Chris Wesseling

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Know Your Running Backs

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Running Backs

Bryce Brown, Eagles - Brown is owned in roughly a third of Yahoo leagues because too many fantasy owners lacked the savvy to pick him up in anticipation of a dream matchup last week. Showing a size/speed combination that made Jonathan Stewart appear to be running in quicksand by comparison, Brown produced the best game by an Eagles back all season. He’s the fourth-youngest back in history with a touchdown run of 60+ yards. Coach Andy Reid confirmed after the game that LeSean McCoy (concussion) has yet to even pass his baseline test. Any player still experiencing symptoms more than 72 hours after a head injury should be considered out indefinitely. I expect Brown to start again at Dallas, and McCoy is no lock to return in Week 14.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Knowshon Moreno, Broncos - So much for that three-man committee. Despite protestations from the contrary by coach John Fox, playmaking rookie Ronnie Hillman isn’t trusted in pass protection or between the tackles. Moreno joins Jonathan Dwyer as healthy scratches that have been immediately plugged in as the feature back following an injury to the starter. Moreno operated as a true every-down back at Kansas City, consistently moving the chains and running more decisively than in previous seasons. While Moreno does have a plum opportunity to keep the job for the remainder of the season, Hillman and Lance Ball will threaten his workload if he struggles against the Bucs’ No. 1 run defense this week.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Michael Bush, Bears - The dictionary definition of a fantasy handcuff for half a decade now, Bush is owned in just over half of Yahoo leagues. Although Matt Forte’s ankle injury isn’t expected to keep him out long term, his status for this week versus the Seahawks is in question. After failing to allow 100 rushing yards in a game through six weeks, Seattle is surrendering an average of 155 per on the ground over the past five games. It’s not a bad matchup for a three-down back who would likely touch the ball 20-22 times.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Beanie Wells, Cardinals - Still owned in less than half of Yahoo leagues, Wells should be picked up after picking up a pair of touchdowns against the Rams. He’s going to remain a low-end RB2/flex option behind a lousy offensive line, but the Week 13 matchup is promising against a Jets defense allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs. Keep expectations low.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

DeAngelo Williams, Panthers - Jonathan Stewart sat out the second half of Monday’s game after re-injuring the same right ankle that was a problem in the preseason. Coach Ron Rivera will wait to see how the ankle reacts to treatment before making a determination on Stewart’s Week 13 status. Williams managed just 19 yards on 10 second-half carries, dropping his disappointing season per-carry average to 3.2. While the Panthers have an inviting matchup at a Kansas City defense allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to backs, Williams will be no more than a flex option.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

Rashad Jennings, Jaguars - Coach Mike Mularkey commended Jalen Parmele for dragging his leg through the hole while attempting to play through a groin injury last week. The injury leaves Parmele highly questionable for Week 13, and Maurice Jones-Drew is expected to miss at least one more game. Jennings and his 2.8 YPC average will likely be thrust back into the starting lineup against a Bills defense that has allowed 95.5 rushing yards per over the last four games, improving from 234.3 over the previous four.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

David Wilson, Giants - The rookie’s much talked about opportunity will finally arrive with Andre Brown done for the regular season. Wilson is a good bet to handle Brown’s eight touches per game, but isn’t a good bet for goal-line duties. His value lies in ascending to the backup role behind one of the most injury-prone starters in the league.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons - Quizz has played more snaps than Michael Turner in back-to-back games, earning double-digit carries in Week 12 for just the second time this season. Rodgers also swiped a short-yardage opportunity that turned into a 5-yard touchdown and made free defenders miss in open space on several plays. Amid speculation that Turner’s role will be scaled back, Rodgers should be locked into flex value going forward.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Robert Turbin, Seahawks - Like Shane Vereen with the Pats, Turbin should be owned in all 12-team leagues as a playmaking handcuff to a fantasy RB1. Turbin played every third down at Miami, showing an impressive burst to the edge. If Marshawn Lynch or Stevan Ridley goes down, the backup would have solid RB2 value at worst.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Watch List: Ben Tate, Bilal Powell, Shane Vereen, Toby Gerhart,  Bernard Pierce, Evan Royster, Cedric Peerman, Cedric Benson, James Starks, Alex Green, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James

Even with Justin Forsett playing well on Thanksgiving, Tate is the Arian Foster handcuff once he’s healthy -- which should finally be this week. … Powell is stealing red-zone looks from Shonn Greene. … Vereen, Gerhart, Pierce, Royster, and Peerman should be owned as handcuffs. … Jacobs and James could split backup duties with Kendall Hunter on crutches.

Cut Bait: Pierre Thomas, Donald Brown, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Lance Dunbar, Isaac Redman, Danny Woodhead, Ronnie Brown

All are low-upside timeshare backs with dwindling roles. Add high-upside handcuffs in their place.


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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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