We're approaching the stretch run of fantasy football's regular season. If your teams have been wildly successful, it's time to plan ahead for the playoffs. If your teams are still struggling, you'll need desperate measures in order to make every week count.
With this in mind, let's examine what we think about these topics as we head into Week 9
Running Back Matters
Matt Waldman: Pick two topics from the list for discussion.
- Derrius Guice-Adrian Peterson-Chris Thompson: Peterson is still playing well and is the 19th-ranked PPR RB since Week 6; Guice is practicing with the team and scheduled to return Week 11; Thompson is expected back Week 9. Who has the most re-draft value and do any of these players have starter value in dynasty leagues?
- Kenyan Drake-David Johnson-Chase Edmonds: Arizona acquired Drake this week, Chase Edmonds is out multiple weeks, and David Johnson is still not practicing early in Week 9. Since Week 5, Edmonds has been the No.8 PPR RB and Johnson the 21st-ranked PPR option. How are you valuing Drake in re-draft leagues moving forward? Does Drake have dynasty value considering the depth chart?
- Aaron Jones-Jamaal Williams: Aaron Jones has been the No.1 fantasy RB in standard and PPR leagues since Week 5. Williams has been 15th in standard and 17th in PPR during the same span. Will this tandem continue having strong re-draft value or is it a temporary arrangement with Davante Adams out?
- Devonta Freeman: Freeman is the No.12 PPR RB thus far. Are you trusting him as an RB2 with RB1 upside? How should you approach his value if you have him or someone is selling him?
- Royce Freeman-Phillip Lindsay: Lindsay has been the 13th-ranked PPR RB since Week 5 and Freeman the 19th. Whom do you prefer in dynasty scenarios?
Who makes your list of notables?
Jason Wood: Things are grim in Washington, as the team already seems to be playing for next year. Before Derrius Guice got hurt, Peterson was inactive, and that's in spite of playing well in Guice's absence last year. So if Guice is truly 100% down the stretch, I suspect the team will give him yet another chance to prove he's a key piece to their rebuilding project. If not now, when? The team should be evaluating all assets (players, coaches, facilities, trainers) over the final two months, and Guice is one of the few unproven high-upside pieces on the roster.
Aaron Jones is a far better receiver than any of us realized; he looks capable of playing slot receiver -- if he weren't also a highly-effective running back in conventional formations. I was lukewarm on Jones coming into the season because of durability fears, but so far, so good. In the current NFL landscape, so few running backs are weekly difference makers, it's impossible not to be excited by Jones if you have him. Williams is a boom-or-bust option, particularly when the receiving corps returns to full strength. But any running back capable of 10+ PPR points in a week is valuable these days, so I wouldn't be averse to using Williams as an RB3/Flex option in most league formats, particularly during the bye week gauntlet.
Mark Schofield: We often think about offenses and organizations trying to assess what they have in the quarterback room as teams look ahead to the next draft season. For Washington, almost everything should be on the table. At the top of that list is Derrius Guice. The organization needs to figure out what they have in him, meaning we should get a good look at him down the stretch. If he performs well, he will have the best value in redraft leagues out of these three and is the only one I'm looking at—provided he holds up down the stretch—as a true dynasty asset.
It is hard to trust Freeman at this point, despite the production. Atlanta has a very tough schedule remaining with games against San Francisco, New Orleans (twice), Carolina (twice) and Jacksonville. Their easiest two games are both against Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers are allowing just 11.8 fantasy points per game to the running back position and are allowing just 68.6 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses. Between tough run defenses and the potential for some RB-unfriendly game scripts, Freeman might be worth selling if you can.
Andy Hicks: It is very clear where Kenyan Drake has been rated by two separate coaching groups in Miami, a committee back. Arizona doesn’t offer much more than Miami did, but at least he had the advantage of knowing the playbook. Behind a poor offensive line, on short notice and facing the 49ers twice in the next three weeks, good luck. Apart from being unable to run the ball consistently, Arizona is often playing from behind. Drake may have some chance if he gets to grips with the pass blocking as his receiving skills are above league average. For the rest of the year, Drake holds a minimal appeal in redrafts and maybe even less in Dynasty. He has yet to find a coaching group that figures out how to utilize his skillset and trust him. Next year he likely to be on another side, so if the situation is good, maybe he has a future.
I’m another one who was highly doubtful that Aaron Jones would be much this season and as a runner, he has been little above average. Where he has been excellent is in making normal running back catches, but very difficult ones as well. The biggest bonus of all though is the touchdowns, leading the league with 11 so far this season. The Packers have a relatively good schedule for Jones to continue his strong RB1 form. Jamaal Williams, on the other hand, is of flex benefit only. Williams is taking advantage of being in a good situation, rather than having the ability to eke out gains. If the Packers are dominating, then Williams will have more appeal, but otherwise, Jones is the main guy here.
Sean Seattle: Drake has spent his entire career on a very poor Miami team and has had all the time in the world to show us what he is capable of. Chase Edmonds has shown and ability to run the ball with speed and power and catch the ball out of the backfield. Drake will get a fair shake in Arizona with Johnson still hurting and Edmonds out, but he will fall on that depth chart as both come back from injury. He has a similar skill set but does not do it as well as either running back. David Johnson may be on his way out of Arizona, but it is Edmonds that will take over and not Drake.
For those of us who trusted Freeman, it has been a very difficult season. He has seen his share of garbage time receptions but has let us down with late fumbles and seen goal-line work go to Ito Smith. The Falcons have been abysmal this year and nothing seems to be going right. Trust Freeman as a flex play in a PPR league with a string of tough matchups ahead. His value will come from catching the ball out of the backfield and that is about it for the rest of the season. Move on if you have other options.
Mark Wimer: Here I think the answer is - if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Aaron Jones has been very good and Jamaal Williams is a nice compliment. We may see more snaps and yardage/scoring once Adams returns to the fold, making the Packers even more explosive, but I don't see a return by Adams as a negative for the running backs. It may help loosen up the opposing defenses at the line of scrimmage even further!
Freeman hasn't been as strong as many hoped to start the season, but Atlanta still has Carolina and Tampa Bay twice each during the second half of the season (those all could be very high-scoring shootouts) and also they usually play New Orleans very tough (two games against the Saints to come, too). As a suffering Atlanta fan this year, I can tell you that this defense can't stop any of the other 31 NFL teams, so Freeman and company will be scrambling from behind a lot (which should keep the passes flowing to Freeman for the rest of the season).
I think garbage time will be good for Freeman in the second half of the season. I'm holding him in the leagues where I've rostered him.
Justin Howe: I don’t see any reason to doubt the Packers’ backs going forward. Adams will eventually return as the clear-cut No. 1 receiver, but it shouldn’t change the offensive landscape too much. Coach Matt LaFleur is a run-game proponent, and he can’t deny how explosive his runners have looked. They’ll continue to see ample opportunity, with plenty of chances to make big impacts in both the passing game and the red zone. The real question mark will hover around the distribution between the two. Jones is among the league’s most dynamic weapons, and he seems to have improved the conditioning and ball-control issues that have plagued him in the past. Williams will continue to serve as a high-upside flex play, especially during the bye weeks, though his volatility will be high.
I still see Freeman has a rock-solid fantasy RB2, though I fully understand selling him (relatively) high. His PPR value is solid, but it’s hard to give him an RB1 ceiling without the dependable rushing outlook of his peers. Freeman has posted a pair of 88-yard games but hasn’t topped 40 in any of his other six, and his 3.4 per carry is by far a career-low. Things don’t project much to improve much here on the 1-7 Falcons, who are routinely forced into a negative game script and a shootout mode. Freeman catches some passes in those situations but doesn’t make much happen when he does. All told, he makes for an easy sell to RB-desperate league-mates. If I can bring home an upside receiver like Robert Woods or Christian Kirk for him in a package, I’m all over it.