FF: What's Wrong with my Running Back?

9/16/13 in NFL   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

Dec 30, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) carries the ball against Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Karlos Dansby (58) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY SportsDraft a running back fast, before they run out!  That’s what we were all told this season, right?  Well so far a lot of those running backs have failed to live up to their preseason hype, while wide receivers and tight ends have been coming out of nowhere to put up huge numbers - Eddie Royal has 5 touchdowns while CJ Spiller and Trent Richardson have 0 between both of them!
 
Here’s the story with all the struggling top-20 backs and whether or not you should be worried (All points below are in ESPN standard scoring, non-PPR):
 
Ray Rice (13 points total)
 
Rice left Sunday’s game with a hip injury and we don’t really know how long he may be sidelined for, if at all.  But even before the injury, Rice was struggling to deliver top-5 worthy fantasy production, while averaging 2.9 yards per carry on the season. Still, if the injury doesn’t prevent Rice from returning shortly, keep faith in the center-piece to the Ravens offense.  They’ll continue to feed him, and he’s too good to not deliver.
 
CJ Spiller (15 points total)
 
New England did their homework in week one, holding CJ to 41 rushing yards.  But Spiller got his 100 yards against a pretty tough Carolina defense this past Sunday and although his first TD hasn’t come yet, it should be on its way soon enough.  Spiller unfortunately has a pretty tough set of rush defenses coming his way with the Jets, Ravens, and Browns up next, but don’t expect another dud like his 3-point week one output.
 
Aug 29, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) practices before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY SportsTrent Richardson (14 points total)
 
The Browns offense without Richardson is like the Lakers without Kobe.  Well, that maybe something of an exaggeration, but opposing defenses know that Richardson is the go-to-guy in Cleveland and while he’s struggled with being that #1 weapon out of the gate this year, the former Crimson Tide back is too talented to be held under 100 yards and out of the endzone for much longer.  Keep faith.
 
Stevan Ridley (6 points total)
 
Ridley’s been one of the most highly discussed fantasy busts so far this season, especially after his benching in week one.   In his follow-up performance, he carried the ball 16 times for an underwhelming 40 yards.  The main thing to keep in mind is that Bill Belichick loves to run the ball, Stevan Ridley is a very gifted running back, and the Patriots have few other options with Shane Vereen out for the next few months.  Stay confident, Ridley’s time is coming.
 
Chris Johnson (16 points total)
 
His 3.3 yards per carry through 2 games are well under his career average of 4.7, and even his career worst of 4.0 in 2011.  But the yards are still coming just because the Titans have been feeding CJ2K over and over.  He’s second behind Doug Martin in rushing attempts so far this season with 50.  The negative is that he’s only a shell of what he once was, but with the overload of reps he’s due to get this year, he’ll provide what you need from a number 2 running back.
 
September 30, 2012; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew (32) walks off the field after the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY SportsMaurice Jones-Drew (6 points total)
 
Like Rice, MJD left this past Sunday’s game with an injury.  For the Jaguars star, it’s an ankle injury, and I thought it looked a little worse overall than Rice’s overall, but we still don’t really know.  The bigger concern may be his 2.9 yards per carry average and the overall ineptitude of the Jaguars offense.  The former UCLA stud has just 72 yards through two games, without a touchdown or a run over 10 yards.  His value is so low right now that I’d highly advise against trading him away, but it’s hard to say with the multitude of injuries the past year and the Jaguars lack of any support just how valuable he could be this year.  Give it another week or two.
 
David Wilson (-2 points total)
 
The biggest pain to fantasy owners so far this season, Wilson hasn’t shown many redeeming qualities.  But don’t abandon ship quite yet.  The fact of the matter is that the Giants just don’t have anyone else like Wilson.  Brandon Jacobs is their redzone and short-yardage back and Da’Rel Scott is little more than a decently capable backup.  Wilson is just about as quick as they come with solid vision and breakaway speed.  Don’t put him in your starting lineup for week 3, but if Coach Coughlin comes around on him, plenty fantasy points could still be ahead.
 
Frank Gore (14 points total)
 
Gore concludes our chapter on veteran running backs performing at a career-worst pace.  The 49er back’s yards per carry, however, are even lower than CJ2K and MJD.  He’s averaging just 2.0 right now, well under half his career average of 4.6, as well as his season worst of 4.2.  Green Bay did a surprisingly good job of jamming the San Francisco O-line in week one and in week two, the 49ers just couldn’t do a single thing against a suffocating Seattle defense.  Things get easier for Gore and company with Indianapolis coming to town and then a trip to St. Louis.  Continue to put Gore into your starting lineup and feel good about it.
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9/17/13   |   Kenne   |   16041 respect

I have Spiller / Ridley as my combo on a few teams, and have been pretty disappointed so far. Luckily I took advantage and picked up Joique Bell who has been looking like a stellar backup in case things don't go smooth from here on out.