Backfields in motion
- For the second straight week, Daniel Thomas of the Miami Dolphins played more snaps than Reggie Bush. The latter received four more touches but could only total four more yards. However, Bush found the end zone on a signature-style run and could be in store for more highlights with two very generous defenses on the docket. Thomas finally broke a run of more than nine yards last week but is more so a desperate flex play given the uncertainty on his workload from week to week.
Ryan Mathews is still getting the bulk of the carries for the San Diego Chargers, but they clearly prefer Ronnie Brown in the passing game. Over the last two games he leads all running backs in both targets (13) and receptions (12). Brown is only worth considering in the deepest of PPR formats but is more of nuisance to Mathews owners than anything else.
Thomas nudging way to more targets
- The (sometimes) featured back for the Kansas City Chiefs, Jamaal Charles (neck), took a nasty helmet-to-helmet shot Sunday and was down for several minutes. Thankfully, he did not suffer a concussion. He's been a headache for owners, though. Despite his explosive, game-changing speed, K.C. has shown they have no problem kicking him to the curb when the score gets out of hand, despite his ability to also make big contributions as a receiver. Rookie Shaun Draughn received double-digit carries in two of the three games in which Peyton Hillis was inactive, but is now just an afterthought, aside from a garbage time touchdown last week. He'd be the handcuff should Charles miss time, though. Hillis will continue to be a factor, but his touches (13 over the last two games) are not significant enough as long as Charles is healthy.
- After two 100-yard rushing efforts, Jonathan Dwyer (quad) was unable to suit up for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9. That opened the door for Isaac Redman, who returned from an ankle injury and exploded for 147 yards. Meanwhile, Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles') could be back for the team's upcoming Monday night game. Dwyer looks ready to return this weekend and should take over starter duties. Clearly, a single back receiving the bulk of the carries can produce for the Steel City, it's just a matter of health and avoiding a timeshare. In the meantime, all three of these backs should be owned until things finally shake out.
- With Alex Green failing to get the job done as the primary back for the Green Bay Packers, James Starks led the way in Week 9 with 17 carries for 61 yards. Meanwhile, wide receiver Randall Cobb was asked to carry the ball three times for 29 yards. The Packers head into a bye week, so maybe they'll try fixing the ground game, but you should expect the backfield usage to look awfully similar and rather unproductive.
- Don't read too much into Joique Bell of the Detroit Lions racking up 13 carries, 73 yards and his second touchdown of the season. Most of his action, and biggest runs, came late after the game was decided. Bell will continue to be a change of pace and see the field on third down, but his value (mainly coming in PPR scoring) is shaky, at best.
- After the fourth loss in five games, embattled Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick stated running back C.J. Spiller needs to get more touches. Way to state the obvious. Fred Jackson, now 31 years old and coming off a broken leg, is without a rushing attempt of over 15 yards this season, while Spiller has a 20-yard gainer in five of eight games. It remains to be seen if Fitzpatrick's plea will make a difference, but Jackson's lack of production is clearly drawing this platoon down.
- The New Orleans Saints will be without with scat back Darren Sproles (hand) for at least one more game (closer to a few more after that), which leaves a confusing three-headed backfield in the wake. Pierre Thomas appears to be the most logical fit, but on Monday night Mark Ingram received the same number of touches with near-identical results. Chris Ivory was activated for the first time this season and led the way with 10 carries, 48 yards and a touchdown. The snap counts reflect an open community approach, so start any of these backs at your own risk.
- Aside from a 30-yard touchdown run that shouldn't have counted because of an early whistle by a mistaken referee, DeAngelo Williams did very little with the rest of his limited number of carries. However, it marked the biggest play the Carolina Panthers have gotten out of their running backs this season. Jonathan Stewart failed to prove much when he was given out the opportunity to be the lead back, but as the team continues to line up in shotgun so frequently, it's hard to believe they'll get much of anything out of J-Stew or DAW going forward.
- Two consecutive blowouts have kept the ball in the air for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Laurent Robinson, returning from a concussion, and Justin Blackmon led the team with nine targets apiece, but Cecil Shorts still led the team with 56 receiving yards. Shorts remains the best option for a big play, but Robinson's return clearly made an impact. After getting 10 and 12 targets in the last two games, Shorts only got four looks last week. Without a clear go-to guy, the Jags' limited passing game won't produce more than deep, WR3 plays.
- Based on the playing time, Andre Roberts is still the No. 2 receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, but Michael Floyd is rapidly approaching. His 18 targets over the last two games equal Roberts'. The Cards head into a bye week, so there's no reason to make a move now, but this situation is worth monitoring starting in Week 11.
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts.
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