by Ray Kuhn
That certainly felt good to have some real, live NFL action this past week. Let’s cross our fingers that all goes well and we have 16 more weeks just like it. We learned a lot from our first look at live games, and while more questions are yet to be answered there is some knowledge than can be useful moving forward. Let’s jump right into how our options rank for this week:
- Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at Tampa Bay
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Atlanta
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Kansas City Chiefs – at LA Chargers
- Saquon Barkley – New York Giants – at Chicago
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Jacksonville
- Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – at Indianapolis
- Josh Jacobs – Las Vegas Raiders – vs. New Orleans
- Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – vs. Detroit
- Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Cleveland
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Las Vegas
- Kenyon Drake – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Washington
- Jonathan Taylor – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Minnesota
- Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – vs. Cincinnati
- David Johnson – Houston Texans – vs. Baltimore
- Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – vs. New England
- Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers – vs. Kansas City
- Todd Gurley – Atlanta Falcons – at Dallas
- Raheem Mostert – San Francisco 49ers – at NY Jets
- David Montgomery – Chicago Bears – vs. NY Giants
- Devin Singletary – Buffalo Bills – at Miami
- Melvin Gordon – Denver Broncos – at Pittsburgh
- Nyheim Hines – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Minnesota
- Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. LA Rams
- Mark Ingram – Baltimore Ravens – at Houston
- James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Denver
- Malcolm Brown – Las Angeles Rams – at Philadelphia
- Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Carolina
- Kareem Hunt – Cleveland Browns – vs. Cincinnati
- James White – New England Patriots – at Seattle
- Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. NY Giants
- Adrian Peterson – Detroit Lions – at Green Bay
- James Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Tennessee
- Benny Snell – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Denver
- J.K. Dobbins – Baltimore Ravens – at Houston
- Frank Gore – New York Jets – vs. San Francisco
- Peyton Barber – Washington Football Team – at Arizona
- Sony Michel – New England Patriots – at Seattle
- Latavius Murray – New Orleans Saints – at Las Vegas
- Jerrick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers – at NY Jets
- Chris Thompson – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Tennessee
- At least there was one backfield where a running back received 100% of the carries last week, but who would have thought that it would be in Jacksonville? Things get even crazier if you had that player as being James Robinson. The results weren’t great, 16 carries for 62 yards and one catch for 28 yards, but things could have been worse. As far as questions being answered, that isn’t an issue as it’s obvious that Robinson is the running back to own and the value is there. The Jaguars offense did show the ability move the ball and score with ease against the Colts last week, and opportunity should continue to be there for Robinson moving forward. I’m not sure a 100 yard effort is in store for the rookie running back, but a game similar to what we saw last week is a reasonable floor with the possibility for a touchdown.
- Compared to the last time we saw him, Malcolm Brown looked a lot better. With Cam Akers breathing down his neck Brown has to keep things up, but he did get off to good start on Sunday. The veteran picked up 79 yards on 18 carries, but more importantly he rushed for two touchdowns. Brown also added three catches for 31 yards, and as long as he continues to produce there is no reason not to expect him to hold onto his share of the touches. With that being said, Akers is still the better running back and I would take it on a week to week basis. Akers just needs to improve on his 14 carry for 39 yard performance in which he wasn’t a factor in the passing game with one catch for four yards.
- With the way the Washington defense found its way into the Eagles’ backfield, it didn’t matter who the running back was. At this point, it appears that Miles Sanders will be ready to go for the Eagles and at this point, we have to consider him a lower end RB2 to start based both on any potential physical limitations as well as those of Philadelphia’s offensive line. In filling in for Sanders, Boston Scott had issues finding room to run gaining just 35 yards, but it only came on nine carries as the Eagles couldn’t generate much in the way of offensive momentum. Scott will regress to a supporting role, but there is value as a FLEX option in PPR leagues as he is the clear number two. Just give it another week with Sanders until we truly see that the hamstring can handle a full load.
- It’s possible we have seen the last of Le’Veon Bell in a Jets uniform, but at the very least he will be sidelined for the next few weeks with a hamstring injury. The good news is that there is a clear replacement and beneficiary for Bell in the form of veteran Frank Gore. Adam Gase likes Gore better anyway as there is a trust factor from their days in Miami together and Gore has proved that he can still be a dependable runner. Gore gained just 24 yards on six carries last week, but the problem is strictly related to the fact that when he entered the game the Jets were already trailing by three touchdowns. I’m not expected great things from Gore, especially because game flow likely won’t be his friend, but we know the carries will be there and that counts for something.
- One target. One reception for three yards. That’s it. To say that we have expected more from Austin Ekeler would an understatement after he caught 92 passes for 993 yards and eight touchdowns last season. To make matters worse, Chargers’ coach Anthony Lynn said on Monday that based on Los Angeles’ new offense we will likely see less action from Ekeler in the passing game this season. I can’t imagine there will be more weeks where he catches just one pass. This is especially true against the Chiefs on Sunday as the Chargers will likely be playing from behind. The good news is that Ekeler did carry the ball 19 times for 84 yards after gaining just 557 yards on the ground last season. With 50 snaps for Ekeler compared to 18 for Joshua Kelley, the backfield still belongs to the veteran, but we do need to keep an eye on his usage and adjust his value accordingly. It is also clear that Kelley will be a factor in the running game with 12 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown last week.
- At this point in the week, it looks like James Conner will be a go against the Broncos after leaving early with ankle sprain on Monday. As he injured the ankle early on, Conner wasn’t much of a factor with just nine yards on six carries, but Benny Snell certainly picked up the slack. Snell looked a lot better and more explosive than when we last saw him in 2019 as he gained 113 yards on 19 carries against the Giants. If Conner is healthy, he is still going to be the guy in Pittsburgh’s backfield (for now at least), but Snell is hot on his tail. Should Conner be inactive, then Snell deserves a trip up the rankings.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 2 rankings: