Injuries are a big part of fantasy football and often create opportunities for players. This is in no way an exhaustive list, as many players could dominate if the starter in front of them were to miss time. Here are three running backs who would be extremely valuable if the starter in front of them were to miss an extended period of time.
While 29-year-old DeMarco Murray is aging with 1,420 career carries, Derrick Henry is a spectacular prospect and looked great as a rookie. Although Murray saw a bigger workload, Henry averaged 4.5 yards per rush compared to Murray’s 4.4. In addition, Henry recorded more fantasy points per opportunity through the air and on the ground. Henry also scored touchdowns on a higher percentage of his attempts.
Although it’s obvious that Murray played well, Henry was very good when he received the opportunity. Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com said Henry has made noticeable strides this offseason. ESPN Titans reporter Cameron Wolfe believes Henry is primed for a big year and it’s “not unrealistic” that he “could come close” to doubling his total yards from 2016 to 2017.
It’s fair to wonder when Henry will become too good to bench for Murray.
Tevin Coleman rushed the ball five fewer times and saw one fewer target per game than Devonta Freeman. Despite the lighter workload, Coleman scored almost three times more fantasy points per touch than Freeman. This is a direct result of touchdowns but Coleman’s efficiency is nothing to scoff at.
What’s nice about Coleman is he can play as your RB2 and be moderately productive – he did finish as RB20 last year. However, if Freeman were to miss an extended period of time, Coleman will immediately become a top five running back.
Despite not being the best running back on his team, Duke Johnson is very involved in the passing game. With 114 receptions in his first two seasons, Johnson has some inconsistent low-end RB2 value. This year there are whispers that Johnson will be used more frequently.
#Browns WR coach Al Saunders compared RB Duke Johnson to queen on chessboard b/c he's so versatile, said catches as well as any WR on team.
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) August 8, 2017
Browns coach Hue Jackson said he wants to use Johnson as much as possible this season. Johnson will also see snaps as a slot receiver. If Isaiah Crowell were to miss time with an injury, Johnson will be used frequently as a running back and a receiver. If that were to happen, he could be a league winning pick.