One week in the books and there is a lot of overreaction and underreaction to many of the performances out there from a week ago. Trying to keep it straight here and not get caught up in the over-hype. Looking at running backs that are in most experts’ top 20 rankings this week, here are two that I have concerns about starting and could have rougher outings than what they’re used to seeing:
David Johnson, Arizona
Johnson had a solid opening week, rushing 18 times for 82 yards and hauling in another 6 catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. Most of Johnson’s catches came when the Cardinals were behind, but nonetheless, it was a strong opening week for Johnson owners against the Lions. Unfortunately, this week Arizona travels to Baltimore, the top-ranked overall defense in 2018 and fourth-ranked rushing defense, giving up an average of just under 83 yards per game last year. A week ago, their rush defense was the most dominant, holding the Dolphins to just 21 yards on the ground. This could be a week where the Cardinals are trying to play catch up most of the game and quit on the run game early. Johnson will have some value in PPR leagues as he should rack up 5 or more catches in catch-up time, but from a running standpoint, I don’t see Johnson carrying much value against the stout Ravens defense. I’d be very surprised if he cracks 40 yards rushing. I hate to say to bench a player like Johnson, but if you have other solid options out there, I’d go with them.
Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
There is no doubt concern in Jacksonville with the season-ending injury to Nick Foles, and this very likely could have an impact on the entire offense, including the running game.. The jury is still out on Gardner Minshew, who undoubtedly had a great debut last week, but now has to deal with an angry Texans defense who now have game film on him. The Texans defense ranked third against the rush last year. The concern with Fournette is the same as Johnson: Will the Jaguars get behind too much early and have to abandon the run game? Fournette’s best chance at getting points is through a touchdown. He isn’t the PPR weapon that many other backs are and he’s struggled to put up big numbers in recent outings. Going back to a year ago, Fournette has now had four straight games where he’s failed to gain over 70 yards on the ground. So I’d be cautious with Fournette. If you have some solid depth at running back, look at possibly playing them over Fournette this week.