*Welcome to "Committee Meetings," the running back portion of our weekly Targets/Touches column! Every Monday we'll recap the week that was among running backs and preview the outlook for the upcoming slate. *
If you're looking for wide receiver targets for Week 2, click the tab above or right here to access Matt Harmon's wideout breakdown.
With Week 2 nearly over, it's time to dive into some backfield breakdowns. Unfortunately, we saw a slew of injuries to key fantasy backs on Sunday. Danny Woodhead (out for the season with a torn ACL), Doug Martin (hamstring), Jonathan Stewart (hamstring), Arian Foster (groin), Ameer Abdullah (foot), Thomas Rawls (leg) and Adrian Peterson (knee) all left their games early due to injury. Some more severe than others, but keep an eye out for Alex Gelhar's waiver wire column and deep dive candidates to help point you in the right direction in terms of which backups to target before Week 3. It was a weird week for big name backs with late-round guys like Isaiah Crowell and LeGarrette Blount finishing among the top-five scorers at the position.
*Below, you'll find statistics on total touches and percentage shares. These percentages relate to non-quarterback/wide receiver backfield touches. In other words, the percentages are drawn only from running back and fullback touches. *
David Johnson was out-touched by Chris Johnson in the Cardinals' 40-7 blowout of Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon. But it didn't matter. D. Johnson still posted 143 yards from scrimmage averaging a ridiculous 9.5 yards per touch, most of which came on his three receptions for 95 yards including yet another impressive catch-and-run scamper down the sideline for a 58-yard gain in the third quarter. David's fantasy owners should not be alarmed about Chris's usage here. It was merely a case of getting the veteran some work when his team was leading by a huge margin. David still played on 41 snaps compared to 21 for Chris and is the clear-cut bell cow in the Cardinals offense ... and quite possibly the best running back in the NFL right now. David Johnson gets the Bills next week -- a defense that let Matt Forte demolish them for 100 yards and three touchdowns in Week 2.
For the second straight week, Tevin Coleman outscored Devonta Freeman in fantasy points. What's even more concerning is that Coleman logged two receptions while Freeman wasn't targeted once. To add to the concern is the fact that Coleman out-touched Freeman in the red zone too. All along we've been heralding Freeman for his elite pass-catching abilities, but it's growing more apparent that Atlanta wants to use Coleman in that role. And the narrative that Freeman is the go-to guy in the red zone is squashed as well. If for some reason Coleman is still available in your league, he needs to be added on waivers heading into Week 3 (he is available in about 45 percent of NFL.com leagues). Fortunately, Freeman still gained 93 total yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry and will carry RB2 value on a weekly basis, but he's not the 25-touch guy we were used to deploying each week last season. The Falcons' backs have a cake matchup against the Saints on Monday night in Week 3, a game in which both Coleman and Freeman can be safely started in fantasy leagues across the board albeit with tempered expectations since this is now a split backfield.
Nothing to see here. This Ravens backfield is completely unusable for fantasy purposes until we see either Terrance West or Justin Forsett emerge as the primary back. In Week 1, they combined for 11.7 fantasy points. In Week 2 they combined for 11.1 fantasy points. One of these fantasy bench warmers has a shot at scoring their first touchdown of the season next week in Jacksonville, but unless you like to live dangerously we're not recommending either.
We knew heading into Thursday night that LeSean McCoy would be featured in the Bills' offensive game plan with Sammy Watkins at less than 100 percent. We didn't know it would be such a high-scoring affair or that the Jets would completely dominate (save for the two deep touchdown passes Tyrod Taylor tossed). McCoy had a tough time with efficiency against the Jets' stout defensive front but the fact that he logged 95 percent of the team's backfield touches speaks volumes as to how they view Shady. He's an integral part of Buffalo's offense and we don't see that changing going forward. Unfortunately, he has another tough matchup in Week 3 against the Cardinals but he can be safely started as a high-end flex play due to his volume upside and usage as a pass-catcher.
Jonathan Stewart left the game with a hamstring injury, paving the way for Fozzy Whittaker to shoulder the workload in what was a high-scoring game. With 131 yards from scrimmage on 19 touches, it's clear that Whittaker is the go-to handcuff for Stewart and he'll likely be one of the most added waiver-wire running backs this week depending on Stewart's status. Mike Tolbert was involved too but was far from efficient with his opportunities. If Stewart does have to miss any time, we could see second-year back Cameron Artis-Payne (who was inactive based on a coach's decision) log some carries against Minnesota next week. We could be entering dangerous committee territory if that's the case. Don't forget that Cam Newton, who had six rush attempts in Week 2, caps any Panthers' running back's fantasy ceiling due to his ability to punch in short-yardage touchdowns when the offense is inside the 10-yard line.
We learned in Week 2 that when the Bengals are down, they're going to lean on Giovani Bernard. He racked up five receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown with Cincy trailing in the fourth quarter and led his team in receiving with 100 yards. Jeremy Hill is extremely touchdown dependent when it comes to fantasy production and Sunday was perfect proof of that. He logged 14 total touches but averaged just 2.0 yards per carry. He'll have his weeks, but this was not one of them. Bernard put up just 30 yards from scrimmage last week against the Jets but more than made up for it in Week 2. Looking ahead to Week 3, the Bengals will take on a tough Denver defense. It might be another Bernard game, especially if Denver can find ways to keep A.J. Green from doing too much damage.
Late in the week, Hue Jackson came out and said that Cleveland planned to feed Isaiah Crowell against the Ravens. And that's exactly what happened. It's a testament to the work Crowell put in this offseason and the confidence the Browns coaching staff has in their young running back. It's starting to make sense why the Browns didn't draft any rookie backs or add anyone in free agency -- they believed Crowell (and Duke Johnson) could handle the job. Heading into the Sunday night game, Crowell stood as Week 2's RB2 in standard scoring. Most of his damage came on an 85-yard touchdown run in the first half, but hey, we'll take it. Crowell has now finished as a top-15 running back in fantasy for two straight weeks. Johnson's usage is alarming as we thought Josh McCown might bump his volume as a pass-catcher. For a guy who was drafted in the middle rounds, it's disappointing to see a mere 13 touches through two games. The Browns head to Miami in Week 3 to face a Dolphins defense that just let LeGarrette Blount run wild. Crowell can be safely fired up as a flex play in that game.
If you weren't convinced following his dominance in Week 1, maybe now you can get behind the fact that C.J. Anderson is going to be a workhorse for Denver this year. Anderson logged over 20 touches for the second straight week, scored and got work in the passing game too. He's a do-it-all, three-down back. It's worth noting that rookie Devontae Booker saw nine rush attempts against the Colts but it's not anything that Anderson owners should worry about. Anderson's RB1 value in fantasy is safe considering his 66 percent share of running back touches. Anderson will look to keep the Broncos rolling next week against a Bengals team that surrendered 155 yards from scrimmage to Matt Forte in Week 1 and 132 total yards to DeAngelo Williams in Week 2.
We got a little bit of everything from the Dallas backfield in Week 2. Ezekiel Elliott scored a touchdown for the second straight game and was much more efficient on the ground than he was in Week 1. He dominated 70 percent of the Cowboys' backfield touches and is the clear-cut workhorse here. He's a sure-fire RB1 against Chicago next week. Alfred Morris got his chance for revenge against his old team and came through with a short touchdown run to the dismay of Zeke owners who felt he was vultured. We saw this coming though and figured Dallas would give Morris a chance to score against his former squad. It's nothing to worry about going forward, though. We're still wondering why Zeke only has three receptions through two games. As long as he keeps scoring, his fantasy owners shouldn't care too much.
We witnessed a sea change in the Lions backfield from Week 1 to Week 2. Last week, these backs looked unstoppable. This week, not so much. A lot of that had to do with game flow since the game came down to the wire. But the big story here is that Ameer Abdullah left the game with a foot injury and was seen in a walking boot with a noticeable limp. He looked spectacular before the injury, so it's disappointing from a fantasy perspective. Theo Riddick got the bulk of the carries in Abdullah's stead but was not efficient with just 37 yards on his 11 attempts in the game. Dwayne Washington, who vultured a goal-line score last week, logged 31 yards on just four carries and will likely be the team's No. 2 behind Riddick next week if Abdullah can't go. We know Riddick is dangerous as a pass-catcher but he's not an ideal between-the-tackles type of runner. Still, expect a major volume bump for Riddick next week as the Lions head to Lambeau to take on the Packers. We'll be keeping a close eye on Abdullah's status throughout the week too, but fantasy owners should have a backup plan at the ready. Abdullah's injury is just another example of the fragility of running backs in the NFL these days.
Green Bay Packers
Eddie Lacy's fantasy owners need not be concerned about Lacy as a player. He's been efficient with his attempts through two games, averaging 4.3 yards per carry on his 26 attempts. What Lacy's owners should be concerned with is the performance of the Packers offense, granted they had an unfavorable matchup against a great Vikings defense. Lacy has yet to find the end zone and has just 61 and 50 rush yards in each of his first two games respectively. He also hasn't logged a single rush attempt on a third down yet this season. Again, we're not worried about Lacy as a player, but his usage is somewhat of a red flag. If he only sees 15 carries a game, his fantasy upside will be severely limited unless he starts scoring. James Starks had eight touches in the game, seven of which came in the second half. When Green Bay is trailing, they're likely to lean on Starks more than Lacy. We'll chock this up to game flow and hope Lacy can come through against San Diego in Week 3.
For the second straight week, the Texans offense was the Lamar Miller show. The volume Miller's received the last two weeks is beyond anything he's seen his entire career and a testament to how the Texans view him in terms of being the offensive centerpiece. There's absolutely no reason to bench Miller in fantasy given the amount of work he's received and will continue to receive going forward. Even though he had a tough time gaining yardage against Kansas City, the Texans just kept feeding him the ball. Now if he could only get into the end zone, we could all sleep a bit better on Sunday nights. Worried about Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes? Nope.
Surprisingly, Colts running backs produced from a fantasy standpoint against Denver in what ended up being a 14-point loss in Week 2. On 26 combined touches, Indy's backs scored two touchdowns. The yardage totals were not great but Gore's owners can't complain since he got a receiving touchdown. Robert Turbin, of course, came in to vulture one from the 5-yard line in the third quarter, but hopefully this isn't something that happens frequently. It is a sign, though, that if anything should happen to the 33-year-old Gore, Turbin can be viewed as his clear-cut handcuff. Josh Ferguson, who garnered some preseason hype, is nothing more than a situational scat back that will see some second-half work if the Colts are trailing. All of his seven touches came in the third and fourth quarter.
For the second straight week, T.J. Yeldon got the nod as Jacksonville's primary back with Chris Ivory ruled out. Unfortunately for anyone who started Yeldon, his performance was quite poor, especially as a pass-catcher logging 10 yards on eight receptions. The Chargers were in control of this one early which limited Yeldon's rush attempts to seven. It's good to know that the Jags are content to lean on Yeldon when Ivory is injured (which he often is) but his efficiency is concerning. It definitely has something to do with Jacksonville's overall struggles on offense but it's also apparent why the team went out seeking a bigger bruising back like Ivory in the offseason. Yeldon's nothing more than a matchup-based fantasy play. Ivory's status should be monitored heading into Week 3 and if he plays, he'll be the better option against the Ravens next week.
Kansas City Chiefs
Dominated by the Texans defense in Week 2, the Chiefs had a harder time producing than in Week 1 against San Diego. Still, Spencer Ware managed 105 yards from scrimmage on a mere 12 touches. His efficiency is borderline Jamaal Charles-esque at this point. Ware wasn't the monster he was in Week 1 and even lost a fumble here but still saw 63 percent of Kansas City's running back touches. Charcandrick West finished with more rushing yards than Ware, thanks to two big runs of 28 and 21 yards. According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter on Sunday morning, the team expects Charles to return in Week 3 against the Jets. Charles' return is no sure thing just yet, but if he does come back Ware's volume could suffer. It's also worth wondering how much work Charles gets in his first game back. This is a fluid situation that requires vigilance ahead of Week 3.
Los Angeles Rams
Todd Gurley, a first-round draft pick in probably every single fantasy league this season, disappointed yet again. The Rams feature back logged 20 touches but just 70 yards total and zero trips to the end zone against the Seahawks. It was a tough matchup sure, but Gurley is now sporting a 2.7 yards per carry average through two games. His workload is not in danger but his fantasy value definitely is. Gurley has a decent matchup against the Buccaneers in Week 3, but the state of the Rams offense is a major red flag. Gurley may be no more than a matchup-based flex play this season unless something changes drastically in the next few games.
Arian Foster was one of many running backs in Week 2 to leave his game early due to injury. Foster suffered a groin injury in the second quarter after a mere three touches. The team expects him to miss at least one week, but given his history, the veteran could be out longer. Once Foster left, the Miami backfield split and production was ugly. Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake combined for 13 total touches as the Patriots routed the Dolphins early. Ajayi was close to complete ineffectiveness as a runner with just 14 yards on his five rush attempts but did manage to add 31 yards as a receiver. Drake, a rookie, logged just four touches but scored a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. With Foster out, this is likely to be a split between Ajayi and Drake, and possibly Isaiah Pead and/or Damien Williams. Miami faces the Browns in Week 3, but we're not advocating using any of these backs going forward until the situation clears up a bit. The fact that the Dolphins' offense is bad doesn't help matters.
For the second week in a row, Adrian Peterson was ineffective with just 19 rushing yards on his 12 attempts. Unfortunately for Peterson owners and Vikings fans the all-time great suffered a pretty serious knee injury and had to be helped off the field in the second half. Early speculation is that he'll be able to return at some point this season but there's no timetable yet on the recovery of his torn meniscus. For some reason, Jerick McKinnon logged just three touches which is silly. He's the better back with AP out and hopefully becomes the primary runner in what will probably be a frustrating committee with Matt Asiata. It's worth noting that in 2014 when Peterson missed nearly the entire season, Asiata dominated red zone touches with 34 total for the year compared to McKinnon's eight. The Vikings' backs are on the road against Carolina in Week 3.
New England Patriots
LeGarrette Blount was one of just three running backs to record over 25 rush attempts in Week 2 (Matt Forte, DeAngelo Williams). Since the Patriots got out to a lead on the heels of Jimmy Garoppolo's three early touchdown passes, New England leaned on Blount to balance out their offensive attack the entire game. Over half of his yardage (56%) came in the fourth quarter fronted by a long run to the outside in which he hurdled a Miami defender on his way to a 26-yard gain. Blount won't get any work as a pass-catcher (zero catches through two games) but we're fine with that as long as he keeps getting fed the rock (51 total carries through two games). He's a lock for goal-line work too, which only increases his upside on a weekly basis. Expect New England to lean on Blount again in Week 3 against the Texans on Thursday night with Jacoby Brissett slated to start under center as Garoppolo deals with a shoulder injury.
New Orleans Saints
What we've seen so far from the Saints backfield, and Mark Ingram in particular, is not encouraging. But Ingram's lack of production may be more about how much the Giants have improved on defense than about Ingram's shortcomings. New York ranks sixth in the NFL in terms of average fantasy points allowed to running backs through two games. Ingram is still the primary ball-carrier for New Orleans but this is a pass-first offense, as it has been for years. Ingram's 59 percent share of backfield touches is somewhat encouraging but we'd like to see that percentage be a bit higher given the lack of talent behind him. Tim Hightower and Travaris Cadet take five to seven touches from Ingram per game, and even fullback John Kuhn is getting some surprising work as a pass-catcher. In Week 3, Ingram will enjoy a favorable matchup against a Falcons defense that has been gashed for 356 scrimmage yards by opposing backs in the first two games. If we don't see Ingram produce in that game, then we'll have more reason to panic.
New York Giants
Shane Vereen out-produced Rashad Jennings in Week 2 against the Saints. Can't say we saw that coming. Neither back scored in this game, so their fantasy output wasn't significant but the fact that Vereen logged 14 rush attempts to Jennings' 13 is a concern. Apparently, Jennings suffered an injury which could explain Vereen's heavier usage as a ball-carrier late in the game. Jennings' wrist was wrapped after the game, and he logged his last touch with 6:58 to play in the fourth quarter. If Jennings has to miss any time going forward, Vereen would be the favorite for the most volume while Orleans Darkwa, who had two touches Sunday, and rookie Paul Perkins could see some action. The Giants face a Redskins defense that ranks second to last in fantasy points allowed to running backs through two games.
New York Jets
For the second straight week, veteran Matt Forte logged over 25 touches -- a workload only true workhorse backs receive. It's a bit of a surprise following reports all offseason that the Jets were going to split carries between the aging Forte and Bilal Powell, but it seems that's not the case, at least not this early in the year, Forte recorded 30 rush attempts for 100 yards against the Bills on Thursday night which isn't the definition of efficiency. But he also scored three touchdowns as Buffalo's defense was worn down in the second half. We'd be shocked to see this kind of workload continue for Forte, but as long as he's producing, it's hard to see the Jets taking the ball out of his hands. A full 10 days off between games is a welcome relief for the veteran back. Fantasy owners who drafted Powell should keep him stashed for now. Forte just can't hold up if he keeps seeing this kind of volume. The Jets head to Kansas City in Week 3 to face the Chiefs banged-up linebacker corps. Forte will be a no-brainer RB1 in that game even if his workload is diminished some.
Look, Latavius Murray is going to get his opportunities. He scored his second touchdown of the season in Week 2 against the Falcons but had just two rush attempts in the entire first half. Murray finished the game with eight rush attempts, which is a red flag for his fantasy upside considering the Raiders totaled 22 rushes in the game. This backfield is shaping up as an overloaded committe with DeAndre Washington, Jamize Olawale and Jalen Richard all getting work. After receiving a 50 percent share of backfield touches in Week 1, Murray's usage dipped to 45 percent in Week 2. Coach Jack Del Rio said after the game that he intends on using all of these running backs in a rotation going forward. This is counter to what we heard before the season started regarding Murray's workload remaining as heavy as it was last year. It's a frustrating development for Murray's fantasy owners as he's sure to see some of these other guys steal touchdowns. Still, it's tough to find reason to complain about his usage after putting up 101 yards and a score on his 14 touches. Oakland takes on a Titans team that's allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to backs (zero touchdowns) through two games.
If you were one of the savvy fantasy owners who went out and drafted DeAngelo Williams, to say you're loving life right now is an understatement. The Steelers have fed the veteran back a ridiculous volume in the first two weeks. Williams logged 36 touches in Week 2 against the Bengals and although he averaged fewer than 3.0 yards per carry, it didn't matter. His 132 scrimmage yards and receiving touchdown was enough to have him sitting as fantasy's RB3 for Week 2 heading into the Sunday night game just six days after he posted 29.1 fantasy points last Monday night against Washington. Unfortunately, this party might not last much longer as Pittsburgh will welcome Le'Veon Bell back after one more game. Looking ahead to Week 3 though, Williams is a no-brainer RB1 in a matchup against the Eagles where he's likely to see another huge workload.
San Francisco 49ers
It'd be wrong to say that the 49ers offense kept up with Carolina in Week 2, but they did put up a solid 27 points for the second straight game (they scored 28 in Week 1). Carlos Hyde was far from effective with just 34 rush yards on his 14 attempts for a disappointing 2.7 yards per carry. He's still the go-to in San Fran's backfield logging 65 percent of running back touches, but Shaun Draughn got seven first half carries, too. Nobody really expected the 49ers backfield to put up big numbers against the Panthers defense, so this isn't too surprising. Unfortunately for Hyde owners, the 49ers head into Seattle in Week 3. The Seahawks have yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing running back through two games.
San Diego Chargers
Well we have some good news and some bad news regarding the Chargers backfield following Week 2. The bad news is that Danny Woohead is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL. It's a huge blow to an offense that already lost Keenan Allen for the year. The good news is that Melvin Gordon is the truth. He's more than capable of handling what will likely be a much bigger workload with Woodhead out. Gordon logged 27 total touches including 24 carries for 102 rushing yards and a score in a 38-14 rout against the Jaguars. He'll be a three-down workhorse back now and should see a bump in receptions too. Gordon gets a juicy matchup against the Colts in Week 3 and has RB1 upside. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs through two games than Indy.
Earlier in the week, Pete Carroll anointed Thomas Rawls as Seattle's starting running back after Christine Michael got the nod in Week 1. And while neither back was an ideal fantasy start going up against a solid Rams defensive front, Rawls was outplayed by Michael in the first half. Rawls suffered a minor leg injury and didn't log a snap during the second half, leaving Michael as the team's leading rusher for the day. Michael did lose a costly fumble late in the game, but his 80 total yards on 13 touches is nothing to scoff at considering Seattle's offensive line woes. Rawls status needs to be monitored heading into a Week 3 matchup against the 49ers, but Michael is shaping up as the safer fantasy play at this point.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay was destroyed by Arizona in Week 2. A 33-point blowout left little room for production from the Bucs' backfield. To pour salt in the wound, Doug Martin left the game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter. In his stead, Charles Sims had 12 touches, all of which came following Martin's departure. Sims is a must-add on waivers this week with Martin's status unknown. Sims could see feature-back type work if Martin has to miss time. Jacquizz Rodgers logged two touches late in the third quarter, but Sims is the clear favorite for the higher volume going forward. The Bucs backfield will face an uphill battle against the Rams in Week 3 but if Martin's out Sims can safely be started as a flex play with RB2 upside.
Tennessee pulled out a win over Detroit in Week 2 on the heels of a productive day from its backfield. DeMarco Murray rumbled his way to 145 total yards while Derrick Henry made the most of his 10 touches for 49 yards. Murray remains the leader here, but Henry saw an uptick in snap count from Week 1 which is a promising sign. At this point, Henry is simply a better playmaker than the aging Murray, but the Titans seem to be content keeping the rookie's workload limited for now. Murray is the better fantasy play until further notice. The Titans face the Raiders in Week 3 at home, so fire up Murray as an RB2.
Hey look everyone! Matt Jones got into the end zone! Take a picture, it will last longer. All joking aside, Jones performed decently in Week 2 averging 4.7 yards per carry against the Cowboys. He's still hard to trust on a weekly basis given his inconsistency and the overall state of the 0-2 Redskins offense. Chris Thompson has just five touches in the game but totaled a mere seven fewer yards than Jones. Both backs will be risky plays against a stout Giants defensive front in Week 3.
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Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy writer/editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattFranchise