Last week, a team could have posted a high score in the daily market if their two sleeper running backs scored a combined 30.00 fantasy points. But this is based on the assumption that they not only paid up but hit on three impact wide receivers.
Tony Pollard finished third in fantasy scoring (19.80 fantasy points) in PPR formats. An injury to James Conner led to Darrel Williams (14.20 fantasy points) finishing 11th in running back production. After two weeks, only 13 backs scored over 20.00 fantasy points or 20.3 percent of the time.
Defenses adjust and each week in the NFL brings a different set of outcomes. In 2020 and 2021, only 13 running backs averaged over 15.00 fantasy points per game. Here are the 13 running backs who averaged over 15.00 fantasy points so far in 2022:
· Nick Chubb (23.80)
· Saquon Barkley (22.60)
· D’Andre Swift (21.60)
· Aaron Jones (21.30)
· Clyde Edwards-Helaire (19.10)
· James Robinson (17.85)
· Jonathan Taylor (17.40)
· Joe Mixon (16.40)
· Christian McCaffrey (16.25)
· Kareem Hunt (16.20)
· Antonio Gibson (16.05)
· Javonte Williams (15.15)
· Miles Sanders (15.05)
Here’s a look at the top three sleeper running backs for Week 3:
Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons (DraftKings $5,800/FanDuel $7,600)
The Falcons had Patterson on the field for 59 percent of their plays last week, but they failed to get him a target against the Rams. He gained 41 yards on 10 carries, which was well below his opportunity and output in Week 1 (136 combined yards with one touchdown and three catches on 25 touches). Seattle struggled against running backs (I included Deebo Samuel’s rushing stats) over the first two games (424 combined yards with two touchdowns and 18 catches). Patterson should return to more of a three-down role this week, helping his floor by catching a few more balls. Seattle’s defense struggles to get offenses off the field and they lost their top safety (Jamal Adams) for the season. The SHARPS will be on Patterson this week.
Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots (DraftKings $4,800/FanDuel $5,400)
Believing in your research is a significant part of winning in fantasy sports. At the same time, a fantasy manager is at the mercy of the coaching staff for playing time. Success drives opportunity, but game flow and matchups are also big parts of the equation. Stevenson appears to be a player to avoid after two games (78 combined yards with three catches on 20 touches), but some home cooking should help his value. In 2021, the Patriots scored 206 points over the final five home games, which included 26 touchdowns (14 rushing scores). Stevenson led New England in running back snaps (62 percent) in Week 2. Unfortunately, his role in the passing game hasn’t emerged as expected. Baltimore is league-average defending running backs (33/168 – 5.1 yards per carry with 19 catches for 129 yards on 26 targets). Stevenson is far from a lock in any format this week, but I expect him to be much better while being a missed opportunity for anyone who sits him in the season-long formats.
Travis Etienne Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars (DraftKings $5,400/FanDuel $5,600)
Two games into 2022, the fantasy sense is that Etienne isn’t worth a starting role in the season-long games while being a lousy draft day investment. I drafted 152 Underdog best ball teams and selected him on 130 teams in the third round. Am I disappointed by his usage? Yes, but I can also see his value based on production (118 combined yards and five catches) on only 18 touches. His stats projected over 17 games come to 1,003 yards and 43 catches. He is averaging 0.93 fantasy points per touch. Last year, Jonathan Taylor scored 375.10 fantasy points in PPR formats or 1.01 fantasy points per touch. The Chargers have talent at cornerback and Jacksonville should chase on the scoreboard. This combination points to Etienne getting more touches this week. Los Angeles allows 5.5 yards per rush and 8.0 yards per catch.
For all the excitement for James Robinson, without his 37-yard touchdown, he gained only 2.8 yards on his other 33 rushes with minimal yards in catches (5.7). Etienne must be in the lineup every week for fantasy teams as he is the player capable of posting an impact game on any given Sunday. He is in play for me in the daily formats.