Well, that got ugly fast. And I’m not just talking about this week’s Jaguars – Chargers game. That was an entirely different level of ugly. This week is why so many people have been adopting the zero RB strategy when drafting. They don’t want to risk taking a running back early because of the chance of injury, and they know they will be able to watch the waiver wire and read my handcuff report in order to get a running back or two during the season. If you play fantasy football, there is a good chance one of your running backs got hurt this week. If you drafted Adrian Peterson around the 2nd round or Danny Woodhead or Ameer Abdullah a few rounds later, this was not your week. If you went zero RB or waited a bit too long for running backs like I did in a few of my leagues, this is the week you were waiting for. As far as we know right now, though, Woodhead is the only back to go down who is definitely out for the year. The other two question marks are AP and Abdullah. Neither has a timetable for their return right now. Everyone else should be back in a couple weeks.
Anyway, let’s get to it… LeVeon Bell
Note: Players with an attached “+” means they are currently injured or doubtful for the upcoming week’s game. Players with an attached “*” means they are under suspension.
New England Patriots: When I sat down to look over my notes for this game, I had these two points: “LeGarrette Blount is a bad man,” and “Who is D.J. Foster?” With Dion Lewis out, Blount is the main jawn in New England. James White was a popular pick for PPR leagues, but he hasn’t done much of anything in the first two weeks. White had six touches in both weeks, but he has been disappointing overall. And though he only played a handful of snaps, it is probably not great news for White that the Patriots are giving D.J. Foster a look in the backfield.
New York Jets: For the second week in a row, the Jets seemed determined to run their newly acquired, over 30 running back into the ground. Matt Forte got another 32 touches this week, even though he was playing on Thursday night on a short week. This is very discouraging news for Bilal Powell owners (like me), who were hoping for more of a split after Powell’s successful 2015. Powell only got two touches on Thursday night. Two. Mother. Fudfjkladlkdsing. Touches.
The only good news is that there is almost no chance that Forte can keep up this pace (I think). He is currently on pace for more than 470 touches this season. His career high is only 379 touches, and that was before he was, you know, on the other side of 30. The pace he is on now—though it is only after two games—would also put him at the second most touches for a running back in a season ever. Hold on to Powell for now, but for God’s sake don’t start him right now.
Miami Dolphins: As he is wont to do, Arian Foster left this game with an injury. He left in the 2nd quarter with a groin injury, didn’t return, and now it sounds like he may miss a week or two. Once he left the game, Jay Ajayi entered the game, but rookie Kenyan Drake also rotated into the game for a few touches. The final tally was Ajayi with nine touches and Drake with four, but Drake did snipe a touchdown. Ajayi is first up, but it looks like Drake will get some touches, too. The Dolphins were down big in the second half and spent most of it throwing, so neither got a ton of work. Ajayi is the play if you are desperate, but you better be very desperate.
Buffalo Bills: For the second week in a row, LeSean McCoy dominated the touches in Buffalo. He is their workhorse, and that isn’t changing unless there is an injury. Mike Gillislee caught a touchdown pass, but that was his only touch and is not something you can count on.
Cincinnati Bengals: The share was the same, with Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill each with 14. The production, however, was much different. Hill ran 11 times for 22 yards (read: two yards per carry). Bernard only averaged 3.4 YPC, but he added nine catches for 100 yards and a tuddy. This looks to be a full blown 50% split, with both guys being flex plays at best. If you have both and want/need to start one next week against Denver, it should be Bernard. Avoid either one if you can, though.
Baltimore Ravens: Ugh. Stay away from any of these running backs, if you can. Justin Forsett and Terrance West are splitting time, and neither has been particularly good. Forsett led the way in touches, with 17 to West’s 12.
Cleveland Browns: Isaiah Crowell started and got the majority of the work, and his final stat line looks great: 18 carries, 133 yards, and a touchdown. Plus he added a catch for 15 yards. There is one caveat, though: 85 of those yards came on one long touchdown run. On one hand, it is great to see big play ability and the speed to break away. On the other hand, that means he averaged 2.8 YPC on his other 17 carries. Not great, but if the Browns are going to keep feeding him, then he can be a RB2 or flex play. Duke Johnson added seven touches, with four catches for 44 yards.
Houston Texans: The Texans brought in Lamar Miller to give him the rock, and they are giving him the rock. That is about all there is to say. Alfred Blue is the handcuff here, but he is an injury stash and nothing more.
Jacksonville Jaguars: If you started T.J. Yeldon this week, I hope it was at least in a PPR league. He went out and caught eight balls on Sunday…for a whopping 10 yards. Yes, he somehow managed to average 1.25 yards per catch. And for being such a great sport, he threw in 28 yards on seven carries. Yeldon was the guy with Chris Ivory still out with a mystery illness usually reserved for the NHL, but that is all he is: a guy. We aren’t sure when Ivory will be back because we still don’t even know what was wrong with him in the first place, but once he is Yeldon will be even less of a guy.
Indianapolis Colts: Frank Gore had an OK game, with 16 touches and a receiving touchdown. Josh Ferguson had seven touches, but they all came in the second half when the Colts were already losing. Robert Turbin vultured a goal-line touchdown and is your handcuff here, but it doesn’t look like he is going to get many touches unless Gore gets hurt or the Colts go up big early and want to chew clock.
Tennessee Titans: The Titans pulled out a win over the Lions on Sunday, and their two running backs were a big part of it. DeMarco Murray is still the clear starter and had a solid day, with 19 touches for 145 yards, including seven catches for 56 yards. Henry received 10 touches and gained 49 yards, and he looks like a solid handcuff option at this point. He has shown good playmaking ability and may continue to cut into this timeshare, and if Murray goes down then Henry instantly becomes a RB2/Flex option. His value is limited for now, but he is a great handcuff option if you are willing and able to watch and wait.
Kansas City Chiefs: Spencer Ware was the darling of the handcuff report after week one. In week two, he was solid but not spectacular, while starting for Jamaal Charles, who was out again. The Texans were all over the Chiefs in this game, and they didn’t have much success. Hell, Alex Smith finished with negative points in most leagues. But Ware still managed to go over 100 yards on 12 touches. Charles may or may not return next week against the Jets, and Ware’s value will take a hit if he does. Monitor Charles’s status during the week and on Sunday morning. If he is out again, then Ware is a safe play. If he is back, Ware will lose touches but will likely still be involved. In the latter scenario, bench Ware if you have better options while we see how Charles looks.
Denver Broncos: Not much to see here except for Devontae Booker getting some touches as the Broncos ran the ball with a lead. It’s C.J. Anderson’s show. Booker is the handcuff, but he is not playable. Stash him only if you have the roster spots to spare.
Oakland Raiders: For the second week in a row, the Oakland backfield was frustratingly crowded. Latavius Murray put up decent points for his owners because he scored a rushing touchdown and caught six passes, but he only totaled eight rushes and 14 touches overall. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard combined for another 14 touches, with seven apiece, with Washington having much more success. Washington appears to be in the lead to be the handcuff at this point, but this looks like a full blown committee with Murray getting half the touches and a pile of guys getting the other half.
San Diego Chargers: You already know by now. Danny Woodhead tore his ACL and is done for the year. That is, of course, good news for Melvin Gordon owners and the worst kind of news for Danny Woodhead owners. The Chargers are signing former Titans and Chiefs RB Dexter McCluster as a Woodhead replacement:
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 20, 2016
But don’t think you can go grab McCluster and expect Woodhead production right off the bat:
Only for deeper PPR leagues for now. He’s not Woodhead talent wise & part of DW’s appeal was Rivers trust in DW in RZ. Dex won’t have that https://t.co/88ez7Q01pb
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) September 20, 2016
You can grab and stash for now, but I wouldn’t go throwing McCluster right into your lineup.
New York Giants: Shane Vereen received more touches than starter Rashad Jennings in this game, with 17 to Jennings’s 15. This game was unexpectedly low-scoring, and neither back produced a whole lot, but Jennings did get hurt. It sounds like Jennings is not going to miss any time, but this news could be promising for Vereen owners:
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) September 20, 2016
Vereen was already a playable flex option as the primary pass-catching back for the Giants, but he may have even more appeal going forward, at least in the short term. Monitor this one.
Philadelphia Eagles: While Ryan Mathews is the number one option in Philly, Darren Sproles was on the field for almost double the number of snaps (41 to 21). The Eagles came out on Monday night with a clear plan to spread out the Chicago defense and throw the ball, which partially explains the uptick in snaps for Sproles. The Eagles also got no push up front and had little success running the ball all night, which is the other reason. Mathews owners did get two touchdowns out of him, even though he only ran for 32 yards. Sproles didn’t do much with his snaps, with 40 yards on the ground and only two catches for eight yards.
Dallas Cowboys: Nothing new here.
Minnesota Vikings: This is the big one. Not only has Adrian Peterson disappointed to start the year, but now he is hurt. Peterson tore his meniscus, but we don’t know how long he will be out. He is a freak of nature, leading some to predict he could return as early as next week. I think that is unlikely, and he will probably miss at least a couple weeks.
The Vikings beat reporter for the Star Tribune says McKinnon will be first up:
— Matt Vensel (@mattvensel) September 19, 2016
Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy owners can continue to enjoy another disappointing start to the season. James Starks handcuffers can continue to enjoy .4 yards per carry for a handful of touches, hopefully on your bench.
Detroit Lions: The Lions are yet another team that lost a running back over the weekend. Ameer Abdullah looked solid last week and was playing well this week, before leaving the game with a foot injury. X-Rays on his foot were negative, but he is reportedly going for a second opinion. His status is uncertain going forward, but we can assume that he will be out for at least a couple weeks, possibly longer. [Jay’s Note: This post was written before Abdullah went on the IR.]
That means Theo Riddick, who was already seeing more work this year, will be the guy. He will likely share the load with Dwayne Washington, however. Riddick is a great play if you have him, but if you don’t have him he is probably not available in your league. Washington is worth grabbing and stashing if you can get him after waivers (so you don’t waste your priority on him), but don’t play him this week.
Chicago Bears: If you missed Jeremy Langford on Monday night, that’s because he looked just as bad as the rest of the Bears. He did end up getting a touchdown after a pass interference penalty gave the Bears the ball at the one yard line, but the Bears offense looked rough all night and didn’t get much going on the ground. After pass-catcher Ka’Deem Carey went down with a hamstring injury, Jordan Howard entered the game and actually looked pretty good. If Langford continues to struggle, look for Howard to get some more chances. If you are in a deep league, add Howard to your watch list.
Carolina Panthers: Please, sit down. Are you sitting? Ok, you’re never going to believe this, but Jonathan Stewart got hurt. Yes, I’m serious. I know. It never happens. Anyway, Fozzy Whittaker (how fun is that to say? Fozzy Whittaker. Fozzy Whittaker. Fozzy…Ok, I’m done) stepped in and had a really solid game, and he appears to be the top handcuff option at this point.
But there’s a catch, and his name is Cameron Artis-Payne:
CAP has been inactive the first two games, but it’s a special teams thing. Don’t break the bank for Fozzy based on last week.
— Ben G (@YardsPerGretch) September 20, 2016
As he did in the past, CAP might leapfrog Whittaker on the depth chart next week, going from inactive to starter. But Stewart is going to be back in a week or two anyway (before he goes down again, of course), so my money is on Whittaker in the short term, especially since he had success running the ball this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Go and claim Charles Sims. Doug Martin left the game with a hamstring injury, and he went for a MRI on Tuesday. At the time I am writing this, those results are not known. Martin himself doesn’t seem to think it is serious, but hamstrings are known to be fickle beasts that can linger for several weeks.
New Orleans Saints: Saints – Giants was a pretty gross game, and none of the Saints running backs looked great. Mark Ingram is still the guy, and Travaris Cadet is nothing more than a change-of-pace pass catcher. Ingram should bounce back next week against the Falcons. Hightower is probably the first guy up as the handcuff here, but he is another guy who needs an injury to be relevant at all.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are still running a 50-50 split with Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman, but it feels like things are starting to lean in Coleman’s direction. Even though Freeman was productive on Sunday, with over 90 yards and 5.5 YPC, it was Coleman who caught the only two balls out of the backfield and got most of the red zone touches. Both can be considered RB2s for right now, which is disappointing for Freeman owners who drafted him to be the RB1 that he was last year. If Coleman is still floating around for whatever reason in your league, grab him.
Seattle Seahawks: In what might go down as the ugliest game of the entire season, the Seahawks lost 9-3 to the Rams on Sunday. And the only thing more grotesque than the game as a whole was Thomas Rawls’s -1.0 YPC. Yes, that is a negative in front of the one. And no, it’s not a typo. Rawls actually rushed seven times for negative seven yards. And as an added bonus, he got hurt again and didn’t play in the second half, which might be the only reason he didn’t end the day at -15 yards.
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) September 20, 2016
It sounds like Rawls only suffered a contusion (macho way of saying “boo boo”) and should be fine. But he is, you know, bad at football right now.
San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde and the 49ers didn’t put up great numbers on the ground against the Panthers on Sunday, but who does? They will usually put up better numbers, but probably not next week, when they face the Seahawks. Shaun Draughn added nine touches, but he also had no success.
Arizona Cardinals: Everybody panic!
Ok, just kidding. Chris Johnson got more touches than David Johnson, but that’s only because the Cardinals blew the doors off the Buccaneers (Irrelevant Side Note: I am a really fast typer, but I pretty much have to come to a stop whenever I write Buccaneers. I usually end up with something like four Ns, and then I have to go take a break and come back to it). But anyway, DJ is still the guy and CJ is still a veteran handcuff watching the young buck do his thing.
If you want to talk fantasy football or have players you want Mike to feature, hit him up on Twitter at @mikeMaher or post a comment below!