The inevitable injury bug will tap every player in the NFL on the shoulders, at least once, during a season. We’ve seen the preseason ranked #1 player for quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers, running backs, David Johnson and wide receivers, Odell Beckham Jr., all fall victim to the injury bug.
As the season continues forward and the weeks pass us too quick, injuries will still be something you have stuck in the back of your mind.
If you are a Leonard Fournette owner then you’ve been pleasantly surprised with the volume this rookie has been seeing. Even more uplifting for your team is that, when given the volume, Fournette is making huge and impactful plays for the Jaguars and our fantasy teams.
Fournette has rushed for 100 yards or more in three of six games thus far. He’s scored a rushing touchdown in five of six games so far. He sits as your RB3 whether you’re in a standard league or PPR.
Fournette’s tank-line running ability and sneaky quickness makes him a headache for every defensive coordinator in the league.
However, a scary sight occured in last week’s game with just under ten minutes remaining. Fournette was tackled at the line of scrimmage and immediately jumped up, hopping off the field on one leg. Jacksonville fans, and fantasy owners everywhere, held their breath. Luckily, it doesn’t seem as bad as it appeared in the game, yet still listed questionable means you need to start preparing for plan B.
I’ve come up with three different running backs who are still available in less than 50% of ESPN fantasy leagues that could make a huge impact this Sunday, if indeed Fournette is held out.
Orleans Darkwa (New York Giants) – 47.7%
Leading off the pack is the Giants starting running back, Orleans Darkwa. One of the most added players this week and was highlighted in my Adds/Drops article. He has a scary matchup against an always dominant Seattle defense. But, Darkwa ran extremely well against another dominant defense last week, the Denver Broncos. Darkwa was able to get 21 touches and eclipse 100 yards.
The Giants losing their top 3 receivers helps Darkwa out in the volume game. They need to run the ball more effectively to give the young receivers a better chance at breaking free.
Seattle’s rushing defense hasn’t been as superb this year as year’s past and the loss of Avril is noticeable. Seattle has let up three touchdowns this year on the ground, which may not be a ton, but that’s a touchdown in half of their games.
The Giants at home with a winning confidence echoed throughout their locker room. I like this game to be a grind-it-out type of game. That will allow for the Giants to put the ball in Darkwa’s hands often.
Chris Ivory (Jacksonville Jaguars) – 25.9%
If Darkwa was already picked up in your league, the next player is obvious. Chris Ivory for the Jaguars. He backs up Fournette and has already rushed for 40 or more yards three times this season. The Jaguars will run the ball, no matter who is in at running back.
Ivory was a beast in New York, but was slowed down in a poorly run Jacksonville offense last year. The new coach and scheme is allowing the Jags running backs to run wild this year. Sure, it’s mostly Fournette, but if he isn’t good to go you’d be smart to have his backup.
Ivory and the Jaguars play the 28th ranked rushing defense, Indianapolis, who’s let up six touchdowns on the ground this year in six games. So statistically, I’m accounting for a rushing touchdown from Jacksonville in this game. If Fournette is not back there, Ivory has the best chance of doing an end zone dance sometime in this game from the Jags backfield.
Marlon Mack (Indianapolis Colts) – 24.7%
Lastly, I’ll stick with the Jacksonville game, but take the opposing backup running back. That’s right, if you have to sit Fournette, maybe a rookie, backup running back is the best route to go, when streaming someone.
Marlon Mack of the Indianapolis Colts had a breakout game two weeks ago. Posting nine touches for 91 yards was an eye opener. Then hoping he’d continue to light it up the following week on Monday Night Football was just wishful thinking. Mack came away with just two carries for 18 yards.
Now the Colts play one of the best secondaries in the game and will do all they can to run the ball effectively. To succeed in that, they will need to give both Gore and Mack touches.
Pagano has already stated that they will be using both in his coined ‘Frank and Mack’ speech, so I’m not worried about another two touch game for Mack. I’m expecting 12-15 carries and an explosive day on the ground.
This game will be won with running so I’m keeping my eye on both possible backs that have the biggest upside.