The Backfield Report: Week 5, Brandon Bolden, and Le’Veon Bell


For the past 4 weeks I’ve done Tuesday rundowns of the backfield situations for lots of NFL teams. I’m doing the same thing this week. Also, since I’m not entirely omniscient, check out RotoViz’s Buy Low Machine and RB GLSP Projections. Here we go.

Patriots RBs

With Stevan Ridley inactive, LeGarrette Blount drew the start and did what he did in Tampa Bay: fumble and fail to impress on short-yardage carries. Meanwhile, Brandon Bolden, as the most versatile Pats RB currently healthy, managed 12.4 PPR pts with six catches. I’m not saying that Bolden is a season-savior, but as long as Shane Vereen is on the short-term IR, Brandon Bolden is my favorite Patriots RB. Stevan Ridley can’t be discounted, but Blount is destroying Ridley’s value. For now, Bolden is a flexible bye-week option with upside in PPR leagues. The other two guys just make me sad.

Bengals RBs

I’m not bothered by BenJarvus Green-Ellis (against his former team) out-carrying Giovani Bernard. Gio’s fumble, though, bothers me. Still, I prefer “Mini McCoy” to BJGE, and he’s a strong PPR flex with upside. Franky, given his QB’s arm limitations, Gio could get 5 checkdown catches per game with ease. He’s not going to finish each week as a top-20 RB, but he’s a weekly starter.

Saints RBs

Pierre Thomas, you’re an evil man. You’re not the guy who caught 9 passes for 55 yards and 2 TDs. You’re the guy who rushed 19 times for 36 yards. You’re Mark Ingram’s slightly superior doppelganger. Speaking of whom, I should point this out: Jed Collins had 4 receptions in Week 5. Ingram has zero on the season. Ingram’s a fantasy nightmare. Darren Sproles? You’re not thrilled with his 7.1 PPR pts in Week 5, but he’s a flex option. You put up with his tolerable weeks because he gives you 30-pt weeks on occasion. But you just hate seeing one of those 30-pt weeks go to Thomas—especially if you also roster both guys and benched Thomas in Week 5.

Bears RBs

Even Matt Forte’s down Week 5 produced double-digit points in standard leagues. As William Carlos Williams might say, this is just to say:

Matt Forte
he is delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Lions RBs

Maybe the player most important to Detroit’s running game is Calvin Johnson. In Week 5, Joique Bell played like a PPR flex option. That’s what he is, and we like him. Reggie Bush also played like a PPR flex option. That’s not what he is, but I still like him anyway.

Packers RBs

I’ll say what I’ve been saying all along. Eddie Lacy has top-10 potential. Johnathan Franklin and James Starks? I admit that there’s a place in the NFL and the fantasy universe for guys like them. It’s called the bench and the waiver wire.

Chiefs RBs

I’m glad you don’t need me to tell you that Jamaal Charles is awesome.

Titans RBs

Chris Johnson—you’re still killing Independent George. Now you’re just doing it a little bit less. Congratulations on going off the week no one started you. Quite a guy.

Seahawks RBs

I guess Marshawn Lynch should be owned in almost all leagues.

Colts RBs

In my Week 2 report 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.” I haven’t seen anything in 2013 to make me think I’m wrong. He’s a solid starter from here on out, but he’ll rely on volume and TDs. And he’s splitting time with Donald Brown. In Week 5, he got the volume but not the TDs, and the result was sub-Donald. If you want, tell yourself with each passing week that T-Rich is a good runner who hasn’t hit his stride yet. Just realize that if you’re saying that in Week 5 next year, you’ll have a glorified Ingram on your hands. No one wants that.

Jaguars RBs

Maurice Jones-Drew: You’ve been a good and faithful servant, Severus, but only I can live forever. In other words, I still don’t believe. Jordan Todman: I think I believe. I think I believe.

Rams RBs

Daryl Richardson: I was right. I was right. I was (so) wrong. I was kinda right and wrong. Zac Stacy: I might be right. Do I contradict myself?

Ravens RBs

Ray Rice is a guy you normally want not to bench.

Dolphins RBs

Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas: I don’t trust them, and at least their Week 6 bye means you won’t risk starting either of them.

Giants RBs

David Wilson got the TD but he still disappointed in his limited action before exiting the game with a neck injury. Apparently his exit was precautionary, but I don’t take neck injuries lightly. In other words, I can envision a scenario in which someone other than Wilson and the deceased Brandon Jacobs gets carries for the Giants. That guy could be the returning Andre Brown (at some point), but I think he could also be Michael Cox. When a group of RBs plays this bad, eventually the guy at the bottom of the depth chart gets a shot. I bet that Cox—the next late-round Giants stud RB and a potential 2013 Wire Waiver Wonder—will get an opportunity. Cox isn’t rosterable in redraft leagues. In deep dynasty leagues? Yes. All that’s between him and the #2 job is Brandon Jacobs and eventually Andre Brown. That’s like saying that all that’s between Beatrix and freedom is a plywood coffin and six feet of dirt. Eventually, a breakout will occur.

Eagles RBs

Week 5, LeSean McCoy, 92 total yards, 6 receptions, 1 TD: an utterly disappointing and totally matchup-proof performance. McCoy may be the best RB of 2013—but Bryce Brown is the most important man not starting for Chip Kelly. Get him on your team. Get him on your team. Get him on your team. And I don’t hate Chris Polk, either.

Panthers RBs

I don’t trust DeAngelo Williams. I don’t trust Jonathan Stewart either, but if he returns healthy he’ll be an upgrade on DeAngelo, right? Right? Is this mic on?

Cardinals RBs

Rashard Mendenhall looked Reshardy with his bad yardage and “whatever TD” in Week 5, but I don’t trust Andre Ellington because of his size. (I hate small RBs.) Still, if you want Ellington as a cheap throw-in component of a trade, I won’t blame you. He has the upside of a Rashard injury. But as for me and my house, we will avoid this backfield.

Broncos RBs

We’ve reached that point in the season. If you have Knowshon Moreno, I guess you’re starting him. He could be the king of the 2013 flexes. He could also destroy your season one week at a time.

Cowboys RBs

You know what to do.

Texans RBs

Arian Foster: Do not go gentle into that good night. One of the biggest regrets of my dynasty career is not rostering him on any team. Amazingly, that regret grows each season.

49ers RBs

Frank Gore thanks you for keeping the faith.

Bills RBs

Fred Jackson wants to know what you were thinking when you passed on him in Rounds 5-10. He’s taking it personally. I’ve said before that F-Jax has top-10 potential if C.J. Spiller is injured. F-Jax is imminently flexible in all formats. C.J. Spiller? He’s pretty good too.

Browns RBs

I prefer Jim Brown.

Chargers RBs

Week 5 wasn’t pretty, but Danny Woodhead was again the best RB for the Chargers. We like him. He’s like Shane Vereen, except not injured. He’ll maintain value because he’s useful in the passing game. Speaking of which, for at least Weeks 1-5, I was right.

Raiders RBs

Darren McFadden laughs at you. Rashad Jennings laughs at you. Marcel Reece laughs with you. If he’s the starter in Week 6 and you’re desperate for an RB, do the laughable.

Falcons RBs

When I said in this piece that Jacquizz Rodgers might not be horrible handcuff, random performances like Rodgers’ 2-TD outburst in Week 5 are what I had in mind. And when I said that Jason Snelling could be better than just a desperation play, TD-reliant performances like Snelling’s Week 5 . . . well, not really, but you get the idea.

Jets RBs

I once interviewed for a book project a guy who repeatedly used this construction: “It made me want to vomit. It made me want to vomit on my vomit”—as in, “That band sucked so much it made me want to vomit. It made me want to vomit on my vomit.” Something about the Jets RBs in Week 5 brought that guy to mind. Maybe it’s the green in their uniforms.

Steelers RBs

Le’Veon Bell: I miss your musk. It’ll be good to have you back in Week 6.

Interested in WRs? Here’s my Week 5 WR Report.

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By Matthew Freedman | @MattFtheOracle | Archive


  1. hospiceman
    October 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm —

    william carlos williams? is this mic on? vomit on my vomit? well done, sir.

    • mefreedman
      October 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm —

      hospiceman I aim to impress my readership of five. If you’re impressed, and if Frank’s impressed enough to print it, I’m 40% there. The rest is up to Davis, Ryan, and Shawn.

  2. chillermonster
    October 10, 2013 at 5:57 pm —

    I am trying to evaluate Rotoviz darling Le’Veon Bell’s trade value. I own him in a league that rewards carries with 0.3 points each (0.7 PPR), which means that a RB doesn’t need to be efficient to be valuable (Chris Johnson is maybe the best RB2 in this league because of his high usage). I also really like Bell a lot so I thought that maybe I could get an opinion here that would be in tune with my thinking. I believe that I may have an opportunity to get a really high end WR for Bell, maybe a Brandon Marshall or Demaryius Thomas type for Bell. This is made possible by the number of teams that are struggling mightily at the RB position. 

    I am inclined to make this sort of deal, but I have visions of Bell becoming a low end RB1 or high end RB2 for the second half of the season, given the scoring and the way RB’s are hoarded, would make him more valuable than any WR not named Calvin. I really think the odds are, that right now may be one of the better sell high points in Bell’s season if I can actually extract top 10 WR value for him.

    I know Rotoviz likes Bell, but where do you realistically see him performing during the last few weeks of the FF regular season and into the playoffs? top 10 RB, top 20?


    Also, nice use of youtube clips to extrapolate and entertain.

    • mefreedman
      October 10, 2013 at 6:08 pm —

      chillermonster Thanks for reading and responding. I think Bell is an RB1/2 from here on out. This week against the Jets might be rough, so if you are going to trade, I advise trading soon, but 1) he’s already had his bye week, so you have a slight edge there, and I think he’ll get lots of touches (both carries and catches). If you can afford to trade him away and you want/need a WR1, then I think you’re justified in doing it, but Bell just feels so ALF/Doug to me that I wouldn’t want to trade him.  
      I think it’s best to hoard RBs if you can, since it’s much easier to find decent WRs (Keenan Allen, Alshon, etc.) who turn into fantasy starters than it is to find decent RBs who become usable. But this is also coming from the guy who advocated going RBx5 at the beginning of 10-team drafts. 
      For ROS, Bell may not be a top-10 RB, but top-15 feels about right. If you have him, I think you have to start him unless his matchup is rough or you have 2 clearly super RBs in front of him — and even then I’d still keep him because of injuries to RBs or matchup plays.

      • chillermonster
        October 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm —

        mefreedman Thanks for the fast response! I thought you might respond this way, and it’s pretty much how I feel in my gut. It’s just that when checking weekly projections and ROS rankings from various sources, sending Bell and getting Demaryius seems like a no-brainer. I mean, just believing the mainstream would make this a RB25 for WR3 type of transaction. However, I think that the rarity of a 20 touch per week RB, and the yet unseen potential of Bell, sheds a different light on the situation.

        It’s funny how things change from draft day. Because the majority of the top tier of RB’s was kept, and I drafted at the end of the order, I thought that I was screwed out of the gate. Thanks to you guys, I burned my top two picks on Demarco and CJ?K (which would be WAY overdrafting them without the keepers being gone) and also stocked up on Joique Bell, Bryce Brown, and Le’Veon Bell, so now I’m sitting pretty.

         What I am really looking to do is to move a pair of less valuable RB’s (in my scoring format, at least) like Fred Jackson and Joique for a high end WR2 like Torrey Smith, Jordy, or Dre Johnson. The trouble is that these other RB’s are nowhere near as sexy as LeVeon, so it’s hard to pull any value out of them in a trade.

        I really appreciate that you guys respond to the comments here at Rotoviz. It is immensely helpful to talk strategy with experienced FF players. I can’t do this with my friends because they are my competition, I just hope none of them have found this gem of a site!

        • mefreedman
          October 10, 2013 at 7:28 pm —

          chillermonster mefreedman If you think you can get Demaryius for Bell, I guess you have to do it. I would trade Bell for Dez in a heartbeat, and I think of Demaryius as Dez-esque. CJ?K can hold down the fort as an RB2 in your format. 
          But I think you have the right idea about valuation. Bell is not RB25. He’s RB10-20, and Demaryius is WR3-7. Now, given your team and your format, which type of player will help your team more? In drafts, the 15th RB might go off the board around the same time as the 7th WR, right? Or at least they are in the same vicinity. 
          I think Demaryius has a better shot at finishing the year as the #1 WR on a PPG basis. Bell will be good, but I don’t think he’ll be the best fantasy RB at the end of the season. For Demaryius, you trade Bell. But I wouldn’t trade him for Marshall. To trade him, I need to feel I’m getting a truly great WR, and I’m not sure that’s Marshall in 2013.
          Really glad you like the site.

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