With many teams heading towards a running back by committee, fantasy owners constantly need to be analyzing the situations and determining who has value and is worth utilizing. Let’s take a look at some of the key situations from yesterday and try to determine who should be used and who should be ignored:
Devonta Freeman had struggled over the first two weeks (19 carries for 41 yards), though after Ito Smith was forced out with a concussion Freeman stepped up and delivered as he took 16 carries for 88 yards (5.5 YPC). At this stage it’s impossible to know whether or not Smith will be cleared to play in Week 4, and that gives Freeman an opportunity to thrive once again. While the Titans haven’t struggled against pass catching running backs, they haven’t done a great job of stuffing the run:
- Rushing – 61 carries for 300 yards (4.9 YPC) and 1 TD
- Receiving – 22 receptions for 94 yards
Assuming Smith is out, Freeman will be a solid RB2 heading into Week 4.
Green Bay Packers
Prior to Week 3 we got this news, though it was easy to disregard it and assume it was nothing more than coach speak:
Asked Matt LaFleur about #Packers RB Aaron Jones’ touches over long haul of a season following Sunday’s career-high 23 carries. He said keeping Jones fresh is important, and he wants to “even up” touches between Jones and Jamaal Williams. Thinks balance will change week to week.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) September 18, 2019
Not only did we get a split, but Williams was actually more successful running the football:
- Aaron Jones – 10 carries for 19 yards and 2 TD
- Jamaal Williams – 12 carries for 59 yards
Williams also was targeted twice in the passing game, compared to 1 target for Jones. For now Jones continues to be the preferred option, but this is no longer a situation where Williams is just a handcuff. He has the potential to rise into a FLEX option, though we’ll have to continue to monitor the workload.
Kansas City Chiefs
With Damien Williams sidelined the Chiefs deployed a committee, though it left Darwin Thompson out of the mix:
- Darrel Williams – 9 carries for 62 yards; 5 receptions for 47 yards
- LeSean McCoy – 8 carries for 54 yards and 1 TD; 3 receptions for 26 yards and 1 TD
- Darwin Thompson – 4 carries for 8 yards
Heading into the season there was hope that Thompson could emerge, but he’s clearly fourth on the depth chart and it will take a lot for him to rise into a prominent role. Outside of deep dynasty leagues, he’s easily left on the waiver wire.
New York Giants
We are waiting to see how long Saquan Barkley will be sidelined, but Wayne Galman will be among the preferred waiver targets this week. It’s easy to see why, though he didn’t look very productive in Week 3 as he took 5 carries for 13 yards and watched Daniel Jones score 2 rushing TD.
There’s no question that Galman is going to get an opportunity, though we also know that the Giants are a lock to add another option ahead of their Week 4 matchup. Could whoever they sign leap right into a committee with Galman, who has averaged 4.0 YPC and scored just 2 TD over his first 31 games? Worth owning or not, don’t expect him to be a lock to rise into a RB2 type role.
While Miles Sanders still hasn’t emerged as “the man” in Philadelphia, at least he took a significant step froward in his production:
- Miles Sanders – 13 carries for 53 yards
- Jordan Howard – 11 carries for 37 yards and 1 TD
Sanders added 2 receptions for a team high 73 yards (he was targeted 4 times). Of course he was kept out of the end zone and also fumbled twice (losing one). That doesn’t eliminate the upside and it may just be a matter of time before he emerges as the lead back, but for now he’s limited to a RB2/FLEX option as he remains part of a committee.
San Francisco 49ers
We knew that this would be a committee, and that’s exactly what we got against the Steelers:
- Raheem Mostert – 12 carries for 79 yards
- Matt Breida – 14 carries for 68 yards
- Jeff Wilson Jr. – 8 carries for 18 yards and 2 TD
Breida added 2 catches for 20 yards. At this point it’s impossible to trust any of the three to be anything more than a borderline FLEX option (especially with the bye weeks coming), as they will all play their role (especially with Wilson taking the goal line touches).
With Rashaad Penny out this was supposed to be Chris Carson’s second chance to re-emerge as the lead back. Instead Carson showed exactly why Penny is a must stash option for once he is ready to return:
- 15 carries for 53 yards (3.5 YPC) – Despite getting 15 carries each week he has failed to eclipse 60 yards in any game and is averaging 3.5 YPC over the first three games
- 1 lost fumble – He’s now lost a fumble in all three games the Seahawks have played, and his inability to protect the football makes him impossible for the team to trust
Penny missed the game due to what was considered a minor hamstring issue, and it’s possible that he plays and immediately emerges as a RB2 option.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Regardless of who looks like the better runner, Tampa Bay appears intent on moving forward with a committee approach:
- Ronald Jones – 14 carries for 80 yards (5.7 YPC)
- Peyton Barber – 13 carries for 48 yards (3.7 YPC)
On the year Barber has averaged 3.7 YPC, compared to a 5.3 YPC for Jones. Jones also added 1 reception for 41 yards and has now outproduced Barber in two of the first three games of the season. Eventually this situation should play itself out, leaving Jones as the leader. For now they are both worth owning, with Jones being more of a FLEX option.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 4 rankings: