As the stretch run of the fantasy football regular season gets underway, the running back position is shifting under managers’ feet at a dizzying rate.
The No. 1 overall pick in most fantasy drafts in 2020 was Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey returned to action last week for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2, topping 150 total yards and scoring twice.
He also suffered a shoulder injury in the game that leaves his Week 10 status in doubt.
The third overall pick in most drafts was Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott. The Dallas offensive line is in tatters. The team has started four different quarterbacks this season. Elliott is nursing a hamstring injury and averaging career lows in both yards per carry (3.8) and yards per game (63.6). Elliott doesn’t have a 100-yard rushing game in 2020 and hasn’t found the end zone since Week 5.
In words that I never expected to write in 2020, Elliott is off the “Studs” list at running back.
It’s not all bad news at the position. There’s a measure of optimism that Cleveland’s Nick Chubb (knee), Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon (foot) and Philadelphia’s Miles Sanders (knee) could all return to action this week.
But the ranks in the backfield were also thinned farther in Week 9, as Chicago’s David Montgomery (concussion), Houston’s David Johnson (concussion) and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Jackson (knee) all left early.
It’s been that kind of year.
There’s another four-team bye week in Week 10 — Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City and New York Jets are all off.
I know, I know. That last one really stings — or not.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (BYE)
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (at New England)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (at Los Angeles Rams)
Kyler Murray, Arizona (vs. Buffalo)
Josh Allen, Buffalo (at Arizona)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (vs. Jacksonville)
Deshaun Watson, Houston (at Cleveland)
ROLL THEM OUT
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (vs. Seattle): Goff hasn’t exactly lit it up this season — he ranks outside the Top 20 quarterbacks in fantasy points per game in Sharks League Scoring in 2020. But Seattle has tended to make every quarterback look like Patrick Mahomes this season.
Drew Lock, Denver (at Las Vegas): Lock threw for 313 yards last week, ran for 47 more and accounted for four total touchdowns against Atlanta. The second-year pro draws a second straight favorable fantasy matchup this Sunday in Las Vegas.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland (vs. Houston): Mayfield has been a fantasy afterthought this season, but there’s some streaming potential present in Week 10 — Houston has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in 2020.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami (vs. Los Angeles Chargers): Tagovailoa looked like the real deal in his second pro start, piling up 283 total yards and two touchdowns against Arizona. This week’s matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers is the best Tagovailoa has had to date from a fantasy perspective.
SIT THEM DOWN
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati (at Pittsburgh): There’s at least some “garbage time” potential here, but the Pittsburgh defense ranks at or near the top of the league in any number of statistical categories — including fantasy points per game given up to quarterbacks.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (at New England): Jackson’s grip on the “Studs” list is tenuous at best, but he’s still an awfully difficult player to sit. However, this week’s matchup isn’t a good one — New England has given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2020.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (vs, Washington): It’s possible that Stafford (concussion) won’t even play this week against Washington. But even if he does, he’ll be short top wideout Kenny Golladay in a Bottom 10 fantasy matchup for the quarterback position. That’s a pass.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee (vs. Indianapolis): If you’re a Matt Ryan or Patrick Mahomes manager looking for a Week 10 spot-starter, keep looking — no team in the NFL has allowed fewer fantasy points to the quarterback position this season than Indianapolis.