A couple of top running backs will sit Week 6 out. Are there any other key fantasy ball-carriers that may not play this week?
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers (Mon.)
Probable – Calf
Stacy left last week’s loss to Philadelphia with an apparent calf injury. He did not practice on Thursday, but was a full go on Friday and Saturday. He’s listed as Probable and should be out there on Monday night. Stacy is clearly the Rams’ No. 1 back, but Benny Cunningham has been effective when called upon. Stacy should be safe to start on Monday night, but expectations probably need to be tempered since the 49ers are fifth against the run (77.2 ypg).
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Redskins
Probable – Foot
Ellington’s still limited in practice, but it’s beginning to appear this is by design rather than necessitated by his injury. For one, Ellington’s listed as Probable, meaning he’s a pretty safe bet to play. Secondly, he’s coming off a game in which he compiled 144 total yards, including an 81-yard touchdown catch. He’s ranked among the top 10 RBs this week for a reason.
Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Probable – Finger
Tate made a triumphant return from a sprained knee last week, rushing for 124 yards in the Browns’ historic comeback victory against the Titans. He’s listed on the injury report this week, but it’s for a finger issue, so clearly the knee is no longer an issue. He was a full participant in practice every day this week and is listed as Probable, so Tate will be out there today carrying the load against the Steelers. Tate’s a solid top-20 option this week. If anything, Tate’s strong return probably means fewer touches for rookies Terrance West or Isaiah Crowell or maybe even both. Even though it appears that Crowell may have passed West on the depth chart, the former is still nothing more than a risky flex option.
Darrin Reaves, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, RBs, Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears
Probable – Hip; Questionable – Knee; Out – Ankle
Another week, more injury intrigue in the Panthers’ backfield. Let’s start with the easy one – Williams is Out for a second straight week with an ankle injury. After missing last week, Stewart was able to take part in practice both Thursday and Friday, although he was still limited. The good news is after being Doubtful last week, Stewart has been upgraded to Questionable. Stewart will be a game-time decision and this one may be worth watching. Should Stewart play, it’s likely he will see the majority of the touches. There’s still plenty of risk when it comes to trusting a guy like Stewart, but there’s the potential for a decent reward too. Reaves meanwhile got the most carries last week (11 att.), but he didn’t do much with them (35 yds.). He’s dealing with a hip injury, which prevented him from practicing on Wednesday. Reaves was a full go on Thursday and Friday, however, and is listed as Probable, so he should be out there too. A risky option to begin with, Reaves’ fantasy potential is tied directly to whether Stewart plays or not. Unless you simply don’t have any other options it may be best to steer clear of all Panther RBs this week, especially against a pretty good Bengals defense.
Already Ruled Out:
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants – Jennings injured his knee last week against the Falcons. He’s been diagnosed with a sprained MCL and is likely to miss a few weeks. Fourth-round pick Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis will handle the workload in Jennings’ absence. Williams is clearly the more appealing fantasy option, as he rushed for more than 2,000 yards as a senior at Boston College and has scored a touchdown in each of his past two games. Williams was ranked as a top-10 RB this week.
Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos – Ball suffered a groin strain in last week’s win against Arizona and is expected to miss up to three weeks. Ronnie Hillman should get first crack at starter’s reps, but Juwan Thompson and C.J. Anderson both could figure into the mix and possibly supplant Hillman. For now, Hillman is an appealing RB2 option this week, especially in PPR leagues.
Donald Brown and Ryan Mathews, RBs, San Diego Chargers –Danny Woodhead is on IR (broken leg) and Mathews is still sidelined by an MCL sprain. Brown suffered a concussion last week against the Jets and hasn’t been cleared to return yet, which means it’s Branden Oliver’s show today against the Raiders. The undrafted rookie exploded for 182 total yards and two touchdowns last week and if he’s still available in your league, I highly recommend you pick Oliver up. It’s always risky to trust a rookie, but I really like Oliver’s skill set and his matchup, which is why he’s ranked as a top-15 RB this week.