The running back position is an absolute mess. As I discussed with C.J. Mitchell every time I went on his podcast heading into the season, that’s why I was drafting receivers in the first round. Nobody saw this Adrian Peterson situation coming, and it’s not a situation I’d like to pat myself on the back over. On the other hand, there were plenty of injuries in Week 2, which supports my initial argument. Jamaal Charles, Ryan Mathews, Knowshon Moreno and Mark Ingram suffered injuries after Doug Martin, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ben Tate went down in Week 1. The position takes more hits than any other and most backs are small players by NFL standards. Therefore, taking 20ish hits from significantly larger men every week inevitably leads to health problems. Zero running backs looks like the way to go in drafts with this newer pass happy NFL, barring an absolute iron man (like Peterson before these child abuse charges). With this in mind, do not be afraid to burn your FAAB on the backs that emerged as starters. Do not hesitate to spend big on Lamar Miller, Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson and Donald Brown (in that order). They all have the starting gigs locked up for at least the next few weeks and every week is extremely important in Fantasy Football.
Your Week 2 leader in red zone targets this week was: you guessed it, Steve Smith? Even though John Harbaugh suggested he wanted Torrey Smith to reach 100 catches this season,
Smith has taken on the role of number one receiver. Smith’s 25 targets in two games rank second only to Jordy Nelson’s 30. Look to the Smith owner in your league, who may be looking to sell high because he is for real. Torrey Smith has always ranked below average in catch percentage because he runs fly routes and Flacco just floats it up to him. Occasionally, he catches one but more often than not, the ball falls incomplete. Gary Kubiak, the Ravens offensive coordinator, realizes he cannot rely on Torrey as the main target if the team expects to be an above-average offense. Steve Smith gives Flacco a solid, possession receiver and he’s going to be a big part of the game plan every week.
Andy Dalton leads football in yards per attempt (9.07) by a large margin. The injury to A.J. Green should bring him back down to Earth in that department.
If this isn’t the year of Andrew Luck, then my eyes must be playing games on me. Through two games, Luck leads all quarterbacks in scoring (based on ESPN basic scoring). The running game isn’t doing Luck any favors, as Trent Richardson continues to be as average as they come. Ahmad Bradshaw is proving he’s an excellent contributor in the passing game and the best overall back on the roster (as long as he remains healthy). He received five targets in the red zone last week alone (and one rush). With no running game and an array of weapons that includes Hakeem Nicks as a third receiver, Luck should continue to put up monster numbers all season. Do not be surprised if Luck outscores Drew Brees in 2014.
Despite Nick Foles not living up to his expectations considering his success last season, Darren Sproles has shined. Chip Kelly’s offense does a nice job of spreading the opposition out, leaving holes for Sproles to break free. The presence of LeSean McCoy doesn’t hurt any either. After last season, I questioned whether or not Sproles had much left in the tank. He was maddeningly inconsistent, but it turns out that was due to injury and game-planning as opposed to talent depreciation. Sproles is playing like the third option in the passing game, which runs more plays than any other team, so he should be owned in all formats. Yes, that even includes standard, non-PPR.
With nine red zone carries in Week 2, it’s no wonder Alfred Morris scored two touchdowns. Sure, Roy Helu suffered a knee injury but Morris is once again a workhorse this season.
An interesting scenario that developed in a running back by committee situation was Fred Jackson still dominating red zone carries. I’m sure C.J. Spiller owners are sick of hearing this, but Jackson also received more touches (14 to 13). Those who had Spiller pegged as the lead back after Week 1 need to temper their expectations once again.
Last, and definitely least in terms of size, Danny Woodhead should assume a similar role to last year starting immediately. Even though he looks like this to opponents, he’s a PPR RB2 until Mathews returns. Expect him to catch four plus passes in every game Mathews sits. Why wouldn’t he? He racked up a whopping 76 catches in his first season in San Diego, so the potential is there.