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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Running Backs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 1
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:

Grab a Helmet

Reggie Bush v. MIN: Is it possible for a player to be overly hyped and yet drastically underrated at the same time? Few failed to recognize the perfect marriage of player and system when Bush signed with Detroit, but you wouldn’t know it by taking a gander at his ADP. It’s a modest 2.08 in 12-team PPR leagues, meaning the drafting public pegs him as only the 14th most valuable running back. No offense, people, but…baloney. Bush averaged about 1,000 rushing yards a season for the Dolphins and will now get to do something he didn’t do often enough in South Florida: catch lots of passes. If you could combine Bush’s rushing totals from 2012 with, say, the receiving digits of Randall Cobb (80 receptions, 954 yards) – especially in a PPR league – wouldn’t you have a pretty special player at your disposal? Bush is capable of just such a mash-up and anything even close makes him way more valuable than 14th overall.

David Wilson

David Wilson: Homerun hitter.

David Wilson @ DAL: Wilson has now spent two consecutive Augusts in the role of buzz-worthy back, a role Mr. Bush would be plenty familiar with. The former Hokie famously fumbled away that first shot at fantasy relevance (quite literally) in last year’s season opener and then spent the majority of 2012 looking for an exit to Tom Coughlin’s doghouse. His path to redemption this year starts against the very same opponent, Dallas, and is suddenly much clearer now that his touchdown-poaching backfield mate, Andre Brown, has recently suffered a broken leg. Wilson may not be built for 25 carries a game, but he’s probably looking at 15-20 in the short-term, more than he required to notch meaningful stats late last season. He’s one of the precious few backs in the league who can score on any play so plug him in and hope for a more auspicious beginning to 2013.

Giovani Bernard @ CHI: Cincinnati’s new rock toter finds himself in much the same position Wilson did coming out of camp last season, a promising rook looking at part-time work in the early going and, if all goes well, more meaningful labor as the season wears on. I suspect it will go very well, actually, and think it’s unlikely Bernard will get similarly sidetracked because a) his coach isn’t the draconian Tom Coughlin, and b) the guy in front of him, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, isn’t nearly as talented as he is. Bernard brings Wilson-esque explosiveness to the position and should contribute from the get-go as a check-down option in the passing game. This versatility, in fact, makes the former Tarheel a more reliable option in Week 1 against a Bears D that historically excels against plodding runners.

Grab a Gatorade

Montee Ball v. BAL: Ball is considered by almost everyone who matters to be a more valuable prospect than the aforementioned Bernard, but I’m not sure I completely buy it. Yes, he’s built to withstand a heavier load (which he proved at Wisconsin). Yes, he plays in a more explosive offense. Yes, John Fox-coached clubs have historically featured strong running attacks. Let’s be serious, though: Fox is all about winning (aren’t all coaches?) and the Broncos are going only so far as Peyton Manning takes them. Moreover, Fox has always been loath to lean on a single ball-carrier. Even if Ball ends up the primary option, is he really looking at a whole bunch more carries than Bernard, who could usurp BJGE’s title as Cincy’s lead back early in the season (read: by the end of this weekend)? I need to see how the carries for Denver’s RBBC will be allotted before I get really excited about the former Badger.

Eddie Lacy @ SF: It shouldn’t be too hard for me to get excited about Eddie Lacy, the Pack’s shiny new meal ticket, especially now that the guy I thought would poach plenty of his carries and most of his targets, DuJuan Harris, is out for the year. Serves me right for trumpeting the latter at the expense of the former, right? It sure ain’t easy trying to be objective about one’s favorite squad, I tell you. Those who forecast Lacy as the most valuable rookie RB won’t be wrong when the smoke clears in early January, I suspect, but I’m going to tempt fate again and preach caution in Week 1. The Niners have had the Pack for lunch the last two outings and when Green Bay gets behind, they don’t run the football much. Make that “at all.” It’s hard to blame them when the best QB on the planet is lining up under center.

Bilal Powell or Chris Ivory v. TB: “Saddest handcuff ever” is what a league mate of mine called Bilal Powell after successfully bidding for his services in our recent auction draft. I’m still not sure if he meant sad as in “Bilal Powell might be the worst handcuff in fantasy draft history” or sad as in “I can’t believe I kept Chris Ivory and now I have to compound that mistake by handcuffing him.” Regardless, it turned out to be the proper move because Ivory – who spent an off-season nanosecond as a sleeper candidate – has now been fully relegated to backup duty heading into Week 1. Here’s hoping you’re not in a similar position and are forced to employ either player on Sunday. The Jets will almost certainly be sporting the most inept offense in the NFL and will be squaring off against a Tampa D that possessed the league’s stingiest defense against the run last season. Yikes!

Wide Receivers