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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Running Backs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 9
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:
Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, N.Y. Giants, San Francisco

Grab a Helmet

Zac Stacy v. TEN: Iíve been pretty slow to embrace the Ramsí new rock toter and thatís primarily because A) he plays for the Rams, and B) Iíve wondered how good he can be if he failed to beat out Daryl Richardson in training camp. In other words, Iím deeply, doubly suspicious of Rams who canít beat out fellow Rams. Stacy, of course, has rendered those concerns moot of late (and Richardson a virtual afterthought) by rushing for over 250 yards on 61 carries his last three games, making him the twelfth most productive rusher in the league during that span. His most impressive feat, of course, was gashing the vaunted Seahawks to the tune of 134 yards on Monday night. The former Commodore missed most of the final drive, unfortunately, thanks to an ankle injury, but if heís not ruled inactive for this Sundayís game with Tennessee, you should probably start him with confidence.

Ryan Mathews

It's tiime to say something nice about Ryan Mathews.

Ryan Mathews @ WAS: I havenít always had nice things to say about San Diegoís #1 running back, but you should know I spent my very first pick on him back in 2010, mainly because I thought he could be whatís becoming a dying RB breed, the every-down back. Theoretically, he still could be (and was in 2011), but several seasons of uneven production, frustrating injuries, and poor ball security have meant lowered expectations for me and the Chargersí brass. Mathews is now the #1 guy in name only, rarely contributing in the passing game and earning only two-thirds of the Chargersí carries (Danny Woodhead gets the rest and almost all the passing game targets). Does that mean Mathews is worthless? Far from it. Through eight weeks, heís still healthy (knock on noggin) and ranked #22 amongst running backs. Thatís RB2 territory and he should be an automatic start against Washingtonís abominable defense.

Eddie Lacy v. CHI: I told you last week heíd touched the Wilson more than any other running back the past three weeks. Make that the past four weeks. Lacy earned an almost unheard of 29 carries in the Packís Sunday night stomping of the Vikes and converted them into 94 yards and his third professional touchdown, a performance that caused Jared Allen to ask the following question: ďWhen do the Green Bay Packers rush for 200 yards?Ē Not on Sunday night, you big whiner, but they were danged close. Green Bay might actually hit that mark this Monday night against another divisional foe, Chicago, a team that isnít faring very well against opposing rushers (117.3 yards/game and 4.0/carry). If Aaron Rodgers has his way with the Bearsí secondary early (he will), Lacy could see a whole bunch more carries late in his Monday night debut (ditto). You canít sit this kid down right now.

Grab a Gatorade

Trent Richardson @ HOU: You might hafta consider sitting this one down, though. Lacyís Heisman-winning predecessor in Tuscaloosa hasnít come close to meeting expectations since joining the Indianapolis backfield and the only thing that might keep that trade from looking like a complete disaster in the long run is if the Colts continue their winning ways. More wins = lower draft pick for Cleveland = less buyerís remorse, right? Richardsonís struggles are especially perplexing because the Indy passing game is humming right along, meaning he should have plenty of holes to run through. If theyíre available, though, he sure isnít finding them. Through four games in Naptown, Richardson is averaging just a whisker over three yards per tote. Meanwhile, his sidekick, Donald Brown, is averaging almost six yards per rush behind the same line opening the same holes. Yup, itís a real head-scratcher. If you own Richardson, itís time to be officially worried.

Mike James @ SEA: He was a hot waiver wire pickup prior to Week 8 once Doug Martin had been ruled out with a torn labrum. As is often the case, however, fantasy GMs ignored the possibility that running backs arenít necessarily fungible. Martin made the ROY short list in 2012 because heís really talented. James isnít as skilled (hence, the reason he was a sixth-round draft pick) and doesnít have the benefit of operating in the same stable Tampa offense Martin worked in most of last year. Even Martin was struggling to do much since Mike Glennon assumed the reins this season, rushing for fewer than three yards per carry in three games with the young QB at the helm. A showdown with Seattleís Seahawks doesnít usually improve anyoneís stock, so avoid all Bucs not named Vincent Jackson in Week 9.

Ray Rice @ CLE: Thereís falling off the table because of one’s age (see McGahee, Willis) and then there’s falling off the table for reasons seemingly unknown. Rice belongs in this second category. After four straight seasons of 200+ fantasy points and 13+ per game, the former All-Pro and current 26-year old has been basically MIA, averaging a microscopic 2.8 yards/carry, good for just 45th best amongst 46 qualifying backs. Number 46 on that list? His teammate, Bernard Pierce. Clearly, something isn’t right with the Baltimore running game right now and facing a better-than-average Cleveland front probably isn’t the best way to remedy it. If you nabbed Rice with a high-round draft pick, it might be time to consider cutting bait and taking what you can get for him. I drafted C.J. Spiller so don’t feel too bad.

Wide Receivers