Week 7 turned out to be rough for running backs with several prominent Fantasy options going down with an injury or not even making out to the field. It was devastating news for Tim Hightower (torn ACL) and Earnest Graham (Achilles' tendon), who were lost for the season.
The other injuries included Darren McFadden (foot), Beanie Wells (knee) Willis McGahee (hand), Mark Ingram (heel) and Joseph Addai (hamstring). And before the game even started, Marshawn Lynch (back) was a late scratch when he was hurt in warm-ups.
Felix Jones (ankle), Peyton Hillis (hamstring), LeGarrette Blount (knee) and Jahvid Best (concussion) also were inactive for Week 7, and you can count on Wells and McGahee being out for Week 8 and even longer. It doesn't get any easier with the bye weeks with Michael Turner, Matt Forte, Shonn Greene and James Starks off in Week 8, and hopefully McFadden and Blount can use the bye to get healthy.
We're going to get into the running backs to add later in the column, but if any of these options are still available in your league then pick them up immediately as injury replacements: Knowshon Moreno (82 percent ownership on CBSSports.com), Michael Bush (74 percent), Montario Hardesty (73 percent), Pierre Thomas (69 percent) and Maurice Morris (67 percent).
Each of those running backs could see a more prominent role going forward after what happened in Week 7.
In case you haven't noticed ... We told you last week to add DeMarco Murray, and he came through with an outstanding performance against St. Louis in Week 7 with 25 carries for 253 yards and a touchdown. Murray might force Jones to a reserve role once he returns from his ankle injury, and Murray should be owned in all leagues. His ownership is at 81 percent, but that should change after his outing against the Rams. He also has another favorable matchup in Week 8 at the Eagles.
Each Tuesday we will highlight players who might be available in your league and whether you should consider picking them up off waivers based on their recent performances. The players chosen are based on the percentage of ownership in CBSSports.com leagues.
Carson Palmer, Raiders
Owned: 68 percent of leagues
Week 7: Completed 8 of 21 passes for 116 yards and three interceptions vs. Kansas City.
Analysis: Palmer didn't start against the Chiefs, but he struggled after replacing Kyle Boller in the second half. We'll give him a pass with his performance since he had three days to learn the offense and get familiar with his new team after being traded to Oakland following not playing a game since January. Palmer now has the bye in Week 8 to get prepared, and he should be ready to go in Week 9 against Denver, which is a favorable matchup. If you have the roster space, add Palmer because he could turn into trade bait even if you never have to start him. You just have to hope he can still play at a high level once he's comfortable with his new team.
Charlie Whitehurst, Seahawks
Owned: 7 percent of leagues
Week 7: Completed 12 of 30 passes for 97 yards with an interception and a fumble at Cleveland.
Analysis: We never thought we'd wish for the day Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral) could return because Whitehurst was brutal. It didn't help that Lynch was out to take away any semblance of a running game, but don't expect Whitehurst to help much going forward. The Seahawks face Cincinnati, Dallas and Baltimore in the next three weeks, and those defenses should be able to contain this Seattle passing game with Whitehurst under center.
Christian Ponder, Vikings
Owned: 15 percent of leagues
Week 7: Completed 13 of 30 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and had four carries for 31 yards vs. Green Bay.
Analysis: Ponder might be worth adding if you need a quarterback in Week 8 since Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Jay Cutler and Josh Freeman are off, and he has a decent matchup at Carolina. Ponder gave the Vikings offense a spark even in the loss to the Packers. He might not develop into a quality NFL quarterback, but he can be a good Fantasy option similar to Tim Tebow based on his rushing ability. And if he can get some help from Percy Harvin then his stats could actually look good on a weekly basis now that he's the permanent starter in Minnesota for the rest of the season.
John Beck, Redskins
Owned: 14 percent of leagues
Week 7: Completed 22 of 37 passes for 279 yards, one touchdown and one interception and had three carries for 10 yards and a touchdown and a fumble at Carolina.
Analysis: We had Beck as an avoid last week, but he played well even with two turnovers. Keep in mind his offensive line was a mess, and he lost Santana Moss (broken hand) and Hightower during the game. Moss is out for several weeks, but Beck is still worth keeping an eye on if he can keep playing at a high level. He is not someone to start in the majority of leagues, but he could be a useful bye-week replacement in two-quarterback formats.
Shaun Hill, Lions
Owned: Not owned
Week 7: Did not play.
Analysis: Matthew Stafford is day to day with an ankle injury, but if he's out for Week 8 at Denver then Hill would start in his place. As we saw last year when Hill started 10 games in place of Stafford, he can be a useful Fantasy option with 2,686 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Keep an eye on what happens with Stafford, but Hill would be a great addition if you need help at quarterback.
Bernard Scott, Bengals
Owned: 48 percent of leagues
Week 7: On bye.
Analysis: Cedric Benson will serve his one-game suspension in Week 8, which means Scott will start and get the majority of carries at Seattle. It's not the best matchup, but Scott could be a useful injury or bye-week replacement given all the running backs out or hurting in Week 8. We expect Benson to regain his starting job in Week 9, but a good performance from Scott against the Seahawks could help his value going forward.
Delone Carter, Colts
Owned: 50 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had 10 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown with a fumble at New Orleans.
Analysis: If Addai is out again in Week 8 at Tennessee then Carter could help as a bye-week or injury replacement. He does have two touchdowns in his past three games even if he's not running at a high level. But he showed some promise against the Saints with a 42-yard run where he had some broken tackles, and he would again get the majority of carries ahead of Donald Brown. Keep an eye on Addai's status, but Carter could be useful against the Titans.
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Roy Helu, Redskins
Owned: 31 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had one carry for minus-1 yard at Buffalo.
Analysis: With Hightower out for the season, Helu is the No. 2 option behind Ryan Torain, who has a lengthy injury history. It might not be long before Helu is the starter for the Redskins, and he is worth stashing on your bench. Torain should get the majority of carries in Week 8 at Buffalo and as long as he's healthy, but Helu will get his touches as well, especially in the passing game. The smart move is to add Helu now before something happens to Torain.
Keiland Williams, Lions
Owned: 7 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had nine carries for 44 yards vs. Atlanta.
Analysis: We're not sure when or if Best will return this year, but Williams will be the No. 2 running back for the Lions behind Morris until that happens. He looked better than Morris for the majority of the game against the Falcons, and he will be the one at the goal line in short-yardage situations. Williams is worth stashing on your roster, and he could be a spot starter in Week 8 at Denver. Morris is the running back to own with Best out, but Williams could eventually prove to be more valuable if he gets the chance to score.
Phillip Tanner, Cowboys
Owned: Not owned
Week 7: Had six carries for 34 yards and a touchdown vs. St. Louis.
Analysis: The Cowboys needed someone to help Murray with Jones out, so once Tashard Choice (shoulder) got hurt they turned to Tanner. He had a solid outing against the Rams, but he likely won't see many carries going forward unless Jones and Choice are out for a significant period of time and Murray also gets hurt. Don't expect Tanner, who had no carries prior to Week 7, to do much in Week 8 at the Eagles.
Kregg Lumpkin, Bucs
Owned: 1 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had eight carries for 15 yards and caught six passes for 37 yards vs. Chicago.
Analysis: The Bucs are hoping that Blount can return in Week 9, but even if he does look for Lumpkin to see increased touches with Graham out. Lumpkin should assume third-down duties, and he is worth stashing on your bench in leagues where receptions count. And if Blount is out in Week 9 at New Orleans and Lumpkin is starting then his value will skyrocket. He could become a valuable commodity to Fantasy owners depending on what happens with Blount.
Leon Washington, Seahawks
Owned: 1 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had seven carries for 39 yards and four catches for 10 yards at Cleveland.
Analysis: We expect Lynch to return against the Bengals in Week 8, but if he's out then look for Washington and Justin Forsett (6 percent ownership) to share the workload. The Seahawks appear to favor Washington over Forsett, but both running backs would likely struggle against the Bengals. Still, if Lynch is out, that could allow Washington to help Fantasy owners in deep formats.
LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals
Owned: 3 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had two catches for 76 yards and a touchdown vs. Pittsburgh.
Analysis: It sounds like Wells is out for Week 8 at Baltimore, so the Cardinals will need a new starting running back. That would allow Stephens-Howling and Alfonso Smith (2 percent ownership) increased playing time to replace Wells, and in Week 8, Stephens-Howling would have more value based on his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. The Ravens should be able to contain the Cardinals rushing attack even if Wells is healthy, but Stephens-Howling could end up as a flex option in leagues where receptions count.
Taiwan Jones, Raiders
Owned: 2 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had three carries for 18 yards and one catch for 30 yards vs. Kansas City.
Analysis: If McFadden is not able to return in Week 9 against Denver then Jones would move up the depth chart to No. 2 behind Bush. While Bush will get the majority of touches, Jones could be useful in leagues where receptions count and also as a flex in deeper formats. Keep an eye on McFadden's status because Jones could turn into a viable Fantasy option if he's out for an extended period of time.
Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns
Owned: Not owned
Week 7: Had three carries for 15 yards and five catches for 43 yards vs. Seattle.
Analysis: If Hillis remains out for Week 8 at San Francisco then you could see Ogbonnaya again play in a reserve role behind Hardesty. He showed off his receiving skills against the Seahawks and could be a useful option in deeper leagues where receptions count. Hillis might not return from his hamstring injury against the 49ers, so in a desperation move you could add Ogbonnaya and hope for another five-point Fantasy performance.
Lance Ball, Broncos
Owned: 1 percent
Week 7: Had six carries for 14 yards at Miami.
Analysis: Ball will help the Broncos replace McGahee, and he should share time with Moreno. We could see Ball playing on running downs to keep Moreno in his role as a receiver out of the backfield. If Ball does well in Week 8 against Detroit then he could be worth adding as long as McGahee is sidelined.
Jabar Gaffney, Redskins
Owned: 33 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had four catches for 68 yards and a fumble at Carolina.
Analysis: Gaffney will assume the No. 1 role for the Redskins with Moss out, and he should see an increase in targets, which will help his value. Gaffney was having a nice season so far with four games with at least six Fantasy points. He would have made it five games if he didn't fumble against the Panthers, and he has 18 targets in his past two outings. Anthony Armstrong (2 percent ownership) will also see a bigger role, and Fred Davis now becomes the best receiving option for Washington. But Gaffney is still worth adding now that Moss is out.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
Owned: 16 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had three catches for 27 yards and a touchdown at Miami.
Analysis: Thomas made his 2011 debut, and he scored a touchdown in his first action with Tebow. He also had 10 targets in the game, and it appears like he will benefit with Brandon Lloyd gone. We consider Thomas a tremendous playmaker, and keep in mind that Denver drafted him ahead of Dez Bryant in 2010. Tebow may never make Thomas an elite receiver with his inconsistent passing, but it appears like he will try to get him the ball as often as possible, which is all you can ask for. Look for Thomas to make a significant impact for the rest of the year as long as he can stay healthy.
Dezmon Briscoe, Buccaneers
Owned: Not owned
Week 7: Had six catches for 73 yards and a touchdown vs. Chicago.
Analysis: Briscoe had an outstanding performance against the Bears in London, including 10 targets. But outside of Mike Williams, who we all know has been a disappointment, the rest of the receiving corps for Tampa Bay has been a crapshoot for targets. One week it's Preston Parker, the next it's Arrelious Benn and now Briscoe. Prior to Week 7, Briscoe had 10 Fantasy points in six games and two games without a catch. He's too inconsistent to own in the majority of leagues and not worth adding with Tampa Bay on a bye.
Roy Williams, Bears
Owned: 14 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown at Tampa Bay.
Analysis: The best thing that could happen to the Bears would be if Williams starts to play like a quality receiver again. Chicago needs a big-body receiver, and Williams fits the bill at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. He scored his first touchdown of the season against the Bucs in London, and he has nine targets in his past two games. If he comes off the bye in Week 9 with another solid performance then it might be time to stash him on your bench.
Michael Jenkins, Vikings
Owned: 12 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had three catches for 111 yards and a touchdown vs. Green Bay.
Analysis: Here's the good news for Jenkins: He played well in Ponder's first start and Percy Harvin is dealing with a rib injury, which has limited his play. Here's the bad news for Jenkins: He has never been a good Fantasy receiver. Jenkins has shown some positive flashes this year with three touchdowns and four games with at least six Fantasy points. He also has 14 targets the past two games, and he could play well against a familiar foe at Carolina since Jenkins spent the first seven years of his career with the Falcons. With another good performance against the Panthers, Jenkins could be worth adding in deeper leagues.
Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers
Owned: 5 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had five catches for 46 yards and a touchdown at Arizona.
Analysis: Sanders could see an increase in production if Hines Ward (ankle) is out in Week 8 against New England, and he would be the No. 3 receiver behind Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. We also like Brown (41 percent ownership) to see an increase in targets, but Sanders has scored more touchdowns than Brown this season and could benefit the most. Keep an eye on what happens with Ward because the receivers behind Wallace would see a boost in value.
Jared Cook, Titans
Owned: 35 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had two catches for 22 yards and a touchdown vs. Houston.
Analysis: Cook didn't have a dominant game against the Texans, but none of the Titans did in a blowout loss. Still, Cook scored the only touchdown, and he now has two touchdowns in his past three games. He only had two targets in Week 7, which is a concern, but as long as he's producing that's all you can ask for. He has a favorable matchup in Week 8 against the Colts, who just allowed two touchdowns to New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham in Week 7.
Jake Ballard, Giants
Owned: 24 percent of leagues
Week 7: On bye.
Analysis: We've been telling you for the past several weeks to keep an eye on Ballard, and he has done well in his previous three games with two touchdowns and at least eight Fantasy points in each outing. He faces the Dolphins at home in Week 8, and this is another favorable matchup for him. If you're looking for a bye-week replacement, then Ballard might be on the top of your list.
Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
Owned: 25 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown vs. Green Bay.
Analysis: Shiancoe could be a good bye-week replacement in Week 8 with Tony Gonzalez, Jermichael Finley, Dustin Keller and Kellen Winslow off since he has a favorable matchup at Carolina. The Panthers just struggled with Washington tight end Fred Davis, who scored a touchdown, and Shiancoe is coming off his best game of the season in his first start with Ponder. Shiancoe had eight targets against the Packers, and hopefully Ponder continues to look in his direction.
Heath Miller, Steelers
Owned: 41 percent
Week 7: Had four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown at Arizona.
Analysis: Miller has played well of late, and he could be added in deeper formats as a bye-week replacement. But he has a difficult matchup in Week 8 against New England since the Patriots have done a nice job defending tight ends this year. Miller has two touchdowns in his past three games and at least seven Fantasy points in three of his past five outings, but it always seems like when you need to depend on Miller he lets you down.
Evan Moore, Browns
Owned: 5 percent of leagues
Week 7: Had four catches for 35 yards vs. Seattle.
Analysis: Brown had a season-high in receptions against the Seahawks, and he could see a boost in value if Benjamin Watson (concussion) is out for Week 8 at San Francisco. Not that you should plan on starting Moore if Watson is out, but he could start to play at a higher level with increased playing time and targets. We've been waiting to see what Moore can do, and Watson's injury could allow for that to happen.