The Buffalo Bills may find themselves reaching way down the depth chart for a running back this weekend, and Boobie Dixon is expected to be the beneficiary.
LeSean McCoy is still sidelined with a hamstring injury and rookie Karlos Williams has not practiced this week because of a concussion. If Williams is unable to clear the concussion protocol, he will not be able to play against the Tennessee Titans.
That leaves Dixon, who is dealing with a calf injury of his own but is expected to be active, as the next man up. The Bills also brought in former Indianapolis Colts running back Dan “Boom” Herron, and at least one reporter would not be surprised if Herron ends up receiving more touches than Dixon.
The Titans rank 20th in the NFL with 113.7 rushing yards allowed per game, so the Bills are going to try to establish the run no matter who lines up in their backfield. Both Boom and Boobie — easily the best nicknamed backfield in the NFL this week — are going to get their chances if Williams is inactive.
Ethan Haskell is a DraftKings employee at the center of a huge scandal involving daily fantasy sports games after he won $350,000 playing an NFL game on rival company FanDuel.
Haskell finished second out of 229,885 entrants on a FanDuel “$5M NFL Sunday Million” NFL competition in Week 3 in order to cash in on his $350,000 prize. A look at his fantasy profiles show that he has been raking it in big on FanDuel all year. It’s enough to make one wonder how he’s been so successful — could it be due to insider information?
Haskell’s undeniable success at daily fantasy sports brings into question what kind of data company employees have access to, and if or how they’re able to use it to their advantage by playing on competitor sites (the companies say they ban employees from playing on their own sites). However, DraftKings does have language allowing for employees to play to use their site.
“DraftKings employees may use the Website, and will from time to time do so for the purpose of testing the site user experience, socializing and competing with customers to build community, and other reasonable and fair uses at the discretion of DraftKings.”
What could all this mean? First let’s start with the basics.
Who is Ethan Haskell?
- Ethan Haskell
LeSean McCoy is battling a hamstring injury that could force him to miss Week 4 against the New York Giants. That would thrust rookie running back Karlos Williams into a starting role and make him a great one-week fantasy option.
Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday that it “doesn’t look good” for McCoy to play against the G-Men. Given the way Williams has looked so far, it would make no sense to rush McCoy back at less than 100 percent.
Williams, a fifth-round draft pick out of Florida State, has averaged a whopping 7.8 yards per carry through Buffalo’s first three games. He has also scored three touchdowns and been the team’s primary goal line back. Even if McCoy plays, Williams has earned his share of the workload.
For those in need of running back help, Williams should be a good flex option for the rest of the season and could flirt with RB1 status for any games McCoy might miss. Williams is a must-add in all formats.
Photo: Andrew Innerarity-USA TODAY Sports
Marshawn Lynch has been dealing with a hamstring injury that forced him to leave Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. Lynch underwent an MRI on Monday and is scheduled to be reevaluated later in the week. In the event that he can’t play against the Detroit Lions, Thomas Rawls would be a good fantasy option to consider for Week 4.
Rawls, an undrafted rookie free agent, carried the ball 18 times for 109 yards against the Bears. Chicago’s defense is horrible, but anytime you can rack up 6.1 yards per carry you are going to grab the attention of your coaches.
If Lynch is out, the Seahawks would also use veteran running back Fred Jackson quite a bit. Still, Jackson is more suited for the passing down role, whereas Rawls would likely get the bulk of the early down work.
As we know, Lynch is one of the toughest and most durable players in the league. The Seahawks are playing the Lions on Monday night, so that gives Marshawn an extra day to rest. There is still a good chance he will play, but Rawls would be a solid one-week fill-in if Lynch can’t go. He is also clearly the handcuff back to own behind Lynch in Seattle.
Photo: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
DeMarco Murray is dealing with an injured hamstring and may not play against the New York Jets on Sunday. That means fantasy owners might have to turn to Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles for at least a week.
That is, if you trust the Philadelphia Eagles’ running game.
Murray missed practice on Thursday after leaving early Wednesday, and Chip Kelly said he is unsure if he will play against the Jets. If Murray is out, Mathews would likely handle the early-down work against Jets. Sproles might get a few more carries, but his role shouldn’t change much as he has already been the passing-down back and more of a receiving threat.
While you may have no choice but to plug Mathews in if you are a Murray owner, the Philly backfield is a situation to avoid this weekend if possible. The Eagles rushed for a total of seven yards last week in a 20-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. In Week 1, they mustered just 63 yards on the ground against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Eagles’ running game has been a total mess so far. How will it fare on the road against a stout New York Jets defense? Utilize at your own risk.
Taliaferro basically split time evenly with Justin Forsett, who enjoyed a breakout season last year as Baltimore’s featured back. More importantly, Taliaferro worked as the goal line and red zone back and vultured a touchdown away from Forsett. He finished with seven carries for 34 yards and a score. Forsett rushed 15 times for 68 yards.
Was the amount of work Taliaferro got a fluke? Forsett feels his coaches were just trying to keep him fresh.
“It’s just a rotation that we had going on,” he said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “Coach was trying to keep me fresh throughout the game. So, we do that every now and again.”
Forsett will turn 30 next month, which can often be a death sentence for an NFL running back’s career. He’s not going to suddenly disappear, but there’s a legitimate possibility the Ravens could move to a timeshare with him and Taliaferro. If Taliaferro continues to receive goal line work, he will need to be rostered in all fantasy football leagues.
- Lorenzo Taliaferro
There were a number of significant injuries on Sunday that could change the outlook for several NFL teams, and they will have a tremendous impact on the fantasy football world as well. One of the players who went down is Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy.
Smart fantasy owners who drafted Lacy have James Starks sitting on their bench. If you fall into that category, good for you — just plug Starks in for as long as Lacy is out and expect RB2 numbers with an RB1 ceiling in Green Bay’s high-powered offense. If you didn’t handcuff Lacy with Starks, you probably won’t be getting the latter back unless you have the No. 1 waiver priority this week.
Starks is a 29-year-old veteran who has been with the Packers his entire career. He is very comfortable with Mike McCarthy’s offense, and there’s a reason Green Bay has kept him around so long. Starks played in all 16 games last season and racked up 333 yards on the ground and scored two touchdowns.
For the most part, Starks has been used to spell Lacy and keep the former Alabama star fresh. If Lacy misses one or more games, the Packers will lean on Starks to carry the load and become more of a receiving threat out of the backfield. He won’t produce like Lacy, but he is still more than capable of being a fantasy difference maker as long as Aaron Rodgers is out there.