Punch Drunk Wonderland

RB Newcomers: Starting Christine Michael, Jordan Howard, Dwayne Washington, and others

Going into Week 4 of the 2016 season we have some new faces making an appearance at running back in lineups due to injuries. Some of the waiver wire darlings in the last two weeks have been Christine Michael, Charles Sims, Jerick McKinnin, Dwayne Washington, and Jordan Howard. Injury creates opportunity in the NFL, and many of these backs are in a position to strike gold in their fill-in role. Does that mean they can do the same for your fantasy team? Below you will find a quick write-up on some of the hot pickup running backs along with their positional ranking and where they fit in your weekly lineup. Good luck and be sure to check out My Playbook for great roster management tools.

Christine Michael (RB, Seattle Seahawks) – RB#13

Many have been patiently waiting over the last few years for the rise of Christine Michael. He seemed stuck behind Marshawn Lynch for awhile and then it seemed he would be a non-starter when shipped to Dallas and then back again to Seattle. But, his day has finally come. Sub par running and injury to Thomas Rawls have lifted Michael into the feature back position for the Seahawks and he’s making the best of it. In his first full game starting in Week 3 he carried the ball 20 times for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns. Thus far in 2016 he has a solid average of 5.15 yards per carry and he’s making the most of his opportunities. Of the batch of new faces in starting lineups, Michael is by far the top of the heap. Right now he’s a high upside RB2 when considering your fantasy lineups.

Jordan Howard (RB, Chicago Bears) – RB#16

Howard is one of the newest names to the list and was a hot Week 4 waiver wire pickup. Jeremy Langford is is likely on the shelf for 6 weeks or so, and that leaves backfield duties to Howard and Ka’Deem Carey. Carey himself is hobbled in Week 4 with injury, and could see limited or no playing time. That makes Howard all the more valuable as the Bears face¬†Detroit this week. He has the door wide open to carve himself a potential permanent spot in the starting lineup, and at the very least he has decent upside for the next few weeks. He’s a nice RB2 play in Week 4.

Charles Sims (RB, Tampa Bay Bucs) – RB#17

Doug Martin is going to be out for a few more weeks as he works through a hamstring issue. That opens the door for Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers. Sims has been a proven commodity for the Bucs and he’s going to get the majority of the work in both the running and passing game. In Week 3 he carried the ball 13 times for 55 yards and pulled in 6 catches for 69 yards. You have to love those numbers and he certainly has RB1 potential as long as Martin is out. However, for Week 4 I have him sitting ranked at RB#17 as he faces a tough Denver defense. He’s a decent RB2 play this week and will be knocking on the door of being a RB1 as long as he’s pulling starting duties.

Theo Riddick (RB, Detroit Lions) – RB#23

The running back situation in Detroit is an interesting one. Riddick has been productive in his joker role as a receiver out of the backfield, but he’s been abysmal in the running game. For that reason he’s going to give up touches to whoever the more productive back is going to be. Until hitting IR, that back was Ameer Abdullah. Now with Abdullah out the focus will shift to Dwayne Washington. Riddick will still be productive in his role, but he’s going to lose touches to Washington going forward. Keep an eye on how the distribution goes. There is a good chance that Washington could quickly become the better play of the Detroit running backs. Both backs are decent plays against the Bears in Week 4 as RB2 or Flex plays.

Orleans Darkwa (RB, New York Giants) – RB#26

Rashad Jennings could likely be out again in Week 4 for the Giants and Shane Vereen has been placed on IR. That puts the responsibility on Orleans Darkwa until Jennings is back. Darkwa is a decent Flex play in Week 4 with some RB2 upside. Depending on how Jennings return plays out he’s going to slide either up or down a bit. Once Jennings returns he’ll be a Flex play at best.

Jerick McKinnon (RB, Minnesota Vikings) – RB#27

With Adrian Peterson going on IR McKinnon is the running back to own in the Vikings backfield. He’s going to split time with Matt Asiata, but McKinnon has the most big play potential and upside of the two. He will be a decent RB2 playing going forward, but for Week 4 against a tough Vikings defense he’s a Flex play at best.

Dwayne Washington (RB, Detroit Lions) – RB#29

See the write-up on Theo Riddick above. With Ameer Abdullah out the door is open for Washington to find a prominent role in the Lions offense. He’s the better traditional back and will take touches away from Riddick. I foresee Washington becoming the RB to own in the Detroit backfield. Keep an eye on how his role evolves over the coming weeks. In Week 4 Washington is a decent Flex play against the Bears and he will likely become a solid RB2 option going forward.

Cameron Artis-Payne (RB, Carolina Panthers) – RB#30

Artis-Payne will continue to be a nice play for as long as Jonathan Stewart is sidelined with a hamstring injury. While Fozzy Whitaker is the equation, Artis-Payne should get the majority of the touches. However, his fantasy potential is greatly limited by the fact the Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert are likely going to see the ground work at the goal line. He’s a stretch RB2 or Flex play until Stewart returns.


K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...