Kansas City All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles will miss an extended period of time after suffering an ankle injury in the Chiefs’ Week 2 loss. Charles, last year’s leading fantasy scorer (Athlon scoring) at running back, didn’t make it through the team’s first series before leaving after rushing the ball twice for four yards and catching one pass for eight.
The good news is that Charles’ MRI came back “clean,” showing no fracture or significant structural damage. The bad news is that head coach Andy Reid has already thrown out the dreaded phrases “high ankle sprain” and “out indefinitely.” So fantasy owners are faced with a dilemma similar to the Adrian Peterson situation last week. How does one replace one of the best scoring options at his position?
In fact, this dilemma also could apply to an owner who drafted Ryan Mathews (out 4-5 weeks with a sprained MCL) or Doug Martin (did not play last week because of an ankle injury) or Ben Tate (sprained knee, return unknown). Injuries have not been kind to the running back ranks early on with Knowshon Moreno (dislocated elbow), Mark Ingram (broken hand), Maurice Jones-Drew (hand injury) and DeAngelo Williams (thigh) also hurting.
And after some initial optimism, Peterson owners find themselves in a different boat now that he's been placed on the exempt/commissioner's permission list. Any initial hopes of getting the No. 1 overall pick in many leagues have now been dashed. The only difference is that Peterson is not technically suspended, so no on one knows when he will be back this season, if at all. Depending on how your league (referring to redraft leagues, not keeper/dynasty) is structured, an owner may have no other choice but to simply "sit" on Peterson unless they want to risk the chance of dropping him and someone else stashing him in hopes of an eventual return this season.
Here are five running backs that could help a Charles or similarly beleaguered owner weather the storm.
Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs
The no-brainer for Charles owners, who hopefully were wise enough to grab him with a late draft pick. Now the starter for the Chiefs, Davis has top-10 fantasy potential given his familiarity with the offense and how Reid uses his backs. Case in point, Davis posted 79 yards rushing on 22 carries, caught six passes for 26 yards and scored both of Kansas City’s touchdowns in the 24-17 loss to Denver. A back that is likely to see 20-30 touches each game? Yes please.
Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin was a late scratch last week, opening the door for Rainey. And all the diminutive (5-8) back did was explode for 144 yards on 22 carries against St. Louis. Rainey has excelled as the starter before, rushing for a total of 290 yards in games against Atlanta and Buffalo last season, so this isn’t exactly out of the blue. Add to this that his latest 100-yard effort came against a pretty good St. Louis defense and the fact the Bucs have a short week ahead of them, it’s highly likely Rainey will get another crack at those aforementioned Falcons on Thursday.
Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints
Ingram was off to a great start (6.0 ypc, 3 TDs) before breaking his hand against the Browns. New Orleans still has Pierre Thomas, but his role doesn’t figure to change that much moving forward. If anyone can benefit from Ingram’s injury, it’s Robinson who should see more rushing attempts, especially as the short-yardage and goal-line back. To this point, Robinson has more carries (14) than Thomas (10) and he’s been fairly effective (4.2 ypc, TD) when he’s gotten the ball. Robinson also could be attractive because unlike Davis and maybe even Rainey, he’s more likely to fly under the radar.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts
Trent Richardson is still getting his chances, but even when he’s been able do something positive (79 yards on 21 carries on Monday night), he does something else to cancel it out (2 fumbles, 1 lost). Regardless, Bradshaw is not going away, as the veteran is certainly a factor in the passing game. Look no further than his two touchdown catches against the Eagles, while also chipping in 70 yards on the ground. He may be No. 2 on the depth chart, but he’s currently seventh in fantasy points at his position.
Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers
Similar to Pierre Thomas in New Orleans, San Diego has Danny Woodhead, a versatile back who is more of a factor in the passing game. So it looks like that Brown will be the one given the opportunity to fill Mathews’ role as the primary ball-carrier. While Brown’s early impact with his new team has been minimal (9 att., 3 rec., 23 total yards), this is a guy who’s been successful before. He was Indianapolis’ leading rusher last season, averaging 5.3 yards per carry with six touchdowns. He’s also a capable receiver out of the backfield, which should only help his fantasy potential with Mathews out of the picture for at least a month. It may be time to find out what this Brown can do you for your fantasy team.