Fantasy Football Backfield Beat: Will AP Play, Who Will Start in Pitt. & More

Eric StashinSenior Writer ISeptember 7, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 24: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings catches the ball during pre-game warmups before the game against the San Diego Chargers on August 24, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

There are several running back situations that are currently in flux.  Where should owners be stashing backs?  Who should we be ignoring?  Let’s take a look around the league and make some decisions.

Minnesota Vikings

The Adrian Peterson situation appeared primed to be a contentious decision for fantasy owners.  However, it appears like we should have a resolution before Sunday.  According to Judd Zulgad of ESPN 1500 (click here for the article) regarding Peterson, head coach Leslier Frazier was quoted as saying:

“I think we’ll know Saturday where things are,” Frazier said after Thursday’s practice. “I don’t think we’d work him out pregame to see if he’s ready to play. We’d have a good idea after we get through with Friday where he stands.”

If Peterson is playing he will be worth using.  If he’s not, Tobey Gerhart will likely hold RB2 value.  Regardless, we should hopefully know soon.

RecommendationStay tuned, for now, but have your alternatives in place.

Pittsburgh Steelers

While Rashard Mendenhall is practicing, according to Gerry Dulac of The Sporting News (click here for the article):

“One of the backs is Rashard Mendenhall, who has resumed practicing on a limited basis but probably won’t be ready to play until after the Sept 30 bye.”

Isaac Redman, who was expected to to be the main back in Mendenhall’s absence, is struggling with his own injuries.  According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (click here for the article):

“Isaac Redman said his ready to go, but his sore ankle might be an issue the entire season; Jonathan Dwyer is practicing like he is going to start Sunday’s opener in Denver; and Rashard Mendenhall is looking like he is close to 100 percent back from his January ACL surgery.”

Dwyer became a hot name towards the end of the preseason and he could play a major role over the first few weeks of the season.  While I wouldn’t expect him to be the main back long-term, he could get the bulk of the carries until the other two are healthier.  This backfield should ultimately develop into a timeshare, but Dwyer is the name to own for those desperate for help early in the season.

While he isn’t necessarily going to be a recommended play this week (we need to see exactly how the Steelers are going to play it), he is worth stashing on all formats.

RecommendationAdd Jonathan Dwyer immediately in all formats.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts enter the year with perennial disappointment Donald Brown heading up their backfield.  While originally it was assumed Delone Carter would be his backup, that no longer appears to be the case.  According to Mike Chappell of The Sporting News (click here for the article):

“The team will rely on a backs-by-committee approach, and rookie Vick Ballard likely will be the primary backup. He’s a powerful 5-10, 217-pounder who also appears to be an adequate blocker and reliable receiver.”

Ballard is someone I recommended as a sleeper earlier this preseason and he could get an opportunity to emerge should Brown stumble.  In the preseason he had 24 carries for 74 yards while adding two receptions for 23 yards.

RecommendationAdd Ballard in all deeper formats thanks to his potential opportunity.

Denver Broncos

Who among us were ready to write off Knowshon Moreno?  According to Andrew Mason of CBS Sports (click here for the article):

“When one player rises on the depth chart, another must fall. For the Broncos at running back, that meant third-round rookie Ronnie Hillman was sliding down the table when Knowshon Moreno ascended back to the No. 2 role behind Willis McGahee this week.”

While it’s nice to see Moreno moving up the depth chart, I have to believe that this is only temporary.  We have been disappointed by him too many times to buy in now.  We’ll have to see how Week 1 plays out, but I wouldn’t be doing anything dramatic to get him on your roster.

RecommendationIgnore Knowshon Moreno for now.

Washington Redskins

Are we all tired of the Redskins running game already?  According to Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Washington (click here for the article):

“Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, however, might have provided a clue Thursday when he said, “Whoever you think is doing the best, you keep him going.” 

And when he’s not going, you make a change presumably.

That probably is not what Evan Royster, Roy Helu Jr. and Alfred Morris wanted to hear, but it could be the reality of the Redskins’ approach this season.

“I don’t think that there’s any philosophy, there’s no set way on what you do,” Shanahan added, speaking at Redskins Park. “You put the guy in that’s going to help you win the game. And I think the three guys are all capable runners.”

Could there be value in Washington?  Absolutely, but it’s impossible to predict at the moment.  This situation will probably be an issue all year long.

RecommendationWhile all three are worth adding, they need to be stashed in all formats.  There is no guessing where the value will come from, making the unpredictable situation not worth trusting, especially in Week 1.

New England Patriots

While there has been a lot of talk about who will get the bulk of the playing time, with Shane Vereen continuing to miss practice there isn’t an issue in Week 1.

RecommendationUse Stevan Ridley in all formats.

What are your thoughts of these situations?  How do you plan on handling them?

Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings: