First, Matt Asiata isn’t your savior
Any starting running back, especially in a Norv Turner offense, is at least a serviceable-to-low-end RB2. Therefore, Matt Asiata is obviously worth a roster spot in all leagues. However, Fantasy owners who lost Adrian Peterson should not rely on the 27-year-old Asiata to replace AP’s production. It won’t even be close.
Asiata averaged only 3.8 yards per carry last season. While that is better than Trent Richardson’s career average of 3.3 yards per attempt, it’s not good enough to keep the job for the duration of the season. Asiata rushed 13 times for 36 yards last week, which translates to a lousy 2.8 yards per carry. Yeah, a TD and a few catches saved his Fantasy day but don’t expect that on a weekly basis.
The player to keep a close eye on is Jerick McKinnon, the No. 96 overall pick in last May’s Draft out of Georgia Southern. McKinnon already played 21-of-66 offensive snaps for the Vikings in Week 2. Imagine how much he’ll be on the field once they realize Asiata isn’t that good.
McKinnon is a unique talent; he was an option quarterback in college and is completely raw as a running back. However, he’s been compared to all-time greats, and allegedly possesses Chris Johnson-like explosiveness and Jamal Lewis-like strength. Stat heads, analytic nerds and talent evaluators think McKinnon will be a stud at some point. Personally, I prefer the eyeball test and I’m very excited to watch McKinnon learn the RB position at the NFL level.
If McKinnon lives up to the hype, he should surpass Asiata on the depth chart in a few weeks. He just needs time to learn the aspects of being an NFL running back that don’t come naturally to freak athletes. Either way, he should be stashed in all leagues. Don’t be upset if you missed out on Asiata, just go out and grab McKinnon.
1. Kirk Cousins has the tools, weapons and offensive scheme to emerge as a Top 10 QB. If you feel like switching things up, add Cousins and then shop your incumbent QB for an upgrade at a different position. In one of my leagues, the Matt Stafford owner picked up Cousins and then traded Stafford for Randall Cobb.
2. Stedman Bailey could emerge as a sneaky pickup in deeper leagues. Bailey, who is returning from suspension early because of the overhauled drug policy, was an absolute stud at West Virginia. In three years he caught 210 balls for 3,218 yards and 41 TDs. In 13 games as a senior he caught 114 balls for 25 TDs. The third-round pick in 2013 only had 17 receptions in a lost rookie campaign, but he’s healthy and had a nice preseason. The Rams don’t exactly have elite receivers ahead of Bailey and he could emerge as their No. 1 option in the near future.
3. Just when Mark Ingram was emerging as a reliable Fantasy option, he breaks his hand. Hopefully he doesn’t miss much time, but having screws inserted into any body part usually isn’t a great sign.
4. Sammy Watkins has the talent to be an elite NFL wide receiver, we just didn’t know if he had the quarterback. After 11 targets, 8 receptions, 117 yards and one TD in Week 2, it is clear that E.J. Manuel is serviceable enough for Fantasy owners to count on Watkins as a high-upside WR2.
5. Arian Foster’s workload has been crazy and Alfred Blue appears to be the next man up if something happens to the Texans’ workhorse. If you’re new to Fantasy, something usually happens to Foster. Blue picked up 40 yards on 11 carries in Week 2.
6. Niles Paul caught eight passes for 99 yards in Week 2 and did everything possible to impersonate Jordan Reed. Well, not everything. Paul didn’t get injured. The converted WR has low-end TE1 ability while Reed is sidelined… and Reed is always sidelined.
7. If Trent Richardson played in the NBA, he’d be on the Sixers. He’s absolutely perfect for a team that wants to tank for a better draft pick. Unfortunately, for Trent… NFL teams don’t tank.
8. Remember the name Damien Williams, who is moving up the RB depth chart in Miami. The Oklahoma product is the immediate backup to Lamar Miller with Knowshon Moreno out for a few weeks. Don’t pick up the wrong Damien Williams! The former USC and Titans receiver by the same name is in the database for a few of the prominent Fantasy sites. He was even in training camp with the Dolphins, making it extra confusing
9. Davante Adams is another player to pay attention to. Adams caught five passes for 50 yards in Week 2 and may have surpassed Jarrett Boykin on the depth chart. Head Coach Mike McCarthy told local media that Adams has, “earned opportunities,” and the Packers have a tendency to turn random receivers into stars.
10. I have always loved Knile Davis and absolutely think he’ll produce RB1 numbers while Jamaal Charles is sidelined. Davis can block, he runs hard and is in the perfect offense for his style. Start him if you own him.
Questions? Hit me on Twitter @briansflood