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“Stromme the Way,” Week 3 Running Back Round-Up

You can expect one thing about Week 2, expect the unexpected.

Upsets aren’t uncommon in Week 2 and teams prep all offseason and training camp for Week 1. The extra time and focus on the season opener tends to leave teams who have, what many would call, “easy match-ups” in Week 2 somewhat vulnerable (looking at you, New Orleans, Baltimore, Miami, and Indianapolis). Whether it’s an emotional letdown or simply a team under preparing themselves, upsets are prevalent during the second week of the NFL season.

Much like the Buccaneers, Jets, Raiders, and Jaguars, the fantasy world provided a few upsets of their own.

Week 2 Recap:

Matt Jones not only climbed over veteran Alfred Morris on the depth chart, but outperformed him on the ground to the tune of 19/123/2 against a Rams defensive front that is considered by most to be one of the best in the league. Jones looked like the better running back. He was quicker, shiftier, and looked much more truculent than Morris. If Jones is still available in your league, grab him immediately. Morris’ role as the bellcow in Gruden’s offense is far from safe.

Matt Jones, a must-add in all formats. (Image from riggosrag.com)

Matt Jones, a must-add in all formats. (Image from riggosrag.com)

After 2014 breakout stud Jeremy Hill put the ball on the turf twice, Gio Bernard got the chance to carry the rock and did not disappoint. Bernard finished the game with a line of 20/123/0 in a 24-19 Bengal victory. Obviously, this is a big game for Bernard, but I believe that this could present a buy low opportunity for Jeremy Hill. Hill, who was benched for ball security issues, will see the field again this season in a prominent role for the Bengals. I just don’t see Bernard being capable of shouldering the load of what a bellcow back typically handles.

In Week 1, Bishop Sankey  ran for 12/74/1 with a touchdown through the air: an uncharacteristically productive day for Sankey. In Week 2, Sankey came back to earth and ran for a much more Sankey-like 3.5 yards per carry against the worst run defense of 2014, one that hasn’t shown signs of improvement in the early stages of 2015. Veteran speedster Dexter McCluster was the recipient of the playing time Sankey missed out on and made the most of his opportunity. McCluster ran for 10/98/0 in a losing effort to the Browns. Now, given McCluster’s track record of underwhelming production, I wouldn’t exactly blow the FAAB budget on him. However, it is a situation that deserves to be monitored. If McCluster starts to show consistency, jump on him right away.

My top-two running backs from my preseason rankings, Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles, finished one and two in rushing for Week 2. Peterson ran for 29/134/0 at home against the Lions, and Jamaal Charles made the vaunted Broncos’ run defense look ordinary, finishing with 21/125/1 on TNF against the Broncos. The Broncos, however, had the last laugh when Bradley Roby scooped up a Jamaal Charles fumble for a late 4th quarter touchdown.

Here is a quick public service announcement to fantasy players everywhere: Le’Veon Bell’s suspension has now concluded and he will be active against the Rams next week. Plan accordingly.

 

Start ‘Em:

Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders

Murray, who made my Sit ‘Em list last week, makes my list of starters for Week 3. Murray had a productive game last week, posting 15/65/1 with 3/22/0 receiving against a Ravens defense that appeared to be a little fatigued playing their second game in a row on the West Coast. This week, Murray and his 1-1 Raiders travel to the Dawgpound to take on the Cleveland Browns and their league-worst run defense from a year ago that hasn’t shown any signs of improvement. Start accordingly.

T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars

Kind of a good news, bad news line for Yeldon in the Jags’ upset over the Miami Dolphins last week. The good news, he carried the ball 25 times. The bad news, he only amassed 70 yards on those 25 carries; that’s 2.8 yards per carry. Personally, I’m not worried. Last week versus Carolina, Yeldon averaged a respectable 4.2 yards per carry against a defensive line that has some real talent. Running against a defensive front that has Ndamukong Suh isn’t an easy task by any stretch.

In Week 3, the Jaguars march into Foxborough for a tilt with the defending champs. In order for Jacksonville to stay competitive in this game, they will have to run the ball, milk the clock, and keep Brady, Gronk, and Edelman on the

T.J. Yeldon looks to have a big game against the Patriots (Image from Zimbio.com)

T.J. Yeldon looks to have a big game against the Patriots (Image from Zimbio.com)

sidelines. If this game plan is executed properly, 20 carries for Yeldon wouldn’t be out of the question. The Patriots have given up an average of 147 yards/game on the ground to opposing offenses thus far. Also, starting DT Dominique Easley, who was sidelined with a hip injury in Week 2, more than likely won’t be healthy for Week 3.

Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts

Gore, much like the entire Indianapolis offense, has gotten off to a lackluster start.  23/88/0 through two games is not what Gore owners expected from the veteran running back when he was selected on draft day.

Don’t panic just yet. The Colts did go up against two teams with nasty fronts in the Bills and Jets, and put up an uncharacteristically low 21 points in two games. Not exactly a hot start for the 2014 AFC runner-up. This week, the Colts get their divisional foes in Nashville, and points should be flying for Indy. In the last four meeting between the two AFC South combatants, the Colts have averaged 30 points a game. Odds are, Frank “The Tank” Gore reaches

Frank Gore and the Colts look to get the offense back on track in Tennessee (Image from rantsports.com)

Frank Gore and the Colts look to get the offense back on track in Tennessee (Image from rantsports.com)

pay-dirt in this one. Don’t count the Colts out of it just yet; this offense is much too potent to stay down forever.

 

Sit ‘Em

Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins

Miller has averaged 2.9 yards per carry this season, and now he must go against that nasty defensive front from Buffalo. Ryan Tannehill out rushed Lamar Miller in Jacksonville last Sunday. This one is a big ‘hell-naw’ for me. Next…

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

Much like Latavius Murray, Ingram’s start ’em, sit ’em status flips from last week. Ingram and a banged-up Drew Brees march into Carolina to take on a Panthers defense that has given up 28 points in two games. In the last four meetings between the two teams, the Saints have averaged 20.5 points, and that was with a healthy Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham. Opposing running backs have averaged 3.6 yards per carry against the Panthers in 2015. I really don’t see the Saints doing much on offense in this one. Stay away from the former Heisman Trophy winner in Week 3.

Joique Bell, Detroit Lions

Not only should this guy be sat, he should be cut in most formats. For the second week in a row, rookie Ameer Abdullah out-carried Bell, to the tune of 13-10 this season. In those ten measly carries, Bell has a total of 16 yards: none of which have came in the red-zone. His 3.9 yards per carry from 2014 weren’t exactly something to write home about either. I can’t see him improving too much. Welcome to dumpsville, population: Bell.

 

Waiver Wire Mining:

Matt Jones is a must-add in all formats. He looked phenomenal against the Rams last week. Even with a healthy and productive Alfred Morris, Jones was the best running back at FedEx Field last Sunday. If Jones can keep doing what he’s doing, I really believe that it’s only matter of time before he takes over as the feature back in Washington, relegating Alfred Morris to goal-line work and short-yardage situations.

With Eddie Lacy nursing an ankle injury, it only makes sense for me to remind you that James Starks is a more than capable replacement. Knowing Lacy’s status will be tricky, given that the Packers don’t play until Monday night. Keep checking up on Lacy’s status throughout the week. If nothing about his status sounds positive, grab Starks. He will be the feature back if Lacy is a no-go.

Not only is Dion Lewis “the new Shane Vereen”, he might be the Pat’s feature back. With LeGarrette Blount back in the lineup, Lewis had seven carries to Blount’s two. He finished with a rushing line of 7/40/1, in addition to catching 6/98/0 on nine targets. He’s had 14 targets in two games and led the Pats in carries two weeks in a row. The only fly in the ointment is he did lose a fumble last week. Patriot running backs that put the ball on the turf typically don’t

Dion Lewis is a must-add, especially in PPR formats. (Image from nflpinzone.com)

Dion Lewis is a must-add, especially in PPR formats. (Image from nflpinzone.com)

last long in feature roles, just ask Stevan Ridley.

Karlos Williams started training camp behind Fred Jackson, Boobie Dixon, and Bryce Brown on the Bills’ depth chart. After cutting Brown and Jackson, Williams has over taken Dixon as the handcuff to LeSean McCoy in Buffalo. If McCoy goes down, Williams will be the guy to grab. It’s also worth noting that three of his 12 career carries have come in the red-zone; one went for a score last week against the Patriots. Just some food for thought.

Like I mentioned in the recap, the Tennessee running back situation is one worth monitoring. After the Titans got frustrated with Bishop Sankey, they turned to Dexter McCluster. McCluster finished with 10/98/0 against Cleveland, not too bad. With Terrance West underwhelming as a Titan thus far (he also lost a fumble last week), McCluster might be the best option they have when Sankey underperforms. He’s well worth a speculative add.

Well, that does it for me this week! Until next time, cheers!

Mike Stromme

@stromme_93

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