As we head towards the fantasy playoffs, owners are left wondering where potential value will come from. This week a bevy of injuries have suddenly brought numerous running backs to the forefront of our minds. Let’s take a look at the backs you should be considering:
Ronnie Hillman – Denver Broncos
With Willis McGahee out due to a torn MCL, the Broncos are suddenly left with a huge void in their backfield. Granted, with Peyton Manning throwing the football the team can operate without much of a running game (all you have to do is look back at his Indianapolis days).
However, this isn’t the same Manning (though he is doing a very good impersonation), and you have to think that the Broncos will continue to run the football. Hillman was given 12 carries this past week, with Lance Ball getting six.
While we would project a bit of a time share here, Hillman figures to play the bigger role (at least initially). He has 49 carries for 188 yards and a touchdown thus far, as well as catching all 10 passes he was targeted on.
While Ball is also worth grabbing in deeper formats, Hillman figures to be the better pick. However, with Manning under center there always is the risk of fewer carries.
Bryce Brown – Philadelphia Eagles
LeSean McCoy suffered a concussion towards the end of their Week 11 loss and seems like a long-shot to play in Week 12. Will he be able to return in Week 13? Time will tell, but with the Eagles’ season quickly going down the toilet you have to expect the team to be incredibly cautious.
Brown has looked good when given an opportunity, picking up 141 yards on 32 carries (4.4 yards per carry). The rookie also is the clear alternative and should see the bulk of the opportunities, adding to his appeal.
The difference to Hillman, however, is that the Eagles offensive line play has been poor this season and Brown doesn’t have a quarterback that is going to instill fear in defenses. With Michael Vick out (not that he was producing much anyways), rookie Nick Foles played in Week 11 and did little to instill confidence in him.
If the team can’t throw the ball well, defenses are just going to stack the box and take away the ground game. Just as an example, McCoy had 45 yards on 15 carries prior to getting injured last week.
However, if Foles can get off to a quick start this week against the Panthers, Brown could make some noise. As it is, Carolina is far from a good rushing defense (118.4 rushing yards per game, seven touchdowns).
If we had more of an idea of how long McCoy would be out for, Brown would be the better option over Hillman. That said, if you are looking for just a week or two, I would stick with Brown. However, unless we hear more about McCoy’s situation, Hillman has more of an opportunity over the remainder of the year.
Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals
Reports have been that he would return in Week 12, but now we have to wonder exactly what he will return to. LaRod Stephens-Howling rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in Week 11.
Of course, one big game does not make a running back and Stephens-Howling was far from impressive in many of the games while he was getting the football. His best role may be as a change of pace back, ceding th early down carries to Wells.
Of course, throughout his career Wells has battled injuries and disappointed fantasy owners. Throw in a questionable quarterback who won’t help keep defenses from focusing on him and Wells falls into te same type of category as Brown, though I would slot Brown slightly ahead for now.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 12 rankings: