by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Who broke out? Who got hurt? Who appears to be buried on the depth chart? Let’s breakdown the AFC backfields from yesterday’s action to try and determine who we should target and who we should ignore:
- Bernard Pierce – 24 carries for 65 yards and 1 TD
Without Ray Rice, Pierce was the workhorse as expected. While the numbers weren’t impressive, a lot of that was courtesy of facing a tough Texans defense. Next week he would draw a Bills defense that has struggled stopping the run, so if Rice is out again Pierce should be a considered a viable RB2.
- Fred Jackson – 7 carries for 72 yards
- C.J. Spiller – 10 carries for 9 yards
While Jackson had one big run, the fact that Spiller was lost to a knee injury early in the second half could potentially be devastating to both the Bills and fantasy owners. We’ll have to keep close tabs on the news, but Jackson hardly matches Spiller’s potential upside. If you are a Spiller owner, keep your fingers crossed.
- Giovani Bernard – 10 carries for 50 yards and 1 TD (4 receptions for 49 yards)
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis – 10 carries for 29 yards and 1 TD
The two split carries this week, but how much longer can they maintain that? Bernard is averaging 5.0 yards per carry, while being a major factor in the passing game, while Green-Ellis is plodding along at 2.8 yards per carry. While he may not become an every down back, look for Bernard’s role to continue to grow as the season progresses.
- Chris Ogbonnaya – 2 carries for 23 yards
- Bobby Rainey – 4 carries for 17 yards
- Willis McGahee – 8 carries for 9 yards
In their first game without Trent Richardson, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they struggled to run the football. McGahee got the most carries, but it was his first game since being signed off the street. As we’ve said before Rainey offers the upside and the unknown, so the Browns should eventually try to figure out what they have in him, but at this point this is a situation to avoid.
- Arian Foster – 12 carries for 54 yards
- Ben Tate – 9 carries for 36 yards
The workload was a lot closer than it has been, though falling behind early also limited the opportunities in general. The fact that Tate played a larger role is important, as he has actually been the more productive of the two backs early on. It’s a situation to watch, though it’s not like Foster is going to be replaced. However, if Tate is going to get 12-15 touches per game he does have FLEX potential.
- Ahmad Bradshaw – 19 carries for 95 yards and 1 TD
- Trent Richardson – 13 carries for 35 yards and 1 TD
It’s not a surprise that Richardson and Bradshaw shared touches, as Richardson was still getting up to speed with the Colts’ offense. While Bradshaw impressed, this is going to be Richardson’s offense moving forward.
- Maurice Jones-Drew – 19 carries for 43 yards and 1 TD
- Jordan Todman – 2 carries for 5 yards and 1 TD
It was nice that Jones-Drew played, but he struggled (as anticipated) against the elite defense in the league. That said, he’s managed just 115 yards on 44 carries over his first three games this season. You have to wonder how healthy he actually is and if this could quickly be a lost season. Don’t give up yet, but concerns are high.
- Lamar Miller – 8 carries for 62 yards
- Daniel Thomas – 5 carries for 21 yards and 1 TD
Miller broke a 49 yard run and ended up averaging 7.8 yards per carry, but he continues to see limited opportunities to carry the football. That said, over the past two weeks he’s now gotten 22 carries for 131 yards and a TD, while Thomas has struggled (16 carries for 44 yards on the season). Miller’s time is coming, so don’t give up hope. Next week he draws a Saints defense that has allowed 111.3 rushing yards per game, making Miller a solid play as a RB2.
New England Patriots
- LeGarrette Blount – 14 carries for 65 yards
- Stevan Ridley – 11 carries for 35 yards
This was an eye-opening split and it shows that the Patriots are willing to ride the hot hand regardless of who it is. While we can’t write Ridley off, this game is a major concern. Until he regains the Patriots trust and starts getting regular touches, his value has got to plummet. At this point it’s almost impossible to trust him as anything more than a FLEX (if even that).
New York Jets
- Bilal Powell – 27 carries for 149 yards
- Chris Ivory – 4 carries for 5 yards
Could this timeshare finally be sorted out? Powell was the workhorse and he delivered, averaging 5.5 yards per game against a porous rush defense. Next week would be much tougher sledding against the Titans, but he’s already emerged as the third down and goal line back. Keep in mind that an injury kept Ivory out for much of the game, which gave Powell his opportunity. The question is if he did enough to secure the job or not.
- Jonathan Dwyer – 12 carries for 39 yards
- Felix Jones – 7 carries for 34 yards
Another game, another unimpressive performances from the Steelers’ backfield. Until Le’Veon Bell is ready to return (and he’s getting closer), this is a situation to avoid.
San Diego Chargers
- Ryan Mathews – 16 carries for 58 yards
- Danny Woodhead – 5 carries for 31 yards (7 receptions for 55 yards)
- Ronnie Brown – 5 carries for 6 yards and 1 TD
Obviously we can’t look at the carry split and assume that Mathews has emerged as the go to back, as Woodhead played an integral role in the passing game. This should remain a time split, with Brown also sticking his head in there, limiting the upside going forward.
- Chris Johnson – 19 carries for 90 yards
- Jackie Battle – 4 carries for 12 yards
Johnson hasn’t wowed us yet this season, but he’s now registered 90+ yards in back-to-back games and is the clear go to back in Tennessee.
What are your thoughts of the running back situations around the league? Who’s value is on the rise? Who’s on the decline?