As we head into Week 14 of the NFL season, fantasy football managers will once again be scrambling as they attempt to set lineups featuring fantasy relevant running backs (RBs) whose potential snap counts, receiving targets, and carries give them the best chance to win their weekly matchups. Six teams are on a bye this week and fantasy football managers may not be able to be as selective as they’d like they decide on which RBs to start, and which to sit.

As we dig deeper into the NFL season health becomes a big concern in relation to the RB position. There are several backs who have questionable statuses after Week 13’s action. 
The Packers are one of those six teams that have a bye in Week 14 and that should give Aaron Jones enough time to recover from the shin injury he sustained this past weekend. He’ll almost certainly be available for Week 15 but if he isn’t, A.J. Dillon would obviously take over as the team’s primary back. 

Keep an eye on Joe Mixon’s status this week. He’s missed two straight games due to a concussion. Mixon remains in the league’s concussion protocol as this article is being written but Bengals head coach Zac Taylor suggested that there’s a chance that he could be active Week 14. Samaje Perine has rushed for 164 yards, (4.32 YPC) and has snagged 10 receptions for 84 yards in the two games that he’s started during Mixon’s absence. 
There are several other backfields which deserve our attention this week as well. Let’s analyze their recent and potential future RB usage and attempt to project how their RBs will be utilized as the season progresses.


New York Jets

With Michael Carter (ankle) inactive in Week 13 rookie RB Zonovan Knight took over as the Jets’ lead back. He took the majority of the early down carries, (15), with James Robinson carrying the ball four times and filling the change of pace role. Knight also essentially split the passing down snaps with Ty Johnson. Knight caught five passes for 28 yards and Johnson caught six passes for 38 yards. Knight has proven to be an elusive and productive back (5.5 YPC in two games) and he has done a good job in pass protection. Jets RBs have a tough matchup against a good Bills run defense, but with the way Knight has been playing, the Jets can afford to have Carter take some extra time to ensure that his ankle is fully healed before he returns to action.  If you’re desperately seeking a RB to start in a PPR league you can take a shot on slipping Johnson into your lineup. The Bills are giving up an average of just under five receptions to RBs on the season. 

San Francisco 49ers

With Elijah Mitchell (MCL sprain) placed on IR, Christian McCaffrey, who missed some practice time last week due to knee irritation, was Week 13’s most productive RB in PPR scoring formats. Jordan Mason served as the team’s change of pace back, carrying the ball eight times for 51 yards (6.38 YPC). McCaffrey, who ran 37 routes, had eight receptions for 80 yards and a receiving TD. FB Kyle Juszczyk ran 16 routes and added three receptions for 12 yards. He converted one of his catches into a TD. There had been speculation that Tevin Coleman or Tyrion Davis-Price might see some game action in Week 13 as well, but neither saw any playing time.

Los Angeles Rams

At one point we thought Cam Akers was out, but apparently the Rams have pulled him back in as the team’s lead back, at least for the time being. Akers leapfrogged over Kyren Williams in Week 13, playing 46 snaps, compared to 18 for Williams. Akers had 17 carries compared to just three for Williams. Akers took the majority of the Rams’ short yardage carries including a red zone and goal line carry as well. While Akers only rushed for 3.5 YPC, he did score two rushing TDs. With the Rams virtually eliminated from playoff consideration perhaps head coach Sean McVay is showcasing Akers for potential offseason trade suitors or simply giving him a live audition as the team evaluates its roster for next season. You may be forced to start Akers or Williams this week with six teams on a bye, but it may be hard to trust that the Rams will commit to using either one of them in a consistent manner moving forward.

Los Angeles Chargers

Joshua Kelley’s percentage of offensive snaps played more than doubled from 21% in Week 12 to 43% in Week 13. Kelley, who had missed four games while on injured reserve, appears to have reclaimed his role as Austin Ekeler’s handcuff. Isaiah Spiller, who had been Ekeler’s handcuff during Kelley’s absence, did not play a single snap in Week 13. 

Detroit Lions

Fantasy managers who invested a relatively high percentage of their preseason draft capital in D’Andre Swift have to be encouraged by his increased playing time in Week 13. Swift played 39 snaps in Week 13. It was his highest snap total since Week 1 when he played 46 snaps. He scored the fifth most PPR fantasy points in Week 13 (21.1). Justin Jackson caught three of his five targets, but Swift led Lions RBs with 22 passing routes run, and four catches on six targets. Jamaal Williams had his lowest snaps played percentage (30) since Week 8, but he did score his seemingly weekly goal line TD. If Swift is truly healthy Williams will continue to see his playing time diminished. However, the Lions will likely still rely on him in short yardage and goal line situations.  

Miami Dolphins

Jeff Wilson Jr. had his fewest carries (1) and lowest percentage of snaps played (37) since making his Dolphin debut back in Week 9. Raheem Mostert, who missed Week 12 due to a knee injury, had his highest percentage of snaps played (61) since Week 8. Neither he nor Wilson caught any passes in Week 13, but Mostert did run 18 routes compared to Wilson’s 14. Myles Gaskin was a healthy scratch for Week 13. With the 49ers possessing one of the toughest run defenses in football the fact that Wilson Jr. and Mostert didn’t get many carries isn’t surprising. However, the fact that Mostert played a much higher percentage of snaps than Wilson Jr. is a bit of a surprise. We’ll have to wait to see if this trend continues into Week 14. 

Seattle Seahawks

Unfortunately, it appears we’re going to have to monitor just about every Seahawks RB’s status as the kickoff for Week 14 approaches. Kenneth Walker III is suffering from a foot strain, DeeJay Dallas is dealing with what head coach Pete Carroll called “somewhat of a high ankle issue, and Travis Homer has a sprained knee. Carroll indicated that there’s a chance that Walker could be active for Week 14, but for now, Tony Jones Jr. seems to be the healthiest RB on the Seahawks’ roster. Godwin Igwebuike and Darwin Thompson could be elevated from the Seahawks’ practice squad if the team needs additional RB depth. 


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