Carolina’s backfield is set to get a little more crowded today, while owners are hoping normalcy returns in Week 9 as it relates to Seattle’s running game. Here is the latest information on those and some other running back injury situations.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Williams left last week’s win in Tampa Bay early after injuring his quadriceps. He was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but was back on Friday. He is Probable for today’s game and is still considered the starter in the Panthers' backfield. Williams has been productive with his touches, but his fantasy impact has been limited by a lack of touchdowns. He scored his first of the season last week despite averaging more than 16 carries per game. Jonathan Stewart (right) also was activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list on Saturday and is expected to join a crowded backfield that already has Williams and Mike Tolbert, not to mention quarterback Cam Newton, who has 50 carries this season. While Williams should maintain his double-digit carries, his touches figure to decrease some moving forward because of the presence of Stewart and Tolbert. Add to that his lack of scoring chances and while Williams is probably the best of the trio of Panther backs, the reality is that he may be nothing more than a flex option with upside potential from here out.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lynch didn’t practice at all on Thursday because of a knee injury, but was a full go on Friday. He is Probable to play later this afternoon (4:05 p.m. ET kickoff) and at least on paper, looks the part of a RB1. The problem, however, is the eight carries Lynch got on Monday night against the Rams. Whether that was because of the knee, a coaching decision, a combination of the two or something else, who knows, but anytime a so-called workhorse back gets less than 10 total touches, it’s concerning. Still, at home and against a reeling Buccaneers team, you have to roll with Lynch and hope last week was the exception, not the rule.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks
To the surprise of no one, Martin will miss his second game because of a shoulder injury. Mike James will continue to handle the load in Martin’s absence, but he has another tough matchup ahead. James had 64 total yards last week against Carolina and today faces a Seattle defense that’s back at home and wants to redeem itself after allowing 200 yards rushing to the Rams last week. If you have James as Martin’s handcuff, you probably have to start him, just be sure to temper your expectations.
Bernard Pierce, RB, Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
Pierce is dealing with a thigh injury, but he practiced fully all week and is Probable for today’s game. Last week’s bye gave him extra time to rest and recover, and hopefully he and Ray Rice can get the Ravens’ running game going. Baltimore has struggled mightily on the ground and face a Cleveland defense that is allowing less than 104 yards rushing. Rice hasn’t done a lot this season, but he’s in no danger of losing his No. 1 status to Pierce. While Pierce could get back into the flex conversation, I would advise against employing him there this week, unless you have no other option.
Willis McGahee, RB, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
Once again, the Browns are being intentional in giving McGahee planned rest days for his surgically repaired knee and once again he is Probable to play. That said, McGahee is averaging just 10 carries over his last three games and is gaining 3.5 yards per attempt during this stretch. Today he faces a Ravens defense that is rested coming off of the bye and has allowed just one rushing touchdown all season. Six teams are on bye and McGahee is still nothing more than a RB3/flex option.