As we head into Week 4 of the NFL season, three widely rostered fantasy football running backs (RBs) could potentially miss time due to injuries. Fantasy football managers rostering those backs are going to have to seek out replacements whose Week 4 snap counts, receiving targets and potential carries cause them to have increased fantasy relevance this week. We’ll identify a few such RBs who’ll likely see more opportunities this week and also take a closer look at some fantasy football relevant backfields whose recent RB usage has provided insight as to how their backs will be managed and utilized moving forward.
As this article is being written Bears head coach Matt Eberflus was being very tight lipped about David Montgomery’s injury (ankle/knee) and his status for this coming weekend. He would only say that Montgomery is considered day to day. If Montgomery is unavailable for Week 4, Khalil Herbert will be the Bears’ primary RB against the Giants. In Herbert’s five career games in which he’s had at least 18 carries, he is averaging 5.01 YPC (98 attempts for 501 yards) and he’s scored three rushing TDs. Herbert also added 11 catches for 56 yards in those games. Trestan Ebner, who was primarily used in special teams action to start the season, chimed in with seven carries for 23 rushing yards in Week 3. The Bears might also choose to elevate Darrynton Evans from their practice squad to add depth to their backfield ahead of their Week 4 matchup.
NFL Week 3 Running Back Usage Report
Dalvin Cook (shoulder) top RB who is dealing with an injury and considered day to day ahead of his Week 4 matchup against the Saints. There have been some reports that he is expected to wear a brace and play this Sunday in London, but just to be on the safe side if his handcuff, Alexander Mattison, is available on your league’s waiver wire (and he’s available in 44% of Yahoo! fantasy football leagues), pick him up. There is some optimism regarding Cook’s Week 4 status because of Cook’s familiarity with dealing with shoulder injuries. Should Cook be inactive this week other than Mattison, Kene Nwangu might see some action in a change of pace role. Rookie running back Ty Chandler, who has been inactive thus far this season, is also on the Vikings roster.
D’Andre Swift, who was already limited (ankle) heading into his matchup against the Vikings on Sunday, sprained his left shoulder in Week 3. He’s not expected to require surgery, but according to Lions head coach Dan Campbell, the injury could cause him to miss the next two weeks, which would mean he’d return after the Lions’ Week 6 bye. Swift managed to play 41% of the Lions’ offensive snaps in Week 3, but Jamaal Williams played 45% of the offensive snaps and converted both of his red zone carries into TDs. Williams leads the NFL with four rushing TDs and is tied for the league lead with 11 red zone carries. Should Swift be forced to miss time Williams would be the Lions’ primary back, with Craig Reynolds and Justin Jackson seeing an uptick in their playing time. Jackson has been primarily used as a special teams contributor this season, but he has a career 5.0 YPC average and could be a sneaky deep league waiver wire add.
The Jaguars are executing the ninth highest percentage of run plays (44.61%) in the NFL this season. They’re using a committee approach in managing their backfield, but so far James Robinson has been the most effective Jags RB. Robinson enters Week 4 with the third highest fantasy points per game average (18.8) in PPR scoring formats among NFL RBs. Travis Etienne, is averaging just 9.1 FPPG, but his usage has been trending upward. Etienne’s carry totals have increased each week. In Week 1 he carried the ball four times and in Week 2 he logged nine carries. By Week 3 his 13 carries and three receptions helped him eclipse double digit PPR fantasy points for the first time this season (10.5). Etienne has seen slightly more action in the Jags’ passing game (10 targets compared to Robinson’s 7), but Robinson has twice as many red zone carries than Etienne (10 to 5) this season. It should be noted that four of Etienne’s five red zone carries came in Week 3.
Derrick Henry has been one of the best fantasy RBs in recent memory, but the one knock against him has been the fact that rarely catches passes out of the backfield…well, maybe that’s starting to change. With the Raiders defense shutting down the Titans’ intermediate passing game last Sunday, head coach Mike Vrabel turned to Henry who “got to those spots quickly and then Ryan (Tannehill) was able to find him.” Henry’s five catches in Week 3 were the most he’s had in a game since Week 2 of the 2021 season when he caught six passes against the Jaguars. We’ll have to wait and see if Vrabel will continue to use Henry as part of his passing attack on a regular basis. Henry faces the Colts in Week 4, and they have given up 16 receptions to RBs, tied for the eighth most in football.
We’ve been waiting for J.K. Dobbins to return to action all season long but in his Week 3 debut it was Justice Hill who ended up playing 48% of the team’s offensive snaps. Hill had six carries for 60 yards. Dobbins got seven carries for 23 yards and played 43% of the team’s snaps. Poor Mike Davis didn’t touch the ball in Week 3 and Kenyan Drake was a healthy scratch. Not surprisingly, QB Lamar Jackson was the Ravens’ leading rusher with 11 carries for 107 yards. Avoid this backfield.
Related NFL Links:
- Fantasy Football Running Back Handcuff Grid
- Fantasy Football Weekly Rankings
- 2022 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups
- 2022 NFL Injury Report
- 2022 Fantasy Football Stock Watch