The Backfield Report: Week 3, Trent Richardson, and LeSean McCoy
For the past 2 weeks I’ve done Tuesday rundowns of the backfield situations for lots of NFL teams. I’m doing the same thing this week. Let’s get at it.
Last week I said this: “I know he’s supposed to be great, but maybe Trent Richardson isn’t that good. Maybe he’s just a bigger-bodied Mark Ingram-esque talent on a team with no other RBs. That’s really what he was last year, despite his top-10 positional finish.” He’s with a new team, but Richardson didn’t impress in Week 3 with his 13-35-1 performance (catching zero passes on 3 targets), especially compared to Ahmad Bradshaw’s 19-95-1 line (with 3 catches on 4 targets). Bradshaw will still have value in Indy after all.
Which trade would’ve been better for the Colts? Getting T-Rich for a first-round pick?—or Mark Ingram for a fourth-rounder? I’m probably wrong, but I think that 1) the Saints would trade Ingram for a five-dollar footlong sandwich, despite their official denials, 2) an Ingram trade would’ve been more useful for fantasy players, 3) Ingram is perhaps more similar to Richardson than people believe. Mark Ingram missed Week 3—which was probably good for fantasy players tempted to start the mid-sized plodder. None of the Saints RBs are strong fantasy options, but of the three Ingram is the worst. Last week I said that those in dynasty leagues should trade Ingram. Now I’m rethinking that sentiment. Ingram’s inherent value is low, but his market value in most leagues is likely lower. If you have Ingram, you’re stuck holding him and hoping he gets traded to the Giants, Rams, etc. Till then, try not to hate yourself.
As crazy as the RB situation was in Week 2, it was crazier in Week 3. Needless to say, despite their recent 100-yard performances neither James Starks nor Johnathan Franklin has seized control of the GB backfield in Eddie Lacy’s absence. Lacy should still be the starter when he returns. He has top-10 potential.
Giovani Bernard is a smaller LeSean McCoy, but since size isn’t a big part of McCoy’s game (and since Gio is over 200 lbs) I’m fine with riding the “Mini McCoy.” Gio’s workload is increasing, and he’s getting touches near the goal line. And BenJarvus Green-Ellis is what he always has been—except he fumbled in Week 3. The Bengals staff doesn’t need a reason to use Gio more, but BJGE just gave them one anyway. The rookie from North Carolina could finish 2013 as a top-5 runner if the Bengals decide he’s the guy by midseason. If you can get Gio in a trade at a reasonable price, you should strongly consider it.
If you think Daryl Richardson can be a top-20 rusher (I do), then his Week 3 injury no-show might be deflating—but I tend not to think so. D-Rich did nothing, but in his absence Isaiah Pead and Benny Cunningham failed to impress: neither did enough to unseat D-Rich. As long as D-Rich is healthy (and finishing games), he should be a low-end RB2-caliber player. Sit him against Seattle and San Francisco, but ride him otherwise.
DeMarco Murray is a stealth star, and Lance Dunbar is firmly his backup. Dunbar has lots of potential; if he’s on waivers in deep leagues, you might want to add him, especially if you have Murray. The odds are that a Murray injury will occur at some point, and Dunbar could be a solid fill-in. In times of RB scarcity, that’s worth something.
Could Danny Woodhead end the season as the most productive Chargers RB, especially in PPR leagues? We think so. If he’s still on waivers, add him. If he’s available cheaply via trade, get him. He’s like Shane Vereen, except not injured.
In Weeks 1-2, Trent Richardson was the only Browns RB to get a carry. At least the Browns gave the whole T-Rich relationship a chance, right? Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, and Bobby Rainey? Meh. I like Rainey, but the Browns runner I’m really excited about is Josh Gordon. He’s a dynasty building block—and we told you to draft him. Repeatedly. OK, I’ll just move along.
Oh greatest of high-volume RBs, thy name is Adrian Peterson.
It’s too early to say it—but I’ll go ahead and say it. I told you so. Stevan Ridley is doing his best Laurence Maroney impersonation, and LeGarrette Blount is still himself. Until Shane Vereen returns from the short-term IR, Brandon Bolden could easily be the best Patriots RB of the bunch, especially in PPR leagues. If he’s still available on waivers, add him.
Joique Bell has standalone value. You already knew this—because he was a top-30 RB last season. Whether Bush is active or not, Bell is a guy who should probably be in most lineups. Of course, we’ve been saying that for a while.
For the third week, Da’Rel Scott has been the best PPR Giants RB. Still, David Wilson got the most carries in Week 3, and he’s clearly a buy-low candidate—but you shouldn’t start him till he actually has a breakout game. Brandon Jacobs is on the roster, Andre Brown will eventually return, and Michael Cox is currently a game-day inactive, but when a whole group of RBs plays this bad, eventually the guy at the bottom of the depth chart gets a shot. If Wilson has a brutal fumble in the next game or two or continues to run like he’s scared of dropping the ball, I bet that Cox—the next late-round Giants stud RB and a potential 2013 Wire Waiver Wonder—will get an opportunity. In the meantime, none of these guys is startable until one of them asserts himself as the workhorse.
We’ve had a Cierre Wood sighting! Monitor him. If either Arian Foster or Ben Tate suffers an injury, add him immediately. He might be a UDFA, but so was Foster. In dynasty leagues, get him on your team now.
As I said last week, “If S-Jax misses games due to his thigh injury, I prefer Snelling to Rodgers as a fill-in player, and depending on the matchup Snelling could be better than just a desperation play. We’ve seen him score lots of points of before.” @MattFtheOracle: to quote Wayne Campbell, “it’s not just a clever name.” As long as S-Jax is out, Snelling has underappreciated value.
Urgh. Lamar Miller, a potential breakout candidate, is the Dolphins RB most likely to submit top-10 performances, but even before the season started I suggested that Daniel Thomas was undervalued (big RBs with college production tend to make an NFL impact), and Weeks 1 and 3 support my assertion. I prefer Miller, but the longer Daniel Thomas hangs around syphoning touches the likelier he is to seize more control of the backfield. I don’t think you can start either player until one becomes the clear workhorse, but if Thomas is on waivers in your league you might want to pick him up. He has 2013 value.
Fred Jackson is an ageless wonder. He may have legitimate standalone value in 2013, and if C.J. Spiller misses time due to injury then F-Jax has top-10 potential. And as long as he’s healthy C.J. Spiller has top-10 potential too. I think.
With Chris Ivory injured, Bilal Powell is a legitimate RB2 option. 1) That statement makes me ill. 2) Perhaps we shouldn’t be totally surprised that Powell has fantasy use. 3) Powell’s utility shows how scarce RB productivity actually is. As far as RBs go, it’s a fantasy desert out there.
I’m not going to crow about Jordan Todman’s garbage TD in Week 3, but his performance in Seattle suggests that he’s the clear Maurice Jones-Drew handcuff. He hasn’t looked any worse than MJD this season, and I’m not convinced that MJD will stay healthy (or even be on the Jaguars) for 16 games. I continue to think that the third-year RB could be a breakout star at some point. He has an elite nQBDR. He really could be the next Darren Sproles, not in the way that he plays but in the way he comes from nowhere. Todman should be owned in all leagues.
Le’Veon Bell cannot come back fast enough.
Avoid. Just avoid. And don’t listen to anything I have to say about Broncos RBs. Picking the right RB in this backfield is like playing rock-paper-scissors. Literally.