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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Running Backs Movin' Up - Week 5
Tim Van Prooyen
October 6, 2009
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Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Movin’ Up

Breakdown:  These are guys who are on the rise, moving up from where they’ve been over the first few weeks of the season.  They may or may not be on a roster, but likely are, and may even be starting here and there.   They are listed here because circumstances are favorable for them to move up in their overall ‘stature’ from a fantasy standpoint.  With bye weeks now in season, these are guys who can help you in the coming week, and sometimes beyond!

Donald Brown (IND) – Brown was drafted in many leagues due to a lot of hype, but may or may not be on a roster at this point in your league, especially if it is a redraft league and not a keeper league.  He has received just shy of an equal load in the anemic running attack of the Colts, but he seems to be working his way into the favored goal-line back role, something that only ups his fantasy value.  There is no doubt that he is the future of the Indy running game and Addai is the past, but the transition will likely be a while in coming full circle.  Meanwhile, he’s as solid a second or third back as there seems to be in the league these days, so if he’s available grab him, and if he’s on your roster, a start would seem to be in order as a #2 or #3.

Knowshon Moreno (DEN) – Moreno has been in a semi-primary role in Denver, splitting time for the most part with Correll Buckhalter.  Buckhalter sprained his ankle and was on crutches as of Monday, so could be on the sidelines for at least a week.  This window of opportunity may be what the Broncos were looking for to put Moreno in the full time starter roll.  The Broncos are off to a great start, the passing game is working better than they really anticipated, and Moreno looks to have a full skill set to be a feature back.  He’s already starting on most rosters, but his stock is rising and it is likely he’ll be one of the top ten backs picked next week.  Look for him to start getting twenty-plus carries a game starting this week, and don’t anticipate much of a drop off when, and if, Buckhalter gets back on the field.

Ray Rice (BAL) – The big news maker in Baltimore’s running game is Willis McGahee as the new Jerome Bettis, the bulldozing goal line threat used for little else than scoring touchdowns – he’s on a pace for twenty at the moment.  What isn’t getting a lot of press is the role that Ray Rice is getting.  He’s become, essentially, the workhorse of the Ravens running game.   He is on pace for almost 1,800 yards of total offense, albeit with only about four or five touchdowns, which make him a significant fantasy threat in all fantasy scoring systems with the exception of touchdown heavy ones.  The mix the Ravens have going at the moment is working, and they’ll keep it going as long as it is effective.

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.

Garrett Wolfe (CHI) – It is unknown yet how bad Adrian Peterson’s knee injury is, but it can be expected to keep him down at least a game or two.  Wolfe appears to be the next ‘hot’ back up to Matt Forte, who should be handcuffed at this point simply due to his overall value.  Wolfe isn’t going to get you many points in regular situations, but warrants a pick up by Forte owners this week or next – Chicago is on a bye next week so you can theoretically wait a bit.  This one is chalked up as a protective, smart move, as opposed to a move for points.

Shonn Greene (NYJ) – Shonn finally got into a game this weekend.  That is the first bit of important news.  The second bit of important news is that the time he saw wasn’t in mop up duty.  Thomas Jones is still going to get plenty of action going forward, but no one really expected him to make it through the season without giving up a lot of action to Washington and Greene.  The transition is beginning it would appear, and those who did draft Greene will slowly begin to reap the early rewards, limited though they’ll be.  He’s available for pick up in most leagues and is a nice one to tuck away on your roster, as it can be anticipated that he’ll be getting a decent bit of work by the end of the season, around playoff time in fantasy circles.  With a rookie quarterback and a very good defense, the team will be in a good number of low scoring battles with heavy reliance on the running game.  This will mean a lot of pounding on Jones and Washington, and more and more opportunities for the young legs Greene brings to the mix.  This all equals a good opportunity for those who grab Shonn now while he may be still available.

Ryan Moats (HOU) – This one is a really tough call.  Moats hasn’t touched a ball all year until week four, then grabs fifteen carries last week.  There is a lot of ‘talk’ coming from the coaching staff that would lead one to believe that he’s going to see more carries, possibly taking a good bit of Chris Brown’s action, and maybe even some of Steve Slaton’s, as both have had trouble hanging on to the ball.  How much this will play out in real time is anyone’s guess, but there is no denying that the team has had some serious trouble moving the ball on the ground, so it warrants notice.  Moats would seem to have more upside than Brown at the moment, and it would be wise for Slaton owners to hedge their bets by picking him up.

…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.

LenDale White (TEN) – White is on a significantly lower statistical pace so far this year, primarily due to the team having to pass more.  This is a combined double whammy of sorts, since the team had already planned to expand the passing game.  What the team obviously didn’t plan for was to be having to throw just to stay in games, meaning they are having to pretty much abandon the running game early.  With White the second option and goal-line back, opportunities are few and far between.  If things don’t change he’ll struggle to get five touchdowns and five hundred yards.  Don’t hold your breath for him to rebound anytime soon unless Chris Johnson is injured.

LaDainian Tomlinson (SDC) – At some point it will begin to be accepted by the majority of owners that LT has seen the end of his significant production at running back.  At the moment however, the Chargers and fantasy owners everywhere continue to hold on to the past, hoping that a resurgence will follow.  While it may at some point for a game or three, as it stands now, however, LT has done next to nothing to help fantasy owners this year.

Clinton Portis (WAS) – Along with the other struggles the Redskins have, Portis is underperforming dramatically.  He has yet to score a touchdown, the biggest concern, and he is only averaging seventy yards a game.  All of this amounts to a scary start to the season for a first/second round pick.  The scariest part of the whole thing is the fact that things don’t look to be getting any better for the Redskin offense, meaning the struggles will continue.  At best Clinton is in line for just under 1,100 yards rushing on the season, and at the moment no touchdowns.  Of course, the touchdown thing will change at some point, but it is getting to the point where expecting more than five or so on the season will be wishful thinking.

Oakland Running Game (OAK) – Ok, this one just couldn’t go without comment.  So you’re facing the worse rushing defense in the league, you’ve got three or four runners who would be considered ‘capable’, so what do you do?  How about a combined total of fifty – yes fifty – yards on the ground, and all this with a quarterback who is one of the worst quarterbacks starting in the game today.  This says one thing…unless you are as desperate as any fantasy owner ever has been, stay away, away, away from Oakland running backs.  Darren McFadden will have surgery this week to repair a torn meniscus in his knee and will miss 2 – 4 weeks, so Fargas and Bush will see a bit more action, but when you’re not able to run against the worst rush defense in the league, it almost isn’t worth taking the time.

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