by Ray Kuhn
While there weren’t any major injures this week, it doesn’t mean we were without drama and disappointment. For that we are squarely looking at Ezekial Elliot and Le’Veon Bell, but they aren’t the only culprits. Let’s take a look at how your options rank for this week:
- Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Chicago
- Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – at Detroit
- Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins – at New York Jets
- Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – at LA Chargers
- Ty Montgomery – Green Bay Packers – vs. Cincinnati
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at Arizona
- Todd Gurley – LA Rams – at San Francisco
- Melvin Gordon – LA Chargers – vs. Kansas City
- CJ Anderson – Carolina Panthers – at Buffalo
- Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – vs. LA Rams
- Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Tampa Bay
- Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – at Washington
- LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. Denver
- Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – vs. New Orleans
- Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Baltimore
- Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – at Indianapolis
- Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. Pittsburgh
- James White – New England Patriots – vs. Houston
- Jacquizz Rodgers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Minnesota
- DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – vs. Seattle
- Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – vs. Oakland
- Mike Gillislee – New England Patriots – vs. Houston
- Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – vs. Atlanta
- Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – at New England
- Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – at Indianapolis
- Buck Allen – Baltimore Ravens – at Jacksonville
- Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – at Tennessee
- Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Carolina
- Darren Sproles – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New York Giants
- Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions – vs. Atlanta
- Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Cleveland
- Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Green Bay
- Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. Pittsburgh
- Terrence West – Baltimore Ravens – at Jacksonville
- Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – at Detroit
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Seattle
- Shane Vereen – New York Giants – at Philadelphia
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Carolina
- Bilal Powell – New York Jets – vs. Miami
- Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – vs. New Orleans
- Just because Jacquizz Rodgers is only starting on a temporary basis for Tampa Bay, at least for now, it doesn’t mean we should overlook him. The fact that he wasn’t targeted in the passing game last week, and was replaced by Charles Sims in third down situations, also isn’t a deal breaker. In fact that shouldn’t have come as a surprise, and that is how most backfields work. Rodgers carried the ball 19 times, mostly in the first half since the Buccaneers jumped out to a large lead, and gained 67 yards while also scoring a touchdown. Previously when given a chance to carry the load when Doug Martin was sidelined Rodgers has had success, and this season appears to be no different. If he continues to do well in the next two weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a role (or even retain the starting job) when Martin returns. At very least you get two more weeks of a starting running back.
- I know we discussed this last week, but the Arizona running back situation does warrant some further discussion. After David Johnson’s injury, Kerwynn Williams immediately shot to the top of waiver priority lists, but that will likely prove to be short lived. Williams carried the ball nine times for 22 yards on Sunday, and while he will still have a role it just won’t have any fantasy significance. Chris Johnson lead the Cardinals’ backfield with 11 carries, and in gaining 44 yards he was clearly Arizona’s best option. That trend will likely continue, but I would keep my expectations to a minimum because Arizona’s offense just doesn’t appear to be very good.
- Through two games it has become obvious that Cleveland has one of the worst offenses in the league. That doesn’t mean they are completely without fantasy value. Corey Coleman made his presence felt in Week 1, but with a broken hand sending him to the sidelines someone does need to pick up the slack in the Browns’ passing game. I wouldn’t classify Kenny Britt as an option, and the replacement for Coleman doesn’t have to be a wide receiver. This is an option that has more value in a PPR format, but Duke Johnson is someone who warrants a closer look. To start the season the Browns didn’t even treat Johnson as a running back, as he spent the majority of his time lined up as a wide receiver. Last week against Baltimore he carried the ball four times for 21 times, while also making a highlight reel catch. Through two games he has five receptions on 11 targets for 79 yards, and I would expect to see his utilization increase to pick up the slack.
- Another offense that leaves a lot to be desired is San Francisco. However that doesn’t mean Carlos Hyde should be ignored. With the 49ers trailing all day in Week 1 Hyde only got nine carries, but he did gain 45 yards. What really stood out to me is that he caught all six of his targets for 32 yards. This past week Hyde was once again targeted six times, although this time he caught three passes 19 yards. It was on the ground where he made his true impact gaining 124 yards on 15 carries. That included runs of 27 and 61 yards as he has shown explosiveness as the centerpiece of San Francisco’s offense. We should also note that while they don’t appear to be as strong as other years, this did come in Seattle. This week Hyde gets to face the Rams after they allowed 229 rushing yards to the Redskins.
- It is crazy to think that Le’Veon Bell was a disappointment last week as he gained 87 yards, but he has yet to find the end zone. After easing him back into action in Week 1, Bell carried the ball 22 times last week while also catching four passes for four yards. I would venture that he is still not fully in shape as he is still missing that big play burst, his longest run went for 11 yards last week, but he also had to face off against Minnesota’s stout defense. Bell catches a break this week against the Bears and I would look for him to score his first touchdown of the season while also breaking at least one big play. We have to remember that Bell did not have a training camp, and for all intents and purposes he is healthy.
- While Todd Gurley was still being selected in the first two or three rounds of drafts this summer, he didn’t come with a great deal of buzz. However it is clear that he is the focal point of the Rams’ offense and he is also benefiting from being targeted in the passing game. After rushing for 40 yards in Week 1, Gurley followed that up with 88 yards on 16 carries last week for an effort that was clearly more efficient. His value was preserved by the five catches for 56 yards he had in Week 1, and also by the fact that he found the end zone. Los Angeles still made Gurley a part of their passing game last week as he was targeted four times, and caught three passes for 48 yards. He is in one of the few situations where he is the clear running back in his backfield, and I would treat him as such.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 3 rankings: