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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
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The Shot Caller's Report - Running Backs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 5
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:
Dallas, Detroit, Oakland, Tampa Bay

Grab a Helmet

Ryan Mathews @ NO: Apparently, there’s a special place reserved in NFL doghouses for running backs who put the football on the carpet. New York’s promising rook, David Wilson, essentially disappeared after his opening night fumble against the Cowboys, relegated to Tom Coughlin’s poop list ever since. Mathews, similarly, was benched against KC last Sunday, the consequence of a critical red-zone turnover against Atlanta in Week 3 and a growing frustration on the part of management with his ball security issues. Concerning, right? Well, yes and no. Mathews clearly has butterfingers (11 fumbles in two-plus seasons) so if he does continue to cough it up, he’ll absolutely end up buried on the bench. However, Norv Turner still believes in him and I suspect this was more of a wake-up call than a permanent relegation. He did after all, register more yards than replacement Jackie Battle on one less carry against the Chiefs. While it was during mop-up duty and long after Battle had capitalized on the prime red-zone looks, Mathews is clearly the more dynamic of the two backs. Even if he doesn’t regain his job completely this week, there could be more than enough touches to go around for him and Battle against a Saints defense yielding a league-worst 186.8 rushing yards/game. Set your fears aside and get him in there.

Trent Richardson

Expect 20+ touches from Trent Richardson against the Giants.

Trent Richardson @ NYG: On paper, Cleveland’s struggling and inexperienced offense versus the Ravens’ nasty and experienced defense looked like the mismatch of Week 4. In reality, the Browns held their own most of the night and even had an opportunity to tie things up on the game’s final play. Guess that’s why they don’t play games on paper (and why you should really think twice about backing double-digit favorites in the NFL). Cleveland’s underrated defense was a big part of the equation but so was this future superstar, their franchise running back. Richardson only tallied 47 yards on 14 carries (his third sub-50 yard effort of the season) but he found paydirt for the third consecutive week and also hauled in four passes for a solid 57 yards. It’s pretty clear the Browns are only going as far as he’s able to take them this season. Though that won’t be very far, three solid matchups await in the next month, starting this week against the Giants.

Reggie Bush @ CIN: Save for an explosive Week 2 performance against the Raiders (almost 200 total yards and two scores), Bush has posted relatively pedestrian numbers to start the 2012 season, averaging just 65+ rushing yards in his three other outings. Worse, he hasn’t scored a single touchdown other than the two he scored against Oakland and has been mostly an afterthought in Joe Philbin’s West Coast passing attack. To be fair, he missed half of the Week 3 game against the Jets and was clearly not 100% last week against Arizona. Nevertheless, it’s starting to feel like the change in schemes and a change under center may have adversely affected his overall fantasy value in the early going. We’ll find out if he can turn things around when Miami faces a soft Bengals front seven giving up a league-worst 5.4 yards/carry. Make sure Bush is in your lineup as he’s one of the stronger matchup plays of Week 5.

Grab a Gatorade

BenJarvus Green-Ellis v. MIA: Bush’s Dolphin teammates, contrarily, are easily the stingiest run-stopping unit in the league allowing a mere 56.8 yards a game and a paltry 2.4 yards per rush. Accordingly, the Law Firm is probably the worst matchup play of Week 5. In fact, until further notice, I can’t recommend ANY running back who opposes the Fish, except maybe someone like Marshawn Lynch (Week 12) or Maurice Jones-Drew (Week 15). They’re that good. Incidentally, Green-Ellis was brought in to replace the productive, but supposedly limited, Cedric Benson. Through four games, he’s averaging 71.5 rushing yards/game and is on pace to score eight times. In 2011, Benson averaged 71.1 rushing yards/game and scored six time. Apparently, Bengal running backs are fungible.

Chris Johnson @ MIN: I, like many other pundits, recommended you sit Johnson down last week, reasoning the end could be near for the back formerly known as CJ2K. Naturally, he went out and posted his best numbers of the season against a very stout Texans run defense. Or did he? The Titans were essentially out of the game midway through the third quarter and Johnson racked up more than half of his season-high 141 yards during the final quarter and a half of that blowout loss (otherwise known as garbage time). While the Texans seemed content to sit back in nickel and dime once they’d mounted the sizeable lead, Tennessee seemed equally content to keep giving Johnson the ball, perhaps hoping to salvage some of his misplaced confidence. Whatever the reason, I’m not buying that we’ll see it two weeks running. Minnesota is even better against the run and probably won’t be nursing a three-TD lead this coming Sunday. If you can get some value for Johnson between now and then, I urge you to pull the trigger.

Brandon Bolden v. DEN: Oh, that tricky Belichick! Bolden came out of literally nowhere last week to lead the Pats in rushing with 137 yards on 16 carries, a stellar 8.6-yard average. He also tallied a score in the 52-28 pasting of the Bills, the second of his brief career. Where some see breakout candidate and obvious waiver wire pickup, however, I see potential headache. First, starter Stevan Ridley didn’t exactly take a backseat to the unknown Bolden against Buffalo, rushing 22 times for 106 yards and two scores of his own. Second, it’s not like New England hasn’t utilized multiple backs before. Just the week prior against Baltimore, Danny Woodhead racked up 15 carries to Ridley’s 16. Clearly, it’s Belichick’s intention to utilize a committee of backs and deploy them as the matchups dictate. The pie of available carries was large in Week 4 but I suspect it will be significantly smaller against a much better Denver run defense in Week 5. Smaller pie = smaller pieces. Use Bolden at your own risk.

Wide Receivers