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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 9
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:
N.Y. Jets, St. Louis, San Francisco, New England

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Jonathan Stewart

No more timeshare in Carolina.

Jonathan Stewart @ WAS: I canít remember the last time I recommended a start for one of Carolinaís various ground-gainers. The Panthers managed, oddly, to be a top 3 rushing offense in 2011 despite having virtually no reliable options at the running back position (from a fantasy standpoint, of course). Cam Newton gets the credit or blame for that, depending on how you look at it, but even the big QB has struggled this season. So why give Stewart even a second thought this week? For starters, heís fresh off a 17-carry, four-reception performance in Week 8, the most touches heís received since December 16th of 2010. In fact, the Panthers are rumored to be actively shopping his stable mate, DeAngelo Williams. Second, Stewart is facing the 29th-ranked Washington defense, one of the better matchups youíre gonna find on a week-in, week-out basis. Finally, GO DUCKS! Yeah, I already said that but I figured one more for good measure couldnít hurt.

Doug Martin @ OAK: The top three running backs on a per-game basis halfway through the season are, unsurprisingly, Arian Foster, Ray Rice, and Adrian Peterson, in that order. The #4 guy, Martin, is sure a surprise, though. While most predicted a bright future for the rookie from Boise St., itís doubtful anyone thought he could be this good this fast when he (barely) wrested the job away from LeGarrette Blount late in the preseason. Though Blount has poached a few carries and a few scores here and there, Martin has received most of the work since earning the gig and has done basically nothing to invalidate Coach Schianoís faith in him through seven career games. His most recent effort, a 214-yard, two-TD explosion against a tough Vikings defense, was easily his most impressive. For an encore, he attempts to take advantage of a slightly more susceptible Raiders team this Sunday.

Willis McGahee @ CIN: If number four is surprising, what does that make McGahee, currently the fifth best fantasy back in the league? Wasnít this guy finished, like, four years ago? If so, somebody forgot to tell him. Since joining the Broncos in 2011, the former Hurricane has averaged close to 79 rushing yards per game and about 4.7 yards/carry, near career highs. This season, heís demonstrated some receiving chops heís very rarely displayed in years past. Coach Fox didnít utilize him in that capacity last season for obvious reasons (think Tebow), but with Peyton Manning under center, McGahee has blossomed into an above-average check-down option for the AFC Westís best. He may not be LaDainian Tomlinson or even Ray Rice, his former running mate in Baltimore. Nevertheless, McGahee has become a versatile and thus reliable threat in this, his ninth season. Give him the start against a below-average Cincinnati defense this weekend.

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C.J. Spiller or Fred Jackson @ HOU: When the matchup is right (see Weeks 6 and 7 against Arizona and Tennessee, respectively), it isnít a stretch to recommend starting BOTH of the Billsí bell cows. When the matchup is formidable (Week 5 versus San Francisco), itís difficult to recommend starting either. In case youíve been taking a nap for several months, the Texans have officially become formidable. Theyíre a once-defeated outfit thatís surrendered precisely ZERO rushing touchdowns in 2012, making them automatically the very last team to give up a score on the ground this season, whenever that actually happens. Hereís my guess, for the official record: not this week. Spiller and Jackson are good backs and Iíd love to have them on my various squads when theyíre playing teams like the Cardinals and Titans. When they arenít, itís tough to gamble a fantasy matchup on the (max) 10-15 carries either is likely to see. Steer clear of both men in Week 9.

Donald Brown or Vick Ballard v. MIA: This tandem is only newly hatched and though the sample size is very small (just one week), the initial returns are pretty promising. Brown tallied 80 yards on 14 carries last Sunday while Ballard tallied 71 yards on 13 total touches, including the all-important, game-winning reception in overtime wherein he hurtled backwards, upside-down Superman style, into the Tennessee end zone. YouTube it if you didnít catch it because it was pretty sweet. Hereís what isnít sweet: Indianapolis doesnít play Tennessee again this week. The Fish are coming to Lucas Oil Stadium and theyíre bringing with them one of the leagueís stingiest run-stopping units (3.5 yards per carry and 82 per game). Iíll be forced to start Ballard in one of my leagues, most likely, but Iím not at all happy about it. Hopefully, youíve got some better options than yours truly sitting on the bench.

Jamaal Charles @ SD: If you look up the word “mercurial” in the dictionary, you’re apt to find a picture of this guy staring back at you. OK, not really, but I’m sure you see my point. He is the very picture of a feast or famine ball-carrier this season. When he’s good (288 total yards and a score against New Orleans), he’s otherworldly. When he’s bad (10 total yards against Oakland last week), he’s…really, really bad. The only other back who even comes close to being this unpredictable is Chris Johnson and at least he has the decency to stink against better opponents and flourish against the league’s lesser weights. San Diego hasn’t really declared itself yet (good, bad, or meh) and Charles did tally over 100 total yards against them just over a month ago. Nevertheless, things have taken a turn for the worse in KC. Matt Cassel looks lost, defenses are loading up to stop the run, and the results have been fairly ghastly for Charles, a once-shining star. You’ll start him, I suppose, but I’m sure glad I don’t have to make the same call.

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