Arizona and Philadelphia both have some banged up running backs headed into this afternoon’s Week 8 showdown. Will both teams’ backfields be at full strength and who is going to handle the carries for the Saints tonight against the Packers?
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Probable – Foot
The foot is still an issue, but Ellington added some bruised ribs to his list of ailments last week. He was limited in practice the first two days, but was a full go on Friday. He’s considered Probable and at this point, I think Ellington has earned the benefit of the doubt. Ninth in fantasy points among RBs this season, Ellington is a top-10 RB this week against the Eagles.
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
Questionable – Knee
Sproles suffered a slight MCL tear in his left knee in the Eagles’ Week 6 win over the Giants. He was originally expected to miss at least two weeks, but coming off of a bye, Sproles was back at practice this week. He was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, but was a full participant on Friday. He’s officially listed as Questionable, but it’s certainly possible that Sproles will be out there this afternoon. The team’s second-leading rusher and an active part of the passing game, Sproles is usually a pretty safe flex option. However, with him not being at 100 percent and the matchup against Arizona, the NFL’s No. 1 rushing defense, you may be better off leaving Sproles on your bench. The Eagles also are expected to get Chris Polk (Probable, Hamstring) back, which could mean fewer touches for Sproles in the first place.
Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers
Questionable – Hamstring
Richardson felt something in his hamstring last week, which caused him to depart the game early. While at the time it was deemed to be too serious, Richardson did undergo an MRI on Monday and then proceeded to miss all of practice. Richardson’s injury has been referred to as a sore hamstring, but it must be bad enough considering he’s listed as Questionable and will more than likely be a game-time decision. Richardson leads the Colts in both carries and rushing yards, but his numbers still haven’t been that spectacular (358 yds., 2 TDs), as Ahmad Bradshaw has been the more productive back. Throw in a late kickoff (4:25 p.m. ET) and it sounds like Richardson would be better off sitting this one out.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (Mon.)
Questionable – Ankle
This much is clear: RG3 is getting closer to getting back on the field. He took part in practice every day, but the understanding is that third-stringer Colt McCoy and not Griffin (or Kirk Cousins) will get the start on Monday night against Dallas. Head coach Jay Gruden has yet to make it official, but all indications are that he’s not quite ready to give the job back to RG3. He has said that if RG3 is not the starter, he won’t be the backup either, so for now keep RG3 on your bench and check back next week. In the meantime neither McCoy nor Cousins have much fantasy appeal, even for 2-QB leagues.
Already Ruled Out:
Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills –C.J. Spiller is on injured reserve with a designation to return because of a broken collarbone he suffered last week. Jackson also left that game on a cart because of a groin injury, and he’s expected to be sidelined up to a month. Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown will take over in the backfield. Brown has started before (posted three 100-yard games when he was with the Eagles in 2012-13) and carries more upside potential, but Dixon figures to get the bulk of the carries at least early on. The Jets’ defense has been pretty good against the run, but it’s also given up some big yards on two different occasions. Dixon is worthy of flex discussion this week, but Brown is the one to keep an eye on, especially if he busts out today.
Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas, RBs, New Orleans Saints – The Saints will be missing two of their top backs as Robinson won’t play tonight because of a forearm injury and Thomas is expected to miss a few games because of a shoulder injury. Fortunately, Mark Ingram returned from his broken hand last week and will carry the load against the Packers. Travaris Cadet will back him up and also serve in Thomas’ role as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Ingram is pretty much locked in as a RB2 and could do even more against the Packers’ 31st-ranked rushing defense. Cadet meanwhile could be a sneaky flex play in PPR leagues.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers – Williams will miss another game, as his ankle injury hasn’t progressed enough to allow him to return to practice. Fozzy Whittaker (thigh) also has been ruled out, leaving Jonathan Stewart and Darrin Reaves to carry the load for the Panthers. Stewart figures to see the bulk of the carries and he’s the only one worth consideration this week. Other than Cam Newton, the Panthers have had trouble running the ball consistently and it doesn’t figure to get any easier against Seattle today. Stewart is a risky RB2, but he could provide decent value if employed as a flex option.