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Bush steals Forte thunder
Welcome to the second edition of our weekly look at fantasy running back committees. In this space, we’ll look at recent performances and 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!
This series will focus mainly on the more confusing and/or 50-50 situations, with some injury notes at the end. While we’ll try not to overreact to one game for anyone, Week 1 did give us some helpful hints.
Good grief, what a mess. Beanie Wells was questionable coming into Week 1 because of a hamstring injury. He had seven carries for 14 yards against the Seahawks, while Ryan Williams added eight carries for nine yards along with two receptions. Diluting this weak drink even more was LaRod Stephens-Howling, who scored on a one-yard run in the second quarter.
Also, the Cardinals’ offensive line is terrible, and this week they’ll visit the Patriots, who held Tennessee’s Chris Johnson to four yards on 11 carries in Week 1. If you start a Cardinal runner this week, you’re dead to me.
Is there really a story here after Jacquizz Rodgers got seven carries against the Chiefs? You betcha. The Falcons’ offense is more pass-heavy than in previous years, and Rodgers spent as much time on the field as Turner did on Sunday. It’s not like we should be surprised, as the Falcons had hinted at this during the summer. If you own Turner, give him another go against the Broncos in Week 2 and hope for solid production on a limited workload. Rodgers can be a flex type in PPR leagues now, and Turner appears likely to return less value than you expected if you drafted him. I hope these guys are good at sharing.
This is how it’s gonna be, I guess. Matt Forte (19 touches) gets most of the work, while Michael Bush (12 carries) takes the goal-line glory. Forte had 120 yards from scrimmage and a score of his own, so he’s still a top-10 running back. Enjoy Forte for what he is, and stop complaining that he’s not the best fantasy back on the planet.
Jamaal Charles looked pretty good against the Falcons, gaining 87 yards on 16 carries. He had a 46-yard run in the second quarter, but didn’t take it all the way because he got tripped up slightly about halfway through the play. Charles is pretty clearly the Chiefs’ best back, but Peyton Hillis did get 10 touches against the Falcons. Hillis was only on the field for 19 snaps (thanks, Pro Football Focus), but let’s see how this shakes out in a closer game.
Though the Saints trailed for most of Sunday’s game against the Redskins, it’s still surprising that PPR monster Sproles didn’t get a single carry. He did catch five passes for 35 yards and a score, so you’re not complaining too much if you own him. Starting Mark Ingram or Pierre Thomas against the Panthers in Week 2 is a dicey proposition, even with the Panthers’ subpar run defense. However, remember that when Ingram was healthy last season, he ran quite a bit more than Thomas did.
Let’s not get too worked up about Rashard Mendenhall until he plays in a real game. He apparently looked good at practice last week, was listed as doubtful against the Broncos, and didn’t play. All the people impressed by how Mendenhall looks might be giving him extra credit for being a hurt guy, right?
As for the remaining backs, if you watched Sunday’s game and didn’t see than Jonathan Dwyer is better than Ike Redman, you weren’t watching closely enough. Sure, Redman was dealing with some ankle issues last week, but Dwyer ran very well. In Week 2, fantasy owners should start Dwyer and bench Redman. We’ll deal with Mendenhall later, even if later comes later this week.
No committee, just an update: Alfred Morris had 28 carries for 96 yards and two scores, while Roy Helu was next in line with five touches. We’ll check in again when the Redskins play much of a game from behind and RGIII dumps off to Helu 10 times in the second half. That’s unlikely to happen against the Rams in Week 2.
Bills: Fred Jackson’s knee injury will keep him out for at least a few games. On Monday when discussing how many weeks Jackson would miss, head coach Chan Gailey said, “It's not going to be three but I don't think it's going to be eight." It’s Spiller time in Buffalo – start him if you’ve got him!
Jaguars: Rashad Jennings was running pretty well against the Vikings on Sunday before suffering a knee injury that knocked him out of the game. Maurice Jones-Drew finished with 19 carries for 77 yards, and removed doubts that he’s again ready to be the Jags’ lead back. Enjoy the ride back to Handcuffville, Mr. Jennings.
Panthers: With Jonathan Stewart out because of an ankle injury, DeAngelo Williams was horrendous (six carries, minus-one yard) in a big fantasy opportunity against the Bucs. When Stewart returns – possibly this week – he’ll also have to deal with Mike Tolbert, who caught a few passes and was on the field a LOT in Week 1. I’d be very wary of starting a Panther back in Week 2.