It’s never long before injuries occur at running back, and this year isn’t going to be any different. One week in, and three different starters could be missing on Sunday: Leonard Fournette, Devonta Freeman and Rex Burkhead.
The Burkhead injury is particularly notable. The team says he didn’t practice today because of a concussion. They’ve already lost Jeremy Hill for the season with a knee injury, and they’re getting awfully thin at the position. They’ve got James White, but he’s more of a third-down back – not a guy they want carrying the ball too much.
If Burkhead remains out on Sunday, there’s a chance they’ll have to dust off Sony Michel and plug him into a significant role. Michel missed all of August after undergoing a procedure on his knee, but he’s practicing now (albeit on a limited basis). He probably doesn’t know the offense well, but he’s talented enough that they selected him in the first round. Decent guy to add to the end of your fantasy bench if he’s available.
Freeman missed the end of Atlanta’s opener and didn’t practice today. If he’s missing on Sunday, the Falcons will elevate Tevin Coleman into more of a full-time role. Coleman averaged 74 rushing and 7 receiving yards in the three games they featured him last year, with 4 TDs. On the downside, they’re playing a Carolina defense that’s really strong against the run.
Fournette left the Giants game with a hamstring injury. Doug Marrone said he didn’t think the injury was serious, but Fournette isn’t practicing today. Decent chance that T.J. Yeldon has to start for them on Sunday (with Corey Grant chipping in some production off the bench).
Two other teams have injury issues with starting running backs. LeGarrette Blount suffered a shoulder injury on Monday night, but apparently he’ll be fine. He practiced fully today. He should be part of their committee at San Francisco, sharing work with Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick.
The Colts went without Marlon Mack in their opener because of a hamstring injury. Too soon to say whether he’ll be available. He was limited in practice today. If Mack is healthy , I think he’ll be their starter, but I don’t think they’ll use him in a heavy duty way. They drafted a pair of rookie running backs (Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim Hines) and while those guys were underwhelming in the preseason, I thought they looked decent against the Bengals. Wilkins is a similar type of back, while Hines is more of a smaller, third-down type guy who might catch 4 passes in a lot of games.
That is all.