Running Backs to Add
Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice has been so frustrating, even coach Jim Harbaugh is questioning his health, according to a tweet by Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. That’s bad news for Rice owners, but good news to Pierce owners in the 36 percent of CBS Sports leagues he is owned. You will want to join that group if you are a Rice owner, no matter what you think of the Ravens’ offensive line and 30th-ranked rushing attack.
Jeff Zrebiec of the Sun tweets the Ravens are going to go with the hot hand going forward. With Rice running like a “kid in a snowsuit”—as Matt Vensel of the Sun so entertainingly tweeted—you will want Pierce on your roster going forward, especially with the Bears’ 31st-ranked rush defense next on the schedule.
Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The loss of rookie Mike James (fractured ankle) for at least a month puts the ball in the hands of Leonard and Rainey now in the Bucs offense. Leonard got the majority of carries, but Rainey had the touchdown and bigger fantasy score between the two Monday night. We would lean toward the more-experienced Leonard first on the waiver wire if you need a back, but both are viable, particularly since the Bucs face the fifth-worst rush defense (tied) in the NFL next week—Atlanta.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Brown has almost entirely taken over as the Colts’ receiving back, and Trent Richardson‘s struggles with ineffectiveness and ankle woes have Brown on the verge of taking over the rushing touches, too. Available in almost 50 percent of CBS Sports leagues, Brown is a solid addition in all leagues, particularly PPR formats.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
He was underwhelming against the 49ers in a tough defensive struggle, but you should figure he gets more of the workload as the weeks wear on for the now-contending Panthers. Stewart is a must-have for DeAngelo Williams owners, and he is still a better start than hoping for goal-line back Mike Tolbert to vulture a one-yard touchdown.
Running Backs to Monitor
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
He erupted for the best game in his young career, but he is still the third man in the Saints backfield going forward. Pierre Thomas starts and Darren Sproles is the leading pass receiver. Also, you cannot expect Ingram to muster much of any garbage time against the 49ers coming off a loss. Yes, Ingram is an intriguing talent, but he still isn’t in a great situation to help fantasy owners.
Dennis Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson rose in fantasy intrigue once Arian Foster (back) was reported to have decided on season-ending back surgery, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Ben Tate will still get the majority of the work, but Tate also has a fractured rib and multiple bruised ones. That makes Johnson real close to being a feature back in an offense that was supposed to be one of the most run-oriented ones in football.
Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans
The Titans are awful with their usage of Chris Johnson—always have been—so Greene will get more carries than he deserves on a weekly basis. Greene also gets the goal-line work, too. We wouldn’t be too excited about Greene against the Colts, though. Indy is in fantasy’s top 10 against running backs.
Running Backs to Ignore
Benny Cunningham, St. Louis Rams
He picked up 72 yards rushing spelling workhorse Zac Stacy, but we see that performance being a function of the score. The Rams won’t blow many teams out going forward. It will be all Stacy. Cunningham is a mere Stacy handcuff at this point.
Jordan Todman, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags called Denard Robinson the backup to Maurice Jones-Drew coming out of the bye, but it was Todman who reached the end zone spelling MJD. If anything happens to the veteran starter, Todman will have more value than Robinson, but owning Jags starters is tough enough this time of year in fantasy, much less stashing their backups.