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Running Backs Movin' Up - Week 4
Tim Van Prooyen
September 29, 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.

Fred Taylor (NEP) – Taylor is beginning to rise to the top in the heap that is the New England Patriots running back by committee.  With his 100+ yard outing this past week he demonstrated that he is still capable of a big game.  While it isn’t logical to consider him a number one back by any means, he’s the best option of the bunch and will be valuable over the next few weeks especially.  With his ability as a receiver, and the fact that the Pat’s offense seems to be getting its footing, he is a solid number two most weeks for sure and unless you have a stable of studs to start every week, Taylor should be in the starting lineup every week.  You may have a concern about the lack of touchdowns that the team is having in the red-zone by the running game, and those are warranted, but the fact is, they’ll break through eventually.  He may or may not be the recipient of many of those, but is bound to get a couple.  Start him with confidence if you have him.

Glen Coffee (SFO) – The Glen Coffee era is about to begin.  San Francisco is a solid team with a lot going for it, but it relies on a solid running game.  With Frank Gore sidelined at least through week seven, after the teams bye week, Coffee becomes a great start.  Many owners grabbed him as a handcuff for Gore, so he may or may not be available in your league, but that explains his position in this section.  If your league isn’t a deep one there is every likelihood that he’s available, so get a jump on the waiver wire.  Coffee has increased his workload each week after a rough first game, but he has looked quite good as rookies go and should do quite well for at least a week or two.  This is likely a temporary promotion for Coffee, unless we get updated news on Gore this week after the team takes a closer look at his ankle injury.

Chester Taylor (MIN) – It is only in the shallowest of leagues that Taylor is still available after draft day in most cases.  While he’s being somewhat underused as a rusher, he’s done quite well so far as a receiver out of the backfield.  It is obvious that the team’s utilization of Taylor is no different than it has been the past couple of years when he’s had solid campaigns for a ‘backup’ running back.  If you take into effect the fact that AP still hasn’t proven he can start 16 games year in and year out, Taylor’s a must own for someone in your league, especially if the AP owner hasn’t grabbed him as a handcuff yet.  With guys like Michael Turner, McCoy/Westbrook, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart out this week on a bye, guys like Taylor gain in value even more. 

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.

Jamaal Charles (KCC) – The Chiefs are a team that is going to struggle all season on offense, so there is relative limitations already pre-packaged, but there is some value, especially entering bye season.  The rumors of Larry Johnson’s demise are showing themselves to be well-founded, and someone is going to have to step up and carry the load for the team at some point.  All indications right now point to, at least for this season, Charles.  He’s not getting huge numbers, but he’s at least carrying a relatively good average yards per carry, at least one that is significantly better than that of Larry Johnson, who at the moment is barely getting above a yard a carry after three games.  Now, there is concern that Charles may be a hit or miss start, considering his healthy scratch last week, but all indications are that this was a move to motivate him and based on his performance this week it worked to some extent.  Regardless, running backs with point potential are always valuable in one way or another, so Charles warrants consideration.

Maurice Morris (DET) – While the extent of the injury to Kevin Smith’s shoulder doesn’t seem to be too bad, just some bruising, Maurice Morris warrants definite consideration even in the off chance that Smith ends up able to play in week four.  There are some who would argue that rookie Aaron Brown should be considered over Morris, but I don’t believe this is the case…yet.  Brown has been fairly impressive in the few limited opportunities he’s been given, but the veteran presence will be used more regularly if Smith is out of service for any length of time.  This is not to mention that Morris was signed to be more of a goal-line back initially anyway, and the team still will use him there from time to time.  Now that Detroit has gotten the all-elusive win, the spotlight will dim somewhat and the team will be able to relax a bit, which should help their production at least a bit.  The fact is their offense hasn’t been as offensive as some other teams so far this season, so there are definitely stats to be had.

Jerome Harrison (CLE) – Cleveland is in pretty bad shape.  It is probable that there will be a quarterback controversy yet once again, and in the end it is reasonable to think that both will end up elsewhere.  However, this is about running backs, and the entire debacle that is the Cleveland offense is hurting everything, including and especially the running game.  The fact that Jamal Lewis is pretty much done only means that this is another area that the team will have to deal with sooner rather than later.   Harrison has a bit of competition from the hot rookie of training camp, James Davis, but early play has shown that Harrison is much more likely to get the bulk of the work during Lewis’ time lost to injury, which has already started will likely continue for much of the season.  After not playing at all in week one, Harrison has been getting more opportunity and has made the best of it.  With big backs on the bench each week for a bit, fantasy owners have to get help from somewhere and it very well may be that Cleveland can offer just a bit of help for a game or two this year in the person of Harrison.

 Marshawn Lynch (BUF) – Before you start screaming, understand this.  Lynch is tough to put in either section of this piece, as he’s been suspended so there are various arguments about whether or not he may or may not have been drafted.  In many leagues he very well may have been, but at this point he’s been a somewhat forgotten man as Fred Jackson has played well enough to get by.  However, Buffalo is ready to have their work horse back and it is likely he’ll revert to the top of the depth chart fairly soon.  The matchup this week against Miami won’t be a nice welcome back, but the following weeks run up against Cleveland should more than make up for it.

…And On The Slide – Quick Hits

Breakdown:  With the season in full swing and bye weeks about to begin, we felt it time to add a bit of the ‘flip side’ to our movers review.  These are guys who are relatively well known, but whose stock is most definitely not moving in the right direction – with just a quick hit as to my personal thoughts on the matter. 

Steve Slaton (HOU) – Slaton had a bit of a better performance this week, but his stock has most definitely dropped this season.  The play calling by the team has been anything but conducive to Slaton regaining his 2008 form, but they may be working to remedy that.  Either way, those who drafted him in the first or second round are beginning to have serious doubts about that move.

Matt Forte (CHI) – Being one of the guys who drafted Forte in almost every league I was in, this one is killing me.  Today the team continued going to Forte, but for whatever reason he just isn’t having the success that he had last season.  The team had a lot of shaking up on offense due to the well documented QB change, so maybe things will get better as the guys get more familiar with each other, but will it be on time to salvage a fantasy season?  Big question without a clear answer, but for many Forte owners, he hasn’t come close to fulfilling his potential yet.

Larry Johnson (KCC) – While he’s not over thirty yet, he’s showing definite signs that he’s about done.  Many thought he’d have one or two more years of at least passable stats, but so far that isn’t looking likely.  Grab Jamaal Charles and let someone else take their chances with LJ.

Jamal Lewis (CLE) – He should never have made it out of training camp.  He’s not capable of carrying the load on a team with a good offensive line and offensive weapons, much less one of the worst offenses in the league.  Stick a fork in his fantasy relevance and grab Jerome Harrison or James Davis and hope for the best.

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