Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

print article archives RSS

Head Games

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Running Backs


Ronnie Brown, Chargers - Owned in 43% of CBS leagues, 23% of Yahoo leagues. 

Ryan Mathews (fractured clavicle) returned to practice Monday, but that means little until he’s cleared for contact. Until Mathews gains that clearance, Brown is the favorite for carries and receptions in the Chargers backfield. Although he appeared to be running on fumes last season, Brown has shown fresh legs in preseason action. He’s a good bet for 15-20 touches as a RB2 option if Mathews does indeed sit out Monday’s game at Oakland. 

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.


Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers - Owned in 19% of CBS leagues, 15% of Yahoo leagues.

I’ve been saying for nearly a month now that I would rather carry a slimmed-down Dwyer on my fantasy roster than a plodding Isaac Redman playing through hip and groin injuries. Dwyer has severely outplayed Redman in training camp and preseason action, showing better than expected hands and an ability to burst through the line with quick cuts. Redman may get the courtesy start at Denver this week, but the Pittsburgh papers now expect Dwyer to get plenty of snaps from the get-go. Dwyer has the talent to emerge as the leader of this committee with Redman, Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Rainey. If he starts the season hot, he could stay out in front all season long.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Kendall Hunter, 49ers - Owned in 36% of CBS leagues, 20% of Yahoo leagues.

Coach Jim Harbaugh and OC Greg Roman both believe Hunter “really has a chance to have a big year” after an “exceptional” offseason and training camp. Already one of the league’s premier change-of-pace options, Hunter will eat into Frank Gore’s workload this season. We wouldn’t be surprised if Hunter ends up with better fantasy numbers than Gore at the end of the season.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Alfred Morris, Redskins - Owned in 41% of CBS leagues, 12% of Yahoo leagues.

Here is Mike Shanahan’s backfield in a nutshell: A few hours before Friday’s cuts, the Washington Times opined that Tim Hightower, “if totally healthy, figures to be the favorite” to enter the season as the starter. Hightower was promptly released, leaving a three-headed monster of Morris, Evan Royster and Roy Helu. Although Royster stood atop the depth chart released on Monday, he confessed that he has no idea what his role will be for the opener. The backfield breakdown from beat writer John Keim suggests all three Redskins backs must be owned in fantasy leagues even if none can be trusted as a starter.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Robert Turbin, Seahawks - Owned in 33 percent of CBS leagues, 11% of Yahoo leagues.

A power back in the mode of Marion Barber, Turbin has already bypassed Leon Washington as Marshawn Lynch’s backup thanks to a strong preseason showing. Lynch has experienced back spasms for the second time in the past 12 months, leaving Turbin as the obvious “handcuff.” Should Lynch miss time, Turbin would have strong RB2 appeal.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Bernard Scott, Bengals - Owned in 16% percent of CBS leagues, 6% of Yahoo leagues.

You will see other sites trumpet BenJarvus Green-Ellis as Cedric Benson’s feature-back replacement. That analysis ignores the consistent signs out of Bengals headquarters that OC Jay Gruden wants to move toward a committee approach. Green-Ellis was a bargain role player in New England, killing the clock and converting in short-yardage situations for one of the league’s premier offenses. With no playmaking ability to speak of, Green-Ellis is practically useless between the 20s and when playing from behind. As the lone big-play threat in this backfield, we expect Scott’s role to grow at Green-Ellis’ expense over the course of the season.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

Vick Ballard, Colts - Owned in 3% of CBS leagues, 1% of Yahoo leagues.

After watching preseason game tape, NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell opined that the fifth-round rookie was already the best runner on the Colts roster. Although Donald Brown will enter the season atop the depth chart, the new coaching staff isn’t beholden to any holdovers from last year. Ballard’s role could grow at Brown’s expense if the veteran gets off to a slow start.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

Taiwan Jones, Raiders - Owned in 17 percent of CBS leagues, 5% of Yahoo leagues.
Mike Goodson hasn’t been the same since being carted off the field with a neck injury early in training camp. The more explosive and sure-handed Jones appears to have bypassed him as Darren McFadden’s primary backup. Neither player is has the every-down ability to be a pure “handcuff,” but Jones offers more upside.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Watch List: Jahvid Best, Ronnie Hillman, Bilal Powell, Alex Green, Vereen, Lamar Miller

If you have the roster space, why not carry Best? What does it cost you other than hope? If he gains clearance for contact while on the early-season PUP list, he becomes a fantasy starter by mid-season. If you need the roster spot, throw him back in. … Hillman, Powell, Green and Vereen will enter the season as passing-down specialists with the potential for increased roles over the long haul. … Miller has the talent to push Daniel Thomas for the No. 2 job in Miami.

Hold Off: Curtis Brinkley, Isaiah Pead, Mike Tolbert

If Ryan Mathews sits out Week 1, Brinkley will play a backup role to Ronnie Brown. … Pead is splitting time with seventh-rounder Daryl Richardson behind Steven Jackson. … Even if Jonathan Stewart (ankle) misses the opener, Tolbert isn’t an attractive fantasy play behind DeAngelo Williams and Cam Newton.

Cut Bait: LeGarrette Blount, James Starks, Daniel Thomas, Brandon Jacobs, Tim Hightower, Mike Goodson

Blount is nothing more than a low-upside handcuff for Doug Martin owners. He's barely worthy of a roster spot in 12-team leagues. … Starks is still battling turf toe. … Thomas is a pure backup to Reggie Bush, not a third-down back. … Jacobs is a short-yardage specialist with a knee injury. … Hightower is out of the league. … Goodson fell behind Taiwan Jones for the No. 2 job.

continue story »
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

Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days

Video Center


    Wednesday's Fantasy Minute
    Levitan: Week 16 Waiver Wire

    Levitan: Week 16 Waiver Wire

    Tuesday's Fantasy Minute
    NBA 6-Pack: Monday

    NBA 6-Pack: Monday
    Bales on Beckham

    Bales on Beckham's Success

    Monday's Fantasy Minute

    db730's NFL 6 Pack: WR & TE

    Friday's Fantasy Minute