Well, that was fun! Wasn’t it?
Week 2 is kinda different. It’s like, you wait with eager anticipation for months for Week 1 to arrive, binge-watch football all day Sunday, stay up until 2 am Monday night watching the end of the MNF double-header, then after all that insanity, you realize that you get to do it all over again next week. Man, I love this time of year!
Week 1 Recap:
The number one running back in fantasy came in the very last game of the week. In case you missed it (maybe you had to get up for work in the morning or had some other responsibility and was unable to watch the late game Monday), Carlos Hyde WENT OFF! The man finished his debut as the Niners’ bellcow with a line of 26/168/2. In a game that featured Adrian Peterson, Hyde made the biggest impression of all. It will be very interesting to see what he does going forward, he still has two games against the Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals to go. Keep that in mind.
In last week’s “Start ‘Em” column, I profiled Chris Ivory, Eddie Lacy and Bishop Sankey. I hate to brag, but all three guys delivered. The trio played like top ten running backs in Week 1.
Sankey: 12/74/1 with 2/12/1 receiving.
Not too shabby.
However, I can’t get too high and mighty. I told everyone to avoid DeAngelo Williams like the plague, and all he does is go out, put up 21/127/0 and helps Steeler fans forget about Le’Veon Bell for a little while. I will eat my words, the man clearly still has what it takes and should be added if you need a running back for Week 2.
Also worth noting, Danny Woodhead reached the end zone twice in San Diego’s come from behind victory over the Lions. I don’t think this is a flash in the pan, preseason reports suggested that he would get red zone work, he’s an intriguing flex option.
Also, Alfred Morris quieted any Matt Jones talk by running for 121 on 25 carries against a Miami front that shouldn’t be easy to run against with Ndamukong Suh anchoring that D-Line in South Florida. However, temper your expectations for Week 2, his Redskins get the Rams’ stacked D-Line at home.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
The Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their home opener at the Superdome. Now, this game is going to go one of two ways, either the Saints blow out the Bucs, or this game is a shoot-out. The outcome will be entirely up to if the Saints defense decides to show up or not. Either result will be beneficial to Mark Ingram and those who start him.
If the game goes the way the line in Las Vegas says it will (Saints are a ten-point favorite), then that will mean a lot
of ball control and garbage time, which would mean that Ingram could see upwards of 20-25 carries. He may have only seen nine of 17 total carries against the Cardinals, but don’t let that fool you, he’s the between-the-tackles guy in New Orleans.
If the Bucs hang around and this thing turns into a shootout, Ingram can be a threat in the passing game as well. Against the Cardinals in Week 1, Ingram put up WR1 numbers. That’s right, wide receiver numbers. he caught 8/98/0 on nine targets. Not only is he the clock-churner in Sean Payton’s offence, but he can handle himself in the passing game as well. Yes, Khiry Robinson is there too, and he put up some numbers in the passing game as well (5/51/0), but Ingram is clearly the number one guy.
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
Despite all the speculation that Abdullah would have to earn his playing time in order to supersede Joique Bell’s spot atop the Lions’ depth chart, he still lead the team in carries with seven. He is the most talented running back the Lions have, and Jim Caldwell and his associates are starting to recognize.
The Lions travel to Minnesota for their Week 2 tilt with the Vikings. Fortunately for the Lions, they make this trip in
mid September, as opposed to mid December. The Vikings are coming off the shortest week of the year, having played the second game of the MNF. A game that the Vikings’ run defense gave up 189 yards to 49er running backs.
Now, I’m not saying that the Viking run defense will be easy pickings all season, they should improve as the year goes on. But, I don’t think the improvement comes in Week 2. Abdullah will get his opportunity to further demoralize this defensive line coming off a short week. He is also a threat in the receiving game, catching all four of his targets for 44 yards.
Andre Ellington/Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Watch the injury report Sunday morning (as if I had to remind you) for the status of Andre Ellington. The talented, but oft-injured running back has quite a juicy match-up in Chicago. The Bears aren’t exactly the model of a perfect run defense to begin with, and with starting NT Jeremiah Ratliff still suspended, the Bears should be a team to pick-
on for starting your running backs.
Ellington, who strained his PCL against the Saints last week, has not been officially ruled “out”. But, I highly doubt he plays. And, even if he does, it looks to be in a limited role in a best-case scenario. Surprisingly, the man to spell Ellington wasn’t rookie David Johnson, but was the seasoned vet Chris Johnson.
Johnson, who wasn’t even in the same stratosphere in 2014 as the 2,000 rusher he was all those years ago, actually looked better than the 3.7 yards per carry he ended with last Sunday. After spending time in his bed, recovering from getting caught in a drive-by shooting, Johnson spent a great-deal of time training with Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer at his Gym in Los Angeles. It took him until mid-August to get noticed, he didn’t play his first preseason game until Week 4 of the preseason and worked for every opportunity the Cardinals gave him. The man has a chip on his shoulder adjacent to the bullet that is still lodged inside his shoulder and is what Carson Palmer calls a “really, really good fit,” for this Cardinal offense. If Ellington isn’t good to go, the artist formally known as “CJ2K” is well worth the speculative add.
Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
Now, when I say “Sit ‘Em”, I don’t literally mean bench him in this case. He still should see about 15-20 carries, customary for a bellcow such as Morris; and that has value. However, really temper your expectations when it comes to what you should expect from a yards per carry standpoint. He’s going up against the vaunted Rams’ defensive front, a unit that kept Marshawn Lynch in-check (18/71/0) in Week 1 and should be a matchup headache for running backs going forward.
The Rams will be tough on running backs all season, Morris will more than likely struggle against the Rams defense. Look elsewhere when filling out your DFS lineup.
Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
Okay, so Gordon has a ton of upside and will eventually figure things out, it just won’t happen in Week 2. After winning their home opener in comeback fashion, the Chargers have to travel to Cincinnati for a 1 PM EST kickoff with the Bengals. The Bengals possess a stout run defense anchored by Geno Atkins, running against this front is not an easy task, especially for a rookie running back that hasn’t quite figured things out yet.
Gordon averaged 3.6 yards per carry in Week 1, saw only one more snap than his backup Danny Woodhead, and has lost most of the red-zone duties to Woodhead. Clearly, the pro game is a little overwhelming for the rookie, he also struggled in the preseason. I do think he has too much talent not to figure things out, but I don’t see a miraculous turn-around coming this Sunday.
Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
Murray, another back with a ton of upside, looked pretty average Week 1 against the Bengals. He finished 11/44/0 with 7/36/0 in a 33-13 rout at the hands of the Bengals. Things don’t get any easier for Murray and the Raiders, as they get the Baltimore Ravens at home in Week 2. The Ravens, who ranked 4th in the NFL in rushing yards per game allowed in 2014, held C.J. Anderson to 12/23/0 before he left the game with a toe injury in Week 1. The Ravens haven’t seemed to miss a step from 2014 despite sending Haloti Ngata to the Lions in the offseason.
Another running back with tons of upside and not much of a track record in a tough matchup. I’d probably look elsewhere in Week 2.
Waiver Wire Mining:
When it comes to predicting “the next Shane Vereen” in New England, I am 0-2. No, it’s not James White or Brandon Bolden, but former Philadelphia Eagle Dion Lewis is the pass-catching back for Bill Belichick. With LeGarrette Blount out for the season opener with a suspension, Lewis carried the load for the Patriots. Lewis essentially became a bellcow for the Pats Thursday night, carrying the ball 15 of the team’s 20 total carries in addition to catching four passes on five targets for 51 yards.
No, I highly doubt that Lewis will overtake Blount for the main gig, but it does mean that Belichick and company feel good about using Lewis as the passing-down back in an offense that traditionally uses running backs in the passing game. He’s worth a look, especially in PPR formats.
As I mentioned before, Danny Woodhead is a sneaky flex option. Until Melvin Gordon figures things out, he will be in a timeshare with the scrappy veteran back. Not only Woodhead split carries with the Chargers’ 2015 first round pick, he will play in situations that are very fantasy-friendly, such as red-zone and passing downs.
Also, as previously mentioned, DeAngelo Williams and Chris Johnson are two veteran backs that will provide immediate, stop-gap value. Both are worth an add if you’re really hurting.
Anyways, that should do it for me for this week! Until next time, cheers!
@stromme_93 on Twitter.
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Major League Fantasy Sports Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday September 20th from 11-12:45pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live call in questions at 646-915-8596. We will be breaking down everything fantasy related for the coming days games.
Our guest this week is Mike Stromme. Mike is the assistant editor with MLFS, and he is a writer who handles the running backs on a week to week basis. His articles publish every Wednesday morning at 9am. Come join a lively discussion!
You can also listen to the recorded version of the show afterward if you can not listen live. You can find the podcast on I-Tunes, or Podcast Republic. Search for Major League Fantasy Football Weekly.
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@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.