It's taking longer than expected for the dominant running backs to have success in fantasy football this year. Of the consensus top four at the position entering the season, only LeSean McCoy (14th) ranks in the top 15 in scoring through two weeks. No. 1 overall pick David Johnson won't return December at the earliest, while Le'Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott have been ordinary so far.
That should change in the coming weeks, but it may take some more patience than we originally believed. Here's the Week 3 start 'em, sit 'em guide for running backs in fantasy football as well as some reflection on last week’s advice.
Start Todd Gurley (26.6 fantasy points) – Gurley had in a game (88) since December 2015, and he remains heavily involved in the passing game. He’s a RB1 for the foreseeable future.
Start Ty Montgomery (29 FP) – Montgomery scored twice and basically never left the field against the Falcons. He’s proving to be an excellent value so far this season.
I mentioned it might be worth starting Jarvorius “Buck” Allen (21.1 FP) and he was the main back for the Ravens after Terrance West got hurt.
Sit Carlos Hyde (17.3 FP) – To be fair, most of his 124 rushing yards came on one play (a 61-yard gallop), but Hyde looks like the best offensive weapon the 49ers have.
START THESE RBs...
Derrick Henry, TEN (vs. SEA)
Even if DeMarco Murray plays on Sunday, Henry seems a fairly safe bet to get the majority of the touches. There's no reason for the Titans to use an injured Murray anyway. Henry has been just as productive through two games and it makes more sense to give Murray time to heal this early in the season. The Seahawks have allowed at least 14 fantasy points to starting running backs in the first two weeks. An expected increase in Henry’s volume could lead to good things for his owners.
Theo Riddick, DET (vs. ATL)
The best way to attack the Falcons’ defense is by throwing the ball to your running backs. Atlanta was last in 2016 in RB receptions allowed per game (6.8), a trend that has carried over as Tarik Cohen and Ty Montgomery have combined for 19 targets, 14 receptions, 112 receiving yards and two receiving scores in the first two games thus far. It’s worth noting that both of those guys are pass-catching specialists, but so is Riddick. You should treat him as a top-10 option in PPR leagues this week.
Christian McCaffrey, CAR (vs. NO)
So far McCaffrey has been a big disappointment after all that preseason hype. He’s 26th in PPR scoring among running backs after two weeks. But with Greg Olsen out, and the Saints coming to town, McCaffrey should see more volume. The Saints have allowed the third-most PPR points to running backs this season, and the second-most receptions to the position. Make sure you start McCaffrey this week.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Joe Mixon, CIN (at GB)
Mixon has been a gigantic bust so far this season. He's only a rookie, but the expectations mirrored a steady veteran rather than someone who is part of a timeshare. With Cincinnati 0-2 and looking for a spark, Mixon may get more touches starting this week. The Bengals really haven’t been able to get any sort of rhythm on offense and the revolving backfield may be one of the reasons why. The Packers are allowing 5.1 yards per carry, so if given the chance this may be the week Mixon starts to establish himself as Cincinnati’s No.1 back.
SIT THESE RBs...
Jordan Howard, CHI (vs. PIT)
I wasn’t a big fan of Howard heading into 2017, even though he was poised to be the main back on a team that needed a solid rushing attack. Howard is hampered with an injury and only had nine touches against Tampa Bay. We likely won't hear much on the injury front from head coach John Fox, so I'm going into this matchup with the notion that Howard will once again be limited in his role. His inability to serve as a reliable target out of the backfield is hurting his chances of living up to his RB1 ADP.
Jacquizz Rodgers, TB (at MIN)
Rodgers had a pretty good game last week, picking up 67 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. I like the volume, but the production (3.5 ypc) leaves plenty to be desired. Even if the volume is there, Rodgers could have trouble finding room to run against a stout Minnesota defense. The Vikings have been dominant against the run (3.1 ypc allowed) thus far, which last week meant shutting down Le’Veon Bell.
Mark Ingram, NO (at CAR)
The Saints’ backfield is a mess. Adrian Peterson is not happy. Alvin Kamara looks like the best receiving back and head coach Sean Payton seems to really dislike Mark Ingram. Even though he leads the team in snaps (48 percent) and touches (only 23). This won’t be the week that Ingram gets going either. The Panthers have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs and just limited LeSean McCoy to nine yards on12 carries last week.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
C.J. Anderson, DEN (at BUF)
Unless you’re seriously stacked at RB, I’m not actually advising you sit Anderson. However, this is more of a way to say you should temper your expectations. Led by a dominant front four of Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Shaq Lawson and Jerry Hughes, the Bills have held Bilal Powell, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey to 88 combined rushing yards on 38 carries, a minuscule 2.32 yards per attempt. While Anderson has been a top-five option thus far, treat him more as an RB2 at best this week.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.