NFL Fantasy Week 2: running back sleepers

The problem with Week 2 is that when we hit on our Week 1 sleepers, can they be sleepers ever again? Isn’t RB-2 James Conner a no-brainer? Is RB-10 Austin Ekeler this year’s Chris Thompson? And what does that make the RB-9, Chris Thompson?

Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes no. Conner is locked in as a workhorse back for the Steelers. If that was my grandmother, 35-40 touches would make her a must-start, and she’s been dead for like 20 years!

Thompson looks great in the role he played before his 2017 season-ending injury. He can no longer be a sleeper. But Ekeler… well, let’s see if he makes the list in Week 2.

Best Bet: Austin Ekeler at Buffalo

Speak of the devil! Austin Ekeler has one big issue that keeps him in sleeper territory a while longer. In last week’s season-opening debacle against the Chiefs, Ekeler saw ten touches (compared to Melvin Gordon’s 28). Even in a desperate, come-from-behind scenario, Ekeler was second fiddle to the starter.

But there are two things to consider. First, when Ekeler touches the ball, good things happen. He averaged over 7 yards per carry and 17 yards per reception Sunday… and no one was surprised. It’s about what he did with very limited opportunities last season.

Ekeler is not going to spell Gordon any time soon. The starter still does most of the hard work and is content in reminding everybody that when he gets 25 or more touches, the Chargers almost always win.

But coach Anthony Lynn said he wants to give Ekeler more chances. This week, in a potential rout of the Buffalo Bills, Ekeler should expect to see more than the normal plan.

Good bet: Bilal Powell vs. Miami

Early information from the Jets seems to indicate it will be a toss-up each week as to whether Bilal Powell or Isaiah Crowell is the lead dog for the Jets. In Week 1, coach Todd Bowles “rode the hot hand” with Crowell, resulting in his new back’s RB-3 output.

But Powell actually had more touches, gaining 60 yards on 12 carries to Crowell’s 102 yards on 10. Crowell was not targeted in the passing game, while Sam Darnold directed two passes toward Powell. A 62-yard touchdown run is what put Crowell ahead of Powell on the NFL Fantasy scoreboard.

It’s still a coin toss, but Powell has as much potential to break a long run as Crowell. The adrenaline of his Jets’ home opener motivates him. Both rushers could be worth a gamble, but this week, I’m netting on Powell to come out ahead.

Not a bad bet: Ty Montgomery at Minnesota

Jamaal Williams didn’t have the best of days against Chicago. Neither did Montgomery. If Williams can’t improve on his 3.1 yards-per-carry showing Sunday, we could see even more of Montgomery and his pass-blocking experience against Minnesota.

This is based on Aaron Rodgers playing with a gimpy knee and the desire to maximize protection. Even in that scenario, protecting Rodgers will mean slipping out for a dump-off as much as blocking. I like Montgomery to make a surprise appearance on the leader boards, especially in PPR leagues.

Don’t bet on it: David Johnson at LA Rams

David Johnson is limited in practices this week with a bad back. It was assumed he came out of last week’s game because it was out of hand, but the back issue might have played a role in Steve Wilks’ decision. With no pass game to worry about, the Redskins’ defense swarmed after Johnson. Imagine what the Rams can do?

Johnson will have a tough time of things when he’s on the field. But if the game scenario plays out as expected, Johnson will probably get pulled to fight another day.

This article was originally published on sports