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Jonathan Stewart. Chris Ivory. Adrian Peterson. Lamar Miller. Four running backs who are all owned in nearly every fantasy football league out there, and all four of them are on their bye week, meaning there is likely someone - maybe you - scrambling to find a starting running back this morning. Who could you grab? Instead of looking at the individual running backs, however, why not take a look at the rankings of the offensive line for some players who may be available.
Pro Football Focus this week released their rankings of all 32 NFL teams based on PFF's grades of the offensive lines. Grabbing that waiver wire running back from a team ranked highly in terms of offensive line play could help you score some points in a week when running backs are sitting at home. Who is up near the top?
Devonta Freeman has been tearing it up over the past few weeks, and yet there is a slight chance he is still available in your league (about 5% of the leagues out there). Tevin Coleman is back this week and should see some playing time, though Freeman will likely get the bulk of the carries. Coleman could earn you some cheap points, however.
Jonathan Stewart's Panthers teammates are the second ranked offensive line, so that does not help you with a bye week replacement, but the third ranked team is a little of a surprise, and could be of some help this week. Isaiah Crowell is owned in about 80% of leagues, so he may or may not be available. You may have a better chance of grabbing rookie Duke Johnson, who is only owned about 60% of the time, and he may be getting ready to supplant Crowell at the top of the depth chart. A game against Baltimore, who has the fifteenth ranked rush defense, could lead to Johnson finding some space - including as a receiving threat out of the backfield - and it might be the points you need for the week.
Last year's top offensive line is down a little at the start of 2015, but that does not mean you cannot use them for some running back points. Joseph Randle is going to be a rough acquisition, given he is owned in nearly every league, but Darren McFadden is available in about half the leagues, so you could look to grab him and hope the committee approach continues in Dallas. Of course, the Cowboys are facing the New England Patriots this weekend, and, if this game starts to get away from Dallas early, they may have to rely more on throwing the ball than running it, which hurts the running back fantasy options.
You were not expecting to see the Raiders up this high, were you? They are the 5th ranked offensive line, according to PFF, but that is mostly based on a pass blocking grade that has them second in the league, while run blocking is down at 14th. I'm probably staying away from the Raiders' running backs this week, and there really does not appear to be much out there in terms of options anyway. Latavius Murray is owned in nearly every league, while Roy Helu is still being eased back into playing time. Helu could be an option if you are desperate, likely getting some goal line attention, but the Raiders' offensive line is not making him a must add.