Thursday, September 13, 2018

Fantasy Football Rankings Week 2: Running Backs

While his lost fumble partly led to an undesirable game outcome (tie in Cleveland), it was a highly successful day for his fantasy owners.

In the season debut and with no Le'Veon Bell, who continues his hold out, Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner had 31 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns and added five receptions for 57 yards.

Conner's Week 1 production was nearly identical to his rookie season numbers -- 32/144 rushing with no catches.

Before Sunday's game, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted that the team's "guess" was that Bell would report on (this past) Saturday. Of course, he didn't.

It's anyone's guess when Bell will report, but it's clear that Conner is set for a massive role for as long as Bell is out.

Not only did Conner get 36 touches, but no other Steelers back had any carries or targets.

This week, the Steelers will host the Chiefs and the matchup sets up well for Conner to have another big day.

Not only do the Chiefs have a high-powered offense, but they have a weak overall defense. The duo of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler racked up nearly 300 yards from scrimmage against them on Sunday.

Gordon and Ekeler: L.A.'s Dynamic Duo

As noted above, Los Angeles Chargers running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler combined for a monster day against the Chiefs.

While Gordon (24) had more touches than Ekeler (10), the duo both accounted for more than 100 YFS. In addition, both scored -- TD for Ekeler and 2-point conversion for MG3.

Of course, Gordon is an every-week slam-dunk RB1.

Ekeler still may not be a start most weeks, but he has some stand-alone value and could be in the flex conversation in certain situations. This may be one of those weeks.

The Chargers will head east to Buffalo as they look to get on track. As we've seen with the Bills in Week 1, they have plenty of issues.

It's certainly possible that the Chargers establish an early lead and run away with the game (no pun intended). If so, game script could lead to higher percentage of run plays. In addition, a blowout could lead to more work for Ekeler earlier in the game.

More notes heading into Week 2:
  • Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson averaged less than 4.0 YPC and lost a fumble, but the 33-year-old running back began his Washington tenure with 166 YFS and a touchdown. In Week 2, AP gets a Colts defense that allowed Joe Mixon to rack up 149 YFS and a TD on Sunday and he'll be worth a start this week.
  • Scoring a week-high 34.1 fantasy points (43.1 in PPR), New Orleans Saints Alvin Kamara gained just 29 yards on his eight carries, but he added nine catches for 112 yards and scored a total of three touchdowns. Nearly double-digit home favorites against the Browns, no team is projected to score more points on this week's slate than the Saints (29.50) based on implied totals from Vegas odds.
  • The expectation was that the Broncos would use some form of a committee — however, few expected the workload split to be Phillip Lindsay (17), Royce Freeman (15) and Devontae Booker (four). Lindsay made the most of his opportunies as he gained 71 yards on 15 carries and added two catches for 31 yards and a touchdown and he was featured in our Week 2 running back waiver-wire post. The Broncos will host division-rival Oakland in Week 2 and the team in general gets a favorable fantasy matchup across the board.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, but says he expects to play this week. That said, hamstring injuries can be tricky and players are (almost) always overly-optimistic. If he can't go or has a setback, expect a large workload for T.J. Yeldon, who had 69 YFS and a score on 17 touches against the Giants in Week 1.
  • Last month, Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy talked up Jordan Howard's receiving ability. Surprisingly, Howard had more receptions (five) than Tarik Cohen (four) in Week 1. Of course, it's just one game (small sample size), but more consistent passing-game production could really help Howard exceed value compared to his ADP.
  • While most expected a relatively even split, most expected Derrick Henry to lead Tennessee's backfield in workload over newcomer Dion Lewis. Although Henry got eight carries before Lewis entered the game, it was (almost) all Lewis beyond that point. The former Patriots back dominated touches (21 to Henry's 11) and finished with 110 yards and a touchdown.
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Our Week 2 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings from Kevin Hanson:

- Fantasy Football PPR Running Back Rankings

More Fantasy Football Rankings: