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Running Backs Movin' Up - Week 9
Tim Van Prooyen
November 3, 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!

Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) – The Steelers are currently on pace to rush the ball fewer times than they ever have as a team – don’t expect that trend to continue.  As the weather turns and games start to be played in less than optimum throwing conditions, look for the team to start turning to the running game more and more.  As that happens, look for Mendenhall’s numbers, already on a pretty solid projection, to only get better.  He’s looking at a thousand yards and nine touchdowns right now, but you can expect that to jump to about twelve-hundred with about twelve touchdowns when all is said and done.  The downside for Rashard is a pretty tough playoff schedule, with Miami and Baltimore among the opponents.  However, he’s a great one to ride through the rest of the regular season, or make a big time trade for someone with a better playoff schedule.

LeSean McCoy (PHI) – With Brian Westbrook out for most of the past two games, McCoy has had the chance to dabble with the starting role.  He’s on rosters across the fantasy spectrum, but there is a lot of debate as to how he’ll be used throughout the rest of the season.  Here are my thoughts on the matter, for what they’re worth.  The entire basis for what I think will happen with McCoy revolves around my view of Brian Westbrook.  Westbrook has been one of the best backs in the league for some time now, this is undisputable.  However, here are some things you must realize as a fantasy owner.  First, he turned thirty on the second of September, never a good thing for a running back (with extremely few exceptions).  Second, get these numbers.  Westbrook has played in six of eight games this season.  In those games he has a total of forty-one carries and seventeen receptions.  His pace is currently for only 109 carries and forty-five receptions, for a grand total of 872 yards.  While these are ok numbers for a third or fourth back, they are not number one back numbers.  So, where does that leave McCoy?  I believe that as the season progresses, even when Westbrook is playing, the current 60/40 split favoring Westbrook will gradually turn into a 60/40 split favoring McCoy.  By the time the fantasy playoffs are here, it would surprise me very little if McCoy was getting the bulk of the work, if Westbrook can actually stay healthy through that time.  So, if you’ve got McCoy, consider continuing to start him as the season moves on, even if Westbrook is listed as the starter.

Joseph Addai (IND) – Addai has been aligned most of this year, and with some reason, but at least for this week he gets a spot on the moving up report.  Besides the obvious reason, a matchup against Houston, is the loss of rookie Donald Brown to injury.  While Brown will return, it is unclear as to when, and in the meantime, there doesn’t seem to be a viable option to take any carries away.  Addai, to his credit, is on pace to have a lot more receptions than usual, though not too many yards receiving - ironically.  It should be noted as well, if you include his passing touchdown this past week, he has scored in five straight games, which for those owners in fantasy leagues with heavy touchdown based scoring systems is all important.  With Adrian Peterson, Thomas Jones, Steven Jackson and Marshawn Lynch all on bye this week it will be important to know where your options are, and Addai should be one of those options.

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.

Maurice Morris (DET) – Don’t get too excited, but if you’re looking for deep assistance he should be considered an option.  His mini-breakout last week came when Kevin Smith was side-lined, so don’t expect it to be a regular occurrence.  However, Smith is a smaller back and does get dinged up quite a bit, so it was very interesting to see the team turn to Morris more than Aaron Brown.  Morris is a veteran that has had very good individual outings filling in for Shawn Alexander in Seattle over the years, so warrants keeping an eye on.  With six teams on byes again this week, depth is everything, and the Lions have a matchup against the Seahawks in Seattle this week.  If you look at things like that to give a player a bit of a boost, Morris makes all kinds of sense to start next week if necessary.

Ryan Moats (HOU) – If you’ve followed this column all season, there is a chance you at least had Moats on your bench this week.  If you didn’t, there’s a fair chance he’ll be the first guy off the waiver board this week.  Steve Slaton likely will get back on the field in a decent capacity, but his fumbles have literally cost him a lot of value.  Moats not only did well in place of Slaton this week, he did superbly.  Unlike the last time Moats came in and had a good game in place of Slaton, this is likely to be more than a one week effort.  Indianapolis is on tap this week, so there won’t be as many stats to go around and the running game will struggle, but Moats is a must grab and must start regardless due to the number of teams on bye this week.  Houston has their bye the following week, so Moats is at best a one week stopgap, but you won’t want to drop him from your roster once you get him this time.

…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.

Darren Sproles (SDC) – After starting off looking like he was on track to take over for LT, the bottom has dropped out somewhat on Sproles.  Over the past four weeks he’s only had eleven carries, six catches and only one touchdown, not stats that make fantasy owners drool.  It isn’t as though LT has resurrected his career or anything, he hasn’t, but Sproles has just not been part of the game plan like he was to start the season.  Could things revert back?  Sure, but for the moment,  do your best to avoid starting him until it looks like the Chargers remember what they’re missing.

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