Punch Drunk Wonderland

Running Back Musical Chairs Following Several Injuries In Week 2

Injuries are a part of every NFL game and thus are going to affect your fantasy football team at some point in a season. It’s a given and why you should draft handcuff players for your stars assuming there’s enough roster room. But has there ever been a worse week for top fantasy running backs than Week 2 in the NFL?

A total of seven starters went down: Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, Detroit’s Ameer Abdullah, Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart, San Diego’s Danny Woodhead, Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin, Miami’s Arian Foster and Seattle’s Thomas Rawls.

Let’s start with the good news first.

Rawls’ lower-leg injury isn’t serious and he could play Week 3 against San Francisco, in which the Seahawks are 9.5-point favorites on live odds. Rawls also missed all of the preseason recovering from ankle surgery and has been sharing time in the backfield with Christine Michael, something that’s likely to continue all season.

That Foster is injured should come as no surprise because he simply doesn’t make it though the season without missing multiple games. Foster is expected to miss a game or two, but he is an RB4 at best at this point in his career and with that lousy Miami offensive line. Don’t even bother picking up Jay Ajayi or Kenyan Drake in Foster’s absence, although Drake might have some dynasty value.

Stewart has a hamstring injury and likely to miss a couple of games. The Panthers actually rushed for more yards per game last year when Stewart was out injured than when he played, but that was largely due to quarterback Cam Newton. He’s likely to vulture a few rushing scores while Stewart is out. Cameron Artis-Payne could be a good long-term handcuff for Stewart.

Martin will miss three weeks with a hamstring injury. Charles Sims will take over as the featured back and likely was a big-time pickup in leagues this week. Sims did have nearly 1,110 yards of total offense last year behind Martin. But be wary. Sims averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 107 carries in 2015 but on his other 79 career carries is averaging only 2.7 yards per carry.

The news isn’t good for Woodhead, who has been lost for the season with a torn ACL. He was a terrific player in PPR leagues with 80 catches for755 yards and six scores last year. He had rushed 19 times for 116 yards and had six catches for 35 yards and a TD this year. He’s the second big-time receiving weapon that Chargers QB Philip Rivers has lost following top receiver Keenan Allen’s ACL tear in Week 1. Woodhead’s injury should boost that of tailback Melvin Gordon. He already has three rushing TDs this year after zero in 2015 but hasn’t been used as a pass-catcher must. Gordon should get his chance now.

Peterson is likely out for the rest of the season with a torn meniscus. Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata will share carries, with Asiata the likely goal-line guy. I’d steer clear of those two because the Vikings weren’t running the ball well with Peterson and also have lost starting left tackle Matt Kalil for the season.

Abdullah will miss at least eight weeks with a foot injury. He was averaging 5.6 yards per carry and had caught five passes for 57 yards. That injury should significantly boost the value of Dwayne Washington; a rookie seventh-round picks out of the University of Washington. He had a great preseason when he returned a kick 96 yards for a touchdown and scored on a 58-yard run. He has served as the Lions’ goal-line back early in the season. For now, Theo Riddick is the “lead guy,” according to Coach Jim Caldwell, but Riddick is more of a third-down back.

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