Unfortunately, unlike in Madden, we can’t turn the injuries off, and yesterday we wish we could have. We saw several star running backs leave the game and not return because of injuries. Depending on when you’re reading this, we might have updates on the injuries. Barring a surprising MRI result, the New York Giants believe Saquon Barkley tore his ACL and will be out for the season. Other running backs, who left the game and didn’t return, include the Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey (ankle) and San Francisco 49ers’ Raheem Mostert (knee). While injuries are part of the game, all fantasy football owners can agree with this: Week 2 f*cking sucked!
Now that everyone has (hopefully) accepted the horrible injury filled weekend, it’s time to search the waiver wire for replacement options. While no one can replace the elite running backs, all of these targets can potentially help your depth at running back. For this article, running backs owned in over 50 percent of ESPN leagues will not be included. However, James Robinson is owned in just 61.7 percent of ESPN leagues. If he is still available in your league, he should be your top waiver wire target this week.
Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angles Rams (45.3%)
In addition to the bigger name running backs who got hurt, both Cam Akers (ribs) and Malcolm Brown (finger) suffered injuries yesterday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Akers left after seeing three carries, and at the time of writing, it’s unknown how much time, if any, he will miss. Brown’s finger injury isn’t believed to be serious, but after a productive Week 1, Brown had just 4.7 fantasy points against the Eagles. Meanwhile, Henderson picked up the slack with 14 touches for 121 yards, a touchdown, and a career-high 20.1 fantasy points. If Akers misses time, look for Henderson to take over as the lead back in Los Angeles.
Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (26.4%)
Speaking of Los Angeles, it is disgusting that Kelley is owned in just 26.4 percent of ESPN leagues. Despite playing just 24 percent of the snaps in Week 1, Kelley had 12 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown. He touched the ball on 66.7 percent of his snaps in Week 1. Then yesterday, he had more touches than Austin Ekeler. Kelley led the way with 23 carries and had two catches, compared to 16 carries and four catches for Ekeler. Now is Kelley going to take over as the starter? No. However, he is getting enough work to warrant flex consideration each week, especially in non PPR.
Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers (18.9%)
Mostert reportedly has a sprained MCL and will miss a few weeks. Not only did he leave the game early against the New York Jets, but Tevin Coleman also left early with a knee injury. Even if Coleman can play next week, he wasn’t very productive with his touches, averaging 0.9 yards per carry on 14 attempts against the Jets. Meanwhile, McKinnon had a big fantasy day despite just three touches. He had 77 rushing yards, a touchdown, and scored 13.7 fantasy points. Furthermore, it was the second straight week McKinnon scored over 13 fantasy points and had a touchdown. If Coleman misses time along with Mostert, McKinnon could be in line for a featured workload.
Damien Harris, New England Patriots (17.5%)
Right now, Cam Newton is the Patriots’ running back. While James White and Rex Burkhead have been productive in the passing game, the duo has a total of 18 carries in two games. Meanwhile, Sony Michel has been awful, averaging 3.3 yards per carry on 17 carries. Furthermore, he has scored a total of 11.6 fantasy points in two games. While Newton might be able to hold up averaging 13 carries and 61 rushing yards per game this season, the Patriots need to find a running back to counter Cam.
Harris didn’t do much as a rookie and was placed on injured reserve before Week 1 with a finger injury. However, he can be activated off of injured reserve after next week and should be added now, especially in leagues with IR spots. Harris would have to beat out Michel (which shouldn’t be hard at all) to take over as the Patriots’ early-down back and provide some fantasy production.
Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins (12.4%)
Despite adding Jordan Howard and Matt Breida in the offseason, neither has done anything for fantasy owners this season. Howard is averaging under one yard per carry and has back-to-back games with under seven fantasy points. Furthermore, if not for two goal line touchdowns, Howard would have scored under 1.5 fantasy points this season. Meanwhile, Breida has yet to find the end zone on his 13 touches and has scored a total of 7.1 fantasy points this season.
However, Gaskin has stepped up for the Dolphins. He has 16 carries for 86 yards, 10 catches for 62 yards, and 24.8 fantasy points so far this season. Gaskin is the lead back in Miami, and more importantly, he’s getting the work in the passing game. It’s not ideal, but it appears Gaskin’s weekly floor is about 10 points per game in PPR score.
Devonta Freeman, Free Agent (7.5%)
Freeman is the ultimate wild card. A few days ago, Freeman visited the Philadelphia Eagles for a visit and has been linked to several spots in recent weeks. Depending on where he lands, his fantasy value could be anywhere from a weekly flex option to a pain in the neck of Miles Sanders‘ owners. However, assuming Freeman signs somewhere that would give him plenty of opportunities, like the Giants, he would be a must add in all leagues.
Last season, Freeman averaged 3.6 yards per carry and 14.1 fantasy points per game for the Atlanta Falcons. While his best days are likely behind him, he would be a massive upgrade over Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman. Hopefully, Freeman ends up in New York and provides fantasy owners with a solid flex option as a replacement for Saquon.
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