If your team made it out of Week 2 without a serious injury, congratulations. For the rest of us, deciding which running back to start and sit in fantasy football has never been harder. Players were dropping like flies last week, meaning that there’s never been more uncertainty in projected roles. However, a deeper dive shows that guys like Mike Davis should carry some fantasy relevance while Devonta Freeman and others are better left on the bench.
Mike Davis, Devonta Freeman Highlight Fantasy Football Week 3 Running Back Start Sits
Start: Mike Davis
Christian McCaffrey is out for at least the next three weeks. The Carolina Panthers placed the starting running back on injured reserve, leaving Mike Davis all alone atop the depth chart. Davis obviously won’t have the same role and snap percentage as McCaffrey, but he’s going to see a lot of playing time and should carry plenty of fantasy relevance.
Davis only recorded one carry last week, but that was due to the timing of McCaffrey’s injury. The superstar running back injured his ankle while the Panthers were in catch-up mode and were exclusively throwing the ball. What is promising is that Davis saw eight targets during his time on the field, and turned his opportunity into eight catches for 74 yards. Ultimately, Davis should have a decent percentage of the carries and more than enough targets to be a solid RB2 until McCaffrey comes back.
Sit: Devonta Freeman
Devonta Freeman used to be a great running back, but the longtime Atlanta Falcon is not good anymore. Last year, he was dead last in Rushing Yards Over Expectation and ranked at or near the bottom of every important running back statistic. In 2019, he basically had the entire backfield to himself in a high-powered offense. Now, he has to split work with Dion Lewis behind an offensive line that only allowed Saquon Barkley to 1.8 yards-per-carry this season. No matter how many injuries affected your team, you definitely have a better option than Freeman.
Start: Jerick McKinnon
It’s been a rough two years for Jerick McKinnon, as the former Minnesota Viking missed the past two seasons with injury. However, he’s back on the field for 2020 and is finally ready to shine. Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are both out, leaving McKinnon all alone on the depth chart.
Kyle Shanahan’s starting running back will always be valuable for fantasy, and McKinnon doesn’t have much of a fight for playing time. Jeff Wilson will eat into some of the goal line carries, but McKinnon should have plenty of targets and early-down carries to maintain fantasy relevance.
Sit: Todd Gurley
Speaking of washed-up Atlanta Falcons running backs, you’re probably better off not playing Todd Gurley in Week 3. The former All-Pro simply looks like a shell of his former self, averaging 3.3 yards-per-carry over the course of the season. Running backs can overcome inefficiency with a high workload, but Gurley simply isn’t getting the work required. So far, the running back only has five targets and doesn’t appear to be the primary goal-line back. Despite playing on a high-powered offense, this usage means that you should pivot away from Gurley.
Start: Darrell Henderson
Malcolm Brown and Cam Akers both suffered injuries in Week 2, leaving Darrell Henderson as the presumed starter in Los Angeles. According to head coach Sean McVay, Brown will play in Week 3, while Akers faces longer odds of being ready. Assuming that Henderson and Brown are active, Henderson should lead the backfield. Brown has a fractured pinky and probably won’t be able to handle anything more than a backup role. This is a great offense, and Henderson should be the primary ball-carrier for Week 3.
Sit: Ronald Jones
The Ronald Jones hype train was nice while it lasted. The former second-round pick started the season atop the depth chart, but it looks like this will be Leonard Fournette’s show for the remainder of the year. Jones fumbled midway through Week 2’s action, and Fournette saw the vast majority of the work from that point forward. He thrived in the role, recording 12 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns to go along with four receptions for 13 yards. Bruce Arians loves to switch up his running backs, and Jones is far too risky to start in Week 3.