Week 2 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Can you trust D'Andre Swift on Thursday night?


As we turn our attention to Week 2 of the Fantasy Football season, I’ve got some significant questions for the running back position. As of Thursday, we know Kenneth Gainwell won’t be playing in Week 2, while there are questions about the availability of Austin Ekeler, Aaron Jones, Raheem Mostert, and of course, JK Dobbins is already out for the season with a ruptured Achilles. Attrition is always an issue at running back, but between those injuries and some teams that unexpectedly used committees or just used different guys than expect as their lead backs, it’s already a position that is kind of a mess. 

Here are my thoughts on five of the most pressing questions before we get to my Week 2 rankings, though keep in mind, with so much up in the air right now, you’ll need to check back in by Sunday before you lock in your lineup. : 

What do we make of the Eagles backfield? 

As they telegraphed in the preseason, Kenneth Gainwell really was the lead back for the Eagles in Week 1, getting 14 of 16 RB carries and even four of seven RB targets. And he was … fine. 3.9 yards per carry and 5.0 yards per reception. He’s fine, but he’s not a difference-making playmaker, and I just think his presence at the top of the depth chart is more about the coaching staff trusting him more right now. This means D’Andre Swift (and, I still believe, Rashaad Penny, who was a healthy scratch this week) will have to earn more chances. I think Swift is a talented enough playmaker to do that, but the problem for him in this offense remains that the path to Fantasy relevance mostly runs through the end zone, and I just don’t have a ton of faith that Swift will be able to emerge as the go-to goal-line back here.

What makes this one especially interesting for Week 2, of course, is that Gainwell isn’t playing due to a rib injury. Does that mean Swift is going to just leap into an RB1 role? Will Boston Scott be the Gainwell replacement? Will it be Penny? I genuinely don’t know what to expect, but I have a hunch that Swift might not suddenly be in line for double-digit carries like we’re hoping. He might, but I’m not confident enough in it to rank him as more than an RB3. As for Penny? I don’t think I can start him, but I definitely want to make sure he’s on my roster if available, because he might just need one opportunity to show he can be this team’s best runner — and I think he is. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he got double-digit carries and looked dominant tonight. 

Is Bijan Robinson really in a committee?

I don’t want to complain too much about a game where Robinson scored 20.3 PPR points in his NFL debut, but how can we not complain about Tyler Allgeier having five more carries and two more touches than Robinson? Allgeier is a solid player, but Robinson is an elite prospect who the Falcons invested a No. 8 overall pick in, and he watched as Allgeier scored two touchdowns. It’s worth noting that one of those touchdowns came after Robinson ripped off a 21-yard gain to put the Falcons inside the 5-yard line, but it’s still frustrating that he came out for Allgeier immediately after that. It’s just Week 1, and Robinson still ran routes on 17 of 22 dropbacks, so it’s not time to panic yet. But the case for Robinson being a top-three RB was that he might rush for 1,400 yards and have a big role in the passing game to go along with it. If Allgeier is going to play this prominent of a role, it might make it tough for Robinson to hit his ultimate ceiling. I want to have faith that Arthur Smith will eventually realize that giving Allgeier carries at Robinson’s expense is holding his offense back, but … well, just look at how Smith has used Kyle Pitts and Drake London and you realize you can’t just make that assumption. 

How will the Ravens backfield operate without JK Dobbins?

I’d guess they’re going to add another running back, first of all. It’ll likely be Melvin Gordon, who is on the team’s practice squad, but it could very well be Leonard Fournette or Kareem Hunt in free agency. Either way, at least in the short term, Gus Edwards will likely be the lead runner here, with Justice Hill being more of a complementary piece despite his two touchdowns Sunday. Edwards started three of the four drives after Dobbins’ injury, and I’m projecting him as an RB3 for Week 2, one who likely needs a touchdown to score double-digit points in PPR formats; Hill is more like an RB4, especially since I don’t expect him to be used much in the passing game. 

Is Cam Akers really the RB2 for the Rams? 

The Rams RB usage was weird Sunday. Akers got the start and was on the field for four of the first eight snaps before Kyren Williams played 22 straight snaps to close out the first half. It was a bit more of an even split in the second half, but Williams is the clear passing downs back, and I don’t think we can expect the Rams to be nursing double-digit leads in the fourth quarter every week. Even worse for Akers was that Williams played more snaps inside the 10-yard line (four to three) and got two short touchdowns. The Akers-Sean McVay relationship has been weird for a while, and Akers was even sent home from the team at one point last season, so I’m not sure we can just assume this was a fluke. Either way, Akers’ only path to being a must-start Fantasy RB was through dominating touches, and that didn’t happen in Week 1. He’s a touchdown-or-bust RB3 for me in Week 2. 

Can you trust anyone in the Bears backfield?

In Week 1, Khalil Herbert had nine carries and five targets; D’Onta Foreman had five and three, and Roschon Johnson had five and seven. So, it’s a full-blown committee, right? Definitely, though I think Week 1 may have overstated Johnson’s involvement because five of his targets and two of his carries came in the fourth quarter when the Bears were clearly out of it. Still, he was pretty impressive and certainly didn’t seem to do anything to lose playing time. Herbert is the lead back here, but he was already below a 50% snap share in the first three quarters, so I think this is probably just a committee I want to avoid unless and until they consolidate touches in some way. 

Do you play in a deeper full-point PPR league? Over at Sportsline, Jacob Gibbs has you covered with full-point PPR position-by-position rankings for Week 1.

Here are my full rankings for Week 2 at running back for PPR leagues: 

  1. Christian McCaffrey @LAR
  2. Saquon Barkley @ARI
  3. Bijan Robinson vs. GB
  4. Austin Ekeler @TEN
  5. Nick Chubb @PIT
  6. Josh Jacobs @BUF
  7. Tony Pollard vs. NYJ
  8. Derrick Henry vs. LAC
  9. Travis Etienne vs. KC
  10. Joe Mixon vs. BAL
  11. Miles Sanders vs. NO
  12. Kenneth Walker @DET
  13. Aaron Jones @ATL
  14. David Montgomery vs. SEA
  15. Alexander Mattison @PHI
  16. Dameon Pierce vs. IND
  17. Rachaad White vs. CHI
  18. Rhamondre Stevenson vs. MIA
  19. James Cook vs. LV
  20. Jahmyr Gibbs vs. SEA
  21. Najee Harris vs. CLE
  22. Javonte Williams vs. WAS
  23. James Conner vs. NYG
  24. Raheem Mostert @NE
  25. Breece Hall @DAL
  26. Jamaal Williams @CAR
  27. Gus Edwards @CIN
  28. AJ Dillon @ATL
  29. Dalvin Cook @DAL
  30. Kyren Williams vs. SF
  31. Brian Robinson Jr. @DEN
  32. Samaje Perine vs. WAS
  33. D’Andre Swift vs. MIN
  34. Zack Moss @HOU
  35. Isiah Pacheco @JAX
  36. Antonio Gibson @DEN
  37. Cam Akers vs. SF
  38. Tyler Allgeier vs. GB
  39. Devin Singletary vs. IND
  40. Khalil Herbert @TB
  41. Ezekiel Elliott vs. MIA
  42. Deon Jackson @HOU
  43. Chuba Hubbard vs. NO
  44. Jaylen Warren vs. CLE
  45. Jerick McKinnon @JAX
  46. Clyde Edwards-Helaire @JAX
  47. Joshua Kelley @TEN
  48. Zach Charbonnet @DET
  49. Roschon Johnson @TB
  50. Tyjae Spears vs. LAC
  51. Justice Hill @CIN
  52. Sean Tucker vs. CHI
  53. Salvon Ahmed @NE
  54. Jerome Ford @PIT
  55. Elijah Mitchell @LAR
  56. Rashaad Penny vs. MIN
  57. Ty Chandler @PHI
  58. Tank Bigsby vs. KC
  59. Rico Dowdle vs. NYJ
  60. Damien Harris vs. LV
  61. Boston Scott vs. MIN
  62. Duece Vaughn vs. NYJ
  63. Ameer Abdullah @BUF
  64. D’Onta Foreman @TB
  65. Chris Evans vs. BAL

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