Week 1 was all about the Quarterback, but there were still some of great running back performances around the league. As a Steeler’s fan, I have to give props to Ray Rice who absolutely manhandled our defense. Rice is the first running back to rush for 100 yards against the Steelers since 2009. He was also the last person to do so in 2009. Less impressive were the performances of first round fantasy picks Chris Johnson and Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall and the Steelers should rebound in Seattle this week, but CJ2K has another tough one against Baltimore. Here’s a rundown of the backfields and injuries to watch this week.
Backfields to Watch
Buffalo Bills: The Bills stunned the K.C. Chiefs last week, with Fred Jackson rushing for 112 yards on 20 carries. C.J. Spiller had a mere 16 yards on 5 carries, and a garbage time TD. Jackson is the main man in the Buffalo backfield for the time being. He’s an RB2 this week against Oakland.
Miami Dolphins: Reggie Bush rushed for 38 yards on 11 carries, with 56 receiving yards and a reception TD. Daniel Thomas sat out last week’s game with an injury and is questionable for week 2. Despite having the starting job locked, Bush is only a flex play against Houston this week.
New England Patriots: Week 1 was all about Tom Brady and the passing game. Danny Woodhead contributed with 69 yards on 14 carries, and Benjarvus Green-Ellis had and a rushing TD and 34 yards on 7 carries. Expect more of the same kind of split (Woodhead = primary ball carrier, Green-Ellis = goal line back) in week 2, but these guys are only flex options against San Diego.
San Diego Chargers: Speaking of San Diego… Ryan Mathews and Mke Tolbert had an even split with 12 carries each in week 1, with Tolbert scoring a rushing TD. Both backs also got involved in the passing game, with Mathews picking up 73 yards and Tolbert getting 58 yards and scoring two TD’s. Tolbert will continue to be the third down and goal line back moving forward, but this kind of performance can’t be expected every week. With a tough match up against the Patriots, these guys are only worthy of flex consideration in week 2.
New York Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw had 13 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown, and Brandon Jacobs had 6 carries for 29 yards. It looks like Bradshaw is seeing the majority of carries, including short yardage situations. I know a lot of the fantasy experts are expecting Bradshaw to lose more carries to Jacobs this season, but I’m not buying it. Bradshaw is an RB1 against the Rams in week 2 and Jacobs is a decent flex play.
Green Bay Packers: I already discussed the Packers week 1 play in last week’s article so let’s cut straight to week 2. Expect James Starks to out carry Ryan Grant again, but this is still a committee situation all means. A weak match up against the Panthers makes both backs worthy of a start this week. Starks is an RB2 and Grant is a flex play.
New Orleans Saints: Rookie Mark Ingram outplayed Pierre Thomas in week 1 and should see the majority of carries again in week 2. A tough match up against Chicago leaves Ingram as a flex play. Thomas and Darren Sproles should be riding the pine on your fantasy team this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LaGarrette Blount scored a cringe worthy 1.5 fantasy points with his 15 rushing yards in week 1. Playing from behind, the Buccaneers relied on their passing game, which worked to Earnest Graham’s favor. Graham only had 13 rushing yards but picked up 58 receiving yards. Blount isn’t going to play on passing downs, which makes him a risky fantasy start. He should have more of an opportunity to run against Minnesota in week 2, so consider him a borderline RB2/ flex option. Earnest Graham isn’t worth any fantasy consideration at this point
Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice is certainly not in danger of losing his job, but Ricky Williams looked good picking up a dozen carries after the Ravens took a huge lead over the Steelers. It’s nice to see that Williams still has some gas left in the tank after all these years. He could be worthy of a bye week flex consideration if the Ravens are going up against a weak run defense. Ray Rice is an RB1 pretty much every week.
Jacksonville Jaguars: MJD also has plenty of job security in Jacksonville, but Deji Karim picked up 14 caries and 37 receiving yards in week 1. With the Jaguars limiting Jones-Drew’s carries, this will be a situation to keep an eye on. Karim needs to be more effective than 2.3 YPC before he has any real fantasy value though.
Injuries to Watch
Arian Foster, Houston Texans: With Arian Foster out in week 1, Derrick Ward started the game and split carries with Ben Tate. Ward found the end zone early but left the game with an injury. With the backfield all to himself, Ben Tate shined with 116 rushing yards and a touchdown. Foster practiced on Wednesday, so his return looks more likely this week. If Foster does sit, expect another time share with Ward and Tate against Miami. Both backs are only worth flex consideration, but Tate is probably the better option. Foster, or course, is RB1 material if he starts.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: Steven Jackson suffered an injury on his first play of the game, which happened to be a 49 yard touchdown run. Cadillac Williams did pretty well in Jackson’s place, picking up 140 total yards. With Jackson likely out in week 2, Williams is decent flex play against the Giants. Pick him now if he’s still available in your league.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: Moreno pulled a hammy in the fourth quarter of week 1, and his status is still up in the air for this week. Moreno owners should pick up Willis MacGahee, but hopefully you better options if Moreno misses this week’s match up against Cincinnati.