Running backs have been taking a beating lately, and with teams starting to officially fall out of the playoff race (or make late pushes), knowing the true extent of injuries to someone like Todd Gurley is getting tougher. Whether it’s a player who’s been on the IR for weeks (David Johnson, Myles Gaskin, Justin Jackson, Devonta Freeman) or someone who was “questionable” leading up to last week (D’Andre Swift, Kalen Ballage), staying on top of the latest updates on these backs will be key when making Week 13 fantasy waiver wire and start ’em, sit ’em decisions.
For the latest on RBs on the COVID list, including Jonathan Taylor, James Conner, JK Dobbins, and Mark Ingram, go here; for more on injured WRs, including Julio Jones, Brandon Aiyuk, Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, and Kenny Golladay, click here; for news on Lamar Jackson and Tua Tagovailoa, go here. For all the latest fantasy updates, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.
Is Todd Gurley playing this week?
Gurley (knee) was a surprise scratch from practice last Wednesday and then quickly ruled out for Week 12 on Thursday, and given his history of knee injuries, it seems likely he could miss more time going forward. The Falcons provided little in the way of updates on Gurley’s health, which is why we left him out of our Week 13 RB rankings to open the week.
With Gurley out, Brian Hill led Atlanta’s backfield until the game was officially out of hand in the fourth quarter. At that point, Ito Smith received more carries and wound up leading the team in rushing yards (65) and scoring despite having one fewer carry than Hill. Those two will continue to hold down the Falcons backfield while Gurley is out, with Hill being the better option in Week 13 against New Orleans. However, given the tough matchup, he’s no more than a low-end flex.
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Is David Johnson playing this week?
We haven’t heard much about Johnson since he was surprisingly placed on the IR after Week 9 due to a concussion. He’s now eligible to return, and unless his concussion is more severe or led to other complications, it would be a surprise if he didn’t.
As long as Johnson is active, he’ll be a viable RB2 in any matchup, as he should return to getting around 15 touches per game. Duke Johnson could still have some PPR flex value, but he did little when David was healthy, so he’ll probably be safe to drop once David is officially back.
Is Myles Gaskin playing this week?
The Dolphins took it down to the wire last week before deciding to hold out Gaskin (knee) for a fourth straight game, so it would seem likely that he will return in Week 13 against the Bengals.
Miami had little semblance of a running game last week with Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) out. Ahmed didn’t practice at all last week, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see him sit out again this week, which would mean Gaskin would dominate backfield touches if he’s active. If both Gaskin and Ahmed return, we might see more of a split in carries, but Gaskin still has RB2/flex value against a poor Bengals run defense.
Is D’Andre Swift playing this week?
Swift (concussion) was a legit game-time decision in Week 12, and had the Lions not played on Thursday, he likely would have suited up.
Prior to his injury, Swift had taken over as Detroit’s lead back, receiving 29 carries and eight receptions in Weeks 9 and 10 combined. The Lions have a new coach now, but it seems likely Swift will resume getting 15-plus touches in Week 13 against Chicago. Even in a tough matchup, he’s a solid RB2/flex, especially in PPR leagues.
Is Devonta Freeman playing this week?
Freeman (ankle, hamstring) hasn’t played since Week 7, and we haven’t seen many updates on his status since. With Wayne Gallman firmly taking over as the Giants lead back (average of 17 carries, 64.8 yards, five total TDs in his four starts), it’s unclear if Freeman will even start when he returns.
Chances are, he would split time with Gallman, with the latter continuing to operate as the goal-line back. At this point, it’s arguable whether Freeman even belongs on fantasy rosters, but until we see him back on the field (whenever that is), he’s probably worth keeping around. For now, we expect Gallman to start and dominate carries in Week 13 against the Seahawks.
Justin Jackson, Kalen Ballage injury updates
Jackson (knee) has missed the past three games and is eligible to come off the IR this week. There’s been no indication that he’s close to returning, but considering there wasn’t immediate concern about his injury, it’s possible he could be close.
Ballage (calf/ankle) was a bit of a surprise scratch last week, but considering he was “questionable” leading up to Sunday’s game, he also is likely close to returning.
Because Austin Ekeler returned last week and dominated as both a runner and receiver, it’s unclear just how much impact either of these two backs will have when they’re active. Chances are, whoever operates as the Chargers’ No. 2 would get an appreciable amount of carries and have chances at short touchdowns, which would make him playable as a flex in Week 13 against New England. For now, it looks like Ballage is much closer to filling that role than Jackson.