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Running Backs Movin' Up - Week 2
Tim Van Prooyen
September 15, 2009
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Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Backups Movin’ Up

Breakdown:  These are guys who are likely on rosters, but are on the bench for the most part unless in deep leagues.  Circumstances are favorable for them to move into the starting lineup for your fantasy team, at least for the coming week.

Leon Washington (NYJ) – This is a borderline call here.  Many owners probably bought into the preseason hype and had Washington in their lineup this weekend.  Others probably grabbed him in hopes he’d be more involved, but left him on the bench to see how things went.  Thomas Jones finally came alive in the second half, but for a while was being almost completely incompetent.  The bottom line is, Washington is going to be a large part of the Jets offense this year and will help as a safety valve for young quarterback Sanchez.  There are a lot of options that could be worse when looking for a starter each week.

Thomas Jones (NYJ) – Jones was going the other way for much of the game, but the Jets proved that they haven’t given up on Jones, as most fantasy owners had.  He rewarded them with quite an effort, and in the process established himself as the team’s bona fide goal line option.  In touchdown heavy scoring systems his value is even higher, but either way, those who predicted the crash of Jones’ career were premature, at least for a little while.

LeSean McCoy (PHI) – McCoy was drafted in most leagues for one of two reasons;  First, as a handcuff to the oft injured Brian Westbrook, then as a gamble that Westbrook, at 30, would turn over the reins sometime this season.  At some point the latter may happen, but for now it appears the team will be happy to simply use McCoy to keep Westbrook fresh.  However, this is good news of sorts for fantasy owners, as it means, like today, he’ll be on the field getting a decent number of touches.  While it doesn’t move him into stud status, it does make him fantasy roster worthy and in deep leagues worthy of starting.

Cedric Benson (CIN) – Cedric was drafted in most if not all leagues, but depending on the depth of the league, he may have been on the bench today as owners opted for bigger names like Slaton, Moreno, Parker, Jacobs and many, many others.  After today, many of those owners won’t make that mistake again.  Benson was the teams workhorse and established himself as one of the few starting running backs in the league who has full ownership of the position and isn’t one of a committee.  The Cincinnati offense looks like it is more 2007 than 2008, so there is every reason to believe that Benson will continue to produce nicely as the week’s progress.

Julius Jones (SEA) – I debated whether or not to put Jones on this list.  The Seahawks were playing the Rams after all.  But after watching a good chunk of the game it became obvious that the Seahawks offensive line doesn’t seem to be near as bad as many thought it would be.  They were making holes and the backs were working hard to get yards.  Yes, Jones did some things wrong that could cost him if he doesn’t correct, but he had one of the better days by a running back in week one and that can’t be taken lightly.  The team is going to be airing it out, which will create a lot of opportunity for Jones.  He was drafted in most leagues, so if you have him, you should probably have him in your lineup.

Tim Hightower (ARI) – This is more like an honorable mention, as Tim was likely drafted in most leagues, and didn’t really have a great outing from a rushing standpoint today.  However, the twelve receptions for 120+ yards can’t go without recognition.  The simple fact is, it would appear obvious that the team plans to throw quite a bit to Hightower out of the backfield.  While he isn’t likely to find the success he did this week on a regular basis, even if he gets six catches a game he becomes a nice pickup for PPR leagues in the very least.  With Beanie Wells in the fold his upside is limited, but he seems to be in a niche situation that should give him plenty of touches every week to be a relevant fantasy option.    

Waiver Wire Radar

Breakdown:  These are guys who more than likely are not residing on many, if any, rosters.  They are in situations that are favorable for possible fantasy impact in the not too distant future.

Ricky Williams (MIA) – Often in fantasy football the key to a player is simply being on the field, touching the ball a few times a game.  Sometimes, especially in bye week season, this is of the utmost importance.  Guys like Kevin Faulk come to mind here.  Ricky Williams appears to be someone most fantasy owners tossed to the curb, but he was a key part of the offense this weekend.  Nine touches for almost sixty yards and a touchdown are better numbers than a lot of starting running backs this week, and thus are not to be scoffed at.  Is he old for a running back?  Sure he is.  Is he still effective?  Well, arguably, the Dolphins think he is.  So evidently fantasy owners should take note.

Mike Bell (NOS) – Sure they were playing the Lions, but if you watched any of the game you saw Mike Bell playing like he did when he was starring for Denver.  He was making holes, making things happen, and getting a ton of yards after contact.  With Pierre Thomas on the bench he made a good case to be the primary guy, and will certainly get good playing time even when Thomas returns.  He will not stay on the waiver wire past this week, nor should he.  If you’re shallow at running back, he’s a great option if you can get him.

Cadillac Williams (TBB) – There was a big push in the week before the season to talk up Williams, most of it coming from the team itself.  Fantasy owners, for the most part, didn’t bite.  The three headed monster most owners rightfully expected meant disaster for most of the backs, at least from a starting back reference.  However, the guy who most expected to never play again after injury upon injury upon legal troubles showed up today and looked pretty darn good.  He didn’t become the feature back, nor will he, but he did prove that he can play and solidified himself as a key part of the offense.  Going back to the whole ‘opportunity’ thing, he’s got it and some to spare.  If you have Ward on your roster, you should have Williams as well.

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