered 18 touches. The game script in this one figures to be far different than Week 5 when Chicago led Vegas most of the game, but Tampa is the worst defense in the league against pass-catching backs, at least in terms of RB receptions per game, so Williams still has upside.|
|18||James Conner, ARI vs. HOU. Houston had been fairly mediocre but not terrible against RBs until Jonathan Taylor had a huge second half against it last week. The Texans are now allowing the second-most rushing yards per game, and with Conner operating as Arizona’s top “running” back, he has plenty of upside. He’s averaging 14 touches per game, and he could be in line for even more this week given the expected garbage time. With that kind of workload, even the relatively inefficient Conner should be able to compile a good amount of yards and have a good chance at a TD. Chase Edmonds is getting fewer and fewer carries, perhaps because of his recent shoulder injury. He still has upside in this matchup, especially in PPR leagues, but Conner is the guy to own in standard leagues.|
|19||Devontae Booker, NYG vs. CAR. Booker has seen at least 16 touches in each of the past two games, so we know the volume will be there. However, the production hasn’t been, as he’s averaged just 3.0 yards per carry and 6.3 yards per catch. A short TD is always in play, but against Carolina, who was the best defense against fantasy RBs until Dalvin Cook ran well against them last week, he’s a low-upside play. Because of how thinned out the ranks are this week, Booker is still an RB2 based on volume, but you’ll likely need a TD for him to really pay off.|
|20||D’Ernest Johnson, CLE vs. DEN|
|21||Elijah Mitchell, SF vs. IND. Both JaMycal Hasty (ankle) and Jeff Wilson Jr. (knee) are eligible to return this week, so Mitchell could drop like a rock in these rankings depending on practice reports throughout the week. If Mitchell is still expected to get the bulk of the touches, he has a RB2 upside against a solid Colts defense. In most weeks, Mitchell would merely be a flex, but this week, he’s tough to sit.|
|22||Alex Collins, SEA vs. NO. Collins is dealing with a hip injury, and Rashaad Penny (calf) is expected to return this week. Putting those two things together could knock Collins down the rankings quite a bit, so this is another situation where we’ll have to watch the practice reports. New Orleans has been solid against the run, but it has allowed four RB touchdowns over the past two games. Collins looked great against a tough Steelers’ run defense on Sunday night, so if he’s healthy and Seattle is expected to ease Penny back into action, Collins has RB2 upside.|
|23||Myles Gaskin, MIA vs. ATL. The Dolphins continue to play games with their RBs. Just a week after Gaskin had 15 touches, 99 total yards, two TDs, and a 69-percent snap share, he had seven touches, 14 total yards, no TDs, and a 36-percent snap share. However, the last time we wrote off Gaskin (after two touches in Week 4), he balled out in a tough matchup. The Falcons are below average against RBs, especially in the receiving game, so as much as we’re worried about Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed stealing touches, particularly around the goal line, we’ll trust Gaskin one more week. He’s much “safer” in PPR.|
|24||Chase Edmonds, ARI vs. HOU. See James Conner.|
|25||Michael Carter, NYJ @ NE|
|26||Melvin Gordon, DEN @ CLE|
|27||Jamaal Williams, DET @ LAR|
|28||Mark Ingram, HOU @ IND|
|29||Javonte Williams, DEN @ CLE|
|30||Latavius Murray, BAL vs. CIN|
|31||Rhamondre Stevenson, NE vs. NYJ|
|32||AJ Dillon, GB vs. WAS|
|33||JD McKissic, WAS @ GB|
|34||Samaje Perine, CIN @ BAL|
|35||Sony Michel, LAR vs. DET|
|36||Demetric Felton, CLE vs. DEN|
|37||JaMycal Hasty, SF vs. IND|
|38||Khalil Herbert, CHI @ TB|
|39||Malcolm Brown, MIA vs. ATL|
|40||Le’Veon Bell, BAL vs. CIN|
|41||Rashaad Penny, SEA vs. NO|
|42||Devonta Freeman, BAL vs. CIN|
|43||Kenneth Gainwell, PHI @ LV|
|44||Nyheim Hines, IND @ SF|
|45||Tevin Coleman, NYJ @ NE|
|46||Salvon Ahmed, MIA vs. ATL|
|47||David Johnson, HOU @ ARI|
|48||Jerick McKinnon, KC @ TEN|
|49||Ronald Jones II, TB vs. CHI|
|50||Ty Johnson, NYJ @ NE|
|51||Kenyan Drake, LV vs. PHI|
|52||Giovani Bernard, TB vs. CHI|
|53||Jeremy McNichols, TEN vs. KC|
|54||Phillip Lindsay, HOU @ ARI|
|55||Brandon Bolden, NE vs. NYJ|
|56||Trey Sermon, SF vs. IND|