Fantasy RB Fallout: How To Replace Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley

McCaffrey will miss roughly six weeks whereas Barkley is out for the season

If you owned one of the first two picks in your fantasy football draft, chances are you got some bad news Monday morning.

(So, too, did a bunch of people who drafted after you, but that’s a different discussion.)

Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley, taken first and second, respectively, in most fantasy drafts, both suffered significant injuries Sunday afternoon. McCaffrey will miss between four and six weeks with an ankle injury, whereas Barkley was dealt the ultimate blow: a season-ending ACL tear.

Obviously, replacing the production these players provide when they’re at their best is borderline impossible, assuming you’re dealing with players already on your roster. That leaves you with two options: trades and the waiver wire.

We’ll let you go down the fantasy trade rabbit hole on your own time. Instead, we’ve come up with five running backs worth targeting this week on the waiver wire.

(Note: This list only includes players who, generally speaking, are less than 50 percent owned in most fantasy leagues.)

Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers
This is the most straightforward option, particularly for McCaffrey owners. Davis is McCaffrey’s primary backup, and stands to see a major uptick in usage while fantasy’s top player is sidelined. Davis is particularly intriguing as a receiver, something he proved Sunday when he caught eight passes for 74 yards. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has been high on Davis since training camp, for whatever that’s worth.

Damien Harris, New England Patriots
The second-year back is eligible to come off injured reserve for Week 4, and he could be thrust into the role of New England’s primary running back. Harris drew rave reviews during training camp, with many reporters and evaluators indicating he had surged past Sony Michel on the Patriots’ running back depth chart. A dual-threat option, Harris underwent surgery on a pinky finger before the start of the season. Considering New England’s emphasis on running the ball, Harris could develop into a high-end fantasy option if he stays healthy.

Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions
You know what you’re getting here. Peterson, 35, no longer is among the NFL’s best running backs, but he still has something left in the tank. Considering his one-dimensional nature, Peterson is a particularly volatile running back: He rushed for 93 yards in Week 1, when the Lions led for much of the game, but managed just 41 yards Sunday when Detroit got blown out by the Green Bay Packers. Most concerning is that rookie D’Andre Swift appears to be first in line for goal-line carries.

Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles Rams
If you add Henderson, we’d bench him for one more week as you try to figure out what’s going on in Los Angeles’ backfield. Malcolm Brown looked great in Week 1, but largely was irrelevant Sunday before suffering a finger injury toward the end of his team’s game. Rookie Cam Akers, meanwhile, looked decent in both games but might miss time moving forward with a ribs injury. As for Henderson, he had three touches in Week 1 but racked up 81 rushing yards with a touchdown to go along with 40 receiving yards in Week 2. If you ask us, Henderson is the most explosive back of the three and should see the lion’s share of the touches in the coming weeks.

Devonta Freeman, free agent
Still just 28 years old, Freeman is a free agent but might find work before the end of the week. The former Atlanta Falcons star reportedly visited the Philadelphia Eagles over the weekend and plans to meet with the Giants in the near future. The Panthers have yet to be mentioned as a potential destination, but they nevertheless could be a decent option for Freeman, who just a few seasons ago was a dependable RB2 in fantasy. Freeman will be particularly intriguing if he lands in New York, though the Giants’ awful offensive line would limit his value.

Thumbnail photo via Michael McLoone/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Michael McLoone/USA TODAY Sports Images

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