Between Ryan Williams' second consecutive season-ending injury and Beanie Wells' typical sidelined status, Arizona Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howling brings legitimate fantasy flex value in Week 6.
Cardinals longtime beat writer Darren Urban took to Twitter to break the Williams news, which is another devastating blow to the start of the Cardinals back's career:
RB Ryan Williams needs surgery on his shoulder and is out for the season, Whiz said.— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) October 8, 2012
Stephens-Howling has been dealing with a hip issue that has limited his role in 2012, but he is the most experienced runner on the roster this side of William Powell and Alfonso Smith.
The Cards' offensive line has been doing their playmakers no favors.
Quarterback Kevin Kolb has been sacked eight and nine times in the past two games respectively. Part of that is due to a failure to establish a running game, which of course is primarily to be blamed on the bigs up front.
Absent the luxury of adequate blocking, Kolb would ideally like to get rid of the ball faster in order to avoid such brutal hits. Neither Wells nor Williams is particularly known for his pass-catching abilities, but Stephens-Howling is of a different mold. He is a typical scatback who is more elusive in the open field.
Although the sample size is small, nearly a third of the fourth-year running back's career touches are from receptions, where he averages 10.8 yards per catch. That's a pretty stellar average considering his receptions largely come on checkdowns, screens and passes in the flat.
Coming off of its first loss of the season, Arizona is in desperate need of an offensive spark to supplement its fantastic defense. Stephens-Howling might be the one to provide it.
The opponent in Week 6 could be just the medicine to cure what ails the Cardinals. In the friendly confines of University of Phoenix Stadium, Kolb and Co. get a shot at the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo has a hyped defensive line that has been one of the most underwhelming storylines of the NFL this season. While a matchup against a putrid Cardinals O-line may help them, it can't be overlooked that the Buffalo defense as a whole gives up the second-most points in the league, and the third-most rushing yards per game.
If Stephens-Howling can shake off his hip injury, he has a real chance to light up the scoreboard in front of the home crowd and please fantasy owners, particularly in PPR formats.
The generous defense of the Bills may even make Stephens-Howling a No. 2-caliber fantasy start this week, but that's assuming the Arizona line can do its job against a leaky Bills front seven.