Running Back Stock Watch
Week four of the NFL season is officially over, and with week five coming quickly, it’s time for your weekly running back stock watch. Like Joe stated last week, injuries or poor performances happen to running backs every week, and as fantasy managers, we need to scramble to find the following week’s points.
The Running Back Stock Watch is here to keep you ahead of the rest of your league and be ready to fill any roster situation your team encounters during the season. We all need to remember that fantasy football is not a science. Running backs are going to have good weeks and bad weeks. This article explains who you should start, sit, look to trade, or acquire this week! We are back with the Stock Watch.
Hear me out here—the change of scenery and now a few weeks in the new system. Akers will start splitting the job with Alexander Mattison, especially if he keeps fumbling. Akers finally got some carries last week when the Minnesota Vikings beat the Carolina Panthers. 5 carries for 40 yards with an average of 8 yards per carry; you absolutely love to see it. Mattison also had 4.5 yards per carry in this game but 12 more carries. This next game will be closer to even in snaps and carries. My reasoning is an eye test. Kevin O’Connell (KOC) started Akers and saw the best in Akers when he was the offensive coordinator for the Rams. Mattison and Akers will split the backfield, but KOC will also play the hot hand.
We all should have seen this one coming. Justice Hill was a great flash in the pan. When JK Dobbins went out, we should have known that Gus Edwards would be back to be the most productive because it’s rinse and repeat. They resigned Kenyan Drake, and until Gus Edwards gets injured, and I’m hoping he doesn’t, he is the only relevant back on the Ravens. I also like him this week of Baltimore’s matchup against Pittsburgh. They have given up over 500 yards rushing already. It’s a hard-fought rivalry, and with where Pittsburgh is at right now, I can see Baltimore utilizing their backs to “show” Pittsburgh how to run the ball.
In game one of the season, he had nine carries for 60 yards and then two clunkers with only three carries in the next two games. Then, the Panthers played against Minnesota. The Panthers had 72 offensive snaps, and Hubbard had 39, or 54%. Miles Sanders had 31 images, or 43%. Sanders was limited this week in practice with a groin injury, but Hubbard took advantage. With his 3rd down role, regardless of snap share, he is roster-able all year, but he had a good play this week to see if he can do it again and gain more trust with the coaching staff. Detroit has been good against the run, but Hubbard is never part of an opponent’s plan of “have to stop,” which gives Hubbard an advantage every time.
Here is a surprise. I didn’t question Spears’ talent, but I am surprised that Tyjae Spears has been in on 49.6% of snaps to Derrick Henry’s 54.9%. Spears averages over three receptions a game but has never been above eight carries. They are keeping this as a timeshare to keep Henry healthy, but if you have an injured back like some on the stock-down list (coming soon), keep rostering Spears, and if you need to play him, do it.
I love Javonte Williams. He reminds me of a Tiki Barber-type back, and I enjoy watching him run the ball. His stock is down purely because of injury. Coming off the significant injury ACL tear, some questioned why he rushed himself back this offseason, only to prove them wrong. And they have been good for real football but a disappointment in fantasy so far. He is the undeniable leadback when healthy, but his coach keeps praising him. 7 carries for 70 yards last game. Jaleel McLaughlin is getting too much tread for me to be comfortable starting Williams this week without a pitch count. I expect Samaje Perine and McLaughlin to get a little more run with the offense to ensure Williams is healthy later.
Kyle Shanahan even has said we can’t keep the workload up for Christian McCaffrey, yet here we are. McCaffrey has 213 snaps, which is 81% for running backs. Compared to Elijah Mitchell’s 38 (14.5%) and Jordan Mason’s 12 snaps (4.5%). Mitchell missed game four due to his nagging knee issue. He is easily expendable if he doesn’t start raising that percentage to the twenty or thirty percentile. This week, find a better option like Cam Akers or Tyjae Spears; if you have to play a backup running back, at least get one that will get on the field and can produce.
Week two and three of this NFL season, I can’t lie. Raheem Mostert was the MVP of some of my fantasy football lineups, and I may have gotten too confident in him. In week two against New England, he has 18 rushes, 121 yards, and two touchdowns. Mostert follows that up with 13 carries, 82 yards, and three touchdowns against the Denver rout. That isn’t even mentioning the receiving touchdown he got. What I should have calculated was the rise of rookie De’Von Achane. While I believe he was going to get some run. Mostert had an early fumble in week four against Buffalo, and Mike McDaniel rode the hot hand in Achane. Expect more until his hand isn’t hot anymore, and it becomes a committee again.
As stated above, under Chuba Hubbard, Sanders was out-snapped in their week four game, with Sanders on the season still at 56% of the snaps at running back. They are fearless in playing Hubbard if he is producing better. Sanders was supposed to come in and take this role, and the backup keeps hanging around. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, though; it is precisely why Philadelphia has moved off him. You aren’t benching Sanders in your RB2 slot, but you’re not exactly happy with starting him.
Starter week one produces, gets a tweak, and misses week two. That is all D’Andre Swift needed to come in and take Gainwell’s role. Did we ever expect the Eagles to have a bellcow back? No. Yet there would be more of a split backfield, and in the past few weeks, it has been leaning more and more toward becoming Swift’s backfield. Through four weeks, Swift’s snaps percentage is 56%, while Gainwell’s is 35%. With only four carries for 14 yards in week four and Swift getting 14. It is becoming apparent that Swift is the guy to start in fantasy.
Come back next week to see which running back stock is going up or down based on the games. Enjoy the NFL slate this week!
Cody Folden joined the Dynasty Pros team in 2023. He plays in many dynasty leagues but dabbles in other leagues like devy, contract, and scouting leagues. He loves to dive deep into learning about prospects coming up through college and seeing them thrive when they get to the league.