This is no time for fantasy football owners to stay patient or be overly loyal to their favorite running backs.
That patience and loyalty could cost you a spot in your league’s playoffs and a nice payday around the holidays.
The games are getting more important as the NFL season has passed the midway mark, meaning the contests are getting more crucial in fantasy leagues as well. Every lineup and roster decision could impact your championship hopes.
You need to man up and either cut bait or bench the backs who will be of no help to you when your season is on the line.
Here are five running backs who had good fantasy moments earlier in the season, but are going to be risky or downright stupid plays from here on out.
Ryan Torain, Washington Redskins
Midnight is about to strike for Torain and his fantasy worth.
Clinton Portis should return next week after getting his groin as healthy as Ron Jeremy’s. At best, Torain will be splitting carries by next Sunday, and at worst he could be only getting 5-10 touches just to keep his hamstrings warm.
Injuries have derailed Torain’s career before and appear to have cost him another great opportunity here.
With Portis sidelined for several weeks, Torain had the chance to step in and cement himself as the starter. He looked like he was doing that after back-to-back 100-yard games against Indianapolis and Chicago.
But Torain’s strained hamstring cost fantasy owners dearly when he left during the first half of a game against Detroit two weeks ago.
Then he stabbed his owners in the back twice as hard when he was listed as “probable” heading into the Philadelphia game, only to end up riding a bike on the sidelines instead of receiving handoffs.
Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions
I once had a friend who injured his toe playing wiffle ball—like football, a very violent game—so I know that a bum toe can turn a speedster into a turtle.
Just look at Tomlinson. The guy ran like he was carrying a gorilla on his back last season when he was still with San Diego, and everyone was rooting for him to retire.
But it turned out Tomlinson had no burst because his toe was banged up. He has been running just fine this year with 10 good toes.
Best has not rushed for 50 yards in any of his past four contests, nor has he reached the end zone. When Buffalo, ranked dead last in rushing defense, held him to 2.1 yards per carry, it was definitely time to rethink his fantasy importance.
Best is probably not going to get any healthier or speedier while he keeps gutting it out with his bad wheel. A couple weeks of rest would likely solve the problem, but there is no sign of a mini-vacation in his future.
So sitting him for more viable fantasy options seems best for Best.
LaDainian Tomlinson, New York Jets
No touchdowns and no 60-yard rushing games over the last three weeks for the other L.T.
His receiving yards—137 over that span—have kept his fantasy value solvent, but the warning flags should be raised high for Tomlinson.
There are two reasons why Tomlinson’s numbers have taken a jolt recently. One is that Shonn Greene’s workload has increased.
Greene carried the ball 20 times against Cleveland last weekend, compared to Tomlinson’s 18. It is likely Tomlinson will have to evenly share rushing attempts with Greene from here on out.
Greene’s legs are younger and fresher and should be key weapons for the Jets down the stretch.
The other problem for Tomlinson is that the Jets are starting to throw the ball more. With Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes winning games with big plays week in and week out, there seems to be a shift in the team’s offensive philosophy.
It is hard to tell if Tomlinson is wearing down. But it would be shocking if he suddenly rattled off a series of 100-yard games during the second half of the season with the way events are progressing.
Cadillac Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cadillac is getting parked in more fantasy teams’ garages each week.
Some may get excited by the 45-yard touchdown jaunt Williams snuck in toward the end of Tampa Bay’s victory over the hapless Carolina Panthers. But the reality is that rookie LeGarrette “Sucker Puncher” Blount is now the primary rusher, and Williams is now just a third-down back.
Williams has been given single-digit carries in each of Tampa’s last four games. While there have been a couple outings where he has racked up a bunch of short receptions that helped owners in PPR leagues, his value has slid down toward the Jason Snelling and John Kuhn range.
Laurence Maroney, Denver Broncos
It only took half a season, but Knowshon Moreno’s hamstring is finally straight.
Denver head coach Josh McDaniels has finally realized that Moreno should get all the carries and that Maroney and Correll Buchhalter should be super-glued to the Gatorade dispenser.
Maroney has not touched the ball in three weeks. And why should he?
He has rushed for a “grand” total of 74 yards on 36 carries this season.
That is not a misprint or a mistake. Maroney is barely averaging two yards per carry.
Is he lining up 25 yards behind the line of scrimmage?
Give the New England Patriots credit for acquiring a draft choice for another piece of dead weight. Not only did the Pats con Minnesota into giving up a pick for Randy Moss, but they stole one from Denver for Maroney.
Just pencil it in now that some sap of an organization will send two future first-round picks New England’s way for Danny Woodhead in the offseason.