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Week Two fantasy tips: RBs

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By PFW staff

In the PFW staff's late-week fantasy tips for running backs, BenJarvus Green-Ellis could be a stud, while owners shouldn't expect Adrian Peterson's workload to increase.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (knee) has responded well to a heavier-than-anticipated Week One workload (17 carries) and is practicing fully this week through Wednesday. Expecting an increase in work this week, however, might not be smart. The Vikings are not going to thrust him into a full load too quickly and could actually dial back his carries slightly against the Colts. No need to push it unnecessarily.

Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (wrist) appears fine. Ride him vs. the Seahawks.

The Giants are not going to punish David Wilson for eternity for his Week One fumbling sin. At some point they have to get him back out in the deep end of the pool and see what the kid is capable of, whether he can respond to adversity and if he can hang onto the ball. This week, though? It might not be a great spot to try him on your team, not against a Bucs “D” that allowed the Panthers to rush for a franchise-low 10 yards last week.

Given Bears RB Michael Bush’s role in what figures to be a high-scoring offense most weeks this season, he merits a spot in fantasy owners’ starting lineups in deeper two-RB leagues and leagues with a flex spot. Bush does not start for the Bears — Matt Forté will continue to get the nod — but there is no reason to think Bush will stop getting the call in goal-line situations. He is ranked 10th among fantasy running backs in total points after scoring two TDs vs. the Colts in Week One. Chicago could score at will again vs. a porous Packers defense in Week Two.

Jonathan Stewart (ankle) … to the rescue? Stewart, who missed Week One, returned to practice Wednesday after being out for a couple weeks and he should play vs. the Saints barring a setback. Carolina was held to only 10 yards rushing last week vs. the Buccaneers. The offensive line really struggled to create holes, and Stewart may need a game or two to get back to full speed. It’s tempting to consider starting him vs. the Saints, who are sorting through their issues on defense after getting gashed by the Redskins, but we recommend looking elsewhere for RB help this week.

Better get Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the lineup this week vs. Cleveland. The Browns surrendered 150 rushing yards in Week One vs. Philadelphia and have some major depth issues on defense. Green-Ellis had a surprisingly productive Week One (18-91-1 at Baltimore), and the Bengals’ featured back gets a much better matchup this week.
 
Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) practiced Wednesday. Whether he plays on Sunday vs. the Jets remains to be seen, as does his role. Mendenhall probably has the most fantasy value of the Steelers’ backs in Week Two if he plays, with Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman next in the pecking order. Dwyer, who had twice as many total yards as Redman (54-27) in fewer Week One touches, is the Steelers back to start if Mendenhall can’t go. The Jets gave up 169 yards on just 14 carries to Bills RB C.J. Spiller in Week One.
 
Lions RB Kevin Smith has a tough matchup in Week Two. The 49ers’ run defense may be the NFL’s best. Don’t promote Smith ahead of backs you may have preferred a week ago simply because the Lions’ featured runner scored a pair of TDs vs. St. Louis on Sunday.
 
The Bengals’ run defense didn’t look imposing in Week One, allowing 68 yards on just 10 carries to nemesis Ray Rice. However, that doesn’t mean you should rush to start Browns RB Trent Richardson. The Browns’ passing game is a mess, and the Bengals figure to dare Cleveland to throw.

Chargers RB Ryan Mathews was not cleared for contact on Wednesday and does not appear on track to play in Week Two. He is still a check-status, which leaves Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley as options against a Titans defense that gave up 125 yards rushing to Stevan Ridley last week. Brinkley and Brown were nonfactors against the Raiders, but it’s noteworthy that Brinkley got twice as many carries (10). They each received five targets out of the backfield. Neither is a great option, but in deep leagues, Brinkley could be an interesting, albeit risky start.

Bills RB C.J. Spiller went from a No. 3/4 RB in most formats to a No. 1, top-10 back after Fred Jackson’s injury. He’s a no-doubt starter. His backup, Tashard Choice, could also have some value in deep leagues. Chan Gailey is a fan of Choice, who was productive earlier in his career in Dallas. Should the Bills try to run the ball more to take pressure off Ryan Fitzpatrick, Choice will see his opportunities, and he may be a better option for Buffalo near the goal line.

If you have fantasy RB options other than any of the Cardinals’ running backs at your disposal, we suggest you use them and steer clear of Arizona’s increasingly unclear RB situation. After normal third-down back LaRod Stephens-Howling actually ended up seeing more playing time than both Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams in Week One, all signs seem to be pointing to Cardinal head coach Ken Whisenhunt opting to roll with the flow and go with the hot hand (or should we say legs?) at running back moving forward. Eyebrows were raised when Williams started over Wells in Week One, apparently due to Wells’ tender hamstring. Are injury issues going to continue to haunt Wells? Stay tuned.

It’s worth keeping an eye on Rams seventh-round rookie Rams RB Daryl Richardson, who has jumped ahead of second-rounder Isaiah Pead as Steven Jackson’s main caddy. With 20 yards rushing on two very impressive carries in Week One, Richardson’s production is worth monitoring, as he has looked far better than Pead up to now.

After falling behind early in the second half, the Colts abandoned the run sooner than they would have liked at Soldier Field in Week One. However, we did gain some clarity on the pecking order in the backfield. Starter Donald Brown took the lion’s share of the carries, totaling 48 yards and a TD on nine carries (5.3 yards per carry) and showing a nice combination of elusiveness and enough power to gain extra yards after first contact. Brown did have two inexcusable drops, however, souring his otherwise solid performance. Looking forward to Week Two, Brown draws a Minnesota “D” that surrendered just 3.3 yards per carry against a solid Jacksonville rush offense. Expect Brown to get a healthier workload in Week Two in an attempt to ease the burden off of rookie QB Andrew Luck. Brown makes for a low-end RB2 option and worthy flex play.

For owners of Titans RB Chris Johnson, Week One likely felt like a horrible case of déjà vu. Coming off the least productive season of his four-year career, Johnson opened up the 2012 campaign with his worst rushing performance as a pro (11 rushes for four yards). We would love to tell you it is going to get better, but Tennessee’s offensive line provided virtually no reason for optimism, with New England’s front simply overpowering the Titans’ plodding unit from the outset. Even worse news: Johnson travels to San Diego in Week Two. The Chargers limited Oakland’s high-powered rushing offense to 45 yards on 20 carries (2.3 yards per carry). Expecting better results from Tennessee Sunday would be dangerous.

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