Erik Smith’s RB Rankings
- If you want to complain about Javonte Williams‘ 58% snap share in Week 1, go right ahead. It ranked 27th among all running backs as Melvin Gordon chipped in his to-be-expected 41% of the snaps, so this is certainly still a committee. But it’s hard to ignore Williams’ 29% target share, second only to Saquon Barkley, and he displayed excellent hands in catching 11 of 12 targets while maintaining his physical, tackle-breaking running style. Williams just passes the eye test on a snap-by-snap-basis, and his lone bad moment from Week 1, a fumble at the goal line, was matched by Gordon, who also fumbled at the goal line. Williams draws a Week 2 matchup against a Texans defense that allowed the fifth-most fantasy points last year and just gave up 177 yards rushing to the Colts, making Williams a top 10 RB despite any lingering usage concerns.
- Darrell Henderson Jr. played 82% of the Rams’ running back snaps last week, as Cam Akers was shockingly put on ice for most of the game. While we should expect more of a mixture in the future, we can’t overlook that Henderson played the second-highest percentage of snaps among all running backs in the opener. While he may have underwhelmed in his Week 1 matchup against the Bills, Henderson faces an Atlanta defense that was the tenth-best matchup for a fantasy running back last year and just allowed 151 yards rushing to the Saints last week. Henderson isn’t the safest play, as past injury concerns and lackluster play are in the back of all of our minds. But when we compare Henderson to Josh Jacobs in our Range of Outcomes Tool, we can see the potential for a big week likely outweighs any floor concerns.
- Jeff Wilson Jr. finds himself in a great spot in a San Francisco offense without Elijah Mitchell for at least four games, but I have a hard time getting fully on board here. Wilson is approaching his 27th birthday with 38 career games under his belt, and his usage has been mediocre overall. Wilson has played in over 50% of his offense’s snaps just 11 times and has played in over 40% of the offensive snaps just 14 times. In his four previous seasons, Wilson has played in 6, 10, 12, and 9 games respectively, with a career 4.2 yards per rush and an average of 1.53 targets per game. Maybe we get a few weeks of premium usage here, but Kyle Shanahan always finds a way to throw us a curveball in his backfield usage. In Wilson, I see a touchdown-dependent option playing with a quarterback that is likely to steal touchdowns on the ground. Personally, I would sell high where you can.
- Rex Burkhead out-snapped Dameon Pierce 50-20 last week, a brutal reminder of taking preseason hype with a large grain of salt when setting your Week 1 lineups. Burkhead logged the ninth-best snap share among all running backs, racked up 8 targets, and finished as the RB23 against a tough Colts defense last week. It was encouraging to see that the Texans only deployed two running backs, as well as the fact that they tied a playoff hopeful in what is hopefully a competitive season. I would not expect Burkhead to be utilized this heavily all season, so the usage here is likely to meet somewhat in the middle, but Burkhead is a potential waiver add if you are desperate for a starter this week. I’d still stash Pierce for now, but he should be nowhere near your starting lineups in Week 2.
- Injuries we are watching this week — Najee Harris (foot) with Jaylen Warren waiting in the wings, Kenneth Walker (hernia) who looks set to play in Week 2, Damien Williams who started for Atlanta but left with a rib injury, and Alvin Kamara who battled a rib injury in the opener.
Green=Strong Starter, Yellow=Solid Starter, Red=Look for Better Options