Not a lot of running backs see 300-plus carries anymore with all of the splitting time and specialization that goes on in the NFL today. One way fantasy owners can still find value in running backs that do not get on the field all the time is by receptions. In points per reception leagues, running backs that catch the ball can be more valuable than a starter like BenJarvus Green-Ellis, whose value is tied primarily to scoring.
We expect guys like Darren Sproles and Ray Rice to rack up receptions, but here are four other running backs seeing a lot of targets in the passing game this season.
Joique Bell, Detroit – Bell has been one of the surprise fantasy running backs this year, especially in points per reception formats. Bell has done most of his damage as a receiver where he has caught 30 passes for 307 yards. In Detroit’s pass-happy offense, Bell has seen 38 targets, which ranks seventh in the NFL among running backs. Bell is coming off a seven-catch effort against the Minnesota Vikings and is now averaging 10.9 points per week in points per reception leagues. That makes him a solid flex play.
Ronnie Brown, San Diego – Ryan Mathews is the top dog in the Chargers’ backfield, but Brown has become the preferred option in obvious passing situations. Brown ranks eighth in running back targets with 37, and, better yet, he has caught 35 of them (94 percent). Fantasy owners can’t count on Brown as an every week starter but those receiving numbers make him a valuable bench player in points per reception formats.
Marcel Reece, Oakland – Reece’s fantasy value increased when Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson were injured, but the former tight end has always been a productive receiver. Against the Baltimore Ravens, Reece caught seven passes and finished with 104 total yards. He has now seen 43 targets on the year, which ties Reece with LeSean McCoy. McFadden is not known for being a fast healer, so Reece will likely continue to be a fantasy factor down the stretch.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta –Michael Turner is still the primary ball carrier in Atlanta so fantasy owners can’t consistently depend on Rodgers, yet. However, because of his role in the passing game, Rodgers can be used as a spot starter in points per reception leagues when the matchup is favorable. Rodgers has seen 32 targets in nine games and his touches have increased in the last three weeks (27 overall). Rodgers’ fantasy value is on the upswing for the final seven games.