RB Roundup: Week 5 and beyond
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Football > Week 05 > Week 5 and beyond

RB Roundup: Week 5 and beyond

We take a closer look at the current and future backfield scenarios
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Pittsburgh Steelers

Le' Veon Bell; Jonathan Dwyer; Felix Jones; Isaac Redman

Current scenario: We have all been waiting for Le'Veon Bell to recover from his foot injury so we could see just how good the rookie out of Michigan State will be. Last week against the Vikings, Bell scored the Steelers first rushing touchdown of the season when he scored on an eight-yard run in the first quarter. Yes, believe it or not it took nearly thirteen quarters of football for the Steelers to score their first rushing touchdown. Luckily for Steeler Nation they only had to wait until just after half for their second rushing touchdown of the year, a one-yard run by Bell. At this point the starting job is Bell's to lose and we believe baring injury he will be the Steelers starting back the remainder of the season.

Future scenario: The Steelers have a bye in Week 5 so Bell won't be of any use this weekend. After the bye, Pittsburgh will head to New York to face a Jets run defense that is allowing fewer than 80 rushing yards per game. In Week 7, things don't look much better as the Steelers host the Ravens. After that the schedule ticks up as the Steelers head to Oakland, then off to New England without Vince Wilfork, followed by home games against Buffalo and Detroit.

St. Louis Rams

Daryl Richardson (starter); Benny Cunningham; Isaiah Pead; Zac Stacy

Current scenario: It's safe to say the Rams running situation is a complete mess. Richardson has been anything but stellar, which is why it doesn't sounds like he's starting against the Jags. Pead can't stay on the field. One week he's the the team's best back and the next he's inactive. Benny Cunningham and Zac Stacy are intriguing, but that doesn't mean they will play lots or at all against the Jaguars 32nd ranked run defense. If Pead is ever going to take over the starting job this is the week to do it. Owners with roster room or looking for a bye week fill-in should consider adding Pead this week. Or Cunningham. Or Stacy. Yeah, you get the point.

Future scenario: After facing the Jags in Week 5, running the ball may become difficult for the Rams. St. Louis faces Houston and Carolina on the road, followed by a home date against Seattle.

Arizona Cardinals

Rashard Mendenhall; Andre Ellington; Stepfan Taylor; Alfonso Smith

Current scenario: To say Arizona's running game has been lacking this season would be an under statement. Through four games the team's leading rusher is Rashard Mendenhall who has 176 yards. Mendenhall has been hampered by a toe injury which could be the reason he has rushed for fewer than 30 yards in each of Arizona's last two games. Couple poor yardage with only one or two receptions a game and a single touchdown all season and Mendenhall doesn't even make the cut for a flex start. Things aren't much clearer behind Mendenhall, though there is hope with Andre Ellington, less with Stepfan Taylor. Ellington is averaging 6.2 yards per carry. At that clip he should chip into Mendenhall's workload. For now it's Mendenhall's gig, but with Carolina's seventh ranked run defense up this week, it's probably best to stay away.

Future scenario: Things just don't look good in Arizona. Following this week's game against Carolina are games against San Francisco, Seattle and Atlanta all teams with solid all around defense's or a run defense ranked in the top 10. Unless you're in dire need of a back it's probably best to stay away from Arizona backs.

Tennessee Titans

Chris Johnson; Jackie Battle; Shonn Greene; Daruis Reynaud

Current scenario: In case anyone missed it Chris Johnson had some kind words for some twitter followers saying "Public service announcement: I can care less about fantasy football. Key word fantasy. As long as we win I'm happy. I rush for 200 n lose y'all happy." We guess this means he does care about fantasy football some, just a little less today since his team won. Perhaps some folks are stuck in 2009 and think Johnson is going to rush for 2,000 yards again. News flash: running backs don't rush for 2,000 yards every year. Fantasy owners should be happy their backs are running for 1,200 yards and finding the end zone 6-12 times a season. With that said...yeah, Johnson isn't getting the job done and Jackie Battle is in the way in terms of goal line work. With that said...there isn't much that owners can do other than sitting Johnson if other top-25 options are available. Selling him for .50 on the dollar doesn't make sense, especially since several other top backs are struggling. Prior to last week Johnson was piling up rushing yards, just nothing else. The good news is that he always shows up; the sixth-year back hasn't missed a game since his rookie year.

Future scenario: The loss of quarterback Jake Locker could hurt the Titans run game. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can't spread the defense out with the passing game then teams will load up against the run thus hurting Johnson or any other Titan's running backs fantasy value.

Dallas Cowboys

DeMarco Murray; Lance Dunbar; Phillip Tanner; Joseph Randle

Current scenario: The Cowboys have a tough match up this week as they host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. If there's one thing fantasy owners can count on it's that Dallas will need to put some numbers big numbers on the board if they're going to keep pace with Denver's high power offense. If you happen to be a DeMarco Murray owner in a PPR league this could be good news. Murray is an every down back with good receiving skills who should see plenty of opportunities if not in the run game than receptions out of the backfield. Beyond Murray there's not much here for fantasy owners looking for flex starters.

Future scenario: Owners looking for a good back for weeks to come should consider acquiring Murray. As of this week's statistics the Cowboys will face eight defenses ranked 20th or worse against the run in their final 12 games. This could mean good numbers for Murray the remainder of the season.

New Orleans Saints

Darren Sproles; Pierre Thomas; Khiry Robinson; Mark Ingram

Current scenario: The Saints use a running back by committee that includes Sproles, Thomas and Robinson, though Sproles remains the one fantasy owners covet. The past two weeks, Robinson has led the team in rushing yards with 38 against Arizona and 37 against Miami. When you factor in receiving yards, Sproles was the clear winner last week pulling in seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. Sproles remains a strong RB2 in PPR formats while Thomas offers more RB3/Flex possibilities than Robinson. As for Mark Ingram, eh, let's just move on.

Future scenario: Touches remain random in the Saints backfield from week to week. Only Sproles has a secure role. We've seen enough of Thomas over the years to see he's more of a tease than anything. Robinson made some noise during the preseason and is starting to do the same in real games, but he remains a player to monitor rather than sign. As for Ingram, eh, let's just move on. Better yet, let's hope he moves on from the Saints before the trade deadline.

Remember to read all our columns for this week and use our Who To Start Rankings

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Chris Weeks
Clifton Park, NY
FFToolbox Fantasy Football Writer since 2003
Favorite Team: New York J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets! One day they'll win another one. Lets just hope the drought isn't as long as for us Jets fans as it was for those Red Sox fans.

I've been a fantasy football nut for over 15 years. Whether defending my title, as is the case most years, or making my move to take back my championship trophy, I can't wait for each season to begin.
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