It is the beginning of Week 3, and Austin Ekeler is your RB1. Just like we all predicted, right? Over the last two weeks, I have highlighted multiple running backs with good and bad match-ups, and I am very pleased to say that I’ve been right on basically all of them. So, now that we head into Week 3 (which will be the last week of using 2018 statistics), I feel confident in the model and in my projections. Week 3 is full of match-ups that, honestly, do not look great. I won’t take the low hanging fruit and say “you should probably start Ezekiel Elliot against the (dumpster fire that is the) Miami Dolphins,” because yes you definitely should. So I’ll do my best to bring some other profiles to the table with favorable match-ups.
If you spent a first-round draft pick on David Johnson, I’m sorry. So far, it hasn’t been looking wonderful for the former 2,000 yards-from-scrimmage back. His efficiency didn’t look great last year, and hasn’t looked splendid this year either. Most people entered their fantasy drafts with the belief that his down year last season was in large part because of play-calling, but it hasn’t panned out in the new system yet either. I believe that Kliff Kingsbury is still adjusting his system to the NFL, and that there are bound to be bumps and bruises along the way. That said, coming off a game where Johnson was essentially abandoned, I expect Kingsbury to course-correct and get Johnson involved early and often against a defense that allowed Peyton Barber of Tampa Bay to post 82 rushing yards and a TD. I still don’t see DJ as the RB1 he was drafted at, but I believe he will post RB2 numbers and start trending in the right direction.
A preseason “MY GUY,” I was so excited to see Aaron Jones get a full workload and absolutely ball out against a good defense last week. Remember in Week 1 when I told you to buy low on Jones? Week 2 was why. We finally saw a #FreeAaronJones get 23 carries for 116 rushing yards (5 YPC) and a TD, while also contributing 4 catches for 34 yards. He is a beast. It looks like new head coach Matt LaFleur figured out that he has a bell-cow in the backfield and is ready to trust him fully. The Broncos have given up 125.5 rushing yards per game this year, and in what I expect to be a positive game script, Jones is in a great position at home to follow up last week’s performance. He’ll be started as an RB2 by most with a strong potential for RB1 numbers this week.
So, Carlos Hyde is a thing we need to talk about. When the trade happened on Aug 31, I tweeted that it wasn’t good news for Duke Johnson. And boy, was I right. Hyde was far and away the lead dog in Week 2, getting 20 carries and turning it into 90 yards. He looks strong, punishing, and is keeping the chains moving. He isn’t the elusive game-breaking back that other teams possess, and his efficiency last year was not good. Part of that could be blamed on bouncing from team-to-team, as he had some solid games in Cleveland at the beginning of the year, and he has a nice 5.8 YPC so far this season. He is a solid bet to continue to see a nice workload, especially in this one. The Chargers have been getting absolutely shredded on the ground – they’re allowing 148.5 yards per game – and Hyde should find himself in a great position to post good numbers again. In a potent offense, he’ll have plenty of scoring opportunities. He is establishing himself as a solid RB2 candidate, and should be treated as such in this matchup.
Hey, remember that one time that Derrick Henry ripped off a 99-yard TD run full of stiff arms and defenders being thrown into another dimension? Yeah, that was last year against the Jaguars, and that game was much more than just one good run – he punished them for 228 rushing yards and four TDs. I think that’s kinda good. The Jaguars have been around the middle of the pack so far, giving up 119.5 yards per game. There’s something about this divisional game that makes me feel like Henry is ready for his first big breakout game of the year. He has an RB2 floor because of usage alone, with RB1 upside in this game.
Kamara was a consensus top-4 draft pick in fantasy drafts this offseason, but that was before the heartbreaking injury to quarterback Drew Brees, who looks to be out for roughly six weeks at this point. After getting hurt in their Week 2 matchup with the Rams, the Saints offense looked downright awful. Stagnant, one-dimensional, uncreative- it was not inspiring and his 45 rushing yards were very disappointing. Kamara has now logged exactly 13 carries in each of the first two games of the year, and the Seahawks have looked fantastic against the run through two weeks. They’re allowing only 57.5 rushing yards per game, good for fourth best in the league. James Conner was held to only 33 rushing yards on 11 totes in Week 2. This is not a good matchup for Kamara, and especially now without Brees. Kamara could be looking at a total flop of a game. You likely can’t afford to not play him, but temper your expectations. He very well could be outside the top-24 at the position this week.
This is the worst start of the week for any team’s starting back. The Bears are a historically good defense, and AP is coming off a terrible game of only 25 rushing yards on 10 attempts against the Cowboys. The Bears were the toughest team to run against last year, and are off to an equally strong start this season. Peterson, who was a hot play last year after Guice went down, was a total bust in the same situation last week. I really want no part of the Washington offense at this point, and especially not against Khalil Mack and Co. AP won’t find much room to maneuver in this game, and should make himself comfortable on your bench for this week.
This one makes me sad, as Conner was one of my favorite targets in the offseason, but he has been off to a very rough start to this season. With Big Ben now out for the season, the offense as a whole could take a step backwards in a big way with Mason Rudolph under center. I think Rudolph is talented and could go on to being plenty successful in the NFL, but these things take time and adjustments. Maybe the QB change means the team will try to lean more heavily on the run game, but Conner is also dealing with a knee injury and is questionable for the matchup with the Niners, who have been surprisingly stout against the run this year (73 YPG). Conner should be considered a fade, and is much better suited as an RB2 play this week.
Nobody is running on the Eagles this year. Nobody. They’re allowing only 42.5 rushing yards per game, and no player has gone over 32 rushing yards in a game on them in the first two matchups of the year. They haven’t played bad running backs either – Derrius Guice in week 1 and Devonta Freeman last week. Freeman was held to 22 yards on the ground. This defense means business and it will be a brutal task for Johnson to find much running room. Kerryon was another of my preseason “My Guys” that I had a huge man-crush on, and I still do – go watch the highlight of him spinning like a whirling dervish and putting three defenders in the spin cycle last weekend – but this may be a tough matchup for him. Granted, I had him down as a bad matchup before learning that the Lions were releasing CJ Anderson, so clearly they have faith in their young stud. Kerryon is more of a Flex/RB2 play this week in a hard matchup. He might make for a good buy-low candidate after this game.
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