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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Fantasy Football

Thomas Rawls a fantasy option if Marshawn Lynch is out

Thomas-Rawls

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

Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles fantasy options if DeMarco Murray is out

DeMarco Murray

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.

Lorenzo Taliaferro a fantasy football player to watch

Lorenzo-TaliaferroBaltimore Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro returned from a preseason MCL sprain last week, and he immediately took on a significant role in the offense.

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.

James Starks a fantasy must-add after Eddie Lacy injury

James StarksThere 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.

Matt Jones fantasy: Redskins may have a new lead RB

Matt Jones RB

Matt Jones put together a monster game on Sunday in the Washington Redskins’ win over the St. Louis Rams and appears to be the team’s new lead back, which is good news for those working the waiver wire in fantasy. And if he isn’t the new top rusher, then he at least has earned a much larger split of the carries, which is a good thing for everyone except Alfred Morris owners.

Jones, a rookie from Florida, looked good while posting his first career 100-yard game. He scored two touchdowns including a 39-yarder for the first score of the game, and a nice, powerful run from three yards out. Jones showed excellent speed and good vision on both TD runs. He was decisive and hit the holes very hard as soon as he spotted them.

Jones rushed six times for 28 yards in his NFL debut in Week 1. He had an extremely strong preseason as he rushed for 139 yards on 20 carries, good for nearly an average of seven yards per attempt. He impressed his coaches with the preseason performance and probably has them even more impressed after this game.

If Matt Jones is available in your fantasy league, we highly suggest you pick him up.

David Johnson fantasy stock increases with Andre Ellington injury

David-Johnson

Arizona Cardinals rookie running back David Johnson will be a popular name on fantasy football waiver wires this week.

Johnson, a former Northern Iowa star who was drafted in the third round back in May, sealed a win for the Cardinals over the New Orleans Saints with a 55-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The catch was Johnson’s only touch of the game, but it came after Andre Ellington was carted off with a non-contact knee injury.

Ellington had 12 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown, but the injury did not look good. Veteran Chris Johnson also had 10 carries for 37 yards in the game, but the other Johnson has more upside.

If Ellington misses a significant amount of time, the Cardinals will likely split carries between Chris Johnson and David Johnson. The latter is a more intriguing add in fantasy lineups if available.

Photo: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Gurley fantasy outlook improving, cleared for contact

Todd-Gurley

The St. Louis Rams have announced that running back Todd Gurley will not play against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, and that could help make the former Georgia star more of a bargain buy in fantasy drafts.

On Sunday, Gurley noted that he is no longer wearing a yellow cap in practice, which means he has been cleared for contact.

“I can do everything,” Gurley told reporters, via the Rams official website. “The beanie’s off, so I’m good. I definitely would want to be playing (against Seattle), but I know it’s going to be a long journey. You have to be patient and when the time comes it comes. I’ll be ready for it.”

The Rams are being extremely cautious with Gurley as he continues to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last season, but the fact that he has been cleared for contact already is a great sign.

While Tre Mason had a stretch of good games in November and December last year, you don’t draft a player with the 10th overall pick unless you expect to feature him heavily. Gurley is a freak athlete who just turned 21 about a month ago. There’s no reason to believe he won’t come back as strong as he was before.

Gurley is being drafted somewhere in the range of 60-70 in most fantasy drafts. At the moment, that looks like a bargain for those who are patient enough to wait for their investment to pay off.

Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports