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Rash of running back injuries will send fantasy owners digging deep


Darren McFadden sprained his foot. Beanie Wells hurt his knee. Willis McGahee fractured his hand. Tim Hightower tore his ACL. Joseph Addai, listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, played -- and then left the game with a hamstring issue. Ryan Mathews hurt his thumb (and returned); Mike Tolbert was listed with hamstring and hand injuries postgame. Mark Ingram hurt his heel.

Sunday was a day of carnage of running backs. And the injury bug wasn't limited to the United States: In London, Earnest Graham tore his Achilles. Even Tashard Choice's fumbilitis acted up.

The upside for fantasy football owners: Decent runners are available. Obviously, if he's available, your No. 1 target should be DeMarco Murray, currently owned in 60 percent of leagues. Choice was the starter in name only Sunday, as Murray rushed for 253 yards on 25 carries. The Rams' run defense is poor, but Dallas faces another weak run defense in Philadelphia this week. Murray's value will drop when Felix Jones returns, but he'll get another week or two to attempt to wrest the full-time starter's job from him.

There are a bunch of other running backs on the waiver wire this week, actually, and lots of bye-week filler around.

Andy Dalton, Bengals (21 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues): Dalton is a great choice for bye-week filler, as he faces Seattle's shaky secondary in Week 8. Dalton has put up decent fantasy performances in his past three games. The Bengals have some tough matchups the rest of the year, but Dalton is an adequate QB in big leagues against certain teams.

Alex Smith, Niners (23 percent): Smith is more bye-week filler. The Browns haven't allowed that many fantasy points to quarterbacks this year, but they also haven't had any star passer to deal with yet. Coming off the bye, Smith could be in for a decent fantasy day Sunday.

Pierre Thomas, Saints (49 percent): Mark Ingram's injury isn't serious, but the Saints face an atrocious Rams run defense next week and Pierre could get more touches. Thomas is actually a pretty decent pickup; the Saints running back by committee is frustrating, but in weeks where the matchup is good he can be a solid fantasy starter.

Knowshon Moreno, Broncos (49 percent): The Denver running back was an afterthought, not even getting a carry two weeks ago. But with Willis McGahee out a couple of weeks, Moreno moves back into the No. 1 running back spot for a bit.

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Roy Helu, Redskins (17 percent): With Tim Hightower out for the season, Ryan Torain (58 percent) is ostensibly the starter in Washington. But it's Mike Shanahan, and Torain only had two carries for minus-5 yards on Sunday. The job could fall to Helu. Torain is the better pickup, but the rookie Helu could emerge as the starter in the coming weeks. Or, the Redskins could activate Evan Royster from the practice squad. It's Shanahan. You'll just have to guess.

Bernard Scott, Bengals (14 percent): Cedric Benson is serving a one-game suspension and Scott is expected to start. He's averaging just 2.8 yards a carry and has a tough matchup against Seattle's run defense this weekend, but if you're in need of a Benson replacement, he could score.

Delone Carter, Colts (21 percent): With Addai going out, Carter had 10 carries for 89 yards and a score in Indianapolis' embarrassing 62-7 loss to the Saints. Tennessee's run defense has allowed a ton of fantasy points this year, so Carter is a decent one-week option if Addai can't go.

Antonio Brown, Steelers (32 percent): Brown has been the second-best fantasy wideout for the Steelers most of the year, and his 7-catch, 102-yard performance (on nine targets) was his best week yet. Brown got even more looks Sunday with Hines Ward's ankle injury. He's a strong option going forward.

Steve Breaston, Chiefs (30 percent): He's getting more comfortable with his new team and with Matt Cassel. Breaston was targeted nine times Sunday, just one behind Dwayne Bowe, and while he only had 5 catches for 64 yards he's a solid option for owners in need of a wideout. He's the clear No. 2 in Kansas City.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos (10 percent): He caught three passes for 25 yards and a score, but Tim Tebow also targeted him 10 times. That was most on the team by a wide margin. If Thomas remains Tebow's favorite receiver, he could put up big fantasy points.

Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings (20 percent): Rookie quarterbacks love the tight end, and Christian Ponder is now the starter in Minnesota. Green Bay's defense gives up a lot to the tight end, but Shiancoe had 8 targets (3 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD), a sign Ponder may continue to look for him.

David Akers, 49ers (42 percent): The 49ers are coming off their bye week and the eighth-best fantasy kicker in the league is free in a majority of leagues. San Francisco's offense is average but their defense is good, a recipe for a lot of field goal attempts for Akers. He's connected on 13-of-15 this year.

Mike Nugent, Bengals (5 percent): Nugent is in pretty much the same exact situation as Akers except he's 13-for-14 (and he missed an extra point). He's available in far more leagues, so if you can't get Akers -- preferable because of his stronger leg -- Nugent is an option.

Washington (44 percent): The Redskins don't have a great matchup this week in Buffalo. But Ryan Fitzpatrick has six interceptions already this year� and Washington was forcing turnovers before failing to record one against Carolina� and after that the schedule features a bunch of decent matchups.