Update: Per the Detroit Free Press, Calvin Johnson is inactive today.
Da’Rel Scott was released by the Giants on Tuesday. Behind David Wilson, Scott was number two in carries and actually first in snaps among New York’s running backs. The 31-year-old Brandon Jacobs was out of the NFL after only five carries with the 49ers in all of 2012. He averaged 1.4 yards last year. The Giants are not expecting much burst from the recently signed Jacobs, but rather some short-yardage security.
Wilson continues to remain due for the breakout that most people in football are expecting. In 2012, of running backs with at least five rushes of 20 or more yards, Wilson broke free with more efficiency than all other NFL backs, save Adrian Peterson. Peterson ran for at least 20 yards on every 12.9 attempts, while Wilson needed 14.2 attempts for each long run. On 38 carries this season, Wilson’s longest run is 18 yards. His most exciting play this year was a 17-yard touchdown run against Carolina that was called back due to penalty. Of all runners, Wilson boasts the easiest schedule against run defenses for weeks five to 16. He’s just finished a gauntlet against run defenses ranked one, three, seven, and 24.
Darren McFadden surprised absolutely no one when he left the Raiders’ week four game with a pulled hamstring; he has averaged 8.8 starts per season in his first five years of play. Marcel Reece later injured his knee, leaving the backfield in the hands of Rashad Jennings. Jennings earned 116 all-purpose yards in relief, while averaging 3.2 yards per carry. Some positions are well-storied and come with great prestige like the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback and center for the Los Angeles Lakers. But as a running back, accepting the backup job to Darren McFadden may be one of the more savvy moves in all of sports.
This should all feel familiar for the fifth-year back, who started six games for a sidelined Maurice Jones-Drew in 2012. With that opportunity, however, Jennings only managed 2.8 yards per carry, which are hardly numbers to get excited about. He should easily eclipse 20 carries on Sunday against San Diego, but don’t expect the electricity of Marcus Allen to light up your screen. You’ll probably be watching the Broncos game anyway.
Roddy White is still limited by his high ankle sprain. In fact, it was reported earlier this week that he suffered a setback during last Sunday’s game against New England. White said he came out of the game feeling worse than he had previously. The Falcons may consider limiting his play again; he played a season high 74 of 76 snaps in the last game. Until White is 100-percent, it’s clear that his production is not worthy of a starting spot.
Steven Jackson is still out, and Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling will continue to carry the ball in his stead. Jackson won’t return until sometime after Atlanta’s week six bye. Rodgers gets a lot more receiving attention than Snelling. Last week, Rodgers caught all six of his targets, while Snelling drew in one of his three. The Falcons will continue running by committee at least until Jackson is healthy.
Marlon Brown strained his hamstring Week 4 against Buffalo. He had limited practice time this week. Though he’s caught three touchdowns this season, he has only averaged 3.5 catches for 37.5 yards per game. Given his apparent injury issues, and the imminent return of starter Jacoby Jones, the curtain may be lowering on Brown. Moving forward, there should be little need to consider Brown a fantasy starter until proven otherwise. Jones may suit up on Sunday; check his official game status.
Steve Smith suffered a hip pointer against the Giants in week three. Coming off a Week 4 bye, it remains unknown whether he will start today. Confirm his situation about an hour before Carolina’s 4:05 p.m. kickoff.
Miles Austin (hamstring) was ruled doubtful for his match against the Broncos Sunday. Expect Terrence Williams to play again in his absence. A lot is expected of the 6-foot-2 rookie. Last year at Baylor, he had 97 receptions for 1,832 yards and 12 scores. Dallas selected him in the third round this year, and Williams should get plenty of playing time considering Austin’s proclivity for the bench.
Eddie Lacy will return to action this week against the Lions, and Johnathan Franklin will likely spell him. Lacy suffered a concussion Week 2 against Washington, and has not played since. James Starks started at tailback week three, but left the game with a knee injury. Franklin stepped up with 13 rushes for 103 yards and a touchdown. That performance likely earned Franklin the number two position behind Lacy. Should Lacy encounter a setback of any kind, it will be a major opportunity for Franklin to wrangle the starting job for the Packers.
Daryl Richardson is in the middle of a bad situation in St. Louis. Richardson began the season as the outright starter, but things have changed quickly due to a lack of output. Richardson is averaging 2.7 yards per carry on 42 rushes this year. The remaining backs on the team have combined for only 19 rushes for 47 yards. Isaiah Pead was a healthy scratch in Week 4, leading to much conjecture. Publicly, this was done to increase the carries for receiver Tavon Austin, who garnered no carries in the game. Some think Pead’s benching may have been for inner-franchise disciplinary matters. The former second-round pick (taken five rounds ahead of Richardson) hasn’t been given many opportunities yet in his short career. Richardson has received 140 career carries to Pead’s 17. All that may begin to change on Sunday, with Fisher suggesting a committee approach for the time being. Pead, Richardson, Zac Stacy, and Benny Cunningham may all receive playing time until a lead back emerges. Outside of considering any player a high-risk, low-reward lottery ticket, this remains a situation to avoid for the near future.
Ahmad Bradshaw suffered a serious neck injury in the Colts’ win against San Francisco in Week 3. He missed last week’s game, and was ruled out for week five as well. After seeing multiple doctors, Bradshaw has yet to decide whether to rehab his next or undergo season-ending surgery. He has committed to taking a couple weeks to decide. With no serviceable backup to Trent Richardson present, expect the starter to grow more confident in an offense trending upward. He should only get better as the season progresses, and his knowledge of the playbook improves.
Rob Gronkowski was ruled out for New England’s game in Cincinnati, and Danny Amendola’s status is still unclear. Check back for his official status before kickoff. Should Amendola hit the field, it should erase most value for Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and the remaining Patriots receivers. Amendola is, and has always been, a target monster in the slot. Brady will lock in on his favorite new receiver, whenever he returns.
Jake Locker should miss four to six weeks with a sprained hip, and Ryan Fitzpatrick will start in his place. Not much should be anticipated for the former Harvard quarterback. His career passers’ rating is 77.0, and he has thrown 81 interceptions along with his 93 touchdowns in nine years of service. Downgrade Nate Washington and all Titans receivers appropriately.
Christian Ponder will be out three to four games with a rib fracture near his heart. Matt Cassel will have ample opportunity to claim the starting gig with his new team. In his last two seasons with Kansas City, Cassel only played 18 games and threw more picks than scores (21 to 16). His rating declined from 93.0 in 2010 to 66.7 last year. But Ponder hasn’t done much better with his time in Minnesota. He has a career passers’ rating of 75.8, with 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Although Greg Jennings caught two scores last week, he only had three receptions, for a season average of 3.5. Approach Jennings and all Vikings receivers cautiously.
Stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and nfl.com.
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