When injury failed us, fate tried to give the fantasy football waiver wire something in the way of answers at the running back position.
Fumblitis was the leading ailment—not ACL tears—among running backs the first NFL Sunday, and Stevan Ridley, David Wilson and Isaac Redman were all benched because of it, ruining their fantasy owners in Week 1.
Instead of taking away fantasy value, injury has appeared to save the starting jobs for Ridley and Redman, at least temporarily. Shane Vereen was all set to add feature back to his title until a broken wrist requiring surgery knocked him out through the Week 10 bye week. Redman gave way to La'Rod Stephens-Howling, but LSH blew out an ACL and is lost for the season.
Here's a quick look at these three running back situations.
Tuck Wilson away like he is unable to do with the football. And hold your breath equally as tight.
Wilson has the worst case of fumblitis among them, and now he needs to compete for touches with Da'Rel Scott and recently signed Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs is not yet fantasy roster-worthy, but you can bet he will vulture a few touchdowns from Wilson before this season is over.
Everyone jumped on board the Wilson bandwagon when injury took away Andre Brown (broken leg) and forced him to the Designated for Return IR. Then Wilson metaphorically farted, and cleared that bandwagon right out.
Wilson is likely to get the bulk of the carries against the Broncos on Sunday, but Scott is going to be used as a pass receiver—despite a bone-headed tipped pass that handed Dallas the deciding touchdown—and Jacobs might be used in short yardage. You can't sell low, because Wilson is a breakaway back with too much potential, but you cannot start him in fantasy either.
The Broncos run defense makes him a sit just as much as his tenuous status due to fumbles.
Go back to the well on Ridley, because the Patriots have to on the short week.
Look, every player has the same responsibility every week—to be ready to play, to be ready to go. That's their job. They can't control coaches' decisions. Coaches' decisions are coaches' decisions. They can control their preparation. They control their performance when they're in the game. That's what a player's job is. It's all the same for everybody.
The short week—the Patriots play the Jets on Thursday night—and Vereen's injury has saved Ridley's job and likely his fantasy starting spot. Brandon Bolden (knee) is not healthy enough to compete for carries, and LeGarrette Blount is a plodder who will merely steal some short-yardage work.
The Jets have a decent run defense, but the likely absence of Danny Amendola (groin) and the inexperience of the Pats' receiving weapons will keep the running game at the top of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' priority list.
Redman is still the starter, but only because Le'Veon Bell (foot) isn't ready.
The Steelers officially named Redman as such for their Week 2 game at Cincy on Monday night, but no one should dare use him in fantasy against the Bengals' solid run defense. Heck, you don't need to own him. Jonathan Dwyer was re-signed off the street and might outperform him until Bell returns.
Felix Jones just isn't a real factor, and Dwyer is more likely to get the bulk of the carries behind Redman.
"That depends on his dependability," Tomlin told ESPN.com about Dwyer's potential for time after signing. "We'll play it by ear and see how he looks on the practice field and in the classroom."
What makes Redman's situation worse is that Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey (knee) was placed on IR and is out for the season. Look away from most of the Steelers' fantasy options right now. It is a mess here.
Quarterbacks and receivers everywhere
While the waiver wire was short on running backs, it sure gave us plenty in the way of help in quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends. The problem is you likely already had plenty of starters at those positions, especially quarterbacks and wideouts.
It was a pass-friendly league in Week 1. The running backs will have more say in fantasy outcomes, we assure you.
Save for the leagues in which Philip Rivers, Michael Vick or Matt Schaub were unowned—they shouldn't have been—you should not make a move at the quarterback position, especially if you are dropping Ben Roethlisberger or Josh Freeman. Those were the two most-dropped players in CBS Sports leagues.
The Steelers running game is terrible, so the offense is now on Big Ben's capable shoulder now more than ever. Also, Freeman has two fantasy starters at wide receiver, and Doug Martin as a receiving back out of the backfield. He just has to be productive against the Saints secondary, right?
As for Terrelle Pryor, the Raiders have a very low ceiling. He might have another productive game against the Jags, but even this one won't put him in the fantasy starter category.
The likelihood that Amendola misses Thursday's night's game clinched Julian Edelman as the most-added player in fantasy this week. He has the targets, red-zone potential and Tom Brady all working in his favor, unlike the rest of this group.
Among all of the surprises of Week 1—there always are—Amendola was not one of them. We expected he would be a frequent target and a 10-catch-a-week threat. We also expected the injury risk. He is a must-have in fantasy, but he is a must-handcuff as well. Kenbrell Tompkins got 14 targets and should be busy again Thursday.
Eddie Royal is the most underrated player in the bunch. That Eagles secondary is what made Leonard Hankerson a Week 1 star, and that is who Rivers and Royal are facing in Week 2. If you need a one-week starter and missed out on Edelman, Royal is your man.
Have you heard us mention how tight ends can be had off the waiver wire? Well, Julius Thomas certainly proved that.
In fact, Thomas is a microcosm of the position in fantasy. He can be great one week and potentially post a goose egg the next. There are just so many targets in Denver. Eric Decker won't stay quiet like that every week, and Peyton Manning can't throw for seven touchdowns every week.
Unless you have the likes of Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, Vernon Davis, now Jared Cook and perhaps Owen Daniels, you might as well make your tight end position a streaming spot on your roster. Tight ends are a Forrest Gump box of chocolates.
Your options are lackluster this week.
- The Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys had huge first weeks, but they are facing each other in Week 2, and their offenses make trusting a fringe defense against them inadvisable.
- There are people jumping on the likes of the Oakland Raiders because they are facing the woeful Jags, but you should have a hard time trusting anyone on the Raiders.
- The Eagles started well against the Washington Redskins, but the tempo of their offense will put their suspect defense in as many uncompromising positions as Christian Grey.
The Carolina Panthers are the real play here. The New England Patriots D/ST didn't have a good game against the Bills in Buffalo, but the Panthers were great at slowing a potent contender (Seattle Seahawks) and are an up-and-coming defensive team coached by a defensive guy, Ron Rivera.
A look at Vegas lines
The big total is obvious in Denver at New York Giants (56), so start all of your options for both teams in the passing game at least.
The total for San Diego at Philadelphia (55.5) is also high. A lot of fantasy owners are sleeping on the Chargers. Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Vincent Brown, Antonio Gates and Royal are solid plays against the Eagles defense. Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are too, against the Chargers.
Washington at Green Bay (50) should be another bonanza for both teams. Leonard Hankerson is viable, while you should go back to the well on James Jones.
The clunkers are Jacksonville at Oakland—although the relative weakness of both teams make Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden more intriguing—and Pittsburgh at Cincinnati. You cannot like any of your Steelers, as we said above, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard are in for another long week.
Things we learned last week:
- Fumbles suck (the life out of your fantasy backs).
- Good running backs are like good women: hard to find.
- Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends are plentiful, dime-a-dozen even.
- Denver running backs are awful fantasy options right now.
- Steelers running backs are worse.
- Tom Brady likes trustworthy receivers.
- The Broncos' Manning has a sick arsenal.
- The Manning Bowl is going to be passing-game ping pong.
- Colin Kaepernick is seemingly unstoppable.
- Roddy White (ankle) is not healthy and won't be for weeks.
- Harry Douglas is a solid addition in the meantime.
- The Giants' Wilson is a heartbreaker, in the bad way.
- C.J. Spiller can be stopped.
- Jamaal Charles (quad) is like Amendola; he couldn't last one week as a full feature back without getting nicked up.
- Teams will go to the street to find running backs they are familiar with and can trust (Jacobs and Dwyer).
- Arian Foster is just fine. Ben Tate is still merely a handcuff.
- The Eagles' McCoy is a monster as long as he stays healthy.
- Bryce Brown is a must-have in case McCoy doesn't.
- Kendall Hunter is arguably the most underrated commodity in fantasy right now.
- It will be hard for Pryor, EJ Manuel or Geno Smith to produce on the level of the veteran dropback passers. Heck, even Russell Wilson might be left behind as a fantasy starter.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.
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