We've hit the thick of the stretch run for the fantasy playoffs, and with only two or three regular season games remaining, the last thing teams locked in a dogfight for a playoff spot needed was an injury to one of their star running backs.
However, that's exactly what happened in Week 11, as Willis McGahee of the Denver Broncos suffered a torn MCL while LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles was carted from the field with a concussion.
Those injuries have conspired to send fantasy owners scrambling to the waiver wire to find a player that will not only add depth to their rosters but also potentially start, and those desperate fantasy owners should cast their glances toward the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Stop laughing. I'm serious.
After several weeks of ineffective play from Rashad Jennings, the Jaguars made a switch at running back in last week's overtime loss to the Houston Texans, inserting third-year pro Jalen Parmele into the starting lineup.
Parmele responded fairly well, racking up 80 yards on 24 carries, and according to the team's twitter feed Parmele's performance was enough for head coach Mike Mularkey to stick with him this week against the Tennessee Titans.
Mularkey said he will stick with Jalen Parmele at running back and will work Rashad Jennings in the rotation.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@jaguars) November 19, 2012
Jennings worked into the rotation against the Texans to the tune of three carries for -1 yards, and given how badly Jennings has played this season I don't think he's nearly as big a threat to Parmele's fantasy value as the potential return of starter Maurice Jones-Drew.
However, Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union reports that Jones-Drew is "very questionable" for Week 12 due to his lingering foot injury. Jones-Drew has stated all along that he would play again this season, but frankly this situation is eerily reminiscent of a similar injury suffered by Darren McFadden of the Oakland Raiders a year ago.
Every week McFadden was "questionable" or "getting closer," and then next thing you knew the season was over without him ever having seen the field again. I'm not saying that's the case here, but if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...
Listen, no one is going to confuse Parmele with Adrian Peterson any time soon, but the former Toledo standout ran hard against a stout Houston defense and the sledding is about to get a quite a bit easier for the youngster.
Over the next two weeks, the Jaguars face the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills. Those teams rank 28th and 31st in run defense and have allowed the second-most and most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season.
Those two games just so happen to coincide with the end of the regular season in many fantasy football leagues, and if Parmele performs nearly as well in those cupcake matchups as he did in a poor one them more than a few fantasy squads may be led into the playoffs by a very unlikely candidate.