By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
Running backs are in the news today as fantasy owners continue to search a depleted waiver wire for help in Week 8.
Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew suffered a foot injury Sunday and had to leave the game after just two carries. He has already been ruled out for Week 8 and it’s possible he may be gone longer.
That opens the door for veteran back-up Rashad Jennings. Jennings didn’t light it up in MJD’s absence against the Raiders but he posted OK numbers and managed to find the end zone. His final stats read 44 yards on 21 carries and 58 yards on seven receptions.
Jennings should be a capable bye-week replacement the rest of the way (or at least until MJD comes back).
Arizona was expected to go with William Powell at running back over the weekend but it didn’t’ happen. After rushing 13 times for 70 yards the week before Powell had only four touches on Sunday.
Instead, it was LaRod Stephens-Howling who was the workhorse against the Vikings. LRSH rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and will probably be the top fantasy pick-up this week. The Cardinals play the 49ers this week so it’s not likely he’ll repeat those numbers but if he holds his own he should remain the starter for awhile.
Don’t look now, but the St. Louis Rams now have a running-back-by-committee situation. On Sunday, Steven Jackson carried 12 times for 57 yards and a score. Daryl Richardson added 11 rushes for 79 yards.
The RBBC is probably good for the Rams but it’s not so good for Steven Jackson owners.
Richardson may actually be the better back to own going forward but S-Jax is still going to get his carries. Use them as you would any back in a time-share situation.
Cleveland’s Trent Richardson was unable to finish Sunday’s game Sunday due to his rib injury. Montario Hardesty will fill in until his return. Hardesty won’t do what Richardson was doing pre-injury but he should have some value as long as he plays regularly.
Aside from MJD and Richardson, the other big injury over the weekend was to Washington tight end Fred Davis. He tore his ACL and is done for the year.
Logan Paulson replaced him in the game and caught four passes for 76 yards. He may not be the full-time tight end, however, as Washington re-signed veteran Chris Cooley who was cut in the preseason. Proceed cautiously.
The top three free-agent receivers to consider are Cleveland’s Josh Gordon, the Jets’ Jeremy Kerley and Washington’s Leonard Hankerson.
Gordon was targeted 10 times on Sunday and scored a touchdown (he also dropped another one). He is the primary receiver for a Browns team that likes to throw so Gordon should be your first receiver target if he wasn’t already picked up last week.
Kerley had seven catches for 120 yards Sunday and is fast becoming one of Mark Sanchez’s favorite receivers. The inconsistent Sanchez keeps Kerley from becoming a sure thing but he’s definitely worth a roster spot in your league.
Hankerson has become an integral part of Washington’s offense by default. With Pierre Garcon still sidelined with a foot injury and Fred Davis now out for the season, Hankerson is being looked at a lot more by RG3. Hankerson finished with six catches for 70 yards against the Giants and is now one of the team’s top two receiving options along with Santana Moss.