Fantasy Doctor: The running backs crisis

Something is happening to our running backs.

Some of you have already felt it. Did you know that Frank Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice and C.J. Spiller are all outside of the top 25 for points scored? It’s bad injuries. It’s bad offenses. But more than anything for fantasy owners, it’s back luck.

The Browns trading Trent Richardson to the Colts could be a breath of life for the running back’s fantasy year. Anyone who has him had better hope so, because 31 takes for 105 yards and seven catches for 51 yards with no touchdowns only deals a measly 14 points. For a guy ranked by the ESPN fantasy staff as the No. 8 running back, these numbers are a joke.

I’ll man up and say it. Stevan Ridley, who I predicted would take off last weekend, might just be a yearlong bust. But this crisis is affecting more than the high expectations of the newcomers. The backs we trusted and relied on are falling off the charts, and many owners are lost on what to do next.

Well, the good news is your team will most likely survive. Same goes for your sanity. There are ways to beat this crisis that don’t involve hiding in a fallout shelter and crying until it’s over. We all have our fantasy survival instincts. Sometimes, it just takes a closer look at the problem to figure out the best solution.

Close the Gap

It feels like bigger and bigger players are getting knocked off with injuries every season. In the realm of running backs especially, this season’s impact injuries are already happening, and it’s just Week 3. Ray Rice is doubtful, Steven Jackson is out, Eddie Lacy is questionable. Even Vick Ballard was put on injury reserve. Knowing these injuries is only half the battle, though.

Bernard Pierce took 19 carries for 57 yards and one touchdown in Week 2 — an honest 11-point living for a backup. He doesn’t scream the same notoriety as Rice, but he should shine with value. After all, would you rather cling to the idea of Rice’s return or would you sooner bench him for his backup reap the benefits?

James Starks was benched in favor of the rookie Lacy in Green Bay. But when Lacy went down, Starks fired off the bench with 20 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown, good for 22 points. I know I jumped on him immediately, just like I picked up Willis McGahee when I heard the Browns showed interest.

My point is this: someone has to fill the gap. McGahee likely won’t take off this week, but I have him just in case. When the big names go down, the spotlight is left unoccupied. It’s waiting for someone else to step up on the big stage and prove their worth. So if you’re worried about losing your top running backs, keep an eye on the backups. Know who they are. Because like so many of these players, if you’re not careful, your season could be over in a single play.

J.J. is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Wilsonable07.