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Week 3 RBBC fantasy analysis
Welcome to the third 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.
Ryan Williams gained 13 yards in 10 carries against the Patriots, and almost gave away the game by fumbling with a minute left. The fumble was Williams’ second of the season, and that’s pretty bad for two games. The usual reaction by a coach would be to bury Williams in a doghouse underneath an extremely fortified bomb shelter, but Ken Whisenhunt suggested Monday that Williams and Beanie Wells would continue to rotate. Over two games, Wells has 21 carries to Williams’ 18. I can see flexing Wells in Week 3, but try to stay away from Williams.
All three Panthers’ backs – Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert – scored touchdowns against the Saints in Week 2, and Cam Newton ran one in as well. It’s almost as if someone was trying to tell me that everyone in such a crowded backfield situation can be useful for fantasy owners. Unfortunately, games like that don’t happen very often. Newton threw only 20 passes, as the Panthers spent much of the second half with a big lead, while his backs got 30 touches. Look for Stewart and Williams to each get 10-12 carries per game, with Stewart as the better back, and touchdowns hard to come by with Newton and Tolbert around.
Mikel Leshoure will make his Lions’ debut this week after missing the season’s first two games because of a suspension, and all of 2011 with an Achilles injury. Monday’s Detroit Free Press reported that Leshoure is “expected to take over as the starter before long,” but unless Kevin Smith gets hurt, he should get his share of snaps as well. Both Leshoure and Smith should be owned in most leagues, but benching them at Tennessee might be wise until we figure out what’s going on. If I had to start one this week, it would be Smith.
Yeah, Peyton Hillis got 11 carries to Jamaal Charles’ three against the Bills in Week 2, but Hillis fumbled at the goal line near the end of the first half, which won’t endear him to the coaching staff. Also, Charles’ surgically-repaired knee was sore, which is why he didn’t play much. He’s supposed to be OK for Week 3.
Due to the swiss-cheesiness of this week’s opponent – the Saints – and you had darned well better start Charles if he plays, even if concern about his knee is already making you lose sleep. Hillis probably isn’t a bad flex play, even if he is the second banana here.
Darren Sproles caught 13 passes for 128 yards against the Panthers in Week 2, and didn’t get a carry. We shouldn’t even count him when discussing running back committees. Let’s change his position to “receiver back” and agree to start him every week, OK?
As for the other guys, Pierre Thomas had the gaudy yardage total in Week 2, but Mark Ingram had 16 carries to his nine, and scored on a one-yard run. This looks like 2011 – when healthy, Ingram was the Saints’ primary ball carrier. Start him against the Chiefs, and be wary of starting Thomas unless your alternatives are unappealing.
Isaac Redman scored a touchdown in Week 2, but neither he nor Jonathan Dwyer got anything going while splitting 24 carries right down the middle. Even though the Raiders got carved up by the mighty Reggie Bush on Sunday, I’d leave both Steeler backs on fantasy benches against them in Week 3. As for Rashard Mendenhall … try to forget about him until someone says, “He’s playing today!” That day will probably come in Week 5, after the Steelers’ bye.
Chicago Bears: Matt Forte’s injury might not be as bad as some reports suggested last week, as the reported “high ankle sprain” is now just a sprain, according to head coach Lovie Smith. Michael Bush becomes the lead back and a must-start in Week 3, but keep an eye on how Kahlil Bell does as a change-of-pace back this week. Bell was re-signed over the weekend, and had 280 rushing yards along with 19 receptions in four starts as Forte’s replacement late last season. As for Forte, stay tuned.
New York Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw reportedly sprained his neck against the Bucs, and his status for Thursday’s game against the Panthers is a big question mark. Since the Panthers are 28th in the league with 293 rushing yards allowed through two games, you would be wise to check the availability of Andre Brown, who ran 13 times for 71 yards and a score in Bradshaw’s absence on Sunday.
San Diego Chargers: Ryan Mathews (clavicle) is expected to return against the Falcons in Week 3 after being a gametime decision on Sunday. The best thing about this is that we won’t have to watch Curtis Brinkley or Ronnie Brown run much any more. At least Jackie Battle played well in the Week 2 blowout of the Titans, but don’t you dare pick him up.
St. Louis Rams: Steven Jackson sat out the final three quarters of Sunday’s game against the Redskins. Many people thought it was due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Jackson got after being denied a touchdown, but head coach Jeff Fisher said Jackson’s absence was due to a groin injury. Keep your ears open for news on Jackson’s injury, which apparently isn’t serious. Daryl Richardson ran 15 times for 83 yards in SJ39’s place.
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