Fantasy Football Running Back Roulette: Week 8 Backfield Questions

Eric StashinSenior Writer IOctober 29, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Beanie Wells #26 of the Arizona Cardinals runs the ball up field against the Pittsburgh Steelers at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

There are numerous injuries wreaking havoc on backfields across the NFL this week. Let’s take a look at the status of a few running backs and who could step in and try to fill their shoes:

Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts – Questionable

Despite the questionable tag, Tom James (via Twitter) is reporting that Addai practiced in full on Friday. That would lead us to believe that he’s got a good chance of dressing for this week’s game at Tennessee. 

Let’s not forget that Addai tried to play through the injury in Week 7, only to suffer a setback with his hamstring injury. That threat makes Addai an impossible play for the coming week. 

Delone Carter should be owned as a handcuff, as he looked good last week (89 yards and a TD on 10 carries), but he too is a tough play because of the chance that Addai can get through the entire day. It’s a tough situation to try and gamble on in all formats and, if at all possible, avoid it.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints – Out

With Ingram out, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas jump up a few notches. Sproles has been showing his value in the passing game all year long, but will likely get a good look running the football as well as there is now one less mouth to feed (unless you think Chris Ivory to be a factor). 

Taking on a Rams team that has allowed 183.8 rushing yards/game, this opportunity couldn’t come at a better time. Carter is coming off a week where he had 88 yards and 1 TD on 12 carries making him a must use option. As for Thomas, he’s averaging 4.4 yards per carry on the season.  While he’s not as good of a play as Sproles, he is also viable depending on your other options.

Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals – Questionable

According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, “Running back Beanie Wells did more in practice on Friday than he did Thursday, and he will test his sore knee before Sunday’s game to see if he can play. If he does play, my hunch is that he doesn’t carry the full load for the Cardinals. I bet the team tries to limit his work.” 

With that in mind, you have to expect both Alfonso Smith and LaRod Stephens-Howling to play a role, and potentially significant ones. Given the matchup against the Ravens, this is a situation to be completely avoided.

Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions – Out

It is not a very big surprise that he will miss this week's game (with the bye week coming in Week 9). Maurice Morris (50 yards on nine carries) and Keiland Williams (44 yards on nine carries) will likely once again split carries against the Denver Broncos. With no one stepping up and being the go-to option, it is a situation that fantasy owners should steer clear of.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos – Out

Knowshon Moreno will once again get an opportunity to establish himself as a viable option. Is anyone holding their breath? On the season he has picked up 54 yards on 17 carries, appearing in just four games.

The matchup is favorable, as the Lions are surprisingly among the worst defenses at stopping the run (129.4 yards/game). It makes him worth considering, depending on who else you have, but Tim Tebow’s presence could cut into his carries. Consider him a low-end fantasy option.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, New England Patriots – Questionable

Even if he plays, he draws a tough matchup in Pittsburgh. While the Steelers are among the best defenses against the pass, has that ever stopped Tom Brady and company?

Then again, does anyone really believe Green-Ellis is a threat to miss the game? The toe injury is not new and the team is coming off their bye. He would appear to be an option that you can use, but the team’s persistence to throw the ball limits his value.

Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns – Questionable

He hasn’t been practicing, though according to Mary Kay Cabot (via Twitter), “rb Peyton Hillis is questionable, will make the trip to San Fran.” In other words, we are going to have to wait and see. If he plays at half speed, the matchup is going to cripple him (49ers are allowing 74.7 rushing yards per game and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown).

Even if he does play, there’s always the risk that he suffers a setback early on in the game.  Monitor the news, but consider other options. If he sits, Montario Hardesty is not a recommended option.

Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys – Out

DeMarco Murray exploded in Week 7 (253 yards, 1 TD) and is a must-use option for the coming week. There’s really nothing more to say.

Mike Tolbert, San Diego Chargers

According to Kevin Acee (via Twitter), “Floyd was limited…Gates just resting, should play…Norv’s optimism re: S. Phillips is waning…Also ‘not hopeful’ re: Tolbert.” It doesn’t sound good, especially since the Chargers-Chiefs matchup is set for Monday night, making him an option that needs to be planted firmly on your bench. Obviously, Ryan Mathews’ value gets a little bit of a boost.

Cedric Benson
, Cincinnati Bengals – Suspended

Benson will be serving his one-game suspension this week, leaving Bernard Scott to carry the load against the Seahawks. Seattle has looked good against the run, allowing 104.7 rushing yards per game, but when given an opportunity in the past Scott has proven how capable he was.

Forget about the numbers in 2011 (averaging 2.8 yards/carry), he’s had over 15 carries twice (both in 2010) and averaged 103 yards in those games. He’s not a high-end option, given the matchup, but is viable as a low-end RB2 or FLEX option.

Tim Hightower, Washington Redskins – Out

His season is over, leaving Roy Helu and Ryan Torain to carry the load. Chances are that Torain will operate as the lead back with Helu the change-of-pace option, though you never really know with Mike Shanahan. This is likely going to be a fluid situation for the rest of the season.

Make sure to check out all of Rotoprofessor’s Week 8 Articles:

Top 25 Quarterbacks
Top 40 Running Backs

Top 50 Wide Receivers

Top 20 Tight Ends

Top 15 Kickers


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