After all the running back injuries last weekend, it seems the best course would be to tread lightly…when claiming a fill-in.
Fozzy Whittaker, Panthers
After Jonathan Stewart went down with a hamstring injury, Whittaker took over with 100 yards rushing on 16 carries (6.25 yards per carry). Stewart isn’t expected to be out very long, but you can’t expect the Panthers to increase the potential for Cam Newton to get hurt on more quarterback draw plays. Whittaker has the talent to be effective with a lead back’s workload. Cameron Artis-Payne and Mike Tolbert will be in the rotation for touches, but the majority should go to Whittaker…who recorded nearly a quarter of his 3-year career rush total just last week.
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
There are 3 running backs, not named Adrian Peterson, who are looking to shine on the Vikings roster. Matt Asiata is a goal line vulture, with short-yardage power. Ronnie Hillman landed from Denver, not too long ago, and has the ability to be a flash-in-the-pan every once in a while. Then there’s Jerick McKinnon, who may be the most talented of the 3 and should be counted on for his pass-catching and breakaway speed. Your best bet is McKinnon for those exact reasons, and because the Vikings could be playing from behind against Newton and the now high-flying Panthers offense.
Kenneth Dixon, Ravens & Kenyan Drake, Dolphins
These two rookie running backs should be on your radar. Dixon is on his way back from injury, but worth stashing once he returns. Neither Justin Forsett or Terrance West have done enough to claim the #1 RB role in Baltimore, and Dixon is one of the most talented players to come out of the draft…Going down the coast, we find Drake getting an opportunity to earn #1 type work over Jay Ajayi while Arian Foster deals with the thing that’s plagued him since 2013…injuries. Drake ran in a touchdown last week, and Ajayi has been a healthy scratch for Dolphins once already this season.
RB2 – You’ve got really good problem on your hands. Both players have great matchups, but I like Gordon’s situation more. The Chargers signed Dexter McCluster to fill in for the Woodhead role, but realistically he still needs to learn the offense. The Colts are also incredibly banged up on defense. The 2015 version of myself wouldn’t believe I’m saying this, but go with Melvin Gordon.
Flex – I understand the concern not wanting to stack a RB & WR from the same team, but Ken Whisenhunt has brought some serious fire power back to the Chargers’ offensive play-calling. On top of Woodhead and Allen being hurt, the Chargers may also be without Antonio Gates this weekend. Travis Benjamin should be a target monster.
I would respond by asking, who is available? The Chiefs had a solid bounce back last week with 2 sacks and 2 picks, while also holding one of the more potent offenses in football to under 20 points. The Jets looked pretty dangerous a week ago against a pretty messed up Bills squad, but they could be just as prone for turnovers…as FitzMagic proved at the end of last season. Tweet me your other Defensive options at @Mike_PiFF03.
Not Golden Tate. As a Golden Tate enthusiast before the season, I’ve got pretty hard feelings toward his production in the first two weeks.
Atlanta’s secondary has been LIT UP 2 weeks in a row, and Brandin Cooks is just the spark for another deep bomb of a TD (or 2). Jordan Matthews has recorded 100 yards or a touchdown in 6 of his last 8 games. You can trust him more than Demaryius Targaryen, which is very tough for me to say.
FLEX – Gordon for the reasons above.
WR – T.Y. Hilton becomes more valuable with Moncrief being injured. I love Will Fuller but it’s hard to trust players to play at their best on Thursday night.
I don’t love going against Carson Palmer, but I do love most quarterbacks facing the Saints secondary. They will likely be without P.J. Williams and Delvin Breaux and it’s obscene that Eli Manning didn’t score more points on them. Go with Matt Ryan.
I know Sproles is tempting, but you must resist. Ryan Matthews is proving that his nose for then end zone is too strong to deny.