Week 4: RB Roundup
New York Jets
Bilal Powell (starter); Chris Ivory; Alex Green
Current scenario: We've all been waiting for a Jets back to emerge as the clear starter and produce fantasy worthy points. It would appear this time has come and Bilal Powell is the man. In week three against the Bills Powell carried the ball 27 times for 148 yards while fellow backs Ivory and Green saw just nine carries combined. Owners looking for a bye week fill-in or flex starter should consider starting Powell this week. The Titans have allowed more than 100 rushing yards per game this season and a rushing touchdown each of the last two weeks.
Future scenario: Durability at running back will be an issue for the Jets this season. Powell may be the starter today but the big question is just how long can he be an every down back? Three weeks into the season Powell has 52 carries, almost half the carries he had over 14 games in 2012. It will be interesting to see how the third year man our of Louisville handles 20+ carries a game.
New England Patriots
Stevan Ridley (starter); Shane Vereen; Brandon Bolden; LeGarrette Blount
Current scenario: The Patriots have been looking for a quality running game since losing Shane Vereen to a wrist injury. In week three the top running back was not Stevan Ridley nor LeGarrette Blount but Brandon Bolden. On the day Bolden had 100 all purpose yards with five receptions while Ridley and Blount posted 108 all purpose yards and one reception combined. The Patriots head to Atlanta this week to face the league's fifth best run defense. Fantasy owners looking for a Patriots back should consider starting Bolden over Ridley as he seems to be the best option for receptions out of the backfield.
Future scenario: The Patriots backfield will be hit or miss until Vereen returns to action around week 10 of the season. Until that time owners will need to analyze the match up and play the back who works best against the opposing defense. In the next few weeks the best option may be Bolden as the Patriots face three run defenses which have allowed a combined four rushing touchdowns through the first three weeks.
New York Giants
David Wilson (starter); Andre Brown (Out); Da' Rel Scott; Ryan Torain; Brandon Jacobs
Current scenario: One might say the Giants offense looks a bit lost. In week 3 against Carolina the Giants managed just 18 total yards of offense in the first half. In all through the first three games New York has manage just 133 yards rushing. Since 1970 only four teams have managed to rush for fewer than 133 yards to start a season. If the Giants are going to be successful this season they need to find a way to run the ball better, which in turn should help the passing game.
Future scenario: Let's face it: the Giants' run game needs some major help. The line isn't blocking well and the backs are not finding the few holes that are there. We'd like to say things are going to get better but we just don't know how it's going to happen. Until we see some consistent production from the Giants' offense it's best to stay away.
Alfred Morris (starter); Roy Helu; Evan Royster; Keiland Williams
Current scenario: Amazingly enough Alfred Morris has performed very well this season. Through the first three games Morris has carried the ball 40 times for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns. We think this is a bit amazing in that Washington has played from behind most of the season and teams playing from behind tend not to run the ball. With only 40 carries on the season Morris is averaging fewer than 14 touches a game. If the yards per carry stays near or above 5 then fantasy owners can continue to use Morris even with so few touches. On the other hand, if that average drops and the carries don't increase Morris will be a tough start.
Future scenario: This week against the Raiders Morris should have another solid game just before Washington heads into their bye week. After the bye the Redskins run into a Dallas team that's ranked second against the run, allowing just 66 rushing yards per game and no touchdowns on the season. After the Dallas game Washington runs into two top eight defenses in Chicago and Denver who have allowed an average of 88 and 43 rushing yards per game. Starting a Redskins running back after their bye could be risky.
C.J. Spiller (starter); Fred Jackson (handcuff); Tashard Choice
Current scenario: When the season began, everyone thought C.J. Spiller would be a quality fantasy back. Through three games Spiller has carried the ball nine more times than fellow back Fred Jackson yet rushed for 16 fewer yards. In addition to rushing for fewer yards Spiller has yet to find the end zone while Jackson has the team's only rushing score. At this point in the season we'd say Jackson is the Bills back fantasy owners should pick up. Jackson is doing more with the ball on fewer carries and that make a big difference.
Future scenario: When the passing game improves Buffalo's run game should with it. Unfortunately the Bills have a rough road ahead of them. In week four Buffalo faces a Baltimore defense that has allowed less than 80 rushing yards a game and no rushing touchdowns this season. Looking a little further ahead we see Buffalo running into five defenses that have allowed a total of 6 rushing touchdowns in the first three weeks. If you own Spiller or Jackson you may want to consider trading them after the Cleveland game.