2014 Fantasy FootballBrett TalleyFantasy Football

2014 Fantasy Football: Running Back by Committee Update

ridley land
Stevan Ridley
Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America

As always, the main takeaway from Week 2 of the NFL season is that we don’t know much. As proof of that, here’s this:

To be fair, Cousins and Davis only got the opportunity to play after starters were injured. And speaking of injuries, there were many of them to many significant players in Week 2. Playing DFS on Sunday was like walking through a minefield. But I’ll leave the injury analysis alone for now because a) it’s Sunday night as of this writing and we don’t know much yet, and b) we’ve got someone else to cover that beat later in the week.

Instead let’s talk about a few things that were both truly surprising and not of the complete fluke variety like some of the things listed above. Let’s talk about the current state of a few backfields that are or could be in flux.

Stevan Ridley Gets 25 Carries

It would appear that the best way to get out of Bill Belichick’s doghouse is for someone else to get in it. On New England’s first drive of the game, they were faced with a third and seven on their first set of downs. Tom Brady handed off to Shane Vereen, and this happened:

Vereen enters doghouse
Vereen enters doghouse

It would appear that Vereen’s failure to take a hit to try and reach the first down marker drew Belichick’s ire. Ridley got the next five touches following that play, and Ridley out-touched Vereen 25-7 when the day was over. That’s compared to the 12-10 Vereen-Ridley split from Week 1 when Vereen also got four red zone carries to Ridley’s one. Maybe New England is planning to alternate backs from time to time to keep them fresh or maybe Belichick is going with the arbitrary hot hand. But it would make sense that Vereen’s scamper out of bounds early in the game lost him touches.

If that’s the case, God knows what will happen with that backfield going forward. After last week it seemed like Vereen was clearly the guy and we could all stop guessing. But let the guessing begin again. For now, they’re both flex options with Vereen in a PPR league being the closest thing to startable.

Bobby Rainey Totals 174 Yards

With Doug Martin sitting Week 2 out, Rainey ate. Rainey touched the ball 25 times en route to 174 yards, which is a smooth 6.96 yards per touch.

Rainey runs for 31
Rainey runs for 31

This could make for quite the mess in the Tampa backfield. After disappointing in 2013, Martin came out and disappointed in Week 1. With Rainey’s performance yesterday, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him take work away from Martin when Martin comes back. As for when Martin comes back, who knows? It could be next week given that Martin seemed like he was going to be a go right up until  Sunday morning. But it would be easier on everyone if Martin would stay hurt for awhile and let Rainey lead the backfield. Well, easier on everyone but Martin owners who don’t own or can’t pick up Rainey.

Because Martin wasn’t ruled out until close to game time, most leagues had already seen their final waiver period of the week process before the Martin news broke. As a result, Rainey is still available in 96.4% of ESPN.com leagues. If you own Martin, you need to spend a significant amount of your FAAB budget on Rainey. Or your top waiver priority if that’s what your league uses. If you don’t own Martin, you have to be more conservative unless news breaks Monday or Tuesday that Martin is going to miss more time. For non-Martin owners I’m thinking no more than $15 of FAAB (on a $100 budget), and you shouldn’t use your top waiver priority. For Martin owners, $30 of FAAB money isn’t too much.

Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill pwn Atlanta

Normally if you saw that Hill had 17 touches for 96 yards, you would assume that Gio got hurt or that Hill had turned this backfield into the dreaded committee. But the Atlanta run defense is apparently terrible, and Gio touched the ball 32 times for 169 yards in addition to the work Hill did. As a quick note, Atlanta plays Tampa Bay on Thursday night. The aforementioned Rainey could have a big week against them if Martin is out. Even if Martin plays, Rainey is at least worth a flex play given that Martin was deemed unable to play football a mere four days before the Thursday night game. But back to the Cincinnati backfield.

hill
Hill breaks three tackles

It’s clear that Hill can play, even if this was a cushy matchup. In the right matchups, it appears that both Hill and Gio could be worth starting. If you own both of them, they may not be worth starting in the same week unless you’re thin during a bye week (totally possible). But if you snaked Hill from the Bernard owner, Hill appears to be more than just a lottery ticket in the event Gio gets hurt. Hill can be a flex play for you in the bye weeks when he has a good matchup.

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