The Arizona Cardinals lost James Conner to an ankle injury in Week 2, and while they don't think it's serious, we aren't currently expecting Conner to play, which makes his replacement the top waiver wire add ... if one only knew exactly who that was. Last week both Darrel Williams and Eno Benjamin had eight carries, with Benjamin earning four targets and Williams seeing three. We lean towards Williams because of goal-line work, but we're also not sure how much of that there will be in Week 3 against a very good Rams defense.
Week 3:| |
If Conner is in fact out, as the projections below suggest, we rank Williams as a touchdown-dependent flex and Benjamin as more of a desperation flex. But even if Conner is able to play in Week 3 both are fine stashes. Conner is 27 years old and he's missed at least two games every year of his career. His career-high in carries is 217.
The other question is whether Conner himself is a must-start if he's active. If he's questionable all week then the answer is no. If he gets a full practice in by Friday it's more questionable. This Arizona offense has generated excellent running back production each of the past three years, averaging more than one running back score per game. But Conner has only picked up 51 yards on 17 carries despite the fact that they haven't faced a good defense yet. They certainly will in Week 3.
I'll add Conner to the projections below if he's cleared. While I can't say exactly where he'll rank, it will likely be lower than where you drafted him. He's a flex at best if he's a true game time decision and a borderline No. 2 running back if he's cleared on Friday or Saturday. Either way, make sure you have a backup plan.
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 3 at this time. Here's what it means:
James Conner RB
ARI Arizona • #6
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
We expect Darrel Williams and Eno Benjamin to share the job in Arizona.
Alvin Kamara RB
NO New Orleans • #41
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Mark Ingram is flex worthy if Kamara misses another game.
SF San Francisco • #32
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Jordan Mason should back up Jeff Wilson in San Francisco
Numbers to know
- 48% - Jerick McKinnon received 48% of the Chiefs' running back snaps compared to Clyde Edwards-Helaire's 43% in Week 2. MckInnon was also on the field for all four of the Chiefs' snaps inside the 10-yard line.
- 26% - Breece Hall received just 26% of the Jets' running back snaps compared to Michael Carter's 61% in Week 2.
- 252 - Dalvin Cook hasn't faced the Lions since November 2020, but he was a monster in the last meeting, storming to 252 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. In six career matchups versus the Lions, Cook averages 127.8 scrimmage yards.
- 10 - Just 10 touches for Jonathan Taylor versus the Jaguars. That should be rectified this week.
- 94.5 - Rushing yards per game surrendered by the Steelers when facing the Browns last year. Against all other opponents, the Steelers gave up an astonishing 150.1 rushing yards per game.
- 48 - David Montgomery leads all running backs with eight broken tackles through two weeks. That's a big part of why he's averaging a career-best 4.6 yards per carry through two games.
- 6.2 - D'Andre Swift is averaging more than 6 yards per carry before contact. This Lions' front is dominating.
Matchups that matter
Waiver Wire Targets
As of now we don't expect James Conner to play in Week 3 and we expect Williams to lead the backfield without him. But there's a low degree of confidence in both, so don't make a huge splash in terms of FAB. Williams should handle a majority of the short-yardage work, which gives him a slight edge, but this is a bad matchup and it will be a committee.
Eno Benjamin RB
ARI Arizona • #26
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
We prefer Williams, but both Cardinals backs should be rostered, just in case. Conner has had extensive injury problems in the past and this may not be the last game he misses.
Mark Ingram RB
NO New Orleans • #5
Age: 32 • Experience: 12 yrs.
We still don't know for sure if Alvin Kamara will be back in Week 3, and Ingram was pacing towards a decent day before a fumble in Week 2. We'd still expect Ingram to lead the backfield against a better matchup if Kamara misses Week 3.
Jordan Mason RB
SF San Francisco • #41
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
The 49ers running backs continue to go down to injury with Tyrion Davis-Price now expected to miss multiple weeks with a high ankle sprain. That leaves Jordan Mason as the top backup to Jeff Wilson, who has never played more than 12 games in an NFL season. By Week 4 Mason could be the starting running back for the 49ers with no one of consequence behind him.
TB Tampa Bay • #7
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
The Tampa Bay receiving corps has been decimated by injuries and the suspension of Mike Evans, so I would expect a heavy dose of Leonard Fournette, who assured Fantasy managers this week that the touchdowns are coming. He's facing a very good Green Bay defense that still was gashed on the ground by David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, so it's not an impossible matchup. I wouldn't be surprised if Fournette leads Tampa Bay in catches as well.
Reports of David Montgomery's demise were greatly exaggerated. He's averaging 18.5 touches and 93 yards per game. We just need to get him into the end zone. That shouldn't be a problem against a Texans defense that gave up two scores to James Robinson in Week 1 and should have given up two more to Travis Etienne.