Answers to rampant running back injury issues



Hey, you ever get that feeling of déjà vu? You know, that feeling like something has happened before? Maybe it’s a conversation or a vista or a moment … or a Christian McCaffrey injury.

That’s right. The Panthers running back is out again. Like last season, he was lost early in the year, came back briefly, then went down again for the rest of the season. This time, it’s an ankle injury.

Hey, you ever get that feeling of déjà vu? We ask because Dalvin Cook is injured again. He already missed a game earlier this season with an ankle problem. On Sunday he suffered a shoulder injury that will keep him out an undetermined amount of time — though the team reportedly has hope he will return during the regular season.

In five years in the league, Cook has never played a full season, so replacing him on your fantasy roster isn’t a foreign task.

Hey, you ever get that feeling of déjà vu? You know, like being able to find little to nothing on the running back waiver wire the later in the season you go looking? Yeah, it’s a feeling familiar to most. It reoccurs every week.

This week, those looking to replace McCaffrey and Cook likely will be competing with those who have DeAndre Swift and maybe Ezekiel Elliot, both of whom are questionable for Week 13 with shoulder and knee issues, respectively.

Dalvin Cook is carted off the field.
Getty Images

Considering this isn’t the first time either McCaffrey or Cook has missed time or that Zeke has been a question mark, hopefully you handcuffed their backups. Alexander Mattison is a plug-and-play for Cook. Likewise, Tony Pollard is an easy sub for Elliott.

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Chuba Hubbard was the clear replacement when CMC went down earlier this season, and he likely will get the bulk of carries the rest of the way. But Ameer Abdullah has emerged with a steady role that likely will increase now, particularly in the passing game.

The hum-drum Jamaal Williams would absorb Swift’s work, and is useful based on volume alone.

But you don’t have to rely on handcuff options for replacements. Matt Breida has been the best Bills fantasy RB three straight weeks. Devin Singletary had more carries Sunday, but Breida got the touchdown (on a reception), and a healthy Zach Moss didn’t even play.

Matt Breida
Getty Images

Breida has been productive in small windows in the past, but his injury history (déjà vu?) has often kept him off the field, so use him while he is healthy.

D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard both topped 100 yards Sunday against the Patriots. With wide receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones dealing with injuries, the Derrick Henry fill-ins will continue to be a heavy focus of the offense. Expect Foreman to get the carries close to the goal line and for Hilliard to play a larger role in the passing game.

Deeper options include Rex Burkhead or Phillip Lindsay. But there isn’t much beyond that. RB pickings are slim. Now that’s something we know we’ve heard before.

Yes, please

Taysom Hill QB, Saints

Reports suggest he will get the start Thursday against the Cowboys. His rushing potential makes him fantasy viable. WRs get a slight boost, since defenses focusing more on the run could open passing lanes.

Ryan Tannehill QB, Titans

Two straight fantasy duds with a bye week upcoming means he could land on waivers. Has a WR health problem, but the schedule down the stretch lays out nicely for him.

Van Jefferson

Van Jefferson WR, Rams

Had just one fewer target (nine) than Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday. Came within a toe on the chalk from a second TD. We don’t think the Rams’ struggles are new norm, so when they bounce back, Jefferson will benefit.

Kendrick Bourne WR, Patriots

He has three scores in the past three weeks, including two Sunday. He is the most explosive weapon the Pats have.

No thanks

Mac Jones WR, Patriots

For the second time in three games, was among the top five QBs for the week (heading into Monday). But pump the brakes. Has two games vs. the Bills, plus a bye, over the next four weeks.

Miles Sanders RB, Eagles

It just isn’t going to happen this season, apparently. Went down with an ankle injury Sunday. Fire up Boston Scott and keep an eye on the availability of Jordan Howard.

DeSean Jackson WR, Raiders

Every time Jackson catches one of his trademark long TD passes, the fantasy community gets a little giddy hoping for a return to the early 2010s. Prediction: He will score exactly one TD the rest of the season.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling WR, Packers

Has 19 targets over the past two games but had just four combined in the previous two games. With a healthy Adam Lazard, expect MVS’ use to decline once Green Bay comes out of a Week 13 bye.


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