Week 12: RB Roundup
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bobby Rainey; Brian Leonard
Current scenario: With Doug Martin and Mike James lost for the season, Tampa turned to second year man Bobby Rainey last week against the Falcons. Rainey took the opportunity and ran with it... 30 times for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns to be exact. Rainey's play last week has clearly paved the way for the young man out of Western Kentucky to be the new starter for the Bucs.
Future scenario: The next couple of weeks will likely be challenging for the Buccaneers' run game. Next week Tampa travels to Detroit to face the league's fifth best run defense. Following the Lions game, Tampa goes on the road again to Carolina to face the the league's second best run defense. Against these defenses, while on the road, and likely playing from behind does not bode well for Tampa's game.
Rashard Mendenhall; Andre Ellington; Stepfan Taylor
Current scenario: The Cardinals once again struggled to run the ball last week (even though they faced the league's lowest ranked run defense). Arizona's leading rusher in the game was Rashard Mendenhall, who carried the ball 13 times for a whopping 14 yards. The only saving grace for Mendenhall owners is that he at least found the end zone. Meanwhile head coach Bruce Arians continues to give the less explosive Andre Ellington fewer touches than Mendenhall. One has to wonder what it is Arians sees in Mendenhall or doesn't see in Ellington in practice each week.
Future scenario: Until we see some consistent play from Arizona's backfield, it is probably best to only start Mendenhall or Ellington against the right defense. Of course we say this the week after they faced the league's lowest ranked defense, in which they rushed for 17 yards in the game. With Mendenhall continuing to receive the lion's share of the carries, it is tough for us to back Ellington. The next few games should be productive for Arizona's backs, but honestly it's a real crapshoot seeing as they did almost nothing against Jacksonville.
Adrian Peterson; Toby Gerhart
Current scenario: While browsing the stat line from Sunday's game you may have noticed backup Toby Gerhart was the Vikings' leading rusher. Gerhart carried the ball seven times for 67 yards, while Peterson rushed 21 times for 65 yards. After the game head coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson was not running the ball at full strength due to a groin issue which had kept him out of practice late last week. The good news was despite the injury Peterson was able to play and he carried the ball 21 times. The injury doesn't seem like it will hold him out of future games.
Future scenario: The Vikings have been looking for consistent quarterback play and it doesn't appear they'll find any in the near future. With a lack of quality play at quarterback, it is a wonder how Peterson is able to run the ball so well week in and week out. As the Vikings fall further and further out of playoff contention, one has to wonder if Peterson will remain on the field? There is no need for Peterson to risk injury in a meaningless game. If this groin injury hangs on, look for Gerhart to see more playing carries; if Peterson can't go then Gerhart could be a nice second back in many fantasy leagues.
New York Giants
Andre Brown; Brandon Jacobs; Peyton Hillis
Current scenario: Don't look now but the New York Giants are riding a four-game winning streak. This week the G-Men square off against division rival Dallas in what could be the game that decides the division for New York. A loss this week against the Cowboys and New York will need a lot of help in order to make the post season. Unlike in their week one matchup against Dallas, the Giants will have a healthy Andre Brown in the backfield. Since returning to action against the Raiders two weeks ago, Brown has led the team with 48 carries compared to just five for each Jacobs and Manning. The one thing owners should be weary of is short yardage situations where Jacobs may come in and steal a touchdown or two (as was the case last week against Green Bay). Look for Brown to continue to carry the load as the Giants look to finish off the season strong.
Future scenario: The Giants are home to face Dallas and their 29th ranked run defense this weekend. Brown should again see 20+ carries as he shoulders the load for New York. There is little reason to believe this won't be another 100+ yard game for Brown. Following this week, New York heads to Washington to face a Redskins run defense that has allowed a league high 15 rushing touchdowns. These next couple of games could be big for Brown.