Monday, November 9, 2009

Backfield Confusion

There have been some pretty wild moves in a few backfields recently, not the least of which is the official dropping of Larry Johnson by the Kansas City Chiefs.  Let's take a look at some of the fantasy backfield issues for a few teams.

1) Houston Texans - A lot of us spent a first round draft pick on Steve Slaton, who was recently ousted from his starting job by Ryan Moats due to ball control issues.  Yesterday, however, both backs had touchdowns, Moats through the air and Slaton on the ground.  After being swept up by a lot of owners this week, Moats was a solid start, but Slaton was equally effective.  What does this mean going forward?  Well, it could mean a variety of things, but I think Gary Kubiak is going to start dividing carries between the two backs.  Slaton obviously has the big play potential, while Moats is the gruntwork back.  Expect both to be seeing nearly equal touches in the weeks moving forward, unless one really outdoes the other.  I would recommend starting Moats over Slaton, who saw equal work in the passing game (both had three receptions) and nearly triple the number of carries as Slaton (16 for Moats, 6 for Slaton).

2) Arizona Cardinals - Many owners thought that rookie Beanie Wells was going to explode coming out the gate and drafted him far earlier than they should have, as early as the 6th round in some cases.  Obviously that hasn't been the case, with Tim Hightower still being the leader of the pack, though not by much.  While Wells is the future of the team on the ground, Hightower is being more heavily utilized this year while the rookie earns his stripes.  It is possible by the end of the season that Wells will be seeing more work than Hightower, for now Hightower is the better start, though that could change if Wells has another game like he did against the Giants.  For now, play Hightower in deeper leagues and keep Wells riding the pine (he may be an asset in keeper leagues, so keep an eye out).

3) Miami Dolphins - First off, the Miami rushing offense is easily the most exciting ground game in the league.  It's just plain fun to watch thanks to the prevalent use of the Wildcat formation, which seems to be here to stay.  Updates to it included using rookie Pat White to increase the pass threat, though he's not a player that you'll be picking up.  Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are simply phenomenal and impress every week.  With Williams adding yet another touchdown performance this week against the Patriots, he is now a top 10 running back in fantasy points.  Guess what you're doing if you've got Williams on your bench?  You're starting him now, as if the past few weeks didn't clue you in enough.  Ronnie Brown is also a must-start, as he above Ricky in the top 10 backs list.  Start 'em both if you've got them.  Miami's offense likes to score and does it on the ground, often.

I hope this helps going forward.  I'll be addressing more running back issues on this week's podcast, so tune in this Thursday!

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