Has any position in fantasy football been less predictable, more frustrating and utterly confounding than running back this season?
C.J. Spiller, Stevan Ridley and David Wilson have all been flops. Ray Rice and Doug Martin have been disappointments. Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson have caused nervous breakdowns. The St. Louis Rams have all but held tryouts open to the public at the position.
But somehow, the Week 7 waiver wire is chock full of possibilities at the position. Injuries and bye weeks will do that. Heck, possible targets such as Andre Ellington, Mike Tolbert and Chris Ogbonnaya didn't even make my list of the top-three players worth adding at running back this week.
We're talking about possible starters for your team this week, folks—go out and get them.
Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Ownership: 1.4 percent of ESPN leagues
Analysis: Here's pretty much everything you need to know about why Randle is so valuable this week, via Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News:
Jerry Jones confirmed Tuesday morning that the Dallas Cowboys will be without running backs DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar for Sunday’s game in Philadelphia.
Dunbar strained his right hamstring during the loss to Denver on Oct. 6. Murray sprained the MCL in his left knee during the second quarter on Sunday.
“He’s probably going to be out,” Jones said of Murray on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “We’ll miss him certainly this coming week and then we’ll see from there. I can’t emphasize enough how much doctors and trainers depend on the response of a player when you’re rehabbing injury, because all players have injury and some of them have it in an area that can be more limited, relative to their ability to long term—long term being in this case, playing throughout the season.
Obviously, Murray owners will want to make Randle their top priority this week. Really, anybody needing a Week 7 spot starter should go after Randle.
While the Philadelphia Eagles aren't terrible against the run—they allow 105.7 rushing yards per game (16th in NFL) and 14.0 fantasy points to opposing running backs per week (14th)—Tony Romo and the passing game should torch a weak Eagles secondary, perhaps opening running lanes for Randle.
And surely, he'll have a chance or two to plunge in for a touchdown. In a game that has "shootout" written all over it, Randle could end up being the waiver-wire MVP for Week 7.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants
Ownership: 2.1 percent of ESPN leagues
Analysis: Which Brandon Jacobs do we trust?
The guy who averaged 1.8 yards per carry in his first four games, or the guy who averaged 4.8 against the Chicago Bears on Thursday night? The guy who only managed 11 carries for 37 yards while deputizing for David Wilson in Week 5, or the bruiser who finished with 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Week 6 as the starter?
Based on his matchups alone, you might want to (tentatively) side with the latter, especially since Wilson will likely miss three or four more weeks, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN. The Giants face the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, have a bye and face the Oakland Raiders.
All three of those teams are allowing 14 or more fantasy points to opposing running backs per week.
If Wilson misses those three games, Jacobs could end up being a low-end RB2 or flex play. If nothing else, Wilson owners should absolutely add him.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
Ownership: 7.0 percent of ESPN leagues
Analysis: Randle and Jacobs probably have more upside this week—Stacy faces the Carolina Panthers, allowing just 88.8 rushing yards per week, fourth in the NFL—but he also seems locked in as the team's starter at this point.
In two starts, Stacy has rushed 32 times for 157 yards, averaging 7.8 fantasy points per game. The Rams aren't a very good running team in general—71.8 yards per game, 28th in the NFL—but at some point Stacy is going to pair a touchdown or two with his modest rushing totals.
If nothing else, knowing you have a starting running back waiting in the wings for the bye weeks is nice insurance to have. Go ahead and snag him this week.
Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions and commiserate with you over underachieving players. You bring the beer.
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