For most people, setting the first running back slot in your lineup is a relatively easy task. Especially if you’ve made it this far in season-long, you’ve probably had a stud RB to carry you along the way. However, finding a RB2 to trust is a little more complex. There’s matchup concerns to consider, there’s always injuries popping up, and that’s to say nothing of backs who might have seen their snap shares decrease in recent games.
No worries. I’ve got you covered. Here’s where I stand on four of borderline RB plays for Week 16.
Running Back Starts
Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
It’s possible you’ve lost faith in Lindsay by this point in the season and that thought process is almost justified by his recent results. In fact, Lindsay really hasn’t had a standout fantasy performance since all the way back in Week 5. That’s quite a long time to have someone remain patient. However, despite the underwhelming raw results, Lindsay continues to bring all the elements of a high-floor RB2 to the table. His role within Denver’s offense just never seems to alter. Though he’s yet to log in excess of 65.0% of the Broncos’ offensive snaps in a single contest, he’s also never fallen below 35.0%. Plus, his 15-to-18 touch volume is relatively set-in-stone, aside from outlier scripts like Week 15; a game where he saw a season-low seven carries with Denver having to throw on an uncharacteristic 73.7% of plays. As a heavy favorite with a great matchup against the Lions, lock Lindsay in.
Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
There’s really no reason to believe that Mostert’s grasp on the lead back role in the 49ers’ offense has dissipated. Is it ideal to use an RB that’s forced to split his snaps three-ways? Of course not. However, that’s not to suggest that playing for San Francisco doesn’t come with obvious advantages and perks. While it’s true that Mostert can thank some luck and some play sequencing for the five touchdowns he’s been able to score the past four weeks, it certainly helps to be playing within a system that’s generated a trip to the end zone on 28.5% of the 49ers’ drives - the fifth-highest rate in all of football. It also doesn’t hurt to be running behind an offensive line that’s generated 4.44 adjusted line yards per carry. Mostert doesn’t appear to profile like a running back who’s suddenly going to see a 25-attempt workload; yet 15 touches in a high-scoring attack is nothing to turn up your nose at.
Running Back Sits
James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
The great thing about having to survive without Conner is it’s something most people are used to doing at this point of the season. The oft-injured running back was able to find the end zone in his return to action last week against Buffalo, but, aside from that one reception, Conner looked pretty unremarkable. Now, to be fair, this isn’t exactly his fault. No one in Pittsburgh’s offense looks good, so it’s almost unfair to just single out Conner. In fact, across their past seven matchups, the Steelers have only generated eight total offensive touchdowns - easily the worst output in all of football. They’ve also run a paltry 58.7 plays per game entering Week 16, which serves as the lowest mark for any team in the AFC. Conner might be the clear No. 1 option for an offense that gave four different running backs a carry last Sunday, yet that doesn’t mean much in a system so devoid of volume. Plus, if all that wasn’t enough to deter you, the Jets have surrendered the fewest adjusted line yards per attempt in the NFL (2.95).
Carlos Hyde, Houston Texans
I have to tip my hat to Hyde. I can legitimately say that I did not see a 1,000 yard season coming from the veteran RB, yet here we are, with Hyde surpassing the illustrious plateau in the midst of a 100-yard performance against the Titans last weekend. Still, yesterday’s news is exactly that in fantasy and Hyde is running into an absolutely awful matchup this coming Sunday. Tampa Bay has been incredibly stout versus opponent RBs, allowing a league-low 56.4 rushing yards per game to the position. On top of that, only 22.7% of the many touchdowns that the Buccaneers have surrendered this season have come on the ground. Considering Hyde’s produced an underwhelming 0.55 PPR fantasy points per touch since Week 13, I’d call the 29-year-old little more that a desperation FLEX option this particular slate.