If there's one mantra to which I always try to adhere where fantasy football is concerned, it's that "you can never have too many running backs," and for good reason.
In Week 6 alone we saw a pair of ball-carriers who were top-10 selections in many fantasy football drafts go down with injuries, as Trent Richardson of the Cleveland Browns injured his ribs and DeMarco Murray of the Dallas Cowboys hurt his foot.
Those injuries have just added to an already rapidly shrinking pool of fantasy talent at the running-back position, and with team owners scrambling to plug the holes in their boats, here's a look at a trio of backs that should top their wish lists this week.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys
The news was pretty positive regarding Murray's foot injury on Monday, relatively speaking, as MRI results revealed that the second-year pro did not suffer ligament damage, according to Nick Eatman of the team's website.
However, the news isn't quite as rosy for Murray's fantasy owners, as Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweeted on Monday that the team has already ruled out Murray for this week's matchup with the Carolina Panthers.
According to a source, demarco Murray will not play against panthers. Still waiting MRI results on sprained foot. But a no go sunday— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) October 15, 2012
Murray's absence opens the door for fifth-year veteran Felix Jones, who rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries against the Baltimore Ravens last week, to receive the majority of the touches in a very favorable fantasy matchup with Carolina, making Jones a very attractive plug-and-play RB2 in Week 7.
Montario Hardesty, Cleveland Browns
Much like with Murray, it appears that fantasy owners of Trent Richardson dodged the proverbial bullet, as according to ESPN, the talented rookie has been declared "day to day" after an MRI on Monday revealed no significant damage to his ribs.
Richardson indicated that he intends to play in Week 7, telling reporters that "I'll be ready for next week," but there's still a chance that as the week progresses, Richardson may be forced to sit against the Indianapolis Colts.
Should that prove to be the case, then third-year pro Montario Hardesty, who picked up 56 yards on 15 carries with a score in last week's win over the Cincinnati Bengals, would draw the start, and Richardson is confident that Hardesty can shoulder the load if called upon.
"You've got to love it," Richardson said Sunday. "Montario, he is a beast. A lot of people think Montario is one of those guys that is not going to try to run you over or not going to be in there for the thick and thin, but Montario is one of those guys who is going to give everything he can on each and every play."
The Colts just gave up over 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Shonn Greene of the New York Jets, so at the very least Richardson's fantasy owners should be scrambling to add Hardesty as insurance in case their star running back misses a game or two.
William Powell, Arizona Cardinals
Of all the running backs on this list, rookie William Powell of the Arizona Cardinals probably has the most long-term appeal from a fantasy perspective, but unfortunately Powell also likely has the least amount of upside.
Pressed into action due to the injuries suffered by running backs Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, Powell was the primary back in the Cardinals loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday.
Powell, who led the NFL in rushing in the preseason, played fairly well, gaining 70 yards on 13 carries and saying (via the team's website) that he's hopeful that his performance will open the door to some badly needed offensive balance for the Redbirds.
“Anytime you have good balance you’re going to be successful,” Powell said. “You can run the ball. We already proved we can throw the ball. If we can run the ball I feel like we have good drives and feel like we can sustain drives.”
However, the Cardinals offensive line continues to struggle, and so long as that's the case Powell is going to find it difficult to get going, especially in unfavorable matchups such as this week's tilt with the Minnesota Vikings.