Week 8: RB Roundup
Steven Jackson (out); Jacquizz Rodgers; Jason Snelling
Current scenario: After dropping four of their first five games before their week six bye, the Falcons returned to action with a win over Tampa Bay in week seven. With Steven Jackson still nursing a hamstring injury, Jacquizz Rodgers was once again named the team's starting back. Rodgers did very little on the ground, rushing for 16 yards on eight carries. He did however make up for this by catching eight passes out of the backfield for 46 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Backup running back Jason Snelling could have used this as an opportunity to prove why he should be the starter, but he only rushed for 14 yards on seven carries. Until Jackson returns to action, it looks like Rodgers is the safer play in Atlanta.
Future scenario: The Falcons face three run defenses ranked seventh or better in the next three games. This, coupled with the loss of Roddy White and Julio Jones, does not bode well for Atlanta. If you are in a ppr league then Rodgers could be useful, but everyone else should stay away.
DeAngelo Williams; Jonathan Stewart; Mike Tolbert
Current scenario: If you happen to be in a pure yardage league then DeAngelo Williams could be of some use. However, for everyone else, his performance this season has been a snoozer. The first three games of the season Williams looked like a sure fire start, but then we hit week four and his numbers take a turn for the worse. Next thing you know Jonathan Stewart is off the PUP list and this backfield becomes a timeshare once again. It appears Williams will have one final game this week against Tampa Bay without Stewart in the backfield. Fellow back Mike Tolbert has scored fantasy owners nearly as many points as Williams this season due to his four trips to the end zone. Owners looking for a goal like vulture could do well with Tolbert.
Future scenario: It doesn't sound like Jonathan Stewart will play this week against Tampa Bay, but a return to action against Atlanta week nine is a good possibility. This would return the Panthers backfield to the timeshare we have all become accustomed to seeing. There are a couple of nice match ups, New England and New Orleans, coming down the stretch for the Panthers run game, but not a great deal of opportunity.
Darren Sproles; Pierre Thomas; Khiry Robinson
Current scenario: The Saints run game is currently ranked 22nd in the league averaging just over 86 yards per game with just three touchdowns all season. Fantasy owners looking for solid running backs who rack up yards on the ground should look elsewhere. On the other hand, owners in PPR leagues should pay close attention to the Saints backs. Darren Sproles is on pace for 85+ receptions and nearly 1,000 yards for the season. A back gaining 1,000 receiving yards is nearly unheard of and a huge bonus for fantasy owners. Pierre Thomas is little more than a flex start and should not be relied on from week to week. There is fantasy value to be had in New Orleans, it is just not in the run game.
Future scenario: If the Saints thought it was tough to run the ball earlier in the year, they are going to find it even more difficult in the second half of the season. With games against the Jets, Carolina twice and Seattle in their future, rushing yards will be hard to come by.
Tamps Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin (out); Mike James; Brian Leonard
Current scenario: The Bucs backfield took a hit last week when starting back Doug Martin suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter. As of today there is no time table set for Martin's return. Rookie Mike James replaced Martin for the remainder of the game and gained 45 yards on 11 carries for an average of 3.2 yards per attempt. For the season Martin was averaging just 3.6 yards per carry, so it doesn't appear James will be much of a step backwards. Owners looking for further depth could add Brian Leonard, as he will be taking third down snaps in a backup role.
Future scenario: At first the injury to Doug Martin was thought to be a torn labrum (which would have ended his season), but it appears now this is not the case. The second year man out of Boise State will miss this week's game against Carolina and possibly beyond depending on how long it takes this day to day injury to heal. The Bucs' run game will likely struggle the next couple of weeks due to tough match ups against Carolina's 4th ranked run defense and Seattle's 6th ranked run defense. Come fantasy playoff time - weeks 13-15 - Tampa Bay faces a couple of weak run defenses in Buffalo (28th) and St. Louis (30th), which could be cause for fantasy owners to acquire Martin if he is able to return.