Kenneth Gainwell was one of the most sought after players on waivers in Week 8 for Fantasy Football, but do you need to get him right into your starting lineup?
I've got him ranked as RB27 for this week's matchup against the Lions, so I'd say yes, probably. I'm not sure Gainwell is going to have a huge role running the ball -- Boston Scott actually saw more work as a runner after Miles Sanders' injury in Week 7, which makes him a little risky to trust without that floor. However, in the Eagles offense, the running backs haven't actually been used as runners very often, so I'm not sure that floor would be there even if Scott wasn't around.
What makes Gainwell such an intriguing Fantasy option with Sanders out is his potential in the passing game. He ran 17 routes on his 22 snaps in the second half and should be a focal point against a Lions team that has allowed six touchdowns in seven games to running backs as receivers. Gainwell is a borderline RB2 in PPR leagues, while Scott is more like a fringe RB3, though with some decent upside in this matchup.
Get your first look at the running back rankings for Week 8 from yours truly. To see Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, and Heath Cummings' rankings, make sure you head here. We'll be updating this throughout the week with new notes and rankings as we get news and the rankings get tweaked, so make sure you bookmark the page.
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Week 8 RB Rankings
- Derrick Henry @IND
- Najee Harris @CLE
- Alvin Kamara vs. TB -- The Buccaneers have been a tough team to run against, so hopefully the Saints continue to feature him in the passing game -- he has 19 targets over the past two weeks. He'll continue to see a huge role in the running game even in the tough matchup, but he'll probably need a good game as a receiver to live up to this ranking.
- Ezekiel Elliott @MIN
- Dalvin Cook vs. DAL
- Austin Ekeler vs. NE
- D'Andre Swift vs. PHI
- Cordarrelle Patterson vs. CAR -- I don't know if I'm quite ready to just say Cordarrelle Patterson is the lead back for the Falcons, but a 14-4 split between him and Mike Davis is hard to ignore. Davis still played nearly as many snaps as Patterson in Week 7, including more lined up in the backfield, but Patterson is clearly the better Fantasy option, at the very least, especially if he's going to split his time between running back and wide receiver as he has been of late.
- Leonard Fournette @NO -- This is a pretty tough matchup for Fournette, but as long as he's in the role he is, where he is getting at least four targets per game, you can't go away from him. He just has too many ways to put up points as Tom Brady's primary running back.
- James Robinson @SEA
- Darrell Henderson @HOU -- I think this ranking might be too low, but it's more about how much I like the guys ahead of him. In theory, you would think the Rams might limit his usage in a game they can win easily, but Henderson played 82% of the snaps in a 38-11 win over the Giants two weeks ago, in a game Henderson actually left briefly with an injury. They talked about wanting to limit him in the preseason, but Sean McVay hasn't actually shown any interest in doing that.
- Nick Chubb vs. PIT -- Chubb had 253 yards and two touchdowns in two games against the Steelers last season, and with Kareem Hunt out, you have to think he's a pretty good bet for a touchdown in this one. One thing that will be interesting to watch will be whether D'Ernest Johnson simply slides into Kareem Hunt's role after his eye-opening performance in Week 7, or if Chubb might see a bigger passing game role with Hunt sidelined. You can make an argument Chubb should be higher than this, obviously, but you should be starting him in all circumstances either way.
- Jonathan Taylor vs. TEN -- Taylor has at least 110 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in his last four games, which highlights the upside he has every week. However, it's interesting to note that his usage in those four games hasn't been dramatically different than it was when he was a disappointment through the first three games -- he's gone from averaging 14 carries and three targets per game to 15.8 carries and three targets. The truth is, he doesn't get the same kind of touches some of the elite Fantasy RBs do, which leave him more reliant on touchdowns and big plays than most. Maybe this ranking is too low, however as with the previous two, you should be starting Taylor in all circumstances.
- Joe Mixon @NYJ
- Khalil Herbert vs. LAR -- Herbert has been too good to relinquish the starting role to Damien Williams at this point, but can we count on him to play 75% of the snaps moving forward, or was that role mostly a result of Williams not having his usual conditioning after missing a game due to COVID? If you could count on Herbert for 3-5 targets every week in addition to 15-plus carries, he would be in the RB1 discussion.
- Antonio Gibson @DEN -- I swear I didn't group the five players since Henderson together on purpose, but they are all different versions of the same player type. None of them are likely to make a big impact in the passing game most weeks, so you're mostly counting on a bunch of carries and a touchdown to get to where you want them. It's possible, and for the most part they all have good matchups, but Gibson's injury and his nearly nonexistent role on third downs and in obvious passing situations gives him a fairly narrow path to an RB1 finish. He can get there, but you can't count on it every week at this point.
- Devontae Booker @KC
- Chuba Hubbard @ATL
- Darrel Williams vs. NYG -- Booker, Hubbard, and Williams are all in similar spots as backups thrust into big roles due to injuries who have had their ups and downs to date. All three have pretty good matchups, but they rank in the lower end of the RB2 tier because you just can't be sure how much work they'll get or how productive they'll be. But all three are pretty good starts.
- Michael Carter vs. CIN -- I think Carter can and should be an RB2 moving forward, but it's going to depend on how much the Jets want to lean on him in the passing game. I think he's unlikely to see enough carries or be consistently productive enough in the running game to have much value there, but if Joe Flacco or Mike White end up leaning on him for five or more targets most weeks moving forward, he'll probably end up in that RB2 range. That is almost certainly the Jets best plan moving forward, but whether it's one they'll commit to remains to be seen.
- Elijah Mitchell @CHI -- Mitchell has at least 17 carries in three of four games, and there really is no question he's the 49ers lead back. However, he also has almost no passing game role -- just four targets in four games -- so he's pretty touchdown dependent. He has a high weekly floor, but like the next guy on the list, his path to 15-plus PPR points almost entirely runs through the end zone.
- Damien Harris @LAC -- Harris has a decent matchup yet again, and he's coming off consecutive games with 100-plus yards and a touchdown, so he's riding high. The Patriots will probably give him 14-plus carries yet again, and he'll be a low-end RB2 unless he gets into the end zone. Same as always, pretty much.
- Myles Gaskin @BUF -- Gaskin might be the hardest player to rank this week, and if I'm being honest, I'd rather just not. With Malcolm Brown going on IR, however, I do think Gaskin's role should be a bit more predictable moving forward. Hopefully that means double-digit carries, a healthy target share, and more opportunities near the goal line. That should make him an RB2 most weeks, and it's worth noting that he has averaged 13.3 PPR points in three games against the Bills over the past two seasons.
- Alex Collins vs. JAX -- It's a great matchup against the Jaguars, but Collins now has 47 yards or fewer in two of his three starts and he's stuck in what looks like a pretty miserable offense without Russell Wilson. Matchups matter, but it's hard to get excited about 15 carries and one or two targets in this offense right now.
- Zack Moss vs. MIA
- David Johnson vs. LAR -- With Mark Ingram traded, Johnson should see a bigger role in the running game, even if Phillip Lindsay might still lead the team in carries -- though that is by no means a guarantee. However, with his passing game role in addition to whatever increase in carries Johnson gets, he might actually be a pretty good starting option the rest of the season, especially if Tyrod Taylor returns and injects some life into the offense.
- Kenneth Gainwell @DET
- Melvin Gordon vs. WAS
- Javonte Williams vs. WAS -- I'm just going to keep Gordon and Williams right next to each other in the rankings until they give me a reason to separate them. That's how the Broncos use them, after all.
- J.D. McKissic @DEN
- Tony Pollard @MIN
- Mike Davis vs. CAR
- Devin Singletary vs. MIA
- D'Ernest Johnson vs. PIT -- Johnson should have earned a bigger role for himself with his Week 7 performance, but the question is whether that role is something like eight carries spelling Chubb or if he might handle some of the passing game work while also getting double-digit carries most weeks.
- Jamaal Williams vs. PHI
- Brandon Bolden @LAC
- Damien Williams vs. LAR
- Boston Scott @DET
- Ty Johnson vs. CIN
- Nyheim Hines vs. TEN
- Alexander Mattison vs. DAL
- Jerick McKinnon vs. NYG
- Jeremy McNichols @IND
- Phillip Lindsay vs. LAR
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