Running Back Rundown

Wow!  It’s only week two and we’ve already got a bunch of banged up running backs and some big time position battles.  Lets cut to the chase…

Backfields to Watch

Miami Dolphins:  Remember when Daniel Thomas sucked this preseason, and Reggie Bush had backfield all to himself?  Well, after rushing for 107 yards in week two, Thomas is now looking like the new #1 back in Miami. That didn’t take long.  This is unfortunate for people (like me) who drafted Bush hoping he would be a starter for the first half of the season. This is going to be committee situation going forward, with Thomas being the more valuable of the two backs.  Thomas is an RB2 against Cleveland this week, and Bush is flex option.

New England Patriots: Danny Woodhead had more carries than Benjarvus Green-Ellis in week 1.  In week 2, Green-Ellis had 17 carries to Woodhead’s 4.  Fantasy owners can’t rely on either of these guys for any kind of consistent production right now.  Green-Ellis is worth considering as a flex option against Buffalo this week, since he’s seeing all of the goal line carries.  He has two TD’s in two games, and he could definitely tack on a third this week.

Indianapolis Colts:  Rookie Delone Carter took away a big chunk of Joseph Addai’s playing time in Week 2.  Should you care?  Not really, since Indy’s offense is completely inept without Peyton Manning.  Carter is worth stashing on your bench, but neither of these guys should be considered against Pittsburgh this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers:  Isaac Redman picked 49 yards and a TD last week against Seattle.  Is this the beginning of a committee with Rashard Mendenhall?  Hell no, but Redman could get see a decent amount of carries when the Steelers take a big lead against a weak opponent. Like this week at Indianapolis.  Mendenhall is an RB1 against the Colts.  Redman isn’t really worth considering, unless you are the unfortunate soul who owns Steven Jackson, Arian Foster, and Knowshon Moreno (see below for more on that).

San Diego Chargers:   Ryan Mathews rushed for 64 yards on 12 carries, while Mike Tolbert had a paltry 10 yards on 9 carries.  Mathew also found the end zone. Once again, both backs where highly involved in the passing game.  Matthews has really stepped up is pass protection and receiving game this season, which is a huge boost to his value.  The fact that he got stole goal line carries from Tolbert is also intriguing.  Mathews could really emerge as the Chargers dominant running back if he keeps this up.  For week 3, Mathews is an RB1, and Tolbert is a flex option against Kansas City.

Washington Redskins:  Mike Shanahan is already wreaking havoc on fantasy owners this season.  Tim Hightower was all set to go as the starting RB and then out of no where rookie Roy Helu gets 74 yards on 10 carries in week two.  Hightower still had the majority of carries, with 20, but his 3.7 YPC is significantly less than Helu’s 6.9.  This has the making of a typical Shanahan committee situation, with the hot hand getting the ball.  I picked up Helu before week 1, anticipating this day, and you should consider doing the same.  Hightower should still see the majority of the carries this week and is an RB2 against Dallas.  Helu should stay on your fantasy bench for the time being

New York Giants:  Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs evenly split carries in week 2.  Bradshaw had 15 carries for 59 yards and Jacobs had 16 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown.  It’s too early to tell if this going to turn into an even timeshare, or if Bradshaw will see the majority of carries as he did in week 1 and most of last season.  There’s also no indication that the Giants favor one back over the other in goal line situations.  Expect Bradshaw to regain primary ball carrier status in week 3, making him an RB2.  Jacobs is a flex option against the Eagles.

Green Bay Packers: Whether the depth chart says it or not, James Starks is the #1 running back in Green Bay.  Starks outrushed Grant 85 yards to 25 yards in week 2.  Ryan Grant will still get caries, but Starks is the main man.  Starks is an RB2 with a tough match up against Chicago.  Grant is a flex play.

New Orleans Saints:  Mark Ingram continues to see the majority of touches, but Pierre Thomas has been the more effective rusher.  Thomas is averaging 5.1 YPC to Ingram’s 3.4.  Darren Sproles was very active in the passing game, picking up 43 yards and a TD.  Ingram is a borderline RB2 against Houston.  I don’t think he’s been productive enough to use as a starter, unless you have holes to fill because of injuries.  Thomas and Sproles are flex options.  The Saints could end up playing from behind, which means lots of passing and lots of playing time for Sproles.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  LaGarrtte Blount redeemed himself in week 2 with 71 rushing yards and 2 TD’s.  He’s an RB2 against Atlanta this week but be warned, if the Bucs fall behind and start throwing, Blount could have another dud.  Earnest Graham is flex worthy given those circumstances.

Carolina Panthers:  The Panthers offense has become all about Cam Newton.  They are relying heavily on the passing game and almost abandoning the run.  Newton is actually leading the team in rushing, with 71 yards.  This is bad news for DeAngelo Williams but Jonathan Stewart could benefit.  Stewart has become more involved in the passing game, and he racked up 100 receiving yards in week 2.  The Panthers will be airing it out again this week against the Jaguars, so I would play Stewart over Williams in my flex spot.

Injuries to Watch

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs:  Charles landed on the injured reserved list with a torn ACL.  This has pretty much ruined some fantasy managers shot at the playoffs this season (Mike).  Unfortunately, the Chiefs don’t really have a good replacement to fill the void.  Thomas Jones is 33 years old, which is like 66 in running back years.  He was still fairly productive last year, but this season he’s only averaging 3.1YPC.  Dexter McCluster is too small to be an every down back, but he’ll see plenty of opportunity on passing downs.  With Charles out, the Chiefs will be throwing a lot, which makes McCluster the more valuable of the two.  I’d be comfortable putting McCluster in a flex spot this week but not Jones.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans: Arian Foster started last week, picking up 33 yards on 10 carries in the first half.  After re-aggravating his hamstring, he found himself on the sideline while Ben Tate rushed for 100+ yards for the second straight week.  Foster is day to day this week and will likely not play.  The Titans would be smart to rest him with Tate running so well.  Foster owners need to be concerned about a time share developing when he finally returns to action.  Keep an eye on the situation, but Tate is an RB1 if he starts. Derrick Ward will be out again with a high ankle sprain.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams:  It’s not looking good for Steven Jackson to play this week.  To make matters worse, backup Cadillac Williams will likely sit out as well.  That leaves Jerious Norwood as the primary ball carrier.  Fantasy owners should avoid this situation, unless Jackson or Williams miraculously start.

Knowshown Moreno, Denver Broncos:  Moreno sat out last week, and Willis MacGahee rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown in his absence.  Moreno’s status for this week is still unknown but even if he does play, MacGahee will be the starting running back.  McGahee is only a flex option against the Titans this week.

Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys: Felix Jones injured his shoulder in week 2, but it looks like he’s all set to go against the Skins this week.  Keep on eye on Tashard Choice and Demarco Murray in case this injury lingers.  Jones is a flex play if he starts on Monday.

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