Ahead of the second week of the fantasy playoffs, there are a lot of questions and injury concerns impacting the running back position. Raheem Mostert (ankle), Ronald Jones (finger), and James Conner (quad) are all dealing with new injuries, while Antonio Gibson (toe), Christian McCaffrey (thigh), and Dolphins RBs Myles Gaskin (COVID) and Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) have missed action in recent weeks. These injury concerns could create some tough start ’em, sit ’em decisions and will impact some potential sleeper and streamer options that could rise in our Week 15 RB rankings.
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Is Raheem Mostert playing this week?
Mostert (ankle) had an MRI on Monday, and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said that the team would know more about his status on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner . On Wednesday, Mostert was a non-participant in 49ers practice, so that isn’t a good sign for his availability in Week 15.
With Mostert looking iffy, it seems likely that Jeff Wilson Jr. will have a bigger role in the 49ers’ backfield. Wilson has been averaging 11 touches per game since returning from an ankle sprain in Week 12, but if Mostert is out, Wilson could be in line for a lead-back-type workload against a Cowboys defense that has struggled immensely against RBs this year. He was already looking like a high-end flex before Mostert’s injury, but Wilson could jump into the high-end RB2 range if he’s leading San Francisco’s backfield.
Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon would also be in line for increased workloads if Mostert has to miss time. Coleman would have some flex appeal as a TD-dependent option, and McKinnon could have PPR upside but is hard to trust since he hasn’t logged an offensive touch since Week 12.
Is Antonio Gibson playing this week?
Gibson (toe) was listed as a non-participant in Washington’s Wednesday practice report. That report was just an estimation, but it’s still not a great sign. Washington also signed Lamar Miller off the Bears practice squad to provide extra depth at the running back spot, so that could be an indication that Gibson is further off from returning than many hoped.
Either way, it’s looking like Gibson will be a longshot to play in Week 15 and if he doesn’t get on the field Thursday, fantasy owners can probably expect another week of J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber carrying the load. Both would be potential flex plays, with McKissic having more upside giving his dual-threat rushing and receiving ability. Barber would likely need a TD to pay off given his 2.7 yards per carry average.
And for those wondering, Miller wouldn’t be eligible to play in Week 15 because of the NFL’s COVID protocols. He could factor into the RB rotation in Week 16 if Gibson remains out.
Is Ronald Jones playing this week?
Jones had surgery to fix a broken pinky finger on Tuesday, and the following day was placed on the COVID list. He was already “questionable” to play because of the finger injury, so his addition to the COVID list makes it all but certain that he will be unable to play on Sunday for the Bucs against the Falcons.
With Jones expected to be out, Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy will likely split work for the Buccaneers. Fournette was a healthy scratch in Week 14, but he figures to be treated as the lead back with McCoy operating more as a receiving option against Atlanta. Both can be trusted as flex plays against the Falcons since Atlanta’s weakness is against pass-catching RBs.
Is Christian McCaffrey playing this week?
McCaffrey (thigh) has played just once since Week 2 while battling ankle, shoulder, and thigh injuries, and it appears that he is en route toward missing another game.
According to ESPN’s David Newton, Panthers coach Matt Rhule confirmed that McCaffrey is expected to miss Saturday’s game against the Packers as a result of his injuries. With McCaffrey out again, Mike Davis will once again get the start for the Panthers and should have a chance to be a rock-solid RB2 against a suspect run defense.
At this point, it’s also fair to wonder if McCaffrey will play again this season. It’s not like you can drop him in any fantasy format just in case he does play, but make sure you have contingency options in place for the final two weeks of the fantasy season.
Is James Conner playing this week?
Conner is dealing with a quad injury, and it’s unclear whether it’s serious enough to keep him out in a favorable Week 15 matchup against the Bengals. Conner hasn’t been very productive in recent weeks when on the field, and he is coming off a 10-carry, 18-yard day against the Bills.
The Steelers are playing a Monday Night Football game, so Conner’s first chance to practice this week will come on Thursday. If he can’t get on the field for that session, he will become a real question mark for fantasy owners. Conversely, if he’s a limited or full participant, that should indicate that he will have a chance to play barring any setback.
If Conner can’t play, Benny Snell would be next in line for a lead-back role and should be a true RB2 against a weak Bengals run defense. Make sure to grab him on the waiver wire if you need RB depth or if you need a handcuff to Conner.
Are Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed playing this week?
The Dolphins RB room has endured countless injuries and illnesses this year. Ahead of Week 15, Myles Gaskin (COVID) isn’t expected to play after testing positive for the illness late last week. Meanwhile, Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) was spotted at practice in a red, non-contact jersey and was listed as limited at Wednesday’s practice. That could give him a chance to suit up in Week 15.
If Ahmed can go, he and DeAndre Washington would form a committee at the RB position with Matt Breida, who has returned from the COVID list, mixing in. If Ahmed can’t play, Washington would serve more as a lead back and would draw some RB2 consideration based on his volume. Ahmed will certainly need to be monitored, but if he’s on the field against Thursday, that could indicate that he is ready to return to action.