Believe it or not, Week 1 is here. After months of debating whether football would return in full capacity, they are going to play what should hopefully be a normal season. The running back position is always a tricky one, and these last few weeks have brought us a ton of news. Leonard Fournette was released by the Jaguars, and a rumor began to float around about Alvin Kamara being on the trade market. This was a hefty draft class for rookie running backs, as a few will be getting touches in Week 1. Get up to date NFL Projections here.
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Week 2 Studs
The Thursday Night Football game between the Bengals and Browns opens up two favorable matchups for the backs here. Nick Chubb had a poor Week 1 and it didn’t help they were down about 30. Joe Mixon faced the Chargers and is in a rebound spot against the Browns. This game should be a close one, and while it may not be pretty, it is a good spot for both backs. Derrick Henry is in a prime spot this week against one of the worst run defenses in the league dating back to last season. Henry was fed heavily on Monday against a tough Denver defense and that workload against Jacksonville is primed for a big week.
Dalvin Cook had a weird game against Green Bay where he found the end zone twice but was not used often. Week 2 should be a different scenario for Cook. Given Cook still had a strong fantasy score it shows why we drafted him as an early back. On the flip side of this game, both Hines and Taylor get a bump against a Minnesota defense missing key players. Ezekiel Elliott is coming off a strong Week 2, and no surprise to see him back up here in the rankings. The Atlanta defense is going to be one to target all year and Dallas are five-point favorites.
Alvin Kamara is coming off of a multi-touchdown game against the Buccaneers, who were a tough team against the run last season. The Raiders defense wasn’t as bad against the run as prior years last season and they did make Christian McCaffrey work in Week 1, but he still managed to get his. He will likely do the same against the Buccaneers. Back to Kamara, the Saints are big favorites on the road and Kamara’s usage is primed for a very big week. He moves up a couple of spots for me here.
Week 2 Duds
There are a few big names that have tougher matchups, but you drafted them to start weekly. Saquon Barkley and the Giants offensive line struggled in a major way against the Steelers and gets the Bears this week, although Adrian Peterson rushed for 95 yards. After watching the Steelers defense, Melvin Gordon is going to struggle for the Broncos, who go on the road to Pittsburgh this week. I am not too worried about the matchup for Clyde Edwards-Helaire even in a tough matchup against the Chargers, as he still remains a top ten guy.
Some of these committee approaches factor into the matchups, as New England goes on the road to Seattle. The true running backs on New England all saw a split workload. With Cam Newton also getting into the mix for rushing attempts, this is going to be a pain for fantasy football. White still worth a look in deeper PPR leagues, but the rest of the names you really need a touchdown and then some.
Todd Gurley played just 46% of the snaps and both Brian Hill and Ito Smith were on the field for over 20% of the snaps each. This is a bit concerning, even though they were down from the start. Gurley is going to have his matchups but against powerful offenses, this is going to be a concern. He is still a start due to the red zone potential, but that is just about it.
Week 2 Injury Corner
Marlon Mack is the major injury of the weekend at the running back position. It is now confirmed that Mack will miss the rest of the season with a torn Achilles. This is unfortunate for Mack who was in a contract year. While Indy will likely work out some other backs and might sign one of them, this is Jonathan Taylor’s starting job right now. He gets a major jump in the projections and he showed he can work in the passing game as well. Nyheim Hines is a great PPR play as Frank Reich has talked about Hines having a strong role in the offense all offseason long.
Frank Reich confirms: Rookie Jonathan Taylor is the team’s starting running back.
Nyheim Hines will still very much be involved.
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) September 14, 2020
On Monday Night Football, James Conner suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and never returned. It was a bit odd as he got it taped up and was jumping on the sidelines. Pittsburgh did say it was an ankle sprain but they are expecting a quick return. They get the Broncos this week and will be favorites. They might lean towards resting Conner given they have some depth and Benny Snell looked great filling in. This isn’t a situation to go running to the waiver wire.
We will need to monitor Miles Sanders again for the Eagles and even if he plays there are likely going to be some limitations. It is also not an A+ matchup. If you have the luxury to go with other options, I would still look there first.
Le’Veon Bell will be out the next few weeks with a hamstring injury and the Jets have Josh Adams and Frank Gore filling in. As much as I love Josh Adams, this situation is awful for fantasy. The offensive line remains below average and they will not find themselves in favorable game scripts. Duke Johnson is going to miss some time, but that won’t any real fantasy impact.
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