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Week 10 Heat Index (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Jim Colombo | @WideRightNBlue | Featured Writer
Nov 17, 2020

Rex Burkhead will be a high-risk, high-reward player to close out the second half of the season.

Are you desperate for a running back? I sure was.

In Week 4, I traded James Conner for Tyler Lockett. That same week, l lost Austin Ekeler to a hamstring injury that totally derailed his season. Could Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Joshua Kelley carry the load for my squad? Not a chance.

I needed help, so I traded Tyler Lockett for Amari Cooper and Melvin Gordon in Week 8. Not a bad trade on paper, but it hasn’t made the RB impact I so desperately need.

Then Week 10 came along. Three running backs were available as free agents in my home league of unlovable drunks: Rex Burkhead, Malcolm Brown, and Salvon Ahmed. Who would get the call?

I picked up Burkhead and Brown midweek, cycling them in and out of the single RB slot behind Melvin Gordon. I couldn’t make up my mind! But I did know that my team (an unlucky 4-6) needed a spark. You know, a fresh face to light the fire and rally the troops. Enter Salvon Ahmed, a Sunday morning acquisition and Week 10 breakout special.

Here’s the point: All three running backs played well in Week 10. All three running backs are available in the majority of fantasy leagues. All three running backs are worth speculative adds down the stretch.

Which way does the smoke blow for these running backs? What does that mean, exactly? I’m not sure—t’s Week 10 and I’m running low on fire-related puns. Welcome to the Week 10 Heat Index.

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Rex Burkhead (RB – NE)
Sexy Rexy made his presence felt in a wet and wild game at Foxborough in Week 10. The savvy veteran handled six carries for 31 yards and added four catches for 35 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ win against the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. With 20.6 fantasy points in half-PPR leagues, Burkhead finished Week 10 as RB7.

Burkhead’s second score came on a painfully perfect pass from Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. The former high school quarterback hit Burkhead with a moonshot from 25 yards out on one of the prettiest gadget plays of the season.

That makes three total touchdowns for Burkhead in the last two weeks, but the bigger news is that Damien Harris returned to action stronger than ever. Harris out-snapped Burkhead 32 to 20 in Week 10 and carried the ball 22 times for 121 yards. While Harris failed to score, he firmly cemented his role as the Patriots’ workhorse back.

Burkhead should continue to mix in as a change-of-pace rusher for the Patriots, especially in the red zone. Sure, Cam Newton has dominated 37% of the team’s red zone touches so far this season, but Burkhead is right behind him with 21%. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the Patriots’ will face some of the best red zone defenses in the league—in terms of touchdowns allowed—for the remainder of the season. Here are the defenses the Pats will play and where they rank in percentage of red-zone TDs allowed.

Week 11 @Houston – 60.53% (14th)
Week 12 v. Arizona – 51.61% (3rd)
Week 13 @ LA Chargers – 56.67% (8th)
Week 14 @ LA Rams (9) – 57.69% (9th)
Week 15 @ Miami (25) – 71.43% (25th)
Week 16 vs. Buffalo – 62.5% (17th)
Week 17 vs. NY Jets – 54.29% (5th)

These numbers don’t tell the whole story, of course, as other variables could be considered. Nevertheless, Burkhead will still be a product of a Patriots machine that has everyone in his right place on almost every single play. Rostered in just 24% of Yahoo leagues and 23% of ESPN leagues, Burkhead will be a high-risk, high-reward player to close out the second half of the season.

Week 9 Heat Index: 🔥🔥🔥
Rest-of-season Heat Index: 🔥🔥

Malcolm Brown (RB – LAR)
Were you in dire need of a starting running back in Week 10? You could’ve done worse than roll the dice on Malcolm Brown, who is still only owned in 25% of Yahoo leagues and 41% in ESPN leagues.

In the Rams’ huge home win against the Seahawks on Sunday, Brown carried the rock six times for 33 yards and two touchdowns, which came on a couple of easy goal-line efforts. He also added two receptions for 18 yards. The sneaky good performance produced 18.1 half-PPR points, which was 11th most of all active running backs in Week 10.

Brown led all Rams running backs with 29 snaps in Week 10, and he was most efficient with his eight total touches. For comparison, Darrell Henderson totaled 8 touches for 34 yards on 23 snaps and Cam Akers totaled 10 total touches for 38 yards on 18 snaps. Okay, so the backfield is almost evenly split among three running backs. Now what?

Well, the touchdowns, of course, are the real difference-maker. In order for Brown to continue to make a fantasy impact down the stretch, he’ll need to see more action in the red zone. The problem is that up until this game, Henderson has handled the majority of the red zone rushing duties with 40% of RB touches down close. Despite entering this game with a recently rehabbed thigh, Henderson also scored a red-zone rushing TD of his own. So it’s not as if Brown is “the guy” in the red zone.

This season, Henderson has 113 touches. That’s the most out of any Rams rusher. However, Brown isn’t too far behind with 97. Rookie Cam Akers has just 47. If this data tells us anything, it’s that—at the very least—Henderson is the guy to own, but Brown is a nice consolation.

As we round out the back end of the season, the Rams will face off against some of the stingiest rush defenses in fantasy football. Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and Arizona all rank in the top of the league versus the run, allowing an average of 15.9 fantasy points per game to running backs this season. When you split that output among three guys in an RBBC, you’re not left with much.

If you can make it to the fantasy football playoffs, though, Brown and company will have an excellent opportunity against the hapless Jets in Week 15 and the Seahawks again in Week 16. If you’ve got the room to stash Malcolm Brown and cross your fingers, now’s the time to do it.

Week 9 Heat Index: 🔥🔥🔥
Rest-of-season Heat Index: 🔥🔥

Salvon Ahmed (RB – MIA)
Shall we play the name game with newcomer Salvon Ahmed?

No, Salvon Ahmed is not a British-Indian novelist and master of magic realism. He’s not a Middle-Eastern love guru who will show you the path to eternal happiness. He’s not even your old college roommate who could beat the original Super Mario Bros. on Nintendo in 60 seconds or less.   

No. His name is Salvon Ahmed, and (according to the internet) his name means “Intelligent Blessing.” Are you desperate and alone in the fantasy football landscape? Look for the one they call Intelligent Blessing and he shall carry you home.

Miami Dolphins rookie running back Salvon Ahmed rushed the ball 21 times for 85 yards and a 1-yard TD in the Dolphins’ fifth consecutive (!) win in Week 10. He also tacked on a reception for five more yards in the contest. 

Were you either intelligent or blessed enough to pick up and start Ahmed before kickoff? Probably not. Ahmed is only owned in 7% of both Yahoo and ESPN leagues. After waivers clear this week, though, that is sure to change. Ahmed didn’t just lead the Miami Dolphins running backs with 22 touches—he dominated them. Matt Breida is out indefinitely. Myles Gaskin was out with a knee injury. Jordan Howard was a healthy scratch. Patrick Laird was the only other running back to see any action in Week 10, and he handled only two touches. Two!

Folks, “Tua Time” has taken over in Miami, and even though Tua Tagovailoa is a phenomenal passer, the Dolphins are taking their time with his development. What does that mean for Salvon Ahmed? Volume. Volume. Volume.

Sure, Gaskin could return. And okay, maybe Howard comes back. But if you’re building new chemistry with fresh talent on a red-hot football team, you don’t bench the guy who came out of the abyss to lead your team in yards per carry (among all players with at least 28 carries). Is it a small sample size? Yes. Does that matter? No. We’re going with mostly qualitative data here (i.e., the fire in my belly), but if you’ve ever watched a football game in your life, you know there’s more to come for Salvon Ahmed and the Miami Dolphins down the stretch.

What’s that? You’re a numbers person? Well good, because the Dolphins’ schedule is backloaded with tasty matchups against teams who struggle against fantasy football running backs. Take a look at these stats from Pro Football Reference:

Week 11 @Denver – 18 FPPG (14th most)
Week 12 @NY Jets – 20.4 FPPG (10th most)
Week 13 v Cincinnati – 18.6 FPPG (16h most)
Week 14 v Kansas City – 19.3 FPPG 12th most)
Week 15 v New England – 19.1 FPPG (13th most)
Week 16 @ Las Vegas – 21.7 FPPG (6th most)

Looking to make a miracle run with a long-shot running back? Be intelligent and take advantage of this blessing while you can.

Week 9 Heat Index: 🔥🔥🔥
Rest-of-season Heat Index: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Good luck, my children, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Jim Colombo is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jim, check out his archive and follow him @WideRightNBlue.

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