Are we actually at a point where sitting running back David Johnson is going to be part of your fantasy football roster construction on a weekly basis?
So far this season Johnson has done nothing to make us believe that he is a top-three fantasy running back like he used to be. It’s not his fault that for some reason the Cardinals coaching staff has no idea how to use him, but he isn’t helping your fantasy team.
Of course you’re going to keep Johnson in your starting lineup (for now), but there are better starting options this week and a few surprises. What are they? Before we dive into Week 4 let's see how the Week 3 running back start/sit advice turned out.
Week 4 also is where bye weeks come into play. This week that means no Panthers or Redskins or more specifically from a running back standpoint, no Christian McCaffrey or Adrian Peterson (or Chris Thomspon, C.J. Anderson). Those two voids may be tough for some owners to fill.
Good Calls for Week 3...
Sit Derrick Henry (5.7 fantasy points) – It was a tough matchup against that vaunted Jaguars defense, but the Titans aren’t using Henry very much this year.
Sit LeSean McCoy (0 FP) – I know this is too easy because he didn’t play. But I know a few people who started him anyway, so those folks should have listened.
Bad Calls for Week 3...
Start Kenyan Drake (2.0 FP) – In a game where Drake should have piled up fantasy points he was an afterthought in the Dolphins offensive game plan.
Sit Marshawn Lynch (14.6 FP) – It’s sad seeing Lynch wasting away on a lowly Raiders team. Beast Mode still has some gas in the tank and it would be nice to see him on a contender.
Teams on bye: Carolina, Washington
START THESE RBs...
Lamar Miller, HOU (at IND)
Miller had a great start to the season in Week 1 against the Patriots with 109 total yards, but he's struggled since. He had 70 total yards in Week 2 at Tennessee and then got lucky with a late touchdown catch in Week 3 against the Giants despite just 51 total yards — where he averaged a meager 1.0 yards per carry. But this should be a breakout game for him. The Colts have allowed a running back to score or gain 90 total yards in each game this season and have struggled with pass-catching running backs, allowing 28 receptions to the position on the year. That should help Miller in PPR leagues.
Chris Carson, SEA (at ARI)
Carson just saw 32 carries in Week 3 in an impressive turn of usage given the early trepidation of Pete Carroll to truly give him a heavier workload. Now hopefully the Seahawks won’t have Carson running all over the field on special teams. The Seahawks are currently three-point road favorites against a porous Cardinals run defense that has allowed a collective 578 yards, six touchdowns and even three two-point conversions to opposing RBs over the first three weeks. Carson is worth starting as your No. 2 RB this week.
Giovani Bernard, CIN (at ATL)
The Falcons give up 125.7 rushing yards per game and can’t cover running backs out of the backfield. Remember what Christian McCaffrey did to the Falcons in Week 2? He caught 15 passes for 102 yards. Who wouldn’t want those numbers in a PPR league? And one thing that Bernard does really well is catch balls out the backfield. The Falcons also have allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season, so look for Bernard to finish the week as a solid RB1.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Aaron Jones, GB (vs. BUF)
Both Jones and Jamaal Williams are worth using as flex options this week against the Bills. Don’t think for a second that Buffalo has a great run defense after shutting down the Vikings last week without Dalvin Cook. Prior to last week, Buffalo had allowed five running backs in two games to score or gain at least 90 total yards. Jones made his 2018 debut in Week 3 at Washington and had six carries for 42 yards and one catch for five yards in limited playing time. Look for more production this week at home with the Packers needing a win and to rest an ailing Aaron Rodgers.
SIT THESE RBs...
Peyton Barber, TB (at CHI)
At this point Roland Jones is a better option to start over Barber. He had only eight carries last week, he's not involved in the passing game with one catch for seven yards on the season, and he's yet to find the end zone. It’s true that “FitzMagic” has been so good that the Buccaneers haven’t needed a running game, but Barber isn't giving them enough reason to give him more touches. And this week, facing the Bears, is not a good matchup. Chicago hasn't allowed a running back to gain more than 47 rushing yards and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown.
Isaiah Crowell, NYJ (at JAC)
Crowell went all-in on the “revenge game” narrative last week against his old team, the Cleveland Browns. He had 16 carries for 34 yards and two touchdowns and two catches for 17 yards. But this week is a different challenge on the road against a Jaguars defense that has been very good against the run. Crowell is likely going to be touchdown-dependent most weeks to help your fantasy team win (like last week), and Jacksonville has allowed only one rushing touchdown this season (Week 1, Saquon Barkley).
Jay Ajayi, PHI (at TEN)
Ajayi is rumored to be ready to return this week against the Titans, however, the matchup isn’t great in terms of fantasy production. The Titans are a very underrated defense. They are giving up just 16.7 points per game and have yet to surrender a rushing touchdown. If the Eagles' RBBC didn’t worry you enough, with Corey Clement, Darren Sproles (when healthy) and even Wendell Smallwood getting carries, this week will really get under your skin as this looks to be a difficult road game for the defending Super Bowl champs.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Royce Freeman, DEN (vs. KC, Mon.)
Last week Phillip Lindsay thought it would be a good idea to start throwing punches and get ejected from the game, Freeman wound up with 53 rushing yards and a touchdown, which was good enough to put him back on the fantasy radar. Unfortunately, Lindsay’s ejection didn’t lead to much additional work. Freeman’s snap counts over three weeks have been 39, 24, and 43 percent. While Denver’s MNF showdown with Kansas City is set with a whopping 56-point total right now, the Broncos being five-point underdogs indicates more passing work rather than Freeman’s more traditional two-down role.
— 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.