There are several top running backs whose status is in question for the coming week. Let’s take a look at each of them and get a feel if they are going to play or not, so we can plan accordingly:
- Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams
According to ESPN 101s Brian Stull (via Twitter), Steven Jackson “realizes may need to miss this game to be healthy enough the rest of the year”. That’s a potential blow to fantasy owners, but at this point he should be considered a game-time decision. Groin injuries are tricky and it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see him sitting out (though, he’s proven he can play hurt in the past, so who knows). Kenneth Darby would likely fill his position if he were to miss the game, so Jackson owners may want to handcuff him now if you don’t have a viable replacement on your bench. Unfortunately, we are likely not going to have a definitive answer until Sunday, so if you are a Jackson owner plan your day around checking the news.
- Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints
He has yet to practice this week due to an ankle injury, according to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (via Twitter). Time will tell if he suits up or not, but with Reggie Bush out as well, Chris Ivory would likely get the bulk of the carries should Thomas be forced out. With the Saints offense, it’s more likely that Drew Brees gets extra throws as opposed to Ivory getting significant carries, but if you are desperate for a potential replacement he’s worth stashing as a handcuff. However, I’d check the waiver wire first to see if there’s a higher upside option available.
- Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
Mike Duffy (via Twitter) of baltimoreravens.com is reporting that, “Ray Rice and le’Ron McClain joined practice today with red non contact jerseys on”. That’s certainly a positive sign for his prospects of playing this week against the Steelers, despite his knee injury. While his matchup is a tough one, he has enough potential to contribute enough on the ground and in the passing game to be used in all formats if he plays. Willis McGahee, who would’ve seen extra carries, sees no increase in his value at this point.
- Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee is reporting (via Twitter) that Mathews returned to Chargers practice today. After missing last week’s game and leaving early in Week 2, it appears that he’s going to return against the Cardinals this weekend. As I said in my Top 40 Running Back rankings for the week (click here to view), he has a tremendous matchup and can be considered a RB1 for the week assuming he plays. At this point, that certainly seems to be the case. Mike Tolbert becomes more of a FLEX option, at best, and is probably better suited for fantasy benches.
- Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions
He’s suffering from turf toe, but he told Tim Twentyman of The Detroit News (click here for the article), “So far I’m going to give it a go tomorrow and see how it feels. But it’s gotten a lot better than I thought it was going to get. It’s looking real good right now.” That’s certainly good news for owners and while he doesn’t appear to be a lock, the chances are good that he suits up on Sunday. Plan on using him in all formats at this point.
- Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos
At the time of the injury there were rumblings that it would be two weeks before he returned to the lineup from his hamstring injury, so it’s hard to imagine depending on him this week. Laurence Maroney should see the bulk of the carries again this week, but is best served as a FLEX option.
What are your thoughts on the injured backs? Who are you anticipating missing the week? Who are you counting on?
Make sure to check out the rest of our Week 4 Rankings: