Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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Revving up Rashad

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Running Backs

Rashad Jennings, Jaguars - Jennings will take over as the rare three-down back with pass catching ability and goal-line opportunities as long as Maurice Jones-Drew is out of the lineup. That will be at least one game and perhaps for the remainder of the season. The vibes out of Jacksonville have not been positive on the MJD front. Unlike unproven sudden starters such as Alex Green, William Powell and Vick Ballard, Jennings has a documented history as a talented, productive player. He’s going to be a high-volume fantasy back with a career per-carry average of 4.8, somewhat offset by the Jaguars subpar offense and a tough matchup versus the Packers in Week 8.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers - Coach Mike Tomlin revealed Tuesday that Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle) “have a chance to play” against the Redskins. Neither back was close to playing last week, so they’re still fighting an uphill battle to get back on the field for Week 8. The inference is that Dwyer may hold fantasy value for just one more week even if he draws another start following his impressive 122-yard outing at Cincinnati. Until we have more clarity on the Steelers backfield, Dwyer should be owned in all leagues.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Vick Ballard, Colts - Beat writer Phillip Wilson believes Donald Brown (knee) will be sidelined one more week, leaving Ballard as the presumed starter coming off a 21-touch, 103-yard effort against the Browns. Ballard has another plus matchup this week against a Titans defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing backs -- including a combined 222 yards to Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in Week 7.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Montario Hardesty, Browns - Coach Pat Shurmur isn’t ruling out an off week for Trent Richardson to rest his ribs against the Chargers. The Browns will make a determination after watching him in practice later this week. If Richardson continues to look tentative, Hardesty will be in for the start. Lacking big-play ability and a role in the passing game, Hardesty would be a mere flex option against a defense allowing the 18th-most fantasy points to opposing backs.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Kendall Hunter, 49ers - Frank Gore was a full participant in Monday’s practice, so his rib injury isn’t a major concern heading into Week 8 at Arizona. As we saw from Trent Richardson, though, running backs can struggle to remain effective while playing through rib pain. As high-upside insurance, Hunter should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

La’Rod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals - On the positive side, LSH forced 11 missed tackles on 24 touches while racking up a career-high 149 yards at Minnesota. A closer inspection reveals that the poor-tackling Vikings dared the Cardinals to beat them with the run, believing the offense couldn’t sustain long drives without Larry Fitzgerald involved. It’s fair to question whether Stephens-Howling would have produced the hot hand if William Powell hadn’t landed in the dog house due to a fumble on the opening kickoff. Arizona’s offensive line remains the least effective run-blocking unit in the NFL, and Powell could be out of the dog house for Week 8 in a daunting matchup versus the 49ers. The Cardinals face the Packers in Week 9 before the Week 10 bye, when Beanie Wells is allowed to return to practice. Don’t go overboard on Stephens-Howling this week.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

Shane Vereen, Patriots - With Brandon Bolden (knee) out of the lineup, Vereen took over as the change-of-pace to Stevan Ridley. Vereen was impressive in racking up 6.1 yards per on eight carries and should be rostered until Bolden is given the green light to return. Ridley remains the workhorse for now, but there’s always a fair amount of fluidity in New England’s backfield.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

Daryl Richardson, Rams - St. Louis’ backfield is taking on the Bills model, with Richardson in the C.J. Spiller role as a complement to inside runner Steven Jackson. Coach Jeff Fisher confirmed that Richardson will stay involved, likely on pitches, stretches, and screens to get him the ball in space. At 10-12 touches per week, Richardson is merely a flex option barring an injury to Jackson.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Andre Brown, Giants - Fully recovered from a concussion, Brown leap-frogged David Wilson to regain his role as Ahmad Bradshaw’s backup. Bradshaw’s foot came out of Sunday’s game no worse for the wear, leaving Brown as merely a handcuff option going forward.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Watch List: Jamie Harper, James Starks, Peyton Hillis, Jalen Parmele, Justin Forsett

Harper is worth a look in touchdown-heavy leagues as the poor man’s LenDale White. ... Alex Green has averaged 2.38 YPC in two starts. He’s not long for the feature back job if that trend continues. … Hillis is due back from his ankle injury, though I’m skeptical that he will accrue fantasy value with Jamaal Charles playing so well. … The Jags will sign a street free agent at running back. For now, though, Parmele is the backup to Rashad Jennings. … Ben Tate suffered a hamstring injury versus the Ravens, but the Texans are entering their bye week. Hold off on Forsett for now.


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


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