Playing Spin the Bottle for fantasy RBs

I’m going to go into territory that no one wants to explore, yet we all have to. Sort of like playing Spin the Bottle for the first time. You’re nervous, you don’t know how to act or react, yet you have to play it at some point so you stop being nervous and know how to act when it comes to, well, those kinds of things.

Yes, I’m going to delve into the WORST of the running back time shares and make sense of who to play, who to bench and who to ignore. After reading this, you’ll be able to deal with these situations in such a manner that they will no longer trouble you going forward. You’ll be able to deal with them and adjust, and be comfortable.* None of these situations is ideal, and you’re only playing most of the players I mention below because you have to. But that’s the key phrase – you have to. So at least it’s good to know who the right ones to put in your lineup are – and the right ones to keep out.

Carolina Panthers: (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart)  Both are near mirror-images of one another in the running game. Williams has four more carries and 36 more yards. Stewart has the advantage in the passing game, with 23 receptions compared to 10 for Williams. Stewart’s carries have doubled in the last two weeks, while Williams’ have been pretty flat. This means Stewart is getting a slightly larger role in the offense as the season wears on, so he’s your play over Williams.

Green Bay Packers: (James Starks, Ryan Grant, John Kuhn) Starks has 83 rushing attempts and one TD. Grant has 57 attempts and no TDs. Kuhn has 7 carries and two TDs. Even though he’s gotten in the end zone more, Kuhn has zero value, even though his name is routinely at the top of available RBs in 12-team leagues. Forget it. Forget Grant. He still looks like he’s recovering from last season’s injury, and has only had double-digit carries once this year. The only player to have in your lineup right now is Starks. He’s routinely around 13 carries per game and three to five receptions out of the backfield. The Packers used him to close the game out against Minnesota, so they’ll count on him. You can too, but only as a flex.

Indianapolis Colts: (Joseph Addai, Delone Carter, Donald Brown) Addai was active and got zero carries on Sunday. This is pretty simple. Play no one. Addai’s hamstring has you wondering how much work he’ll get, even when he plays. You can’t count on any of these RBs for more than 10 carries in a game, and getting in the end zone is a rarity. There are plenty of better options out there. Avoid all of these players. The only one with any kind of potential is Carter, but until Indianapolis decides he’s going to be the No. 1 going forward, he sits for you.

New England Patriots: (BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead) All you need to know is Kevin Faulk led the team in carries against Pittsburgh, and he’s not even on this list. How to proceed? You play The Law Firm and no one else. BJGE is the only player every week with the potential for 15-plus carries, so he’s the only one you can count on. But only count on him in your flex. New England is never going to be a team that runs the football a lot, the best you can hope for is a week where they emphasize it just a little more, but still Green-Ellis is the lone option.

Washington Redskins: (Ryan Torain, Roy Helu) The answer again, is play neither one. Torian had eight carries for 14 yards against the Bills, who were giving up 170 on the ground per game going in. Helu didn’t carry the football once. Torain has had the one big game — a 135-yard explosion — and absolutely nothing since. Helu seems like he has promise but he’s had three carries in three weeks. Anyone off the waiver wire is a better bet at this point. And that includes Tashard Choice. He’s out this week with an injury but he’s going to get the chance to run the football. Pick him up and stash him away.

Other dilemmas

>>Reggie Bush threw a curve ball into the Dolphins RB situation with his 100-yard game against the Giants. If Daniel Thomas is healthy, play Thomas as your flex or a weaker No. 2. Bush won’t get the chances he did with Thomas out. If Thomas is hurt? Make Bush your flex…

>>Mark Ingram could miss more time with a bruised heel. If that’s the case, expect the same good production from Darren Sproles as he’s had all season, without an increase in touches. The Saints won’t wear him out with extra carries. They’ll go to Pierre Thomas instead. Play Sproles every week. Play Ingram when he returns, and if he’s out, then you plug in Thomas into your lineup…

>>Montario Hardesty’s injury has the Browns job share in a tizzy. Here’s how it goes. When Hillis is healthy, you play him at the flex. When he’s not healthy, you can play Hardesty at the flex. If they’re both out, pick up Chris Ogbonnaya but only if you’re desperate. The Browns just can’t run the football and I don’t see him with more than five fantasy points.

*Remember, in Spin the Bottle you can always go into the closet and just say you kissed afterwards.  Saves everyone a lot of potential embarrassment.

See Jason Smith on NFL Fantasy Live, airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the Red Zone Channel, and Tuesday-Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. He writes fantasy and other NFL pith on NFL.com daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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