Running Back Roundup Week 11: Ezekiel Elliott, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Antonio Gibson
Week 11 is in the books, and it’s time to take stock of the crazy week we just experienced. What better way to do that then with a retrospective of the top stories from fantasy’s favorite position – the running back. Each Wednesday, we’ll look back on studs, busts, breakouts, timeshares, situations to monitor, and all things RB from the past week.
So settle in, partner. It’s time to saddle up for the RB Roundup. Yeehaw.
Stud of the week: Dalvin Cook (MIN) 22.5 fantasy points
Well, well, well. What a surprise. Cook has been on an unbelievable run this season, and after this showing, he’s back on top as the overall RB1.
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2020
Bust of the week: Adrian Peterson (DET) 1.8 fantasy points
With D’Andre Swift out of action, Peterson was expected to handle a sizeable workload in a smash spot against Carolina’s soft run defense. Instead, Detroit got whacked 20-0 and Peterson went 7/18. If Swift is out again Thursday, Peterson faces Houston in another great matchup, where he would be in the flex conversation.
Breakout of the week: J.K. Dobbins (BAL) 17.5 fantasy points
Finally! Dobbins has been in a confusing timeshare all season, but he was handed the bulk of the backfield touches in Week 11, where he went 15/70 on the ground, caught two passes for 15 yards, and scored a two-pointer. Unfortunately, the party is over, at least for now. Dobbins was placed on the reserve/COVID list along with Mark Ingram, and both will miss the Thanksgiving tilt with Pittsburgh. All aboard the Gus Bus!
Surprise of the Week: Jonathan Taylor (IND) 13.4 fantasy points
In an impossible turn of events, JT toted 20 times for 90 yards and caught all four of his targets for 24 yards. After watching his snap counts decrease in each of the last three weeks, he played on 56% of snaps in the OT victory over Green Bay, while Nyheim Hines was in on 33% snaps and Jordan Wilkins just 11%.
Are We Underappreciating Zeke?
What to make of Ezekiel Elliott this season? He’s been a curious case for fantasy managers because of his
lackluster lower-than-usual production. After scoring five times through the season’s first five games, he hasn’t found the end zone since Week 5. He provided his first 100-yard game of the season in Week 11, and it’s looking like he won’t sniff the seven 100-yard games he posted last season unless he erupts across the Cowboy’s final six games. As my buddy Mike Maher noted:
He topped 100 yards rushing for the FIRST time this season, and his 21 carries were his most since Week 2.
It took a while, but Zeke as an RB1 is back.
— mike Maher. (@mikeMaher) November 23, 2020
Elliott is averaging just 17.1 carries per game to the tune of 3.9 yards per carry and 67.5 rushing yards per game – all easily career lows for the perennial Pro Bowler. He’s also averaged 14.7 fantasy points, after averaging 19.3 over his first four seasons. Despite all of this…
Zeke is still the RB6 in half-PPR this season.
It’s not that he’s fallen spectacularly from grace. In actuality, he’s gone from an elite, upper-pantheon RB1 to a mid-to-low-end RB1. He probably won’t live up to his ADP (RB3), but he won’t be light years away, either. He’s on pace for 82 targets and 60 receptions, which would be the second-highest totals of his career. That certainly helps his case in PPR formats.
CEH for the TD?
As Benjamin Franklin (probably) once wrote, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire being stuffed on the goal line.” Well, Poor Richard, you can take that maxim and… we’re getting off track. Edwards-Helaire posted a 14/69/2 rushing line in Week 11 and cruised into the end zone for his first rushing scores since Week 7. His touchdowns came from three and 14 yards out, and the three-yarder was his first touchdown from inside the five-yard line. Through 10 games, CEH has now totaled an 8/0/1 rushing line – ouch.
That’s two touchdowns tonight for rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) November 23, 2020
CEH has seen a drop in snaps since Le’Veon Bell joined the team, and it’s pretty noticeable. In six games prior to Bell’s arrival, Edwards-Helaire averaged a 66% snap count. With Bell, that percentage has fallen to 48.5. Despite the drop in snaps, CEH has been more efficient. In six games without Bell, he scored once. In four games with him, he’s scored four times. His upcoming schedule isn’t the friendliest, but this kind of recent scoring upside keeps him in the RB2 conversation, especially if he can start punching in some scores around the goal line.
Making a Name on a Team Without One
It took a little time, but take a look around, and Antonio Gibson has been a rock-solid RB1 across his last four contests. Since his Week 7 breakout, Gibson has scored a rushing touchdown in four straight contests, racking up a 55/287/5 rushing line in that span. He’s the RB6 since Week 7.
Antonio Gibson scores a TD in his fourth consecutive game. #WashingtonFootball
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2020
The presence of pass-catching specialist J.D. McKissic still dings Gibson’s value a little bit, but Gibson is the preferred back around the goal line and has averaged three targets per game across his last three contests. The rookie has been one of the most productive rookies and a pleasant surprise for fantasy managers. He should remain a top-15 option moving forward.
- The NFL hasn’t had a 1,700-yard rusher since 2014 (DeMarco Murray)The NFL hasn’t had two 1,700-yard rushers in the same season since 2006 (LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson)
- Derrick Henry (1,726) and Dalvin Cook (1,782) are both on pace to hit those numbers in 2020, with the next closest RB trailing far behind: James Robinson, on pace for 1,219 yards
Henry has 1,079 rush yards this season…
That's the most rushing yards by a player through Week 11 since Ezekiel Elliott had 1,102 rush yards in 2016
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 22, 2020
- Frank Gore ranks 14th in the NFL in carries with 123, and his per-game carries figure to increase moving forward with Lamical Perine on IR
- Alvin Kamara failed to record at least one reception in a game for the first time in his entire 54-game Saints career. He racked up a league-high 67 across his first nine games, and there’s legitimate concern for Kamara’s upside with Taysom Hill at QB
- Joe Burrow‘s heart-breaking, season-ending injury puts the chances of Joe Mixon returning in 2020 at slim-to-none in this lost season. Giovani Bernard should continue to operate as a top-20 play with upside.