Week 1 of the NFL season had some great running back performances, although it may not have come from the players you expected. The top two running backs in fantasy football last week were no shockers with Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon leading the way, but Detroit Lions running backs Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift checked in at No. 3 and No. 4 in ESPN standard scoring. Broncos RB Melvin Gordon finished fifth, although Javonte Williams saw significant carries as well with the major difference being’s Gordon’s 70-yard touchdown run.
Week 2 will offer some tantalizing matchups for running backs, but there are some big names to be wary of. Here’s three running backs to start and three running backs to stay away from in the second week of the 2021 season.
Week 2 Running Back Starts
Ty’Son Williams, Ravens vs. Chiefs
Williams had a great game as Baltimore’s lead runner, tallying 65 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Given how the Chiefs got torched by Nick Chubb and the Browns, the Ravens and their run-heavy offense should be successful in Week 2. Williams will cede some carries to Lamar Jackson, but he’ll have enough touches to merit a starting spot.
Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers vs. Falcons
The Falcons just got done giving up 173 rushing yards to the Eagles. Fournette has made his fair share of mistakes in Tampa Bay’s offense, but he remains most likely to take over as the lead running back. Even if he splits carries with Ronald Jones, this is a great matchup for both players.
Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team vs. Giants
The Giants did give up a lot of yards to the Broncos, but most of it came on one long touchdown run. This is actually a tough matchup, but Washington will have to lean on Gibson after Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury. Don’t expect Taylor Heinicke to start chucking it around the park right away. Gibson is in line for a huge workload, and that volume should overcome average efficiency for a strong fantasy play.
Week 2 Running Back Sits
Mark Ingram, Texas vs. Browns
Ingram recorded 26 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown in Houston’s stunning win over Jacksonville, but game script played a factor in those touches. Up next for the Texans is a Cleveland defense which shut down Kansas City’s ground game. Given Ingram’s competition for touches with Phillip Lindsay and a difficult matchup, the veteran running back should not be in starting lineups.
Myles Gaskin, Dolphins vs. Bills
Gaskin got significant work last week against the Patriots, but fantasy owners will be unhappy about Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed continuing to get touches despite poor efficiency. There’s a chance Brian Flores goes more to Gaskin this week, but the Bills present a challenging defensive matchup. The Miami running back did score a touchdown against this unit last year in the final week of the season, but averaged 79.5 yards per game in two contests. Unless you’re confident he gets in the endzone, it’s best to avoid Gaskin this week.
James Robinson, Jaguars vs. Broncos
Robinson was supposedly in line for a lot of touches with Travis Etienne’s injury, but the Jaguars running back got stuck behind Carlos Hyde in a poor game script for Jacksonville. It’s unlikely the Jags find themselves in the same situation this week, but the Broncos have an opportunistic defense with playmakers at all three levels. It’s going to be another tough game for the Jags and Robinson’s workload isn’t promising. Fade the running back in Week 2.