Minnesota Viking fans and fantasy owners are used to holding their breath every time Adrian Peterson takes a handoff. This time, though, it ended with a gasp instead of a smooth, easy exhale.
Peterson left Sunday's game against the Raiders with an ankle injury and did not return. Everyone feared the worst but, after being re-evaluated on Monday, it was found that Peterson has a playable high ankle sprain.
Whether he actually does play will be determined later in the week, but if you own Peterson, you need to make arrangements as soon as possible to replace your foundation.
Here are five waiver wire replacements for Adrian Peterson that might not be on the waiver wire for very long.
The second-year bruiser out of Stanford is the logical handcuff for all Peterson owners in the first place, but makes even more sense now that he might be carrying the load.
You will find backs with more upside than Gerhart, but not many of them will have the wealth of opportunity that he does. The Vikings have a major portion of their offense tied to the running game, which Peterson usually occupies. The team is not designed to throw a lot, so the running game will always be a crucial element to Minnesota's attack, even without Peterson.
The Atlanta Falcons are the Vikings' next opponent, which is not a favorable matchup for Gerhart. The Falcons surrender the fifth-fewest points to running backs and are coming off a game in which they held Chris Johnson to 28 total yards.
The matchup isn't great for Gerhart, but the opportunity is there, making him a viable waiver pick up this week.
Projection: 18 carries, 71 yards, 0 TD
Detroit's Kevin Smith has come full circle with the Lions. The fourth-year back was drafted by the Lions in 2008 and was expected to become the team's feature back of the future.
Injuries overtook Smith, Jahvid Best and Matthew Stafford were drafted, and before he knew it, Smith's contract was not renewed in March and he was out of the league.
When Best went down, Smith was signed off the street a few weeks ago to complete the depth chart at running back. Maurice Morris and Kieland Williams were in line to get most of the work for as long as Best would miss with concussion symptoms.
Lo and behold, Smith got his opportunity in Week 10 because of ineffectiveness by Williams and Morris. A dual threat out of the backfield, Smith got six carries last week and apparently impressed coach Jim Schwartz.
Smith busted out in Week 11 against the NFL's worst defense against the run, Carolina Panthers, to the tune of 201 total yards and three touchdowns on 20 touches. His ability to catch the ball adds an element to backfield that Morris and Williams do not possess in sufficiency.
Smith is an absolute must-add in every league for as long as Best remains out. Go now. Stop reading and add him, even if you aren't missing Adrian Peterson.
Realize that your expectations need to be tempered because of the very favorable matchup against the Panthers last week. Don't expect three visits to the end zone against the Packers on Thanksgiving morning.
That said, Smith represents a solid play regardless of matchup.
Projection: 17 touches, 118 total yards, 1 TD
Chris Ogbonnaya has been starting for the Browns for a few weeks now without much to talk about.
Finally, he seems to be finding himself and making an impact in the Cleveland running game.
He's rushed for 205 yards on 40 carries over the last two weeks against St. Louis and Jacksonville. Those matchups were more neutral than favorable, which suggests the former Texas Longhorn might be one of those unsung second-half difference-makers in fantasy leagues.
He's nearing must-add status as his performance continues to improve and for as long as Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty remain sidelined.
This is a good situation for Ogbonnaya, one that you should take advantage of if you have an Adrian Peterson-sized hole in your backfield suddenly.
Cincinnati awaits Cleveland, which is a slightly unfavorable, but mostly neutral, matchup against the run.
Projection: 22 carries, 94 yards, 1 TD
Marshawn Lynch was playing like a dying slug until Week 9's tussle with the Dallas Cowboys.
Since that game, Lynch has averaged 27 carries, over 100 yards and a touchdown in a flashback to his glory days with the Buffalo Bills. Now, he's no worse than an RB2, even in the deepest of leagues.
This week, Lynch draws the Washington Redskins, who are smack dab in the middle of the league in fantasy points allowed to running backs, but have given up over 100 yards on the ground in four of their last five matchups.
Lynch needs a high volume of carries to rack up yardage, as seen in his disappointing 3.1 yards per carry in Week 11.
He's found the end zone in six straight games, though, which is a fantastic trend for his owners despite the inefficient running.
Employ Lynch as a solid RB2 this week against Washington.
Projection: 21 carries, 92 yards, 1 TD
Cedric Benson's carries have been there, but the yards have not.
However, there is reason to believe that the yards are coming, and possibly in a big way this week against Cleveland.
Benson has collected 78, 57 and 41 yards against the Titans, Steelers and Ravens, respectively, in the last three weeks. Those three teams are famously stout against the run, but Cleveland provides an opportunity for Benson to potentially run wild.
The Browns have surrendered at least 107 yards on the ground in nine of 10 games this year, including Benson's 121 yards and score in Week 1.
The Bengals need to get back in the win column after two hard-fought losses against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. There's no better team to get right against than the Browns, and Benson will factor big into any success they have this week.
Projection: 23 carries, 104 yards, 2 TD