Running backs win titles. It’s that simple. Start a single back every week and you have *no* chance of winning it all, no matter who else is on your team. Believe it! And this is one of the craziest weeks for running backs in recent memory. Read on and with some luck you’ll snag two or more nice fill-in starters. And the way the regular starters are dropping, I know you need them!
Let me preface this section by *highly* recommending you watch the injury reports *extremely* closely this week. An unusually high percentage of the players mentioned in the article this week have fantasy values that are almost entirely tied to an injury of the normal starter. And there’s no better news source than the FantasySharks.com message boards. Check them early and often!
Samkon Gado RB Green Bay Packers
Where did this guy come from? If you had him on your roster a week ago, you’re in a league deeper than the Marianas Trench! With Ahman Green toast for the year and replacement Tony Fisher busting a rib and inactive for the game, the Pack RB situation was wide open and Gado had a very respectable game against a rock-hard Pittsburgh defense. Gado goes for 62 yards on 26 carries and a TD in his first significant NFL action. He only started two games in college for the powerhouse Liberty College squad, so to say he’s an unknown is an understatement! But with Fisher likely out for another week or more, Gado instantly becomes a pretty decent spot-starter against the Falcons. There will be no “Waiting for Gado” this week…he’s hot!
Duce Staley RB Pittsburgh Steelers
The Duce is loose once again! After riding pine for most of the season, Staley finally saw some significant action this week after Willie Parker sprained his left ankle in the third quarter, and Duce looked pretty good, carrying 15 times for 76 yards and a TD. With Charlie Batch now at quarterback, the Steelers catch less balls than an armless Ultimate Frisbee team…look for them to run whenever possible. Watch the injury report…should Bettis and Parker remain dinged, Staley is a sweetheart starter against a cruddy Browns team next week.
Jonathan Wells RB Houston Texans
He doesn’t own Babe Ruth’s old hat and he hardly ever gets gout, but this Wells had a Boomer of a day against the Jags, rushing for 56 yards and a TD and also catching 5 for 45…a solid fantasy day for any back. Wells has been a project player for the Texans, having great measurables but isn’t as impressive on gameday. But should Domanick Davis miss more time due to knee inflammation, Wells could be a last-resort start against a tough Colts D who may relax a bit after an emotional Pats game. Once again, make sure you’re all over the injury report like a hobo on a ham sandwich this week.
Ernest Wilford WR Jacksonville Jaguars
Wilford makes the jump from ‘On the Radar’ to ‘Solid Pickup’ this week. He had another solid week with 4 grabs for 89 yards against the lowly Texans this weekend. He’s clearly developed some chemistry with Byron Leftwich and this kid is becoming a real player, even outperforming Jimmy Smith the last couple of weeks. Wilford is a decent pickup in redraft leagues, and warrants even more consideration in dynasty leagues. Smith is old and Wilford is heating up!
Reggie Brown WR Philadelphia Eagles
T.O. finally did it…he’s talked his way off of a Super Bowl-condending team. What a clown! But the Eagles loss could be your gain. Highly-touted rookie Reggie Brown will fill in on a team that throws more than all others, and he looked great catching 5 balls for 94 yards and a TD. Another performance like this and we may be looking at the future at receiver in Philly. Hey, didn’t the Eagles have some other guy named Reggie with a color as a last name? Who was that again?
Cedric Benson RB Chicago Bears
The coolest Benson this side of Robert Gillaume has been seeing more action of late, and has been looking pretty solid when he’s in the game. Thomas Jones was unable to finish the game with rib and knee injuries, and Benson ran 14 times for 79 yards. With the Jones boys not known as the most durable of chaps and the Bears wanting to see the high draft pick they spent on Benson pay off, look for Benson to continue to see significant carries spelling Jones, and a very solid start this week against a pitiful Niners team if Jones sits.
On the Radar
Michael Bennett RB Minnesota Vikings
The mess at running back for the Vikings is back where it began! After Mewelde Moore was knocked out of the game with a sprained wrist, Bennett came in and looked good down the stretch in a Vikings win, having a very solid 18 carry for 106 yard day. For whatever reason, Tice seems to have reservations about Moore and Bennett may get some more play in the future. However, it’d hard to believe that a sprained wrist will prevent Moore from getting back on the field, thus the lower-than-expected endorsement of Bennett.
Greg Jones RB Jacksonvile Jaguars
Has Freddie returned to his fragile days of old? we’ll see! Taylor left the game with a sprained ankle this week and Jones rushed for 27 yards and a TD in his absense. Jones is a tank and should put up respectable fantasy numbers if Taylor can’t go against the Ravens this weekend.
Artose Pinner RB Detroit Lions
Kevin Jones dinged his shoulder yet again. Should he be unable to answer the bell next week, Pinner would likely get the bulk of the carries against a pretty bad Cardinals team next week. Once again, watch that injury report!
Brandon Jacobs RB New York Giants
Jacobs is the East Coast version of Kyle Johnson…don’t expect much from this guy other than a TD from the goal line. But if you’re in a TD-only league, and I hear they’re out there, Jacobs is your man. His jersey is selling well in the Giants giftshop…Tiki Barber owners like the fact that it’s highly flammable!
Tony Richardson RB Kansas City Chiefs
With rumors swirling that Priest may miss significant time with concussion-related issues, Richardson could see an increased role in the Chiefs offense. He’s a very good receiver out of the backfield and could be worth a flyer in deep point-per-catch leagues.