Fantasy Football Week 2 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: Running backs
Whether you lost someone to injury or are dealing with some disappointments, you might have tough decisions to make at running back. Jamey Eisenberg is here to help.
Editor's Note: Welcome to Week 2! The season opener saw some huge performances from some of the biggest names at running back, but also had plenty of disappointments. There were injuries to Joe Mixon, Derrius Guice, and Tevin Coleman, plus disappointing performances from some of our favorite breakout candidates, like Kerryon Johnson and Aaron Jones. That leaves Fantasy players with plenty of questions heading into the second week of the season, and if things didn't go as planned last week, you'll want to make sure you get things turned around quickly. Luckily, Jamey Eisenberg has his Start and Sit calls for Week 2 ready to go. Check out running back here, and check back later in the day for the rest of the positions.
DET Detroit • #33
Age: 22 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Johnson didn't have a great game in Week 1 at Arizona with 16 carries for 49 yards (3.1 yards per carry), along with two catches for 13 yards on two targets, but there's room for improvement this week. While he split work with C.J. Anderson (11 carries for 35 yards), Johnson still played 57 percent of the snaps. I expect that to continue, and the Chargers run defense was just torched by the Colts at home, with Marlon Mack going off for 174 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Even though Johnson was a disappointment in Week 1, he should rebound this week at home.
TEN Tennessee • #22
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
I was concerned about unrealistic expectations for Henry coming into this season after the way he dominated at the end of last year. Well, in Week 1 at Cleveland, he was dominant again. Henry had 19 carries for 84 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown, as well as a 75-yard touchdown reception on a screen. He only had two targets in the game, so his role in the passing game clearly isn't expanding, but he should be able to beat up the Colts this week. In three of his past four games against the Colts, Henry has at least 89 total yards. He only has one touchdown over that span, but he's averaging 6.1 yards per carry against Indianapolis in his career.
Duke Johnson RB
HOU Houston • #25
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Johnson had a solid debut with the Texans in Week 1 at New Orleans with nine carries for 57 yards (6.3 yards per carry), as well as four catches for 33 yards on five targets. Carlos Hyde also ran well (10 carries for 83 yards and one catch for 2 yards), but Johnson played 63 percent of the snaps and was the more valuable running back. Johnson should again play a vital role in the passing game against Jacksonville this week, and the Jaguars just allowed Damien Williams to catch six passes for 39 yards on six targets in Week 1. He's a solid No. 2 running back in all PPR formats, and at least a flex in non-PPR leagues this week.
Sony Michel RB
NE New England • #26
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Michel was dreadful in Week 1 against the Steelers with 15 carries for 14 yards, and he was outplayed by Rex Burkhead (eight carries for 44 yards and five catches for 41 yards). I'm not expecting that to happen again, and Michel is a South Florida kid coming home since he went to high school at American Heritage in Plantation. Michel should rebound in a big way against the Dolphins, who just allowed 265 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns and 5.8 yards per carry to Baltimore in Week 1. James White is also worth starting in PPR leagues this week, and Burkhead is a sleeper against this terrible Miami defense.
BUF Buffalo • #26
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
In full disclosure, I nearly made Singletary my Start of the Week. I was impressed with his performance in Week 1 against the Jets, and this was despite getting just nine total touches. But he had four carries for 70 yards (17.5 yards per carry) and five catches for 28 yards on six targets, and he played 70 percent of the snaps. Frank Gore is a speed bump for Singletary having a monster game, but it's coming, as early as this week against the Giants. When the Bills commit to giving Singletary 15-plus touches, we could see a dominant outing, and I like Singletary as a high-end No. 2 running back this week in all leagues.
CIN Cincinnati • #25
Age: 28 • Experience: 8 yrs.
If Joe Mixon (ankle) is out, Bernard should be started in all leagues. Mixon missed two games last year with an injury, and Bernard scored at least 19 PPR points in both contests. The 49ers also just allowed Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber to rush for 108 yards on 21 carries (5.1 yards per carry).
PHI Philadelphia • #26
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Washington taking a surprise 20-7 lead at halftime over Philadelphia in Week 1 didn't help Sanders since the Eagles leaned on Darren Sproles while chasing points. That could happen again this week if the Falcons offense shows up, but I expect Sanders to be a useful flex option in this matchup. Despite the score, he still played more snaps than Sproles and Jordan Howard, and Sanders had a 21-yard touchdown run called back due to a penalty. Atlanta also just allowed Minnesota to rush for 172 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries (4.5 yards per carry).
JAC Jacksonville • #34
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
With Derrius Guice (knee) out, Thompson and Adrian Peterson will share touches in Washington's backfield, and I like Thompson a lot better of this duo. In Week 1 against the Eagles, Thompson had seven catches for 68 yards on a team-leading 10 targets, while also getting three carries for 10 yards. Washington will likely be chasing points against the Cowboys this week, giving Thompson more playing time than Peterson. The last time Thompson faced Dallas at home was in Week 8 in 2017, and he had eight catches for 76 yards, as well as four carries for 18 yards. He's a low-end starter in PPR.
LeSean McCoy RB
KC Kansas City
Age: 31 • Experience: 12 yrs.
McCoy looked great in his debut with the Chiefs, and you have to wonder if a bigger role is ahead in comparison to Damien Williams. Remember, McCoy was with the team for a week before suiting up against the Jaguars in Week 1, and he still managed 10 carries for 81 yards (8.1 yards per carry), as well as one catch for 12 yards on one target. He only played 29 percent of the snaps, but his workload should increase this week at Oakland. He's worth using as a flex option against the Raiders.
CHI Chicago • #32
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
I'm hoping for Montgomery to have a bigger workload in Week 2 against the Broncos after he was limited against Green Bay in Week 1. He played the fewest snaps out of Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis, but he looked like the best running back on the field for Chicago despite just six carries for 18 yards and one catch for 27 yards. The Broncos just allowed fellow rookie Josh Jacobs of the Raiders to gain 113 total yards and score two touchdowns in Week 1, so hopefully Montgomery will be similarly productive this week.
Aaron Jones RB
GB Green Bay • #33
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
If there's a positive to take out of Week 1 against Chicago for Jones, it's that he didn't suffer a knee injury for the first time in three games in the Windy City. While he did briefly leave the game, he finished the contest – albeit with minimal production. Jones only had 13 carries for 39 yards (3.0 yards per carry), along with one catch for no yards on one target. He split playing time with Jamaal Williams (59 percent to 41 percent), but Jones is the better of the two. That said, this is another tough matchup in Week 2 against the Vikings, who just limited Atlanta's Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith to 14 carries for 50 yards (3.5 yards per carry), as well as four catches for 21 yards. I'd only use Jones as a flex in most leagues.
DEN Denver • #30
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Lindsay and Royce Freeman are going to split playing time, which was the case in Week 1 at Oakland, and it's frustrating. Lindsay played 53 percent of the snaps and had 11 carries for 43 yards (3.9 yards per carry), as well as four catches for 23 yards on six targets, and Freeman had 10 carries for 56 yards (5.6 yards per carry), along with one catch for 5 yards on one target. Lindsay is still the better of the two for now, but this is a tough game to use him against the Bears, even at home. Chicago should be able to contain this Broncos ground game, and Lindsay is a low-end flex option at best.
Tarik Cohen RB
CHI Chicago • #29
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
You're probably starting Cohen in PPR leagues as at least a flex option since he's basically a receiver in Chicago now. He had no carries in Week 1 against the Packers and finished with eight catches for 49 yards on 10 targets. That could happen again in Week 1 against the Broncos, but I'm concerned about game flow for Cohen in this matchup since the Bears should be playing with a lead. Cohen might not be needed as much in the passing game, and it could take a touchdown for him to help your Fantasy roster. With Montgomery and Davis also getting touches, this could be a tough week to trust Cohen, especially in non-PPR formats.
Kenyan Drake RB
ARI Arizona • #41
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Drake will likely need another Miami Miracle against the Patriots this week to help Fantasy managers after a dismal performance in Week 1 against the Ravens. He had four carries for 12 yards (3.0 yards per carry), as well as two catches for 15 yards on three targets against Baltimore, and it was ugly. Last year against New England at home in Week 14, Drake scored on a desperation touchdown at the end of regulation to help the Dolphins upset the Patriots, but it's doubtful Miami can pull off another victory this week. I'd stay far away from Drake in Fantasy leagues in Week 2.
WAS Washington • #26
Age: 35 • Experience: 13 yrs.
Peterson is expected to start with Guice out, but he's not a recommended Fantasy option in most leagues against the Cowboys. While he did play well against the Cowboys at home last year with 24 carries for 99 yards (4.1 yards per carry), as well as one catch for 8 yards in Week 7, he followed that up with 12 carries for 35 yards (2.9 yards per carry), with two catches for 9 yards in Week 12. I expect Washington to be chasing points this week, and Thompson is the running back to covet in this matchup. Peterson is only worth using as a low-end flex option in non-PPR leagues.
KC Kansas City • #26
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
You can still trust Williams as a low-end starter in PPR leagues, but I'm skeptical of him this week, regardless of format. He was still the lead running back for the Chiefs in Week 1 against Jacksonville, playing 66 percent of the snaps compared to just 29 percent for McCoy, but he managed 13 carries for 26 yards (2.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown, along with six catches for 39 yards on six targets. McCoy's role is expected to increase, but we don't know to what degree. And you can see what Williams' stat line would be without the touchdown, especially in non-PPR leagues. That said, we also don't know how much more Williams will do in the passing game with Tyreek Hill (collarbone) out. I'm not saying to bench Williams outright, but I'm nervous his production could be minimal, especially if he doesn't score.
So who should you sit and start this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 2 Fantasy football rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
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