Fantasy running back scramble presents one awesome option

A lot has gone wrong already in fantasy backfields across the land.

You felt great getting Le’Veon Bell with the second pick. Now he is holding out and appears willing to continue holding out until well into the season.

You were satisfied with David Johnson as a top-four pick, but he is off to an awful start and his future outlook is troubling.

Or maybe your team is dealing with injuries to Jerick McKinnon, Joe Mixon or Devonta Freeman. Perhaps you have suffered disappointing workload developments for Alex Collins or Royce Freeman. Could be you are grappling with the gimpy status this week of Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook or LeSean McCoy.

Yeah, the list of RBs gone bad is long. Which means many fantasy owners likely are scrambling for RB coverage much earlier in the season than they envisioned. Seriously, we aren’t even into bye weeks yet, and we’re sifting the end of the bench and the waiver wire for playable options.

The good news is bad news on our regular guys opens up opportunities for others. Some of those options, like Tevin Coleman and Giovani Bernard, you just plug in and feel confident. Others, like Phillip Lindsay and T.J. Yeldon, you try to find a way to keep on your bench.

One replacement guy we have faith in this week is Corey Clement. Jay Ajayi is out with a back injury and Darren Sproles will miss this week’s game while nursing a sore hamstring. With both out, Clement will inherit a significant role in the game plan and instantly become a viable fantasy starter in all formats.

Facing the Colts’ defense doesn’t offer any disincentive. Indianapolis gave up big fantasy days to Mixon and Chris Thompson over the first two weeks.

The Eagles also are getting Carson Wentz back. This helps on two fronts. First, we don’t expect him to step in and immediately start slinging it all over the field. We anticipate a game plan that doesn’t focus as heavily on the air attack, which means more Clement. We also expect the Colts to pay extra attention to the passing game with Wentz back in the mix, hence opening more running room for Clement.

Clement also is a cheap daily option (FanDuel $5,800; DraftKings $4,300). The absence of Ajayi and Sproles also puts Wendell Smallwood (FanDuel $4,500; DraftKings $3,000) in play as a daily tournament option, but we don’t expect Smallwood to get enough touches to warrant consideration in season-long formats.

If that rash of RB disappointments has you stuck, just clock in for some Clementime.

The Decision

Post fantasy Madman Drew Loftis and Roto Rage Jarad Wilk debate whom you should start this week:

Giovani Bernard vs. James White

Drew: Bernard — He will inherit bellcow duties for the injured Joe Mixon (knee). Unlike White, Bernard won’t be used almost exclusively in the passing game. The Panthers gave up more than 5 yards per carry last week against the Falcons. With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green lighting it up, a defense still missing Thomas Davis won’t be able to focus on stopping the shifty back. White could lose snaps if Patriots pull out in front of the Lions and rein in the passing game.

Jarad: White — White has not been, nor will he be, the main man for the Patriots. He is, however, one of Tom Brady’s biggest receiving targets, has been targeted on nearly 40 percent of his routes and has put up 15-plus fantasy points in his first two games. White is going against a Lions defense that has allowed the most rushing yards (359) in the league and is ranked 28th against opposing fantasy running backs (the Panthers are ranked 11th).

Last week: Drew 16.6 (Jimmy Garoppolo — 206 passing yards, 2 TDs, 4 rush yards), Jarad 14.7 (Russell Wilson — 226 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 17 rush yards, 1 lost fumble)
Season: Series tied, 1-1

Big Weeks

Matt Ryan QB, Falcons, vs. Saints
(FanDuel $7,000/DraftKings $5,700)
Ryan looks like a guy who is spot start based on matchup. This is a good matchup, with positive projected game flow. Play him over Russell Wilson, Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins.

Latavius Murray RB, Vikings, vs. Bills
(FD $5,200/DK $5,800)
With Dalvin Cook out, in a game expected to be a rout, should get healthy workload and rack up points. Too bad Cook didn’t remain a game-time decision, so usage wouldn’t be sky-high in DFS. Still a cash-game lock.

Pierre Garcon WR, 49ers, at Chiefs
(FD $5,600/DK $5,300)
Dante Pettis was a big letdown last week. Marquise Goodwin is dealing with a quad injury, which could hamper his explosive speed. In a game that figures to provide many scoring opportunities, Garcon should get plenty of looks. If Goodwin plays, give Garcon slight downgrade.

Mark Andrews TE, Ravens, vs. Broncos
(FD $4,000/DK $2,600)
The Broncos yielded a huge day to Seattle’s Will Dissly in the opener. Denver corners harder to beat than linebackers and safety coverage options who will be assigned to Andrews, so expect some funneling to the tight end.

Small Weaks

Carson Wentz QB, Eagles, vs. Colts
(FD $7,400/DK $6,200)
First game back from last year’s season-ending knee injury. Expect rust. With Alshon Jeffrey yet to play and questionable with shoulder injury, Mike Wallace on IR, target options are limited. Wait a week.

David Johnson RB, Cardinals, vs. Bears
(FD $8,200/DK $7,200)
It has been a terrifying start to the season. Offensive line woes, inexplicable playcalling and lack of use in passing game appear to be mainstays. Bears fearsome front just makes it worse.

Demaryius Thomas WR, Broncos, at Ravens
(FD $6,700/DK $5,200)
Emmanuel Sanders seems to be apple of new QB Case Keenum’s eye. With Thomas likely to draw primary coverage from Brandon Carr, there probably will be other options open more often.

Jonnu Smith TE, Titans, at Jaguars
(FD $4,200/DK $2,700)
Jags did solid job against Rob Gronkowski last week. Considering the Titans’ QBs woes (Would Marcus Mariota returning instill much more confidence than Blaine Gabbert at this point?), make Delanie Walker’s replacement show he is worthy of a start before starting him.

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