As long as I can remember, running back has been the most volatile position in the league because of injury. There were a few injuries in week 3 which led to some roles getting shook up. In addition, there are some veteran players out there clinging onto roles who have younger, more explosive players nipping on their heels. Running back is the position to attack this week because there are still enough players out there who have the potential to be difference makers. Percentages referenced in the article reflect ownership percentages across all Yahoo leagues.
Chris Thompson – RB Washington Redskins – 76% – Chris Thompson is already owned in 76% of leagues, and is most likely owned in 100% of PPR leagues. In the offseason everybody tried to figure out which receiver would assume the targets vacated by DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, but little did we know Chris Thompson would be the beneficiary. Until Kurt Cousins finds better rapport with the likes of Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Terrelle Pryor, Thompson is a good bet to continue this production, but the touchdown production is sure to regress.
Alvin Kamara – RB New Orleans Saints – 40% – Kamara appears to be the most explosive option in the Saints backfield and at some point, if the Saints start to lose, they may want to get a long look at him to see what they have for the future. The more Kamara plays, the less likely it is that he remains on the waiver wire. Kamara scored against the Panthers this week and has some value right now if you are in a pinch.
Bilal Powell – RB NY Jets – 65% – In 2016 we saw Matt Forte dominate touches early in the season before tailing off later in the year. This year, Powell was drafted in fantasy drafts with the expectation that he would be an RB2, and to date he has failed to live up to the potential. Some owners have bailed on Powell and he’s available in 35% of Yahoo leagues. If you can afford to add Powell now, do so, and hold on to him for a few weeks. If you do, you are likely to see returns in late October because Forte will likely wind down.
Jamaal Charles – RB Denver Broncos – 33% – This week we saw Jamaal Charles carve out a role in the Denver offense. He didn’t quite look like the old Jamaal, but he looked like a solid NFL running back and still has enough quickness to get it done. The Bills were strong against the run, so in similar match-ups Charles may be more than serviceable. In the event CJ Anderson goes down, Charles could see an expanded role.
Duke Johnson – RB Cleveland Browns – 52% – Duke Johnson is the more explosive runner in the Cleveland offense and although he only had 2 rushing attempts, he was targeted 7 times in the passing game, snagging 6 of them for 81 yards. Duke found the end zone this week and came through with 22.4 points in PPR formats. Cleveland figures to play from behind for most of the year so it’s a good bet that Johnson will see similar volume in the passing game throughout the season. If he scores or sees an uptick in rushes any given week he will offer tremendous upside. Johnson is a flex option as it is but if Crowell goes down, his value will soar.
Wendell Smallwood – RB Philadelphia Eagles – 6% – Darren Sproles’ injury means somebody is going to have to assume the pass-catching role in the Eagles backfield. Blount is more of a one trick pony, a goal line pounder, while Smallwood’s game is more rounded. In my view, Smallwood is the back to own in the Eagles backfield, especially in PPR formats. Corey Clement will factor into the game-plan, but after Sproles went down, Smallwood saw twice as many carries as Clement.
Alex Collins – RB Baltimore Ravens – 2% – Terrance West is dealing with a calf injury and Collins picked up West’s role in what was supposed to be the Buck Allen show. Collins runs hard and is a flex option as long as West is hurt. If you own West, you are going to want to own Collins as well, because we won’t know how the roles will shake out once West is 100% again. Collins looks mean when he runs.
Matt Breida – RB San Francisco 49ers – 3% – Carlos Hyde went down briefly on Thursday against the Rams and Matt Breida took over a majority of the snaps while he was being evaluated. If you are a Hyde owner, grab Breida to give yourself insurance, unless you already have 3 or 4 other RB1 or RB2 options on your roster.
Gio Bernard – RB Cincinnati Bengals – 19% – This week, Bill Lazor took over as the Bengals play caller and we saw Mixon take over as the lead dog. Hill seems to be phasing out, and Gio remained in a passing back, or 3rd down back role. In PPR leagues, Bernard is a must add, and he could provide solid insurance behind Mixon.
Last week, people were either on or off the Rashard Higgins hype train. Unfortunately, I was on it. Coming off a game where he was targeted 11 times, all signs pointed to Higgins tearing up the brutal Colts secondary. That, however, did not happen. Don’t pull the plug on Higgins yet, because he isn’t the only receiver who disappointed this week. To put matters in perspective, Higgins saw 6 targets, and caught 2 of them for 10 yards, while Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree COMBINED for 8 targets, 2 catches and 13 yards receiving. Down games can happen to anybody, and this year seems more volatile than any I can remember in recent history. That being said, there doesn’t appear to be a large number of difference making wide receivers on the waiver wire this week, only bye week fillers who will not see a consistent target share.
Sterling Shepard – WR NY Giants – 35% – Shepard should be owned in all PPR leagues, but in the event he is not, go get him. Shepard is not the #1 receiving option in NY but he is Eli’s safety net at the moment and if Beckham Jr. sees a tough matchup, Shepard may benefit from an increase in targets. The Eagles secondary was decimated by injury this week, so don’t get too out of control with the hype.
Robby Anderson – WR NY Jets – 20%/Jermaine Kearse – WR NY Jets – 47% – The Jets wide receiver situation is going to be a volatile thing to predict on a week to week basis. If you are in a pinch, one of these guys will be relevant on a week to week basis. Good luck picking which one.
Kenny Britt – WR Cleveland Browns – 44% – Britt saw 10 targets and only caught 3 of them. I am personally going to stay away from Britt if he’s out there on the waiver wire because last week the rumor was that he needed to try harder and show the coaches more effort. I don’t think that is the kind of guy I want to invest in. Catching 30% of your targets doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence either. Buyer beware.
Robert Woods – WR LA Rams – 7% – Woods saw 7 targets this week and hauled in 6 of them for 108. Trying to predict which of the Rams’ wide receivers will come through is something I don’t want to get involved in. Last week, I thought Cooper Kupp was the wide receiver to own on the Rams, but now that is anybody’s guess. Woods is probably the last receiver on the Rams I would want to own, behind Watkins and Kupp. Woods’ week 3 performance doesn’t look to be sustainable. Buyer beware.
Jared Goff – QB LA Rams – 12% – Jared Goff looks like he is an effective distributor of the football and has been very relevant so far. In my view, Goff is a product of the system, but he is performing well in the system. Goff is not a high end option, but if you are desperate, he can come through for you. I wouldn’t jump to start him against defenses like the Seahawks though.
Jay Cutler – QB Miami Dolphins – 38% – There are worse options out there, but Cutler did underwhelm against the Jets this week. If Cutler didn’t have a touchdown pass to Parker on the last play of the game, it would have been a lost day for Smokin’ Jay. Cutler is somebody you can start in a pinch if your starter is hurt, but you cannot rely on him on a week to week basis.
Blake Bortles – QB Jacksonville Jaguars – 12% – If you think you might need a bye week filler at QB, snag Bortles now. Bortles has been a high end fantasy QB the last few years, albeit in garbage time, and he showed a flash of what he can be this week against the Ravens. If you wait for Bortles to have another 3+ touchdown game, it will be too late, and you will find yourself in a bidding war. Snag Bortles while people are still skeptical.
Andy Dalton – QB Cincinnati Bengals – 45% – After one week under Bill Lazor, Dalton looks better than he did in weeks 1 and 2. Dalton has a few nice matchups coming up, starting with Cleveland this week, so he may offer some upside, even if Eifert misses several weeks. When/if Eifert comes back, and Dalton continues to improve, he will offer some serious juice.
Julius Thomas – TE Jacksonville Jaguars – 36% – I don’t like Julius Thomas, but he plays against New Orleans this week. Get him, use him this week, and then drop him.
Jared Cook – TE Oakland Raiders – 40% – The Broncos are very good at corner and are likely to limit Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree’s production. Look for the Raiders to feed Jared Cook the ball if they are going to move the ball through the air this week against Denver.