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Payne's Perspective: RB Options not in the Cards

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

Week 5 in the 2012 season will likely be remembered for two significant events: the Colts came back to win after an 18-point halftime deficit the game after their coach was diagnosed with Leukemia and Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas' record with his 48th straight game with a touchdown pass. Two starting quarterbacks - Matt Cassel and Robert Griffin III - exited their respective games after suffering concussions. While Griffin has suffered what was labeled by coach Mike Shanahan as "a mild concussion," it appears he could still suit up for Week 6. Cassel, on the other hand, was already struggling, so this could be a good excuse to see what the Chiefs have in Brady Quinn. Week 6 will see another four teams on byes - the Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars.


Brady Quinn, KC -
This is a note for those in two-quarterback leagues or deeper formats. There's a good possibility that Quinn gets the starting nod against Tampa Bay, which makes him an add in the aforementioned leagues. Cassel showed very little on the field this season, sporting a 6.5 YPA with a 5:9 TD:INT ratio. Therefore, it wouldn't be surprising if the Chiefs give Quinn a few games as a midseason audition for the starting job. Quinn finished 3-for-3 for 32 yards in relief Sunday and would have had a touchdown pass had Dwayne Bowe not been flagged for offensive pass interference. This will also be a favorable matchup for the Kansas City passing game given that the Buccaneers have allowed a league-high 9.0 YPA this season. Remember, there's no guarantee that Quinn will definitely start, but if he does and is successful, there's a chance he could hang onto the job for longer than just this week.


Alex Green, GB -
A foot injury Sunday to Cedric Benson opened the door for Green to show why many consider him the Green Bay running back with the most upside. Green finished the game with 55 rushing yards on nine carries and one catch for eight yards. Green was especially impressive on a 41-yard scamper in which he faked out or broke a tackle of three Colts defenders. To put that in perspective, since the end of the 2009-2010 season, Benson has one carry (out of 665 carries) of 40-plus yards while it took Green only 14 NFL carries to get his first. It looks as if James Starks could return from his turf toe injury soon, so Green could find himself in a timeshare, and John Kuhn is always around to vulture goal-line carries. But Starks isn't the model of health, and it should be obvious that Green has the most upside of any player in the Packers backfield. I probably wouldn't use him this week against Houston, but considering the lack of fantasy relevant running backs on the waiver wire he's worth putting in for this week.

Jamie Harper, TEN -
Speaking of how thin the running-back waiver wire is, let's talk about Jamie Harper. He's not exactly "viable" right now, but there's a chance he could be soon. Chris Johnson lowered his YPC to a paltry 2.9 for the season Sunday. Backup Javon Ringer suffered a knee injury that's expected to keep him out for the next several weeks, if not the season. As a result, Harper now takes over the backup duties and could be in line for some work if CJ2K's struggles continue. If you have a dead bench spot, you know what to do here.

Cardinals Running Back -
With the surprising news that Ryan Williams is done for the season after suffering a shoulder injury, it isn't exactly clear as to who will be the starter for Arizona against the Bills on Sunday. LaRod Stephens-Howling opened the season next in line to Beanie Wells, who's out through November, and Williams but missed Week 4 with a hip injury. William Powell took over for Williams last Thursday and left the game with a concussion. This leaves Alfonso Smith as the only running back on the depth chart who isn't dealing with a significant injury. Reports also have surfaced that the Cardinals will be in the market to sign a free-agent running back if for nothing else than depth with the rash of injuries that have occurred. Even if one clear starter emerges, he'll only be useful if you're incredibly desperate for running back help, given that Arizona has one of the worst offensive lines in the league.


David Thomas, NO -
I rarely write about players heading into their bye week, but I'm going to make an exception. Jimmy Graham did not look anywhere close to healthy Sunday night and was in a walking boot due to an ankle injury after the game. Graham came up lame after blocking on a run play and tried to stay in the game. However, he was largely ineffective the rest of the way, used mainly as a decoy to draw in the safety giving help on deep coverage. While Graham could be fine for Week 7, if you're in a deep format or one that starts two tight ends, it's time to be proactive and get Thomas. Without Graham, it isn't hard to imagine Thomas becoming a legit tight-end option given what a big role Graham plays in the New Orleans offense. Many of the passing plays are designed with Graham as the No. 1 option, and with Brees' tendency to look his way, it could make Thomas fantasy relevant. Of course, this is all predicated on the notion that Graham won't play Week 7, something that won't be determined until next week.


Josh Gordon, CLE -
Gordon and the Browns made some early upset noise Sunday after jumping out to a 14-0 lead on the Giants. Gordon caught a long 62-yard pass in the first quarter for a touchdown and then added a second score during garbage time to finish with two catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns. The positive notes here, besides the production, are that Gordon started opposite Greg Little and saw eight targets from Brandon Weeden. He's still learning and needs some polish as a rookie wide receiver but it appears he'll be doing that learning on the job, which puts him on the fantasy radar.

Robert Meachem, SD -
Until this week it was seen as something of a joke that there was debate in San Diego this preseason as to who should be the higher fantasy pick between Meachem and Malcom Floyd. After grabbing two touchdowns against the Saints, it could be that there's finally some trust and chemistry between Meachem and Philip Rivers. Meachem had done little until Sunday night's matchup and therefore should be taken only as a bench player until he shows more consistency.


Buffalo Bills -
This has to be crazy talk since they've given up 97 points and more than 1,200 yards of offense over the last two games, right? Well, this recommendation is based on the matchup, not that the Bills defense has been "circling the wagons." First, after the last two games this will be a team on every waiver wire outside of 32-team leagues. The last two games, the Bills played the Patriots and 49ers, arguably two of the top teams in the league. Arizona presents the perfect matchup for a defense that was looking to be one of the best on paper heading into this season. The offensive line, as already noted earlier, is terrible for the Cardinals. It's a miracle Kevin Kolb is still in one piece since they allowed nine sacks to the Rams and eight sacks to the Dolphins for a mind-boggling 17 in two weeks. Leodis McKelvin had an 88-yard punt return against Kansas City Week 2 and had another one called back against San Francisco due to a hold Sunday. If you have the Bears on a bye or are looking for a gamble play, here's your team for this week.

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