Week 2 was absolutely brutal in terms of fantasy-relevant running back injuries. Fantasy football owners likely had to deal with at least one of their running backs leaving the game early (and not giving them a lot of points before they left). Jonathan Stewart, Arian Foster, Ameer Abdullah, Doug Martin, Danny Woodhead, Thomas Rawls and Adrian Peterson are just some of the big names that left after getting hurt.
While some of these players may be able to return in a week or two, others may be out longer. It's too early to tell as MRI results and other testing has yet to come back, but fantasy owners should start preparing to be without these running backs for at least Week 3. Easier said than done, as most waiver wires are pretty picked over.
The handcuffs to these players could be options, but Charles Sims (Martin) is already 52 percent owned, Christine Michael (Rawls) is 59 percent owned and Theo Riddick (Abdullah) is 60 percent owned. If any of these three are available, pick them up right away or spend a good chunk of FAAB money for them.
Here are some lesser-owned running backs that may be available and can provide some value for the short term, whether they be the guys next in line or someone else on the depth chart that may have value.
Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings (23 percent owned)
With Peterson likely to be sidelined for some period of time after injuring his right knee Sunday night, McKinnon and Matt Asiata will carry the load for the Vikings. It's unclear the extent of Peterson's injuries, but McKinnon will be the starter while he's out, with Asiata rotating in as well. In the past, McKinnon has been the pass-catching back, and Asiata has been the short-yardage and goal-line back. Both are worth picking up, but McKinnon has a better chance of getting more fantasy points each week. Asiata is one percent owned.
Fozzy Whittaker, Carolina Panthers (3 percent)
After Stewart left the game with a foot injury, Whittaker took over for the tune of 16 carries for 100 yards and three receptions for 31 yards. Cameron Artis-Payne was inactive for Week 2, but he will likely be the No. 2 behind Whittaker if Stewart is out. Whittaker would likely be the No. 1 waiver wire pickup for fantasy owners looking to fill a running back slot based on performance and future usage. Monitor Stewart's status, but Whittaker would be a RB2 against Minnesota in Week 3 if Stewart is out.
Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins (27 percent)
After Foster left the game with a groin injury, Ajayi took over and managed 14 yards on five carries. He added four receptions for 31 yards and a fumble. After being inactive in Week 1, he was the next man up. However, he didn't do anything to show that he could handle keeping the job. He's worth an add, especially for Foster owners that aren't sure when he'll be back.
Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins (1 percent)
The rookie scored a touchdown after Foster went out, but he will likely share carries with Ajayi. The Dolphins don't appear to be enamored with Ajayi, however, so they may be willing to give the rookie a shot. Drake only had two carries and two interceptions, but he was able to get in the end zone with one of those carries. This is a deep league or desperation add, but it may end up paying off.
Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles (39 percent)
Sproles has yet to play in Week 2, so this is assuming he comes through the week healthy (or, in some leagues, he can be picked up now because he has yet to play). He and Ryan Mathews do share carries, and Mathews does touch the ball more than he does. However, as a replacement, especially in PPR leagues, Sproles has value. In Week 1, he had 36 total yards, which certainly isn't going to win any fantasy weeks, but with tight end Zach Ertz out, he may have a bigger role.
Shane Vereen, New York Giants (19 percent)
In what should have been a high-scoring game, Vereen had a bigger workload than Rashad Jennings. He wasn't great, as he was given end zone carries and couldn't convert and he did fumble the ball, but he had 14 carries for 42 yards and three receptions for 24 yards. With Jennings reportedly nursing a hand/wrist injury as well, Vereen may be in for a bigger workload in Week 3.
Travaris Cadet, New Orleans Saints (2 percent)
For deep leagues, Cadet is a serviceable option. He's carving out a small role in the Saints' passing game, and he may continue to get looks in an offense that loves to pass the ball. He did get the touchdown in Week 1 along with seven targets. In Week 2, it was only three targets, but for absolutely desperate owners, Cadet will probably be good for about five points in PPR leagues per week.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.