How lucky are fantasy football owners who either own Mark Ingram or Alvin Kamara? Kamara had some sleeper value in the preseason, but Ingram was touted as a low-end RB2, with the possibility of not being on the fantasy radar for 2017.
The Saints were juggling three running backs and there really wasn't much value in any one of the three. Now, Adrian Peterson, along with Ingram and Kamara have actual value. Peterson is inconsistent, but a volume-monster, while the Saints are operating a rejuvenated rushing attack. Ingram and Kamara are in the rare category of being teammates that are fantasy starters in the same position. For the rest of the start 'em, sit 'em guide, here's the rest of the week 11 running backs.
Tevin Coleman vs. Seattle Seahawks
On most occasions, Coleman is a roll of the dice. His value is based on the hot hand in Atlanta's backfield. This week, though, Coleman will take on lead back duties, meaning he should easily be an RB1 candidate.
When Devonta Freeman went out with injury in week 10, Coleman stepped in and was a workhorse, going for 83 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown.
You may be worried after Seattle's defense dominated Peterson in week 10. The Seahawks are really good against the run, but this game will take on a different game flow than last week's meeting with the Cardinals. Arizona wasn't going to beat Seattle throwing the football, so the Seahawks focused primarily on stopping the run. They won't be able to do that this week, especially with a reeling secondary.
Watch for Seattle to look to take away the pass, giving Coleman plenty of room to run in week 11.
Orleans Darkwa vs. Kansas City Chiefs
I don't expect much out of Eli Manning, but there's some value in starting Darkwa. He's pulling ahead in the committee approach in New York and he's putting up decent volume in recent weeks.
Darkwa has 30 carries combined in his last two games, going for 141 yards rushing combined and one touchdown. He's definitely the No. 1 in the backfield, and I expect the Giants to have more success on the ground against the Chiefs than in the air.
Kansas City is allowing 131 yards on the ground per game, and have allowed eight rushing touchdowns this season, tied for the most in the NFL. Don't back away from Darkwa based on the amount of fantasy points the Chiefs allow to running backs. Kansas City allows the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. But that number isn't based on what running backs do on the ground. The Chiefs don't allow running backs to gain fantasy points through the air.
Darkwa isn't much of a threat catching the ball out of the backfield, so he should put up low-end RB1/high-end RB2 numbers.
Rex Burkhead vs. Oakland Raiders
Normally I hate New England running backs. But if you're looking for a running back on the waiver wire who could contribute for your running back staple, Burkhead is showing increased value.
He's been a major contributor in the passing game in the last few weeks, scoring a touchdown in week 10, putting him in the top-10 among running backs for fantasy points. Mike Gillislee is out of the rotation, so that has opened up more snaps for Burkhead. He's still splitting time with Dion Lewis, but Burkhead earned more playing time in week 10.
I expect Burkhead to continue to see time on the field, and against the Raiders, that should be a boon for his fantasy potential. The Raiders are giving up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to running backs, with plenty of those points coming in the passing game. Only three teams are allowing more targets to running backs this season than the Raiders. The Patriots love targeting running backs in the passing game, so Burkhead should have enough production to be in that RB2 conversation.
DeMarco Murray vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
I know Murray just rattled off three touchdowns in producing the second-most fantasy points among running backs in week 10.
My problem with Murray is that he still wasn't the most productive running back on his own team. Derrick Henry rushed for more yards than Murray in week 10, but Murray was the one who scored the touchdowns. That matters, but it shouldn't steer you away from realizing that Murray has eclipsed 60 yards rushing only once this season -- in week two.
He's not going to rush the ball well in week 11 either, against a Pittsburgh defense that has given up just 71 yards per game rushing in the last three games. The Steelers get the Titans on a short week, so I expect Pittsburgh to jump out early, hurting the Titans' desire to rush the football.
Murray is a touchdown-dependent back who doesn't generate the necessary volume to be considered a weekly fantasy option. The matchup is a difficult one to overcome, so I'd pass on Murray in week 11.
Alfred Morris vs. Philadelphia Eagles
If you have an option, Morris is probably more of an RB3/Flex, instead of an RB1/2 option this week.
He's going to get decent volume probably, so it's hard to pass him up. But much like Peterson last week, volume isn't the only reason to start a player. Sometimes you have to pay attention to the matchup, and this one, doesn't work for Morris.
The Cowboys are going to use two running backs, with Morris focusing more on the workhorse role and Rod Smith being the pass-catcher. Against the Eagles, that workhorse role doesn't work. It's not even close in how few yards Philadelphia allows on the ground. The Eagles have given up 383 total yards on the ground this season. The second-best mark is 578 yards allowed by Minnesota.
Teams are having success, though, throwing the ball to running backs out of the backfield against Philadelphia. Morris likely won't garner the targets out of the backfield, so I don't anticipate much production in week 11.
Jay Ajayi vs. Dallas Cowboys
We'll stick with the big NFC East clash. The Cowboys looked terrible in week 10 against Atlanta's rushing attack, but that isn't an indicator for what the Cowboys have been during the rest of the season on defense. Dallas is giving up just 83 yards per game rushing in the last three games.
With an above-average front, it should neutralize Philadelphia's ability to run the football.
And when the Eagles do run the ball, there's a mystery on who will get the carries. The Eagles are a high-powered offense with the value of several of their weapons very hazy. Other than Carson Wentz, there's really not a guaranteed producer on the team, including Ajayi.
He will have to share too many carries and there's not enough information yet on how the Eagles will handle the backfield duties.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH