Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks – 66 percent owned
Just a quick note here, as plenty of owners in more casual leagues had kicked Michael to the curb in recent weeks. After his Week 4 explosion (20 carries, 106 yards, two touchdowns), Michael has certainly earned his share of touches in this Seattle backfield. He will still lose some work when Thomas Rawls returns to full health, but until then Michael looks like a set-and-forget fantasy running back. FAAB Suggestion: 25 percent.
Dwayne Washington, RB, Detroit Lions – 2.9 percent owned
As expected, Washington worked in routinely for the Lions in more traditional offensive formations, while Theo Riddick remained the primary pass-catching back. Per Next Gen Stats, Riddick played 11 combined snaps (of 45) out of the pistol, single back, and “I” formations, while Washington played 12 snaps (of 25) in those same formations plus “Jumbo.” This seems to indicate he’ll be the favored between-the-tackles runner moving forward, as eight of his 10 attempts came in those packages. Washington was far more effective than Riddick on the ground against the Packers stout run defense, averaging 3.8 yards per carry to 0.9 yards per carry for Riddick, who also had 10 attempts. With another full week of starter practice reps, Washington could be set up for a breakout game next week against a Bears defense that continues to be dogged by injuries. Ameer Abdullah’s uncertain status for the rest of the season makes Washington a priority target this week. FAAB Suggestion: 15-20 percent.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears – 1.3 percent owned
I was going to try to save Howard for my Deep Dive column tomorrow, but his performance in primetime on Sunday Night Football forced me to add him here. It’s grown more apparent in recent weeks that the Bears will, in fact, deploy a backfield committee, and Jordan Howard could be leading said committee in no time at all, especially after Jeremy Langford injured his ankle against the Cowboys in Week 3. Howard looks more explosive and powerful than Langford, showed soft hands (four catches on six targets for 47 yards), and is averaging over five yards per carry to start his young NFL career. If Langford misses time next week, Howard will be a strong play. Regardless, he needs to be added this week. FAAB Suggestion: 10-15 percent.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings – 39.1 percent owned
Despite a bunch of hullabaloo prior to kickoff when Matt Asiata was named the “starter,” the Vikings backed up what they’d said earlier in the week and what the game film reveals: Jerick McKinnon is the lead back with Adrian Peterson out. McKinnon outsnapped (36 to 17), outtouched (17 to seven), and outgained Asiata out Asiata (47 to 19) against the Panthers. Of course, this isn’t cause of McKinnon owners to organize a celebratory parade, because it’s clear Asiata has a role and will put a cap on McKinnon’s fantasy ceiling each and every week. Still, if there’s a back to own from this group, McKinnon is the clear choice for now. He’ll face a tough matchup again in Week 5 when the Giants come to Minnesota, but he’ll be worth a shot in the flex at the very least. FAAB Suggestion: 10-15 percent.
Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Carolina Panthers – 3.4 percent owned
As was the case in 2015 when Jonathan Stewart missed time, Cameron Artis-Payne was the primary back in a crowded committee. He saw 44.8 percent of the backfield opportunities, taking his 13 total touches for 58 yards. The Panthers fell behind in this game and were playing catchup, limiting CAP’s chances as he loses passing down work to Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Tolbert. Artis-Payne should be added as long as JStew is out, but owners will need to understand his limitations. A matchup against the soft Atlanta front seven next week could be a favorable spot to trot out as a low-end flex in deeper leagues. FAAB Suggestion: 0-5 percent.
Orleans Darkwa, RB, New York Giants – 0.1 percent owned
Darkwa filled in nicely as the early-down thumper for the Giants in Week 3 with Rashad Jennings out, averaging 5.3 yards per carry on his 10 attempts and scoring a touchdown. However, in the wake of Shane Vereen’s surprising season-ending triceps injury, Darkwa just became a hot target on the waiver-wire this week. While Jennings could return in Week 5, he likely won’t have a full workload, especially since his hand injury limits his ability in the passing game. Darkwa has never been much of a pass-catcher with seven career receptions on 10 targets, which could pave the way for Paul Perkins or Bobby Rainey to see some work as well. This backfield could be turning into a fantasy nightmare, but Jennings’ uncertain status for a Week 4 matchup against the Vikings makes Darkwa the first add from this bunch. He’s the likeliest candidate to inherit a healthy share of touches after seeing just shy of 40 percent of the backfield opportunities against the Redskins. FAAB Suggestion: 10 percent.
Phillip Dorsett, WR, Indianapolis Colts – 5.7 percent owned
Dorsett disappointed a bit in his first game as the primary starter opposite T.Y. Hilton, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be owned in more leagues. The Chargers boast a talented young secondary that largely held the Colts passing attack in check prior to Hilton’s go-ahead 63-yard touchdown. Next up for the Colts is a date with a Jacksonville secondary that’s struggled to contain opposing wide receivers so far. Dorsett is a low-end flex play at worst as long as Donte Moncrief is out. FAAB Suggestion: 10 percent.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins – 0.9 percent owned
While Crowder isn’t racking up massive yardage totals, he’s emerging as one of Kirk Cousins’ favorite receivers. He is tied with Jordan Reed for the team lead with 25 targets, and found the end zone for the second consecutive week. A date with the porous Browns secondary in Week 4 could help Crowder keep up his hot streak. He’s a much safer play in PPR formats, but should be looked at as a potential flex player this week. FAAB Suggestion: 0-5 percent.
Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets – 18.4 percent owned
While the Jets offensive output left a lot to be desired, at least the target distribution confirmed yet again that Quincy Enunwa is a big part of this New York passing attack. Enunwa led the team with 11 targets on Sunday against the Chiefs, and for the season ranks second on the team in total targets with 25. The Jets face a tough matchup in Week 4 when the Seahawks come to MetLife Stadium, but the “Legion of Boom” loses a little luster outside of Seattle. Enunwa might be a risky start next Sunday, but is a player who needs to be owned in more leagues. FAAB Suggestion: 10 percent.