The Denver Broncos have announced they have placed running back Michael Pittman (neck) on Injured Reserve, ending his 2008 season.
The Broncos' running back situation has been a committee the last few seasons, and this year was no exception. Pittman initially started the season as the team's short-yardage and goal line running back, but after running back Selvin Young (groin) suffered a groin injury, Pittman became the starter.
He was a waiver wire pickup in most leagues during the season and had done a decent job for the Broncos. He rushed for 320 yards and four touchdowns on 76 carries in eight games. He also caught 10 passes for 112 yards out of the backfield. He was very successful with touchdowns early this season but had not found the end zone in his last five games. He did not finish the season very well, rushing for four yards on seven carries in the team's Week 9 game.
The Broncos also placed running back Andre Hall (hand) on Injured Reserve, meaning the team has lost two of their runners in one day.
From a fantasy perspective, this is certainly a blow for owners because Pittman had put up solid numbers and was valuable for point-per-reception owners because his ability to catch passes. Pittman was likely a No. 2 running back or a flex option. He should be dropped in all leagues because he obviously has lost all of his value since he will miss the rest of the season.
The Broncos' two remaining backs are Young and running back Ryan Torain, who saw his first action of the season last week.
Young began the season as the starter but has missed the last three games because of a groin injury. He has put up good numbers when healthy this season. He has rushed for 266 yards and one touchdown on 47 carries in five games in 2008. He should be picked up because he will likely get the starting job back for now if he is healthy; those in point-per-reception setups should be more inclined to grab him.
Torain gained one yard on three carries in his only game this season last week. However, Shanahan appears to like the 225-pound Torain a lot and could give him more work in the near future; Torain is physically similar to Pittman and as a one-cut runner fits Denver's zone-blocking system.
For now, he will likely be the short yardage back while working on his blocking skills, which will give him more of a chance to play regularly and should help his goal line value. Owners should look to pick up Torain if they are not able to get Young because Torain's workload likely will increase during the rest of the season, making him the better long-term option.
A dark horse here is rookie running back Peyton Hillis, who caught seven passes for 116 yards and a score in Week 9. He's not a traditional tailback, but he's athletic even at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds. Don't look to him just yet, but be sure to put him on your fantasy football radar.
About Tim Piotrowski
Piotrowski has been a Hot Off the Wire analyst since 2007.
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