Kansas City Chiefs
It seems as if the starting running back changes on a week-to-week basis in Kansas City, as we have seen Damien Williams, Darrel Williams, and LeSean McCoy start games for the team through 7 games. Make no mistake, a new version of Kareem Hunt (three down, bellcow back) is not going to emerge from this current group. Damien Williams is an unproven, unreliable journeyman. Darrel Williams is not very explosive, and should never rise above the second spot on a depth chart. McCoy, as great as he once was, is nothing more than a reliable veteran with a considerable amount of tread on his tires. As for Darwin Thompson, the lack of playing time for him is concerning considering the tumult at the position.
Verdict: Selling the Chiefs backfield
It’s the Josh Jacobs show in Oakland (and his show will be hitting the road for Las Vegas soon). Jacobs has yet to be fully featured as a receiver out of the backfield, although his reputation coming out of college was that his pass catching ability was one of his best traits. He has been the unquestioned lead back for the Raiders old school offense this season, tallying over 75 yards on the ground in 5/7 games. I expect Jacobs to be a top 10 running back in no time, so buy shares of this kid while you still can. I also like Jalen Richard in this backfield, especially in PPR formats with multiple flex positions. At just 25 years old he has a chance to stick around as a handcuff to Jacobs for the next few seasons.
Verdict: Buying Jacobs, Buying Richard as a handcuff, Selling the rest
Los Angeles Chargers
Oh how the tables have turned for the Chargers. Post-holdout Melvin Gordon is no longer an elite running back (perhaps sitting on your ass instead of going to training camp is a bad way to stay great?), while Austin Ekeler has ascended to a new level. In three games since his return, Gordon has averaged less than 3 yards per carry and scored zero touchdowns (the big points draw for Gordon has been his absurd red zone production). Meanwhile, Ekeler (who has yet to tally more than 100 yards rushing on the year) finds himself as the third best running back in PPR formats thanks to his unreal production as a receiver (49 receptions for 488 yards and 4 touchdowns with a tremendous 92% catch rate). Should Ekeler continue to shine, it’s hard to imagine that the team will let him get away this offseason. As for Gordon, his status with the team remains unclear, although I believe we are witnessing the final year of Melvin Gordon as a Charger.
Verdict: Buying Ekeler, Selling Gordon and the rest of the Chargers backs
Philip Lindsey’s pro bowl campaign last season was awesome and inspiring. However, as much as I like Lindsey, his undersized frame concerns me, especially because he’s not much of a receiver out of the backfield. Royce Freeman is a solid player, but he is built in the mold of a Jordan Howard or Jay Ajayi, where he’s gonna have virtually no impact as a receiver while being extremely touchdown reliant as a fantasy asset. Both of these running backs are fine short term options, but I feel like their long term outlooks in the Broncos offense are not ideal.
Verdict: Selling Lindsey and Freeman in the long term, Selling the rest in general.