With week 3 quickly approaching, we’ll break down which running backs you should have in your starting lineup and which would be better left on your bench. We intentionally exclude players such as Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook as they should be locked in your starting lineup every week.
Running Backs to Start:
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have a tough matchup ahead against the Chargers as they look to avoid starting the season 1-2. Clyde Edwards-Helaire certainly has his work cut out for him in this one. CEH has failed to rush for 50 yards in a game which is not a good start for someone on one of the top scoring offenses in the league. CEH has received the bulk of the carries and it doesn’t appear that will change anytime soon despite not moving the ball on the ground. What CEH has to his advantage is in PPR leagues, short slant routes to the outside that allow him to get free when Hill and Kelce are being double & triple teamed.
Josh Jacobs or Kenyan Drake – Las Vegas Raiders
We are putting both Raiders running backs under this category since Jacobs status for the game is questionable. If Jacobs does not play, then opt for Drake. The Dolphins have allowed a combined 296 rushing yards through only 2 games. This is not a great start for a defense that was deemed to be one of the elite groups in the NFL. The Raiders running back group should be up for a good matchup against the Dolphins who are about to face even tougher competition ahead.
Kareem Hunt – Cleveland Browns
The 1-2 RB punch of Chubb and Hunt has been more of a 1-man show with Chubb leading the charge. This was expected that Chubb would see more of the carries and be more productive, but we did expect Hunt to still be relevant as well. The Browns will be without top 2 wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry in this matchup against the Bears paving the way for the running backs to take over. Even if OBJ is healthy enough to play, we see him being a limited factor in this one. Hunt and Chubb both should see an uptick in workload as Baker will be struggling in this one.
Running Backs to Sit:
Leonard Fournette – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay has a plethora of weapons at their disposal with any of them showing up each week as the top dog. What we do know for Tampa Bay’s positional players is that they lean heavily on the passing game and their running game has taken a bit of a step back this season. Part of that has to do with the game script, but when dominating the Falcons, they split the carries throughout their committee rather than giving all to Fournette. It also looks like Ronald Jones might take over as the starter in this offense and we know Fournette is not a PPR threat.
Mike Davis – Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons signed Davis in the offseason to take over the lead back duties which looked like a great signing at the time. It still appears to be beneficial and helping them out, but the Falcons just look awful. The offense is not getting the job done and are seriously missing having Julio Jones to make big plays when needed. The Falcons also brought on Cordarelle Patterson who has taken more snaps away from Davis and has been outperforming him at times which doesn’t sit well with management.
Ty’Son Williams – Baltimore Ravens
For being undrafted, not playing for a season, and coming off the practice squad days before the season is set to begin, Ty’Son Williams has been stellar in his first 2 career games. He’s had over 200 total yards and 2 touchdowns in 2 games, not a bad start to his career in the NFL. Thankfully for Williams, the lack of receiving talent provides more opportunity for yards through the air because Lamar has taken over the run game. Even with Lamar taking over, a running back will still be able to get touches, but recent acquisitions Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman are taking touches away as they learn the playbook. Le’Veon Bell might also get called up soon which would diminish William’s short-term value even further. We expect the drop off to start this upcoming week, but any performance he has will still be impressive as he wasn’t even on the active roster a few weeks ago.