Week 5 of the NFL season saw Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook do incredible things once again. Aaron Jones had a four-touchdown game for the ages, Chris Carson and Marlon Mack both notched 100-yard games, and David Johnson piled up over 150 scrimmage yards in what’s become a very under-the-radar season for the Arizona back. Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman ran roughshod over the Browns on Monday Night Football, and David Montgomery continues to underwhelm despite amazing potential. Now that Week 5 is in the books, we can take a look at how some backfields are shaking out. Let’s get to it with this week’s Running Back Roundup!
Week 5 Rushing Leaders
Week 5 Scrimmage Yards Leaders
Week 5 Fantasy Leaders (PPR)
Week 5 Biggest Busts
It was the same old story for Chicago in Sunday’s London loss to Oakland. Montgomery out-touched Cohen, but he was once again bottled up for just over 2.0 yards per carry. He saved his final stat line with a touchdown, but the rookie’s inefficiencies in the run game are a bit concerning. Cohen remains a player to mostly leave on the bench, as his production is volatile week-to-week, giving him value in deep PPR leagues.
Just when we thought we had it figured out, Sunday’s game happened. RoJo only touched the ball two more times than Barber, but it was Barber who reached the end zone. The matchup with New Orleans was a tough one, and Jones has displayed far more upside over the course of the season than Barber. He’s still the back to own, though Bruce Arians’ commitment to an RBBC caps Jones’ ceiling.
Howard has now scored four times over the last two weeks, and he’s clearly the preferred option out of the backfield. Sanders is the passing-downs back and has flashed his big-time athletic abilities throughout the season. Howard is a weekly flex option due to his touchdown scoring and healthy dose of touches. He may become even more valuable moving forward, as Doug Pederson reportedly wants to get him more involved and considers him the lead back. Sanders is a bench stash in 12-team leagues and a flex option in deeper leagues.
Both Falcons’ backs have played in a near-even timeshare, though it’s been Freeman who has been more productive as of late. The bounce-back campaign many expected of Freeman seems like a pipe dream through five weeks of the season, and it looks like Smith will be a weekly fixture in Atlanta’s backfield. Freeman is the preferred fantasy option, but his upside is limited in this committee approach.
After a four-week holdout, Gordon made his season debut in Week 5 and immediately saw more carries than Ekeler. Much like a classic Buddy Holly lyric, Ekeler will “not fade away,” and he should hold down enough work in the offense to warrant weekly flex consideration, despite Gordon’s return. Ekeler caught a ridiculous 15 passes Sunday, finishing with an 18-16 touch advantage over Gordon. That split will tilt more in Gordon’s favor as he gets back into game shape.
Lindsay steamrolled the opposing defense once again, gashing the Chargers for 147 total yards and a touchdown. Freeman finished just four touches behind his counterpart, but Lindsay is pulling away as the lead dog in this backfield with two stellar performances over the last three weeks. With three dream matchups on the slate in the next four weeks (Kansas City, Cleveland, Indianapolis), Lindsay has all the makings of a locked-in RB2, while Freeman is a low-end flex in PPR formats.
The return of Damien Williams was the harbinger of his same-named teammate Darrel, as the latter Williams finished without a touch in Sunday night’s loss to the Colts. Damien saw 12 touches to McCoy’s two, though game script and an uncharacteristically shaky Chiefs’ offense certainly played a part in the uneven touch distribution. McCoy should be expected to see a more even split with Williams moving forward, operating in an RBBC as they did to start the season.
Tevin Coleman: 16 carries, 97 rushing yards, rushing TD
Matt Breida: 11 carries, 114 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 15 receiving yards, receiving TD, rushing TD
Raheem Mostert: 7 carries, 34 rushing yards
Coleman returned after a three-week absence due to an ankle injury. He wasted no time getting involved, as he led the backfield in carries and provided a healthy 97 yards on just 16 totes. It was Breida who had the biggest game, scoring an 83-yard touchdown on the 49ers’ first play from scrimmage, but it looks like another RBBC is shaping up in the Bay. Both Coleman and Breida figure to be flex plays moving forward. Mostert won’t have much value, barring an injury to Coleman or Breida.
- Chris Carson is far and away the lead back in Seattle, leaving Rashaad Penny consistently in the dust.
- Christian McCaffrey is an absolute fantasy monster, becoming just the fifth player in NFL history with at least 800 yards from scrimmage through his first five games of the season.
- Dalvin Cook may be the fantasy MVP this season, as his extremely productive stats could be had for a second-round pick.
- Todd Gurley continues to underwhelm with his yardage, but he’s been scoring a lot recently, making him a borderline RB1.
- Devin Singletary may be back for Week 7 following the Bills’ Week 6 bye, signaling the end of a magical run for Frank Gore that left owners nostalgic for the golden era of fantasy that was the 2000s.
- Saquon Barkley could also be back for Week 7, shattering his original time table for recovery from a high-ankle sprain suffered in Week 3
- With the injury bug plaguing so many fantasy teams this season, it’s important to roster handcuffs where space permits. Some of the best to own this year are Malcolm Brown, Chase Edmonds, Reggie Bonnafon, Alexander Mattison, and Tony Pollard.