Week 1 of the NFL begins with several of the top fantasy players spending at least part of the game on the bench. One of the running backs has already been ruled out while the action around another is a positive sign.
Following is the latest information for the big-name running backs that have had questionable outlooks in Week 1.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars @ Minnesota Vikings
Signs are pointing to Jones-Drew being a solid play on Sunday. It is unknown what his workload will be, but he has been activated for the game.
Jacksonville had a roster exemption for Jones because of his holdout. If they weren't planning to play him it would have made sense to leave him on their exempt list.
To make room on the 53-man roster the Jaguars waived second-year running back Keith Toston. This is yet another sign they plan on using him against the Vikings.
Adrian Peterson, Jacksonville Jaguars @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have listed Peterson as questionable on the injury report but signs are that he will be playing.
Unless an owner is desperate to fill the roster spot it might be best to keep Peterson on the bench. But if one listens to AP he might be worth the gamble.
NFL.com is reporting that Peterson will get 10-15 carries if he is able to play. It seems certain at this point he will be on the field so owners will need to decide if that number of touches against a tough Jacksonville run defense is worth the roster position.
Ian Rapoport also announced on NFL Network that the Vikings will be introducing their offense when the team takes the field. While not conclusive, this could be a sign that the team expects to announce their star's return to the starting lineup.
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Is it worth the gamble to start Lynch?
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
Marshawn was a great mid-round draft pick for a lot of fantasy owners last season. He's been going near the turn between Rounds 1 and 2 heading into 2012, but he's a risky play this weekend.
Marshawn Lynch's status will be a game-day decision. If he can’t play, rookie Robert Turbin will start. shwks.com/aj8p— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 8, 2012
Lynch practiced on Friday but still isn't 100 percent. He is questionable, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is reporting he'll play “unless something crazy happens.”
Lynch may start and get some touches early in the game, but will he really be needed against the Cardinals?
Don't get me wrong; Arizona has a very good defense. But they are better protecting against the pass than the run. Seattle also has rookie Robert Turbin, a player they drafted because he has a running style similar to that of Lynch.
The bigger story-line in this game is the expected ineptitude of Arizona's offensive line. This could keep them from moving the ball and the Seahawks know their offense won't need to contribute too much to secure the win.
If an owner has another option they might want to leave Lynch on the bench. He may not get enough touches, as the team will give Turbin opportunities to spell Lynch.
This news is a double-whammy for those that backed up Lynch with Turbin. Unless there is a change this morning Turbin is now a can't-start.
Depending on other options at running back and flex positions, an owner with both players could opt to play them both. That creates a high risk if Seattle's ground game isn't rolling.
For the record, I own Peterson and Lynch and both will be on my bench this weekend.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos
Fantasy owners that took a gamble on Mendenhall had to be optimistic when he started practicing this week. Granted, he's been available late in most drafts so the risk is minimal.
But it appears he won't be on the active roster against the Denver Broncos.
Rashard Mendenhall is doubtful for Week 1. Isaac Redmand and Jonathan Dwyer will share carries. Dwyer has deep sleeper appeal...— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) September 7, 2012
Mendenhall looked good in practice and is playing without a brace. If he's held out this weekend he figures to be playing in Week 2.
There has been speculation that Mike Tomlin is playing games relative to his running back situation. Whether he featured him in practice with no intention of playing him, or the team listed him as doubtful but thinks he can go is yet to be seen.
It will be hard to leave a spot open for him, though, as most owners will need to fill their roster spot prior to a decision being made for the Sunday night game.
Arian Foster, Miami Dolphins @ Houston Texans
Foster was held out of practice on Friday with knee soreness. He insists it is minor and will play on Sunday, but the Texans aren't so sure.
Kubiak said Arian Foster had an MRI yesterday and that he checked out fine #Texans— Nick Scurfield (@NickScurfield) September 7, 2012
The Texans ordered an MRI after practice on Thursday but Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com reported that it didn't reveal any damage.
Adam Schefter is reporting that Foster looks like a go for today's game.
Texans running back Arian Foster is expected to play today, though Houston wants to test him in pregame warmups first.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2012
Owners with Ben Tate can still consider playing him. There will be no reason to leave Foster in the game if the Texans can open up a lead on Miami.
Arian Foster: ACTIVE.— Stephania Bell (@Stephania_ESPN) September 9, 2012
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Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders
The biggest issue owners would have had with Mathews is he plays on Monday night. His spot would need to be filled before a game-time decision.
The Chargers took the guess-work out, though, verifying what most had already speculated.
Chargers rule out RB Ryan Mathews with his clavicle injury.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 8, 2012