Fantasy football: How to fix your running back crisis

Parades are supposed to be fun, celebratory events every one can enjoy. Too bad that isn’t always the case.

The parade of injuries in Week 2 was devastating for NFL teams, as well as fantasy rosters across the land. Saquon Barkley, frequently the second-overall pick in fantasy drafts, will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL. And it didn’t stop there. Consensus top fantasy pick Christian McCaffrey could miss multiple weeks with a high ankle sprain. And one of the Madman’s favorite draft targets, Raheem Mostert, has what initial reports described as a “mild” ankle sprain.

Those were just the high-profile running backs, not including the collection of ailments suffered by those at other positions. But that is enough at RB alone to cause waiver-wire chaos.

First, check James Robinson’s availability. He probably is gone by now (owned in 60-70 percent of leagues), but make sure. He is making a good argument he should maintain the feature RB role in Jacksonville, even when some of their other scrubs get healthy.

Chargers rookie Joshua Kelley received a surprising amount of use in Week 2 vs. the Chiefs (23-for-68 rushing, 2-for-49 receiving), getting more total touches than primary ballcarrier Austin Ekeler. Kelley isn’t taking over this backfield, but it appears he will get enough work to warrant a roster spot.

James Robinson
James Robinson scores a touchdown for the Jaguars.AP

After that, look at the real-life subs for your fantasy needs. Dion Lewis is the only Giants running back other than Barkley to have any rushing attempts this season — we have yet to see Wayne Gallman. But Lewis hasn’t been impressive (11-for-21 rushing this season). It should also be noted that in his seven previous seasons, he never has topped 200 carries, has exceeded 100 just twice and has zero 1,000-yard seasons on his ledger.

The Giants seem to know this, as they reportedly plan to bring in free agent Devonta Freeman for a workout. This is not good news for fantasy purposes. Though Lewis represents the best real-time replacement, likely to inherit the bulk of the workload in the immediate future, if signed, Freeman would eventually cut into that workload. If not Freeman, then some other possible free-agent or trade addition — since it appears the Giants are actively looking at other options.

This creates some uncertainty in the long-term for the fantasy fill-in options on the Giants roster. There is little ambiguity regarding who will inherit the bulk of McCaffrey’s work. Mike Davis had just one rush (1 yard) Sunday, but the Panthers were playing from behind, so they weren’t in position to run the ball — he did have eight receptions for 74 yards. He should get enough volume to warrant an add, and even a start for desperate rosters.

Tevin Coleman got the majority of carries once Mostert left. But Jerick McKinnon was, and will remain, involved. And he was much more productive than Coleman. Add McKinnon for depth and potential, not immediate use.

Then cross your fingers and hope this injury parade has come to an end.

Bull rush

Joe Burrow QB, Bengals
Has looked solid in his first two starts. Worth an add to be a backup/platoon QB option. Think, insurance policy if Carson Wentz continues to struggle.

Justin Herbert QB, Chargers

The fact coach Anthony Lynn insists Tyrod Taylor will return to the starting role if healthy is worrisome. But Herbert performed admirably in fill-in duty Sunday, and the offense looked more potent with him. Grab now with eyes on the future.

Mike Gesicki TE, Dolphins

We had Gesicki on our radar late in drafts, and he showed why in Week 2 (8-for-130, one TD).

Jonnu Smith TE, Titans

Frequency of red-zone looks make him worthy of a back-end roster spot.

Read & react

Darrell Henderson Jr. RB, Rams

With an injury to Cam Akers, Henderson and Malcolm Brown split carries this week, with Henderson performing much better. Dangle as trade bait and see if anyone bites.

Calvin Ridley WR, Falcons

He has been great (16-for-249, four TDs so far), which is why his value is sky high. Recall: In 2018, he had six TDs in the first three games, and just four the rest of the season. If you can get back a top-tier WR or RB in return, trade him.

NFL
Calvin Ridley scores a touchdown for the Falcons.Getty Images

Tyler Higbee TE, Rams

Had three TDs Sunday on just five catches. That is not a sustainable TD rate. Shop him, and if you can get back a weekly RB or WR starter, and have a TE alternative, consider it.

Jordan Reed TE, 49ers

He was a temp fix while George Kittle is out. But Kittle is expected back soon, perhaps even next week. See if there is a reactionary owner susceptible to recency bias who would give you something valuable in return.

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