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:
Montario Hardesty has already been ruled out and, while it looked like Peyton Hillis was closing in on returning from a hamstring injury, he suffered a setback on Friday. He's officially listed as questionable, and Mary Kay Cabot reported via Twitter, “RB Peyton Hillis expected to miss at least a couple of weeks after re-injuring hamstring today. MRI: significant aggravation.”
Enter Chris Ogbonnaya, who picked up 37 yards on 11 carries in Week 8 (3.4 yards per carry). His matchup with the Texans is not ideal in Week 9 (they are allowing 97.4 rushing yards per game, sixth best in the league), so I wouldn’t consider him more than a FLEX option.
Next week, however, the Browns take on the St. Louis Rams, who are the worst rush defense in the league (165.6 yards per game). He’ll be an intriguing option for that one, making him well worth stashing now before it is too late.
Daniel Thomas is listed as questionable on the injury report, meaning he will likely be a game time decision. The Dolphins are set for a 1 p.m. matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, so at least we will have an answer before all of the games start. Just remember, though, that he didn’t play last Week 8 so the questionable tag could easily mean that even if he plays he will be limited in what he can do.
Reggie Bush is looking like the better option in Miami at this point, though neither should be considered more than a RB2 in an uncertain situation.
The team has already ruled out Felix Jones, meaning DeMarco Murray will once again carry the load. The score limited him in Week 8, but he has 327 yards on 33 carries over the last two weeks. He should be considered a good play in all formats as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2.
This team is always going to be a question, isn’t it? Tashard Choice has been ruled out, reducing the options by one. That said, is anyone sure if it is going to be Ryan Torain or Roy Helu carrying the load this week?
Throw in a matchup with the best rushing defense in the league (the 49ers are allowing a league best 73.4 yards per game and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown) and this is a situation to completely avoid.
The Colts listed Joseph Addai as questionable, but even if he plays he’ll join Delone Carter and Donald Brown in a backfield rotation. The matchup also isn’t doing him any favors, as the Texans have allowed the sixth fewest rushing yards in the league at 97.4 yards per game.
Carter is probably the best play of the bunch, with 135 yards and 1 TD on 19 carries the past two weeks, but even he is nothing more than a FLEX option. There are too many questions and not enough certainty, making this a situation to avoid if possible.
Less than two weeks removed from hand surgery Willis McGahee is listed as probable. Obviously, you need to be a little bit cautious as we have no clue what his role will actually be. At the least, it’s hard to imagine him being a factor in the passing game.
On the season McGahee has 460 yards on 103 carries, compared to 123 yards on 31 carries for Knowshon Moreno. I would guess that the two share the load this week, leaving both as more of a low-end RB2/FLEX play against a Raiders defense allowing 4.6 yards per carry.
Given the split this season, McGahee does have a slight edge, however, and would be the better play of the two. He clearly has been the favored back by John Fox and company.
Darren McFadden has already been ruled out for this week’s game. Michael Bush will carry the load and immediately becomes a good option as a RB2 in all formats. In Week 7 he got 17 carries and went for 99 yards (and he has three TDs against the Broncos in his last three games against them). If he’s still available in your league for some reason, he is well worth grabbing.
New York Giants
There has been a lot of questions regarding the status of Ahmad Bradshaw over the past few days, but on the injury report he has officially been listed as doubtful. As we discussed earlier in the week, Brandon Jacobs will likely carry the load (though don’t sleep on Da’Rel Scott as a potential sleeper).
Taking on a Patriots defense that has been shelled by the pass all season, it’s more likely that they run the ball simply to keep the Patriots honest. Given Jacobs’ struggles this season consider him more of a low-end RB2/FLEX play.
New England Patriots
I discussed their situation earlier in the week. Things were messy to begin with, and that was before Kevin Faulk returned and played the most snaps in Week 8 (though falling behind had a lot to do with that). BenJarvus Green-Ellis is still the best back to own, but it’s hard to trust anyone as you just never know what Bill Belicheck is going to do.
San Diego Chargers
Owners got good news with Mike Tolbert being listed as probable, though the talk now is that Ryan Mathews (listed as questionable) also could end up playing. According to Kevin Acee (via Twitter), “People inside insisting Floyd and Mathews might play despite not practicing. Can’t rule it out.” Obviously Tolbert is by far the better option. With the Chargers not playing until 4:15 p.m. ET, we also won’t know Mathews' status until too late in the day. Don’t plan on using him for this week.
While Beanie Wells is listed as questionable, all indications have been that he’s going to play. Darren Urban reported via Twitter earlier in the week, “Whiz said RB Beanie Wells is ‘OK. He’s going to be in a cycle to work his knee back into shape each week. He’s a tough sucker.’ Limited.”
While the injury hurts his potential value a little bit, the matchup with St. Louis offsets that. Consider him a good option in all formats.