Each Friday during the 2022 NFL and fantasy football season, Eric Karabell will bring his always-reasonable perspective to highlight the biggest fantasy football storylines heading into the weekend's games.
Quarterbacks might be the real-life focus for Sunday night's game between the rival Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, as semi-intriguing sophomore Justin Fields and future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers aim to bounce back from disappointing opening-week performances, but the fantasy football world might be paying more attention to the running backs. After all, based on results and expectations from average live drafts, the Bears' David Montgomery and Packers' Aaron Jones were supposed to be reliable RB2 options.
In Week 1, each was outscored in PPR formats by his backup or, if one prefers, his timeshare partner. Sometimes it is just so hard to tell! Regardless, the Bears' Khalil Herbert turned 10 touches into a touchdown and 11.3 PPR points, while the Packers' AJ Dillon finished among the overall top-10 RB scorers with 20.1 PPR points. Montgomery ran poorly, accruing 26 rushing yards on 17 chances, while Jones performed well when he had the football but got it only eight times. That's clearly not enough.
Fantasy managers crave clarity, and they are often quite overreactive, and so it is that Herbert is among the most-added running backs in ESPN leagues, while Dillon figures to show up in a lot more starting lineups this week. We cannot argue against these moves, but Montgomery and Jones obviously deserve more chances before fantasy managers move on. That's why we call it the hot seat! They should bounce back, but they have to actually do it.
It's a bit ironic that the Bears might be moving toward the recent Packers direction of handling running backs, as new Chicago offensive coordinator Luke Getsy came from Green Bay, where he was Rodgers' QB coach. Jones and Dillon each topped 1,100 yards from scrimmage for last season's Packers, and fantasy managers had few complaints. Might that be the direction Chicago goes in with Herbert and Montgomery? Herbert is quicker, to some a better fit for the offense, but Montgomery is more accomplished, a better breaker of tackles, a better pass-blocker. He is also in a contract year. Hmmm.
Regardless, each running back touch on Sunday night figures to be scrutinized quite a bit in the fantasy world. For the record, our rankings show little panic based on preseason rankings. Montgomery remains in RB2 consideration, though a bit lower than usual, and Jones remains ranked ahead of Dillon, though the gap is considerably smaller. Let's see what happens this week!