John Halpin examines the running back landscape in the 2013 NFL season.
By John HalpinFoxSports
Welcome to the season’s sixth edition of our weekly look at fantasy running back committees. Congrats to all those who had Week 6 in the “When will DeMarco Murray get injured?” pool.
In this space, we’ll attempt to read the backfield tea leaves to help you with lineup decisions. We’ll post this article each Tuesday, and offer updates in our fantasy coverage throughout the week, including in the Friday morning edition of the FOX Sports Fantasy Buzz Blog!
As usual, this series will focus mainly on the more volatile and/or 50-50 situations, but there will be some non-committee and injury notes as well. If you have any questions, the FOXSports.com fantasy staff is always happy to help. The best ways to reach me are via Facebook or Twitter.
Finally, start/sit recommendations for the players below always depend on the rest of your roster. For specific RB rankings, click here. Rankings will be available at around noon ET each Wednesday.
Bye week: Saints-Raiders
Thursday game: Seahawks at Cardinals
Did you know that Andre Ellington got one more touch than Rashard Mendenhall against the 49ers? If Mendenhall was any good, he could be startable as part of a committee. But he’s not good, so you’ll want to avoid him in most circumstances for Thursday’s battle with the Seahawks. Ellington, who has 18 receptions this season, is a decent PPR flex play.
By the time you read this, we still might not know about Steven Jackson’s availability for Week 7. Jackson (hamstring) didn’t practice Tuesday, so Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling might share the workload against the Bucs.
C.J. Spiller played 17 snaps to Fred Jackson’s 39 against the Bengals, as Spiller is still on the mend from an ankle injury. Spiller managed to get 10 carries and two receptions anyway, and I’ll plan to start him anytime he figures to receive even a partial workload. Unfortunately, we probably won’t know until he gets a full workload. Jackson is also starting material for the Week 7 matchup with the Dolphins.
Warning, DeAngelo Williams owners: Jonathan Stewart is targeting a Week 8 return. Remember how mucked up this committee was in the past couple of seasons? It’s going to happen again.
The folks at Pro Football Focus tell us that Chris Ogbonnaya had a 41-29 snap advantage over Willis McGahee against the Lions, and caught seven passes for 61 yards while also rushing five times for 24 yards. If the Browns fall behind versus the Packers – which seems likely – then Ogbonnaya will stay busy in the passing game, and remain a solid PPR option. McGahee is a tough start unless you’ve got bye-week issues.
If you own Gio Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, do you really mind this committee so much? Bernard had 21 touches (15 carries, six receptions) against the Bills, while Green-Ellis ran 18 times. Both backs were productive, and have a date with the Lions (league-worst 5.4 yards per carry) coming up. Gio and the Law Firm can both start for you in Week 7.
DeMarco Murray is down for a week (or two or three) with a knee injury. Look for Joseph Randle to get most of Murray’s workload, with Phillip Tanner getting some touches as well. The Eagles have a mediocre run defense, so Randle (owned in 1.1 percent of FOXSports.com leagues) can be flexed in Week 7. Don’t expect him to be your savior, though. Nobody seems to think he’s all that great.
As usual, Reggie Bush got about twice the work that Joique Bell did, but Bell left Sunday’s game early with a rib injury. As long as Bell plays in Week 7, he’ll again be a viable PPR start.
So, Arian Foster racked up 188 yards from scrimmage on 24 touches against the Rams, but Ben Tate ran 10 times for 12 yards and got a touchdown? Fantasy football is stupid sometimes.
New England Patriots
Welcome back, Stevan Ridley! After seeing everyone’s favorite fantasy bust run 20 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints, we’re going to declare this committee closed. At least until Ridley fumbles again, or gets benched for unknown reasons, which could happen at any time, right? Anyway, start him against the Jets. I feel good about his immediate future.
Pierre Thomas (11 carries, 51 yards; one reception, 29 yards) was fairly busy against the Pats, but Khiry Robinson added seven rushes for 53 yards and a score. It’s not easy owning a Saints’ back not named Darren Sproles, is it?
Last week in this section, I wrote this: “Tom Coughlin won’t give double-digit carries to Brandon Jacobs again, because he knows I’ll fly to Chicago and strangle him before the game ends.”
So, um … yeah. If Jacobs gets runs for 106 yards and two touchdowns again this week, I’ll eat a bug. However, as long as his hamstring is OK, he’ll be the Giants’ lead back and a low-end RB2 against the so-so Vikings’ run defense. Rookie Michael Cox might get some carries as well, but isn’t worth picking up yet.
With Mike Goodson done for the season, Bilal Powell regains the four or five touches per game that Goodson stole in Weeks 5 and 6, and becomes a more reliable fantasy starting option. Ignore Chris Ivory until he gets more than a handful of carries.
San Diego Chargers
Did I have a really weird dream, or did Ryan Mathews run 22 times for 102 yards on Monday night? I guess I shouldn’t have given up on him last week. Look at Mathews as a RB2/flex type against the league-worst Jaguars’ defense (152.5 rushing yards per game), and start Danny Woodhead in all PPR leagues. With 32 touches over his past two games, Woodhead can help in some standard formats as well.
Washington Native American Slurs and/or Terms of Respect
Alfred Morris is still the team’s lead back, but they said last week that they wanted to get Roy Helu more involved, and they did to the tune of six carries and four receptions for 77 total yards. Don’t start Helu yet, but try to grab him in PPR leagues and see how things progress.