Updated Week 2 RankingsSunday, September 16, 2012
Week 2 Running Backs
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RB Notes: My game-watching notes on Chris Johnson from Week 1: "First series: hesitant, indecisive, looking for the homerun, not following the design of the play. Reminiscent of a place kicker or free-throw shooter over-thinking instead of relying on muscle memory. Second and third series: Vincent Wilfork & Co. simply swallowed him up behind the line of scrimmage. Fourth series: dancing east-to-west, can't bring himself to hit a hole." Ex-scout Daniel Jeremiah was more concerned with Johnson's hesitation than acceleration because he's "not trusting his eyes." Johnson's issues are the exact same as last season. We know the explosiveness is there, but he doesn't get a chance to use it with any degree of consistency thanks to his own indecisiveness and an overwhelmed offensive line. Although the one saving grace is that Johnson's stat line could have looked drastically different with a bigger workload, he's now facing a defense that held Darren McFadden to 32 yards on 15 carries.
Peterson didn't have the same extra gear in the open field versus the Jaguars, but that's to be expected. The promising signs were his excellent vision and a willingness to stick his foot in the ground and make sharp, slashing cuts. We don't believe he's all the way back to Superman level. His No. 2 ranking has as much to do with an opponent that allowed 122 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Matt Forte and Michael Bush last week. We know Peterson will get the ball inside the 5-yard line.
While it may be true that Spiller's eight forced missed tackles on 16 touches were at least two more than any other Week 1 player, it should be noted that he was facing a lazy tackling defense in garbage time. That's not to say Spiller's stats should be written off, though. Even with Tashard Choice looming as a goal-line vulture, Spiller has legit RB1 appeal for the next month. He's been a top-three fantasy performer going back to the beginning of December. ... In four years with the Patriots, BenJarvus Green-Ellis matched or exceeded Ridley's 21 carries just four times. In 16 games as the starter a year ago, Green-Ellis' longest run was 18 yards. In addition to a 20-yard catch-and-run, Ridley had explosive runs of 17, 17, 16, 15, 15 and 14 in the opener. There's top-10 potential fantasy potential in standard scoring leagues this season.
Still rounding into form, Trent Richardson was "just a guy" against the Eagles. Although he ran with power, there was no extra gear and the offensive line failed to open up running lanes. Although I have no doubt that he will regain his burst, I saw nothing in Week 1 to suggest that he's a buy-low candidate in this offense. ... I'd be bailing on Steven Jackson and all other Rams. That offensive line looks like the Battle of Chancellorsville after losing three more players in Week 1.
What to do about Alfred Morris? The season opener could not have been set up more perfectly for fantasy success. Morris' two scores came via an end-zone pass interference call and a long interception return inside the 5-yard line. The Redskins' third quarter lead and time of possession advantage were the perfect storm for 25+ carries. Morris has a fine matchup against a defense that made Kevin Smith a top-five fantasy performer, but his long-term value is sketchy. I suspect Shanahan appreciates Morris -- for the moment -- because the hard-nosed rookie can handle 20 carries without getting dinged up, hasn't fumbled yet and doesn't lose yards. In short, he's a lot like BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The problem is that Morris hasn't topped 3.6 yards per carry in three of four preseason and regular season games, has no second gear and offers less playmaking ability than his backups. Knowing Shanahan's notorious fickleness, it's a recipe for fantasy heartbreak.
Kevin Smith is a bonafide lead back every time he takes the field healthy. Mikel Leshoure isn't a threat to the starting job in Week 3. ... Benson's cuts were sharp enough in the opener. Facing the 49ers' brick wall on every carry, he never had a chance to take advantage of a defense on its heels as Gore did. ... Donald Brown's box score was misleading. The straight-line speed is there, but he had two brutal drops, struggled again in pass protection and shows very little lateral agility. Fortunately, he has a better matchup this week.
I wasn't impressed with Shonn Greene despite the solid fantasy numbers. He fumbled twice, left yards on the field and his touchdown came deep in garbage time. ... Michael Turner is finished as a reliable fantasy asset. He has single-digit fantasy points in five of his past seven games and has found the end zone in just two of his past eight games. The only thing he's a threat to is the 3.0 YPC threshold. ... Ryan Williams' Week 1 performance inspired Pro Football Focus to pen the phrase "impressively unimpressive."