We went back to true volume chasing in Week 4, seeking out generously priced bellcow backs who had favorable matchups based on the advanced stats and metrics used to find them. The end result? Two of our three running backs finished within the top-12. This included Leonard Fournette, who reeled off 245 total yards on 31 touches, including 225 rush yards on 29 carries. This week we’re going after another criminally underrated running back, while also throwing in our chips on one player set to return and another who is ready to make the most of his significant Opportunity Share.
David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Averaging 18.6 (No. 6 among qualified running backs) fantasy points per game, David Johnson is among fantasy’s top running backs entering Week 5. He has finished as RB10 or better in three of the season’s first four weeks. Now he’s the next back to benefit from facing an underwhelming Bengals defense. One that has given up +12.78 (No. 2) fantasy points above the mean to opposing running backs. Johnson has done everything in Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense. He has seen 28 (No. 2) targets and recorded 21 (No. 3) receptions, while posting 182 (No. 5) receiving yards, seeing an 82.4-percent (No. 4) Opportunity Share along the way.
Johnson currently averages 88.7 total yards per game. Playing for the 0-3-1 Cardinals, he has had several chances to display his receiving abilities out of the backfield. The Bengals have not fared well against opposing running backs all season. A point that can only be further amplified when considering that they allowed James Conner and Jaylen Samuels to combine for 50.0 fantasy points and finish as last week’s RB6 and RB9, respectively. Chasing Johnson is an easy call here this week. He’s more affordable on FanDuel, where he is the 14th most expensive running back on this weekend’s slate.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon should finally be back this week. Fantasy gamers who decided to start him in Week 4 after hearing that he would be on a limited snap count against the Dolphins likely walked away disappointed when they learned that his limited snaps resulted in him not seeing the field or recording a touch. This week, he’s expected to officially be back in the lineup. He starts his season against an 0-4 Broncos team that has allowed +6.68 (No. 5) fantasy points above the mean to opposing running backs
Check out Melvin Gordon on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:
Last season, Gordon put out two strong showings against the Broncos, totaling 37 touches for 222 yards while hauling in nine receptions on nine targets. While he may be in a bit more of a time share with Austin Ekeler once he returns, we can’t overlook Gordon’s ability to command a significant Opportunity Share. When it comes to having a knack for big plays, Gordon is near the top of the list. He finished last season with a 7.4-percent (No. 9) Breakaway Run Rate thanks to his ability to extend plays, evidenced by his 79 (No. 9) evaded tackles and 35.1-percent (No. 5) Juke Rate. With a favorable matchup against the Broncos heading into Sunday, look for Gordon to knock off the rust from his 64-day hold out and return to top-10 running back status.
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
Heading into this season, David Montgomery was among the most hyped up rookies set to make his NFL debut. Montgomery has been viewed as an all-purpose back who can get you three yards and a cloud of dust, while also drawing backfield targets on later downs, evidenced by his 9.6-percent (71st-percentile) College Target Share. The Bears aren’t shy about putting Montgomery on the field. He owns a 56.9-percent (No. 23) Opportunity Share and a 55.7-percent (No. 22) Snap Share. Not bad given that he’s playing on a team that averages 25.2 (No. 13) run plays per game.
Over his last three games, Montgomery has averaged 19.7 touches and 72.0 yards per game. What he’s lacking is touchdown upside, which he has a chance to reach this week against the Oakland Raiders Last week against the Vikings, Mitchell Trubisky went down early with an injury, forcing the Bears to roll out career backup Chase Daniel. The end results was a 16-6 Bears victory, and Montgomery setting a new career high with 24 touches. Chicago will be forced to go with Daniel in Week 5 when they head overseas to London for a 10 a.m. tilt with the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have done a reasonable job holding opposing running backs at bay, allowing -1.82 (No. 19) fantasy points below the mean. They still allow 104.5 rushing yards per game, and have given up three rushing touchdowns in four games this season. This is the week Montgomery starts to look like the RB1 many fantasy gamers expected him to be.