Once again, six teams are on bye in Week 9 and plenty of other running backs are dealing with injuries. Who is looking good for today and whose playing status is a little more uncertain?
Arian Foster and Ben Tate, RBs, Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
There is nothing worse, or frustrating for that matter, than watching your star running back come off a bye week and still not be completely healthy. That’s the case with Foster, who is still dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. He was able to practice some this week, but he’s considered Questionable and will be a game-time decision for tonight’s (8:30 p.m. ET) game. Tate (right), who is playing with four broken ribs, is Probable and will play against the Colts. Foster has enjoyed considerable success in his career against the Colts, averaging 173 total yards in six games with six touchdowns, but the late start time and game-time decision status put his owners in a tough position. I would keep an eye on any updates this morning, but unless you have a better option, I think you have to roll the dice and hope Foster plays. Meanwhile Tate is definitely in the flex discussion with a rather appealing upside, especially if Foster doesn’t play.
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, RBs, Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Spiller sat out last week’s game to give his ankle more time to heal and it appears the decision has paid off. While not back to 100 percent, Spiller returned to practice on Thursday in a limited basis and was a full go on Friday. He is Probable and is expected to be back on the field. Jackson continues to deal with his lingering knee issue, but he practiced fully on both Thursday and Friday and also is Probable. Neither are terrific options against a tough Kansas City defense, especially considering the timeshare that will happen between Jackson and Spiller with Tashard Choice also getting a few carries. Jackson and Spiller still carry the most fantasy appeal, but both should be viewed as nothing better than RB2s this week, with Jackson having the slight edge over Spiller.
DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar, RBs, Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
Murray was a possibility to go last week, but the coaching staff decided to keep him sidelined. He practiced fully all week, is Probable and will be back in there against Minnesota. Murray is a solid starting option against a Vikings defense that is giving up 113.7 yards rushing per game. Murray’s return means fewer opportunities for rookie Joseph Randle. In fact, Randle and Dunbar, who is Probable even though he’s dealing with a hamstring injury, will share backup duties to Murray. Even though Murray likely won’t see a heavy workload in his first game back, it’s too risky to count on either Randle or Dunbar this week, even as a possible flex option. For one, there’s no telling which one will get the most touches or, more importantly, do the most with them. There’s also the possibility that Philip Tanner could vulture a goal-line or short-yardage touchdown. In other words, as far as Cowboy backs go this week, there’s Murray (RB2 with upside) and the rest don’t even matter.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills
Charles has been dealing with some bumps and bruises and he was held out of practice earlier in the week because of a sore knee. He practiced fully on Friday and is Probable for today’s game in Buffalo. Charles is leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage, averaging about 128 total yards per game, and is No. 1 in fantasy points at his position. Need I say anything more?
Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson, RBs, St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans
Stacy was quite impressive last week against Seattle, rushing for 134 yards on 26 carries, but he rolled his ankle late. He was a full participant in practice on Thursday, but was limited on Friday and is considered Questionable to play the Titans. His backup, Richardson, did not practice at all on Friday, and he too is Questionable. There have been no reports of Stacy suffering any sort of setback, so unless something changes between this morning and the 1 p.m. ET kickoff, he should be on the field. Richardson appears far more uncertain, and his fantasy potential was already limited because of Stacy’s emergence. While expectations need to be limited, you should be able to employ Stacy as a RB2/RB3/flex this week, and I would not mess with Richardson.