Hitchhiker’s Guide to RB: Week 11 – Pachecov’s Run

by Jakob Sanderson · Matchups Start/Sit

Welcome in to the Week 11 edition of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to RB! If you are new to the column, this is the place we talk all things running back streaming. Each week we discuss running back usage, matchups, and waiver opportunities to convert the least amount of capital into a playable running back position on your fantasy teams.

If you did not read the introductory edition of the column, I strongly recommend checking it out here:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Running Back


The weekly project of this column is to stream the highest-scoring running back we can using only a select group of bench running backs and the waiver wire. Additionally, I hope this article allows you to think critically about the inputs involved in fantasy production at the position that will inform how you play fantasy football.

In each article, I will briefly recap the week that was at the running back position. Then, I will discuss the status of our existing running back bench and whether to make any transactions on our official roster. Lastly, I will discuss potential waiver options and designate my plays of the week.

Often, I will mix in other tangents week-to-week addressing roster management, draft strategy, backfield shifts, potential beneficiaries from a major injury, or an examination of team or player usage trends.

Note: Any data not from Playerprofiler, or otherwise sourced, is via Pro Football Focus.

Week 10 Recap – League-Wide

Week 10 did bring us legitimate change in five backfields without injury: 49ers, Cardinals, Chiefs, Dolphins, and Buccaneers. However, I want to talk about Kenneth Walker; a player we have discussed in this column as a streamer before. Specifically, I want to talk about his unexpected Week 10 game and how it relates to an idea I discussed last week: the compulsion to find meaning in unexpected outputs. Sometimes we should be highly reactive, and sometimes we are over-reactive. How can we try to decide which route to take in which case?

Therefore, I will breeze through the changes this week to dive into what I think is a more interesting and evergreen topic afterward.

Backfields in Transition

The 49ers

The 49ers worked Elijah Mitchell in more substantially this week. He played a third of the snaps, splitting goal-line work and carries evenly. McCaffrey maintained dominance of the passing work. If this situation holds, it places McCaffrey more in line with early-season Austin Ekeler and peak Alvin Kamara rather than the potential 30-point-per-week supernova we thought we had last week. That being said, I would still be trading for McCaffrey. Trading early down volume for increased team scoring opportunities is a net positive from his time in Carolina for my money. He maintains an elite floor via the pass-game, and his ceiling in negative script or with a Mitchell injury is RB1 in a tier of his own. Mitchell now joins the ranks of Damien Harris, Jamaal Williams and Gus Edwards / Kenyan Drake as early down only timeshare backs.

The Cardinals

James Conner acted as a complete bell cow with 95-percent of snaps. Eno Benjamin was waived the following day, leaving Keaontay Ingram as the new backup. He becomes a priority handcuff, while Conner elevates to the RB1 borderline for as long as this role holds. Given he has held a role nothing like this in any other game, it is a hard one to assess. Conner absolutely has RB1 upside rest of season if he is deployed in this fashion, however he has been inefficient throughout the year and generally been rotated with a complimentary option. I would probably sell off the spike week if you can get rest-of-season low-end RB1 value in return.  I’m not sure what led to the Benjamin release, but Keaontay Ingram may get more involved in a similar role to Benjamin’s in the coming weeks.

Keaontay Ingram Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The Dolphins

Former 49er Jeff Wilson took over the backfield out-snapping Raheem Mostert 61-percent to 28-percent. This was something we hoped to see after his strong start last week. Consider him a more efficient occupant of Mostert’s previous workload moving forward. He has a high degree of fragility, but Wilson is a high-end RB2 if this maintains.

The Chiefs

This was another example of us landing on the right side of the variance. We saw a reverse game-script from Week 9, leading to an expected regression in Jerick McKinnon‘s role. However, the trend we picked up on with Pacheco gaining ground over Clyde Edwards-Helaire came to a head this week. Edwards-Helaire was out-touched 18-0 by the Rutgers rookie.

This backfield is now back to its early season deployment pattern. Pacheco has taken on the Edwards-Helaire role as early-down lead, with McKinnon remaining in his, and ‘CEH’ reverting to Pacheco’s minimal change-of-pace role. The situation remains vollatile, however you would much rather back the rising rookie from this point forward. Pacheco’s complete lack of receiving involvement caps his ceiling, but expect some fraction of the touchdown opportunities Edwards-Helaire was afforded early-season to flow to Pacheco over the latter half of the season.

The Buccaneers

Leonard Fournette‘s injury has obscured what was already an incredibly promising day for White. The rookie out of Arizona State started the game and out-snapped Fournette 28-22 prior to Fournette’s injury. While neither White or Fournette has been particularly effective this year, you would much rather bet on the rookie who is ascending in play-time than the fading veteran. When we next see the Bucs in Week 12, perceive both backs as back-end RB2s, but with White as the preferred start of the two until proven otherwise.

Ken Walker the Pass Catcher

Let’s get to the main section pre-weekly picks I want to dive into.

We have had quite a journey with Ken Walker between this column, and my off-season column: Thinking About Thinking. With Walker providing a career high six receptions for 55 yards Sunday, many are proclaiming that college receiving profiles are no longer indicative of receiving ability.

The “Fantasy Receipts” era has increased both context-free attacks and defensiveness in the fantasy industry. So I think it’s important to offer the lens from which I’m viewing a player before potentially offering a take that steers into headwinds, and you can make up your mind whether to agree.

Kenneth Walker Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The Long View of Walker

Back in the pre-draft process I was out on Walker at cost in dynasty rookie drafts. My stance was threefold: (1) I thought it likely he was a very good or elite rusher, but that the market had fully priced in that likelihood. (2) I thought it unliklely he would add value as a receiver. (3) I preferred the wide receivers being drafted around or behind Walker: primarily Drake London and Garrett Wilson.

In reflecting upon this take, I would say the following: (1) He is definitely the high level rush I thought he would be, and my caution has proved unnecessary. (2) He is likely a better receiver than I would have expected in his median projection. (3) Because of how the dynasty market treats running backs, I wish all my Londons and Wilsons were Walkers on trade value alone. However, those two receivers have put forth elite peripherals in their rookie seasons, and in a vacuum I would still prefer to bet on their profiles long term.

Two primary factors in Walker’s ascent were un-related to Walker as well. (1) Seattle has been substantially better than I expected, or the market expected generally. (2) Rashaad Penny broke his leg after operating as the clear lead back to open the season.

Walker in Seasonal Leagues

I wish to note that my take on Walker was much more nuanced when it came to seasonal formats. In fact I am above market exposure in all seasonal formats, while being below in all dynasty formats.

I provide this as context for how I’m assessing his ever-changing range of outcomes, and trying to outline my lack of interest in being on a “team” with effect to pro or anti Walker. More importantly I want to acknowledge that (A) I have been decidedly wrong on Walker in a sense, but (B) not unable to see his appeal or shift my macro view on him.

Non-Linear Sequencing and Ken Walker’s Pass Catching

One of the biggest traps I think fantasy managers fall into is the fallacy of linear sequencing. By this I mean an expectation that what just happened is a significantly better predictor of what is about to happen than the larger sample including the most recent events. Whenever there are shifts in a player’s output, we ought to be critical in discerning whether the outlook has truly changed or if a player just hit the high end of their weekly range. It’s also possible of course a player can perform so well within a given range that they gain a new role, with a new range of outcomes entirely.

So What Bucket is Walker in?

I think a little of both.

Entering Week 10, Walker ranked ahead of only Miles Sanders in Yards Per Route Run among running backs with at least 10 targets at 0.53. His lack of college receiving had directly translated to a lack of NFL receiving.

In this week’s game he saw season highs in every receiving category: route participation (73-percent), targets (8), receptions (6), and receiving yards (55). The question is; is this just who Walker is now? With rookies I want to be open-minded to the notion they can fundamentally shift our priors through performance. Even those with the strongest-rooted baselines should have a shovel at the ready to separate your priors from the soil. However, there is room for nuance between altering expectations and erasing your previous analysis all together.

We do not have to choose between Walker’s pre-Week 10 or Week 10 usage. We can look at it in whole. On the full season, Walker’s YPRR now ranks No. 46 of 60 running backs with a minimum of 10 targets. He’s within a tier of backs that includes non pass-catchers Nick Chubb – who he has often been compared to – and Damien Harris. However, it also includes feature backs we do not think of as high-end pass catchers, but who are at least adequate in the receiving game. Dalvin Cook and Najee Harris each rank beneath him.

Moving Forward

Given the increase in route participation, and continued use in a trailing script over third down running back Travis Homer, it’s fair to say Walker’s pass-catching ceiling has increased. Given his complete lock-down of rushing volume and (typically) efficient rushing, even a change from 15-20 receptions per year to 30-40 per year brings in a higher range of outcomes. However, I will note that the way we interpret disruptive data changes wildly based on our expectations or hopes for a player.

A Dichotomy

In this game of elite receiving usage, Walker also had 10 carries for 17 yards. In Next Gen Stats’ Rush Yards Over Expectation per Attempt (RYOEPA), he ranked dead last this week at -3.61 per carry. This was two full yards worse than any other rusher in Week 10 and is the worst single game charted by any running back the entire year.

I do not bring this up to say that Ken Walker is bad at rushing. Despite the poor performance, Walker still ranks No. 12 among all backs season long in RYOEPA. He is a boom bust rusher, something I’ve discussed in this column before. Part of what makes him great at his best is his hunger to maximize big plays and take on additional risk in the backfield. This is borne out by Walker ranking No. 2 in time behind the line of scrimmage per rush, and No. 5 worst in percentage of rushes over expectation, despite sterling numbers overall.

Instead, I bring up this result to show that proclaiming him a high-end pass catching option moving forward off of an input highly out of line with his overall sample would be as un-earned as fretting about his rushing ability over this game.


It is hard to decide how reactive to be in a situation like this. And there is a HIGH chance no matter which route I take that I will be wrong. We are talking about a rookie with very few inputs overall we have to form takes from, and I am trying to use my best guess.

The idea that such a guess is more than a 60/40 proposition is simply out of step with the reality of our “job.” I worry that the increase in “accountability” (see: anonymous quote-tweets) will lead to fewer analysts willing to dissect evolving situations and steer against the inertia of the moment. We are so likely to be wrong in the best of times, it is easier to choose wrongness in the most acceptable fashion than attempt to take the riskier position. But I hope this exercise helped outline why I feel the way I do in whole, and the level of uncertainty we are working with in any case.

On the whole, Walker’s (space) needle is pointed upward. But I would exercise caution in projecting his receiving ability moving forward. Therefore, in terms of how to handle him within a fantasy context – especially in dynasty – I am more likely to sell than buy at the cost of an elite RB1.

Week 10 Recap – Our Roster

This is the portion of the column where I walk through the six backs we have ‘rostered,’ with an eye toward their rest-of-season outlook.

Streaming Rules

For those joining us in progress, here is the process for the weekly streaming choices.

  • In the introductory column, I chose one RB in each of rounds 9-14 based on those available at each round using 4for4’s ADP aggregator. That is my starting “roster.”
  • Each week I will address whether to add any running backs available on waivers, and if so, who to drop.
  • Because your team is not mine, my weekly plays will not only consist of my “rostered” running backs. Instead, I will recommend a play from each of three categories. (see below)
  • My streaming “score” each week will be the average of my play in each category. My “preferred” play will count double and MUST come from a running back on my “roster.” If I choose to make a waiver back my preferred play, I will outline who I am cutting from my existing bench for that running back.

The Categories

  • Bench Streamers: The selected running backs in the introductory article plus and minus any transactions published throughout the year in this column. If a drafted player gets injured, I retain one injured reserve spot.
  • Premium Waiver Streamers: This group is comprised of any running back with less than 67-percent roster-ship on Yahoo leagues as of the first waiver run of the week. It can include both generally un-drafted players as well as previously drafted players who have been widely cut by managers.
  • Deep Waiver Streamers: This group is comprised of any running back with less than 33-percent roster-ship on Yahoo leagues. The same rules apply as above.

Current Roster

Our current roster is the six running backs on our existing roster. Those running backs are:

  • Rhamondre Stevenson (BYE)
  • Darrell Henderson (9.2)
  • Rachaad White (10.5)
  • Khalil Herbert (5.7)
  • Isiah Pacheco (6.2)
  • Deon Jackson (INJ.)

I’ve touched on most of the above backfields in the opening section, but will add each to my “Stock Watch” below.

Status Quo

Rhamondre Stevenson

King Rhamondre of the House Stevenson, First of his Name, was on bye this Week.

Rhamondre Stevenson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Darrell Henderson

Henderson found the end zone this week but the deployment remained stable from Week 9. Stability of any sort is news when it comes to the Los Angeles Rams, however. Kyren Williams played primarily in passing situations, occupying a similar role to the now-departed Malcolm Brown. That left Henderson as the lead early-down back losing a portion of carries to failed medical experiment Cam Akers. He remains a start only in the most desperate of times and best of matchups given his diminished role in a broken offense.

Stock Up

Isiah Pacheco

Pacecho made good on our “stock up” call last week. Despite just 6.2 fantasy points on 82 yards rushing (he lost a fumble), the rookie has ascended from desperation flex to viable RB2.

Isiah Pacheco Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Rachaad White

A good rule of thumb is that if you are a backup RB we roster, and we’ve already broken down your backfield  in the “in transition” segment, your stock is up. We should project White at his median with between a 45-60-percent snap share next game and an even distribution of situational usage. However, there is a lot of volatility in both directions. After his first-career 100-yard performance, there is definitely a chance he is offered the clear-cut lead role in coming weeks.

Rachaad White Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Stock Down

Khalil Herbert

Herbert was rolling along status quo until suffering an injury on a kick return and not returning to the game. If the injury is likely to lead to a multi-week absence feel free to drop if your I.R. spot is occupied. I presume you will have more information on his injury by the time you read this.

UPDATE: Khalil Herbert was placed on I.R. He is now a Drop. Post-Mortem on his Season to come Next Week. We are adding Isaiah Spiller in his place.

Deon Jackson

Jackson missed this game with an injury. However, the more important note was Taylor re-establishing himself as the dominant leader of this backfield. Jackson had outs to a standalone role or future contingent upside if Taylor struggled to fend off his ankle injury. However, with Taylor back to health, Jackson is a pure handcuff. I will note however that the shift to Matt Ryan is a major positive to any running back in this offense.

The Result – Week 10 Plays

Jeff Wilson led the way with 22.3 as our premium play, backed by Henderson’s 10,2 and Pacheco’s 6.2. Overall our stream score was 15.3; good for RB13 on the week.

The Waiver Wire Priority List

Among everyone rostered in 67-percent of leagues or fewer, here is your Week 5 waiver priority list.


*CON* = Contingent Value-focused use case

*SA* = Standalone Value-focused use case

*STASH* = Role projected to grow organically throughout the season

Feel Free to adjust this priority depending on your need for immediate starting value.

  1. Rachaad White – CON
  2. Isiah Pacheco – SA
  3. Elijah Mitchell – SA / CON
  4. Damien Harris – SA / CON
  5. Kenyan Drake – SA
  6. Gus Edwards – SA
  7. JK Dobbins – Stash
  8. Alexander Mattison – CON
  9. Jerick McKinnon – SA
  10. Brian Robinson – SA
  11. Jaylen Warren – CON
  12. Tyler Allgeier – CON / Stash
  13. Darrell Henderson – SA
  14. Chuba Hubbard – CON / SA
  15. James Cook – CON
  16. Kyren Williams – STASH
  17. Isaiah Spiller – CON
  18. Deon Jackson – SA
  19. Samaje Perine – CON
  20. JaMycal Hasty- CON

Week 10 Transaction

We are dropping Deon Jackson for Jerick McKinnon.

Week 10 Picks

Preferred Play: Rhamondre Stevenson 

The King is back.

Rhamondre Stevenson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Premium Play: Kenyan Drake

Drake has excelled in Baltimore of late with three top-20 performances in his last three starts. Gus Edwards is set to return in Week 11, but the Ravens have gone to a run-first game plan as their passing game has suffered a run of injuries. Expect Drake and Edwards to rotate – a split we covered in depth post-Week 8 – but for each to have plenty of running opportunities against Carolina in projected positive script.

Deep Play: Isiah Pacheco 

Another hold-over from a previous week. Isiah Pacheco is the favourite for early down work, which should afford him no shortage of running room against a Chargers defense allowing the No. 2 most fantasy points at the position. Both Chiefs running backs are now on our roster and either makes for a fine start depending on your expected game script. Jerick McKinnon has the higher floor in a PPR league, but I prefer Pacheco’s chance to find the end zone or break off a big rush in a strong matchup.

Isiah Pacheco Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The Final Word

Thank you once again for reading this column, and I look forward to its continued development over the course of the season. Also, credit to Pro Football Focus for providing data I was able to use in this column in addition to the incredible wealth of information on PlayerProfiler.

Happy Hitchhiking!