Welcome back to our weekly look at fantasy running back committee situations. The foundation for this recurring piece will be workload -- mainly snaps and touches. Touchdowns and yards are great, but without the volume, you can’t count on them.
Remember that byes start in Week 4, with the Packers and Eagles off. That gives us an extra week to rejoice about the resurgence of Mr. P90X himself Eddie Lacy. Also, Tuesday we’ll add a Falcons-related update to this article.
Terrance West: Snaps 17; 10 rushes, 45 yards; one target, one reception, eight yards
This tandem was unhelpful again for both its real-life team and fantasy owners, averaging just 3.5 yards per touch. The Baltimore Sun gave West and Forsett a "D" grade for their performance against the Jaguars, noting that "there aren’t a lot of holes to run through." The only glimmer of hope is a Week 4 home matchup with the Raiders, who have allowed a horrendous 5.1 yards per carry so far. You can consider flexing Forsett, but it’s always tricky to count on a matchup while ignoring the actual, mediocre runner.
Rookie Kenneth Dixon could be back in a couple of weeks, relegating the Forsett/West duo to backup status.
Getty ImagesWesley Hitt
Cameron Artis-Payne: 31 snaps; 12 carries, 47 yards; one target, one reception, 11 yards
Fozzy Whittaker: 34 snaps; five rushes, 22 yards; six targets, five receptions, 34 yards
Mike Tolbert: 17 snaps; two carries, five yards; three targets, two receptions, 14 yards
Jonathan Stewart’s hamstring injury could keep him out another week, or two, or ... ???
Sunday’s loss to the Vikings followed a scenario similar to last year’s Stewart-less games, with Artis-Payne as the lead dog. He’ll be flex-worthy at Atlanta in Week 4, while his teammates should remain on fantasy benches. Some PPR owners could be desperate enough to try Whittaker, but that’s not an ideal situation, even with Sunday's snap count being so close.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
Jeremy Hill: 32 snaps; 17 carries, 97 yards, two TDs
Gio Bernard: 35 snaps; five carries, eight yards; five targets, five receptions, 36 yards
Despite the snap split, Sunday’s loss was a "Hill game," as USA Today’s Steve Gardner correctly predicted on our September 22 FOX Fantasy Podcast. Hill will never have this job all to himself, but he’ll probably get 10 TDs again. He didn’t cost you too much on draft day this time, either.
Bernard is averaging just over 10 touches per game, and while he’ll probably finish as a top-20 PPR back again, he’ll have games in which you’ll barely notice him. Thursday’s game against the Dolphins doesn’t seem to lean in a particular direction, but Bernard is flex-ible.
Getty ImagesJohn Grieshop
Isaiah Crowell: 42 snaps; 15 carries, 79 yards
Duke Johnson: 41 snaps; 10 carries, 69 yards; xx targets, five receptions, 12 yards
In Week 3 at Miami, Johnson touched the ball more than he had in the previous two games combined. He played pretty well, too. However, head coach Hue Jackson is clearly committed to establishing the run, and Crowell is his early-down back.
Johnson is playable in PPR formats, but Crowell should get the ball early and often on the road against a Redskins team that has allowed 4.6 yards per carry in its first three games. Being the next Gio Bernard isn’t a bad thing for a fantasy PPR back, but don’t expect more than that from Johnson. Like Bernard, he might carry the ball 10 times in some games, and three in others.
Theo Riddick: 45 snaps; 10 carries, nine yards; nine targets, seven receptions, 39 yards
Dwayne Washington: 25 snaps; 10 carries, 38 yards; one target, one reception, minus-three yards
In Riddick’s defense, the Packers have a hellacious run defense that has now allowed an average of 1.8 yards on 71 carries. In Week 4, the Lions will face a more permissive and banged-up Bears’ D that was gashed for 140 yards by Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday night. Riddick is a good receiver who now has a clear path to playing time and RB2 value in standard leagues.
The other news here is the expected emergence of rookie Dwayne Washington, who had seemed headed toward 10-12 touches and has landed in that range. Washington also had the Lions’ lone red-zone carry, an unsuccessful attempt from the 1-yard line in the third quarter. You can consider Washington as an RB3/flex option for Week 4, and probably for the foreseeable future.
Chris Ivory: 32 snaps; 12 carries, 14 yards; one target, one reception, nine yards
T.J. Yeldon: 33 snaps; six carries, 17 yards; three targets, two receptions, 11 yards
Ivory returned Sunday from his mysterious illness but was ineffective running behind an injury-ravaged offensive line against a stout Ravens run defense. This situation figures to remain a pretty even split, and you’ll want to avoid it if you can. The Jags host the Colts this week in what should be a high-scoring aerial affair.
Kenyan Drake: 27 snaps; nine carries, 37 yards; xx targets, two receptions, 11 yards
Jay Ajayi: 18 snaps; seven carries, 28 yards, TD
Isaiah Pead: 13 snaps; five carries, 17 yards
Damien Williams: 11 snaps; one carry, 15 yards; three receptions, 10 yards, TD
If Arian Foster (groin) doesn’t return for Thursday’s game at Cincinnati -- and he probably won't -- the Miami backfield should once again be a four-man mishmash. It won't be smart to start any of these guys unless you're very shorthanded.
Jerick McKinnon: 36 snaps; 16 carries, 45 yards; two targets, one reception, two yards
Matt Asiata: 19 snaps; six carries, 15 yards; one target, one reception, four yards
McKinnon is pretty clearly the Vikings’ lead back, and the one most likely to provide you with fantasy help. But -- and this is a big but --McKinnon isn’t a particularly good blocker. In the second series of Sunday’s game, he got blown up by Panthers LB Thomas Davis and gave up a sack. Joe Buck might have had a better chance to keep Davis away from QB Sam Bradford on the play (though I hear that Buck is a tenacious blocker).
With the Vikings’ offensive line also struggling, Asiata might be on the field more than fantasy owners like because his real-life team doesn’t want Bradford to get decapitated. Also, McKinnon had no room to run against the Panthers. I’m still a big fan and plan to roll with McKinnon as an RB2, but there will be ups and downs that could continue next Monday against the underrated Giants’ run defense (3.2 ypc).
Jamaal Charles could return for the Chiefs in Week 4, but he’s expected to share time with the steady Spencer Ware ... Bears rookie Jordan Howard played well after Jeremy Langford’s ankle injury on Sunday night. We should know more about Langford’s status before you need to make free-agent claims, but you should try to grab Howard in most leagues, anyway.