RB committees: Can you start Cribbs?

BY John Halpin • December 17, 2009

Welcome to the latest edition of our fantasy backfield committee update, which will help you understand what's going on in the Shanahan-created 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, subjectively determined by the humble fantasy analyst who writes this article. If you have any comments, insight, etc., please post a comment below.

Under the most recent week and for the season, the player order goes according to who got the most touches.

Remember, there’s a Thursday game this week between the Colts and Jaguars, as well as a Saturday night tilt between the Cowboys and Saints. If you have any runners from those teams, get your fantasy backfields set ASAP.

Arizona Cardinals

Committee worry level: High
Week 14: Beanie Wells (15 carries, 79 yards, TD; one reception, 24 yards); Tim Hightower (two carries, three yards; two receptions, 13 yards)
Season: Hightower (121 rushes, 538 yards, 6 TD; 53 receptions, 387 yards); Wells (136 rushes, 596 yards, 5 TD; 10 receptions, 105 yards) Comment: Fantasy football twists your brain into a pretzel with conflicts sometimes. I’ve been on the Beanie bandwagon all year, but I needed 10 points from Hightower in a high-scoring PPR playoff game. My verdict? Bummer. If you own Beanie, start him against the Lions.

Atlanta Falcons

Committee worry level: High
Week 14: Jason Snelling (10 carries, 37 yards, TD; four receptions, 65 yards); Jerious Norwood (nine carries, 33 yards); Michael Turner (DNP - injury)
Season: Turner (177 carries, 864 yards, 10 TD; five receptions, 35 yards); Snelling (86 carries, 339 yards, 4 TD; 23 receptions, 227 yards, TD); Norwood (45 carries, 151 yards; 12 receptions, 107 yards, TD) Comment: Still no idea if Turner will play this week. I’m guessing he sits again.

Baltimore Ravens

Committee worry level: Low
Week 14: Ray Rice (13 carries, 166 yards, TD; four receptions, 53 yards); Willis McGahee (12 carries, 76 yards, 2 TD; one reception, two yards); Le’Ron McClain (six carries, 32 yards, TD)
Season: Rice (194 carries, 1,041 yards, 7 TD; 68 receptions, 652 yards, TD); McGahee (87 carries, 351 yards, 9 TD; 12 receptions, 72 yards, 2 TD); McClain (36 carries, 152 yards, 2 TD; 19 receptions, 133 yards) Comment: What a fantasy jackpot for the Ravens’ backfield against the Lions. Even McClain got back into the act. I still wouldn’t start McGahee in a fantasy playoff game, though.

Buffalo Bills

Committee worry level: Medium
Week 14: Fred Jackson (20 carries, 99 yards; three receptions, 23 yards); Marshawn Lynch (12 carries, 84 yards; three receptions, 10 yards)
Season: Jackson (176 carries, 731 yards, 2 TD; 38 receptions, 310 yards, TD); Lynch (108 carries, 422 yards, 2 TD; 26 receptions, 164 yards) Comment: If you drafted Lynch thinking you’d try to tread water until his return, does his overdue resurgence make you happy or drive you crazy? I vote for the latter.

Carolina Panthers

Committee worry level: Medium
Week 14DeAngelo Williams (13 carries, 82 yards; two receptions, 15 yards); Jonathan Stewart (seven carries, 29 yards)
Season: Williams (210 carries, 1,104 yards, 7 TD; 28 receptions, 249 yards); Stewart (152 carries, 693 yards, 7 TD; 14 receptions, 109 yards) Comment: Stewart’s injured toe has him in danger of not playing this week. Williams will love running 25 times against the Vikings.

Chicago Bears

Committee worry level: Low
Week 14: Matt Forte (12 carries, 51 yards; four receptions, 17 yards); Kahlil Bell (four carries, nine yards)
Season: Forte (201 carries, 685 yards, 4 TD; 51 receptions, 455 yards); Bell (19 carries, 125 yards; one reception, four yards) Comment: Bell leeched a few more carries, but Forte’s obviously still the man. This week, he gets the Ravens on the road. Oof.

Cincinnati Bengals

Committee worry level: Low
Week 14: Cedric Benson (16 carries, 96 yards; one reception, four yards); Larry Johnson (three carries, four yards; one reception, six yards)
Season: Benson (257 carries, 1,065 yards, 6 TD; 13 receptions, 85 yards); Johnson (29 carries, 120 yards; three receptions, eight yards) Comment: Thanks to everyone who eagerly spread Sunday morning’s rumor about Benson and Johnson “splitting carries.” Really, that was a great job scaring everyone without much information to support the rumor.

Cleveland Browns

Committee worry level: High
Week 14: Chris Jennings (20 carries, 73 yards, TD); Jerome Harrison (seven carries, nine yards; two receptions, 10 yards); Josh Cribbs (eight carries, 87 yards; one reception, nine yards)
Season: Harrison (88 carries, 301 yards; 30 receptions, 188 yards, 2 TD); Jennings (45 carries, 168 yards, TD; nine receptions, 56 yards); Cribbs (19 carries, 132 yards, TD; 42 receptions, 305 yards)
Comment: Did Jennings take over for Harrison because the Browns wanted a bigger back in the bad weather last Thursday, or because Eric Mangini thought it was time for him to get a chance? Either way, I’m very confused and would stay away from all three of these guys. As for Cribbs, you can’t start a wildcat back/slot receiver as a fantasy RB.

Dallas Cowboys

Committee worry level: Medium
Week 14: Marion Barber (14 carries, 47 yards; two receptions, 22 yards); Felix Jones (10 carries, 51 yards; one reception, two yards); Tashard Choice (two carries, 11 yards)
Season: Barber (166 carries, 716 yards, 4 TD; 20 receptions, 166 yards); Jones (77 carries, 478 yards, 2 TD; 11 receptions, 79 yards); Choice (62 carries, 344 yards, 3 TD; 15 receptions, 132 yards)
Comment: Now the Cowboys run the ball too much? Can’t Jason Garrett make anyone happy?

Denver Broncos

Committee worry level: Medium
Week 14: Knowshon Moreno (23 carries, 63 yards; three receptions, 13 yards); Correll Buckhalter (four carries, 19 yards)
Season: Moreno (205 carries, 837 yards, 5 TD; 19 receptions, 109 yards, TD); Buckhalter (109 carries, 582 yards, TD; 27 receptions, 225 yards)
Comment: Buckhalter’s sprained ankle might keep him out this week, so Moreno will get all the work he can handle against the Raiders. I think he’s got a big game coming, but I always say that.

Detroit Lions

Committee worry level: Medium
Week 14: Kevin Smith (21 carries, 69 yards; two receptions, 19 yards); Maurice Morris (three carries, 11 yards; two receptions, nine yards); Aaron Brown (one carry, 12 yards)
Season: Smith (217 carries, 747 yards, 4 TD; 41 receptions, 415 yards, TD); Morris (42 carries, 156 yards, TD; 12 receptions, 105 yards); Brown (21 carries, 100 yards; six receptions, 65 yards, TD)
Comment: Smith’s done for 2009 with a knee injury, so Morris is probably the guy. However, Brown mucking things up by getting into a timeshare wouldn’t be a big shock. You’d try anything if you were 2-11, right?

Green Bay Packers

Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 14: Ryan Grant (20 carries, 137 yards, 2 TD; two receptions, seven yards)
Season: Grant (247 carries, 1,068 yards, 7 TD; 25 receptions, 197 yards) Comment: Grant and the Packers visit the Steelers this week. Is that still a tough spot for a running back with Troy Polamalu injured? You’re starting Grant either way.

Houston Texans

Committee worry level: High
Week 14: Arian Foster (13 carries, 34 yards; four receptions, 54 yards); Ryan Moats (10 carries, 43 yards, TD; one reception, three yards); Chris Brown (three carries, seven yards)
Season: Brown (74 carries, 256 yards, 3 TD; 13 receptions, 69 yards); Moats (76 carries, 304 yards, 4 TD; nine receptions, 67 yards, TD); Foster (13 carries, 34 yards; four receptions, 54 yards)
Comment: After Sunday’s game, head coach Gary Kubiak suggested the Texans would take a long look at Foster over the next few weeks. Though it won’t be a full workload, I believe him.

Indianapolis Colts

Committee worry level: High
Week 14: Joseph Addai (16 carries, 87 yards; five receptions, 49 yards); Mike Hart (nine receptions, 28 yards); Donald Brown (DNP – injury)
Season: Addai (197 carries, 729 yards, 9 TD; 48 receptions, 322 yards, 3 TD); Brown (59 carries, 263 yards, 2 TD; 10 receptions, 157 yards); Hart (13 carries, 39 yards; two receptions, 27 yards)
Comment: Hart got some work against the Broncos, and he’s going to get a lot more if the Colts begin resting their starters. They’ve followed that blueprint before, but they’ve never been in a position to go 16-0 before. My opinion? Yes, the goal is to win championships, but we forget a lot of Super Bowl winners. You can’t pass up the chance to be an all-time great team. Go for it, Colts.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 14: Maurice Jones-Drew (18 carries, 59 yards, TD; two receptions, 24 yards)
Season: Jones-Drew (251 carries, 1,136 yards, 14 TD; 44 receptions, 303 yards)
Comment: Finally, MJD got back into the end zone after a two-week absence. That must have been awful for his long-suffering fantasy owners.

Kansas City Chiefs

Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 14: Jamaal Charles (20 carries, 143 yards, TD; seven receptions, 38 yards)
Season: Charles (116 carries, 605 yards, 4 TD; 34 receptions, 256 yards, TD)
Comment: Charles has 570 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns over his last five games. Wow.

Miami Dolphins

Committee worry level: Low
Week 14: Ricky Williams (28 carries, 108 yards, TD; two receptions, seven yards); Lousaka Polite (four carries, 18 yards; two carries, 13 yards); Lex Hilliard (two carries, three yards; one reception, seven yards)
Season: Williams (200 carries, 975 yards, 10 TD; 24 receptions, 225 yards, 2 TD); Polite (30 carries, 109 yards; eight receptions, 34 yards); Hilliard (16 carries, 61 yards; six receptions, 37 yards)
Comment: Polite’s trying to weasel in on the short-yardage carries, but you can’t pick up a guy like that.

Minnesota Vikings

Committee worry level: Low
Week 14: Adrian Peterson (26 carries, 97 yards, 2 TD; three receptions, 40 yards); Chester Taylor (five carries, 25 yards; two receptions, 32 yards)
Season: Peterson (269 carries, 1,200 yards, 14 TD; 36 receptions, 319 yards); Taylor (77 carries, 291 yards, TD; 39 receptions, 339 yards, TD)
Comment: Decent bounceback from Purple Jesus after the Cardinals shut him down, but I still feel like his season’s been disappointing. Yes, I know that sounds stupid, but he’s only had three 100-yard games. I expected spectacular and electrifying, not just really, really good.

New England Patriots

Committee worry level: Medium
Week 14: Laurence Maroney (22 carries, 94 yards; two receptions, 17 yards); Kevin Faulk (10 carries, 58 yards, TD; three receptions, 17 yards); Sammy Morris (six carries, 35 yards)
Season: Maroney (166 carries, 654 yards, 8 TD; 14 receptions, 99 yards); Faulk (55 carries, 287 yards, 2 TD; 36 receptions, 298 yards, TD); Morris (50 carries, 202 yards, TD; 14 receptions, 162 yards)
Comment: I’m downgrading this one because with two weeks left in most fantasy seasons, Sammy the Bull’s time to overtake Maroney is running out. Too bad.

New Orleans Saints

Committee worry level: High
Week 14: Pierre Thomas (13 carries, 47 yards; six receptions, 53 yards); Reggie Bush (six carries, 33 yards; six receptions, 46 yards, 2 TD); Mike Bell (DNP - injury)
Season: Thomas (135 carries, 713 yards, 5 TD; 34 receptions, 252 yards, 2 TD); Bell (144 carries, 598 yards, 4 TD; two receptions, 14 yards); Bush (62 carries, 310 yards, 5 TD; 39 receptions, 281 yards, 3 TD)
Comment: You go for it, too, Saints. Bell practiced Wednesday and is on track to return this week.

New York Giants

Committee worry level: Medium
Week 14: Brandon Jacobs (15 carries, 60 yards, TD; one reception, nine yards); Ahmad Bradshaw (14 carries, 55 yards, TD; four receptions, 46 yards); D.J. Ware (no stats)
Season: Jacobs (202 carries, 782 yards, 5 TD; 17 receptions, 182 yards, TD); Bradshaw (136 carries, 651 yards, 5 TD; 14 receptions, 142 yards); Ware (eight carries, 51 yards; one reception, minus-four yards)
Comment: I guess I can’t complain about Jacobs this week. I’ll resume after the Redskins work him over.

New York Jets

Committee worry level: Low
Week 14: Thomas Jones (23 carries, 99 yards, 2 TD; one reception, minus-two yards); Shonn Greene (six carries, 41 yards)
Season: Jones (263 carries, 1,167 yards, 11 TD; 10 receptions, 58 yards); Greene (71 carries, 353 yards, 2 TD)
Comment: Greene needs to get back over 10 carries to be a somewhat viable flex play. Jones is just terrific.

Oakland Raiders

Committee worry level: High
Week 14: Justin Fargas (nine carries, 21 yards, TD; one reception, six yards); Darren McFadden (eight carries, 21 yards; three receptions, 84 yards); Michael Bush (no stats)
Season: Fargas (126 carries, 483 yards, 3 TD; 17 receptions, 113 yards); Bush (85 carries, 386 yards, 2 TD; 14 receptions, 83 yards); McFadden (80 carries, 251 yards, TD; 17 receptions, 190 yards)
Comment: When you looked at Fargas’ line, did you cheer? Nod your head? Do a slow clap, Hoosiers-style? He didn’t have a good game, but you can’t turn your nose up at a TD.

Philadelphia Eagles

Committee worry level: Medium
Week 14: LeSean McCoy (10 carries, 28 yards; four receptions, 26 yards); Leonard Weaver (nine carries, 33 yards, TD; one reception, eight yards); Brian Westbrook (DNP - injury)
Season: McCoy (139 carries, 558 yards, 3 TD; 34 receptions, 256 yards); Westbrook (47 carries, 225 yards, TD; 19 receptions, 156 yards, TD); Weaver (45 carries, 249 yards, 2 TD; 13 receptions, 122 yards, 2 TD)
Comment: Thanks to McCoy for making millions of fantasy owners pull their hair out at crunch time. Weaver and his goal-line TD just helped make this pretty interesting.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Committee worry level: Low
Week 14: Rashard Mendenhall (16 carries, 53 yards; one reception, 17 yards); Willie Parker (three carries, 12 yards); Mewelde Moore (no stats)
Season: Mendenhall (194 carries, 940 yards, 5 TD; 17 receptions, 158 yards, TD); Parker (78 carries, 259 yards; six receptions, 64 yards, TD); Moore (34 carries, 120 yards; 17 receptions, 120 yards, TD)
Comment: The Steelers said this week that Mendenhall will take over for Moore on third downs. See you in next year’s committee articles, Mewelde.

San Diego Chargers

Committee worry level: Low
Week 14: LaDainian Tomlinson (21 carries, 50 yards, TD; one reception, nine yards); Darren Sproles (seven carries, 22 yards; one reception, three yards)
Season: Tomlinson (189 carries, 611 yards, 10 TD; 12 receptions, 75 yards); Sproles (83 carries, 276 yards, TD; 40 receptions, 452 yards, 3 TD)
Comment: Tomlinson just keeps scoring no matter how bad his yards-per-carry average is, doesn’t he?

San Francisco 49ers

Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 14: Frank Gore (25 carries, 167 yards, TD; two receptions, 10 yards)
Season: Gore (162 carries, 835 yards, 7 TD; 43 receptions, 281 yards, 3 TD)
Comment: Before you get too excited about Gore’s game, remember the Niners had the ball for almost 37 minutes against the Cardinals and ran the ball for almost the entire fourth quarter when trying to run out the clock. In the first three quarters, they threw the ball 30 times and ran it 16. They’re still a pass-first team, by a lot.

Seattle Seahawks

Committee worry level: High
Week 14: Justin Forsett (nine carries, 26 yards; four receptions, 47 yards); Julius Jones (10 carries, 39 yards; one reception, four yards)
Season: Jones (137 carries, 498 yards, 2 TD; 26 receptions, 178 yards, 2 TD); Forsett (81 carries, 420 yards, 4 TD; 36 receptions, 318 yards, TD)
Comment: This is finally a real timeshare, and only one member can really catch the ball.

St. Louis Rams

Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 14: Steven Jackson (18 carries, 39 yards; three receptions, 14 yards)
Season: Jackson (285 carries, 1,279 yards, 4 TD; 46 receptions, 273 yards)
Comment: Jackson talked after Sunday’s game about being tired, and his back issues are reportedly due to a herniated disc. With no real information to back this up, I’ve been wondering if they’re going to shut him down at some point.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Committee worry level: High
Week 14: Cadillac Williams (11 carries, 14 yards); Derrick Ward (four carries, six yards; two receptions, 11 yards)
Season: Williams (155 carries, 586 yards, 3 TD; 21 receptions, 143 yards, 2 TD); Ward (88 carries, 310 yards, TD; 19 receptions, 144 yards, TD)
Comment: That’s just ugly all the way around.

Tennessee Titans

Committee worry level: Non-existent
Week 14: Chris Johnson (28 carries, 117 yards, 2 TD; three receptions, 69 yards, TD); LenDale White (no stats – buried by CJ Express)
Season: Johnson (272 carries, 1,626 yards, 11 TD; 42 receptions, 391 yards, 2 TD); White (63 carries, 221 yards, 2 TD; two receptions, 12 yards)
Comment: I’m going to leave LenDale in here just for the heck of it. His new fantasy position should be “cheerleader.”

Washington Redskins

Committee worry level: Medium
Week 14: Quinton Ganther (14 carries, 50 yards, 2 TD; three receptions, 43 yards); Marcus Mason (six carries, 32 yards; one reception, nine yards); Rock Cartwright (one carries, zero yards; one reception, eight yards); Clinton Portis (DNP - injury)
Season: Portis (124 carries, 494 yards, TD; nine receptions, 57 yards, TD); Cartwright (59 carries, 212 yards; 20 receptions, 158 yards, TD); Ganther (33 carries, 138 yards, 2 TD; five receptions, 57 yards); Mason (18 carries, 65 yards; three receptions, 26 yards)
Comment: It happens every December. You pick up a guy you hadn’t heard of a month earlier, and he wins you a fantasy playoff game. I don’t know if I’d count on another one, though.

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