Six teams are on bye in Week 4, which means the depth of many a fantasy team will be tested. Here are some key running back injury situations to keep an eye on before setting your starting lineup.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
Probable – Chest
Spiller was added to the injury report on Thursday with some sort of chest injury, but head coach Doug Marrone said he’s not worried about his running back’s availability. Spiller is Probable and will look to team with Fred Jackson to take advantage of a Texans defense that gave up 176 yards rushing to the Giants’ Rashad Jennings last week. Spiller’s as explosive as they come at running back, but he’s been inconsistent and injury-prone. He needs to be in your starting lineup, but viewed as a RB2 with upside.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills
Questionable – Hamstring
Foster was somewhat of a surprise late scratch last week and he will be a game-time decision again today. He didn’t play against the Giants after being limited in practice leading up to that game and the same scenario has played out this week. The hope would be that Foster would have increased his practiced participation over the course of this week, but apparently that did not happen. Running back depth is already being tested with six teams on bye, but unless you want to run the risk of him getting scratched again, you will want to check on Foster’s status before kickoff and have a Plan B in place. Don’t forget that rookie Alfred Blue (13 att., 78 yds.) held his own filling in last week.
Bernard Pierce, RB, Baltimore Ravens vs. Carolina Panthers
Probable – Thigh
Pierce missed last week with a thigh injury, but he’ll back in there today. Justin Forsett should remain in his supporting role, in which he has provided flex-worthy production all three weeks. Meanwhile rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, who opened some eyes last week with 91 yards and a TD and has been a popular pickup since, probably takes a backseat against Carolina. Pierce should see enough carries to employ as a relatively safe RB2/flex option, but his leash may not be as long as it previously was given Taliaferro’s recent success.
Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, RBs, Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens
Questionable – Knee; Probable – Thigh
It has been a rough couple of weeks for Panther running backs. First, Williams missed the past two weeks with a thigh (really hamstring) injury. Then last week, Mike Tolbert (leg fracture) and Stewart both got hurt in the blowout home loss to Pittsburgh. Tolbert was placed on short-term injured reserve and Stewart is looking very iffy for today after not doing much at all during practice this week. The silver lining, however, is the return of Williams, whose Probable designation all but guarantees he’ll be back. Given the other injuries, a quarterback who is still dealing with bruised ribs and a need to run the ball, this is as good a week as any for Williams to finally provide RB2/flex production.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Oakland Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins (London)
Probable – Hand
Jones-Drew missed the past two games after injuring his hand in the season opener, but he was a full participant in practice this week and will be back out there today. While I wouldn’t rush to get MJD back into your lineup, it does appear that he will reclaim his starting role, so in a week like this, he may not be the worst RB3/flex option. On the other hand this probably downgrades Darren McFadden’s value, as he will go back to a complementary role and is now competing with the likes of Marcel Reece for touches.