Le'Veon Bell, RB, PIT
Bell made his Steelers debut on Sunday, and it did not take him long to prove he is past the foot injury that kept him out for the first three weeks of the year. It doesn’t take much to look better than the likes of Isaac Redman, Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer, but Bell was legitimately effective Sunday, showing excellent quickness and acceleration for a 6-foot-1, 244-pound runner. He totaled 57 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries (3.6 YPC) while showing good PPR upside by catching four passes for 27 yards. Bell should be an RB2 value going forward.
Lamar Miller, RB, MIA
Miami’s coaching staff continues to puzzlingly give Daniel Thomas a share of the carries, but even their delayed senses have to catch up to reality in the near future. Miller continues to prove that he’s easily the superior runner between the two, running for 196 yards and two touchdowns on 43 carries (4.6 YPC) despite getting smothered by the Browns for three yards on 10 carries in Week 1. Thomas, meanwhile has just 70 yards on 25 carries this year. With 193 yards and two touchdowns (5.9 YPC) in the last three weeks, Miller is clearly a player who the Dolphins need to use more if they intend to improve their weak average of 22.8 points per game.
Jeremy Kerley, WR, NYJ
Santonio Holmes (hamstring) is expected to miss at least a couple weeks with a hamstring issue, and Stephen Hill is also on shaky ground due to a concussion. That means Kerley is definitely a top-two wideout for the Jets in the short term, if not the top man at the position. Although the Jets’ passing game has been ugly this year, there is yardage to be had. Rookie Geno Smith has 1,090 yards passing in four games, and Kerley should be a viable starting option in a lot of scenarios if he takes the lead role in the pass catching department. He's averaging a very healthy 9.6 yards per target in 2013, and he takes on an Atlanta defense this week that is allowing 8.1 yards per pass on the season.
Rashad Jennings, RB, OAK
After suffering a hamstring injury against Washington on Sunday, Darren McFadden appears highly questionable for the Raiders’ Week 5 matchup with the Chargers. Jennings was busy after stepping in for McFadden on Sunday, running for 45 yards on 15 carries and catching eight passes for 71 yards. Jennings’ weak rushing production was unfortunately not surprising – he averaged a pitiful 2.8 yards per carry on 101 rush attempts for Jacksonville last year – but his numbers in the receiving game were impressive. The Chargers have allowed 5.2 yards per carry this year, so if McFadden sits, those who roll the dice on Jennings can reasonably hope for flex production, especially in PPR formats.
Danny Woodhead, RB, SD
It appeared early in the year as if Woodhead wouldn’t have much of a role behind Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown, but he has getting the ball more often lately, and he has been too effective for San Diego not to continue sending the ball his way. Woodhead has 19 carries for 90 yards in his last three games to go along with 20 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 24 targets. There’s no reason to think he can’t approach flex value in PPR leagues going forward – San Diego has held true to their stated intention to make another Darren Sproles out of Woodhead this year.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, CIN
It’s difficult to see Cincinnati entirely turning away from Green-Ellis – he’s in the second year of a three-year, $9 million contract and is only three weeks removed from a 22-carry workload against Pittsburgh – but the Bengals are fully aware by now that they have a much better player in rookie second-round pick Giovani Bernard. Since his 22-carry Week 2, BJGE has just 16 carries, and he’s plodding his way through the season with a miserable rushing average of 2.7 yards per tote. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Bengals looked to backups Cedric Peerman or Rex Burkhead for a spark off the bench if Green-Ellis doesn’t improve.
Daryl Richardson, RB, STL
It seems that Richardson remains the Rams’ top option at running back, but that might have more to do with the team’s lack of skill at the position than it does Richardson’s abilities. Through three games he has just 114 yards on 42 carries (2.7 YPC) and has yet to find the end zone. He's definitely the top Rams runner to own, but any hopes of Richardson turning into an RB2 sort of value are quickly fading. There is some reason for optimism however, as he has 11 catches for 86 yards in those three games.
Stevan Ridley, RB, NE
Ridley is almost definitely a better talent than LeGarrette Blount, but New England head coach Bill Belichick continued to punish Ridley for his Week 1 fumble by giving Blount nine carries, compared to Ridley’s 11, in Sunday’s victory over the Falcons. Blount took advantage of the opportunity and likely solidified his place in the timeshare by running for a 47-yard touchdown in the contest. It should only be a matter of time before either Ridley breaks out or Blount starts to fumble, drawing some of Belichick's ire away from Ridley, but for now it looks like at least another week of relatively little use for Ridley.
Isaiah Pead, RB, STL
Coach Jeff Fisher tried to sell the idea that the Rams merely deactivated Pead for Thursday’s game against San Francisco because the team intended to give wideout Tavon Austin more snaps in the backfield, but even on its face the logic doesn’t make sense. Austin had been active all year to begin with, obviously, and the Rams activated fellow running back Zac Stacy at Pead’s expense, so it’s not as if they used Pead’s spot for special teams purposes. Unless there is a disciplinary issue with Pead that the team hasn’t disclosed, they simply decided they had no use for Pead on Thursday. The Rams aren’t exactly loaded at running back, so Pead could resurface if the team decides to continue experimenting with its rotation. For now, it’s hard to be optimistic.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC
On paper, there was every reason to think Bowe would be a big deal in Kansas City this year. His team added a pass-happy coach in Andy Reid, traded for a significant quarterback upgrade in Alex Smith, and the five-year, $56-million contract the Chiefs offered Bowe certainly implied that they intended to get their money’s worth out of him. And then there’s history: It was only two years ago that Bowe concluded a two-season span in which he totaled 2,321 yards and 20 touchdowns. Through the first month of the 2013 season, though, Bowe has been surprisingly quiet. He has been targeted just 24 times, with the result being an unimpressive total of 13 catches for 148 yards. At least the two touchdowns provide some hope.