Bye Weeks: N/A
Grab a Helmet
Smith vs. STL: In a perfect world, Smith would be the
least interesting Detroit running back and an afterthought for fantasy
GMs. Jahvid Best would play game-breaker to Mikel Leshoure’s helmet-breaker,
and the long-suffering Lions fans would be treated to a balanced
attack capable of lighting up the Ford Field scoreboard. Alas, neither
Best (PUP) nor Leshoure (two-game suspension) will be available
in Week 1, leaving the once relevant Smith to carry the load. You
could do worse. He faces a Rams defense that gave up over 150 rushing
yards per game last year and that was especially soft up the middle.
You never expect Detroit to lean heavily on the running game when
there are more exciting things to do with the ball (like throw it
to Megatron), but they’ll want to keep the plucky St. Louis pass
rushers honest. Moreover, should Stafford and company create early
separation, Smith will likely be called upon to salt the game away.
Kevin Smith's ankle injury shouldn't be
a concern in Week 1.
Brown @ OAK: Must be the season of retread running backs, huh?
Just as Kevin Smith has the Motown gig to himself temporarily, Ronnie
Brown apparently has the lead-back duties in San Diego. It took
precisely one preseason snap, when Ryan Mathews cracked his clavicle
on the Qualcomm turf, for Brown to go from low-end handcuff to potential
fantasy factor. The injury is reportedly healing right on schedule,
but Mathews still isn’t ready to go and may miss a couple of starts.
According to Norv Turner, somebody stands to inherit 20 or so touches
in Mathews’ stead, and that someone is almost certainly Brown, a
still useful weapon despite a season of disuse in Philly. In Week
1 he draws a Raiders front that gave up 5.1 yards per carry in 2011,
the worst per-rush mark in the NFL.
Martin vs. CAR: Martin’s definitely not a retread. He’s not
even a tread yet, is he? Coach Greg Schiano declared the Boise St.
rookie the winner of the running back derby in Tampa this past week,
and that made those who drafted him (perhaps too early) quite happy.
He certainly possesses the total skill set (speed, durability, hands)
and will get plenty of opportunities in Schiano’s run-first scheme.
Though there’s no guarantee we’ve seen the last of LeGarrette Blount
(TD vulture, anyone?), you shouldn’t be afraid to plug the rookie
in from the outset, even against a Carolina front that will almost
certainly be stouter than it was last year thanks to the return
from injury of several key performers.
Grab a Gatorade
Green-Ellis @ BAL: The Bengals’ brass apparently grew weary
of steady-but-unspectacular Cedric Benson this past offseason,
letting the former Longhorn walk after three straight years of
1000-yard production. They then coaxed the Law Firm into relocating
to the Queen City, gambling that his higher yards-per-carry average
and his nose for the end zone might perk up a middle-of-the-pack
rushing attack. Will they be vindicated? I haven’t the foggiest
idea, though I have a guess: Not really. I do know BJGE isn’t
likely to provide said vindication in Week 1 when he faces the
Ravens’ nasty front seven on Monday night. If you’ve got other
options this weekend, use them.
Benson vs. SF: Speaking of Benson, he’s landed on his feet
in Titletown where, after just a few weeks in Packers camp, he’s
secured leading-man duties heading into the season. I think that
says more about the previous state of Green Bay’s running game
(anemic) than it does about Benson at this point. Besides, do
you really want the starting rock-toter for a team that doesn’t
seem interested in toting it very often? The Pack scored more
points than any NFL team last year but carried it fewer times
than all but six of them. As Aaron Rodgers goes, so goes Green
Bay. Incidentally, last year’s running back tandem of James Starks
and Ryan Grant accounted for a measly three rushing touchdowns.
Rodgers accounted for four of his own. Like I said, as Aaron Rodgers
Royster, or Alfred
Morris @ NO: Really? You wanna play running back roulette
right out of the shoot? You’re a braver GM than me. Here’s how
willing I am to employ a running back relying on Mike Shanahan
for regular touches: I just traded Helu, arguably the most talented
and certainly the most proven of the three, straight up for Danny
Amendola in a 12-team PPR league. Conventional fantasy wisdom
says you don’t trade a potential starting RB for a third or fourth
WR. However, if Amendola’s even a shadow of his 2010 self, I almost
certainly got the better of this deal. Yes, any of the three could
go off for a week and win a game for you. Any of the three could
also be relevant for an extended stretch—three or four games,
perhaps. The chances of one guy emerging and being consistent
for the entire 2012 season, however, are slim to none. I’ll take
the poor man’s Wes Welker, thank you very much.