Fantasy RB Rankings Week 5: Who to start, sit at running back in fantasy football

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A slew of key running backs (Jonathan Taylor, Dalvin Cook, Antonio Gibson, Darrell Henderson, Melvin Gordon) were “questionable” heading into Sunday’s action, but Elijah Mitchell was the only one who actually wound up being inactive (along with Christian McCaffrey, of course). Even so, game-time decisions cause plenty of start ’em, sit ’em headaches, and they serve as a reminder that injuries (and byes) are about to become an issue at this position. Just ask David Montgomery owners. Enjoy these mostly complete Week 5 fantasy RB rankings — it might be one of the last times you see all these studs and sleepers in one place for a while.

Most of the familiar names are near the top, but this is one of those weeks where many of the statistically favorable matchups are either to the very top guys (Derrick Henry vs. Jaguars, Dalvin Cook vs. Lions, Nick Chubb vs. Chargers) or to backs in committee situations, such as Leonard Fournette/Ronald Jones II (vs. Dolphins), Zack Moss/Devin Singletary (@ Chiefs), Cordarrelle Patterson/Mike Davis (vs. Jets in London), Chase Edmonds/James Conner (vs. 49ers). Damien Harris (@ Texans) and Darrell Henderson (@ Seahawks) are two of the few primary backs with highly favorable matchups.

WEEK 5 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

That makes it more difficult to really elevate any sleepers to “must-start” status, but, as we alluded to in the intro, at least most backs seem like they’ll be suiting up, and that’s most important. All those committee guys with good matchups just means there are more potential sleepers and low-end RB2s/flexes. You might not like using Edmonds in standard leagues or Conner in PPR leagues most games, but both are in play in Week 5 after they both had impressive Week 4’s. The same goes for Moss/Singletary. Patterson and Davis is a slightly different story since they do roughly the same thing and Patterson seems to be playing (and producing) more, but Davis is the more likely to get goal-line carries, so that’s something to consider in standard leagues. 

WEEK 5 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Unfortunately, with the favorable matchups come the unfavorable ones. Miles Sanders/Kenny Gainwell (@ Panthers), Najee Harris (vs. Broncos), Melvin Gordon/Javonte Williams (@ Steelers), Antonio Gibson vs. Saints, Austin Ekeler (vs. Browns), Saquon Barkley (@ Cowboys), and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (vs. Bills) are all facing teams that have done a good job limiting RBs this year. We’re not too worried about Harris, Gibson, Barkley, and Ekeler, as they do a lot of damage through the air, but Sanders, CEH, and the Broncos, are a little tougher to trust given their struggles this year. We still have Edwards-Helaire in our top 25, but he’s not necessarily an auto-start.

WEEK 5 DFS LINEUPS: FanDuel | DraftKings | Yahoo

Damien Williams (@ Raiders) and Chuba Hubbard (vs. Eagles) are both in play after producing at least 70 total yards each last week. They should get the bulk of their teams’ RB touches, and that volume gives them plenty of value in standard leagues. Their pass-catching skills make them solid PPR plays, too.

MORE WEEK 5 DFS: Best stacks | Best values | Lineup Builder

Overall, this looks like a good week for RBs. You could argue, to use the old football saying about QBs, “if you have two, you have none,” but at RB, that’s not always true. After all, any RB can flop, so it’s really more about having usable options that allow you to sleep easy going into Sunday’s action. Chances are, your WR3 spot maybe even QB is enough of a mess to cause headaches, so you don’t need any more from your running backs. 

WEEK 5 FANTASY: Sleepers | Busts | Start ’em, sit ’em

Note: We’ll be updating these RB rankings as needed throughout the week, so check back for the latest changes. 

Fantasy RB Rankings Week 5: Who to start at running back

Rankings are based on standard, non-PPR scoring

Rank Player
1 Derrick Henry, TEN @ JAX
2 Dalvin Cook, MIN vs. DET
3 Nick Chubb, CLE @ LAC
4 Alvin Kamara, NO @ WAS
5 Ezekiel Elliott, DAL vs. NYG
6 Jonathan Taylor, IND @ BAL
7 Aaron Jones, GB @ CIN
8 Austin Ekeler, LAC vs. CLE
9 Joe Mixon, CIN vs. GB
10 James Robinson, JAX vs. TEN
11 Damien Harris, NE @ HOU. This ranking might seem crazy considering Harris has 10 rushing yards in his past two games combined, but matchups and game flow have been a big reason for that. Houston is allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to RBs, and they’ve been even worse since a decent showing in Week 1 against Jacksonville. Expect Harris to produce like he did in the first two weeks when he had either 100 yards or a TD. His value drops in PPR leagues, but he’s an RB1 in standard.
12 Antonio Gibson, WAS vs. NO
13 Saquon Barkley, NYG @ DAL
14 Chris Carson, SEA vs. LAR
15 D’Andre Swift, DET @ MIN. Jamaal Williams isn’t going away, but Swift is averaging 16 touches per game and, based on what coach Dan Campbell said prior to last week’s game, should be featured more going forward. Minnesota allowed 169 rushing yards and a rushing TD to Cleveland’s two-headed monster last week, and even though Detroit’s backfield isn’t quite as talented, both Swift and Williams can do damage here, be it on the ground or through the air. We’ll always give Swift the edge because of his superior talent and receiving skills, but Williams can work as a flex.
16 Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC vs. BUF. Only a handful of teams give up fewer fantasy points per game to RBs than Buffalo, but CEH has finally established himself as a key part of the Chiefs offensive attack. He’s had at least 100 rushing yards and a receiving TD in each of the past two games. He’s still not getting nearly as many targets as fantasy owners expected, but with steady overall volume and plenty of scoring upside, he’s tough to sit in any matchup. 
17 Zack Moss, BUF @ KC. Kansas City did a good job limiting Philadelphia’s ground attack last week, but that’s partly due to how Philly itself limits its RBs. Kenneth Gainwell and Miles Sanders still combined for 92 receiving yards and 44 rushing yards, plus a rushing touchdown. Moss and Devin Singletary can have a similar impact, but in the superior Bills offense, they’ll have more chances to score and carry the ball. Moss looks like the leader for rushes and isn’t a complete bystander in the passing game, so we like him to have a bigger overall impact, but in this highly favorable matchup, both can have value.
18 Josh Jacobs, LV vs. CHI. Jacobs dominated backfield touches for the Raiders last week, totaling 18 in his first game back from toe and ankle injuries. The results weren’t great, but if he’s going to keep getting that kind of workload, he’ll break through eventually. The Bears have been solid against RBs, but look for Jacobs to volume his way to an RB2-caliber day. 
19 Darrell Henderson, LAR @ SEA. Like Jacobs, Henderson has dominated backfield touches when healthy, and that should continue against a Seahawks defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to RBs. It’s possible L.A. scales back Henderson’s workload in this Thursday night game, but he’s still a great candidate for borderline RB1 production. The Rams have so many options, we’re being a bit conservative with his ranking, but the upside is definitely there for a big performance. 
20 Najee Harris, PIT vs. DEN. Harris has been getting it done on volume, especially in PPR leagues, but he’s averaging just 3.4 yards/carry, so he can easily be shut down on the ground. The Broncos are allowing the fewest points to RBs, and that’s in part because of remarkably few catches and receiving yards by backs. Part of of that is due to their past matchups, but clearly this defense is doing something right. Harris is your average receiving back, so he’s still an RB2 in standard and borderline RB1 in PPR, but his points will be hard fought this week.
21 Chuba Hubbard, CAR vs. PHI. Hubbard didn’t do anything remarkable last week (71 total yards), but he still received 15 touches despite negative game script. Philadelphia has allowed four RB touchdowns the past two weeks, so this is a semi-favorable matchup. Hubbard can do damage if he gets another 15 touches, which he should. 
22 Leonard Fournette, TB vs. MIA. Miami has allowed three 100-yard rushers this year, including Damien Harris and Peyton Barber, and six RB touchdowns the past three weeks. Obviously, this is a great spot for Fournette, and the only reason he isn’t higher is the ever-present threat of Ronald Jones II stealing a touchdown, like he did last week. Fournette has clearly established himself as the top back in Tampa, but if Gio Bernard (knee) is back this week, that might cost Fournette some catches. He’s a solid RB2 in all formats, but it’s tough to expect a really high-ceiling game despite the optimal matchup. 
23 Kareem Hunt, CLE @ LAC. Hunt has scored in three-of-four games this year, and he’s averaging 13.8 touches/game. His receptions aren’t quite as consistent as many think, but he still gets the ball and produces a fair amount. The Chargers are right about average in terms of limiting fantasy points to RBs, so Hunt is in position to pay off as a low-end RB2/flex again this week.
24 Cordarrelle Patterson, ATL vs. NYJ. Patterson is putting up huge numbers despite a limited snap share. The stats will likely dry up at some point, as Mike Davis still dominates carries (13 to six last week), but Patteson is simply more explosive and productive thanks to his work in the receiving game. No team gives us more fantasy points to RBs than the Jets, and that includes some big games through the air. 
25 Damien Williams, CHI @ LV
26 Elijah Mitchell, SF @ ARI
27 Devin Singletary, BUF @ KC
28 Chase Edmonds, ARI vs. SF
29 Miles Sanders, PHI @ CAR
30 James Conner, ARI vs. SF
31 Jamaal Williams, DET @ MIN
32 Mike Davis, ATL vs. NYJ
33 Latavius Murray, BAL vs. IND
34 Melvin Gordon, DEN @ PIT
35 Nyheim Hines, IND @ BAL
36 Tony Pollard, DAL vs. NYG
37 Javonte Williams, DEN @ PIT
38 JD McKissic, WAS vs. NO
39 Ronald Jones II, TB vs. MIA
40 Mark Ingram, HOU vs NE
41 Michael Carter, NYJ vs. ATL
42 Kenneth Gainwell, PHI @ CAR
43 Sony Michel, LAR @ SEA
44 Alexander Mattison, MIN vs. DET
45 Trey Sermon, SF @ ARI
46 Malcolm Brown, MIA @ TB
47 Myles Gaskin, MIA @ TB
48 AJ Dillon, GB @ CIN
49 Tevin Coleman, NYJ vs. ATL
50 Ty Johnson, NYJ vs. ATL
51 Darrel Williams, KC vs. BUF
52 Kenyan Drake, LV vs. CHI
53 David Johnson, HOU vs. NE
54 Alex Collins, SEA vs. LAR
55 Giovani Bernard, TB vs. MIA
56 Samaje Perine, CIN vs. GB
57 Rhamondre Stevenson, NE @ HOU
58 Jeremy McNichols, TEN @ JAX
59 Phillip Lindsay, HOU vs. NE
60 Royce Freeman, CAR vs. PHI
61 Peyton Barber, LV vs. CHI
62 Devonta Freeman, BAL vs. IND
63 J.J. Taylor, NE @ HOU
64 Brandon Bolden, NE @ HOU
65 Larry Rountree III, LAC vs. CLE
66 Justin Jackson, LAC vs. CLE
67 Carlos Hyde, JAX vs. TEN





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