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Week 3 Running Backs
RB Notes: Christian McCaffrey finally shook loose from his slow start with a 49-yard fourth quarter run against the Giants. Despite his so far pedestrian fantasy production, CMC unsurprisingly leads all backs with an 86.5 percent snap rate. Bigger days are ahead. … Speaking of snap rate, Saquon Barkley's is a monstrous 83.5 percent. His 48 touches are third amongst running backs. This is the usage we have always wanted. Monday evening does project as a low-scoring, drag-out affair with the Cowboys. … Dalvin Cook managed just 10 Week 2 touches even as Kirk Cousins turned in a classic point-shaving “mafia game.” Coach Kevin O'Connell kicked himself afterward, saying he has to do a better job of getting Cook into rhythm. Enter a Week 3 date with a Lions defense surrendering the most running back fantasy points through dates with the Commanders and Eagles. … No back has handled the ball more than Joe Mixon through two games. With their pass blocking in crisis, expect the Bengals to aim for a Week 3 reset and a bushel of Mixon touches as they operate as five-point road favorites against a Jets defense that got run over by Nick Chubb last Sunday.
The fantasy community has had a difficult time dealing with Austin Ekeler's initial 2022 usage, including ceding literal goal-line handles to Sony Michel and someone named Zander Horvath in Week 2. He's lost some third downs to Joshua Kelley. Not ideal, though it's not exactly panic time with 21 touches through two games. Ekeler had four handles inside the 20 vs. the Chiefs. Kelley and Michel have been going nowhere as Ekeler's change-of-pace backs. With Justin Herbert battling a painful rib issue, expect a big Ekeler commitment vs. the Jaguars. … D'Andre Swift (ankle) is “feeling much better” after being limited to seven touches and 38 snaps in Week 2. He still managed 87 yards and a touchdown on that paltry usage. With a 52.5 over/under for this weekend's showdown with the Vikings, Swift will have scores and big plays for the taking. … Derrick Henry has two first downs through two games. He has played just 57.9 percent of the Titans' snaps as game scripts have gone sideways. This ranking is probably a bit of an overreaction, but we need to see Henry have a big day in a spot like the one he has Sunday. The Titans are narrow two-point home 'dogs, hopefully presaging a competitive contest with ample carries.
Nick Chubb is doing as Nick Chubb does. Suppressing his Week 3 upside is a hellaciously bad scoring environment for Thursday evening against the Steelers. Vegas' current over/under sits at an eye-bleeding 38.5. Maybe Jeff Bezos should fix this instead of trying to send a man to Mars. … Leonard Fournette has made a public pledge to fantasy managers to score more touchdowns. Almost literally the last skill player standing in the Bucs' banged up offense, Fournette has a date with a Packers run D that has appeared soft through two contests. … I ranked Aaron Jones ahead of AJ Dillon for Week 2 and of course Jones proceeded to go nuclear. Lost in the shuffle is that Dillon still out-touched Jones 19-18. The Bucs are a tough run defense, making Jones' superior play-making ability the better Week 3 bet, but there should be plenty of “Dillon weeks” going forward. … Out-touching Melvin Gordon 34-25 through two games and out-snapping him 85-50, Javonte Williams had three Week 2 touches inside the five-yard line. Checking almost every box despite his committee, Williams is a spiked week waiting to happen.
Alvin Kamara (ribs) seems likely to return against the Panthers, but the Saints appear to remain one of the league's most injury-opaque teams under Dennis Allen. … Najee Harris is in efficiency hell with Mitch Trubisky under center. His 32 touches also leave something to be desired. A likely Thursday night slugfest with the Browns keeps him in the high-end RB2 mix for Week 3. … David Montgomery has been a rookie contract Benjamin Button, looking more explosive as his four-year deal ticks down instead of vice versa. Justin Fields has 28 pass attempts through two starts. We can deduce the Bears' plan as 2.5-point home favorites against the Texans. … With Tyrion Davis-Price (ankle) joining Elijah Mitchell on the shell, Jeff Wilson has consolidated RB2 workloads shockingly quickly. … The unchallenged lead back in an offense that appears to have found another gear this season, Miles Sanders is a safe RB2 even with Jalen Hurts frequently calling his own number in the red zone. … Antonio Gibson's receiving usage predictably cratered in Week 2. It's not a great sign that even with Brian Robinson sidelined Gibson has maxed out at 14 carries the past two weeks. He can hang his Week 3 hat on potential shootout conditions with the Eagles.
For the second time in two weeks, Texans coach Lovie Smith has pledged to get Dameon Pierce more involved. The rookie is quietly tied for 17th in carries through two weeks. … At least through two games, Ezekiel Elliott's missing ceiling remains nowhere to be found. … I'm crying uncle on Rhamondre Stevenson vs. Damien Harris. Despite Harris' higher floor for the time being, Stevenson still has a clearer path to ceiling. … James Robinson has a daunting touch advantage over Travis Etienne, but he generated 27 yards on 22 Week 2 carries if you remove his 37-yard touchdown where the Colts kind of just stood around. Etienne could slowly close the gap. … I'm not sure what it was, but Sean McVay proved his point with Cam Akers. McVay has never trusted Darrell Henderson as a feature back. I would have to assume Akers' increased Week 2 usage was not a one-time thing. Henderson maintains the rankings advantage after remaining more efficient on the ground. … I'm not hitting the eject button on Chase Edmonds quite yet even after Raheem Mostert decisively out-touched and narrowly out-snapped him vs. the Ravens. Edmonds' in-space and receiving work could be critical vs. the mighty Bills.