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USATSI

As we head into Week 1, Fantasy managers who drafted early are still looking for a way to replace Jonathan Taylor and Zero-RB drafters are still looking for starting running backs. Thankfully for both of them, we have three veterans who weren't drafted as starters who should be good Week 1 options: Jamaal Williams, Samaje Perine, and Raheem Mostert.

In Week 1, with Alvin Kamara suspended and Kendre Miller dealing with yet another injury, it could be a 20-touch day for Williams. Williams had four games of at least 20 touches last year. He averaged 113 yards and 19.8 PPR Fantasy points in those four games. The Titans present a stiff challenge in terms of run-game efficiency, but a positive game script and a lack of competition make Williams close to a must-start running back in Week 1.

  • Week 1 position previews: QB | WR | TE

Mostert will have slightly more competition for touches with Salvon Ahmed and De'Von Achane healthy, but he has a much better matchup against a Chargers defense that has been atrocious against the run for the past two seasons. Perine has the most competition, I'd expect a near even split between him and Javonte Williams, but the Raiders may have the worst defense in the NFL. I have both Williams and Perine ranked as top 24 backs.

I would start all three of these backs over Kenneth Walker, D'Andre Swift, and others. 

Now let's get to the rest of the Week 1 RB Preview:

Week 1 RB Preview
RB Preview
Who's Out

The following players are not being projected to play Week 1 at this time. Here's what it means:

NO New Orleans • #41
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Jamaal Williams is an RB2 for the first three weeks of the season.
MIA Miami • #23
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
We expect Raheem Mostert to be a high-end flex until Wilson returns.
IND Indianapolis • #28
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
As of Tuesday, we are projecting a split backfield between Deon Jackson and Evan Hull in Week 1.
RB Preview
Numbers to know
  • 23.0 -- Christian McCaffrey led all running backs with 23.0 FPPG after he joined San Francisco. Don't let sharing concerns scare you away.
  • 70 -- Miles Sanders' 17-game target pace in two seasons with Duce Staley was 70. He's reunited with Staley in Carolina.
  • 169 -- Before last year, Tony Pollard had never had more than 169 touches in a season in college or the NFL.
  • 5.9 -- J.K. Dobbins has averaged 5.9 yards per carry on his first 226 carries. If he stays healthy for a full season, he could lead the league in rushing.
  • 546 -- Lions running backs saw a combined 546 opportunities in 2023. That's plenty of room for both David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs to be Fantasy starters.
  • 12.1% -- The Eagles threw to their running backs at a league-low rate of 12.1% last year. That would be bad news for D'Andre Swift.
  • 6.2 -- Alvin Kamara averaged 6.2 yards per touch from 2017 through 2020. He's averaged 4.8 since.
RB Preview
Matchups that matter
Matchups that Matter
Projections powered by Sportsline
PIT Pittsburgh • #22
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs SF SF -2.5 O/U 41
OPP VS RB
5th
PROJ PTS
9
RB RNK
12th
2022 Stats
RUYDS
1034
REC
41
REYDS
229
TD
10
FPTS/G
13.1
BAL Baltimore • #27
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs HOU BAL -10 O/U 43.5
OPP VS RB
32nd
PROJ PTS
10.7
RB RNK
24th
2022 Stats
RUYDS
520
REC
7
REYDS
42
TD
3
FPTS/G
10.2
NYG N.Y. Giants • #34
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs JAC JAC -5 O/U 45
OPP VS RB
23rd
PROJ PTS
8.7
RB RNK
45th
2022 Stats
RUYDS
236
REC
30
REYDS
209
TD
2
FPTS/G
5.3
WAS Washington • #8
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs ARI WAS -7 O/U 38
OPP VS RB
30th
PROJ PTS
8.8
RB RNK
32nd
2022 Stats
RUYDS
797
REC
9
REYDS
60
TD
3
FPTS/G
9.4
PHI Philadelphia
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NE PHI -4 O/U 45
OPP VS RB
3rd
PROJ PTS
8.6
RB RNK
20th
RB Preview
Waiver Wire Targets
Week 1 Adds (RB Preview)
NYG N.Y. Giants • #34
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs JAC JAC -5 O/U 45.5
OPP VS RB
NR
RB RNK
39th
ROSTERED
61%
2022 Stats
RUYDS
236
REC
30
REYDS
209
TD
2
FPTS/G
5.3
As long as Zack Moss is out, we expect Jackson to lead the Colts committee against Jacksonville, though he'll share with Evan Hull. Expect something in the 10-15 touch range with a similar number of Fantasy points. If Moss is cleared from his broken arm, he would become our favorite to lead the backfield, but it will still be a committee.
IND Indianapolis • #26
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs JAC JAC -5 O/U 45.5
OPP VS RB
NR
RB RNK
43rd
ROSTERED
15%
Hull probably won't be slated for as many Week 1 touches as Moss or Jackson, but as a rookie he's by far the most exciting of the trio. In Week 1, view him as a low-end flex if Moss is out. If Moss plays, Hull isn't even that. Still, he has the most long-term upside if Taylor remains missing.
PHI Philadelphia • #14
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NE PHI -4 O/U 45
OPP VS RB
NR
RB RNK
40th
ROSTERED
55%
2022 Stats
RUYDS
240
REC
23
REYDS
169
TD
4
FPTS/G
5.2
We have received extremely mixed signals about the Eagles running backs. I would not be surprised at all if Gainwell sees a bigger role than we're projecting and even leads the Eagles backfield in Fantasy points in Week 1. Still, it's a terrible matchup, so he should only be started in deep leagues.
Stashes (RB Preview)
TB Tampa Bay • #44
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ MIN MIN -6 O/U 45.5
OPP VS RB
NR
RB RNK
NR
ROSTERED
9%
Tucker surprisingly won the RB2 job in Tampa and now is just one Rachaad White injury away from significant playing time. There are scouts who believe Tucker has more upside as a runner than White, so it's not entirely out of the range of possibilities that he takes this job by midseason even without an inury.
DAL Dallas • #42
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NYG DAL -3.5 O/U 46.5
OPP VS RB
NR
RB RNK
NR
ROSTERED
50%
You can insert Rico Dowdle here as well, for two reasons. One, it's possible the Cowboys don't increase Tony Pollard's workload and one of these backs has standalone value. Regardless, last year was a career-high in touches for Pollard and he ended the year with a pretty substantial ankle injury. If he gets hurt again both Dowdle and Vaughn could be flex-worthy.
KC Kansas City • #30
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ WAS WAS -7 O/U 38
OPP VS RB
NR
RB RNK
NR
ROSTERED
8%
2022 Stats
RUYDS
60
REC
4
REYDS
21
TD
1
FPTS/G
1.5
James Conner is 28 years old and has a long injury history. Ingram is the clear No. 2 back behind him. The Cardinals may be the worst team in the league, and Ingram may not be anything special, but running back production has far more to do with opportunity than talent.
RB Preview
DFS Plays
Top DFS Play
Projections powered by Sportsline
CAR Carolina • #6
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ ATL ATL -3.5 O/U 39.5
OPP VS RB
13th
PROJ PTS
10.4
RB RNK
10th
2022 Stats
RUYDS
1269
REC
20
REYDS
78
TD
11
FPTS/G
12.7
Sanders' pricing this week doesn't make any sense at all to me. He's priced behind a dozen backs who I have ranked below him. I expect 20-plus touches, 100-plus total yards, and at least one touchdown in his Panthers debut. He has top-five upside at a low-end RB2 price.
Contrarian DFS Play
Projections powered by Sportsline
WAS Washington • #8
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs ARI WAS -7 O/U 38
OPP VS RB
30th
PROJ PTS
8.8
RB RNK
32nd
2022 Stats
RUYDS
797
REC
9
REYDS
60
TD
3
FPTS/G
9.4
I think the people looking for cheap backs this week will probably turn to Jamaal Williams, Raheem Mostert, or Deon Jackson. But Robinson has arguably the best matchup on the board and could see a large workload in the fourth quarter after Washington builds a two-score lead. I even like stacking Robinson with contrarian QB Sam Howell as we expect Eric Bienemy to lean heavily on the screen game.
RB Preview
Heath's Projections

My full set of Week 1 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 1. Projected stats for all starting running backs are available, so be sure to check out the full set of projections at SportsLine.