Numerous high-profile RBs will be out of action this week due to the week 7 bye, which means some of you might be forced to patrol the waiver wire in search of replacements.
Week 7 byes: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, NY Giants, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
Many backfields have been decimated by injuries over the past month, and week 6 saw a few more casualties. Dallas' talented but brittle Felix Jones will miss 2-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain, which likely means a committee approach with rookie DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice. Detriot's Jahvid Best suffered a concussion and is listed as questionable for week 7 vs. Atlanta. Peyton Hillis was less than impressive in week 6 and is dealing with a hamstring injury which will likely result in increased touches for Montario Hardesty. Joseph Addai and LeGarrette Blount each missed week 6 and appear likely to sit out at least one more game.
This week we profile a few RBs that could provide adequate numbers if you are in need of an injury replacement or bye week fill-in. We are going under the premise that Earnest Graham (who we profiled last week) is no longer available. Be quick to add him if he's still a free-agent in your league (rushed 17 times for 109 yards and caught two passes for 22 yards in the Bucs' week 6 win over New Orleans), as Graham will likely start again this week against Chicago (22nd in run defense).
DeMarco Murray (STL, @PHI, SEA, BUF): The rookie 3rd round pick from Oklahoma is the likely beneficiary of the Felix Jones injury. Murray has struggled in a limited role, totaling 24 carries for 71 yards. Despite favorable matchups vs. St Louis and Philadelphia, temper your expectations as we expect a pass happy approach from Dallas over the next few weeks.
Montario Hardesty (SEA, @SF, HOU, STL): With the albino rhino battling through a hamstring injury, there is a very good chance that Hardesty sees an uptick in carries over the next few weeks.
With Hillis sidelined with strep throat in week 3, the 2nd round pick in 2010 filled in admirably, finishing with 86 yards on 17 touches in a week 3 win over Miami. Over the past two games Hardesty's production has wavered in a limited role (18 carries for 57 yards), but he has added 7 catches for 67 yards making him a decent PPR league bye week fill in. It's no secret that the Browns want to reduce Hillis' workload (330 touches in 2010) after he broke down in December last season. This backfield could very well become a time share by mid-season if Hardesty continues to show improvement. Temper your expectations for the Browns backfield over the next two weeks as they face an underrated Seattle run defense and #2 ranked 49er defense.
Maurice Morris (ATL, @DEN, BYE, @CHI): There were rumors floating around that Jahvid Best's second concussion of this season could land him on IR (Detroit has shot those reports down). Regardless, Best has proven to be injury prone since he was a late first round pick in 2010, which makes owning his handcuff a must. Maurice Morris should start if Best misses the week 7 matchup against Atlanta. It's worth noting that with Best sidelined in week 12 last season, Morris had 9 carries for 55 yards and 2 TDs in the Thanksgiving day loss to New England. Atlanta's run defense ranks 8th (only 98 YPG) but they have yielded six TDs to opposing RBs.
Jackie Battle (@OAK, SD, MIA, DEN): Those that own Dexter McCluster would be wise to drop the pint-sized RB/WR and add straight-ahead runner Jackie Battle, who may have secured the #1 RB gig in KC following an impressive week 5 performance (19 carries for 119 yards) against Indianapolis.
The Chiefs had a week 6 bye so Battle could be flying under the radar on your waiver wires - if so, he makes for a solid spot-start against Oakland's 16th ranked run defense. Over four seasons the 28 year old Houston alum has averaged a less than impressive 3 YPC on 41 carries, so don’t go overboard blowing your free agent budget. The presence of Thomas Jones (10 carries for 55 yards in week 5) and McCluster greatly limit Battle to a matchup play at best. Another negative is the fact that the Chiefs defense is struggling (allowing 30 PPG) which will likely force KC into a pass-happy approach in the 2nd half of most games.
Donald Brown (@NO, @TEN, ATL, JAX): What can Brown do for You? The answer has been sit on your fantasy bench over the past two seasons. Often injured (missed eight games in 2009/2010), and less than productive (30 YPG average), Brown could be given yet another chance to redeem his fantasy relevance depending on the severity of Addai’s hamstring strain. Brown’s one notable performance of his brief career was in week 15 of last season when he finished with 14 carries for 129 yards against a weak Jacksonville run defense. Delone Carter is a slightly better option on waiver wires but we expect the Colts will employ a split backfield, greatly limiting the upside of Carter and Brown (especially with a difficult schedule over the next month). In week 6, Brown was more productive than Delone Carter as Brown carried five times for 35 yards with an 18-yard touchdown and two catches for 16 yards. If Addai is ruled out for week 7 - Brown is a deep league flex play against a Saints run defense that ranks 14th (109 YPG).