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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Running Backs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 4
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:
Pittsburgh, Indianapolis

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Mikel Leshoure v. MIN: The Lions waited 18 regular season games to take their 2010 second-rounder for a spin and, boy, did they make up for some lost time. Leshoure got the surprise nod in Nashville over Kevin Smith last Sunday and then proceeded to rack up a staggering 26 carries (third most in the league), 100 yards, and a score in the overtime track meet. He was also, somewhat surprisingly, utilized several times in the passing game, hauling in four receptions on four targets for a healthy 34 yards. Not bad for a guy who caught just 37 passes his entire collegiate career. The matchup isn’t as juicy in Week 4 but Leshoure is clearly the type of back who can play all three downs, an increasingly rare breed in this highly specialized league. That means he’s going to get more opportunities than most, so…get him in there.

Willis McGahee

McGahee has been a thorn in the side of the Silver & Black.

Willis McGahee v. OAK: McGahee is far from a sure thing at press time (considered day-to-day) since he was bounced from last Sunday’s slugfest v. Houston in the third quarter with a rib injury. If he’s green-lighted this Sunday, however, he could benefit from a favorable matchup. Finally. The Broncos have faced, in order, the Steelers, Falcons, and Texans to start the season, the 7th, 13th, and 2nd stingiest defenses, respectively. Oakland is nowhere near as good on that side of the ball. Moreover, McGahee has fared very well against the Raiders historically. In 10 seasons, he’s averaged a robust 5.4 yards/carry against the Silver and Black and scored six rushing touchdowns, tied for the most (with Cleveland) he’s scored against any opponent. The last time he faced them, in fact, he delivered 163 yards and two scores, his best performance of the 2011 campaign. Start him if the Broncos do.

Cedric Benson v. NO: Overlooked in the uproar surrounding Green Bay’s shocking defeat was the fact Benson did something no Packers running back had done since Week 14 of last season: score a touchdown. The position had become virtually an afterthought in Mike McCarthy’s offense and was rendered almost completely irrelevant in the first half of Monday night’s debacle (just three set running plays). Then, the second half started, Benson carried the ball five of the first seven plays, and…voila! The Pack regained control, took the eventual lead (thanks to Benson’s score), and seemed almost assured of the win. This week, Benson and Co. will try and right the ship against a New Orleans team that has steered itself dangerously off course. The reason why is simple: The Saints can’t stop anybody. Look for the Pack’s head rock-toter to hit the century mark (at least) and double-down on those rushing TDs against a unit yielding a horrifying 215 rushing yards/game.

Grab a Gatorade

Chris Johnson @ HOU: Please forgive me? Johnson rewarded my blind support heading into Week 3 with an extra helping of ineptitude, accounting for just 29 of his team’s 437 total yards and failing to notch his first points of the year despite the Lions seemingly giving them away. His totals through the first three games of 2012 now look like this: 33 carries, 45 yards, and zero touchdowns. In other words, look away. It’s ghastly. We’re probably not too far away from Mike Munchak benching his franchise player and you should absolutely be thinking the same thing at this point. He draws a formidable Texans front seven in Week 4 and then the Steelers’ traditionally rough group in a couple weeks. If he’s still getting the lion’s share of the work come Week 7, I’ll be quite surprised.

Alfred Morris @ TB: Morris redeemed the ol’ Shot Caller somewhat last week by living up to expectations and dashing for 78 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries against the Bengals. This despite the fact Washington dug a huge hole and would not have been criticized for abandoning the running game early. Still, there are reasons to be concerned about Morris’ viability come this Sunday and, more ominously, moving forward. First, Tampa, his Week 4 opponent, is yielding just 2.3 yards/carry and 47.3 yards/game, both tops in the league. Second, Robert Griffin III is clearly the team’s most dangerous runner and will frequently steal carries, even of the designed variety. He’s already carried the ball 32 times through three games, a high for QBs. Third, Morris is a virtual non-factor in the passing game, garnering just one target and zero receptions thus far (more damaging in PPR leagues). Finally, the Redskins just inked former Packer, Ryan Grant, to take the place of the injured Roy Helu. Grant may be a castoff at this point but if Coach Shanny gets bored with Morris, he now has someone on hand who has proven capable of carrying a team’s load in the past. Be smart with Morris and sell high if the right deal is offered.

Ryan Williams, Beanie Wells (out), LaRod Stephens-Howling v. MIA: No, you’re not actually considering any Arizona RB at your running back slots against a stalwart Dolphins run defense. I understand that. I just thought it’d be fun to point out how comically bad these three stooges have been so far in 2012. Here are their collective totals through three contests: 72 carries, 182 yards, one TD, and two fumbles. Now, here’s what Jamaal Charles did to the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 alone: 33 carries, 233 yards, one TD, and no fumbles. If you can figure out how the Cardinals are 3-0, please let me know.

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