DeAngelo Williams is again a top five fantasy running back, just as predicted. He has been on a nice tear, rushing for at least 149 yards in three of his last four games. Today he is questionable with a sore knee. He did not practice much this week, including the all important Friday practice, usually one of the strongest indicators for coaches to determine a player’s availability for Sunday.
It could be that coach John Fox is simply resting Williams, eyeing a very short week since after today the Panthers have a Thursday night matchup to consider against a tough Miami defense. It could also be that coach Fox shuts down Williams altogether, confident enough in Jonathan Stewart and backups Tyrell Sutton and Mike Goodson to get the job done in DeAngelo’s absence.
Yes, it is the dreaded game-time decision for a 1:00 game. What is your back up plan?
I play in a league with two RB slots and a third WR/TE/RB flex spot. I have DeAngelo firmly entrenched as one of my starters along with fellow top-fiver Ray Rice. Currently my flex is Darren Sproles because I Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw are on a bye, and my hidden gem flyer Larry Johnson does not have a team to play for as of yet.
*Side note about Johnson—he could have some value if he lands on a team with these characteristics: a team that can run block halfway decently that is not 100% maxed out on RB talent, and preferably a playoff contender. The Bengals, Chargers, Texans and Patriots all fit the bill in my opinion, although the Texans don’t appear likely to bite at this point.*
Back to the topic at hand. I am rolling the dice already with Sproles as my flex since his offensive touches have declined in recent weeks. I am banking on the Eagles racking up a lot of points on the Chargers and giving Sproles multiple chances for nice chunks of return yard real estate, so that is my cushion for fantasy points. If the Eagles can’t do much damage then my gamble will not pay off.
If Williams sits to rest his knee, I can take a chance on Beanie Wells, move him into Sproles’ flex spot and gamble by putting Sproles in the RB2 slot. Wells is capable of putting up another nice day, but counting on the 31st ranked rushing team to give him a chance to do that two games in a row is a small stretch. Given my other options, this is my plan.
If you don’t have someone the caliber of Wells riding the pine, who else might you consider? Here are some RBs sitting on my watch list that could fill in nicely in your desperation:
Chester Taylor, Ladell Betts, and Ahman Green.
The fact that Taylor and Betts are even there is surprising. If I own Adrian Peterson there is no way Taylor is not on my roster. Betts’ appearance here is more understandable, since the Redskins are bad and go up against a stout Bronco defense. Still, if you are hurting Betts may be the safest choice. Ahman Green could be a sneaky play. Last week he rumbled for 45 yards on only 6 carries, so it is possible the Packers will roll with the hot hand.
One other plan of action would be to pick up Panthers Sutton or Goodson, but the concern there is guessing which one will be most active for the game, and there is not much there to use as a barometer. Buyer beware.