Just because a running back gets playing time doesn't mean you should start him
Due to injuries and due to byes this week there are a number of fantasy owners scrambling to find a one-week waiver wire replacement in their lineups for Week 8. Nowhere does this seem as prevalent as at the running back position.
And just because they are out there, just because they are perhaps going to get the bulk of the work, there are plenty of running backs whose match ups this week just aren’t worth the headache.
Here’s a look at the names I left off of the Week 8 Waiver Wire story and why you should avoid them, too.
Montario Hardesty, Cleveland (at San Francisco)
There is still question as to whether Peyton Hillis and his bad hamstring will get the bulk of the work or whether it will be Hardesty. It took Hardesty 33 carries to get to 95 yards a week ago against Seattle. Now the Browns travel to face the top defense against fantasy running backs. The 49ers have not allowed more than 64 yards rushing to a single back this season (Cedric Benson 17-64), and have allowed no touchdowns to a running back. Cleveland has the 29th-ranked rushing offense in the NFL (91.2 YPG) with just two scores.
Advantage: San Francisco
Bernard Scott, Cincinnati (at Seattle)
Scott is not a workload back. He has averaged 4.5 touches per game and has just 98 yards of offense this season. Cincinnati is 21st in rushing offense (105.3 YPG) with four rushing scores. Now the Bengals travel to play a Seattle team that’s No. 11 in the NFL against the run and seventh best against fantasy running backs having allowed just four scores and no back to reach 100 yards.
Jackie Battle, Kansas City (vs. San Diego)
Despite having allowed two 100-yard rushers in the last two weeks, the Chargers are still No. 8 in the NFL against fantasy running backs. They are holding that position because they have allowed just two rushing touchdowns this season. This will be the second meeting against the Chiefs. In Week 3, Kansas City was limited to 80 yards and no scores on 26 carries from four backs. He is probably the safest of the replacement players you would need this week, but his small bit of success has come against a Colts and Raiders rush defense that has been generous to fantasy backs all season long.
Advantage: San Diego
Maurice Morris, Detroit (at Denver)
The Lions’ ground game has been non existent for pretty much all but one game. They are ranked 27th in the NFL at 92.7 yards per game and three rushing touchdowns. Morris still has Keiland Williams to contend with for carries, and neither will be focused on enough to be fantasy worthy this week. And now the Lions travel to play a Denver that has actually been pretty solid against fantasy running backs. The Broncos are X against fantasy running backs. They have surrendered 100-plus yards twice (Week 1 vs. Darren McFadden and Week 5 vs. Ryan Mathews) but have not allowed a rushing TD. Morris is no McFadden or Mathews.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis (at Tennessee)
The Colts are ranked 25th in the NFL at 94.1 yards rushing per game with four rushing touchdowns and are 30th in points scored by fantasy backs per game. With Joseph Addai hobbled by a hamstring injury, Indianapolis has leaned on rookie Delone Carter more than Brown. His TD two weeks ago against Cincinnati is the only thing that made him a blip on the fantasy radar again. Yes, the Titans have been gashed the last two weeks by running backs. But that was the Texans and Steelers. The Colts do not possess the run game of either of those two teams. Advantage: Tennessee
LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona (at Baltimore)
Beanie Wells has been taking limited reps this week, but it’s still uncertain whether he and his knee will be healthy enough to play at the Ravens this week. Alfonso Smith will get the starting nod against the NFL‘s No. 3 rush defense (85.8 YPG). Baltimore is the No. 2 ranked fantasy defense against fantasy running backs; they have allowed just one touchdown rushing and only Maurice Jones-Drew last week, on 30 carries, has eclipsed 100 yards. The Cardinals are ranked 24th in the league in rushing (98.0 YPG) with seven scores. But Stephens-Howling gets his production through the air, and it’s too sporadic to be counted on. The 5-7 back has carried five times for 16 yards and has four catches for 87 yards and a score this season. Advantage: Baltimore
By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter