Happy Halloween! Enjoy your tricks and treats and hopefully you’re not too scared. However, if your waiver wire looks anything like the waiver wire in my leagues… that’s scary. Running back is picked over so much that handcuffs aren’t even available. If you’re looking for a desperation start, you can have Fozzy Whittaker. Lucky you! It’s rough out there, so hopefully your league is active and you can work a trade if you need to. In one of my leagues where you have to start two quarterbacks, I drafted Peyton Manning and Michael Vick. I had Brandon Weeden as a backup and once he was out, I grabbed Mike Glennon. I was all set… until Vick got hurt (again) and Manning is on a bye. With no quarterbacks available, I’m desperate for a trade. Or I give up on Week 9 and hope for the best moving forward. These are the kinds of decisions you have to make when there are six teams on a bye. Don’t be afraid to trade, and as I wrote in this space a few weeks ago, sometimes you have to take 50 cents on the dollar to save your week. Good luck in Week 9 and check out what the Pink Football predicts for this last week of six-team byes.
1. Backup running backs aren’t going to save your Fantasy season.
The running back position has been brutal this year, as many Fantasy owners know. While desperate times may call for desperate measures, please don’t think that your stud’s backup is going to save your Fantasy season. Doug Martin went down and owners rushed to pick up Mike James. In his first start, James rushed 14 times for 45 yards and caught three passes for eight yards. In his second start, he rushed 11 times for 39 yards and added four receptions for 25 yards. Not exactly the RB2 numbers you were hoping for. Here’s the reality: these guys are backups for a reason. The stud you drafted is a better player. DeMarco Murray went down and owners blew their FAAB budget on Joseph Randle. Randle had 19 carries for 65 yards and added three receptions for 28 yards in the first game he started. In his second game, he had 14 carries for 26 yards and added three receptions for 18 yards. Again, not exactly the RB2 numbers that you wanted to help get your team through the weeks your stud is out.
The moral of this is that handcuffs are important. On Sunday morning, if you had Murray in your lineup because all signs pointed to him starting and you suddenly found out he was inactive; you needed someone to play in his place. Randle is a great fill-in for that purpose. But don’t delude yourself into thinking you are picking up the next great running back. These guys offer little upside. They are starting running backs in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean they should be starting running backs for your Fantasy team. Another example is St. Louis: Zac Stacy may end up missing time. Don’t think that Daryl Richardson is the answer.
And Arian Foster and Ben Tate owners: if these guys don’t end up playing in Week 9, Deji Karim isn’t the answer. He was just signed to the team. He does not need to be signed to your team unless you’re truly desperate.
2. The Saints offense may be prolific, but Fantasy value is hard to come by.
Exceptions: Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham. However, talk to owners who drafted Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas or Marques Colston. While Sproles has seemingly been a disappointment this season, he actually hasn’t been much different than last season. Through seven weeks in 2012, Sproles had 117 rushing yards, 39 receptions, 323 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Through seven weeks in 2013, he had 118 rushing yards, 36 receptions, 366 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Don’t give up on Sproles just yet; he will have good games. He’s just inconsistent, which is maddening for Fantasy owners (especially those that started him in Week 8 in non-PPR leagues and got a zero). He’s not a buy-low candidate because it’s not like he’s going to magically turn things around, but he will gave good games ahead.
As for Pierre Thomas, he’s actually done better this year than last year, as he’s been used in the passing game. In 2012, through seven games, he had 257 rushing yards. In 2013, through seven games, he has 253. In 2012, he had 15 receptions for 145 yards through seven games. In the same time period in 2013, he has 32 receptions for 224 yards. He has two total touchdowns this year compared to one at this time last year. It’s actually good news for Thomas owners (and explains a lot for Sproles owners). Brees still looks to throw in the red zone, so that hurts both running backs. But for those in PPR leagues, Thomas does have value.
Last of all, Colston. Many owners are debating dropping him. I don’t blame them. Last year, through seven games, Colston had 40 receptions for 580 yards and five touchdowns. This was slightly inflated by one game where he had nine receptions for 131 yards and three touchdowns. Even if you take that game out, his 31/449/2 stat line through six games is better than seven games in 2013: 27/342/1. Lance Moore has missed time. Kenny Stills hasn’t made that much of an impact on his playing time or receptions and even when Jimmy Graham was held without a catch, Colston only managed one reception for 11 yards. He missed practice on Wednesday with a knee injury and if Fantasy owners have better options this week, they should use them.
3. An overreaction and an underreaction: Marvin Jones is worth using your top waiver claim for and Eddie Lacy is just an average running back.
Reality: Marvin Jones just had the best game of his season. Anyone remember Eddie Royal following Week 2? He followed up his three-touchdown game with one touchdown in the past five games. He hasn’t had more than four receptions since that game. He had 69 yards in Week 8, the most since Week 2. Fantasy owners that used their top waiver pick or FAAB money chasing his big game certainly regret it now. The same is about to happen with Jones. Sure, he had four touchdowns on eight receptions. But he played on 19 snaps. He hasn’t had more than four receptions in a game all season. In the first seven games, he had three touchdowns. The production isn’t going to continue. It’s good for Andy Dalton to have another receiver, but Jones isn’t going to maintain this level of play. Andrew Hawkins is due back and he’s a better talent than Jones. Once Hawkins is back, Jones will fade back to Fantasy mediocrity. In a week where there are six teams on a bye, Jones is worth picking up in free agency if he’s available and starting as a WR2/3 for Week 9. But don’t expect another week like the past week. He’ll be lucky to find the end zone this week.
In a year where running back is a struggle for Fantasy owners, Eddie Lacy has quietly become one of the best starters in the game. Since coming back from the game he missed for his concussion, Lacy has 395 rushing yards and two touchdowns in four games. He’s added 11 receptions for 47 yards as well. That’s more than Adrian Peterson’s last four games. That’s more than Matt Forte’s past four games. That’s more rushing yards and just one fewer touchdown than Marshawn Lynch’s past four games. In that span, the only running back I’d rather own is Jamaal Charles. Green Bay has turned to the run because they can. With their receivers going down, they need some offense somewhere. Lacy has been the answer for them, and that’s not going to change. When James Jones comes back, they are still going to use Lacy. He’s a better runner than James Starks, and Green Bay knows it.