- The strong starter tier is deep this week, with Aaron Jones and Najee Harris getting great matchups for potential bounce-back performances. Jones shockingly had just 4.2 PPR points in the opener, but Green Bay faces a Lions team that allowed 31 first-half points at home and 4.7 yards per carry on 28 attempts. Harris played every single snap for the Steelers in the opener yet scored just 5.9 PPR points, and I’m willing to bet he turns it around against the Raiders defense. While Las Vegas certainly put forth a spirited effort in their upset of the Ravens on Monday night, this defense still allowed 65 yards and a touchdown on just 9 carries to Ty’Son Williams in his first NFL action. Without the benefit of a home crowd, I expect the Raiders to look more like the team defense they were last year.
- If this Packers team looks anywhere near as disjointed as it did in the opener, D’Andre Swift could be in for a big week. Swift played nearly twice as many snaps as Jamaal Williams against the 49ers, and his top-end pass-catching ability (8 catches for 65 yards and a TD on 11 targets) should keep him relatively game script proof. The Packers have traditionally struggled to stop the run, and they allowed 133 rushing yards to the Saints running backs last week on 31 attempts. Start Swift with confidence, and a touchdown should make him an RB1 for the week.
- Saquon Barkley played 29 of the Giants’ 61 offensive snaps last week, and while he did lead the backfield in snaps, it’s hard to be a fantasy superstar on that kind of usage. I’d expect this to be a progression as Barkley is eased back into his role, so each week should be better than the last. And I’d sure hope that it starts this week after 3.7 PPR points against the Broncos in Week 1. The problem, however, is that not only do the Giants play a ferocious Washington front seven this week, but it’s a dreaded Thursday night game as well, so Barkley has to contend with a short turnaround after his first extended action since his injury. I’d expect the Giants to handle him with care this week, even against a division rival. I’ve got Barkley at RB20 and I keep wanting to lower him further.
- Miles Sanders is a primary candidate to leapfrog Barkley in the rankings, and I could make the argument he should be as high as RB17. Sanders had a nice Week 1, scoring 17 PPR points without the benefit of a touchdown and we were pleasantly surprised to see just two running backs featured in Philadelphia (Sanders 47 snaps, Kenneth Gainwell 25). And yet, I’m still not fully ready to buy into these Eagles skill position players. San Francisco should provide a much tougher matchup than Atlanta did last week, where the Eagles lead throughout and got to stick to their game plan. And Gainwell looked good enough where I think he still has a role. Another good week against this tough 49ers front seven, however, and Sanders begins approaching the strong starter tier.
- Allegedly, Ronald Jones II is going to start in a glorious matchup against those Atlanta Falcons that we just mentioned. Unfortunately, whether or not he will finish the game is a bigger question. Jones was sent to the bench in favor of Leonard Fournette last week after a fumble, and how many times have we seen Jones put on ice by Bruce Arians after a fumble or drop or blown assignment over the past several seasons? It doesn’t make much sense for the Buccaneers to run Fournette into the ground in a season where they hope to play well into 2022, but it’s hard to ignore the risk in starting Jones. Despite the starting designation, I have Fournette ahead of Jones in my rankings, but Jones does have breakout potential against the Falcons. We’ve been down this road before, and it feels like flipping a coin at times is the best way to guess how this plays out.
- If you’re looking to add Elijah Mitchell this week in waivers I have him ranked as the RB26, and he should pay off as an RB2 with upside for more. He’s the hot hand, and I do expect Kyle Shanahan to recognize how well Mitchell played in Week 1. He’s already done it once (16.4 PPR points on a repeatable 19 touches), while we aren’t exactly sure of the full story with backfield mate Trey Sermon. I expect Sermon to be active and play, and I have him penciled in at RB 35. He’s absolutely a gamble, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s carved out the 1B role after this week.
Green=Strong Starter, Yellow=Solid Starter, Red=Look for Better Options
Week 2 RB Rankings