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Running back committee: Find out who's sharing carries

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John Halpin

John Halpin has been a fantasy contributor for since 2007. He has written and co-hosted webcasts about fantasy football for, and managed websites for the NHL, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Network. Listen to his "Fantasy 15 Podcast" on and follow him on Twitter.


Welcome to the second weekly edition of our fantasy backfield committee update.

This will help you understand what’s happening in the world of running back tandems.

The four "worry levels" – High, Medium, Low, and Non-Existent – are subject to change on a weekly basis and completely determined by the humble fantasy analyst that writes this article.

And now, without further ado, is our look at the backfield status for each of the NFL’s 32 teams.

Arizona Cardinals
Committee worry level: Medium
Week 1: Tim Hightower (13 carries, 54 yards, TD; four receptions, 40 yards); Chris "Beanie" Wells (DNP - injury)

Comment: Wells is expected to return after missing Week 1 with a knee bruise. Hightower is still around, but he fumbled twice against the Rams. Hightower is still solid in PPR leagues, but if you had a quarterback as scatter-armed as Derek Anderson, wouldn’t you give the ball to Beanie all day long? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Atlanta Falcons
Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 1: Michael Turner (19 carries, 42 yards; one reception, seven yards)

Comment: Turner had 19 carries against the Steelers, while Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood had two each. Nothing to see here.

Baltimore Ravens
Committee worry level: Medium
Week 1: Ray Rice (21 carries, 43 yards; two receptions, 19 yards); Willis McGahee (six carries, minus-two yards, TD; one reception, minus-six yards)

Comment: Damn you, McGahee! You just had to take that one-yard touchdown carry away from Rice, didn’t you? Take your minus-eight yards and get lost!

Buffalo Bills
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: C.J. Spiller (seven carries, six yards; four receptions, eight yards); Fred Jackson (four carries, 19 yards; two carries, zero yards); Marshawn Lynch (three carries, 13 yards)

Comment: Spiller struggled mightily in his debut, but you’d struggle, too, if your team couldn’t pass the ball against the Dolphins, the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders, your local high school team or anyone else. Spiller will still get his share of work, but as Jackson’s hand gets healthier, he’ll be in the mix as well. Maybe Lynch, too. Does that clear things up?

Carolina Panthers
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: DeAngelo Williams (16 carries, 62 yards); Jonathan Stewart (five carries, 12 yards)

Comment: We mentioned last week that we thought Williams would get more carries than Stewart when both were healthy, but a 16-5 advantage isn’t what we expected. Look for Stewart to get more work – though not as much as Williams – when the Bucs come to Charlotte this week.

Chicago Bears
Committee worry level: Medium
Week 1: Matt Forte (17 carries, 50 yards; seven receptions, 151 yards, 2 TD); Chester Taylor (nine carries, 29 yards; three receptions, 44 yards)

Comment: Forte’s NFC Offensive Player of the Week award is a huge thumb in the eye to all the fantasy owners whose teams he killed in 2009. But what does he care? Forte will be dangerous as a multipurpose back, but Taylor did have 12 touches on Sunday to Forte’s 24. Taylor is going to take some of the work here.

Cincinnati Bengals
Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 1: Cedric Benson (15 carries, 43 yards, TD; one reception, 11 yards); Bernard Scott (six carries, 35 yards; three receptions, 15 yards)

Comment: All nine of Scott’s touches came in the second half when the game against the Patriots was out of hand. Don’t worry about Benson if you own him.

Cleveland Browns
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: Peyton Hillis (nine carries, 41 yards, TD; four receptions, 24 yards); Jerome Harrison (nine carries, 52 yards; one reception, seven yards)

Comment: Nobody appreciates Harrison like we do, right? Maybe the fact that Hillis fumbled twice will force coach Eric Mangini to let Harrison run more.

Dallas Cowboys
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: Marion Barber (eight carries, 39 yards; two receptions, one yards); Felix Jones (eight carries, 38 yards; two receptions, 26 yards); Tashard Choice (five carries, 18 yards; two receptions, minus-two yards)

Comment: Ten touches for Barber, 10 for Jones and seven for Choice. This is a fantasy owner’s nightmare, all right.

Denver Broncos
Committee worry level: Medium
Week 1: Knowshon Moreno (15 carries, 60 yards, TD; one reception, four yards); Correll Buckhalter (six carries, 15 yards)

Comment: Moreno was clearly the lead back against the Jags, but what will this week’s acquisition of Laurence Maroney mean? Stay tuned.

Detroit Lions
Committee worry level: Low
Week 1: Jahvid Best (14 carries, 20 yards, 2 TD; five receptions, 16 yards)

Comment: Best had 19 touches, while nobody else got the ball more than four times. The Lions are going to sink or swim with their prized rookie.

Green Bay Packers
Committee worry level: Medium
Week 1: Brandon Jackson (18 carries, 63 yards; two receptions, 12 yards); Ryan Grant (eight carries, 45 yards); John Kuhn (two carries, 15 yards, TD)

Comment: Ouch! With Grant done for the season, Jackson gets his shot at fantasy glory. Some people seem to think that Kuhn will get short-yardage and goal line work, but in a time when yardage counts and PPR leagues are all the rage, Jackson will have plenty of value. Unfortunately, I missed out on claiming him as a free agent in four different leagues this week. %$#@!

Houston Texans
Committee worry level: Low
Week 1: Arian Foster (33 carries, 231 yards, 3 TD; one reception, seven yards); Steve Slaton (six receptions, 29 yards)

Comment: Um, maybe I was wrong about Foster. Two hundred and thirty one yards? Wow. Can I see it one more time, just to make sure?

Indianapolis Colts
Committee worry level: Low
Week 1: Joseph Addai (10 carries, 44 yards; six receptions, 29 yards); Donald Brown (one reception, seven yards)

Comment: Hey – what happened to Brown? The Colts did throw for most of the day, so let’s see what happens if they try to run more often against the Giants.


  • Who will score more fantasy points for the 2010 season?
    • Shonn Greene
    • LaDainian Tomlinson
Jacksonville Jaguars
Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 1: Maurice Jones-Drew (23 carries, 98 yards; three receptions, 15 yards); Rashad Jennings (four carries, 26 yards; one reception, four yards)

Comment: Zzzz …

Kansas City Chiefs
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: Jamaal Charles (11 carries, 92 yards, TD; one reception, eight yards); Thomas Jones (11 carries, 39 yards)

Comment: Eleven carries for Jones, 11 for Charles, and tens of thousands of fantasy owners resigned to week after week of screaming, “Haley, you idiot! Give the ball to Charles more!” It might be warranted on talent alone at this point, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Miami Dolphins
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: Ricky Williams (18 carries, 62 yards); Ronnie Brown (13 carries, 65 yards, TD; two receptions, 20 yards)

Comment: This one went just about down the middle, which is smart, since keeping Brown’s workload in check is probably the best way to keep him healthy. Instead of having his name on the back of his jersey, Brown’s says fragile.

Minnesota Vikings
Committee worry level: Low
Week 1: Adrian Peterson (19 carries, 87 yards; three receptions, 14 yards); Toby Gerhart (DNP - injury)

Comment: Peterson got the work against the Saints, but let’s see what happens around the goal-line once Gerhart returns this week. Maybe the Vikes will do something crazy and call a few running plays in the second half!

New England Patriots
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: Fred Taylor (14 carries, 71 yards; two receptions, six yards); Kevin Faulk (three carries, 23 yards; four receptions, 47 yards); BenJarvus Green-Ellis (five carries, 22 yards); Sammy Morris (one carry, two yards); Laurence Maroney (DNP, then traded to Broncos)

Comment: Maroney is gone, so Taylor’s the man, right? Sure, except that he’s 34 years old, and there’s no way he’ll carry the load all season. Morris is the darkhorse, but he’s always the darkhorse in this column. Check last year’s archive – I think he was in here every week.


We get you ready for all this week's games with our NFL Blitz.
New Orleans Saints
Committee worry level: Low
Week 1: Pierre Thomas (19 carries, 71 yards, TD; three receptions, 15 yards); Reggie Bush (two carries, 14 yards; five receptions, 33 yards)

Comment: Bush might get some catches out of the backfield, but when the Saints wanted to run in the second half against the Vikings, they gave the ball to Thomas. Over and over and over …

New York Giants
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: Ahmad Bradshaw (20 carries, 76 yards, TD; two receptions, 17 yards); Brandon Jacobs (12 carries, 44 yards; two receptions, 21 yards)

Comment: This worked out just about how people predicted, with Bradshaw getting a slight workload edge. The G-Men will want to pound the ball down the Colts’ throats this week, and I wonder if that means more duty for the rhino-like Jacobs.

New York Jets
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: LaDainian Tomlinson (11 carries, 62 yards; two receptions, 16 yards); Shonn Greene (five carries, 18 yards; one reception, nine yards)

Comment: LT got more touches, thanks partly to Greene’s pair of fumbles. On Tuesday, head coach Rex Ryan said that he wants these guys to get 15 carries a game each (which he also said during the offseason). You can probably find most of Greene’s fantasy owners vomiting in the nearest office wastebasket.

Oakland Raiders
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: Darren McFadden (18 carries, 95 yards; six receptions, 55 yards, TD); Michael Bush (DNP - injury)

Comment: Is McFadden trying to lure us all in again? OK, I’ll bite. Even when Bush returns, McFadden’s breakaway ability and pass-catching skills will probably keep him in at least a timeshare. You get the feeling that the Raiders want McFadden to succeed, and don’t care much if Bush does.

Philadelphia Eagles
Committee worry level: Low
Week 1: LeSean McCoy (seven carries, 35 yards, TD; five receptions, 47 yards)

Comment: Leonard Weaver is done for the season after tearing a boatload of knee ligaments, so McCoy doesn’t really have anyone to compete with for touches. Except for Michael Vick, anyway. Vick will be featured in some designed runs until Kevin Kolb returns, which should drive McCoy’s fantasy owners crazy.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Committee worry level: Low
Week 1: Rashard Mendenhall (22 carries, 120 yards, TD; two receptions, 15 yards); Ike Redman (six carries, 19 yards)

Comment: Mendenhall was the main man in Week 1, but Redman did get those six annoying carries. I can’t wait to see what happens when the Steelers get to the Titans’ 1-yard-line this week. Actually, I can wait – I own Mendenhall in a couple of leagues. Maybe I’ll watch with my eyes closed.

San Diego Chargers
Committee worry level: Low
Week 1: Ryan Mathews (19 carries, 75 yards; one reception, two yards); Darren Sproles (five carries, three yards; two receptions, 12 yards)

Comment: Mathews got most of the work against the Chiefs, but can someone let us know why he wasn’t on the field at the end of the game when the Bolts had first-and-goal from the 4-yard-line?

San Francisco 49ers
Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 1: Frank Gore (17 carries, 38 yards; six receptions, 45 yards); Anthony Dixon (DNP); Brian Westbrook (DNP)

Comment: No Westbrook, no Dixon – just Gore. I guess it’s not his fault that things didn’t work out.

Seattle Seahawks
Committee worry level: High
Week 1: Justin Forsett (seven carries, 43 yards; three receptions, 17 yards); Julius Jones (eight carries, 18 yards); Leon Washington (six carries, 12 yards)

Comment: Ten touches for Forsett, eight for Jones and six for Washington. Outside of a 32-yard run by Forsett, the other 23 plays averaged 2.5 yards. Ugh.

St. Louis Rams
Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 1: Steven Jackson (22 carries, 81 yards; four receptions, six yards)

Comment: I drafted Jackson in two leagues last week, because I have faith in him. At the very least, I’ll bet anyone five bucks that he exceeds last year’s total of four touchdowns. Who’s in?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Committee worry level: Low
Week 1: Cadillac Williams (22 carries, 75 yards; two receptions, 23 yards); Earnest Graham (six carries, 10 yards; one reception, eight yards)

Comment: Williams has a checkered injury history, but the Bucs are going to ride him until he drops. Also, Graham got the non-Caddy carries instead of flavor-of-last-week Kareem Huggins. We all should have seen that coming.

Tennessee Titans
Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 1: Chris Johnson (27 carries, 142 yards, 2 TD; four receptions, eight yards)

Comment: Johnson had 150 yards from scrimmage in Week 1, which is below his 2009 per-game average. Think about that for a minute.

Washington Redskins
Committee worry level: Low
Week 1: Clinton Portis (18 carries, 63 yards; one reception, one yard); Larry Johnson (three carries, nine yards)

Comment: Mike Shanahan giving one back 18 of his team’s 21 carries? Just when we thought we had him figured out, he goes and screws with fantasy owners all over again.

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