Matt Asiata (above) and Joe Banyard are likely to be asked to shoulder the load in the Vikings' rushing attack in Week 15.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, superstar running back Adrian Peterson and his backup, Toby Gerhart, are likely to be out:
#Vikings are expected to be without star RB Adrian Peterson (foot) today, as well as without backup Toby Gerhart (hamstring), per source— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 15, 2013
That confirms what K-Twin analyst Sean Jensen reported, and it leaves ball-carrying duties to Matt Asiata and Joe Banyard:
The unheralded duo of backs in Minnesota is short on experience and should not be counted on as reliable fantasy options.
Philadelphia is far more susceptible to the pass, yielding 285.5 yards per game through the air, as opposed to 112.8 yards on the ground, which ranks 16th in the league. Neither Viking runner is a proven enough commodity to even take a chance on.
B/R's Will Carroll breaks down Peterson's foot injury in more depth:
Asiata was the only running back on the active roster besides Peterson and Gerhart until Banyard was promoted from the practice squad, per the team's official Twitter account:
The Vikings have signed Joe Banyard to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 14, 2013
According to PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Asiata has not carried the ball in 2013 and has played primarily on special teams. He registered just three carries last season and was out of football between September 2011 and January 2012.
Jensen did highlight what Asiata was able to do as a collegian at Utah, though, as he had a nose for the end zone:
Matt Asiata had 3 carries for 9 yards last season for #Vikings. At Utah, he ran the ball 379 times for 1,748 yards (4.6 avg.) with 24 TDs.— Sean Jensen (@seankjensen) December 15, 2013
Earlier in the week, the message communicated by Asiata was that he hoped to be a serviceable replacement if he was to be inserted in the starting lineup in lieu of Peterson and Gerhart, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Which running back will have a greater fantasy impact?
Then there's Banyard, who has never carried the ball once in his NFL career and has been a practice squad player for the Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints since going undrafted last year out of UTEP.
Banyard has solid size at 5'11" and 205 pounds but hasn't done enough to get a regular-season carry in his brief time in the NFL as of yet.
Hurting both backs' stock is that Minnesota doesn't have a good defense (31st in total yards and points per game allowed) and is facing an uptempo, explosive Philadelphia offense.
While that should lead to more play opportunities for the home team, it should also lend itself to a lot of passing and playing from behind. Altogether, the two running backs in Asiata and Banyard don't offer much promise.
At the very least, similar to Gerhart in a way, Asiata is listed at over 230 pounds and should be able to shed some tackles with a powerful running style and may be good for a goal-line plunge to pay dirt.
If fantasy owners are in a pinch and are desperate, though, Vikings starting quarterback Matt Cassel may be a better option to spot start given his favorable matchup against the Eagles' vulnerable secondary.