Running back has been such a tough position to figure out for owners this fantasy season.
Ever since Nick Saban showcased the Ronnie Brown-Ricky Williams combo with the Dolphins, fantasy football has never been the same.
Before, owners could rely on 32 solid feature backs.
Once coaches saw how effective having two solid rushers was, the position saw a major increase options.
Owners now have to learn the second and even third string running backs for every team.
It’s not that there are that many injuries in the league, but rather that coaches are decreasing the amount of carries that their backs handle. On one hand, it’s good for their longevity, but that’s not what fantasy owners rare worried about.
This season has been full of injuries at the running back position, forcing owners to invest faith in third string running backs at times.
The Arizona Cardinals, the surprise team of the year thus far, have lost two of their feature backs in Beanie Wells going to the IR and Ryan Williams suffering yet another season-ending injury.
The only back left on their depth chart is Larod Stephens-Howling.
The four-year veteran out of Pitt has been tearing up the stats this year with 12 carries to his name and a touchdown. By the way, he has a total of one rushing yard on the season. That’s not a typo. In 12 carries, he has mustered one measly yard.
Is that because of not getting enough snaps? No. He split carries with Ryan Williams, after Bean Wells went down, and still hasn’t produced.
I know that you’re desperate for running backs, however you can get them, but don’t stoop to this level.
Just because the Cardinals are playing the Bills this week doesn’t mean that he’s going to be an overnight fantasy stud.
Let’s take a look at the more realistic options that you need to add to your team…
Alex Green (13% owned) Who the heck is Alex Green? Unless you were watching the Colts and Packers thriller on Sunday, this is probably the first time you’re hearing his name. Cedric Benson was proving to owners that he was worthy of being a reliable fantasy back, until he suffered an foot injury that’s going to keep him out at least eight weeks. In all honesty, his season is probably over with. In comes Alex Green. He’s a second year pro out of Hawaii, that measures at six foot tall and 225 pounds. I know the running game isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the University of Hawaii, but more quality pros have come out of there than you think. What can Alex Green do for you in this offense? Pretty much the same thing that you were getting from Cedric Benson this year. They’re pretty much the same size, with the same skill set. You can expect Green to catch a lot of passes out of the backfield on those safety net, checkdown routes that Rodgers loves so much this year. He’s got the frame that will be utilized on third downs and goal line opportunities. Last week we saw how John Kuhn, who scored a good bit of the rushing touchdowns for Green Bay last year, took one away from Green against the Colts. I wouldn’t be too worried about that happening going forward, but do be mindful of James Starks’ presence in the long run. Green will have a full week of practice, with an increased workload as the feature, and should be set to be a viable flex option in his debut versus the Texans on Sunday Night Football.
Kendall Wright (11% owned) He went in the first round of this past draft for a reason. Talking about in real life, not fantasy. He’s not to that point yet, but he’s getting there. On Thursday night, the Titans are going up against a tough Steelers defense. Chris Johnson has been pathetic this season from a fantasy standpoint, Kenny Britt will likely be limited in his return to the lineup, and Matt Hasselbeck has found a new favorite target to throw to. Kendall Wright caught nine or eleven passes from Hasselbeck last week against the Vikings. Tennessee is going to have to throw the ball a lot in order to stay competitive in this game, not just because of Johnson’s lack of production, but because the Steelers will look to shut him down early and often. He can stretch the field, catch the short passes, and has already scored two touchdowns on the season. We all know that this is a tough week for owners that are trying to find substitutes for their key contributors that are on bye weeks, so consider the up-and-coming Kendall Wright.
Domenik Hixon (16% owned) I don’t know how this guy wasn’t a top addition last week, especially with Hakeem Nicks continuing to miss action, but he still presents viable value this week. Nicks is questionable to return for this big playoff rematch between the 49ers and Giants on Sunday and they’re going to need all the weapons that they can get. Hixon has assumed Mario Manningham’s from a year ago and has produced quite well in the past two games. He’s catch five and six passes, respectively, in his last two games. Hixon serves as Eli Manning’s safety net, since defenders are starting to capitalize on Martellus Bennett. The 49ers are a tougher defense that the Browns and Eagles, but Hixon is a good enough option that matchups won’t affect his value.
Vick Ballard (0% owned) This is another week of stretches at the running back position. Donald Brown is listed as being OUT against the Jets this week, as interim coach Bruce Arians has already announced Vick Ballard as the starter. Who is Ballard? He was a fifth round selection by the Colts in this year’s draft after finishing his college career at Mississippi State. He has decent size at 5’10, 217, with 4.6 speed. What does that translate for fantasy owners? Pretty much the same production that you got out of Donald Brown. Ballard is a risky pickup this week, because the Colts are on the road against the Jets. You can throw out all of the statistics about how successful rushers have been against the Jets, because this rookie is getting his first full load of carries in the NFL. The good news is that he doesn’t have to split a ton of carries with anyone else. It’ll be his show for the most part of the day. You can expect the Colts to throw it a lot agains the Jets depleted secondary, but Ballard will get his opportunities here and there. If he is successful against the Jets, he’s been a more valuable play the following week against the Browns as Donald Brown continues to recover from his knee injury for the next two to three weeks.
FANTASY HEADLINES TO FOLLOW THIS WEEK
-IND RB Donald Brown out 2-3 Weeks with a Knee injury
-GB RB Cedric Benson out at least 8 weeks with foot injury
-ARZ searching for a running back to replace Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells
-ARZ rumored to be in trade talks with the Saints for RB Chris Ivory
-ARZ RBs Larod Stephens-Howling and William Powell to split carries against the Bills
-Lions have 21 days to activate RB Jahvid Best off of the PUP (physically unable to perform) list
-Brady Quinn likely to start for the Chiefs against the Bucs
-Robert Griffin III to take concussion test on Wednesday, listed as questionable vs Vikings