A number of high-profile running backs surged to big performances in Week 1, and others not so much. Most benefited from a matchup standpoint, like Titans second-year back Bishop Sankey and his 74 yards and a touchdown against a very confused Tampa Bay defense. While traditional studs like Indianapolis Colts rusher Frank Gore, sporting a career average of 4.5 yards per game, got blown back by the Bills and picked up just 31 yards on eight attempts.
This week, before setting lineups, fantasy owners should make sure they closely examine what kind of a defense their running backs will face before starting or sitting. It’s a week-to-week process that might seem tedious but more often than not it gets the job done in fantasy.
Thus based on how rushing defenses performed last week, here are four running backs to consider starting, and four others owners should think about sitting in Week 2.
Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
Though he split carries with Danny Woodhead, the rookie Gordon was very effective in his debut with 51 yards of 14 attempts, but didn’t’ break into the end zone. That could change against a Bengals defense that allowed Latavius Murray to rush for 4.0 yards per carry, which could’ve been worse if Oakland's D hadn’t crumbled by the end of the first half. Cincinnati’s also dealing with several injuries in the secondary, which could give Chargers receiver Keenan Allen plenty of room to operate and thus open things up for Gordon.
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
Jennings should’ve garnered a lot more than 13 carries, but he made the most of them with 52 yards and one touchdown. Next up is a Falcons defense that didn’t have to protect against the run too often because they put the Eagles in a 20-3 hole by the half. Atlanta’s also dealing with several injuries at linebacker and defensive end.
Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans
Did Sankey improve after a sub-par rookie season, or is Tampa Bay’s defense that dreadful? We won’t really get an answer to that question in Week 2 because the Titans next matchup against a Browns D that coughed up 154 rushing yards against the Jets.
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
After averaging 7.1 yards per carry and snagging four balls for 44 yards, Abdullah’s clearly Detroit’s No. 1 rusher and next draws a Vikings squad that was decimated for 230 rushing yards in Week 1.
Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
After running into Buffalo’s incredible defense, Gore now stares down a Jets defensive line that shutdown every Cleveland running back thrown its way. If owner's have face limited depth on their rosters or in free agency, Gore’s at best an RB3 or FLEX2 play in Week 2.
DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers
The matchup against San Francisco is just not in Williams favor this week. The 49ers D looked far better than anyone anticipated, after slowing down Adrian Peterson. Williams dominated New England in Week 1, but this is a better run defense.
Alfred Blue, Houston Texans
Houston was down by as much as 18, which limited Blue to nine carries in Week 1. However, the Texans also used Jonathan Grimes and Chris Polk 11 times, and both averaged better than 4.4 yards per attempt. Houston’s going with a triumvirate in the backfield, limiting Blue’s overall value.
Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
Murray’s an excellent long-term play just not in Week 2. Baltimore punished Denver and let up only 2.8 yards per rush. Granted, the Broncos offensive line has played poorly in its first two games and Oakland’s line is stronger. But the Raiders D, with safety Nate Allen now on injured reserve, could allow a ton of early points and cut down on Murray’s attempts.