NFL depth charts are always in a constant state of flux due to transactions, injuries, performance and at-times questionable coaching decisions. The RB position in particular can be tough to stay on top of, as an overwhelming majority of offenses have replaced a single three-down back with committees of various shapes and sizes.
What follows is a breakdown of each team's backfield ahead of Week 3 in order to better determine:
- Offenses that are featuring a single workhorse
- Fantasy-friendly committee backfields
- Situations that fantasy football owners should avoid
This isn't a full depth chart listing; I'm not concerned about special teams RBs or guys that will be lucky to play more than an offensive snap or two come game time. Rather, the goal here is to get an early idea of the league's various committee situations in an effort to see undervalued backfields. We’ll also take a quick look at Week 3 matchups with some DraftKings notes.
Each back’s Week 2 snap rate, carries and targets is listed next to his name in parenthesis. Note that the snap rates denote total snaps, so teams with a dual-threat RB/WR like Austin Ekeler or Tarik Cohen will have a total percentage higher than 100% since those backs typically spend a solid chunk of time lined up in the slot or out wide.
Notes: Drake continues to play the lion's share of the Cardinals’ backfield snaps despite Edmonds getting some run throughout the game. He’s been good not great through two weeks:
- Yards after contact per rush: 2.7 (tied for 23rd among 49 qualified players)
- Yards per rush: 4.1 (tied for 33rd)
- PFF Rushing Grade: 26th
Overall, Drake ranks 30th among 38 qualified backs in missed forced tackles per touch.
The good news is Drake remains the clear lead back, his explosiveness looks fine and easier matchups are on the horizon after back-to-back battles against the 49ers and Football Team’s respective beastly defensive lines. Continue to treat Drake as a RB1 ahead of upcoming matchups against the Lions, Panthers, Jets, Cowboys, Seahawks and Dolphins.
Edmonds doesn’t have any standalone value but remains one of the best backup RBs to have on your fantasy roster considering the likelihood that he’d inherit a true three-down role if Drake is forced to miss any time.
DFS notes: Drake ($6,000) sure isn’t priced like a featured back flirting with 20-plus touches every week. Did anybody else just see that helicopter fly by?
- RB1: Todd Gurley (64%, 21 carries, 0 targets)
- RB2: Brian Hill (19%, 3, 2)
- RB3: Ito Smith (15%, 5, 0)
Notes: Gurley has somehow not managed to break a single tackle on 37 touches this season. The ex-Rams RB hasn’t looked completely washed out there, but there has been a general lack of explosiveness, and the lack of pass-game usage leaves him with a troubling low floor.
Week 2 should’ve been a luxury for Gurley considering the Falcons built a 20-0 lead in a heartbeat, but they ultimately passed their way into the end zone. He’ll have more success finding the end zone in the future based on volume alone; just don’t expect a three-down role or consistent RB2 production anytime soon.
This backfield would likely morph into a two-back committee of sorts if Gurley is forced to miss any time.
DFS notes: Gurley ($5,800) seems a bit more likely to face positive game-script than his counterpart David Montgomery ($5,700). Still, it’s tough to go with either ahead of the likes of Kenyan Drake ($6,000), Joe Mixon ($5,900) or Melvin Gordon ($5,800) in the same price range.
- RB1: Mark Ingram (42% snaps, 9 carries, 3 targets)
- RB2: J.K. Dobbins (31%, 2, 1)
- RB3: Gus Edwards (31%, 10, 0)
Notes: Ingram took a wildcat snap up the gut for a dagger 30-yard score in Week 2. He finished the day with 77 total yards and appears locked in as the lead back more weeks than not.
The “problem” is that Edwards is not letting the team’s second-round rookie take his job without a battle. Only Kareem Hunt (5.1 YAC per attempt) has been more efficient than Edwards (4.9) at picking up yards after contact, and the Ravens’ third-year back is averaging an absurd 6.4 yards per carry through two weeks.
Dobbins (7.8) has actually been more efficient on a per-rush basis and has made the most out of his opportunities.
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 22, 2020
Still, don’t expect this backfield to stop utilizing three RBs anytime soon.
There are worse fantasy assets than a RB primed for eight to 12 touches inside one of the league’s reigning No. 1 scoring offense. Still, this three-back committee, combined with Lamar Jackson’s hefty personal rushing workload, makes both Ingram and Dobbins upside RB3s ahead of next week’s winnable Monday night matchup against the Chiefs.
DFS notes: It’s really anyone’s guess as to who will break out during any given week inside of this backfield; feel free to pepper showdown lineups with all three backs. I’d continue to lean toward Ingram as the highest-projected option.
Notes: The Bills were a top-five offense in Week 1 in terms of targets to running backs but slipped back to their familiar ways in Week 2. Josh Allen posted a league-low check-down rate of 1.6% last season and is tied with Nick Chubb for the eighth-most rushing scores since entering the league in 2018. This Bills offense might be humming at the moment; just realize 1) it’s come against the Jets and Dolphins, and 2) this remains a not-so fantasy-friendly situation for any RB to deal with.
Week 3’s matchup against the Rams isn’t something to overly fear, although it took both Ezekiel Elliott and Miles Sanders 20-plus touches to secure their respective high-end production. That sort of workload doesn’t seem to be in either back’s weekly range of possibilities as long as they’re both healthy. Even an injury to one of the RBs would result in T.J. Yeldon becoming active and stealing away some pass-down work.
These RBs remain capable of finding the end zone thanks to their part-time roles in the league’s current No. 6-ranked scoring offense. Regardless, it’s tough to rank them inside of fantasy’s top-24 options without a workload featuring 15-plus touches.
DFS notes: Both Singletary ($4,900) and Moss ($4,500) are in play as potential tournament pivots sprinkled throughout the slate’s more chalky cheap-priced options.
Notes: CMC is expected to miss four to six weeks with a high-ankle sprain. Pain.
David is my No. 1 waiver wire addition of the week. He demonstrated his potential three-down ability by catching all eight of his targets for 74 yards in Week 2. Coach Matt Rhule noted previously that Davis had one of the best training camps of anybody, and said more recently, “Mike is a good player and we know we can count on him.” Clearly they believe this to some extent considering Davis beat out incumbent backup RB Reggie Bonnafon during training camp.
This is far from a cut-and-dry situation. RBs like McCaffrey don’t exactly fall off a tree; we shouldn’t expect his backup to simply inherit the same role. In addition to Davis and Bonnfafon we should also expect Curtis Samuel to see some work out of the backfield.
We can’t confirm Davis will have a three-down role, but the floor is seemingly as the lead back with plenty of pass-down work in an average offense that figures to continue to improve as the season goes on. The ceiling is truly a workload consisting of 20-plus touches per game; Davis should immediately be treated as a top-20 fantasy back ahead of Week 3’s matchup against the Chargers.
DFS notes: Davis ($5,100) figures to be one of the slate’s chalkier backs. Matching up against a Chargers defense that neutered the Bengals and made life tough on the Chiefs, I’ll be passing on Davis’ likely sky-high ownership in tournaments in favor of primarily Antonio Gibson ($4,700).
- RB1: David Montgomery (53% snaps, 16 carries, 3 targets)
- RB2: Tarik Cohen (33%, 5, 1)
- RB3: Cordarrelle Patterson (22%, 7, 2)
Notes: Montgomery has truly looked great through two weeks of action:
- Yards after contact per rush: 3.5 (No. 11 among 53 qualified RBs)
- Yards per rush: 5.0 (tied for No. 15)
- Missed forced tackles per touch: 0.24 (No. 8)
- PFF rushing grade: 71.7 (No. 11)
The Bears’ second-year RB displayed some nifty open-field ability on his way to catching a 28-yard score in Week 2. Next week’s matchup against the Falcons presents a fantastic spot for more fantasy goodness, although he’s still at risk for fewer than 15 touches in games that the Bears face extreme negative game script. Treat Montgomery as an upside RB2 in this spot.
Cohen isn’t a recommended fantasy play at the moment considering he’s being out-touched by Patterson. This makes sense: Patterson is bigger and has been far more efficient as both a rusher and receiver throughout his career. Alas, the Bears just signed Cohen to a multi-year contract extension. Neither complementary RB is on the fantasy radar as long as they eat into the other’s already-limited workload.
DFS notes: Montgomery ($5,700) is certainly capable of balling out against a Falcons defense that didn’t really come close to slowing down Chris Carson or Ezekiel Elliott. Still, I’d limit expectations just a bit in a spot that could feature the Falcons leading more often than not.
Notes: Hopefully readers of this column weren’t shocked when Mixon lost plenty of pass-down work to Bernard during the Bengals’ Week 2 loss to the Browns. Yes, Mixon has the hands, agility and route-running ability to function as a high-level pass-down back. Also yes, the Bengals have consistently used Gio in a 30-40% role as a primary scat back for the better part of the last decade.
Mixon remains the lead back with a workload usually consisting of 20-plus on an improving offense. Back-to-back goose eggs in the scoring department haven’t been ideal, but the fourth-year back has still looked plenty elusive in the open field. Continue to treat Mixon as the borderline RB1 he’s been for the past two-plus seasons.
Bernard would likely see an uptick in touches if Mixon was forced to miss any time, but No. 3 RB Trayveon Williams would likely see a heavy dose of early-down work. Neither are worth a roster spot at the moment.
DFS notes: I love Mixon ($5,900) this week as a bounce-back candidate as long as his projected ownership isn’t too high. He’s a viable cash-game target projected for 20-plus touches against an Eagles defense that looked lost for stretches of their Week 2 loss to the Rams.
Notes: The Browns have an embarrassment of riches at the RB position.
- Hunt is the league-leader in yards after contact per rush through two weeks; Chubb ranks fourth.
- Hunt ranks second in missed forced tackles per touch; Chubb ranks 11th.
- Chubb ranks sixth in PFF offensive grade among RBs; Hunt ranks 13th.
The problem is that Hunt seemingly has only somewhat kept up in the touch count because Week 1 featured plenty of negative game-script, and Week 2 featured the Browns ahead by multiple scores. Chubb seems to be the clear-cut No. 1 RB in neutral situations, but this role is also a reduction compared to what we saw last season.
Hunt has played just four snaps in the slot or out wide through two weeks; he averaged 12.1-such snaps per game in 2019. The Browns are using their talented dual-threat backup RB as a true No. 2 option behind Chubb. Continue to treat Chubb as a borderline RB1, while Hunt is more of an upside RB3 than someone you should expect consistent results from.
DFS notes: Chubb ($6,900) is always capable of taking down a GPP, while Hunt ($6,100) is a bit too pricey for my liking.
Notes: Only Derrick Henry (59) and Josh Jacobs (59) have more touches than Zeke (53) through two weeks. His receiving role has predictably spiked with Jason Witten no longer in the fold, as the Cowboys’ workhorse RB has caught 9 of 11 targets this season.
This is still anyone’s idea of a bruiser between the tackles.
Andddddd he's deadpic.twitter.com/9BMrLrQKmv
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 20, 2020
But Zeke clearly put in the work during the offseason to make sure his agility and conditioning was in a good place. Dak Prescott vulturing three (!!!) rushing scores probably won’t happen again this season; Zeke should be considered fantasy’s undisputed RB1 ahead of Week 3.
Pollard continues to make the most out of his limited touches; he’d arguably be ranked as a top-five back if Elliott is forced to miss any time.
DFS notes: Zeke ($8,300) probably deserves to be even more expensive considering his newfound pass-game role. He’s the slate’s highest-projected overall back.
Notes: Phillip Lindsay’s (toe) return doesn’t seem to be imminent, meaning Gordon should have a featured role in an offense that figures to lean on the run as much as possible while Drew Lock (shoulder) remains sidelined.
The artist known as MGIII has played well this season, ranking 12th in missed forced tackles per touch among 38 qualified backs. His TD catch in Week 2 demonstrated the reality that there isn’t a better pass-down back on the Broncos. Projected game script isn’t exactly working in Gordon’s favor against the Buccaneers in Week 3, and Jeff Driskel’s tendency to 1) post a high average target depth, and 2) scramble, doesn’t seem too fantasy friendly for his primary RB.
Still, only David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, Dion Lewis (lol) and Dalvin Cook played a higher percentage of their team’s snaps than Gordon in Week 3. The Broncos were able to somewhat consistently move the ball against the Steelers’ elite defense despite Driskel being a mid-game entry. There’s a decent chance this Denver team remains competitive, and Gordon should be a big part of that effort. Treat him as a volume-based RB2 in this spot with the upside for much more down the road.
Freeman’s standalone value is zilch. Even an injury to Gordon would likely result in a roster addition and committee of sorts; he’s not on the fantasy football radar.
DFS notes: Gordon ($5,800) might go a bit under the radar with the newfound cheaper backup RBs potentially soaking up more ownership. I love each of Gordon, Kenyan Drake ($6,000) and Joe Mixon ($5,900) in this affordable range.
- RB1: D’Andre Swift (34% snaps, 5 carries, 5 targets)
- RB2: Kerryon Johnson (31%, 8, 1)
- RB3: Adrian Peterson (26%, 7, 0)
- RB4: Ty Johnson (9%, 0, 0)
Notes: The only fantasy appeal we were looking for in this backfield after Week 1 was the potential for Swift to eat as a receiver in negative game-script situations. Well, this didn’t happen in Week 2, and the imminent return of Kenny Golladay (hamstring) means even less pass-game work to go around in this backfield.
We can live with two-RB committees in fantasy land; four is ridiculous. Swift is still worthy of a bench spot in the hopes that his role grows as the season progresses, but otherwise stay far away from this group in fantasy leagues of all shapes and sizes.
DFS notes: I’m out.
- RB1: Aaron Jones (48% snaps, 18 carries, 8 targets)
- RB2: Jamaal Williams (41%, 8, 0)
- RB3: A.J. Dillon (11%, 5, 0)
Notes: Snaps in the Green Bay backfield are like points in “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” — they don’t matter.
While many of us in the fantasy football world consistently bark about Jones’ lack of snaps, coach Matt LaFleur and company have done a good job in 2020 making sure that he gets plenty of touches either way. This has included copious pass-game work to start the season; only Alvin Kamara (17) has more targets than Jones (14) through two weeks.
Week 3 marked just the second time since Week 1 of 2019 that the Packers utilized Jones in the slot or out wide for more than six snaps. He’s posted 7-159-2 and 4-68-1 receiving lines in those matchups. It sounds like Davante Adams (hamstring) will play in Week 3, but if he misses time the ceiling is truly the roof for Jones considering he’s averaged seven targets in six games with Adams sidelined or injured mid-game since the beginning of last season. Jones is anyone’s idea of a RB1 ahead of his Sunday night matchup against the Saints.
Williams and Dillon continue to see fewer than double-digit touches per game; they need an injury to Jones for any sort of fantasy relevance.
DFS notes: Jones should be an auto-start in showdown slates if Adams is out. If not, consider pivoting to Williams in tournaments and hoping that LaFleur and company do something stupid like not feed Jones.
Notes: This is David’s backfield for as long as Duke Johnson (knee) remains sidelined. Not that the return of Duke would lead to much of a reduction in David’s snaps, but for the time being we’re truly looking at the most-used back in the league on a per-snap basis.
Deshaun Watson missed David on a potential score off a wheel route. It’d be nice if Watson made more of a habit to look for his RB in the passing game, but either way the potential for 20-plus touches in any given week is going to provide larger positives once the Texans get out of their hellacious start to the season. Johnson remains a RB2 ahead of this week’s matchup against the Steelers, but he’ll be on the weekly RB1 borderline when they take on the Vikings, Jaguars, Titans, Packers, Jaguars and Browns afterwards.
It’s almost certain that the Texans would bring in an early-down complement to either Duke or Prosise if David is forced to miss any time.
DFS notes: Johnson ($5,400) doesn’t come off the field. He’s a viable candidate to be locked into cash and tournament lineups alike.
- RB1: Jonathan Taylor (66% snaps, 26 carries, 2 targets)
- RB2: Jordan Wilkins (25%, 9, 0)
- RB3: Nyheim Hines (12%, 0, 0)
Notes: This is Taylor’s backfield and he looked a lot like the engine of the Colts' offense in Week 2. No, the performance wasn’t some magnificent 60-minute display of beastliness, but Taylor did flash the sort of scary movement ability that made the 5-foot-10 and 226-pound back a terror at Wisconsin.
*Best Chris Berman impression*
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 21, 2020
The same level of targets weren’t there for this backfield in Week 2. This makes sense: Expect more games with Philip Rivers throwing 25 times (Week 2) than 46 times (Week 1). Still, Taylor was the undisputed lead back; Wilkins racked up eight of nine carries in the late third quarter and beyond after the Colts had already built a multi-score lead. Taylor is locked in as a near-matchup-proof RB1 as the bell-cow back behind arguably the league’s best offensive line.
Hines is certainly a bit of a game-script dependent back than we thought. This makes sense based on last year’s usage. There’s enough of a ceiling here to still concern ourselves with Hines on a weekly basis, but the Colts’ status as 10.5-point favorites over the Jets doesn’t seem like the spot to expect much pass-down work for their scat back. Treat Hines as more of a matchup-dependent RB3 moving forward as opposed to someone who should be in the starting lineup more weeks than not.
DFS notes: Taylor ($7,000) is the RB6 and deservingly so in a spot that should feature another 20-plus carries without a problem. Only Ezekiel Elliott ($8,300) and Derrick Henry ($7,800) are probable to have more guaranteed touches ahead of Week 3.
Notes: Robinson seems poised to command 15-plus carries and a few targets per week as the lead back of an underrated Jaguars offense. He’s been one of the league’s top backs in yards after contact per attempt through two weeks:
- Kareem Hunt (5.1 YAC per attempt)
- Gus Edwards (4.9)
- James Conner (4.6)
- Aaron Jones (4.5)
- Nick Chubb (4.5)
- Leonard Fournette (4.4)
- Robinson (3.9)
Like Fournette, there’s a pass-down ceiling for Robinson as long as Thompson continues to see plenty of work, but there’s no reason to treat the rookie as anything other than a weekly RB2 ahead of a winnable Thursday night matchup against the Dolphins.
DFS notes: Thompson could always catch another score, but his minuscule role means extreme showdown ownership might be dicey. Robinson is the preferred volume-hog play here.
- RB1: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (63% snaps, 10 carries, 7 targets)
- RB2: Darwin Thompson (21%, 4, 1)
- RB3: Darrel Williams (11%, 0, 0)
Notes: CEH’s targets got going in a big way in Week 2 with the Chiefs surprisingly forced into comeback mode against the Chargers. The rookie caught six of seven targets for 32 yards, displaying some of the route-running ability that led to the Chiefs selecting him in the first round.
Week 1 presented an absolutely ideal game script for the Chiefs’ starting RB. His RB27 finish in Week 2 wasn’t what fantasy managers were hoping for, but this isn’t all that bad of a floor when you consider he failed to find the end zone even once. The lead back of any Patrick Mahomes or Andy Reid offense deserves to be treated as a high-end RB1 almost regardless of the matchup; do so with CEH this week against the Ravens’ ever-great defense.
Thompson was surprisingly trusted to pick up a fourth-and-short in overtime. He worked ahead of Williams, but isn’t any sort of real threat to Edwards-Helaire. Either way, Thompson’s emergence certainly warrants dropping Williams in fantasy leagues of all shapes and sizes. This would likely be a two-RB committee with a third member potentially thrown into the mix if CEH is forced to miss any time.
DFS notes: CEH is the team’s lead back, regardless of game-script. Lock him into showdown lineups in formats of all shapes and sizes.
- RB1: Josh Jacobs (67% snaps, 27 carries, 3 targets)
- RB2: Jalen Richard (20%, 2, 0)
- RB3: Devontae Booker (14%, 3, 1)
Notes: Week 2 didn’t teach us anything new about the 2020 version of Jacobs. Yes, he continues to be an absolute monster with the ball in his hands; he joins Antonio Gibson and Kareem Hunt as the league’s only backs to average at least 0.3 missed forced tackles per touch. Also yes, the Raiders haven’t faced truly negative game script this season.
Jacobs had a fast start in 2019 as well, but was immediately delegated to a part-time role in games that featured the Raiders trailing early and often.
- 2019 Week 1 vs. Broncos (W 24-16): Jacobs (73% snaps), Richard (16%), DeAndre Washington (9%)
- 2019 Week 2 vs. Chiefs (L 10-28): Jacobs (48%), Richard (27%), Washington (24%)
- 2019 Week 3 at Vikings (L 14-34): Jacobs (42%), Richard (49%), Washington (15%)
Ever impressive when given a chance in the passing game, Jacobs certainly seems capable of handling himself in pass protection and as a receiver if the Raiders fall behind; it just remains to be seen if he’ll be given the opportunity. Either way, he’s locked in as a RB1 with a potential touch count between 15 and 30 during any given week. Keep an eye on the Raiders’ injury report this week to make sure Jacobs’ second-half issue was nothing (he returned afterwards and looked no worse for the wear).
Credit to Richard for slipping into the end zone on a sweep from 20 yards out, but Booker is the more likely lead back if Jacobs is forced to miss time considering the former back lost out to DeAndre Washington in this competition last season.
DFS notes: I’ll largely be fading Jacobs ($7,300) as the RB5 in a spot that could feature the Raiders trailing. Fingers crossed for an enhanced pass-game role if this happens, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Notes: Ekeler was brilliant in Week 2, converting his 20 touches into 148 scoreless yards. He led the league with 11 broken tackles on the week and earned PFF’s No. 1 grade among all RBs.
And yet, things aren’t all that great still for Ekeler faithful. We know he is one of the game’s more-efficient backs, but his usage is trending downward. Not helping matters is the reality that his usage in the slot and out wide has been cut in half compared to 2019 for whatever reason. Don’t count on Kelley relegating Ekeler to a backup role or anything crazy like that; just curb weekly RB1 expectations for Ekeler in an offense that doesn’t carry an especially good scoring ceiling as long as coach Anthony Lynn continues to call Tyrod Taylor his starting QB.
Kelley converted his 23 carries into just 64 yards, but he did show some explosiveness in the passing game with 49 receiving yards. The rookie continues to be locked in for a ton of early-down work with Justin Jackson (quad) sidelined, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see less volume if the Chargers’ incumbent backup manages to get healthy before Week 3. With Jackson out, Kelley is worthy of legit RB2 treatment ahead of this week’s potential smash spot against the Panthers’ porous rush defense.
DFS notes: I absolutely love pivoting off Mike Davis ($5,100) in tournaments in favor of Kelley ($5,000). Like, I want to scream it from the top of a mountain kind of love. Ekeler ($6,800) is also plenty worthy of exposure against the league’s reigning, defending, undisputed worst defense in the league against the RB position.
- RB1: Malcolm Brown (54% snaps, 11 carries, 0 targets)
- RB2: Darrell Henderson (42%, 12, 3)
- RB3: Cam Akers (4%, 3, 0)
Notes: Akers (ribs) played just three snaps before leaving for the remainder of the game.
His status is crucial to projecting this backfield. Week 1 featured a banged-up version of Henderson, so we’ve really not had a game yet with all three backs active and ready to go. Both Brown and Henderson are viable FLEX plays with Akers sidelined thanks to the potential for 12-15 touches each inside of coach Sean McVay’s ever RB-friendly offense, but adding Akers into the mix makes this situation far more volatile for everyone involved.
However, Week 3 might just be Henderson’s chance to take over. Brown (fractured left pinky) is expected to play through the pain come Sunday, but a limited role (particularly in the passing game) wouldn’t be surprising. This backfield can seemingly swing one of three ways during any given week, but I’ll put my money behind Henderson as the leader in Week 3.
DFS notes: Arguably the toughest situation to gauge early in the week, for now I prefer Joshua Kelley’s ($5,000) projected workload and matchup over either Brown ($5,200) or Henderson ($5,400).
- RB1: Myles Gaskin (64% snaps, 7 carries, 7 targets)
- RB2: Matt Breida (22%, 7, 1)
- RB2: Jordan Howard (11%, 5, 0)
- RB4: Patrick Laird (4%, 0, 0)
Notes: The Dolphins continue to feature Gaskin ahead of everybody else in terms of snaps, although his overall touch counts have been disappointing. Regardless, they truly do seem to believe in the 2019 seventh-round pick, and there aren’t many backs that have had more pass-game opportunities through two weeks:
Gaskin being a borderline RB2 might not be the wildest thing about 2020, but it’s up there.
Each of these other three backs are off the fantasy radar. The only fun storyline to follow is whether or not dark-visor Jordan Howard (13-11-2 rushing) will continue to post this comical stat line.
DFS notes: I’m not lying when I say I’m pumped for Jaguars-Dolphins Thursday night football, but my showdown ownership will likely lean more heavily on the Dolphins’ passing game than this still not 100-percent clear backfield.
Notes: Cook got back to being the Vikings’ undisputed feature back after some slightly confusing usage in Week 1. Mattison would be a top-10 option at the position if Cook misses time, but for now he doesn’t possess any standalone value. The lack of pass-game work for Cook (four targets) is concerning, and Week 3’s spot against the Titans’ underrated front-seven isn’t ideal. Still, he remains one of the position’s better talents with the ball in his hands, and the Vikings will eventually face better game scripts. Continue to fire up Cook as a weekly RB1.
DFS notes: Cook ($7,600) figures to boast the lowest ownership of the main slate’s six backs priced above $7,000. His multi-touchdown upside makes him a solid weekly tournament option, particularly in this home spot with most of the public seemingly #done with the Vikings.
- RB1: Rex Burkhead (71% snaps, 6 carries, 6 targets)
- RB2: Sony Michel (20%, 7, 0)
- RB3: J.J. Taylor (1%, 1, 0)
Notes: James White (personal) was inactive in Week 2, leading to Burkhead dominating snaps. We could treat Rex as an upside RB3 if White is again out next week, but otherwise this backfield is a complete stay-away at the moment with Cam Newton siphoning away nearly every goal-line opportunity. Overall, Newton has commanded five of the team’s six rush attempts inside the 10-yard line, scoring three times. Only Clyde Edwards-Helaire (six) has more carries in that range.
And why shouldn’t the Patriots feature Cam near the goal line? His 69% TD rate on carries inside the 5-yard line is the highest mark among 83 players with more than 20-such rush attempts since 2010.
DFS notes: Burkhead ($4,000) is in play as a salary-saving option in cash and tournament games alike if White is again sidelined. Otherwise, this situation is probably better off avoided.
- RB1: Alvin Kamara (67% snaps, 13 carries, 9 targets)
- RB2: Latavius Murray (26%, 3, 2)
- RB3: Ty Montgomery (11%, 0, 3)
Notes: Kamara remains a weekly high-end RB1 that should see more targets than usual with Michael Thomas (ankle) sidelined. Ezekiel Elliott is probably the only RB that should be projected for more PPR points than Kamara ahead of his Sunday night matchup against the Packers’ middling run defense.
Week 2 presented a surprisingly poor game script for the Saints, demonstrating the risk with expecting any sort of standalone value from Murray. This is particularly true as long as Montgomery siphons away pass-down work. Normally the only reason to keep tabs on Ty Mont is to see if he’ll ever change his incredibly annoying number, but now his presence could feasibly limit Murray’s pass-down work moving forward.
DFS notes: Kamara is pretty much impossible to fade as long as Thomas remains sidelined thanks to a fantasy-friendly role consisting of essentially eight-plus high-percentage targets per week. Consider that Kamara is tied for 11th among all players in receptions through two weeks. Madness.
Notes: Barkley (torn ACL) is done for the season. Pain.
I’m inclined to fade both Lewis and Freeman in this week’s waiver wire battle in favor of Gallman, who posted 18-63-1 rushing and 6-55-1 receiving lines in his only full start last season. Yes, the presence of Lewis will inevitably eat into that pass-down work. Also yes, Giants beat reporters were under the impression in early September that Gallman “can carry the load” and Lewis is strictly a pass-down back. Gallman hasn’t played on special teams since the first three weeks of the 2019 season, so there was no need to have him active in a game in which Barkley was expected to have his usual every-down role.
The same porous offensive line that failed to give Barkley any sort of room for five quarters remains an issue facing both Lewis, Gallman and Freeman. It’d hardly be surprising to see them embrace more of a pass-first offense in Barkley’s absence. Still, Gallman is worthy of strong waiver consideration thanks to his potential to take on a poor man’s version of Barkley’s monstrous role. That could also be Freeman, although the 28-year-old back looked more washed in 2019 than just about any of his veteran counterparts. It’s scary to think of the floor here considering Freeman couldn’t average more than 4.4 yards per touch in the 2019 Falcons’ 13th-ranked scoring offense.
DFS notes: Both Lewis ($5,300) and Gallman ($4,900) received price hikes due to Barkley’s injury, making neither particularly appealing ahead of this week’s matchup against the 49ers’ banged-up defense. I favor Gallman to see the most touches here, but let’s see what The Clapper has in mind before going too wild on exposure.
- RB1: Frank Gore (58% snaps, 21, carries, 1 target)
- RB2: La’Mical Perine (13%, 3, 0)
- RB3: Kalen Ballage (11%, 1, 2)
- RB4: Josh Adams (8%, 1, 0)
Notes: Twenty-one carries for Gore in a game that the Jets lost by 18 (and it wasn’t that close) is simply absurd. Working as the lead back inside of the NFL’s worst offense, Gore isn’t anything more than a low-ceiling volume-induced RB3 reserved for fantasy managers who truly hate themselves. Coach Adam Gase is seemingly only capable of enabling fantasy-friendly slot receivers if his quarterback is anybody other than Peyton Manning; don’t go out of your way to play anybody on this offense.
DFS notes: Move along meow.
- RB1: Miles Sanders (77% snaps, 20 carries, 7 targets)
- RB2: Boston Scott (19%, 4, 3)
- RB3: Corey Clement (4%, 0, 0)
Notes: Sanders owns the four highest single-game RB snap rates with the Eagles during the Doug Pederson era. Sunday’s performance didn’t quite crack the leaderboard, but it was another example of him bucking the idea that this is a committee backfield.
When healthy, this is the Sanders show. The Eagles’ talented second-year back looked a lot like the engine of the offense in Week 2, as even a lost fumble didn’t cause the coaching staff to think twice about continuing to feed him the rock. Further helping matters is the reality that Sanders looked quite healthy and converted his 23 touches into 131 yards. The Eagles offense *should* get on track sooner rather than later, and we can lock Sanders in as a top-eight option at the position ahead of Week 3.
Neither Scott nor Clement are worthy of bench stashes due to their lack of standalone value and low-ceiling committee situation if Sanders is sidelined again.
DFS notes: Sanders ($6,400) is far too cheap as a three-down back facing what looked like one of the league’s worst defenses in Week 2. He might very well be my highest-owned back of Week 3.
- RB1: James Conner (77% snaps, 16 carries, 2 targets)
- RB2: Benny Snell (16%, 3, 1)
- RB3: Jaylen Samuels (8%, 0, 0)
Notes: Conner racked up 106 yards and a short goal-line score during his bounce-back Week 2, looking more healthy than he did in the Steelers’ season-opening win over the Giants. Conner ripped off a 59-yard run to help ice the game and is averaging a fresh 4.6 yards after contact per attempt on the season — the third-highest mark in the league.
When healthy, the Steelers’ starting RB1 has been a fantasy football cheat code for the better part of the last half decade. Treat Conner as a top-12 option at the position ahead of this week’s potential smash spot against the Texans.
Snell converted his four touches into one yard and lost a fumble. Sheesh. He’d be in the RB2 conversation if Conner misses time, but Samuels and rookie Anthony McFarland would also be involved. With so many injuries around the league, cutting Snell from the fantasy squad shouldn’t be too tough of a decision. This remains a one-back backfield, and Conner is the heavy favorite to continue to function as that single RB.
DFS notes: There are sexier options than Conner ($6,700) for cheaper this week, meaning he’s a solid tournament pivot poised for 20-plus touches if the game-script goes the way Vegas thinks.
- RB1: Tevin Coleman (49% snaps, 14 carries, 2 targets)
- RB2: Raheem Mostert (22%, 8, 2)
- RB3: Jerick McKinnon (20%, 3, 1)
Notes: Both Coleman (knee) and Mostert (knee) are expected to miss the 49ers’ Week 3 matchup against the Giants. Expect JaMycal Hasty to be active come Sunday and play some role in a likely three-back committee.
McKinnon is the guy to target here and my second-favorite waiver wire addition of the week behind only Mike Davis. The 49ers have been using McKinnon as a kick returner this season, meaning they seemingly aren’t looking to actively limit his high-risk touches to ensure health. The 28-year-old RB has looked fantastic on his limited touches this season, posting 6-101-1 rushing and 3-20-1 receiving lines.
The 49ers’ plethora of injuries at receiver means that McKinnon could feasibly see an enhanced pass-game role regardless of the additional carries that should be coming his way. He’s worthy of borderline RB2 treatment ahead of this week’s cross-country matchup against the Giants.
Perhaps Jeff Wilson assumes the role of the early-down grinder, but the reality that the 49ers once upon a time gave McKinnon a $30 million deal reflects the likelihood that they view him as more than just a scat back. Look for Wilson and Hasty to take a small portion of the early-down work, while McKinnon commands somewhere between 40-60% of the position’s snaps.
DFS notes: McKinnon ($4,900) might be worth fading in tournaments due to projected high ownership in this murky situation. Still, Kyle Shanahan routinely puts his playmakers in positions to succeed, and McKinnon looks a lot like the best playmaker the 49ers have left at the moment.
- RB1: Chris Carson (63% snaps, 17 carries, 3 targets)
- RB2: Carlos Hyde (25%, 5, 2)
- RB3: Travis Homer (12%, 3, 0)
Notes: My concerns over Carson’s stranglehold on this backfield appear to be unfounded; Hyde took a clear backseat in Week 2 and is splitting the backup snaps with Homer. Carson is the lead back in the NFL’s second-highest scoring offense. The lack of DeeJay Dallas has enabled Carson to continue to thrive as the team’s pass-down back, making him anyone’s idea of a fantasy RB1 ahead of Week 3’s potential shootout with the Cowboys.
DFS notes: Carson ($6,600) might not be under the $7,000 mark much longer if the Seahawks keep cooking. He’s plenty viable in cash and tournament games alike against the Cowboys’ banged-up front-seven.
- RB1: Leonard Fournette (44% snaps, 12 carries, 5 targets)
- RB2: Ronald Jones (35%, 7, 2)
- RB3: LeSean McCoy (18%, 1, 7)
Notes: RoJo had trouble on a draw exchange with TB12; Fournette posted a 12-103-2 rushing line and was leaned on late against the Panthers’ league-worst run defense.
Afterwards coach Bruce Arians said he doesn’t plan on shuffling up his RB rotation, meaning we should again expect Fournette and RoJo to split early-down work while Shady gets plenty of pass-down snaps.
Fournette would be an upside RB2 with this sort of weekly workload; it just remains to be seen if Arians will commit to him. After all, the usage between Jones and Peyton Barber was plenty volatile on a week-to-week basis in 2019, and McCoy’s presence as the pass-down back lowers the ceiling and floor alike for both early-down grinders.
RoJo looked like the better back in Week 1, and Fournette in Week 2. I do lean towards the latter back eventually winning out, but it’s still a murky situation with the potential to flip flop on a weekly basis. They’re both better off treated as upside RB3s than locked-in RB2s ahead of Week 3’s road trip to Denver.
DFS notes: The pricing disparity between Fournette ($6,200) and Jones ($5,000) doesn’t line up with their projected touch totals, but there are higher-upside backs in both price ranges that fantasy investors are likely better off concerning themselves with.
- RB1: Derrick Henry (73% snaps, 25 carries, 1 targets)
- RB2: Jeremy McNichols (15%, 2, 0)
- RB3: Senorise Perry (3%, 2, 0)
Notes: This is the Henry show. Don’t expect much to change once Darrynton Evans (hamstring) returns. The Titans will look to get Henry between one and three screens per game, but otherwise his weekly workload will pretty much solely consist of 20-plus carries.
Traveling on the road to face the Vikings usually isn’t a recipe for success, although the 2020 version of the Minnesota defense didn’t exactly manage to slow down either Aaron Jones or Jonathan Taylor. Henry is locked in as a top-five fantasy back after the various injuries at the position.
DFS notes: Henry ($7,800) boasts every-week RB1 potential; just try to spend an extra $500 to get up to Ezekiel Elliott ($8,300) and reap the rewards of his pass-game floor.
- RB1: Antonio Gibson (67% snaps, 13 carries, 2 targets)
- RB2: J.D. McKissic (42%, 8, 0)
- RB3: Peyton Barber (2%, 1, 0)
Notes: Gibson is the NFL’s leader in forced missed tackles per touch after two weeks of action. The Football Team’s second-round pick has been as advertised for the most part, routinely shedding defenders as both a rusher and receiver. Big plays haven’t quite been there in this offense for anybody not named Terry McLaurin, but it’s clear Washington recognizes Gibson as their No. 1 RB and plans on feeding him appropriately.
There’s potential for Bryce Love to get involved now that the coaching staff is seemingly over Barber, but it’d be surprising to see Gibson dip back below the 50% mark as long as he continues to look a lot like the second-best player on this offense. Even McKissic’s role is hardly guaranteed moving forward.
Washington doesn’t figure to boast anyone’s idea of an above-average offense anytime soon, but at least their volume is more or less condensed around two players. Get used to treating Gibson as a weekly upside RB2.
DFS notes: Hopefully the week’s various values stemming from injuries eat up the ownership so that Gibson ($4,700) flies under the radar. He’s a game-script proof talent with the potential for double-digit carries and a handful of targets any given week.