In the first two weeks of the NFL season an already thin running back position has been decimated. We've lost Nick Chubb and J.K. Dobbins for the season, and we're currently without Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, and Aaron Jones. And we still haven't seen Jonathan Taylor take a snap.
In light of this, it's tempting to do what the Minnesota Vikings did when they traded for Cam Akers. If you can do it without giving up a starter like they did, I'm fine with it. But I wouldn't let the sudden scarcity of starters goad you into giving up an elite wide receiver, quarterback, or tight end just to try to make yourself whole at running back. That's partially because there just aren't that many desirable running backs. It's also because it's increasingly risky investing in the most injury-prone position in football.
- Week 3 previews: | |
The better option may just be to stream running backs off the waiver wire. It's too late now to add Jerome Ford, but there will be another Ford in a couple of weeks when someone else gets hurt. And there are still top-40 backs widely available on the waiver wire. Hold on to those elite producers at other positions and scrape by until you stumble upon consistent running back production. The way things are going, I'm not sure many teams are going to have two reliable starting running backs this season.
Check the waiver wire section below for potential starters this week, and I added a couple of extra stashes for those of you who want to beat the waiver wire.
Now let's get to the rest of the Week 3 RB Preview:
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Week 3 RB Preview
The following players are not being projected to play Week 2 at this time. Here's what it means:
Nick Chubb RB
CLE Cleveland • #24
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Jerome Ford is the prize of the waiver wire and an RB2 in Week 3.
NYG N.Y. Giants • #26
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
We think Matt Breida will lead the backfield, but he faces a terrible matchup.
NO New Orleans • #30
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Tony Jones is a flex play, but Kendre Miller could make his debut also.
DET Detroit • #5
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Craig Reynolds and Zonovan Knight will help Jahmyr Gibbs shoulder the load.
Numbers to know
- 29% -- Jahmyr Gibbs has been responsible for 29% of the Lions receiving yards; he should be on the field a lot more often with David Montgomery likely out.
- 0 -- Deon Jackson did not record a touch in Week 2. The backfield belongs to Zack Moss, for now.
- 5.1 -- Raheem Mostert's 5.1 yards before contact leads all running backs.
- 7 -- Travis Etienne leads the NFL with seven broken tackles. He's giving Jacksonville no reason to expand Tank Bigsby's role.
- 12.9% -- Kyren Williams is trying to become the first back since Todd Gurley to earn 12% of the team's targets.
- 31 -- D'Andre Swift saw 31 touches last Thursday. He's a must-start if Kenneth Gainwell remains out, but things get very interesting if Gainwell returns.
- 80.8% -- James Conner has handled more than 80% of the Cardinals touches this season. Ride him for as long as he's healthy.
- 1.8 -- Jaylen Warren is averaging 1.8 more yards per touch than Najee Harris. Last year the gap was 1.6.
Matchups that matter
Waiver Wire Targets
We expect Breida to lead the Giants backfield for as long as Saquon Barkely is out, which could be two to three weeks. Breida is a flex at best, and Gary Brightwell could factor in as well. Expect somewhere between five and 10 PPR points for both, with a little more upside than that if they find their way into the end zone.
CAR Carolina • #30
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Hubbard is playing more of a 1B role than a true backup role in Carolina. While that's bad news for Miles Sanders, it means Hubbard is a flex with upside on a weekly basis. He's scored 18.9 PPR Fantasy points in two games and hasn't reached the end zone yet. There's weekly low-end RB2 upside in his role, especially when Carolina is playing from behind.
DET Detroit • #13
Age: 27 • Experience: 2 yrs.
I would not be surprised if Reynolds leads the Lions in rush attempts in Week 3 against the Falcons. Jahmyr Gibbs is a must-start back, but the rookie doesn't profile as a 20-touch back and the Lions feed their running backs. He's averaged 10.8 PPR Fantasy points in the three games he received double-digit touches.
MIA Miami • #28
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
The Dolphins have brought Achane along slowly, but with Jeff Wilson still on IR and Salvon Ahmed now dealing with a hamstring injury, we may see Achane in the No. 2 role this week. With Raheem Mostert's injury history, that makes Achane one of the top stash candidates. He is blazing fast and should fit Mike McDaniel's system very well once he's ready.
Tyjae Spears RB
TEN Tennessee • #32
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Spears has looked electric and is already playing more than anyone expected. Derrick Henry is a future Hall of Famer, but he's also 29 years old with 1,922 career touches. If Henry breaks down Spears would have top-12 upside.
NO New Orleans • #25
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Miller is expected to make his debut this week in a timeshare with Tony Jones. Of course, Alvin Kamara returns from suspension in Week 4. With Jamaal Williams' injury, Miller should slot in as the No. 2 in this offense behind the 28-year-old Kamara.
Zack Moss RB
IND Indianapolis • #21
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
I know it seems weird to see Moss ranked so high, but he is a rare feature back in a league with so few of them. The fact that he's still priced like a backup makes up for the negative matchup against the Ravens. If Gardner Minshew starts, Moss will see 20-plus touches even in a loss.
Mattison has had a miserable start to the season, but so has the Chargers' defense. Mattison is at home in the game with the highest over/under on the slate against a bad run defense. If he can't get it going here, I'm not sure he's going to. The Cam Akers trade should make Mattison even less popular, but I wouldn't expect a big role from Akers in Week 3.
My full set of Week 3 Fantasy football projections for every position are now available on SportsLine. Find out which of my favorite plays are projected to score higher than consensus rankings and which don't live up to their draft hype, at least in Week 3. Projected stats for all starting running backs are available, so be sure to check out the full set of projections at SportsLine.