Dallas is hoping to have its workhorse back while Atlanta’s top ball-carrier finally looks ready to fly again. Here is the latest on some key running back injury situations entering today’s action.
DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar, RBs, Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions
As expected, Murray missed last week’s game because of a sprained knee. Following the initial diagnosis the Cowboys were hopeful of getting their No. 1 back after just a week or two, and it looks like that could come to fruition. Murray practiced three days in a row on a limited basis and although he is listed as Questionable, the team is hopeful that he will be able to play. Most likely Murray will be a game-time decision, and this is one of those weeks you will want to try and wait as long as possible before making a final decision. With six teams on bye, if Murray does play, I think you need to strongly consider putting him out there and seeing what happens. If he doesn’t, then that’s good news for rookie Joseph Randle, who would get his second straight start. As a starter, Randle is a legitimate fill-in for this week, but even if Murray doesn’t play, Lance Dunbar will make his return to the field. Dunbar has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury and prior to the injury was ahead of Randle on the depth chart, so he will get some touches against the Lions. Similar to Randle, Dunbar’s fantasy potential is tied to whether Murray plays or not. If Murray doesn’t go, Dunbar could be a flex option in deeper leagues. Otherwise, he would probably see fewer touches than Randle in a crowded Cowboy backfield.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
Peterson is still dealing with some sort of hamstring issue, but he was able to practice fully on Thursday and Friday. He is Probable for tonight’s primetime matchup with the Packers and even with the Vikings’ offensive struggles; you simply don’t sit the reigning MVP. Peterson rushed for 508 yards in three games against the Packers last season, but Green Bay’s rush defense has fared considerably better this season. The Packers are third in the league against the run, so it could be another tough night at the office for Peterson.
Steven Jackson and Jason Snelling, RBs, Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals
The Falcons have already lost Julio Jones and Roddy White will miss a second straight game, but at least it looks like they will finally get Jackson back. After sitting out four games, Jackson is listed as Probable and is expected to play against the Cardinals. Jackson immediately will go back to being the Falcons’ No. 1 back, but he likely won’t see a full workload, which means Jacquizz Rodgers will still be a factor. Jackson needs to be back in your lineup, but if you have Rodgers, don’t bench him just yet, especially this week. These two won’t have to worry about a third wheel this week, as Jason Snelling has already been ruled Out because of an ankle injury. Unfortunately, Snelling’s window of opportunity has probably closed with Jackson’s return and how well Rodgers has been playing over the last several weeks.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. Atlanta Falcons
Mendenhall didn’t practice at all on Thursday or Friday, which is why he is Doubtful for this afternoon’s game. Reports are he will see how his injured toe feels in the morning, but expectations are that rookie Andre Ellington will get his first career start. In many ways, Ellington has been more productive than Mendenhall despite getting fewer touches, so this will be a chance for the sixth-round pick to show what he’s capable of. Ellington goes from flex to RB2 because of Mendenhall’s expected absence and this also could mean more touches than usual for the Cardinals’ other rookie back, Stepfan Taylor.