Welcome to the first installment of Running Back Rundown. This weekly article will keep you informed of all of the latest running back related news and discuss how it will affect your fantasy team. We’ll be on top of all the injuries, position battles, and committee situations that you need to be aware of. We’re starting off this week with a look at some running back situations that you’ll want to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Backfields to Watch
Buffalo Bills: Fred Jackson has the starting job locked up heading into the season. Despite his ineffectiveness, the Bills still want to get the ball in C.J. Spiller’s hands, but he’ll be nothing more than a change of pace back at the beginning of the season. Spiller should be on your fantasy bench and Fred Jackson is nothing more than a flex option on a lackluster Bills team.
Miami Dolphins: Reggie Bush won the starting job after rookie Daniel Thomas’s dreadful pre-season. I can’t see Bush carrying the ball 20+ times a game and staying healthy, so this will eventually turn into a true committee situation. Reggie Bush is worth starting on your fantasy team at the beginning of the season. Stash Thomas on your bench for now and hope he can live up to expectations later this season.
New England Patriots: Welcome back for another season of Bill Belichik’s backfield from hell. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Stevan Ridley, & Shane Vereen, oh my. The Pat’s are going to win games and make a couple of these guys fantasy stars, but who knows how it will play out. As the goal line back, Green-Ellis is currently the best fantasy option, but don’t expect as many carries as last year. He and Woodhead are both flex options at this point. Leave rookie’s Ridley and Vereen on the waiver wire until we see how Belichik is going to use them.
Denver Broncos: Knowshon Moreno is coming off an excellent preseason and looks to have the primary RB job locked up. Willis McGahee will be the goal line back and will pick up the slack if Moreno has health issues again. Moreno should be starting on your fantasy team and McGahee is nothing more than a handcuff or potential flex play.
San Diego Chargers: Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert are set for another time share this year. Mathews is the starter and will likely see slightly more carries, while Tolbert is the 3rd down and goal line back. Look for a repeat of last year, unless Matthews steps up his quarter back protection game and steals third down duty. Mathews should be in your starting lineup and Tolbert is a flex play.
New York Giants: The two headed monster of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs is a sure bet to tear up opposing defenses again this season. Bradshaw became the primary back last year and starts this season with the same role. We could see a more even split in the workload this year and Jacobs could pick up more even carries if Bradshaw struggles. Bradshaw should be starting on your fantasy team and Jacobs is a
strong flex option. Tiki Barber, you’re not getting your old job back anytime soon.
Green Bay Packers: The first game of the season highlighted two of the more interesting backfields to watch this year. James Starks had more rushing attempts, yards per carry, and touchdowns than “starter” Ryan Grant. Everyone knew that Starks was going to end up as the primary back at some point, but it could happen sooner than later. I’d consider both backs to be borderline starters / flex options for the time being, but Starks definitely has more upside going forward.
New Orleans Saints: On the losing side of the season opener was the Saint’s crowded backfield. Mark Ingram had 13 rushing attempts to Pierre Thomas’s 5, but Thomas had 6.2 YPC to Ingram’s 3.1 YPC. Darren Sproles only had two carries but contributed to the passing game with 7 receptions for 75 yards. Ingram is likely to be the primary ball carrier as the season progresses, but Pierre Thomas isn’t going to go away
if he continues to play well. Darren Sproles will play mainly play on passing downs and will have more value when the Saints are playing from behind. Thomas and Ingram are flex plays for the time being and Sproles is only worth playing in PPR leagues.
Carolina Panthers: The DeAngelo Williams/ Jonathan Stewart running back committee rides again. Both of these RB’s suffered from injuries and a horrible Panthers offense last year. Pending injuries, Williams is the primary back but Stewart will still get plenty of opportunities, and with rookie Cam Newton at QB there will be a heavy reliance on the running game. Williams is a definite fantasy starter and Stewart is a borderline starter / flex option.
Injuries to Watch
Arian Foster, Houston Texans: Foster is likely going to be a game time decision due to his hamstring Injury. If he sits, Derrick Ward will get the starting nod but rookie Ben Tate will get also get a fair share of carries. Tate could emerge as the primary back up but I would stick with Ward this week, due to his successful track record last season.