This past week was brutally tough on running backs. We saw several of them get injured and there are lead backs who will miss multiple weeks from the Denver Broncos and New York Giants. Factor in Kansas City and New Orleans are on bye this week, and it makes for a minefield of running backs to work through. We’ll help you get through it in this week’s column. Here we go.
Pickup of the Week
Andre Williams of the New York Giants is the player you want to add to your team this week. Williams came on in relief of Rashad Jennings after he went down with a sprained ligament in his knee and he’s going to be out for around four weeks.
The Giants schedule the next four weeks sets up like this: at Philadelphia, at Dallas, BYE and Indianapolis. Those matchups look to be favorable for running backs. Williams is also a player who we know can carry the load. While in Boston College, Williams was an All-American, fourth in Heisman voting and rolled up 2177 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns on 355 carries.
In short, he’s a tank in cleats and a helmet.
The other reason you want Williams over some of the other backs we’ll feature below is that the player he is replacing is starting out the time he is missing with injuries. Jennings will be down a few weeks and next week is the first week of that span.
So what about the other running backs?
Let’s take a look first at Branden Oliver of the San Diego Chargers. Oliver went off against the new York Jets with 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and four catches for 68 yards and a second touchdown as San Diego took care of business. His schedule for the next four games (@OAK, KC, @DEN, @MIA) doesn’t look too bad but there is another reason why we’re not over the moon for Oliver.
That reason is Ryan Mathews. Reports out of San Diego suggest that Mathews will be out for one or two more games, setting the stage for his return against Denver. Would you rather have a featured back for two games or four; we’ll take the four. Another thing playing against Oliver is Donald Brown.
Brown was the primary backup after Mathews went down with his knee injury. Brown left last week with a concussion and needs to work his way through the league-mandated protocols before he gets back on the field. He’s also going to be a new dad in the next few days. From someone who experienced it last season, I can tell you that it turns your brain to mush for a few weeks and it makes focusing on non-baby things tough. Even if he is cleared to play physically, you have to wonder how much his head will be in the game.
There is another piece to the waiver wire puzzle this week and its name is Ronnie Hillman. Hillman pops up on the radar here after Montee Ball went down without contact in the fourth quarter against Arizona. Ball will be out several weeks dealing with some sort of groin injury—the nature of it is unknown as of now.
Hillman has the chance to shine in the role of “Lucky bastard who gets handoffs from Peyton Manning” and should be on your fantasy roster. His schedule for the next three games is going to be tougher than you would think with a trip to take on the New York Jets this weekend followed by a home game with San Francisco and a short-week home game against the Chargers. He should be favorable in November with road games at New England, Oakland and St. Louis which offer more fantasy potential. We also saw Denver’s third-string running back get a few carries and a score in the win over Arizona but Juwan Thompson doesn’t get enough carries to merit a roster spot.
If all of these options fail, take a look on the wire for Mark Ingram of the Saints. He should be back after the Saints bye this week. Ingram broke his hand in Week 2 and should start leaching touches from the other New Orleans backs. They have a trip to Detroit, host Green Bay and visit Carolina on a short week as their first three games out of the bye. The Saints offense looks out of whack and having Ingram in the backfield can only help them get back in order.
Let’s take a look at the other positions and see where we can find help this week….
The Arizona quarterback situation has become a mess. Carson Palmer is dealing with nerve issues in his shoulder, back up Drew Stanton got his bell rung on a clean, legal hit from Von Miller and left the game with a concussion. Logan Thomas relieved him and was sacked on his first two dropbacks. Arizona hosts Washington this week and Palmer would make a good play if he were healthy enough to do so. There’s also the outside possibility the Cardinals will sign a free agent quarterback to serve as a backup depending on the health of all three quarterbacks.
Monitor this situation and make a move if Palmer winds up getting the call.
Teddy Bridgewater of the Vikings went under the radar this week and needs to be back on your radar if you need a quarterback to get you through this week. Bridgewater and the Vikings host the Lions this week and Detroit has yet to take on a truly mobile quarterback. This could be an interesting game for the Vikings as Detroit could be missing stars on offense and will be unpredictable on that side of the ball.
Watch and see if the Titans turn to Zach Mettenberger. Jake Locker can’t stay healthy (shocker) and Charlie Whitehurst doesn’t cut the mustard. It’s a situation to monitor for now and perhaps use him when we get to later bye weeks (9 and 10) where six teams are off.
Austin Davis has won the starter’s job in St. Louis for the rest of the season. Four of his next five games are against NFC West foes but Davis will be an option to get through the big bye weeks.
Speaking of the Lions, this is going to be an unusual week for them at this position. Reggie Bush (ankle) is up in the air for this week. Joique Bell (concussion) missed last week and could be out again. Theo Riddick and George Winn are the other running backs on the Lions depth chart and it remains to be seen how carries will break down due to health. This is a situation to monitor through the week.
Chris Ogbonnaya of the Panthers had 24 rushing yards and a touchdown past week against Chicago. He’s worth an add if you’re desperate for depth. DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart are both battling injuries and when one of them comes back, Ogbonnaya’s role should be cut.
Check for Knowshon Moreno on your waiver wire. He’s questionable for this week and could play against a squishy Green Bay defense. If someone messed up, make the move on him and take advantage of Moreno’s return from injury. He gets to run behind a pretty good offensive line which is always a plus.
So how do you replace Marques Colston (bye) and Calvin Johnson (ankle)? Johnson could be sat this week to let his wobbly ankle heal up and make him a more viable play for the rest of the season. Johnson hasn’t done much in his last two games so this would be a smart move by the Lions against Minnesota.
Eddie Royal can help you get by this week as San Diego takes on Oakland and the Oakland defense hasn’t been terribly impressive this season. We discussed the San Diego ground game above but their passing game has been on-point.
Brian Quick of the Rams should be owned in PPR leagues. He has either seven catches or a touchdown in each of his four games this season. Austin Davis will be the starting quarterback in St. Louis the rest of the way and Quick benefited from this to the tune of 5-87-2 against the Eagles. Fellow Ram Kenny Britt has quietly put up between 65 and 70 yards in each of his last two games to become a deeper option.
Odell Beckham Jr. made his debut for the Giants and posted a 4-44-1 line in their win over Atlanta. He should be a good complimentary piece for Big Blue and has favorable matchups with Philly and Dallas before the Giants bye on Week 8.
Give Heath Miller of the Steelers a shot when Pittsburgh takes on Cleveland in a favorable matchup for tight ends. Owen Daniels of Baltimore is widely available and had 70 yards on five catches in the Ravens loss. Tim Wright of the Patriots had a solid game against the Bengals with 85 yards and a touchdown on five catches despite being on the field for 16 of 50 snaps. Wright’s usage will be key going forward and it’s tough to predict how he will be used against Buffalo.
Dan Carpenter hit a 58-yarder to help Buffalo win at Detroit and could give an extra boot to your point total this week. Josh Brown of the Giants didn’t have a chance at a field goal in his first two games but has gone 7-of-7 in that department since. Chandler Catonzaro of Arizona has started the season 11-of-11 on field goals for the Cardinals and should be considered in all leagues.
The Detroit DST might get dropped after last week and you should pounce on them if they become available. Baltimore DST has a positive matchup on the road at Tampa Bay this week. If you’re really looking for a stunner, consider the Tennessee DST at home against Jacksonville. They’ve been hammered the last two weeks but Jacksonville doesn’t have the firepower that Indy or Cleveland do. You could go the other way with it and take the Jacksonville DST against the question mark known as the Titans offense as well.
Finally, remember to play double waivers and see who was dropped this week by the other teams in your league. You could get an even better piece for your team on Friday.