If you think that headline is bad, the other one I considered was “Seeing the Forsett for the Trees.” And if you don’t like making a pun out of a phrase that is at least a few centuries old, then I don’t know what to do for you. Oh well, maybe you and I are just not meant to be. It’s not easy coming up with running back puns every week based on fantasy relevance. Sometimes you have to dig deep and get weird with it.
Before we get down to business, everybody, pour a little out for the homie Justin Forsett. This dude has had a rough couple months. Forsett got cut at the end of the preseason, got resigned a week later and STARTED week one, got benched in week four, and now—as if watching Terrance West go off for 100+ yards on Sunday wasn’t hard enough—just got released on Tuesday. His release has been described as a mutual parting, with Forsett hoping to get an opportunity with another team, but this is still a tough run for a running back who turns 31 in less than two weeks.
Now that we have that out of the way, has everyone finished cursing the name of John Kuhn? While Mark Ingram owners received a solid day and a touchdown from him, they had to watch John Kuhn vulture not one, not two, not three—OK, it was three—touchdowns on the day (I’ll never forgive myself for linking to that clip). I’ll pause here while you break things around your house, as I probably brought this back up just as you were starting to forget about it. Kuhn was easily the biggest surprise on Sunday.
And now, to the report…
NOTE: In the tables below, I’ve removed running backs who have been placed on Injured Reserve. If the running back is injured but is not on IR, then he has a + next to his name.
Not that we ever want to wish bad things on anyone, but Sunday was the kind of injury that handcuffers everywhere were waiting for. With Matt Forte ineffective and a little banged up (he was seen riding a cart after the game, but at this time there is no update on his condition), Bilal Powell had six beautiful catches for 54 yards and added 26 yards on four carries (6.5 YPC). I wrote a couple weeks ago that Forte was on pace to not only shatter his career-high for touches, but he was on pace to break NFL records. And since he is a running back on the wrong side of 30, we knew something had to give sooner or later. This may be the beginning of our boy Powell getting more touches.
Latavius Murray has officially become a running back that you cannot trust in your starting lineup. Once again, Murray’s touch percentage declined, as he got just 45% of the running back touches this week. He didn’t do much with the touches he got, either, gaining 19 yards on eight carries (2.4 YPC). DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard both had better luck when they got the ball, but they only totaled 11 touches between the two of them.
The Raiders backfield is perhaps the most frustrating, just because many people drafted Latavius Murray with the hope that he could be a RB2 or a flex, but they are not the messiest committee in the AFC. That title belongs to the Miami Dolphins, who split touches almost evenly to four different running backs on Thursday night. None of them had much success, and I don’t even want to write their names because I don’t want to encourage you to know who they are. Don’t look them up.
If you started Cameron Artis-Payne on Sunday, I feel your pain. I started him in at least two of my leagues, too. I think I even had him in a DFS lineup or two (I’m too afraid to look). If you started him over Fozzy Whittaker, then you probably feel worse (and, yes, I feel your pain there, as well. I did that in one league). While Whittaker had nine catches for 86 yards, Artis-Payne had six carries for 12 yards (for exactly one fantasy point, for those of you doing the math at home).
Remember how I told you the last two weeks, right here in this space, to go and grab Jordan Howard? If you did, you’re welcome. With Jeremy Langford out with an injury, Jordan Howard was the hottest waiver claim this week, and he didn’t disappoint. While he didn’t get in the endzone (and, in fairness, not many Bears do), he did rush for over 100 yards and add three catches for 21 yards. He looked pretty good doing it, too. You have to wonder what the rotation will look like, even when Langford gets back.
I could just copy and paste the Artis-Payne section here for Dwayne Washington. I also started him in a couple leagues, and so I got burned by him, as well. The only real difference between Washington and CAP is that Washington also managed to get hurt and leave the game early. Washington is questionable for next week, and he is a risky play at this point anyway. I would still hold onto him for now, as I do think he has the potential to turn things around if he can get healthy. Riddick is a nice PPR flex option, but he isn’t a three-down back. Washington will get another shot to be the guy with Ameer Abdullah on injured reserve.
Additional Thoughts and Observations…
Could anyone tell that Le’Veon Bell (hey, that rhymes) missed the first three weeks of the season? DeAngelo Williams was immediately relegated to the bench, as Bell looked like he was in midseason form. There was no rust to be seen anywhere, as Bell and the Steelers demolished a Chiefs team that did not look to be ready for this matchup on Sunday night. It was hard to believe this was the same Steelers team that got trounced by the Eagles.
Chris Johnson was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, but that should have little fantasy relevance other than the fact that he is no longer David Johnson’s handcuff. CJ had done very little this year, and he was likely a free agent in your league. For now, Andre Ellington is the handcuff by default, but he is an injury handcuff only. And if you drafted Andre Ellington in any of your leagues last year, I will now join you in rolling your eyes and groaning. I apologize for bringing his name up.
Kenneth Dixon is an interesting grab-and-stash in deeper leagues if you have the roster space. Jen wrote about him this week in her Hit it or Quit it column, and it looks like he might be active for the first time this week. Terrance West’s week four success probably doesn’t help his case in the short term, but he could start to work his way into the rotation soon. Orleans Darkwa and Paul Perkins both flashed some potential on Monday night, even with the Giants getting outplayed by the Vikings all over the field. Rashad Jennings owners may have to watch out for Darkwa, especially, as he has received the majority of the red zone touches with Jennings out.
If you want to talk fantasy football or have players you want Mike to feature, hit him up on Twitter at @mikeMaher or post a comment below!