What a bad week it was for running backs as ineffective play and injuries have many fantasy owners feeling beat up and bruised coming into Week 8. To help you fight your way though the bye weeks, I have an extended listed of running backs to keep an eye on for this week and future weeks.
The Titans didn’t just give up over 100 yards rushing to Arian Foster, as backup Ben Tate went over the century mark as well. This week Houston returns home to face the Jaguars, coming off a physical Monday Night matchup against the Ravens. Look for Foster to have a huge game, but Tate will be in the mix and likely will get most of the touches in the fourth quarter.
Starting tailback Cedric Benson will be serving his one-game suspension this week as the Bengals head out to Seattle to play against the Seahawks. Not a great matchup, but Bernard Scott figures to be the starter this week, and if you're desperate for help, he’s worth a look.
Time for Chris Johnson owners to fear the worst if things don’t change soon as the star running back seems to think he’s doing nothing wrong, but he’s failing to get much done. Hitting the hole with power and physicality has never really been Johnson’s game, and with the some holes the Titans offensive line is opening, Johnson doesn’t figure to do much going forward.
Ringer is a better banger on the inside and if Johnson continues to have problems, it’s likely that Ringer will continue to get more looks. We saw the Titans coaching staff use Ringer early in the season, because of Johnson’s struggles, and it looks like the bust first-round pick, may not give fantasy owners the second half they were hoping for.
With Earnest Graham done for the year, and LeGarrette Blount likely to be out after the bye week, Kregg Lumpkin should take over as the starter for Tampa Bay. Not much to get excited about here, but if the guy is going to start, he has some value and is worthy of holding on your depth chart.
The Cardinals will be without Beanie Wells for at least one or two weeks with a knee injury, and Alfonso Smith has been the secondary option in their backfield this year. Smith only had five carries against the Steelers but that was in large part because they fell behind early. Smith did get a touchdown run however, so that is encouraging.
Smith’s real problem for success this week, is that he will be facing the Ravens defense on the road. Don’t expect much from Smith, but at least he can give you some production. If Wells has continued troubles and has trouble getting back on the field, then Smith might keep the starting job for a few weeks.
It appears that Leon Washington will be the starting tailback with Marshawn Lynch suffering a setback during warm-ups to an apparent lingering back problem. Funny that Seahawks haven’t brought up that Lynch has had back problems this year, but Coach Peter Carroll admitted that Lynch has had issues throughout the year.
While I’m sure those who had Lynch last week were surprised to see him out, with no reports of an injury before the games started, it was Washington that started for this team, and should continue to start this week. Look for Justin Forsett to split time, but Washington is at least worth using in deep PPR leagues.
While Washington will be the starter, I wouldn’t be surprised if Justin Forsett ends up with the better performance this week against the Bengals. Forsett has been successful in the past when given a chance, so if your desperate this week, take a shot on him and see what happens.
With Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, both hurt, Phillip Tanner is just one injury away from being the Cowboys starting tailback, and his game isn’t that bad. Tanner has come along well this year, and he was effective when he got the football against the Rams. Expect Tanner to be active as DeMarco Murray’s backup, and he could find his way into the end zone, once again.
The rookie speedster is a sleeper with breakout potential as Darren McFadden was seen on crutches on Monday, and if something should happen to Michael Bush, Jones would be next in line. Last week, Jones had three carries for 18 yards and a 30-yard reception.
This young running back showed potential in the preseason with a nice game against the Saints, so it will be interesting to see what McFadden’s status is after the bye week, and if Coach Hue Jackson, talks up Jones as a player who will see more work.
If you happened to watch Christian Ponder on Sunday night football against the Bears, or last week against the Packers, it’s clear to see why many in Minnesota have been chanting for this kid to play over Donovan McNabb. I believe the Vikings did the right thing by allowing McNabb to start, but the time has come for Ponder to be the teams’ franchise quarterback.
Ponder has what McNabb used to have years ago and that is fresh legs to keep a play alive and a strong arm. On one play towards the end of the game, Ponder rolled out to the right and threw across his body, to find a receiver open in the middle of the field for a key reception.
The zip on the football coming out of Ponders hand on that throw was impressive, and he clearly will be a fantasy factor in the future. That said, you can tell he’s a rookie quarterback, because ideally, you would never want to attempt the throw, he made, and like Tony Romo and Brett Farve, plays like that can make you a hero, but many times lose the game for your team.
Ponder has a ways to go in his development, like all rookie quarterbacks do, but he can have some value for your fantasy squad if you need help during the bye weeks. This week the Vikings take on the Panthers and with Adrian Peterson likely to play on a bad ankle, Ponder could be the one carrying the team on his back this week.
Antonio Brown / Emmanuel Sanders
Two talented young Steelers receivers make the grade on our Week 8 waiver wire pickups. Antonio Brown would be the first receiver to target this week as he’s likely to start if Hines Ward should miss time with an ankle injury. Even if Ward plays, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a limited snap count, as Pittsburgh has the depth at receiver to rest him.
With Ward down for a good portion of last week's game, Brown posted seven receptions for over 100 yards receiving. Sanders received an increase in work as well with five receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown. Both make for useable receivers this week if Ward is out, or at least if he fails to partake in a full practice by Friday.