Fantasy football sleepers: RB - Week 3

by Tim Heaney on September 24, 2009 @ 16:55:24 PDT


Fantasy football sleepers: Running backs

Derrick Ward, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New York Giants

Fantasy value: Midrange No. 2

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Derrick Ward
    Take a chance on Ward
  • Ward has fallen behind Cadillac Williams in the carry hierarchy, but Ward hasn't been a slouch when called upon, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and 8.7 yards per catch in a complementary role.
  • The former Giant might be able to take advantage of his former team, though. New York, usually a brick wall against opposing backs, has been a bit vulnerable this year. They have yielded the fifth most ground yards (14.5) and the seventh most land touchdowns (1.00, tied) per game to backs.
  • Defensive end Justin Tuck (shoulder) left the Week 2 game but said he would play in Week 3. He's banged up, though, and there has been no word on whether defensive tackle Chris Canty (calf) will suit up Sunday.
  • A warning: The Giants are tied for the fewest running back catches allowed per contest (2.50); this may hurt because Ward is typically useful in this role.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Fantasy value: Low-end No. 2 or high-end No. 3 

  • Starting tailback Brian Westbrook (ankle) sprained his surgically repaired right ankle in Week 2 but hopes to play in Week 3.
  • McCoy should be in line for more work, but he's already an important component of the offense, averaging 11 utilizations per game, including six total red zone plays and one inside-the-5 use.
  • KC typically places a welcome mat out for opposing toters. They have given up the 12th most rushing yards per game (120.5) and are tied for the third most rushing touchdowns allowed per game (1.50) to backs. Their ineptitude at defending tailbacks on receiving plays (6.0 receptions allowed per game, tied for 10th most) fits McCoy's strengths, as well.

Le'Ron McClain, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

Fantasy value: Flex or bench

  • Luckily, if you need to tab a bench player, McClain has the pushover Browns, who have allowed the second most ground hash marks per contest (185.5) to runners this season. Oh, and they've coughed up the most goal line breakthroughs per game to them, as well (2.50).
  • You can't count on McClain to receive ample touches behind Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, but the Browns offer arguably the best chance that your desperation running back play pays off.

NEW - Tim Hightower, Arizona Cardinals vs. Indianapolis Colts

Fantasy value: Midrange No. 2

  • Hightower has been the primary back for Arizona through the first two weeks. He has carried the ball 23 times for 87 yards (3.8 yards per carry) and one score. Also, he has caught 15 passes for 133 yards, though 12 of those receptions and 121 of those yards came in Week 1.
  • Indy has allowed the third most rushing yards per game (167.5) to opposing running backs since the season started. They've also allowed 1.50 scores per game to enemy backs.
  • Their defense was also left on the field for 84 plays on Monday night. With the short week, the Cards have even more reason to attack them on the ground to wear them down.

NEW - Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers

Fantasy value: Midrange No. 3 

    Miami Dolphins RB Ricky Williams
    Might Ricky run all over SD?
  • It's sometimes tough to play Williams given his split of the touches with Ronnie Brown. The former was given a big role last week, though, as he carried the ball 19 times for 69 yards.
  • The Chargers defense has allowed 125.0 rushing yards per game to running backs over the first two weeks. They're also allowing them the seventh most offensive yards (175.5) per game and are tied for third in rushing touchdowns allowed (1.50) per game.
  • San Diego lost mammoth defensive tackle Jamal Williams (triceps) for the season, and linebacker Shawne Merriman (groin) is banged up. Even if Merriman can go, he might be limited.

NEW - Tashard Choice, Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers

Fantasy value: Midrange No. 3

  • Marion Barber III (quadriceps) is uncertain to play in Week 3. His status would affect Choice, who likely will move up the depth chart and complement Felix Jones should Barber not go.
  • Choice is an enticing play this week largely because the Panthers have allowed the seventh most rushing yards per game (134.5) to this position in the first two weeks. Carolina must really be missing defensive tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu (Achilles').
  • Dallas doesn't play until Monday night, so you'll likely have to decide on Choice sometime Sunday. Unless you own Barber, it might not be worth taking that risk.
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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

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