Let’s just get it out of the way, you aren’t going to replace Saquon Barkley. He is simply too good to not be hurt by his absence, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work to minimize it’s impact. There are only two teams on bye this week, but it leaves another RB1 to replace in Le’Veon Bell, as well as whatever running back from San Francisco that you might have been on the fringes of your starting lineup.
Aside from that (though those are two big impacts), it is just business as usual at the running back position. That means a lot of uncertainty, some tough decisions and a few less than ideal situations. That doesn’t stop us, so let’s take a look at how our options rank:
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at New Orleans
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – vs. Dallas
- Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at Houston
- Austin Ekeler – LA Chargers – at Miami
- James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Cincinnati
- Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – at Chicago
- Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Denver
- Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Oakland
- David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Seattle
- Mark Ingram – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Cleveland
- Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Pittsburgh
- Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – vs. Kansas City
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – at Atlanta
- Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – vs. Philadelphia
- Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – at Baltimore
- Todd Gurley – LA Rams – vs. Tampa Bay
- Josh Jacobs – Oakland Raiders – at Indianapolis
- Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – at Arizona
- Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – vs. Jacksonville
- Damien Williams – Kansas City Chiefs – at Detroit
- Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Tennessee
- Wayne Gallman – NY Giants – vs. Washington
- James White – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
- Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles – at Green Bay
- Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – at NY Giants
- Carlos Hyde – Houston Texans – vs. Carolina
- Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – at NY Giants
- David Montgomery – Chicago Bears – vs. Minnesota
- LeSean McCoy – Kansas City Chiefs – at Detroit
- Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – vs. Philadelphia
- Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at LA Rams
- Frank Gore – Buffalo Bills – vs. New England
- Justin Jackson – LA Chargers – at Miami
- Jordan Howard – Philadelphia Eagles – at Green Bay
- Sony Michel – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
- Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – vs. Jacksonville
- Duke Johnson – Houston Texans – vs. Carolina
- Nyheim Hines – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Oakland
- Devin Singletary – Buffalo Bills – vs. New England
- Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. LA Chargers
- Dalvin Cook was going towards the top of drafts this summer, but there wasn’t much excitement or buzz surrounding him. He wasn’t in the top tier of running backs, and was being taken either as a fallback option if you missed out on one of the studs, or perhaps a very high end RB2 depending on your draft. Through three weeks he has been not only the best, but also the most consistent running back. The fact that Minnesota has been so committed to the run has worked in Cook’s favor, but he also hasn’t disappointed with 57 carries for 375 yards, 6.6 yards per carry, and 4 TD. He also has had a role in the passing game, nine receptions for 79 yards, but more importantly has scored at least one touchdown per game while also eclipsing 100 yards. Facing the Bears should prove to be a little tougher, but he is still one of the best options there is.
- You would think that facing the second worst run defense in the league should get a running back going, so let’s see how John Conner does. After all of his success last season he has yet to eclipse a combined 100 yards (97 for an average of 2.9 yards per carry) through the first three weeks of 2019. With just one touchdown, what has saved his value in PPR leagues is the fact that he has 11 receptions for 70 yards so far this season. Facing the Bengals at home, in the second week of Mason Rudolph starting at quarterback, on Monday night should bode well as I would expect to see him a featured part of Pittsburgh’s game plan.
- Across the field from Conner is another running back who is in the same boat. Pittsburgh is equally as bad against the run, but at least in Joe Mixon’s case he is building on a strong performance. Through the first two weeks Mixon gained 27 yards on the ground (17 carries) and didn’t fair much better through the air with five catches for 17 yards. He wasn’t shy about his early season struggles, and he took steps to reverse that course last week in Buffalo. For the first time this season he found the end zone with a receiving touchdown while gaining a combined 95 yards (15 for 61 on the ground and two for 34 through the air). Mixon was drafted as a starter and he should be treated as such, and after facing the Steelers in Week 4 your chance to buy low will likely have disappeared.
- I’m not saying to sit Nick Chubb this week, LeSean McCoy did have success on the ground against Baltimore in Week 3, but our expectations have to be adjusted. What is clear, and certainly a good sign, is that Cleveland’s backfield solely belongs to Chubb as he is the only one seeing any carries. It would be nice if he was averaging more than four yards per carry, but that is just a symptom of Cleveland’s offense. The Browns will likely have trouble moving the ball against the Ravens on Sunday, but we know Chubb will touch the ball 20-25 times, as he also has 11 receptions for 81 yards.
- With 15 touches, 13 carries (53 yards) and two receptions (73 yards), Miles Sanders took advantage of his opportunity on Sunday. With the quick turnaround to Thursday’s night game in Green Bay, there should be more where that came from. Philadelphia likely won’t get any healthier than they were for last week’s match-up against the Lions, so that means Sanders is due to at least repeat his workload. The running back showed off his explosive, big play ability and that should continue against the Packers who have been allowing the third most points to opposing running backs. At some point Sanders will find the end zone for the first time in his career, and it very well could come this week.
- We know how the Patriots like to spread things out to frustrate fantasy owners and keep us guessing each week, but we thought that in Sony Michel there was a running back we could count on. That means Michel needs to step up, or he will be passed by. He did take advantage of facing the Dolphins with 21 carries for 83 yards, but in his other two games he has a combined 25 yards rushing. Without a role in the passing game, zero receptions, it’s hard for him to maintain value, and the only thing that has saved him is the fact that he has a rushing touchdown in each of the last two weeks. Releasing, or selling, Michel for pennies on the dollar isn’t something I would look to do just yet, but at the same time I would go in a different direction with my starting lineup.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 4 rankings: