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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
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The Shot Caller's Report - Running Backs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 3
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:

Grab a Helmet

Chris Johnson vs. DET: It’s too late to go back on my prediction of a rebound season for C2K, so…let’s just double down and give him a thumbs up for Week 3, shall we? (Gulp.) Crazy, you say? Granted, he’s certainly made me—and a lot of other pundits who predicted a resurgence—look dimwitted these first two Sundays, compiling a ridiculous 21 yards on 19 totes. Y’ouch! In his defense, his team has been playing catch-up right out of the gate in both games, and Johnson hasn’t had much of an opportunity to find his groove as a rusher. At least, that’s a best-case-scenario way of accounting for his paltry production. Some worst-case explanations? His line is tragically flawed, his quarterback isn’t respected enough to divide a defense’s attention, or he’s just flat lost his mojo. Any way you slice it, this is his last best chance to flip the script, with Houston and Pittsburgh on deck in the next couple of weeks.

Alfred Morris vs. CIN: While we’re chasing bad beats, why not throw caution completely to the wind and recommend The Mastermind’s running back du jour? I traded away the last one I’ll ever own this preseason (not at all joking), but it wasn’t because they necessarily lack value. Morris’s value has never been higher, actually. Nor will it be, I’m guessing. That’s the problem with Coach Shanahan’s backs: They never really maintain any upside. They come from nowhere, set the world temporarily ablaze, and then throw up a few 15-carry, 30-yard duds and…disappear back to nowhere. Put another way, they’re completely fungible. Today’s Alfred Morris is tomorrow’s Evan Royster is next month’s Roy Helu. Ride Morris while he’s hot and the matchups are favorable, and then pawn him off on a more gullible league mate. I’m pretty sure you’ll thank me later.

Darren Sproles

Darren Sproles should be Spillerize the KC defense in Week 3.

Darren Sproles vs. KC: My goal this year in our two-QB, two-keeper, PPR league was to grab the favorite hook-ups for the league’s best quarterbacks (Brady, Rodgers, and Brees). Easier said than done, right? Well, I snagged Wes Welker in the first round (more on him later), Greg Jennings in the second, and Mr. Sproles in the third. Done, done, and done. Favorite receiver, favorite receiver, favorite…er, running back. Sproles was actually the guy I wanted most, and that’s primarily because of his unusual hybrid status. It’s a passing league now, and the only way, I believe, to separate from those who have loaded up on stud wideouts is to grab guys who do the same thing at different positions. Nobody does pass-catching from the running back spot better than this guy. In fact, it’s basically all he does any longer (no carries to date). He was 2011’s most targeted RB and is well on his way to reclaiming that title in 2012. Start him against a dubious Kansas City secondary.

Grab a Gatorade

DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, & Mike Tolbert vs. NYG: The Panthers have above-average talents at the running back position. I truly believe that and so does the Carolina GM, apparently. All were rewarded handsomely, remember, for subjugating individual goals to those of the team in recent seasons. Unfortunately, this Three Musketeers approach doesn’t do us fake GMs a danged bit of good come Sunday mornings—or, in this case, Thursday evenings. Do you plug in Williams, hoping his larger share of touches ultimately leads to useable production? Do you opt for Stewart (ankle), knowing his fewer touches often result in more six-pointers? Do you take a flyer on…naw, that’s desperation. The best of an above-average group of running backs in Charlotte isn’t even a running back at all. Thus, you can ignore these other guys.

Michael Turner @ SD: In the event that I wasn’t clear enough last week, his days as a relevant feature back are drawing nigh. Yes, he scored a cheapie in the Monday nighter against Denver, but it took him three carries (and a recovery of his own fumble) to get in from the one. He finished up with a pedestrian 42 yards on 17 carries, predictably added nothing in the passing game (see previous discussion about Darren Sproles), and then celebrated his ho-hum effort by going out and getting collared for a DUI after the game. Hmmm. He’s unlikely to be suspended by the league (since he’s a first-time offender) but even if he skates, he’ll still have to face his formidable former mates, the Chargers, this Sunday. All they’ve done in the first two games is shut out Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson, two of the league’s more talented meal tickets. Sit him again, and start thinking about long-term alternatives.

Shonn Greene @ MIA: The Dolphins grabbed an important, morale-building victory last Sunday by exploding for 35 points against the Raiders in South Florida, a tally I’m not sure they’ll match the rest of this season. Nevertheless, they’ll probably be competitive most of the way because of a defense that does one thing really, really well: stop the run. They’ve yielded just 2.2 ypc in the early going, best in the league. This comes on the heels of a No. 4 and No. 3 ranking in that metric for 2010 and 2011, respectively. Thus, it’s not exactly a fluky sample size. Of course, Greene should know all this by now. In six career starts against the Fish, the former Hawkeye has carried the ball 63 times for 207 yards (3.3 ypc) and zero touchdowns. Moreover, he seems to now be splitting carries with up-and-comer Bilal Powell. I think there are significantly less risky plays this weekend.

Wide Receivers