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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Running Backs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 6
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:
Carolina, Chicago, Jacksonville, New Orleans

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Darren McFadden

McFadden has surprised this season... not in a good way.

Darren McFadden @ ATL: Nobody’s performance (or lack thereof) has surprised me more in the early going than Mr. McFadden’s, a guy you’d think would be a no-brainer start every week. Indeed, I pegged him as a possible candidate for top RB honors in the preseason and really thought he only needed a clean bill of health to start displaying his multifarious talents. His healthiest season to date, however, has turned out to be his least productive. So far, that is. We won’t give up on the former Razorback just yet but it sure would be nice to see him get more than the 15 or so carries he’s been averaging so far. I’m gonna trust the Raiders did some deep thinking over the bye week and came up with a plan for attacking Atlanta’s surprisingly exploitable run defense (5.4 yards/rush) with Run DMC this Sunday. Yup, said it with a straight face.

Rashard Mendenhall @ TEN: The running game, that bread and butter of Pittsburgh football for so many years, had been pretty anemic the first three games of the 2012 season, averaging a very un-Steelers-like 65 yards per contest. Then, Mendenhall returned in Week 5, miraculously healed from a so-late-it-was-early ACL tear on New Year’s Day, and promptly toted the pigskin 14 times to the tune of 81 yards and a score against the Eagles. Well, I guess that fixes THAT problem, huh? You wouldn’t think he’d be ready to resume carrying a full load but, assuming you take out the abbreviated appearance in Week 17 of last year (when he actually damaged the knee), Mendenhall only averaged about 14 carries per tilt last year anyway. 14 or so touches should work out just fine against a Tennessee defense getting routinely gouged on the ground thus far (144.2 rushing yds/game). Start him.

Stevan Ridley @ SEA: The fantasy world was abuzz with talk of Brandon Bolden last week, the waiver wire darling du jour. I guess most folks forgot Ridley is still the inarguable meal ticket in Foxboro, huh? Or rather, he’s the closest thing to it for an offense predicated on strategic deception, myriad personnel groupings, and overall matchup optimization. Your Brandon Boldens, Danny Woodheads, and Shane Vereens may come and go, but Ridley has been the only constant so far in 2012, averaging over 20 carries per contest and topping the century mark three times thus far. Oh, and he’s also scored four times. You may be worried about his competition for touches but there are more than enough to go around in New England. The reason why is quite simple and really quite fascinating. Go read this if you’re at all interested and…GO DUCKS!

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DeMarco Murray @ BAL: The Ravens defense is actually not as good as you think, statistically speaking, against opposing rushers this year. Though they’re yielding only 3.5 yards/rush, they’re giving up almost 120 yards/game and have already surrendered six rushing TDs. So the very capable Murray is a great start against them, right? Well, there’s also this to consider: Dallas’ offensive line is really, really bad right now. The Pokes are averaging just 67.8 yards/game and 3.4 yards/rush at the quarter pole and it ain’t because Murray forgot how to carry the rock. There simply aren’t any holes for him to run through. I’m sure the bye week afforded Dallas shot callers an opportunity to straighten some things out, but this group is a far cry from those great offensive lines of the mid-1990s. Don’t expect miracles from them or the guy they’re theoretically paving the way for.

Steven Jackson @ MIA: Believe it or not, the research I do for this column is sometimes more time-consuming than the actual writing itself. Though I’d love to think some read the Report for sheer literary stimulation...yeah, I wouldn’t even do that and I write the danged thing. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes and since I also want to a have a life during the season, I’m constantly looking for ways to cut down on the amount of intelligence-gathering and fact-checking I need to do before grabbing the laptop and cranking it out. Here’s a shortcut I’ve discovered for 2012: Take whichever running back is facing the Dolphins and recommend a benching. I’m not even sure how clever I need to be about that, if at all. The Fish are giving up just 61.4 rushing yards/game. Jackson is averaging just 54.2 and hasn’t scored in five games. Any questions?

Chris Johnson v. PIT or William Powell v. BUF: You’re probably wondering why I’m combining these two guys in one recommendation, right? Allow me to explain. Johnson is an erstwhile superstar who once rushed for over 2000 yards in a season. Powell is somebody I just learned about yesterday who (apparently) went to Kansas St. and once rushed for 9 yards in a season. This season, to be exact. If you’re wondering which back I’d rather have in my lineup at this point, however, I’d actually have to think about it. I’m being serious. Johnson is fresh off another 15-carry, 24-yard “performance” (and I use the term loosely...and I told you to trade him) and now faces the fearsome Pittsburgh front seven. Powell, first in line to inherit the Cardinals’ carries, faces a Buffalo defense giving up 5.7 yards/carry, or roughly double what Johnson averages on the season. Give me a sec here. Still thinking....

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