Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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Scott Free

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Running Backs

Bernard Scott, Bengals - If Cedric Benson loses his suspension appeal, Scott is slated for lead-back duties against the Bills, Jaguars, and Colts. Those teams rank 7th, 31st, and 10th respectively in fantasy points allowed to opposing backs. The last time Benson missed a three-game stretch, back in 2009, Scott averaged 18.7 touches and 97.3 yards as the lead back over Brian Leonard. With the bye weeks starting to kick in, he’s going to be in fantasy lineups as a viable RB2 option.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Stevan Ridley, Patriots - A complete back with excellent hands in a power-running package, Ridley has shined since the beginning of the exhibition season. Reliable beat writer Mike Reiss had a feeling the rookie’s role would grow in Week 3, and Ridley outplayed BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead while handling a couple of key second-half series. A more talented player than Green-Ellis, Ridley could take over as the lead back in a committee attack over the next few weeks. I wouldn’t expect a feature-back workload at any point this season.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Kendall Hunter, 49ers - Coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that Gore (ankle) would be “good to go” for Week 4 against the Eagles. Averaging just 2.51 yards per carry this year, Gore was in and out of the lineup against the Bengals last week. Hunter has flashed big-play ability going back to preseason action and will likely see an increased role even if he doesn’t start in place of Gore.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Montario Hardesty, Browns - Hardesty surpassed expectations as a fill-in starter, looking smooth as a runner and receiver on his way to 86 yards on 17 touches against the Dolphins. With Peyton Hillis stuck on 3.4 yards per carry, Hardesty may push to make this a tandem backfield over the long haul. As a run-to-contact back, Hillis would benefit from more rest.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys - The Cowboys clearly trust the more experienced Choice in pass protection, but Murray is already a more productive runner and receiver. Choice is averaging an unbelievably ineffective 0.9 yards per on 15 carries compared to 2.7 for Murray behind an inexperienced offensive line. The two would likely split touches if the Cowboys switch gears and opt to rest Felix Jones (shoulder) before the Week 5 bye.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Tashard Choice, Cowboys - For the second straight year, Choice made a pivotal error against the Redskins. Last night’s didn’t cost the Cowboys the game, but it was hardly endearing to a coaching staff that has been steadily losing confidence in Choice. Even though Choice played 24 snaps to Felix Jones’ 32 Monday night, my guess is that DeMarco Murray would be the most productive Dallas back if Jones’ shoulder keeps him out against the Lions.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Earnest Graham, Buccaneers - It’s hard to imagine a less exciting waiver addition, but Graham can no longer be ignored as a potential bye-week fill-in in PPR formats. Through three games as the Bucs’ passing-down specialist, he’s on pace for 107 receptions. Among running backs, only Matt Forte (22) and Darren Sproles (21) have exceeded Graham’s 20 catches.

Recommendation: Worth a look in PPR leagues.

Alfonso Smith, Cardinals - Chester Taylor was expected to draw the start in place of Beanie Wells (hamstring), but Smith was the “quicker and more authoritative” runner of the two backups. Beanie swears up and down that he will return this week. Just keep in mind that he made similar comments late last week before sitting out. Smith would only be a weak flex option against the Giants if Wells ends up with a late-week setback.

Recommendation: Worth a look as an injury replacement.

Hold Off: Chester Taylor

Taylor was outplayed by Alfonso Smith, who had zero NFL carries into Week 3. He was washed up a year ago, and he’s washed up now.

Watch List: Jerome Harrison, Toby Gerhart, Isaac Redman, Brian Leonard

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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling

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