The running back position got yet more major injury news this week, as if fantasy owners didn't have enough headaches. Eddie Lacy got sent to injured reserve with an ankle injury, robbing owners of an every-week RB1. In addition, LeSean McCoy is touch-and-go with a hamstring injury. He hasn't been ruled out this week, but McCoy has a history of lingering hamstring ailments, so it's not looking good.
On top of that, Ezekiel Elliott and Jonathan Stewart are on bye, so their owners will have to do even more lineup shuffling. With so many uncertain parts, we'll try to recommend three starting options at running back this week, along with three you might want to avoid.
Mike Gillislee, Buffalo Bills (@ Miami Dolphins)
The Bills are being coy with McCoy's status, but in all likelihood Shady will be sitting out. That leaves Gillislee as the next man up in a Buffalo offense that loves using workhorse backs, going up against the Dolphins' 31st-ranked run defense. Even if McCoy is active, Gillislee is a solid plug-and-play RB2 this week.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ San Francisco 49ers)
Doug Martin had a setback and will miss another week, while Charles Sims is sitting on injured reserve. That opens up Rodgers for another heavy role after seeing 35 touches last week. He has a chance to feast against a 49ers defense that was already bad, and is now pathetic with NaVorro Bowman done for the year. Fire up Rodgers with confidence.
Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens (@ New York Jets)
Joe Flacco is questionable with a shoulder injury, so even if he plays he'll probably be limited in what he can do. So look for the Ravens to lean heavily on West (and to a lesser extent Kenneth Dixon) against the Jets, whose defense is rapidly packing it in for the year after a 1-5 start. The Jets have a good run defense on paper (sixth in the league in rushing yards allowed per game) but with Geno Smith under center, their defense could be forced to spend most of the game on the field. That's a friendly game script for West, who's in the RB2 mix most weeks.
Matt Forte, Jets (vs. Ravens)
Speaking of the Jets and game script, that's all working against Forte, who simply looks out of gas at age 30 and is losing snaps to Bilal Powell. With the Jets' quarterback situation in shambles, Forte is rapidly losing fantasy value this year. He hasn't been a worthy starter for nearly a month now.
Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Minnesota Vikings)
Mathews is stuck in a timeshare with Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, and Kenjon Barner. That's a bad recipe for fantasy usage against the Vikings' fourth-ranked rush defense. Mathews is a hard pass in 12-team leagues this week.
Whoever starts for the 49ers (vs. Buccaneers)
Carlos Hyde is out, so the 49ers will be using Mike Davis and Shaun Draughn in some fashion. Theoretically it's a decent matchup with the Bucs' middling defense, but both players are a massive downgrade from Hyde, and Chip Kelly probably won't use them in garbage time like he does with Hyde. It would not be surprising if Colin Kaepernick leads the team in rushing yards this week.