For whom the bell tolls. Two weeks ago, it was Jamaal Charles who crumpled to the turf after a non-contact injury that turned out to be a ruined ACL, thus ending his season. This past weekend, it was Arian Foster who succumbed to the injury gods despite his lack of belief in any such thing. This opens the door for either Alfred Blue or Chris Polk to step into a role that could be 15-20 touches per game if either one takes control of the rushing duties (a dicey proposition). Elsewhere, Joseph Randle left the Dallas vs. New York game and Darren McFadden promptly ran over, around, and through the G-men. That performance has earned him the starting spot in Week 8 for a team that has lost four games in a row, and could welcome back Dez Bryant this week. Attrition is nothing new among running backs, and hopefully, any Fantasy Football owner who drafted Foster hedged a bit given his total injury history as well as the groin injury, which kept him out for most of September. Here are some players to note, some of whom are rising, others who are fading, and still others who are just confusing. Carry on, my wayward son.
Alfred Blue & Chris Polk (7 carries, 11 yards combined): Picture this: It’s one am on a Saturday and you’re returning home from a raucous night out; maybe from a concert with a few friends, your ears still ringing from the volume. You realize you need to get gas, so you stop to fill up. As you’re standing at the pump, waiting, you realize you haven’t eaten anything since 5pm and you’re starving. You scan the offerings at the station: some Dipsy Doodles, a small rack of Drake’s fruit pies, maybe a variety of cylindrical cured meats. Finally, you set your eyes on the heated roller sitting under a red heat lamp on the shelf next to the road maps and air fresheners, upon which a selection of hot dogs lay, eternally rolling but going nowhere. There is relish in an old mayonnaise can next to the rolling apparatus, too. “That’s it,” you think to yourself. That’s your dinner. So you purchase three of them (hey, they’re small and they’re three for $2.50!) and proceed out to the parking lot to inhale them before returning to your car for the final leg of the journey. Within minutes of turning the car back on, you realize the hot dogs were the wrong choice, and you should’ve waited the hour until you got home, where you could eat real, good, clean food before heading to bed. The dread sinks in, knowing that, whether it’s in a couple of hours, or around noon the next day, you will pay for this. Your bathroom will pay for this. Your roommates or loved ones will pay for this. It was a bad decision, picking up those hot dogs. Expecting anything more than fleeting relief from a hunger that will return would be foolish. Alfred Blue and Chris Polk are those hot dogs. Avoid those hot dogs, guys. TRENDING DOWN
T.J. Yeldon (20 carries, 115 yards, 1 TD): There isn’t much to say about the eminently underwhelming Jaguars of London/Jacksonville, who always seem to be on the cusp of doing things, but fail to consistently deliver. Though, after securing their second victory of 2015 against the Bills, perhaps some optimism is what’s needed because of an up and coming defense, and some very high-upside skill position players at wide receiver, quarterback, and of course, their rookie rusher. T.J. Yeldon handled himself well against a tough Bills run defense, and helped propel his team to their highest point total of 2015. Granted, their 27-point second quarter was aided by not one but two (!) defensive scores. Nonetheless, Yeldon is a bona fide bell cow for Florida’s second-best football team, and should produce RB2 numbers moving forward. TRENDING UP
Darren McFadden (29 carries, 152 yards, 1 TD; 2 rec. 10 yards): The case that Dallas’ offensive line makes everyone who runs behind them better received another vote of approval on Sunday. Run DMC, a small consolation prize for fans expecting Dallas to make a splashy move to fill the cleats of the departed DeMarco Murray this past summer, delivered handsomely for anyone in possession of cojones substantial enough to start him this past weekend. McFadden had that vintage explosive-through-the-hole speed that made him such an intriguing Fantasy option, even on lowly Raiders teams. Now with the world-class offensive line in Dallas, perhaps we’ll see what he can really do (if he remains healthy, of course). He’s probably not on the wire in your league, but if you own him, start him with confidence as an RB2 this week against the vaunted Seahawks D. TRENDING UP
Khiry Robinson (14 carries, 28 yards, 2 TDs): The New Orleans Saints’ backfield is certainly Mark Ingram’s show, and he looked great against the Colts, rushing for a healthy 143 yards and a score on just 14 carries of his own. Robinson received much of the red zone work, scoring on a one yard plunge and a six yard scurry in the first half. Ingram added a one yarder in the third quarter, easing the fears of any Ingram owner that he was being phased out of major scoring opportunities. Sean Payton is a wizard of formations and out-thinking opposing coaches, and will continue to juggle personnel. The bottom line is that Robinson may carve out a role for himself going forward due to his hard-charging style and soft hands. He’s bench fodder, but definitely worth a pick-up and hold. HOLD
Doug Martin (19 carries, 136 yards; 3 rec. 35 yards): I have been stunned by Doug Martin this season and owe him a personal apology should we ever cross paths at a Publix or something. I had him pegged as a wash out, and he’s delivered in spades for those who selected him in their drafts. As the third leading rusher in the NFL with 541 yards through six games, Martin’s been excellent. Noted in an article a few weeks back, he’s enjoyed a resurgence, along with the re-awakening of elders such as Chris Johnson, Justin Forsett, and for a brief but beautiful two weeks in September, DeAngelo Williams. Martin continues to deliver for a sad and lonely Bucs fan base going through another rough season, but there is promise in Tampa for “Dougernaut” and co. The Bucs are in no way making the playoffs, barring four straight wins heading into December, so this becomes yet another “let’s see what we have” season for the coaches and front office. Hopefully, Martin continues to be the leader in the locker room and on the field, and continues to deliver for his Fantasy owners. TRENDING UP
Orleans Darkwa (8 carries, 48 yards, 1 TD) / Shane Vereen (4 carries, 56 yards; 1 rec. 6 yards): This is a tough backfield to love. On Sunday, Darkwa came out of nowhere and led the team in carries with eight, but four RBs got playing time, and all had four or five carries each. Vereen, surprisingly, wasn’t much of a factor in the passing game, perhaps because Elisha Manning managed just 13 completions on the afternoon, and the Giants were fortunate to win, thanks in large part to three Matt Cassel interceptions, a Cole Beasley fumble, plus former Cowboy Dwayne Harris’ 100-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter. One would think someone will emerge as the leader of this platoon, as the Giants look to hold onto their division lead until Tony Romo and Dez Bryant return, at which point, it may be too little too late for the ‘boys. Take a flier on Darkwa in 12-14 team leagues if you have a few FAAB bucks (as in $1-2). He has the speed and power combination coaches love, and he has much, much better field vision than Andre Williams, who tries to run through everything, including his offensive linemen. HOLD
Notes: Duke Johnson (6 carries, 17 yards; 7 rec. 73 yards) appears to be the back to own in Cleveland. With Robert Turbin and Isaiah Crowell likely to cannibalize touches, Johnson’s value as a speedy pass-catcher and safety valve for Josh McCown cannot be understated. He’s a RB3/Flex candidate every week in PPR formats. … Now that Joe Lombardi isn’t strangling the Lions’ running game after being relieved of his coaching duties, will we see Ameer Abdullah finally be unleashed? It remains to be seen, but he’s the back to own in Detroit and if you can get him for a song from a desperate and downtrodden (kind of like Lions fans!) owner in your league, go for it. … Ryan Mathews’ 121 total yards and one touchdown on a beautiful 63-yard sprint must make owners go ‘hmm’ a bit. DeMarco Murray dominated carries 18-6, but thanks to Mathews’ long TD run, he was outgained 121-70 from scrimmage. This situation will continue to cause some headaches, but I still believe Murray will maintain lead back status. … Well, I was a week early on the LeGarrette Blount hype. If you didn’t put in a trade request for the guy last week at my urging, perhaps after his three-carry-for-negative-three-yards day is the time to do so. … Latavius Murray (15-85-1) was great in the Raiders’ upset victory against the division rival Chargers. The UCF product continues to produce for an emerging Oakland squad, a team that I think has the potential to jump up into the AFC West lead next season. If they can make that leap, it’s going to be in large part due to the maturity of offensive studs Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and this man here. Here they sit at 3-3 and could potentially be in the Wild Card mix along with the Jets, Dolphins, and Steelers; they face the Jets at home this week, and the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 9, which should separate the true contenders from the pretenders. But this is progress! Book Murray as a low-end RB1 for the rest of this season, and a Top-10 RB in 2016. And while you have the book open, put me down for “Over 8 wins” for the Raiders in 2016.