We're reaching the halfway mark of the fantasy season. Injuries and bye weeks continue to take their toll on teams. This week, the Cardinals, Lions, Broncos, Jaguars, Giants and 49ers are all on bye, leaving Reggie Bush and Frank Gore owners in a lurch.
The waiver wire doesn't have the most appealing running backs available, but there are several injured players set to come back soon and can be stashed if you have the roster space. Here are five running backs worth your attention.
Mike James, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (owned in 53 percent of leagues)
Filling in for the injured Doug Martin, James struggled against the Panthers defense, getting just 39 yards on 10 carries. He added four catches for 25 yards, but was a very clear downgrade from Martin. Things won't get any easier when the Bucs travel to Seattle. High volume is one thing James has going for him — he should continue getting plenty of touches with Mike Glennon on training wheels.
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals (owned in 53 percent of leagues)
The rookie had the breakout performance we've been waiting for. Taking over for Rashard Mendenhall, Ellington exploded for 162 total yards and a touchdown on 17 touches. Coach Bruce Arians continues to insist that Ellington will split carries with Mendenhall, but Mendenhall has done nothing to prove he deserves more snaps. Until Ellington's workload increases, continue viewing him as a flex play. Fantasy owners should closely watch his snap counts in Week 10 after he comes out of his bye.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (owned in 39 percent of leagues)
A broken wrist derailed what was looking like a breakout year for Vereen, but he's due to come back in Week 11 and the team has indicated that he's ready to return to practice soon. When he does come back, he should immediately step back into his role as the main back on passing downs, playing some kind of RB/WR combination. Stash him now if you have a bench spot available.
Andre Brown, New York Giants (owned in 20 percent of leagues)
Another injured player set to return soon, Brown is penciled in for a Week 10 comeback. His return will be welcome news for a Giants team that's been forced to trot out the corpses of Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis. Brown offers low-end RB2 against the Raiders if he's able to come back in two weeks.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (owned in 10 percent of leagues)
Stewart returned to practice last week but has yet to be activated off the PUP. If that happens this week, he will make his season debut against a Falcons defense that just got gashed by Andre Ellington. His ankles are still gimpy and it's unknown how much time he will split with DeAngelo Williams, so keep monitoring this situation for now.