The fantasy football running back depth chart has become a mine field of broken pieces this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw is suddenly facing an extended time out with a broken foot; Peyton Hillis tweaked his hamstring and is on the outs with his team and Darren McFadden has also been ruled out due to foot issues. The list goes on.
Luckily, there are options–even if they don’t seem super great on the surface. That’s right: There’s no need to fear, Ogbonnaya’s here!?
Need help patching together a winnable lineup this week? Here are a few of my favorite emergency plug-in-and-plays for Week 9.
Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, CLE
Owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues at the moment, Ogbonnaya was a popular waiver wire addition this past week. And for good reason.
The Browns backfield has been torn apart by injuries and drama. Montario Hardesty tore a calf muscle. While reports are vague, it would be a good assumption he won’t be back soon. Hillis tweaked his balky hamstring in Friday’s practice and is going to miss at least two weeks. However, drama involving Hillis’ contract and locker room discord have hindered Hillis’ value even more moving forward. Reports Saturday suggest the Browns will let Hillis walk into free agency this spring.
So, there is an opportunity not just for this week, but for the foreseeable future for Ogbonnaya. Posting 60 yards from scrimmage against a stingy Niners defense last week, Ogbonnaya has potential, especially in PPR leagues. While the matchup this week against the Texans, Ogbonnaya’s former team, doesn’t bode well, he is more than startable in all formats, especially as an emergency option.
Kevin Faulk, RB, NE
The Patriots had no qualms in using Kevin Faulk early and often last week against Pittsburgh in what turned out to be the veteran’s first game of the season. There are few teams as deep at RB as New England, and the potential for a committee is something I personally attempt to avoid at all costs.
However, considering Faulk’s usage last week and that the Giants have a less-intimidating run defense than the Steelers, Faulk could valuable, especially in PPR formats.
The RB depth chart is not that impressive this week, and Faulk is available in 83 percent of Yahoo leagues, so this may seem more like desperation and availability than anything else. It is. Just check Faulk’s injury status before kickoff.
Michael Bush, RB, OAK
Not a guy that would typically qualify for this list considering he’s owned in nearly three quarters of all leagues, Bush deserves starting in all formats this week.
Of course, this is due to the other half of the one-two punch, Darren McFadden, being ruled out and the Raiders drawing an unimpressive Broncos squad that will likely fall behind early.
Bush always had high-end lead-back potential, and he should have every chance to showcase that ability Sunday. In fact, in the chinstrapninjas.com weekly fantasy game, I boldly predict Bush will be the highest scoring RB in fantasy this week.
In that vein, if you are in one of the 25 percent of leagues in which Bush isn’t rostered, don’t hesitate to call him up to help fill out your lineup.
Colt McCoy, QB, CLE
In a game where the Browns will likely be playing catch up most of the day, McCoy’s fantasy value should see a nice uptick. He doesn’t have incredibly good weapons, but he does have serviceable guys that have helped McCoy look pretty impressive from a weekly fantasy starter this year.
Available in 35 percent of leagues at the moment, he is the most proven of my three QB emergency start options this week.
A.J. Feeley, QB, STL
Never thought he’d make this list, but the Rams are not certain about Sam Bradford’s status for Sunday. In fact, many national media people are expecting him to miss the divisional game against the Cardinals.
Feeley was decent against the Saints in a big win last week, but the key here is that he’ll be playing against an Arizona team that just can’t stop anything or anyone. Available in 98 percent of Yahoo leagues, Feeley doesn’t instill confidence, but considering his situation this week, he is startable if you are in a pinch. Just double-check Bradford’s status before pulling the trigger.
John Skelton, QB, ARI
Kevin Kolb is officially listed as doubtful this week, opening the door for Skelton to make a start against a Rams defense that has been known to allow some decent chunks of passing stats this season.
Skelton is familiar with the offense and showed last year that he can at least find Larry Fitzgerald on the field. This game could be a fairly close shoot-out type affair considering the divisional rivalry and lack of decent defense on both sides of the ball. Skelton is available in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Kevin Walter, WR, HOU
Another missed week for Andre Johnson, another opportunity for Walter to produce as lead receiver. Jacoby Jones has shown he can’t be trusted to produce anything in the role and Walter stepped up nicely last week with five catches for 70 yards.
While the Texans may not need to air out the ball too much to pull off the victory, they’ll pass enough to make Walter a decent fantasy option. Walter is available in more than 70 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Patrick Crayton, WR, SD
Not exactly a popular player among fantasy owners, who have been burned by Crayton in past emergency starts, he makes an intriguing play here while flying totally under the radar. In fact, he’s owned in just one percent of all Yahoo leagues.
The key here is that his Chargers play the Packers. Green Bay is good at two things: running up a big lead and not stopping opposing passing games. This combo will help revive the struggling Philip Rivers and Crayton will get his share of scoring filling in as the No. 2 behind Vincent Jackson, as Malcolm Floyd is likely to miss the game due to injuries.
Jake Ballard, TE, NYG
Quietly becoming a reliable fantasy producer in his own right, Ballard is still under-owned in respective fantasy circles. He’s available in nearly 70 percent of Yahoo leagues at the moment.
This week, the Giants face a Patriots squad that can’t stop the pass, but will likely run up enough of a lead to keep New York in passing mode. While tight ends haven’t fared as well as receivers against the Pats, there are few options widely still available with the upside of Ballard this week.
St. Louis defense
My favorite defense of choice this week is Oakland against the overmatched Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos. However, the Raiders are owned in nearly 40 percent of leagues. If you need a real sleeper, consider the Rams.
Available in 95 percent of Yahoo leagues, St. Louis faces an Arizona squad that will likely be without Kevin Kolb and stuck with a John Skelton that looked mediocre at very best last year. While the Cardinals defense could be a similarly intriguing start against the potentially Sam Bradford-less Rams, I think Steven Jackson has more potential than a dinged-up Beanie Wells to cause some noise.
If you are struggling at defense, give the Rams a shot.