Fantasy Football: 3 Sleeper Running Back Matchups To Watch In Week 2

Fantasy Football
NFL Analysis Network

Overreactions after Week 1 of the NFL season for Fantasy Football managers are natural. Did a player you selected high with confidence have a dud in their opener? Or maybe one of the numerous injuries that were suffered last weekend impacted your team.

Whatever the case may be, Week 2 is another chance to get your season going. There are plenty of weeks left for things to turn around and it is too early to pull the plug on some players. But, if you are a manager that is left scrambling to fill some voids on the team at the running back position, we have you covered with some players poised to perform in Week 2.

Based on matchups, potential usage and performance in Week 1, there are plenty of players that should be considered for your lineups this week. Here are three sleeper running back matchups to watch for in Week 2.

3. Rex Burkhead, Houston Texans

Heading into the regular season all of the hype surrounding the backfield of the Houston Texans was directed at Dameon Pierce. The fourth-round pick out of Florida gained steam throughout the summer, shooting up draft boards and eventually earning the starting role.

Alas, that starting role didn’t guarantee him extensive playing time. In Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, Pierce saw 11 carries for 33 yards and one reception for six yards. He was on the field for only 29 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, as it was instead Rex Burkhead that led the backfield in playing time.

Burkhead had a 71 percent snap share and turned it into 14 carries for 40 yards. He also added five receptions on eight targets for 30 yards as it is clear who the preferred passing down back is in Houston.

That makes Burkhead an intriguing Fantasy Football play in Week 2. The Texans are heading on the road to face off with a Denver Broncos team coming off of an underwhelming Week 1 performance in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

While the coaching staff admitted they wanted Pierce to play more, Burkhead is the player that they trust right now in pass protection. In a game that the Texans are 10-point underdogs in, Burkhead could be on the field early and often as Houston will likely be trailing and throwing the ball a ton.

2. Michael Carter, New York Jets

The New York Jets made a big trade during the 2022 NFL Draft, moving up the board to select running back Breece Hall out of Iowa State. Many expected him to become the team’s starting running back right away, but that actually hasn’t been the case.

Hall played behind Michael Carter in the pecking order. Hall was on the field for 45 percent of the offensive snaps, totaling 38 plays. Carter was on the field for 60 percent of the offensive snaps, totaling 50 plays.

That is a sizable difference and leads us to believe that Carter is the Jets’ running back to play until something changes. Fumbling is never a good thing and Hall did have one in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens. Both players got their chances in the passing game, getting targeted nine times apiece by Joe Flacco.

Carter did have a drop that would have gone for a touchdown, but it is clear that he has the edge right now when it comes to the running game. He had 10 carries for 60 yards compared to six for 23 for Hall, further building a gap between the two.

Carter is projected to have great value in DFS Fantasy Football this week against the Cleveland Browns and can be played with some confidence in season-long leagues as well. He has a role in the passing game and is the lead back for carries currently, a recipe for success. The potential for this being another blowout means Carter could be in line for a heavy workload in the passing game.

1. Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders

Word around the Washington Commanders training camp was that there would be a new lead back in town. Rookie Brian Robinson was making headlines with his performance and when Ron Rivera announced some of the roles on the team heading into the regular season, it sounded like changes were going to be made.

Antonio Gibson, who has been the starting running back the last two seasons, was being relegated to kick return duties. That is never a good sign when it comes to playing time, as Gibson had effectively lost his job to Robinson.

Robinson then suffered an unfortunate fate as he was shot and forced to the IR, guaranteeing that he would miss at least the first four games of the season. Gibson was now thrust back into a starting role and he made the most of it.

Gibson was on the field for 64 percent of the offensive snaps, which led the running backs by a large margin. His 49 plays were significantly more than the next closest, J.D. McKissic, who had 31. Gibson received 14 carries for 58 yards but most importantly, he was heavily involved in the passing game.

Carson Wentz targeted him eight times and he had seven receptions for 72 yards. That was second on the team behind Curtis Samuel as McKissic, who was re-signed this offseason, received only three targets.

Gibson now has a pristine matchup against a Detroit Lions team that just surrendered 216 yards on 5.5 yards per carry against the Philadelphia Eagles. Gibson has RB1 Fantasy Football potential this week with the same workload against a defense that struggles mightily to slow down the run.