Fantasy football: Five running backs to avoid in Week 16

Veteran running back James Conner (C) and the Arizona Cardinals will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
Veteran running back James Conner (C) and the Arizona Cardinals will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

MIAMI, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- James Conner and Rhamondre Stevenson are among my five running backs to avoid for Week 16 of the fantasy football season. Austin Ekeler leads my Top 30 weekly rankings for the position.

Travis Etienne, Brian Robinson Jr., and Cordarrelle Patterson are among the other players for whom I would lower my expectations or try to keep out of my lineup.


Week 15 performance, opportunity, strength of Week 16 opponents and expected game script are among the factors I considered when determining the players to avoid.

My full Top 30 rankings are below.

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner is my No. 17 fantasy football play for Week 16. File Photo by Mark Black/UPI

James Conner

Conner provided great value over the last few weeks, with an average of 97 yards from scrimmage over his last five appearances. He also scored in each of those games, but could find it more difficult to find the end zone in Week 16, when the Arizona Cardinals host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


The Buccaneers allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs through 15 weeks. Conner can still be used as a low-end RB2 or flex play, but I wouldn't expect high-level production.

He is my No. 17 play for Week 16.

New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (C) can be used as a low-end RB2 in Week 16. File Photo by Amanda Sabga/UPI

Rhamondre Stevenson

Stevenson is the No. 22 player in my Week 16 running back rankings. The New England Patriots playmaker erupted for 172 yards and a score on 19 carries in Week 15 against a generous Las Vegas Raiders defense, but will likely find it tougher to produce this week against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points and eighth-fewest rushing yards per game to running backs so far this season.

Look for the Bengals to get ahead early in this one, leading to less volume for Stevenson and the Patriots' running backs. Stevenson likely needs to find the end zone to provide starter-worthy production.

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne will face a tough New York Jets defense in Week 16. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI

Travis Etienne

Etienne is my No. 23 play and can be used as a low-end RB2/flex play. Like Stevenson, the Jacksonville Jaguars speedster also is coming off a big game, after a 127 yards from scrimmage outing against the Dallas Cowboys.

This week, Etienne and the Jaguars will battle the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets allowed the 10th-fewest rushing yards and ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs through 15 weeks.

I expect the Jaguars and Jets to have a low-scoring defensive battle in this matchup. Etienne likely won't eclipse 80 yards from scrimmage and could find it tough to reach the end zone against this respectable defense.

Rookie Brian Robinson (L) and the Washington Commanders will battle the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16. File Photo by Mark Black/UPI

Brian Robinson Jr.

Robinson is another low-end RB2 due to the Washington Commanders' Week 16 road matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.

The Commanders rookie scored just once over his last four games. He also had just one rushing score over his last eight appearances. Robinson eclipsed 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his last three outings, but likely will be held well below that benchmark Saturday in Santa Clara, Calif.


The 49ers allowed the fewest fantasy points and rushing yards per game to running backs through 15 weeks. Robinson is my No. 27 option.

Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (R) tries to fake San Francisco 49ers cornerback Josh Norman on Sunday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

Cordarrelle Patterson

Patterson hasn't totaled more than 60 rushing yards since Week 3. He also scored in just one of his last five appearances.

Atlanta Falcons rookie Tyler Allgeier out-carried Patterson in Week 15 and totaled a career-high 139 rushing yards and a score in that loss to the New Orleans Saints. I expect the Falcons to keep feeding the rookie this week when they meet the Baltimore Ravens.

Patterson is not inside my Top 30 rankings due to what I expect to be a limited workload and a tough matchup. The Ravens allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards and fantasy points per game to running backs through 15 weeks. Star Allgeier if you are desperate for RB2 help, but avoid Patterson.

Week 16 fantasy football running back rankings

1. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers at IND

2. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans vs. HOU


3. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns vs. NO

4. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys vs. PHI

5. Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers vs. WAS

6. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles at DAL

7. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. NYG

8. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders at PIT

9. Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks at KC

10. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants at MIN

11. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens vs. ATL

12. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers at MIA.

13. Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs vs. SEA

14. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears vs. BUF

15. D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions at CAR

16. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys vs. PHI

17. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals vs. TB

18. Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins vs. GB

19. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints at CLE

20. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals at NE

21. Zonovan Knight, New York Jets vs. JAX

22. Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots vs. CIN

23. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars at NYJ

24. Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at ARI

25. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. LV

26. Deon Jackson, Indianapolis Colts vs. LAC


27. Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders at SF

28. Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons at BAL

29. D'Onta Foreman, Carolina Panthers vs. DET

30. Latavius Murray, Denver Broncos at LAR

This week in the National Football League

Jacksonville Jaguars running back JaMycal Hasty (22) is tackled after running in the fourth quarter as the Jaguars take on the Cowboys at the TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on December 18, 2022. The Jaguars defeated the Cowboys 40-34 in overtime. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

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