With just three weeks left in the Fantasy Football regular season, and with the trade deadline passed in the vast majority of leagues, each team owner knows what they have for the rest of the way. Some are preparing to welcome back Dion Lewis or Thomas Rawls. Others have lost Alshon Jeffery and need additional reinforcements at the flex position, or are still trying to figure out how to replace Todd Gurley since he fell off a cliff like Wyle E. Coyote. Here are a few names to keep in mind as you look for players to add, players to drop, or when you’re scouting your upcoming opponents to analyze who they might have waiting for you. Keep battling, readers; for there is only so much time remaining in the season. The end is nigh!
Rob Kelley – The Skins were coming off the Week 9 bye, which typically allows all first-team guys to get healthy and ready for the week ahead. However, there was news that Matt Jones might be a healthy scratch in part because of his case of fumblitis, a debilitating ailment, particularly for running backs. Undrafted rookie Rob Kelley was handed the car keys, and despite some being a bit down on him because of his relative lack of wiggle, sometimes, opportunity trumps raw talent. Kelley finished the day with 22 carries, and 95 yards overall (he lost two on his lone reception). It would appear that he is the back to own in our nation’s capital going forward and despite his limitations, he is a pretty strong RB2/FLEX play week-in and week-out.
LeGarrette Blount – The league’s rushing touchdown king was one of the lone bright spots for the Pats in a very competitive Sunday night contest. Blount dominated touches in the backfield, per usual, and while he only managed 69 yards on 21 carries, he piled up three touchdowns to save his day. With 12 touchdowns on the season, Blount has managed to find paydirt in every game but one. He is averaging a pedestrian 3.7 YPC, and is on pace for a respectable 1,350 yards for the year. Of course, Blount’s value is in touchdown vulture, a proud species made most famous with LenDale White who, amazingly, is only 31 years old today, though it feels like he was a contemporary of Eric Dickerson. Fantasy years are like dog years. Guys on your team in ’09 might as well have been roommates with Paul Hornung. Nevertheless, Blount has solidified his place as a low-end RB1 for now, with the floor of a high-end RB2 depending on what Dion Lewis’ role is once he’s back full-speed.
C.J. Prosise – With Christine Michael slumping, and Thomas Rawls still a week or so away from returning, the rookie had a great opportunity to eat into the workload of the other two. That’s exactly what he did. Prosise churned out 153 total yards against the Patriots, playing a crucial role in the win. It remains to be seen what Pete Carroll has planned once he has a full complement of running backs, so tread carefully. But Prosise has promise, particularly in keeper or dynasty formats. With Rawls struggling to get into game shape, and Michael on the outside looking in, Prosise may be worth a look as a surprise starter this week as they host the Eagles.
Isaiah Crowell – Crowell started the year moderately hot, certainly compared to expectations. Things have fallen off a cliff of late as Crowell toils in the backfield of the 0-10 Brownies. He racked up just 23 yards on nine carries against the Ravens on Thursday night, this after managing four yards on six carries five days prior. Oof. Crowell is one of the most infrequently utilized starting backs in the league – he has never topped 18 carries in a game, and has only 121 on the season (by comparison, league leader Melvin Gordon has approximately 100 more, with 217 carries). His YPC average is still really attractive at 4.6, but his usage makes him a very iffy candidate for your starting lineup.
Darren Sproles – Sproles was on the flip side of this column last week after Doug Pedersen named him the presumptive lead running back. We were rewarded with a two-carry day on Sunday, as Ryan Mathews returned from the dead to top 100 yards and score twice. How about that? His eight catches for 57 yards certainly helped a bit in PPR formats, but if this is the road ahead for the Eagles and for Sproles, he’ll become an afterthought in no time. He is not used in red zone packages, hasn’t scored this season, and is probably feeling the pressure from Wendell Smallwood creeping up the ladder.
Carlos Hyde – I’ll give him time to get back to full health after being a scratch with a bum shoulder for a couple of weeks, but Hyde needs to step up his game for the 1-8 Niners as soon as possible to preserve his RB2 status. He has a pedestrian 443 yards rushing, though he’s missed two games to injury, and six touchdowns on the year. His metrics are rather weak – namely a 3.4 YPC average – but the fact remains he’s the best offensive player on a terrible team, he has ZERO concern for any guy behind him on the depth chart supplanting him, and they give him work. As I’ve said, that matters. The Niners have the pleasure of hosting a pissed off Pats team coming off a loss, which should be a real hoot for the team and their fans. This is not an ideal matchup for a less-than-100 percent Hyde. Look elsewhere for higher upside running backs this week if you have some stashed on the bench. He had a horrendous 13 carry / 14 yard day on Sunday, isn’t well, and his team is playing the Patriots. Next!