Fantasy Football: 4 Replacement Options for Donald Brown Owners
Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown has missed two games in a row now with a knee injury, and the latest reports have him missing a third in Week 8—bad news for fantasy football owners who have been hoping he'd return.
Arians says RB Donald Brown is close to returning, but coach makes it sound like #Colts leading rusher will need one more week.— Phillip B Wilson (@pwilson24) October 22, 2012
If Brown can't go, then who can you snag off the waiver wire that can give you solid fantasy production?
Follow along as I present four viable options for Week 8.
Note: Keep in mind that Brown hasn't been exactly been a fantasy stud, and the waiver wire isn't exactly loaded with guys who are going to put up Arian Foster-type numbers.
Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts
When a starter goes down, it's never a bad idea to take a look at his backup.
Vick Ballard had a pretty solid game for the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7 against the Cleveland Browns, totaling 103 yards—84 rushing yards and 19 receiving yards. He didn't score a touchdown, but that's not exactly a surprise, as Donald Brown has only scored one touchdown all year long.
Next up for Ballard and the Colts are the Tennessee Titans—a team that ranks No. 25 in the NFL against the run and that allows opposing running backs an average of 21.6 points per game (ESPN standard scoring).
Ballard could be in for a breakout game, and he's still available in more than 50 percent of fantasy leagues.
Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams
Steven Jackson is not being treated like a work-horse running back any more for the St. Louis Rams, and Daryl Richardson has been taking a lot of snaps in his stead.
Pro Football Focus' Mike Clay broke down their Week 7 carries:
35:24 snap edge for Steven Jackson over Daryl Richardson yesterday. #Rams— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 22, 2012
The Rams face the New England Patriots this week—one of the toughest teams in the NFL against the run this season—so it may seem like a matchup that doesn't favor Richardson. He had a big game a couple of weeks ago against the Miami Dolphins, though, totaling 99 yards against the No. 4 rushing defense in the NFL.
Richardson's quickness, agility and ability to make big plays in the passing game makes me believe he'll get plenty of opportunities in this upcoming game against the stout, but slow front seven of the Patriots. Combined with the fact that he's still available in almost 90 percent of fantasy leagues, this makes him a good player to consider in place of Donald Brown.
Alex Green, Green Bay Packers
Alex Green had a miserable game last week against the St. Louis Rams, rushing for only 35 yards on 20 carries and 29 yards on four receptions. Granted, the Rams defense is tough against the run (No. 11 in the NFL, allowing fewer than 100 yards per game), but Green didn't do enough.
Head coach Mike McCarthy said as much, per the Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein:
I wasn't real happy with the production in the run game. I thought we left too many hard yards on the field. There were too many 1-, 2-yard runs that should have been hardball 3-, 4-, 5-yard runs. We need to improve that aspect of our offense.
Thankfully for Green and the Packers, their next opponent is the Jacksonville Jaguars—a team with the No. 29-ranked rushing defense in the NFL and that gives up an average of 23 points per game (ESPN standard scoring).
It's important to note that the Packers did allow Green to continue banging away on the ground, even though he wasn't finding much success—a clear sign of the team's intent to forge a running game to complement Aaron Rodgers and the passing attack.
Green is still available in approximately 40 percent of fantasy leagues, so if he's available, you should consider snatching him up.
LaRod Stevens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals
After Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams went down with injuries, many Arizona Cardinals fans wondered where the team might find production at the running back position.
LaRod Stevens-Howling answered that question with authority in Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings (No. 12 rushing defense in the NFL), rushing for 104 yards and a touchdown and catching four passes for 45 yards.
Next up for Stevens-Howling and the Cardinals are the San Francisco 49ers, which doesn't seem like a favorable matchup at first glance, considering how dominant the 49ers defense has been against the run the past few years.
Upon further review, though, the 49ers have given up two-straight 100-yard games to Ahmad Bradshaw and Marshawn Lynch (both at home), and this defense has already allowed two rushing touchdowns this season.
If the Cardinals have any chance of winning this game at home, Stevens-Howling must have a big game. The team's offensive line averages five sacks per game (worst in the NFL), and if the Cardinals don't run the ball early and often, the 49ers will swallow this team up in a heartbeat.
Stevens-Howling will get plenty of chances to succeed. If he doesn't have a big game, it won't be for lack of trying. He's available in almost 90 percent of fantasy leagues, too, making him an easy target.