Running Backs to Add
Benny Cunningham, St. Louis Rams
Zac Stacy was a fantasy beast because the Rams have become committed to the run with Sam Bradford (knee) out for the season, but now Stacy is going through the concussion protocol. There is no telling Stacy's status at this point, so Cunningham's 13 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown Sunday clearly earned him the starting job if Stacy cannot go. Cunningham won't be a great play this week against the 49ers' solid run defense, but he is a must-have as a Stacy handcuff at the very least.
Dennis Johnson, Houston Texans
Ben Tate (ribs) hasn't been 100 percent, so the run-heavy Texans leaned a bit more on Johnson this past Sunday. Johnson responded with 13 carries for 74 yards and another 13 yards receiving.
It makes him intriguing off waivers, even if Tate will remain the starter against the Pats, as Gary Kubiak told the Houston Chronicle's Brian T. Smith:
There were a couple of times where there really wasn't any room for [Tate]. I don't know if he ever got in a rhythm with what he's doing. We know what he's battling through. He's not practicing during the week; he's just playing on Sundays. So I know that's tough from that standpoint. But we definitely appreciate with some of the things going on. The young guy, D.J., was running so well. He did some good things, so we gave him some more opportunities. I think Ben will bounce back.
Johnson will still get some touches this Sunday, especially if he shows well early, Kubiak told Deepi Sidhu of the Texans' official website:
We had planned on playing DJ [Johnson] some, but when he went in and he just looked so good running the ball, so we played him a little bit more. It's just the way it happened. Ben hadn't been practicing all week; he's just been playing for us. Obviously, DJ did some good stuff, so I left him in the game.
The best news about the woeful Texans is New England was ripped by Knowshon Moreno and the Broncos on the ground Sunday night. The Pats are now the second-worst run defense in football. If Case Keenum can keep the Texans in the game long enough, there will be production to be had for both Tate and Johnson.
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
We already delved deeply into the Pats' running back carousel in Bleacher Report's Biggest Takeaways on Monday, so there is not much to add here. We should expect the Pats to go back to Stevan Ridley as their starter, but Shane Veeren will get a bigger piece of the running pie. Bolden is a flier for Ridley owners, though, just in case the Bill Belichick doghouse is locked at the front door.
Running Backs to Monitor
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
He returns from his bye week as the Bengals' starter, and he is still available in 30 percent of CBS Sports leagues. The Bengals will play in the balmy San Diego conditions this week, but there will be some wintry games for BGE to run the ball in down the stretch. You might want to take a flier here, especially because BGE remains the goal-line back for a team that figures to need one in future weeks.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets
He got a bigger share of the load versus Chris Ivory last week, as the Jets fell behind and were forced into more passing situations. Powell is the Jets' passing-receiving back. The good news is the Dolphins are next up on the schedule. Miami has been the seventh-worst team against the run and in fantasy against running backs. There is a chance, perhaps, Powell can steal his feature-back job from Ivory again.
Running Backs to Ignore
Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson had dealt with a groin issue, but he sure didn't look bad Sunday. Gerhart didn't either, rushing for 91 yards on eight carries. Still, Gerhart remains nothing more than a mere handcuff for one of football's all-time workhorses. If the Vikings had a more productive offense and quarterback situation, Gerhart would be more intriguing in fantasy.
Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders
The 2012 sleeper reached the end zone on a receiving touchdown from Matt McGloin, but this was his first significant inclusion in the Raiders offense in weeks, if not months. Dallas is dead last in fantasy against running backs, but you don't have to bother with Reece on your fantasy roster, unless you're desperate in PPR formats.