T.J. Yeldon (RB, Jaguars)
Yeldon had 10 carries for 53 yards as well as eight catches for 69 yards and a touchdown in Week 5, and he generally looked good against the Chiefs. He’s now scored 14 PPR fantasy points in four of five games this season. Yeldon has another good matchup against a Dallas Cowboys defense that’s allowed an average of 22.7 fantasy points to running backs, especially since LB Sean Lee will probably miss this game. In the seven games that Lee has missed dating back to last season, the Cowboys have allowed eight running backs to either score or gain 80 total yards, including Kerryon Johnson and Alfred Blue over the past two weeks. In addition, RB Corey Grant suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot and is headed for injured reserve, which only further cements Yeldon’s hold on the RB1 job while Leonard Fournette continues to heal.
Chris Carson (RB, Seahawks)
Carson looked impressive in Week 5 against the Rams with 19 carries for 116 yards, and he’s now scored 33 PPR points in the past two games he’s played. Carson will still be sharing the backfield duties with Mike Davis but Carson is clearly the better of the two. The Raiders have allowed a six different running backs to score or gain 100 total yards in four of five games this season, and they’ve allowed an average of 28.4 fantasy points to the position thus far. Carson has surpassed his Optimal Recovery date, and while he remains a High risk for injury, his Health Performance Factor (HPF) has reached a Above Average 71.52%.
Sterling Shepard (WR, Giants)
Evan Engram has already been declared out for Week 6, opening the door for another big week from Shepard. Over the last three games (all with Engram out), Shepard has received 24 targets from which he’s made 20 receptions for 232 yards and two touchdowns. The Giants face the Eagles in Week 6, a team that’s allowed 1,064 receiving yards to wide receivers, third-most in the NFL. They’ve also allowed seven TDs and an average of 46.8 fantasy points to the position. Shepard is fully healthy at this point and his HPF is a solid Above Average 77.08%. Start him with confidence this week, which may be the last that Engram is out.
Dalvin Cook (RB, Vikings)
Cook has already paid the price once this season for returning too soon from a hamstring injury, so it would be foolish for the Vikings to take yet another chance with their star running back and bring him back too soon again. Having said that, there is still a chance they do so anyway and play him against the Cardinals in Week 6. The problem for fantasy owners is that the Cardinals have the NFL’s worst run defense; they’ve allowed 660 rushing yards, 339 passing yards and a total of nine touchdowns to running backs this season. Therefore, Cook has too good a matchup to sit him if he plays. He is just days away from his October 16 Optimal Return to Health date, and his HPF is Below Average at 48.33%. While he’s a very risky start, you can’t bench him if he plays.
Adrian Peterson (RB, Washington)
AP is nursing a shoulder dislocation he reportedly suffered in Week 5. At one point this past week, he was reportedly seeking a second opinion after not having a single carry in the second half and finishing the Week 5 game with six yards on four carries. Washington faces a tough Panthers defense, which has allowed just 337 rushing yards and two touchdowns to running backs this season. Given the poor status of the Washington offense overall, especially the passing game, Peterson is best avoided for Week 6, and really, for the rest of the season until further notice. While we’re at it, Chris Thompson should also be benched against the Panthers. His rib injury has him as a High Risk for injury and his Below Average HPF is bad enough to exclude him as a fantasy option.
Matt Breida (RB, 49ers)
At this point, with all the injuries Breida is dealing with, he has a week 9 Optimal Return to Health date. He is a High risk for injury with a 38.5% HPF. If that isn’t enough to convince you to bench him, then consider that the Packers have a Top 10 defense against the run. They’ve allowed just 443 rushing yards and four touchdowns to the position. More telling is the fact that the Niners worked out five running backs this week to add depth to the roster. That would seem to indicate that Breida is even worse off than we’re being told. Sit him for this week and consider adding depth to your fantasy team if you can because Breida may not be close to 100% for quite some time.
Devonta Freeman (RB, Falcons)
Freeman’s knee remains a concern and on top of that, he’s now on the injury report with a foot injury. The Buccaneers have only allowed 276 rushing yards and four touchdowns to running backs, mainly because it’s their pass defense that has been so poor. The game scripts have worked out in such a way that opposing running backs have not been needed to run the ball very often. That’s what happens when your defense allows nine touchdowns to wide receivers. As such, Freeman, who is listed as a High Injury Risk with a Poor HPF of 33.25% should be benched in all fantasy formats even if he is active this weekend.