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Running Back Roundup Week 2: Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Sep 23, 2020

Week 2 is in the books, and it’s time to take stock of the crazy week we just experienced. What better way to do that then with a retrospective of the top stories from fantasy’s favorite position – the running back. Each Wednesday, we’ll look back on studs, busts, breakouts, timeshares, situations to monitor, and all things RB from the past week.

So settle in, partner. It’s time to saddle up for the RB Roundup. Yeehaw.

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Stud of the Week : Aaron Jones (GB) 50.6 Fantasy Points
If you had Aaron Jones on your roster in Week 2, there’s a good chance you came away victorious. If you faced him – like I did in one my leagues – there’s an even better chance you lost your matchup (also like I did). Jones has been absolutely dominant through two weeks of football, leading the league in rushing yards (234) and total scrimmage yards (312). He’s on pace to smash his pre-season ADP.

Bust of the Week: Todd Gurley (ATL) 6.1 Fantasy Points
Gurley was only able to must 61 yards Sunday, though it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He finished the day with a 21/61 rushing line that included no touchdowns and no receptions. That’s particularly disheartening when you consider the Atlanta/Dallas game ended with a combined 79 points scored. Through two weeks, Gurley has posted a putrid 35/117/1 rushing line and just two receptions for one yard. His rushing totals are disappointing, but it’s his lack of involvement as a receiver that should really concern fantasy managers. Matt Ryan has thrown the ball 90 times and looked Gurley’s way on just five of those attempts. He’s still in the RB2 conversation, but his outlook is not sunshine and rainbows after Week 2.

Breakout of the Week: Leonard Fournette (TB) 31.6 Fantasy Points
In Week 2, it happened. Fournette had a monster day and finished as one of the top backs of the week, vaulting him into top-15 territory ahead of Week 3. He out-touched Ronald Jones 16-9 and outgained him 116-27 while scoring twice. Despite what Bruce Arians may have said about RoJo being the guy in Tampa Bay, Fournette was brought in to do work, and it looks like that’s what he’ll do.

Surprise of the Week: Darrell Henderson (LAR) 21.1 Fantasy Points
For the second week in a row, a Ram ends up in this section. Henderson had a big game Sunday filling in for the injured Cam Akers, posting 121 yards and a score on 14 touches. Last week’s surprise, Malcolm Brown, was limited to just 11 touches for 47 scoreless yards, and it seems he’s lost his grip on the starting job just as quickly as he got it. With Akers’ timetable to return uncertain due to a ribs injury, Henderson has plenty of flex appeal moving forward.

Injuries Abound

The biggest story of the week are obviously the long list of injuries we saw around the NFL on Sunday, as multiple elite fantasy running backs were forced out of action. Saquon Barkley – a consensus top-3 pick in most fantasy drafts – tore his ACL and won’t play again in 2020. Christian McCaffrey – fantasy’s top overall pick – suffered a high ankle sprain and is likely to miss 4-6 weeks. Raheem Mostert – after an electric start to the season and a couple of speed records – suffered a sprained MCL, and he’ll miss Week 3 at least. His timetable for return is unclear.

If you’re reading this article, you’ve already done your research on the top waiver adds of the week and what you should do moving forward if your team got bit with the injury bug. So, I’m not going to go into that any more. Instead, I’d like to offer three players who came out of nowhere to post big fantasy seasons to show that hope is not lost when one of your top studs is forced to miss time. The fantasy season is far from over, and there are plenty of moves to make and games to play. Keep grinding – we’re only in Week 3!

Jordan Howard (2016)
Howard went undrafted in 2016 fantasy drafts but handsomely rewarded fantasy managers who picked him up, as the Indiana product rushed for 1,313 yards, secured a trip to the Pro Bowl, and finished as the RB10.

Alvin Kamara (2017)
Now a staple in the first round of fantasy drafts, Kamara’s ADP in 2017 was 147, though he was likely available on your waiver wire heading into Week 3 when he scored his first touchdown. Kamara went on to finish as the RB3 behind 1,554 scrimmage yards and 13 total touchdowns.

Phillip Lindsay (2018)
The rookie went undrafted in most fantasy leagues in 2018 and promptly finished with the second-most rushing yards ever by an undrafted rookie in his first season. That earned him a Pro Bowl nod (the first offensive undrafted rookie to earn that honor) and an RB13 finish thanks to 1,278 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns.

Quick Hitters

  • Aaron Jones has an NFL-leading four total TDs through two weeks of action and is on pace for another big year in that department after leading the league with 19 total scores in 2019. After being slept on by many in the fantasy community heading into the season, he’s currently the overall RB1.

  • Alvin Kamara has hauled in 14 catches in the early goings of the season, and he’s a good bet to set a new career high in receptions, after grabbing 81 in each of his first three seasons. New Orleans’ passing game is limited, and it’s clear that it revolves around the RB.
  • James Robinson compiled his first 100-yard game against Tennessee in Week 2, and he’ll look to build on the already-strong season he’s having. Robinson’s next four games: MIA, CIN, HOU, DET before the Week 7 bye. He’s got a real shot to return RB1 numbers in that stretch, especially with the litany of injuries we saw on Sunday. He’s somehow just 76% rostered in Yahoo leagues right now, so take a look on your waiver wire or offer up a trade to get him.

  • Welcome back Miles Sanders! After sitting out Week 1, Sanders didn’t appear limited in his debut, logging 23 total touches for 131 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. With Carson Wentz struggling mightily, Sanders should see his number called frequently moving forward.
  • In his first week as the Colts’ top back, Jonathan Taylor toted the rock 26 times. There’s no question that he’ll get all the work he can handle, and he should be treated as an RB1 for the remainder of the season. Nyheim Hines saw only one touch in this one, but it’s too early to drop him. He’s a strong hold with the chance for more work moving forward, as this may have been gamescript dependent.

  • The Chargers’ backfield split continued in Week 2, and it was Joshua Kelley who led the way with 25 total touches (23 rush attempts, two receptions) compared to 20 for Austin Ekeler (16 rush attempts, four receptions). Ekeler was more effective with his touches, though it appears Kelley has a stable fantasy floor with this workload, and he should be treated as a weekly flex.

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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