Fantasy analysis of RBBC for Week 5

BY John Halpin • October 4, 2011

Welcome to the fifth installment of our weekly look at fantasy’s most aggravating subject, the Running Back Committee. What took you so long to mess with us, Mike Shanahan?

COMMITTEES (10)

Carolina Panthers

Options: Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams

Outlook: A dozen touches for Stewart and 10 for Williams against the Bears. On the bright side, Williams finally looked good, with 82 yards on the ground. On the not-to-bright side, QB Cam Newton is pretty much the Panthers’ goal-line back at this point. Stewart and Williams were fine when they had to share touchdowns between themselves, but with Newton powering it in from inside the five, pickings will be slim. You can start Stewart and Williams as RB3 or flex plays, but not much more.

Cleveland Browns

Options: Peyton Hillis, Montario Hardesty

Outlook: This situation got interesting in Week 4, though I’m sure Hillis’ fantasy owners could find angrier words to describe it. Hillis had 10 carries for 46 yards compared to Hardesty’s seven for 22, and they had five receptions apiece. The Browns really seemed like they wanted to get Hardesty involved as a regular part of the offense, but on Monday, head coach Pat Shurmur said that Hillis needs to be on the field more. Also, Hardesty dropping four passes this week didn’t help his cause. You might be able to buy low in a Hillis deal right now, but remember that the Browns have a Week 5 bye.

Denver Broncos

Options: Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno

Outlook: Moreno had only three touches to McGahee’s 17, and McGahee ran for 103 yards. Maybe Moreno’s hamstring injury still has him at less than 100 percent, or maybe head coach John Fox just likes McGahee better. Whatever’s going on, I might give Moreno one more chance to stay on my fantasy roster, but if I needed to pick up someone good this week, I wouldn’t feel too badly about cutting him.

Indianapolis Colts

Options: Joseph Addai, Delone Carter

Outlook: Addai had 11 carries for 41 yards against the Bucs on Monday night, while Carter had seven for 21. Carter is a shaky fantasy start under any circumstances until he proves more.

Kansas City Chiefs

Options: Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, Jackie Battle

Outlook: For most of Sunday’s game, this looked like the timeshare we expected, with Jones getting 11 touches to McCluster’s 10. However, the 238-pound Battle had five carries for 22 yards, including two for 10 on the Chiefs’ final two rushes when they needed one last first down. Maybe it was nothing, but it’s not like Jones was running all over the Vikings to begin with. Battle probably won’t become fantasy-relevant, but he could muck up the short-yardage situation for Jones.

New England Patriots

Options: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead

Outlook: Ridley scored on a 33-yard TD run and had 97 yards on 10 carries against the Raiders, and looked explosive. He’ll be a prominent part of the Pats’ offense moving forward, though you never know how many carries he and The Law Firm will get from week to week. Still, Ridley should be a decent start against the J-E-T-S.

New Orleans Saints

Options: Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas

Outlook: Seventeen touches for Ingram, 12 for Sproles and 10 for Thomas, with Ingram outpacing his teammates by getting plenty of carries late in a game where the Saints had a lead. I’ve been telling people to bench Sproles in standard leagues, but in four games he has 358 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns, and he should have another strong day against the Panthers in Week 5. Looking down the road, Chris Ivory should be ready to come off the PUP list in Week 7, so if you thought this situation was a mess now, just wait two more weeks.

New York Giants

Options: Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs

Outlook: Sixteen touches for Bradshaw and nine for Jacobs, with a touchdown apiece. There’s nothing to see here that you didn’t know about already. San Diego Chargers Options: Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert Outlook: This is starting to look like a Giants-type setup, with Mathews getting about two-thirds of the touches in Week 4 and Tolbert remaining valuable with a touchdown run. After the game, head coach Norv Turner said that Mathews is getting “better and better and better.” Mathews has 452 yards from scrimmage, trailing only Darren McFadden and Matt Forte among running backs. This guy is a stud.

Washington Redskins

Options: Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain, Roy Helu

Outlook: Raise your hand if you trusted Mike Shanahan to stick with Tim Hightower. Anyone? Hello? Hightower started slowly on Sunday against the Rams, and – BAM – Torain ran 19 times for 135 yards and a score. Highower finished the game with eight carries for 24 yards, while Helu had eight rushes for 35 yards. Who’s the starter for Week 6? You got me, and the ‘Skins aren’t saying yet. Torain should be a top free-agent target this week. He might get hurt, and he might lose his job as fast as he got it, but the kind of fantasy backfield upside Torain has will probably require a trade later if you don’t get him for free now.

INJURY ISSUES (5)

Green Bay Packers

Options: James Starks, Ryan Grant, John Kuhn

Outlook: Starks had 18 touches and 101 yards from scrimmage against the Broncos in Week 4, but Grant expects to return this week against the Falcons after missing a game due to a bruised kidney. Since Grant had 92 yards on the ground in Week 3, this one is hard to predict. I’d probably start either guy as a low-end flex play or bye-week replacement, with Starks having a slight edge.

Houston Texans

Options: Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Derrick Ward

Outlook: Last week, I wrote here that Tate wouldn’t “just disappear” when Foster was back and healthy. In Week 4, Foster had 33 touches (for 166 yards from scrimmage and a TD) to Tate’s two, so I guess I was technically correct in that Tate didn’t literally turn into vapor on the sideline. Tate’s carry total was low because he injured his groin very early in the game – you have to think the Texans didn’t want Foster to get such a heavy workload after they’ve been so cautious with his hamstring injury. If Tate is OK for Week 5, it’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. I’d start Foster and sit Tate in most cases.

Miami Dolphins

Options: Daniel Thomas, Reggie Bush, Steve Slaton

Outlook: Thomas missed Week 4 due to a hamstring injury after gaining 202 yards on the ground in Weeks 2 and 3. In Thomas’ absence, Bush once again showed his mediocre running skills, carrying 13 times for 50 yards and adding two receptions for 15 yards. The Dolphins are off this week, so let’s hope that time allows Thomas to get healthy and start helping his fantasy owners again.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Options: Rashard Mendenhall, Ike Redman, Mewelde Moore

Outlook: Mendenhall injured a hamstring against the Texans, but it doesn’t sound serious. Redman is only an option for Week 5 if Mendenhall doesn’t play. I might try to pick up Redman as a handcuff for Mendenhall, but otherwise … nah.

San Francisco 49ers Options: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter Outlook: Gore was a gametime decision against the Eagles due to an ankle injury, but re-established his fantasy relevance with 15 carries for 127 yards and a score. I wonder if Gore’s big game means that all the “Kendall Hunter, Fantasy Savior” e-mails will stop now.

WTF??? (1)

Cincinnati Bengals

Options: Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard

Outlook: Will Benson get suspended this week? Will his appeal take longer, or be upheld? Stay tuned.


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