RBBC Update: Week 7
Welcome to the seventh installment of our weekly look at fantasy’s most aggravating subject, the Running Back Committee. Injuries have created some interesting situations this week.
Week 7 Byes: Bills, Bengals, Patriots, Giants, Eagles, 49ers
Options: Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams
Outlook: This is still a straight committee – Williams had 13 touches in Week 6 against the Falcons, while Stewart had 10 – and Stewart still looks like the better back. The most encouraging sign was Stewart’s one-yard TD, as it meant that QB Cam Newton isn’t necessarily going to get all the red zone runs. This week, the Panthers host the Redskins, who have allowed a decent 106 yards per game so far. Williams and Stewart can be useful as bye-week replacements, but are risky to count on for solid production.
Options: Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott
Outlook: Benson (16 carries, 57 yards, TD against the Colts) is still a solid fantasy starter, while Scott (11 carries, 29 yards) is still a shaky option. They’re starting to get Scott more involved, though. Even if Benson doesn’t get suspended, Scott is a sneaky bet to put up decent numbers in Week 8.
Green Bay Packers
Options: James Starks, Ryan Grant, John Kuhn
Outlook: Ho-hum. The Packers killed the Rams on Sunday, but Starks had just 66 yards from scrimmage on 15 touches, while Grant tallied 52 on 11. After six weeks, the likelihood of either back having a breakout game is minimal. They’re bye-week flex options; beyond that, their upside just isn’t there.
Options: Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Derrick Ward
Outlook: Foster is clearly the man for the Texans, especially when you factor in his pass-catching skills (14 receptions in three games since coming back from injury). However, they clearly got Tate into the mix against the Ravens, handing him the ball nine times for 41 yards. That doesn’t make Tate any more than a bye-week option, but he carried the ball as much as Ryan Grant and more than Jonathan Stewart in Week 6. Tate’s second-banana status can be just as helpful as some guys in more even timeshares. Warning: The Houston Chronicle noted Tuesday that with Andre Johnson out, opponents are committing an extra man to defend the run against the Texans. That won’t make you bench Foster, but it will help explain any so-so outings.
Kansas City Chiefs
Options: Jackie Battle, Dexter McCluster, Thomas Jones
Outlook: This week against the Raiders (4.9 yards per carry allowed), we’ll find out if Battle is a legitimate fantasy option beyond his big game against the Colts in Week 5, when he says he ran through “gaping holes.” If Battle is still available in your free-agent pool, you need to grab him and start him unless Todd Haley says something to change our minds. McCluster and Jones should be anchored to fantasy benches for now.
Options: Daniel Thomas, Reggie Bush
Outlook: Bush gained 71 yards on 10 carries against the Jets on Monday, while Thomas ran 15 times for 47 yards. However, aside from a 36-yard jaunt by Bush in the first quarter, Thomas still looked like the better runner. Some Twitter folks suggested Thomas as a buy-low option after Monday’s game, and I think I agree with that strategy if you can make it happen.
New England Patriots
Options: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead
Outlook: Fifteen touches for Green-Ellis against the Cowboys, with six for Woodhead and three for Ridley. Until Bill Belichick decides to mess with our heads by giving Ridley or Woodhead a bunch of touches – he’s done things like that before, you know – the Law Firm is the only viable fantasy backfield starter for the Pats. They return to action against the Steelers at Heinz Field in Week 8.
New Orleans Saints
Options: Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas
Outlook: The three-headed monster lives! Sproles caught eight passes for 46 yards against the Bucs in Week 6, and is still a PPR stud. Ingram ran nine times for 22 yards and a score, barely maintaining fantasy value. Thomas was useless, with 16 yards from scrimmage on eight touches. Ingram will break your heart more often than he’ll help you; when in doubt, bench him.
Options: Darren McFadden, Michael Bush
Outlook: Bush has 43 carries, 138 yards and three touchdowns in six games as McFadden’s second banana. Can you start him? In a pinch, sure. Just don’t expect more than 40 yards and the occasional one-yard plunge.
San Diego Chargers
Options: Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert
Outlook: Here’s a bye-week quote on Mathews from Chargers head coach Norv Turner: “I would like to see him get 16-20 carries and four to five more touches in the passing game.” Every week, Turner gushes more and more about Mathews. It’s been nice knowing you, Mike Tolbert’s Fantasy Value.
San Francisco 49ers
Options: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter
Outlook: Gore has rushed 50 times for 393 yards and a touchdown over his past three games, and is obviously the Niners’ top dog. However, Hunter has 136 yards on 26 carries during that span, and is in the Grant/Stewart/Tate tier of fantasy value. Not a great starter, but a decent, low-upside option if you’re stuck due to a bye or injury.
Options: Ryan Torain, Tim Hightower, Roy Helu
Outlook: Hightower was active but saw no action against the Eagles in Week 6, while Torain ran 10 times for just 22 yards. This is a really tough one to figure out heading into Sunday’s matchup against the porous Panthers. Sorry to be non-committal, but we’re going to have to see what Fantasy Hater Shanahan says as the week progresses. If you put a gun to my head now, I’d probably take Hightower if he’s healthy.
INJURY ISSUES (5)
Options: Peyton Hillis, Montario Hardesty
Outlook: Hillis suffered a hamstring injury against the Raiders on Sunday, and his status for Week 7 is TBD. If you can still grab Hardesty (11 carries, 35 yards), do it. He might not be a great start this week against the solid 49ers’ run defense - especially if Hillis is active - but he could be a busy back in the second half of the season.
Options: DeMarco Murray, Tashard Choice, Felix Jones
Outlook: Jones’ high ankle sprain is expected to keep him out 2-4 weeks. Murray carried 10 times for 32 yards in the wake of Jones’ injury on Sunday, and projects to be the lead back for the time being. The Cowboys’ offensive line isn’t very good at opening holes, but this week’s matchup against the Rams’ league-worst run defense is a friendly one for Murray. He’s a worthwhile free-agent target, and could start for you in Week 7.
Options: Joseph Addai, Delone Carter, Donald Brown
Outlook: Addai’s hamstring might be ready to go against the Saints on Sunday night, but if it isn’t, Carter will get more carries than Brown – he got 15 to Brown’s five in Week 6. You’ll want to start anyone’s lead back against the soft Saints’ run defense.
New York Giants
Options: Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs
Outlook: Jacobs has missed the last two games due to a knee injury, and gets a bye week to rest. Bradshaw is a must-start with or without Jacobs, but was having a rough time gaining ground against the Bills before running for 47 of his 104 yards on the Giants’ final drive against the Bills in Week 6. This team has offensive line issues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Options: LeGarrette Blount, Earnest Graham, Kregg Lumpkin, Allen Bradford
Outlook: Blount’s knee kept him out of the Week 6 game against the Saints, and Graham ran for 109 yards on 17 carries in his absence. The Bucs are in London to battle the not-so-tough Bears in Week 7, and early word is that Blount won’t play, once again making Graham a nice option.