Crystal Ball Week 5 2017

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano One of the biggest keys to being a successful Fantasy Football owner is the ability to be adaptable, especially when dealing with injuries and bye weeks in the middle of the season. Having the ability to draw from a deep bench in times where lesser managers would fold under pressure separates playoff teams from those that ultimately end up falling short.

This past weekend was especially brutal on the injury front at the running back position, as Minnesota Vikings stud rookie Dalvin Cook suffered a torn ACL in the team’s contest against the Detroit Lions, and Seattle Seahawks cinderella-story Chris Carson sustained a high-ankle sprain, coupled with a fracture below the knee of his left leg. Ty Montgomery managed to break several ribs on his first carry of the game against the Chicago Bears, and his replacement Jamaal Williams didn’t last long in his absence, going down with a sprained knee.

From an inefficiency standpoint, both Terrance West of the Baltimore Ravens and Paul Perkins of the New York Giants lost carries to younger talent in Alex Collins and Wayne Gallman. West and Perkins have both struggled to find running room and capitalize on their opportunities this season, with West averaging just 3.3 YPC and Perkins at a putrid 1.9. Whether their inability to be successful stems from playing behind weak offensive lines, a lack of talent or vision is up to interpretation, but their owners need to be prepared for both players to ride the pine in future contests.

Since the vast majority of all questions I received on Twitter this week stemmed from providing my thoughts on all of these running back situations, I wanted to spend a little more time delving into each situation, and then ultimately giving my thoughts on how much to spend on each player, and the order which I would pursue the claims.


– The most compelling pickup of the week for me without question is Latavius Murray of the Vikings. Of the running backs who will find themselves thrust into additional snaps, Murray plays behind the best offensive line of the group, and the team’s philosophy has traditionally been ground and pound. Murray was signed to a three-year, $15 million contract in early March, making him one of the highest paid free agents of the offseason. The staff was clearly high on him prior to drafting Cook, so it would stand to reason that they would be comfortable with giving him early down work. Over his three-year career, Murray has averaged nearly 4.5 YPC, and is an adequate receiver. He has been criticized for being a largely upright-runner incapable of breaking tackles, but has a nose around the goal line and also possesses breakaway speed in the open field. Murray is likely to come off on third downs and passing situations in favor of Jerick McKinnon, but should be on the right side of at least a 65/35 split in total touches.

Waiver bidding: Murray should be owned in all leagues and is worthy of a No.1 claim or 25-30% FAAB bid.

New York

– As a New York Giants fan, I wasn’t rooting for Paul Perkins to get hurt per se (even I’m not that spiteful), but I felt that his injury was actually a blessing in disguise for this team. Perkins had a handful of attempts last year that raised eyebrows, and management felt that he would be able to handle the full workload of being a true three-down back for the team upon entering the season. Sadly, the Giants woeful offensive line hasn’t been able to generate much in the way of lanes for Perkins to work with, and even when they are open, he fails to take advantage of them. It may seem like an odd statement, but I really wish that the team would have called more sweep plays, as Perkins lateral quickness could have really helped him in space to run around defenders. He crumples with first contact, and just was never able to get it going this season. Enter in Gallman. Against a fairly stout defensive front in Tampa Bay, he totaled 42 yards on the ground, and caught both of his targets for eight receiving yards and a touchdown. Gallman’s running style more fits what the coaching staff calls, as his bigger frame propels him forward to constantly pick up positive yardage, rather than being tackled in the backfield. He doesn’t have one particularly trait which stands out specifically, but his overall skillset is above-average at everything.
Waiver bidding: Gallman should be owned in 10-team leagues or greater, and is worthy of a 10-15% FAAB bid.


– It is a real shame that Carson went down with a major injury that will sideline him for the remainder of the season, because his presence at least brought some stability to Seattle. In his absence, owners will have to play the guessing game between the three-headed monster of Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise. Of all three backs, I would assume that Thomas Rawls would have the first chance to inherit early down carries, with Lacy coming in to spell him (perhaps around the goal line), and Prosise being on the field when the team plays from behind or on passing downs. From a health perspective, none of the remaining three options for the team have shown the ability to play through injuries or stay on the field for extended snaps, which creates a very confusing situation. To complicate matters even further, Seattle’s offensive line is atrocious, so this is very likely to be a “hot hand” approach.
Waiver bidding: Both Rawls and Lacy should be owned in 12-team leagues or greater, and are worthy of a 10% FAAB bid. In PPR formats Prosise would be the favored option due to his receiving skills, and is worthy of a 10-15% bid.

Green Bay

– Thankfully, initial reports on Ty Montgomery sound optimistic on his long-term outlook, meaning that it would be a surprise if he missed more than a week of action, if that. He was already back at practice on Wednesday, and said that his ability to start would be completely dependent upon pain tolerance. If he starts I would seriously limit my expectations on his output, as one hit in the wrong area could force him out of action. Whether that happens on the first snap or the last is anyone’s guess, coupled with how he feels after the conclusion of the game and the adrenaline wears off. It would be smart for the team to give him a week of rest if possible. If Montgomery does miss time, it is also possible that Jamaal Williams plays, as he was also back on the practice field, and told reporters that he was “feeling good” about his chances to start. The odd note that both backs have working in their favor is that they sustained their injuries on Thursday, rather than Sunday. The added rest means that one or the other (or possibly both) will be active in this contest. In the unlikely event that they sit or experience setbacks, Aaron Jones would be the player to target.
Waiver bidding: It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Packers opt for Montgomery to sit out the game on Sunday if he isn’t healthy enough, or is at any risk of making his injuries worse. Jamaal Williams is a Hail-Mary add in deeper formats, but is a one-week flier and handcuff at best. A 5% bid should land him, or Jones, should both players sit out.


– Similar to Seattle, this is a situation that is really lacking clarity. Going into the season, it was presumed that Danny Woodhead and Terrance West would split reps about 50/50, with Woodhead being a mid-tier RB2 in PPR formats. His Week 1 injury forced Buck Allen to take over the passing-down role, where he has shined, catching at least five passes in every game since. West has struggled behind a poor offensive line, which has led to Alex Collins being more involved the past two weeks. His reps have mainly occurred in the fourth quarter against teams who aren’t going out of their way to stop the run, so his YPC has been largely inflated. That said, he has posted identical lines in each of the past two contests, running for 82 yards on nine attempts. The major, well-publicized drawback to Collins is his propensity to put the ball on the ground – fumbles have plagued him going back to his college days at Arkansas. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has no tolerance for players that turn the ball over, so Collins has an exceptionally short leash. Of the players mentioned above, he would be my least targeted one, both due to his risk for getting benched, coupled with the presence of West/Allen and the eventual return of Woodhead.

Waiver bidding: Collins is worth an addition in deeper formats (14-teams or larger) as a speculative addition, but owners should be aware of the innate risk that comes with adding him. A 5-10% bid is plenty to acquire him.


– As a quick aside prior to the conclusion of the article, I did want to make owners aware that news has begun to swirl about a possible resolution in the Ezekiel Elliott case. Per Pro Football Talk, the NFL “is seeking a stay on the injunction which is allowing Elliott to continue playing while his suit against the league is litigated. The Fifth U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard oral arguments on Monday, and it sounds like they could issue a ruling this week. If the court reverses the injunction, Elliott’s suspension would begin immediately”. Long story short, it sounds like Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden could come into some playing time in the near future, should the court rule to overturn things. Regardless if you are an Elliott owner or not, I would strongly recommend taking a look at the waiver wire to see if either player is available. It is currently unclear which would be Elliott’s backup, and even beat writers appear split on how things would shake out. Some say that because Morris has been active, he would be the backup. Others think that DMC would be the choice, given that his skillset more closely mirrors Elliott, and the team has been resting him intentionally in case something like this happened.

Waiver bidding: Should Morris or DMC be available, they need to be added as insurance in the event that Elliott is suspended. A 5% bid on either this week should land them – owners would be well advised to add them now rather than later.

My pecking order at RB this week:
1. Latavius Murray
2. Wayne Gallman
3. Thomas Rawls
4. C.J. Prosise
5. Alfred Morris/Darren McFadden
6. Alex Collins
7. Jerick McKinnon
8. Eddie Lacy
9. Jamaal Williams
10. Aaron Jones

If you are new to this column and would like to have your questions answered in the future, please make sure to give me a follow on Twitter (@Roto_Wizard) and submit all inquiries on Tuesday afternoons. In addition to providing answers here, I also host a weekly “Q&A” video chat over on the Football Diehards Facebook page, which you can find here: