by Ray Kuhn
Another week and more questions… Of course we have elite options, but there are also tough decisions to made. Let’s not waste any time and jump right into our rankings as we try to decipher who can be trusted and who carries far too much risk to depend on:
- Todd Gurley – LA Rams – vs. LA Chargers
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Atlanta
- Saquon Barkley – New York Giants – at Houston
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at Seattle
- Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. San Francisco
- Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – vs. Cincinnati
- Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Buffalo
- James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Tampa Bay
- Melvin Gordon – LA Chargers – at LA Rams
- Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. New Orleans
- David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Chicago
- Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – at Arizona
- Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Tennessee
- Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – vs. NY Giants
- Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. Oakland
- Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – at Carolina
- Matt Brieda – San Francisco 49ers – at Kansas City
- Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans – at Jacksonville
- Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – vs. Green Bay
- LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – at Minnesota
- Carlos Hyde – Cleveland Browns – vs. NY Jets
- James White – New England Patriots – at Detroit
- Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Denver
- Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – at Miami
- Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – vs. Green Bay
- Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Indianapolis
- Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – at Baltimore
- Bilal Powell – NY Jets – at Cleveland
- Corey Clement – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Indianapolis
- Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots – at Detroit
- Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – at Baltimore
- Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – at Washington
- Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Pittsburgh
- Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – vs. New England
- Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at Washington
- Isaiah Crowell – New York Jets – at Cleveland
- Sony Michel – New England Patriots – at Detroit
- Austin Ekeler – LA Chargers – at LA Rams
- Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – at Arizona
- T.J. Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Tennessee
- Game flow didn’t exactly work in Saquon Barkley’s favor in Week 2, but he still was a valuable fantasy commodity. After catching just two passes for 22 yards last week, the rookie running back was targeted all night by Eli Manning. From the onset the Giants were trailing, and Barkley was ultimately targeted 16 times which led to 14 receptions for 80 yards. There wasn’t much in the way of explosiveness and PPR leagues certainly saved his value. As far as the ground game went, hey carried the ball just 11 times for 29 yards on the heels of his 106 yard debut last week. The fact that the Giants’ offensive line leaves a lot to be desired will hinder Barkley’s value as a rusher, although he’s proven he has big play capabilities. and the Giants won’t hesitate to target him in the passing game.
- Is it time to give up on David Johnson? One thing is certain, the Cardinals offense is just not very good. Through two weeks nothing is really going right and I’m not sure making a few adjustments will truly correct things. It is possible that’s all we need for Johnson to regain some fantasy value so it’s too soon to give up on Johnson and sell at the bottom of his value. So far there hasn’t been much room for him to run (85 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries) as the Cardinals have used him strictly as a between the tackles runner and his role in the receiving game (six catches for 33 yards) is just as a dump off option. Following Week 2 Steve Wilks did mention the fact that Johnson will now be used as a receiver out of the slot more often. That will help with both his value as well as the Cardinals’ offense. Let’s give it a week or two to work, as any chance that Arizona has at winning a game comes down to Johnson.
- Until Marlon Mack or Jordan Wilkins take control of the backfield the most prudent situation is to avoid it. After missing Week 1 with a hamstring injury, Mack returned to action last week and the Colts wasted no time trying to get him involved. He touched the ball nine times in the first half, but he failed to do much with his opportunity as in total he gained just 34 yards on 10 carries while catching one pass for another two yards. Wilkins then took control of the backfield in the second half as he carried the ball 10 times for 61 yards as the Colts nursed their victory. This came on the heels of Wilkins averaging just 2.9 yards per carry in Week 1, and we likely will see a similar timeshare next week. For now Wilkins might have a slight edge based on his most recent performance, but you can’t put too much stock in it.
- For the second straight week Ronald Jones was inactive and Peyton Barber did even less. Despite the Buccaneers’ explosive offense to start the season, Barber has failed to take advantage. He was facing a tough Eagles’ run defense, but Barber gained just 22 yards on 16 carries while catching his first pass of the season for another seven yards. Through two weeks he has yet to score a touchdown and on 35 carries he is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. It will be interesting to see when Tampa Bay decides to activate Jones, and while I wouldn’t expect him to step right into fantasy lineups it is worth keeping an eye on. Regardless, it’s difficult to trust Barber.
- This has been a common theme for me, and trying to predict/get a read on New England’s backfield has proven to be quite difficult. However, that doesn’t mean we get to ignore it and not try to draw some useful conclusions. It is clear that Jacksonville possesses what is likely the best defense in the league and that was evident against the Patriots this past week. In general, the running game has gotten off to a slow start for New England, and they have yet to score a rushing touchdown this season. For Week 3 things should get a lot easier as they face the Lions and their less resistant run defense. Rex Burkhead was on the field for 15 snaps after opening the game as the starting running back, but as New England fell behind early his role became minimized pretty quickly. Ultimately he carried the ball six times for 22 yards which brought his season total to 86 yards on 24 carries. This week also saw the debut of Sony Michel, and the rookie saw 13 snaps while carrying the ball 10 times for 34 yards while being targeted twice for one reception and another seven yards. It’s hard to accurately evaluate Michel as he both was making his NFL debut and had to deal with the Jaguars’ defensive line, but overall he did look good. In time he will become the most valuable Patriots’ running back, but James White will continue to have a role that makes him fantasy relevant. In 34 snaps White carried the ball four times for 11 yards but he was a clear PPR factor as he caught seven of his eight targets for 73 yards.
- Jamaal Williams had his chance, but after two weeks it doesn’t appear that he took advantage of it. He carried the ball 16 times on Sunday, albeit against a tough Minnesota defense, for just 56 yards and is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry on 31 carries while catching three passes for 12 yards. None of this will ultimately prove to be enough to hold off Aaron Jones, who returns this week fresh off his two game suspension. The other running back in Green Bay’s backfield, Ty Montgomery, has just 10 touches (seven carries for 38 yards and three catches for 30 yards), and at this point he isn’t a fantasy relevant option. While Williams will still have a role, and I wouldn’t drop him just yet unless you are in a roster crunch, Jones is going to be the running back to own. Last season he had two games in which he eclipsed 100 yards while average 5.5 yards per carry on 81 carries and scoring two touchdowns.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 3 rankings: