There was a time in fantasy football when having a team’s bread-and-butter running back was key.
That was when one back did it all – handled the work between the 20s, the third-down plays, and the red-zone touches. The reality is there are few backs who do that now – which is what made Arizona’s David Johnson so valuable.
But the flipside is the split workload has made the running back pool deeper than ever, and more challenging to maneuver from a fantasy football perspective.
One such “double-trouble” backfield is in New Orleans, but this one is easy – both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are in this week’s top five in the rankings, something we haven’t seen in some time.
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For Miami, both Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams are viable fantasy starters – Williams has a higher floor, Drake offers more upside.
In New England, multiple backs are nothing new, and three Patriots backs – Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis and James White – are worth a fantasy start against an Oakland defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Here are some more top plays for Week 11, and some players you might consider avoiding this week.
▪ Keep Alex Smith (Kansas City) dialed in against the Giants, who allow the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. As an added bonus, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has been the best coach in NFL history after bye weeks.
▪ Don’t discount Matt Ryan (Atlanta) at Seattle. The Seahawks defense has been stout at home, but it’s without Richard Sherman and Ryan is heating up (two touchdowns in three straight games).
▪ Jay Ajayi’s (Philadelphia) role is expected to expand, and he’s in a good spot this week facing a Dallas defense that is missing star linebacker Sean Lee.
▪ As a deeper sleeper, J.D. McKissic (Seattle) had a career-high four catches last week and should be locked in as the Seahawks’ passing-down running back with C.J. Prosise placed on injured reserve.
▪ Don’t lose the faith in Mike Evans (Tampa Bay), he’s a star talent and he is overdue for a big game.
▪ Sterling Shepard (N.Y. Giants) played the part of a go-to wide receiver last week, catching 11 balls on 13 targets for a career-best 142 yards. He should continue his strong play against a Chiefs defense that allows the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
▪ Dontrelle Inman (Chicago) should be a major pickup target this week as he was integrated into the Bears’ offense for the first-time since being acquired a few weeks back via trade. He produced six catches on eight targets for 88 yards and he played on 95 percent of the team’s snaps.
▪ Jared Goff (L.A. Rams) was successfully ranked as the No. 1 quarterback last week, but he drops down this week at Minnesota. Goff has beaten up on bad defenses (averaging 288 passing yards and 2.8 touchdowns against defenses ranked 25th or worse) but been slowed in tougher matchups like this one (averaging 224 passing yards and a touchdown per game against defenses ranked 24th or higher).
▪ Matthew Stafford (Detroit) has been on fire of late, though the Bears allow the fouth-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks – including having shut down Drew Brees and Cam Newton in recent weeks.
▪ The Dallas backfield came out Week 10 with no clear-cut front-runner. Sit Alfred Morris (Dallas) – and all the others – this week, especially against a Philadelphia defense ranked No. 1 against the run.
▪ Jamaal Williams (Green Bay) should be the Packers’ starter with Aaron Jones out and Ty Montgomery battling an aggravated rib injury, though this is not in a very attractive match-up against the Ravens allowing an average of 58 yards in its past two games.
▪ Josh Doctson’s (Washington) fantasy caché is on the rise, though he seems most likely to draw star defensive back Marshon Lattimore this week.
Alan Satterlee is in his fourth year of writing about fantasy football for The Charlotte Observer. Find him on Twitter at @Speedkills_DFW.