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Running Back Roundup: All 32 Teams (Week 4)

Running Back Roundup: All 32 Teams (Week 4)
Running Back Roundup: All 32 Teams (Week 4)

Welcome to Week 4 of the Running Back Roundup, a weekly team-by-team review of all the league’s fantasy backs. This column is here to help you sort through each NFL backfield, identifying buy-lows, sell-highs, and next week’s top waiver wire adds.

Keep reading to figure out what to make of increased opportunities for Joe Mixon and Wendell Smallwood, big fantasy comebacks from Jordan Howard and DeMarco Murray, the Jamaal Charles resurgence, another huge game from “third-down back” Chris Thompson, and more.

Get free start/sit and waiver wire advice for your fantasy team >>

Arizona Cardinals last week vs. DAL, this week vs. SF
It was Chris Johnson’s turn to be the Cardinals’ nominal “starter,” but as with Kerwynn Williams the week prior, it didn’t translate into much fantasy value. Johnson rushed 12 times for just 17 times, although it wasn’t totally his fault — he was often hit in the backfield as a bruised and battered offensive line that was missing two starters consistently failed to create running lanes. Third-down back Andre Ellington had the more useful fantasy game, turning 10 touches into 81 yards as the Cardinals played catch-up in the fourth quarter.

The good news for Johnson is that Williams was a total non-factor, and the Cardinals’ coaching staff likely recognizes that Ellington is not capable of handling a heavy workload. Johnson can still be penciled in for double-digit carries moving forward, and perhaps he’ll find a bit more running room as the offensive line gets healthier. To be clear, he’s just a low-end RB3/flex right now, but he should be owned in standard leagues for the time being. Ellington is still just a passable flex option in PPR leagues, Williams is waiver wire fodder, and David Johnson is still worth hanging onto in hopes he can rescue the Cardinals’ offense (and the fantasy managers that drafted him) in time for the fantasy playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons last week @DET, this week vs. BUF
Week 3 was just another day at the office for Atlanta’s dynamic running back duo. Devonta Freeman piled up 106 yards and a TD on 21 carries — the most he’s received in almost a calendar year — and corralled all three of his targets for another 32 yards. Meanwhile, Tevin Coleman received just nine touches, but he impressively turned them into 89 yards. Freeman remains a top-5 RB and Coleman is a high-variance option who belongs in most standard league lineups.

Baltimore Ravens last week @JAX, this week vs. PIT
The Ravens had a trip to London in Week 3 that they’d like to forget, and the misery extended to the team’s top backfield options. Buck Allen’s momentum came to a screeching halt, as he managed just 28 yards on 13 touches. The good news is that Allen caught five passes for the second straight week and still looks like a solid bet to receive double-digit carries most weeks. He’s still the running back to own in this backfield but will need a much better all-around performance from Joe Flacco and Co. to be worth using in standard leagues.

Terrance West got the “start,” but he received just six carries and wasn’t heard from again after fumbling early in the third quarter. Alex Collins piled up 82 yards on nine carries in garbage time, but it remains to be seen whether West is in the doghouse or Collins was simply playing a mop-up role for the second consecutive game. Regardless, anything close to an even split for backup duties to Allen would make both West and Collins unplayable in most fantasy leagues.

Buffalo Bills last week vs. DEN, this week @ATL
For the second straight week, LeSean McCoy ran into a brick wall all afternoon against a stout rushing defense — this time the Broncos. But a couple rough games is no reason for McCoy owners to panic. Shady’s active passing game role gives him a solid floor, and while Buffalo’s offense may struggle against good defenses, he’ll have better days against softer units. Buy low if his owner no longer considers McCoy a solid RB1.

Surprisingly, Mike Tolbert had the better rushing day against Denver (11 carries for 41 yards). He’s a reasonable dart throw if you’re really hurting at RB and Buffalo is facing a weak defense.

Carolina Panthers last week vs. NO, this week @NE
The Panthers stunk up the place in a favorable home game against New Orleans, but don’t blame their running backs. Christian McCaffrey wasn’t very involved in the running game, but he highlighted his huge upside as a pass catcher, hauling in nine balls for 101 yards. Jonathan Stewart, meanwhile, out-carried McCaffrey 12-to-4 and averaged a healthy 4.8 YPC, but his lack of passing game involvement made him an afterthought in garbage time of the blowout loss.

Both should be considered borderline RB2s for now, with Stewart remaining the preferred play in standard leagues and McCaffrey the top dog in PPR. If Kelvin Benjamin is not able to get healthy in time for Week 4, McCaffrey becomes an even better play.

Chicago Bears last week vs. PIT, this week @GB
Hopefully, you took my advice of the last couple weeks and bought low on Jordan Howard. Howard shook off a sprained AC joint in his shoulder and busted out for 164 yards and two scores on 28 touches. Howard always profiled as the Bears’ primary early-down and goal-line back despite Tarik Cohen’s emergence, and Sunday showed that role can still translate into massive games for Howard. He probably won’t get quite as much passing down work as he had last year, but Howard is surprisingly off the injury report for Week 4 and is back on the RB1/2 borderline in standard leagues.

Cohen is best-suited as Chicago’s passing-down back, but for one week at least he did most of his damage on the ground (12 carries for 78 yards). His afternoon would have been even bigger (and Howard’s smaller) if Cohen hadn’t been ruled out of bounds on what looked like a game-winning 73-yard TD run. There’s no doubt that Cohen has more than enough big-play ability to serve as an RB2 in PPR leagues, but he received barely half as many carries as Howard, and will likely need to make the most of his touches to have consistent value in standard leagues. As long as Howard stays healthy, think of Cohen as a less proven Tevin Coleman in a less formidable offense.

Cincinnati Bengals last week @GB, this week @CLE
NFL coaches and fantasy football writers don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to running backs. Coaches often prefer established vets, while fantasy footballers are infatuated with the potential of rookies. But thankfully it looks like everyone can now agree that Joe Mixon is more deserving of carries than Jeremy Hill.

As I explained last week, newly-promoted Cincinnati offensive coordinator Bill Lazor prefers to avoid messy three-way RB committees like the Bengals employed in the first two weeks of the season, opening the door for Mixon to seize control of this backfield. That’s precisely what happened in Week 3 against the Packers, as Mixon received 18 carries compared to just seven for Hill and three for Gio Bernard.

Mixon hardly dominated (3.4 YPC), but the Bengals are highly unlikely to abandon the plan to feature the rookie after almost pulling off an upset at Lambeau Field. And at 0-3, they might as well see what the kid can do. Mixon could quickly become an RB2 if he can show that he’s good enough to take advantage of the opportunity, while neither Hill nor Bernard needs to be owned in most leagues at the moment.  

Cleveland Browns last week @IND, this week vs. CIN
It was the same old story in Week 3 for Isaiah Crowell. Low-double digit carries, low YPC, little passing game involvement, and few scoring opportunities. It’s possible he’ll have a big game at some point, but unless/until something major changes, he’s a low-end RB2 at best.

The much bigger Week 3 fantasy game came from Duke Johnson, who caught six passes for 81 yards and added two carries for 23 yards and a touchdown. It’s beginning to look like Johnson may be the biggest beneficiary of Corey Coleman going down, as the Browns lack WRs worthy of the available targets. With 140 receiving yards over the last two games, Johnson is a solid RB3/flex consideration in PPR leagues, but he’ll need to prove he can score with some consistency if he’s going to be usable in standard leagues.  

Dallas Cowboys last week @ARZ, this week vs. LAR
Ezekiel Elliott didn’t look great for much of the Monday night affair, but his owners won’t complain about the end results: 25 touches for 94 yards and a score. He’s one of the most reliable fantasy assets there is as long as he’s on the field.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hold a hearing on October 2 as it considers whether Elliott’s domestic violence suspension should remain on hold until a ruling on the merits of the case takes place. ESPN reported during the Monday Night Football telecast that the Circuit Court may then need another week or two beyond October 2 to issue a decision. And even if the Circuit Court sides with the NFL, the Players Association may have other legal maneuvering it can pursue to further delay Elliott’s suspension.

Long story short, there remains a major cloud of uncertainty regarding Elliott’s playing status, so Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden should both remain owned in most fantasy leagues. McFadden has been inactive for all three games this season and looks to be behind Morris on the depth chart. Morris is the slightly preferred handcuff right now, but there are a number of factors that teams consider (special teams capabilities, pass-catching skills, etc.) when deciding which backup RBs to make active on gameday, so it’s not totally clear who would be the lead back if/when Elliott is forced to serve his suspension.

Denver Broncos last week @BUF, this week vs. OAK
At first glance, C.J. Anderson owners couldn’t be too happy to see that Jamaal Charles received one more carry than Anderson on Sunday. But a closer look suggests less has changed than meets the eye.

Anderson played 49 snaps compared to 21 for Charles, a nearly identical ratio to the first two weeks of the season. But while Charles received his customary, highly-efficient 10 touches, Anderson’s rushing attempts went from 20+ in Weeks 1 and 2 to just eight carries in Week 3. Charles is looking very good — he is averaging over 5 YPC and just scored his first TD. But until we see tangible evidence that the Broncos plan to give him a heavier workload, Anderson remains a good bet for a huge workload most weeks.

The possibility that Charles’ role could grow does make Anderson’s outlook a little shakier, but he still has clear RB1 potential. As for Charles, it’s not guaranteed that his workload would expand even if something were to happen to Anderson, but his history of elite production and 2017 performance-to-date make him a must-own player — and an acceptable flex option in good matchups.

Detroit Lions last week vs. ATL, this week @MIN
The Lions are one of the highest-scoring teams in the NFL through the first three weeks, and yet none of their stable of running backs is a reliable fantasy option in standard leagues. For the second straight week, Ameer Abdullah had exactly 17 touches for 86 yards. His owners can expect 15-20 touches each week, but that will rarely result in a 100-yard game or a touchdown. Abdullah’s high floor and low ceiling make him a low-end RB2 at best.

Theo Riddick (zero carries and four catches for 38 yards) is even less involved in the running game than he was last season, and his receiving numbers are also down in the early going. He’s not even an appealing PPR option right now. Whoever is active between Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington may occasionally vulture a TD as the season progresses, but that won’t happen often enough for either to warrant legitimate fantasy consideration.

Green Bay Packers last week vs. CIN, this week vs. CHI
The Packers were reportedly looking to lighten Ty Montgomery’s workload heading into Week 3’s matchup with the Bengals, but he was once again the only running back to see meaningful playing time. Montgomery received 20 touches to just one for backup Jamaal Williams, and Montgomery also out-snapped Williams 65 to five. Unfortunately, Montgomery’s 20 touches produced only 50 yards, and he also didn’t score for the first time this season.

While Montgomery has been productive in the passing game, he’s averaging a measly 3.0 yards per carry on the year, but the Packers have yet to show any interest in getting any of their three rookie backs more involved in the running game. It’s possible Green Bay is content to only run the ball 10-12 times a game, just to keep defenses honest. They do have Aaron Rodgers, after all.

Montgomery’s major pass-catching role and weekly scoring opportunities make him a high-end RB2, but he may not produce elite yardage totals even if he continues to serve as an every-down back. Williams is rosterable in standard leagues as both a handcuff and option for greater involvement should the Packers make more of a commitment to the running game. However, Aaron Jones and Devante Mays are around too, so it is far from certain that Williams would be the next man up should Montgomery suffer an injury or have his role scaled back.

Houston Texans last week @NE, this week vs. TEN
Lamar Miller had another fairly mundane performance (15 touches for 63 yards) and is still looking for his first touchdown of the season. His starting role hasn’t yet been scaled back in any meaningful way, but rookie D’Onta Foreman (10 touches for 90 yards) did receive double-digit touches for the second straight week and outgained Miller for the first time.

In the past, Miller’s passing game involvement has given him a solid RB2 floor. But it was Foreman, not Miller, who broke two 30+ yard catches on Sunday. The next few games should tell us a lot about how the Texans’ workload will look the rest of the season. If Miller continues to receive 15-20 touches each game, he’ll remain a low-end RB2. But if Foreman is given the opportunity to surpass Miller, he could quickly become a higher-upside RB2. The worst-case scenario for those who own both players is probably an even split, but the bottom line is that Foreman belongs on fantasy rosters whether you own Miller or not. 

Indianapolis Colts last week vs. CLE, this week @SEA
Not many people were excited to draft old man Frank Gore, but he continues to be a serviceable fantasy option. Gore received a whopping 25 carries on Sunday, and although his 2.3 YPC was putrid, he managed to find the end zone for the second consecutive game. None of Robert Turbin, Marlon Mack, or Matt Jones look like a significant threat to Gore’s workload, and none of them need to be owned in most fantasy leagues. Meanwhile, Jacoby Brissett’s solid performance against the Browns slightly improves Gore’s short-term outlook, and the Colts hope to have Andrew Luck back by Week 6, which would help Gore even more.

Gore isn’t exciting, his overall production is down a bit from last year, and he’s approaching the twilight of his career, but he can still help fantasy owners win. He’s an RB3 who could deliver low-end RB2 value once Luck returns.

Jacksonville Jaguars last week vs. BAL, this week @NYJ
Leonard Fournette (20 touches for 80 yards and a TD) didn’t have the biggest game considering that the Jaguars put up 44 points on what many thought was a tough Ravens D. But while Fournette’s rushing efficiency this season hasn’t been spectacular (3.5 YPC), he’s scored a rushing touchdown in all three games, while also topping 20 receiving yards each week. Involved at both the goal line and in passing situations, Fournette is a rock-solid RB2 with upside.

Meanwhile, Chris Ivory is one of the better handcuffs in fantasy football given his ability, Fournette’s injury history, and the Jaguars’ commitment to running the football. T.J. Yeldon was once again inactive in Week 3 and is off the fantasy radar for now.  

Kansas City Chiefs last week @LAC, this week vs. WAS
What else can you say about Kareem Hunt? Three straight games with a 50+ yard rushing TD to open his career. Six total TDs while averaging a silly 8.5 yards per carry. He’s an obvious top-five RB and the only real debate is whether he should already be considered the number one overall player in fantasy.

Backup Charcandrick West (four touches for 13 yards) remains a complete non-factor but would suddenly find himself with quite a bit of fantasy value if Hunt got injured. He’s an acceptable handcuff or lottery ticket in many leagues.  

Los Angeles Rams last week @SF, this week @DAL
If Week 2 suggested that Todd Gurley was back, Week 3 confirmed it. Gurley amassed 149 yards and three TDs on 33 touches on Thursday night, and he looks like a top-10 fantasy RB right now. That said, the schedule is about to get a lot tougher, and Gurley will need Jared Goff to continue to play at a high level in order to remain a high-end RB1.

Malcolm Brown missed Thursday’s game with a hamstring injury, but he’s a decent handcuff for Gurley owners once he gets healthy. With Brown inactive, no other Rams RB saw carries in Week 3.  

Los Angeles Chargers last week vs. KAN, this week vs. PHI
Melvin Gordon carried the ball 17 times on Sunday for 79 yards and a TD, but he missed most of the second half with a knee injury. Both Gordon and coach Anthony Lynn are saying that Gordon is fine and will suit up in Week 4, and he’ll be an obvious RB1 if he does, but his status bears watching.

With Gordon missing some time in Week 3, Branden Oliver ran the ball eight times for 16 yards and caught four passes for another 18 yards. Oliver has had an unremarkable career, and you have to go back almost three years to find the last time he had a big fantasy performance. But Gordon owners would be wise to add Oliver — at least until Gordon is completely healthy. It’s also possible that undrafted rookie Austin Ekeler could work his way into fantasy relevance if Gordon were to miss extended time.

Miami Dolphins last week @NYJ, this week vs. NO
The Dolphins were awful on Sunday against the Jets, and Jay Ajayi’s day (13 touches for 25 yards) went about as poorly as possible. The Dolphins’ offensive struggles could become a problem for Ajayi, but he is still an every-down back who is only one game removed from a 126-yard performance, so his owners shouldn’t panic. Until these down weeks become a more regular occurrence, Ajayi deserves to remain on the RB1 radar.

Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake both continue to be non-factors in the Miami offense and aren’t worth owning in fantasy leagues. Neither is the clear handcuff to Ajayi.

Minnesota Vikings last week vs. TB, this week vs. DET
For the second time in three weeks, Dalvin Cook was given a huge workload and delivered a big game for his fantasy owners (32 touches for 169 yards and a TD). Second to Todd Gurley in touches through three weeks, Cook continues to make his case as a top-10 RB.  

Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon combined for six touches and nine yards in Week 3, and neither needs to be owned in most leagues. They’d likely form a committee if Cook got hurt, with Murray as the slightly preferable option in standard leagues as the likely goal-line back.

New England Patriots last week vs. HOU, this week vs. CAR
With Rex Burkhead missing Week 3 due to a rib injury, it looked like the Patriots’ backfield had become simplified for fantasy purposes: Mike Gillislee as the early-down grinder, goal-line back, and closer, James White as the passing-down back, and Dion Lewis in a minor change-of-pace role.

But New England scored its touchdowns through the air in Week 3, and found themselves in a battle with Houston until the very end of the game, making Gillislee an afterthought in the offense. Meanwhile, White surprisingly received just one target out of the backfield, while Lewis received three. In the end, none of the three had a good fantasy game despite the Patriots scoring 36 points.

This game is a reminder that Gillislee needs a TD to be an effective fantasy play, and there will be some weeks where that doesn’t happen because of game script. He’s still a solid RB2. White’s lack of involvement is a bit more concerning, as he’s only caught more than three passes once in the first three games. For now, he’s still a low-end RB2 in PPR and a flex option in standard leagues, but his owners will feel a lot better about deploying him if he can repeat Week 2’s eight-catch performance soon.

Burkhead still has some season-long upside and stash appeal once he returns from his rib injury. The fact the team starts each game with him on the field hints that Bill Belichick could have a larger role planned for him down the line. Lewis had a quiet game (five touches for 17 yards) even with Burkhead out and looks to still be fourth in line in this backfield.

New Orleans Saints last week @CAR, this week @MIA
The Saints have just one rushing TD so far this season, and that belongs to Alvin Kamara, who scampered into the end zone from 25 yards out in the waning minutes of Week 3’s blowout win. Kamara is an exciting talent, but he has just nine touches over the last two weeks, so he’s nothing more than an upside bench stash at the moment.

Mark Ingram has been a frustrating own for fantasy managers so far this year, as he’s failed to top 90 yards or score a touchdown yet this season. Still, Ingram is the clear back to own in New Orleans and may be a worthwhile buy-low target. He received 14 carries in Week 3, compared to nine for Adrian Peterson and two for Kamara. Ingram isn’t going to be a workhorse in this offense, but he’s averaging 78 yards from scrimmage per game, and the touchdowns should come soon enough.

Peterson may also find the end zone on occasion, but his lack of rushing volume or passing game role make him an entirely TD-dependent flex option, and not a particularly strong one. He simply isn’t a must-own player anymore.

New York Giants last week @PHI, this week @TB
The Giants are one of several teams in the league that may not have any running backs worth using in fantasy leagues.

“Starter” Paul Perkins hasn’t reached double-digit carries in any of the team’s three games, but it’s tough to argue he deserves more work when he’s averaging 2.1 yards per carry. Orleans Darkwa has looked a bit better than Perkins, but the Giants have never been willing to commit to Darkwa as a workhorse, and now he’s dealing with a sore back. It’s possible his role continues to grow as the season progresses, but the Giants are a team that seems destined to again finish near the bottom of the league in rushing, so the upside just isn’t there for Darkwa.  

Shane Vereen was barely involved in Week 3 (three touches for 23 yards), although he did top 50 yards in each of the first two weeks. He doesn’t really deserve to be on standard league rosters and should only be used as a low-end flex option in PPR leagues.

New York Jets last week vs. MIA, this week vs. JAX
The Jets’ backfield continued to move toward a full-blown three-way committee in Week 3. Bilal Powell did receive 15 carries, which is more than he received in the first two games combined, and he also found the end zone. But he managed just 37 yards. He’s back atop the running back depth chart, but his position there is precarious.

Matt Forte has yet to receive double-digit carries this season and is now dealing with a toe injury of unknown severity, although x-rays were negative. His 91-yard Week 2 looks like it could easily turn out to be his best game of the season even if he doesn’t miss time. Rookie Elijah McGuire was the team’s most effective runner on Sunday, with seven carries for 34 yards (4.9 YPC), although he also lost a fumble. McGuire appears destined for more work as the season goes along, and that added responsibility could come quickly if Forte is out.  

For now, none of these three are desirable starters in fantasy leagues. Powell is the best short-term bet to reach weekly RB2/3 value, but it’s far from a guarantee. McGuire is now a reasonable stash while we see how things play out, and Forte is a drop candidate, especially if his injury turns out to be significant.

Oakland Raiders last week @WAS, this week @DEN
The Raiders’ offense was surprisingly shut down by Washington in Week 3, and that included the running game. Marshawn Lynch had just 26 yards on seven touches and has now seen his touches drop significantly in back-to-back games. He’s proving to be the touchdown-dependent RB2 that many predicted.

Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington both did even less than Lynch in the run game, although Washington did manage five catches for 24 yards. Hopefully, you read this column last week and didn’t burn your waiver priority or a lot of FAAB on Richard following his 109-yard performance in Week 2. He and Washington remain firmly entrenched in a committee for backup duties to Lynch.

Philadelphia Eagles last week vs. NYG, this week @LAC
The most fantasy-relevant injury in Week 3 happened to Darren Sproles, who tore his ACL and broke his arm, ending his season. Sproles’ absence opens the door for Wendell Smallwood, who ran the ball 12 times for 71 yards on Sunday after receiving just seven carries through the first two games. Smallwood did not, however, see an uptick in targets in Week 3, and it remains to be seen whether he or undrafted rookie Corey Clement ultimately handles Sproles’ passing-down responsibilities.

For now, consider Smallwood the favorite to replace Sproles’ role and continue to chip in some on early downs. That makes Smallwood a worthy waiver wire add as a potential RB2/3, with the understanding that his role is not set in stone and there is some risk involved. Clement is also a reasonable flier while the situation remains uncertain.

LeGarrette Blount had a good game against the Giants (12 carries for 67 yards and a TD), but his role should not substantially change with Sproles gone. Blount’s zero-carry Week 2 is looking like an outlier, especially now. He’s a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex in standard leagues.

Pittsburgh Steelers last week @CHI, this week @BAL
Le’Veon Bell has not had a vintage Le’Veon Bell performance yet this season, but he’s getting there. In Week 3, Bell topped 90 yards for the second straight week and scored his first touchdown of the young season. He’s still a top-five RB and some truly big games should be right around the corner.

James Conner didn’t touch the football in a game the Steelers were struggling to stay in, but he is the clear handcuff for Le’Veon owners.

San Francisco 49ers last week vs. LAR, this week @ARZ
Carlos Hyde had another big game on Thursday night, piling up 94 yards and two scores on 28 touches. Hyde is a capable workhorse who is also seeing more passing game work under Kyle Shanahan than he ever has before. But Hyde also reminded his fantasy owners of his injury history, leaving the game with a hip injury before returning to do most of his statistical damage.  

It all adds up to Hyde as a borderline RB1 and his backup Matt Breida as one of the best handcuffs in fantasy football. Breida had six touches for 29 yards in Week 3, and would instantly become an RB2 if Hyde were to miss time.

Seattle Seahawks last week @TEN, this week vs. IND
Chris Carson ran for just 34 yards on 11 carries in Week 3, and yet his owners have to be thrilled. Yes, Carson added two catches for 18 yards and a touchdown. But the real reason for optimism is that Carson dominated the Seahawks’ backfield, with Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy nowhere to be seen.

It’s no secret that Seattle has problems on its offensive line, but Carson is talented enough to get more than what’s blocked. Pete Carroll sounds very impressed by the rookie, and as long as Carson is the unquestioned lead back in Seattle, he’s an RB2 with upside.

Neither Rawls or Lacy appeared on the stat sheet on Sunday. While both are drop candidates, there is an argument for holding Rawls until Carson fully establishes himself, and perhaps even beyond that as a handcuff. Third-down back C.J. Prosise had his best game of the season, mostly due to a 46-yard catch. But he’s still only a flex option in PPR leagues.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week @MIN, this week vs. NYG
The Buccaneers fell behind early on Sunday and abandoned the run, which was bad news for Jacquizz Rodgers and his fantasy owners. Rodgers finished with just five carries for 15 yards. A classic victim of negative game script, Rodgers is still a serviceable RB2 for one more week. But his mediocre output through two games has left the door wide open for Doug Martin to reclaim feature back duties when he returns from suspension in Week 5. As long as Martin gets 15-20 touches per week, he’ll be set up for RB2 value.

Third-down back Charles Sims received just three touches for 13 yards in Week 3, even though the Bucs were in comeback mode. It’s a troubling sign for Sims’ fantasy value. He’s not even a decent PPR flex option at this point.

Tennessee Titans last week vs. SEA, this week @HOU
Just as everyone was ready to anoint Derrick Henry as the next great Tennessee tailback, DeMarco Murray reasserted himself with 15 touches for 120 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown run. But Henry didn’t look too shabby himself, handling the ball 14 times for 64 yards.

As I mentioned last week, there are a number of ways this could play out. For now, Murray and Henry look to be in a fairly even timeshare. That isn’t ideal for either of their fantasy values, but the Titans are a competent-enough running team that both can be in the RB2 conversation with around 15 touches per week. If either gets hurt or loses carries, the other could quickly become an RB1.

Washington Redskins last week vs. OAK, this week @KAN
Chris Thompson wants your attention. For the second straight week, he had a massive game, this time catching six balls for 150 yards and a score while adding 38 yards on the ground.

But coach Jay Gruden wants to make sure people pump the breaks on the Thompson hype. Gruden says that Thompson is “not going to get” more work than he’s been receiving and that Rob Kelley remains the team’s “No. 1 lead dog” when healthy. Gruden clearly appreciates Kelley’s reliability, and Kelley tentatively looks on track to return in Week 4.

Whenever he does return, Kelley will be a touchdown-dependent RB2/3. Thompson has done more than enough to be considered an RB2 in PPR leagues, but his lack of consistent touches means that he is still best deployed as a boom-or-bust flex option in standard leagues. Meanwhile, rookie Samaje Perine (19 carries for only 49 yards) failed to capitalize on his opportunity and is no longer a great stash. And Mack Brown, who milked the clock with six carries for 27 yards as the Redskins played with a lead, is just watch-list material for now.

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Andrew Seifter is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrew_seifter.

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