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Running Backs Movin' Up - Week 7
Tim Van Prooyen
October 20, 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!

Laurence Maroney (NEP) – Sammy Morris’ reign as the New England starter may have lasted just one week, as for the second game in a row the Patriots lost their starting running back.  Regardless of what ends up being the news on Morris’ injury, he’s likely to miss this week, with the bye following, as the team rests him for a while.  In his absence, at least for next week, Maroney will likely take over the starting duties.  This gives owners an opportunity, on a week when we start the three week-six teams on bye stretch, to grab a starter who will be facing the Buccaneers, who are toward the bottom of the league in rushing yards allowed.  Maroney filled in very nicely in the Patriots’ rout of the Titans Sunday, rushing sixteen times for one hundred twenty-three yards and a touchdown.  He should have that kind of a day this week, even if he shares time with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk.  Maroney, for at least this week, is worth not only a pick up but a start in just about every league.

DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart (CAR) – If you saw what Thomas Jones and Leon Washington were able to do against the Bills this past weekend, you have to be salivating if you own Williams or Stewart.  Both are likely on rosters, even though both have had, until this week, a relatively sub-par year.  Stewart has scored touchdowns in each of the past two weeks, and it appears as though, in spite of a number of basic problems on the Panther’s team as a whole, the running game is gradually getting back to the strength it was last season.  Williams has struggled as well early in the season, but with a good match up this week after a break out game last Sunday, it could be the start of better days.  At the very least both backs are excellent starts in week seven. 

Ryan Grant (GBP) – Grant isn’t flashy, he isn’t spectacular, but he keeps getting points here and there, every now and then adding a touchdown or big run to add a spike to his steady low range numbers.  However, over the next three weeks he gets two of the worst rushing defenses in the league with Cleveland and Tampa Bay, with the Vikings sandwiched in between.  Grant has been possibly the most consistent running back in the fantasy season so far, averaging about thirteen points a week in PPR leagues, regardless of whether or not he scores a touchdown.  While those numbers aren’t gaudy, and many might down play them, the fact is, if you know you can start a player and bank on that kind of output every week, you’re in a better position than most.  I have often argued, give me ten players who score ten points every week over a couple of players who score forty one week but three the next any day, I’ll compete in any league.  Grant is one of those guys.  Plug him in and forget about him, and now that he’s had his bye he’s an even better asset moving forward. 

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.

Javon Ringer (TEN) – We all now realize how pathetic Tennessee is, at least so far this season.  We also know that, while they’ve become much more of a passing team – regardless of the reasons behind that, they still have one of the better running backs in the game in Chris Johnson.  However, the other part of the Titan’s rushing tandem, LenDale White, left the game Sunday with an apparent right knee injury.  While it isn’t certain the full extent of the injury, knee injuries and running backs usually mean at least a couple of weeks off.  With the bye week next week, it is hard to say how things will look going into their next game, but there is a very good chance that White won’t be able to go by then, which leaves the door open for Javon Ringer to finally get his first start.  He averaged almost seven yards a carry when he came into the debacle in the snow against New England this weekend, which, if you watched the game, is relatively impressive.  Ringer isn’t going to become the number one guy anytime soon, that distinction belongs to Johnson, but he does appear set to become the change of pace back and possible goal line option.  In deep leagues he’s a must grab this week, but even in leagues not so deep there is some merit in grabbing him if you have a flexible roster spot you can stash him in, to see what happens over the next couple of weeks.  The team has a Jacksonville team on the schedule after the bye that isn’t the staunchest defense on the block, so opportunity for solid points will be present should White be out for an extended period of time.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NEP) – With Sammy Morris likely to miss at least this week’s game, Green-Ellis becomes worthy of a roster spot.  He came in after the injury to Morris and had sixty-seven yards on seven carries, not a bad first effort for the year.  The Patriots face the Buccaneers and their low ranked rushing defense, meaning Green-Ellis is bound to have at least some value for one week.  This week sees running backs like Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, Kevin Smith, Knowshon Moreno and Chris Johnson on bye, so backs will be at a premium.  Green-Ellis at the moment isn’t going to be the starter, and will go back to obscurity if and when Morris or even Taylor return, but, considering the over-thirty age of both of those guys and Faulk, and the many chances that Maroney has had and not lived up to, there is even an outside chance that with a little help Green-Ellis could end up the starter before the year is out.  This gives him even more value in deeper leagues as there may be roster room to ‘stash’ him away.

Justin Fargas (OAK) – Regardless of what the team does when all three backs are healthy again, Fargas seems to be making a good case for more playing time.  While his yardage didn’t see a boost until this last week, his carries have increased each week for four straight outings.  He’s also caught every ball thrown his way so far this season.  While nothing is ever ‘easy’ where the Raiders are concerned, it seems like the coaching staff may be starting to see the light – that Fargas is, if not the best, close to the best running back the team has on its roster.  With some serious hits coming the next three weeks, Fargas could help you out in two of them before having a bye in week nine.

…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.

Derrick Ward (TBB) – One of the comment boards I read Sunday was a fantasy owner telling of his lament when he waited too long on draft day and watched Ward go off the board, having to ‘settle’ for Knowshon Moreno.  Imagine his delight as this season has pressed on.  Ward, who many thought would be the primary workhorse in Tampa Bay, has almost been regulated to bench duty, as Cadillac Williams has taken the starting job by storm.  Ward, at this point, is almost useless as a fantasy back with any consistency.  Obviously, with the six teams a week bye stretch beginning this week, he may have some minimal value as simply someone who might pull off a score or something, but beyond that, he’s hardly worth holding on to for depth.

Brandon Jacobs (NYG) – Fantasy owners keep waiting for Jacobs to step up and start producing like he did last season, and in week three it looked like he was on his way there, but since then it has been nothing but downhill.  With the emergence of Ahmad Bradshaw, Jacobs has seemed to become almost ineffective.  He did have a very nice catch in the end zone Sunday that was called back due to a penalty, but even with that, he’s been a serious disappointment.  From an Average Draft Position perspective, he’s been close to a bust, ranking 35th overall in PPR combination scoring leagues after going eleventh overall among running backs in the draft season.  With a tough Cardinal rushing defense coming up this week, look for another rough outing from one of last year’s best.  It should also be noted that the guy who ran for fifteen touchdowns a season ago is now only on pace to rush for three this season after six games.  In fact, he’ll likely have trouble even topping a thousand yards.  Jacobs isn’t quite to the point where you have to bench him, but he’s most definitely not even close to the best option out there.

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