Due to the high frequency of injury, most backup running backs are widely owned in fantasy football, which makes streaming difficult. However, this turnover also leads to more opportunity. As we turn our attention to week seven, streaming is going to get harder, as people start to roster backups and the bye weeks roll in to take their tolls. This week will have you trying to fill the shoes of only a couple starting-level running backs through the bye, though injuries continue to mount. If you need some RB punch, we are here to help. As always, the sleeper running backs start at under 50% ownership on Yahoo!, with one player under 10% ownership for deeper leagues. Ownership figures are as of Saturday afternoon.[embedit snippet=”jeff-ads”]
Mike Gillislee at Miami (49% owned)
I was astonished to see Gillislee at less than 50% ownership this week, and he may represent the single biggest jump that I’ve seen in the few years I’ve doing this (last week he was at 3% ownership as my deep dive play and went for 66 yards and a score). Granted, his ownership jump is on the back of LeSean McCoy’s maybe-injured, maybe-not-injured ankle injury, and McCoy is either a game-time decision or out for several weeks. Either way, Gillislee is at least worth rostering to see what happens Sunday as the Bills take on a middling Dolphins team. Gillislee is talented enough to take advantage of the matchup, but don’t expect Shady 2.0 out there.
Mike Davis versus Tampa Bay (20% owned)
Davis isn’t that great of a running back option, and with Carlos Hyde out, he is set to split reps with Shaun Draughn, but by all appearances he will be the lead back this weekend as the Buccaneers come to town, and being the lead back in a Chip Kelly offense is at least worth something higher than sitting on waivers in 80% of leagues. Davis is wildly inconsistent, and if Draughn is your preferred option here, go for it (I would go with Draughn in PPR leagues). The Bucs give up the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs on the year, and the 49ers are the second-most run-heavy team in the league behind Dallas and Zeke Elliott. You could do worse from a volume and matchup standpoint.
Chris Thompson at Detroit (9% owned)
Thompson is best used in a PPR league, as he is Washington’s passing downs back and gets a good number of targets in that role. The Lions are not a great matchup for traditional running backs like incumbent Matt Jones, but backs that get yardage through the air have done reasonably well against them, and this is a dart throw that Washington shifts to Thompson as Jones is stifled throughout the game. Thompson has also done well with his limited opportunities on the ground, going for 4.6 yards per carry as a change of pace back. The receptions and receiving yards will give him a decent floor, and anything else will be a bonus. He doesn’t have the upside of last week’s Gillislee, and is better left as a PPR option, but he is still an option. Plus, Matt Jones’ next fumble could be his last in the starting role.