Desperation has set in for many owners at running back this week. Darren McFadden has a high ankle sprain, and so does his Fantasy insurance policy, Mike Goodson. That leaves owners who drafted both or acquired them scrambling to the waiver wire for an answer. And there is certainly no clear fill-in. Taiwan Jones is the next in line on the roster, but he is unproven and seems to lack the confidence of the Raiders braintrust. Marcel Reece is well-versed in the Oakland offense, but he is a natural fullback with no real upside.
So which one do you add, whether you have to replace McFadden or Goodson or both, or if you just need RB help? Which one do you prioritize on your waiver list or spend more FAAB money on?
The natural inclination to many seems to be Reece after he caught eight passes for 95 yards against Tampa Bay last week. But those numbers do not indicate he is ready for a role as a more frequent ballcarrier. He has only one carry for zero yards this season. Reece is in his fourth year with the Raiders, and has never carried more than seven times in a game. He has 48 carries in his career for 234 yards. That’s an average of 6.2 yards per carry, but he is known more for his blocking and respectable pass-catching skills that he displays occasionally.
Jones is a speed/slasher type who has seen very limited work since being drafted in the fourth round last season. He carried 16 times for 73 yards in his rookie season, and he has only one carry this year. Jones appeared to have a legitimate shot at backing up McFadden when training camp opened, but durability and ball security issues cost him on the depth chart.
Still, the McFadden and Goodson injuries have to give Jones a legitimate shot to regain some respect in Oakland, even if it’s just for one game. He’s not a big running back who can handle a major workload, but he has the niftiness and speed to make some things happen with increased touches. Reece could be used for short-yardage purposes, but Jones is the next pure runner in the pecking order, and should figure to get more of the important rushing touches. Yes, there have been whispers about the coaching staff being concerned with his potential to lose the football or whiff on blocks, but don’t believe everything you read. Someone has to play halfback for the Raiders if Goodson is out too, and Jones simply fits the role better than Reece.
So if you have to use a pick or more of your budget on someone from the Oakland backfield, make it Jones. Neither he nor Reece have much upside, but these are trying times for many in Fantasy Football, and we’re digging deep here. Of course, you could always put away the shovel and make a trade to try to improve your fortunes, especially if you are dealing with the McFadden/Goodson disaster.