Week 11: RB Roundup
Darren McFadden; Rashad Jennings; Jeremy Stewart
Current scenario: For the sixth time in six years, the only consistency in his career by the way, Darren McFadden fails to finish a season without missing a game. When healthy McFadden can be a fantasy stud, but his lack of time on the field causes nightmares for fantasy owners. Hopefully McFadden owners were prepared for him to miss some playing time and picked up Rashad Jennings as a safety valve. For those who did, you have been rewarded with two weeks of quality play by Jennings -- had 283 all purpose yards on 44 touches with a touchdown. With McFadden out, Jennings has filled in nicely and should remain a starter in most fantasy formats.
Future scenario: As McFadden continues to miss time, Jennings' on the field success continues to impress head coach Dennis Allen. So much so there's a chance this backfield could become a RBBC when McFadden does return. Allen has already stated Jennings will see a bigger role in the offense going forward (even when McFadden returns). This does not bode well for fantasy owners, especially those holding on to McFadden and/or Jennings.
Le'Veon Bell; Felix Jones; Jonathan Dwyer
Current scenario: Since starting his first NFL game seven weeks ago against the Vikings, Le'Veon Bell's play has been relatively consistent. Over this six game period Bell has received 18-25 touches a game and scored four touchdowns. From a yardage perspective, Bell's worst game of the year came against Oakland when he had 51 all purpose yards but he found the end zone so fantasy owners were somewhat saved. With no real threat from fellow back Felix Jones nor Jonathan Dwyer, the starting job in Pittsburgh is Bell's to lose.
Future scenario: The rookie out of Michigan State has been impressive thus far. With four touchdowns in six games, there's a good chance Bell could reach eight or even 10 touchdowns by season's end. This will be no easy task as the Steelers face some very strong run defenses down the stretch. Of Pittsburgh's remaining seven games, five will be against run defenses ranked 10th or better and only one game (Miami 25th) against a defense ranked 25th or worse. To date Bell's performance warrants at least a flex start; and in larger leagues, he is a solid second back regardless of opponent.
Ben Tate; Dennis Johnson; Deji Karim
Current scenario: For the first time since his rookie season, Arian Foster will not rush for 1,000 yards. The fifth year veteran received word that he needs surgery to repair a ruptured disk in his back, thus ending his 2013 season. Stepping up to take over lead running back duties will be fourth year man Ben Tate. Throughout his career Tate has been a solid starter in Foster's absence and this season should be no different. Unfortunately, Tate has been dealing with broken and bruised ribs these past few weeks and the added playing time won't help him heal quicker. The good news is that Tate said he is learning to deal with the pain and as such his performance on the field shouldn't be affected.
Future scenario: With four of Houston's next five games against Jacksonville, New England, Jacksonville and Indianapolis, fantasy owners need to keep Tate in their starting line up. Of these opponents, Indianapolis' run defense -- ranked 26th in the league -- is the toughest Tate will see. Coming down the home stretch, Tate should provide fantasy owners with some much needed stability.
Lamar Miller; Daniel Thomas; Marcus Thigpen; Mike Gillislee
Current scenario: Miami's run game managed just two yards, that's right two yards on 14 carries against the Bucs last Monday night. While we'd like to give credit to Tampa's run defense for their great play, one has to wonder how the loss of Incognito and Martin impacted Miami's run game. Lamar Miller led the team with seven carries for two yards, with Thomas getting four carries for -2 yards. Clearly Miller is still the lead dog in this backfield, he just needs some help up front.
Future scenario: If the loss of Incognito and Martin affected Miami's run game to the point of .1 yard per carry, the Dolphins are in big trouble. This week's game against the Chargers should be used to dictate how Miller and Thomas are used down the stretch. If Miami's backs run the ball well then Miller and Thomas could be used against teams like Pittsburgh, New England and Buffalo. On the flip side, you'll want to sit Miller and Thomas against the Panthers and Jets whose run defenses are ranked second and first in the league.