The RB position has been, and remains, one of the most difficult to manage in fantasy football. Week 4 saw fantasy football managers lose another two RBs who were in their starting lineups on a weekly basis. We’re all still trying to figure out if we’ll ever be able to predict who will be Rams head coach Sean McVay’s RB flavor of the week on any given Sunday. Will this be the week that Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay returns to the playing field? 

Fantasy Alarm will keep you up to date on all the latest breaking fantasy football news as it happens. In the meantime, the following analysis provides a closer look at a few of the NFL backfields that deserve your attention.  We hope that it helps you better manage your fantasy football team(s).

Cleveland Browns

The Browns, who lead the NFL in total rushing yards and average rushing yards per game (818 and 204.5, respectively) are certainly going to miss Nick Chubb. However, as a former bell-cow back who led the NFL with 1327 rushing yards in 2017, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of operating as the Browns’ lead back for the next several weeks. As a team that runs the ball 53.26% of the time (most in the NFL) Hunt may need to take a breather now and then and that’s where D’Ernest Johnson steps in. Last week with Chubb out of the game and the Browns seemingly comfortably leading the Cowboys, Johnson stepped up and rushed the ball 13 times for 95 yards (7.32 YPC). We can’t expect Johnson to have that type of production every week, but he plays for a team that loves to run the ball, he’ll be running behind one of football’s best offensive lines, and he’s Hunt’s handcuff. Collectively those factors allow Johnson to have some stand-alone fantasy value moving forward.  

Houston Texans

David Johnson is RB26 per Fantasy Football Today based on fantasy points scored per game (FPPG) in PPR scoring formats. With the firing of head coach Bill O’Brien the Texans will no longer have to justify that trading DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson was a smart move. Perhaps it might be best for the Texans if they use a little less David Johnson and a bit more Duke Johnson moving forward. Duke played 38% of the team’s offensive snaps in Week 4 and looked pretty good, rushing for 24 yards on five carries and catching three passes for 21 yards. With bye weeks starting in Week 5 Duke might be worth a waiver wire add and he might even be worth inserting into some fantasy lineups in deep leagues who are desperate for a RB replacement.

Los Angeles Chargers

With Austin Ekeler expected to miss four to six weeks, (hyperextended knee and hamstring), we fantasy players will be faced with the task of trying to determine which Chargers RB to use in our weekly lineups. With Ekeler sidelined late in the first quarter of his Week 4 matchup, Joshua Kelley received nine carries and caught three passes and Justin Jackson ran the ball six times and recorded two catches. Ekeler has served as the Chargers’ lead back this season and was active in 54% of their offensive snaps. Kelley hasn’t been too far behind with 40% offensive snaps played. Kelley’s significant share of the Chargers’ offensive snaps was probably due in part to Jackson’s missing Weeks 2 and 3 due to a quad injury, but the fact that Kelley has carried the ball on 75% of the team’s red zone carries is encouraging. Keep in mind that if he doesn’t hold onto the ball (lost fumbles in each of his last two games) those carries could quickly dry up. Kelley was generating a lot of attention this preseason and is likely to lead the Chargers backfield in touches as Ekeler recovers from his injury, however it’s hard to say how much more playing time he sees as compared to Jackson. When it comes to your fantasy lineups Kelley is probably the back to start, but he might be best utilized as a flex option this week until we can fully determine how the Chargers will split the workload in their backload with Ekeler sidelined. 

New England Patriots

We got a bit of clarity, (or as much as we can ever expect to get when it comes to Patriots’ RBs), as to how the Patriots’ backfield might be configured over the next few weeks. With Sony Michel placed on short term IR, it looks like Damien Harris, (who just was reinstated from the IR), will get most of the team’s early down work with Rex Burkhead filling a complimentary “Swiss Army knife, whatever you need me to do type of role”. As usual, James White will catch a bunch of passes out of the backfield every week. J.J. Taylor who had 11 carries last week had zero carries this week. We are talking about a Patriots team coached by Bill Belichick, so RB usage could change as individual game scripts warrant.

New Orleans Saints

There’s no question that Saints QB Drew Brees has lost some of the zip on his throws over the past couple of seasons. His intended air yards per pass attempt has fallen from 7.1 in 2018, to 6.4 in 2019, and is at 5.6 so far this season. His diminished arm strength (and the fact that WR Michael Thomas has missed time this season) has caused the Saints to run the ball more. As expected, Alvin Kamara is having a tremendous season, but the Saints’ new offensive scheme has positively impacted Latavius Murray’s fantasy production as well. In the 14 games of the 2019 season in which Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara were both active, Murray averaged seven carries per game and 6.32 FPPG in PPR scoring formats. In the four games that Murray and Kamara have played together so far this season, Murray is averaging 11 carries per game and 9.7 FPPG. Murray and Kamara might not deliver the same type of one-two punch that we’ve seen from Chubb and Hunt this season but if the trend in which the Saints increasingly rely on their rushing game continues, Murray, like the aforementioned D’Ernest Johnson may be another backup RB who develops some moderate stand-alone fantasy value as the season progresses.


 Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNew York Jets
Primary RBDevin SingletaryMyles GaskinDamien HarrisLe'Veon Bell
Change of PaceZack MossJordan Howard / Matt BreidaRex Burkhead / J.J. TaylorFrank Gore
3rd DownT.J. Yeldon James WhiteLa'Michal Perine
HandcuffZack MossJordan Howard / Matt BreidaRex Burkhead / James WhiteLa'Michal Perine
Injured  Sony Michel 
Moss was out for Week 3 and Week 4 (toe) Yeldon will be the handcuff in Week 5 if Moss is out
Bell is eligible to come off of the IR this week and is expected to play against the Cardinals
 Indianapolis ColtsJacksonville JaguarsHouston TexansTennessee Titans
Primary RBJonathan TaylorJames RobinsonDavid JohnsonDerrick Henry
Change of PaceJordan Wilkins Duke Johnson 
3rd DownNyheim HinesChris Thompson  
HandcuffJordan WilkinsChris Thompson / Dare OgunbowaleDuke JohnsonJeremy McNichols / Darrynton Evans
InjuredMarlon MackRyquell Armstead / Devine Ozigbo Senorise Perry
 Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers
Primary RBMark IngramJoe MixonKareem HuntJames Conner
Change of PaceGus EdwardsGiovani BernardD'Ernest JohnsonBenny Snell
3rd DownJ.K. DobbinsGiovani Bernard Jaylen Samuels
HandcuffGus Edwards / J.K. DobbinsGiovani BernardD'Ernest JohnsonBenny Snell
Injured  Nick Chubb 
Trayveon Williams has been inactive Week 1, 2, 3, and 4
 Denver BroncosKansas City ChiefsLas Vegas RaidersLos Angeles Chargers
Primary RBMelvin GordonClyde Edwards - HelaireJosh JacobsJoshua Kelley
Change of PaceRoyce FreemanDarrel Williams / Darwin ThompsonDevontae Booker / Jalen Richard / Theo RiddickJustin Jackson
3rd Down  Devontae Booker / Theo Riddick 
HandcuffRoyce FreemanDarrel WilliamsJalen Richard / Devontae BookerJustin Jackson
Phillip Lindsay has missed Weeks 2, 3, and 4 with a toe sprain. He might be back in Week 5
Austin Ekeler could miss 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury
 Dallas CowboysNew York GiantsPhiladelphia EaglesWashington Football Team
Primary RBEzekiel ElliottDevonta FreemanMiles SandersAntonio Gibson
Change of PaceTony PollardDion Lewis / Wayne GallmanBoston Scott / Corey ClementPeyton Barber
3rd Down    J.D. McKissic
HandcuffTony PollardWayne Gallman / Dion LewisBoston Scott / Corey ClementJ.D. McKissic / Peyton Barber
Injured Saquon Barkley  
 Atlanta FalconsCarolina PanthersNew Orleans SaintsTampa Bay Buccaneers
Primary RBTodd GurleyMike DavisAlvin KamaraRonald Jones
Change of PaceBrian Hill / Ito SmithTrenton CannonLatavius MurrayLeonard Fournette
3rd Down   Ke'Shawn Vaughn / LeSean McCoy
HandcuffBrian HillTrenton CannonLatavius MurrayLeonard Fournette
Injured Reggie BonnafonTy Montgomery 
Christian McCaffrey expected to miss several more weeks due to a high ankle sprain
Fournette was inactive in Week 4 due to an ankle injury
 Chicago BearsDetroit LionsGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings
Primary RBDavid MontgomeryAdiran PetersonAaron JonesDalvin Cook
Change of PaceCordarrelle PattersonKerryon JohnsonJamaal Williams / Tyler Ervin / A.J. DillonAlexander Mattison
3rd Down D'Andre Swift  
HandcuffRyan Nall / Artavis PierceKerryon JohnsonJamaal WilliamsAlexander Mattison
InjuredTarik CohenBo Scarbrough  
 Arizona CardinalsLos Angeles RamsSan Francisco 49ersSeattle Seahawks
Primary RBKenyan DrakeDarrell Henderson / Malcolm BrownJerick McKinnonChris Carson
Change of PaceChase EdmondsCam AkersJeff WilsonCarlos Hyde / Travis Homer
3rd Down   DeeJay Dallas
HandcuffChase Edmonds Jamychal Hasty / Jeff WilsonCarlos Hyde
Injured  Tevin ColemanRashaad Penny
Akers was out Week 3 and Week 4 due to a rib injury
Raheem Mostert (MCL Sprain) did not play in Week 3 or 4
Hyde was inactive in Week 4 due to a shoulder injury