Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew—who suffered a foot injury two weeks ago in Oakland—has been ruled out of Sunday's action against the Detroit Lions (according to ESPN):
Darren Sproles, Maurice Jones-Drew, Pierre Garcon, DeMarco Murray, Ben Tate all NOT playing this weekend— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 2, 2012
Jones-Drew will not require surgery, but recent reports suggest he'll still miss significant time (per The Sporting News).
On the bright side, if you own MJD in your fantasy league, you likely didn't spend a high draft pick on him due to his preseason contract dispute.
Either way, you still need a capable replacement. And as of now, the fantasy buzz is focused on the Jags' backup running back: 27-year-old Rashad Jennings.
What to Expect From Rashad Jennings
Jennings—who missed the entire 2011 regular season with a knee injury—developed a starter's mentality during training camp:
When opportunity presents itself it is too late to prepare.— Rashad Jennings (@RashadJennings) November 2, 2012
Maurice Jones-Drew's contract dispute forced Jennings to assume the starting role during the preseason. So from a mental standpoint, he has already gone through the process of adapting to the role.
Has the mental preparation paid off?
Jennings had 47 carries during the preseason and averaged a respectable 4.4 yards per attempt. But he has struggled to carry that success into the regular season. With just 149 yards and a mere 2.9 yards-per-carry average, he has been unable to maintain consistent production since Jones-Drew's departure.
Jennings carried the ball 17 times for 59 yards in his start against Green Bay last week, but if we take away his 21-yard gain, he was limited to just 38 yards on 16 carries (2.3 yards per carry).
Before his 2011 knee injury, Jennings was a solid backup behind MJD, including a 2010 season in which he picked up 459 yards with a 5.5 yards-per-carry average.
Perhaps he can perform on a limited basis, but he has yet to prove he's capable of resembling a starting running back, which means you should take a "wait and see" attitude when it comes to acquiring him in your fantasy league.
It's possible your fantasy team is desperate for running back help. If that's the case, then selecting Rashad Jennings is not a terrible gamble, even if the acquisition is not ideal.
If you decide against Jennings, here are a couple of alternatives who could pay huge dividends.
RB Daryl Richardson (St. Louis Rams)
Steven Jackson has been battling a groin injury and has surrendered a significant portion of his carries to rookie Daryl Richardson.
An explosive runner selected in the seventh-round last April, Richardson has made the most of his 62 carries this season by rushing for 335 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and picking up an additional 99 receiving yards.
He has yet to score a touchdown this season, but his role has steadily increased throughout the season.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers (Atlanta Falcons)
Second-year player Jacquizz Rodgers has played on a limited basis for most of the 2012 season, but he had a breakout game last week with 60 yards on only eight carries.
His impressive performance could result in an increased workload against Dallas this Sunday.