Week 3 was a prime example of why we all play fantasy football.
This game is constantly surprising us. If I had told you just one day before the season began, that in Week 3, a group
of Karlos Williams, Chris Johnson, Thomas Rawls, Alfred Blue, and Ryan Mathews would out-rush a healthy group of Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, Le’Veon Bell, and Matt Forte, you would have said some real nasty things about me in the comment section. But that’s exactly what happened this week.
Here are the combined rushing lines of the two groups:
Karlos Williams, Chris Johnson, Thomas Rawls, Alfred Blue, Ryan Mathews: 106/571/4 (5.38 yards per carry)
Peterson, Lacy, Charles, Bell and Forte: 80/357/6 (4.46 yards per carry)
It’s crazy to think that the running backs in the first line were either sitting on your waiver wire or picked in the tail-end of your draft, and the players in the second group were, out of all likeliness, taken with your first-round pick. Crazy. Just crazy.
Devonta Freeman had his way with the Dallas run defense in Atlanta’s comeback win over the Cowboys. His 30/141/3 day last week will make Tevin Coleman owners sweat. As long as Coleman remains out of the lineup, Freeman is a must-start. No other Atlanta running back got a carry in Week 3, clearly they don’t trust anyone else other than Freeman with Coleman out. He will get all the carries.
Latavius Murray is starting to live-up to his potential. He took advantage of that porous Cleveland run defense, finishing the week with 26/139/1. He is currently fourth in the NFL in rushing through three weeks and is a bellcow back in a, dare I say, potent Raider offense. He’s a weekly must-start running back who is currently bordering on RB1 status.
Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar lead the Cowboys, respectively, in rushing and receiving. Randle, who finished the day with 14/87/3 rushing, had 65 of those yards in the opening drive of the game: capping off the drive with a 37-yard touchdown run. Dunbar lead all Cowboy pass-catchers with 10/100/0 on ten targets. In a high-scoring, back-and-forth game, the passing-down back got a ton of work. This won’t be the final time the Cowboys will end up in a gun-slinging affair, such as this one. Next time you smell a pass-happy Cowboys game, consider sliding Lance Dunbar into your flex. Odds are, the ball will find him.
Frank Gore and the Indianapolis Colts got back on track… Sort of. This team concerns me from a defensive standpoint. However, on the offensive side of the ball, they seem to be figuring things out. Gore finished with 14/86/2 in a 35-33 Colts victory.
A few fantasy PSAs this week:
Dolphins-Jets next week will be a [9:30] EST kickoff at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Be sure that you’re up bright and early Sunday morning to make sure your lineup(s) are ready to rock.
Week 4 is the first week of the many bye weeks. The Titans and Patriots will be sitting out this week.
Also… if you haven’t dropped Joique Bell yet, please do! He is 20/22/1 on the season (no, that’s not a typo, he really has 1.1 yards per carry thus far) and his one touchdown was a one-yard carry on the goal line where he just kinda fell forward and barely (and I mean BARELY) crossed the line. The Lions might as well send me or you out there to carry the ball. DROP HIM.
Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
This is your obligatory “start against Cleveland” running back of the week. And, until the 32nd ranked run defense from 2014 proves me wrong, I will keep recommending you guys to start running backs against the Browns.
The Browns gave up 26/139/1 to Latavius Murray last week, 10/98/0 to Dexter McCluster in Week 2, and 20/91/2 to Chris Ivory in Week 1. Do I need to spell it out for you? The Browns do not stop the run!
The rookie out of Wisconsin has finally figured things out after a rocky preseason. He now has a healthy 4.3 yards per carry on the season while getting the lion’s share of the carries for the Chargers. This kid has nowhere to go but up, and the ascension begins in Week 4.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets
Despite being active last week, Ivory didn’t see a single carry against the Eagles. I feel as if this was more of a precautionary measure taken by the Jets, given that Ivory told ESPN New York that he felt “Really good” on the sidelines and probably could have played.
Anyway, Ivory gets the Miami Dolphins in England next week. At first glance, a run defense with Ndamukong Suh smack-dab in the middle of it would look like an up-hill battle for any running back. However, upon further review, the Dolphins actually have been a defense that many running backs have had success running against. The Fins have given up 4.2 yards per carry to opposing rushing attacks in 2015 (tied with New Orleans for 23rd in the NFL) and they rank 31st in total rush yards allowed. Provided that he’s a full go, Chris Ivory should slide into your lineup for Week 4.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
After smacking the Minnesota Vikings in the face with 26/168/2 in Week 1, Carlos Hyde has had 18/94/0 since. Don’t let those underwhelming numbers fool you. Both games came in road games where the 49ers were blown away by superior offenses on the road, rendering a rush attack useless.
“But Mike, the 49ers have the Packers next week? What’s stopping them from being blown-out for the third week in a row?”
Yes, the Packers had their way with the Chiefs last Monday night. And yes, Aaron Rodgers looks like he may win back-to-back MVP awards. But his Packers are travelling to the West Coast on short rest and already give up 127.7
rushing yards per game. If San Francisco even has a puncher’s chance in this game, it starts and ends with Carlos Hyde running the ball up the gut, sustaining long drives and keeping Rodgers and the Packers’ high-octane offense on the sidelines. Given the circumstances, that’s not exactly out of the question.
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
Jennings has averaged 2.9 yards per carry this season and now he and his Giants have to travel upstate to face the Rex Ryan’s Bills (who own the league’s best run defense). The 30-year-old running back hasn’t had a run over ten yards in the past two games. These days, he’s more well-known for his work on special teams than his offensive production. I’d look elsewhere for Week 4.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin was a draft day darling for many last month. So far, the Muscle Hamster revival has not came to fruition. He hasn’t reached the end zone yet and has averaged 3.8 yards per carry despite getting the majority of Tampa’s rushing attempts. The Bucs host the Panthers next Sunday. Despite missing All-Star linebacker Luke Kuechly to a concussion and DT Star Lotulelei, the Panthers have stayed true to their stingy defensive ways. The Carolina run defense ranks fourth and has only given up 3.3 yards per carry this season. I’d put the Muscle Hamster back into his cage for this week.
Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams
My faith in the Gurley-Man has not waivered… Yet. But much like his first-round rookie counterpart Melvin Gordon, he had a very shaky NFL debut. Six yards on nine carries is entering Joique Bell territory. Until I see him burst out for a big game, he will ride the pine for my teams (yes, I own him in every league I play in). I’m a big believer in his talent, I just want him to put things together first. And with the Rams heading into Arizona next week, I just don’t see this week being the Todd Gurley coming-out party.
Waiver Wire Mining:
Monitor the status of Marshawn Lynch this week. If he’s even “questionable”, go grab Thomas Rawls. Rawls, who banged out 16/104/0 in Lynch’s absence last Sunday, certainly looked the part of a suitable Lynch handcuff against the Bears. He’s essentially what you thought Robert Turbin and Christine Michael would be in Seattle. Well worth a look.
Not only did Karlos Williams out-perform Bryce Brown, Boobie Dixon, and Fred Jackson in training camp, he’s out-rushed LeSean McCoy so far. The rookie out of Florida State even had more carries than the veteran McCoy last Sunday. Now this might be due to Shady’s lingering hamstring issues, and the Bills’ fifth round pick will more
than likely come back down to earth at some point. But in the meantime, ride that wave!
It’s also worth noting that C.J. Anderson looks nothing like the break-out performer that put many teams in the playoffs last season. Due to his overall ineffectiveness (32/74/0), he’s in a time-share with Ronnie Hillman. Hillman, who hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire yet either (28/88/1) however, the Broncos have started the season against the defensive fronts deployed by the Lions, Chiefs and Ravens. Things will turn around for the Denver running game, and something tells me that Hillman is going to be a factor.
Well, that’s all folks! Best of luck this week!
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