The game of musical chairs continues to carry on among NFL runningbacks. We saw Felix Jones, highly touted backup to DeMarco Murray, suffer a bruised knee, leaving the Cowboys even more uncertain of who will carry the ball heading into week 8. In Arizona, Larod Stephens-Howling dominated the touches, frustrating William Powell owners who were optimistic after his encouraging performance in week 6. Pittsburgh is on the verge of bottoming out of their RB depth chart, resorting to Jonathan Dwyer. Similarly, Detroit is struggling to make plays regardless of whether Mikel LeShoure or Joique Bell is on the field… though LeShoure still looks in line for more touches. The icing on the cake — one of the few true “workhorses” left in the league, Maurice Jones-Drew, was carted off and will sit week 8 when the Jags visit the Packers. Let’s pick up the pieces…
Rashad Jennings (RB – Jax): One of the more promising handcuffs heading into the season; Jennings will take the helm against Green Bay this week, as MJD nurses an injury. If you need a runningback this week, he is your guy. With Blaine Gabbert still shaken up, Jennings should figure heavily into this game (though he may be forcibly turned into a screen-pass catcher if the Packers build a sizable lead). At 27 years old (keep in mind very few runningbacks last into their 30′s), and coming off a season where he was incredibly overworked, this injury to MJD comes as little surprise, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Jennings play a large role in this offense for the remainder.
Larod Stephens-Howling (RB – Ari): It looked like my William Powell prediction back before week 6 would pay off, but after an encouraging performance, the Cardinals gave the ball almost exclusively to LSH in week 7. He did not disappoint, putting up 20 carries for 104 yards and a TD against a very tough Minnesota defense. It seems like if LSH is healthy, the Cardinals may be willing to roll with him. If you have room on your bench, keep him there in week 7. Neither Arizona runningback will likely do anything noteworthy against the 49′ers this weekend, but there is surely alot of potential for later on in the season.
Josh Gordon (WR – Cle): - A combined 4 Touchdowns, 22 targets, and 240 yards in his last 3 games (double digit fantasy points in each game). If you have a need for a wide receiver, Weeden has developed a nice connection with his new #1, and this should only get better.
Dustin Keller (TE – NYJ): Sanchez has always trusted Keller, and has always been very comfortable throwing to him. This showed in his first week back from injury, as he hauled in 7 catches for 96 yards and a TD. In an offense lacking weapons, would not be surprised to see Keller receive even more looks than he has in the past, and continue to put up top quality TE numbers if he can stay healthy.
Chris Givens (WR – StL): This is more of a flier/for those who play in deeper leagues. The Amendola injury brought opportunity for other receivers in this offense to make plays. Enter Chris Givens. He has now caught a 50+ yard pass in each of the past 4 games. He boats tremendous speed, and Bradford clearly does not hesitate to look his way with the deep ball. As the chemistry between the two improves, Givens’ fantasy numbers should follow suit.
Brandon Weeden (QB – Cle): Continues to quietly perform. His last 3 games read like this: 291 yards/2 TD’s/2 int’s, 231 yards/2 TD’s/1 int, 264 yards/2 TD’s/0 int’s. He continues to improve week by week, and currently sits on the same level as quarterbacks like Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers, and Jay Cutler in terms of average points per week despite his 118 yard, 0 TD/4 int stinker in week 1. Why is he only still owned in less than 9% of leagues? Probably because he plays for Cleveland.