There is always dread in the fantasy football world when it comes to a Mike Shanahan backfield. Clearly 2012 is no exception yet in fairness to the Redskins head coach, the setup is not his doing. Sure, there mightwill be random changes made seemingly on a whim three plays into a game, three games into the season, three-quarters of the way down the road. Right now, we dont even have a viable depth chart not from a fantasy perspective anyway to work with. For those still gearing up for their drafts or are debating future trade or free agent pickups, heres one mans best attempt to decipher the mind field known as the Redskins backfield.Roy Helu The upside option you dont need for now guyLast season the Nebraska rookie outran expectations with a dazzling second half stretch including three straight 100-yard rushing games plus a team-record 14 receptions for 105 yards in another. Helus campaign ended early with injuries and perhaps overuse; his body and playing style speak of a change-of-pace guy, which figures to be his role this season. That is once he recovers from his Achilles tendon woes. The main question is when Helu starts playing again will he return as the starter. The ancillary query is will someone else have emerged as the Bell Cow back by then. Best drafted as a fantasy reserve, as his plummeting average draft position (96) indicates, and by an owner not looking for immediate help.Alfred Morris Fill in the early missing lineup gap and see what happens guyThere was some early love out of OTAs for the Florida Atlantic rookie, but not sure anyone could have imagined the sixth-round pick as a possible if not likely opening game starter. Not an elite talent, but Morris runs with power and a hint of shiftiness. It would be unfair to suggest he has a chance to run away with the job, but if Morris turns in a credible if not stellar performance against the Saints (should he get the starting nod), whos to say he heads back to the bench when the others return. Dont overdraft based on the potential start, but at this moment in time Morris should be the second Redskin back coming off the board and in a double digit round.Tim Hightower His aggressive running style makes him fun to own for as long as it lasts guyNot a bad showing last week from the veteran back recovering from a major knee injury suffered last season. Does that make me trust Hightower going forward? Um, no. If this truly turns into some undecipherable running back by committee, imagining No. 25 being the leader of the pack isnt a stretch, but the role only works if the Redskins dont overuse him. If we start talking about 15-20 touches a game, the wear down factor rises dramatically. Shanahan wants Hightower around for his veteran presence and pass blocking prowess more than his yard gaining ability. Draftable in 12-14 team leagues, but as a flyer. In my opinion, if youre taking a sleeper, go with the younger legs on with whatever team they exist.Evan Royster The former sleeper whos now the guy behind the guy behind that other guy, guyPerhaps the true wildcard in the mix as recent injuries to last years other rookie surprise derailed Roysters rising status as possible starter and fantasy darling. Now he may have been passed by Morris as the Flavor of the Month, though the former Penn State rusher hopes to crack the field in tonights preseason finale against the Bucs. Is he worth drafting? Yes, but in the late round and in a lottery ticket sort of way.Of course, if Royster or Hightower or Morris or Helu stand out against Tampa Bay, then another revision of the RB depth chart is in order. Get used to it.
Even when things are going well in Dallas it seems like controversy is never too far away. The latest stems from wide receiver Dez Bryant injuring his right knee during last Sunday's victory over the Bears.
News of the severity of the injury did not emerge until Wednesday, when Cowboys coach Jason Garrett revealed Bryant suffered a hairline fracture where his tibia bone hits the knee.
Why the wait? Reports from Dallas show that Bryant missed his scheduled MRI on Tuesday and the tests could not be held until Wednesday. Bryant also missed team meetings on Tuesday.
Due to missing the meetings and MRI Tuesday, Bryant has been fined an undisclosed amount, per the reports.
The injury comes at a tough time for the Cowboys as the offense has moved the ball well with rookie QB Dak Prescott.
Dallas has won two games in a row after a narrow loss to the Giants to open the year. In three games, Bryant has 150 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Against Washington in Week 2, Bryant went for more than 100 yards receiving. Late in that game, the Redskins began to shadow Bryant with Josh Norman.
After making a late call to put Josh Doctson on the inactive list last week against the Giants, the Redskins are preparing to play without the rookie receiver on Sunday unless his Achilles injury dramatically improves. The team is practicing with Rashad Ross as the fifth wideout for Cleveland, a source told CSN.
"It was actually last minute. It was 11:30 a.m.," Gruden said of taking Doctson off the active list in New York and replacing him with Ross.
"He just didn’t feel comfortable, couldn’t push off the way he wanted to so we had to make that last minute switch."
Gruden explained the team has lingering concerns about Doctson's availability as he continues to battle an Achilles injury. The rookie did not practice Wednesday, and the coach said he will not practice again Thursday, though he added the injury could stretch much longer.
"It could be a possibility or a time that we put him down for a couple more weeks or a couple more days like we’re taking him off today, probably set him down tomorrow, see if that helps him a little bit," Gruden said. "This is new to everybody I think and the key is to get him healthy like you say. We are not trying to rush him."
Doctson has been active for two of the Redskins three games, and has two catches for 66 yards. He did show some of his ability on a long completion from Kirk Cousins against Dallas, though largely, Doctson and the Redskins have been frustrated by the injury.
"I am concerned. We’ve had all of the tests and there is really nothing there that we should be concerned about from a long-term problem, it’s just he is dealing with some pain," Gruden said. "We don’t know why it is but we have to try and figure out what it is and get it fixed."
For Washington, Ross likely will return kicks against Cleveland if Doctson is down. Active for the first time in New York, Ross had not practiced in that role throughout the week, and Chris Thompson and Will Blackmon shared the kick returning duties. With the Redskins preparing to play Ross, it means he can get the work returning kicks this week in advance of the Browns game. It also helps alleviate some of the workload from Blackmon, who will now be starting at free safety after DeAngelo Hall tore his ACL in New York.