Oregon Ducks fans and fantasy owners collectively held their breath last Thursday when running back LaMichael James' arm twisted and turned in ways no arm should move. The result was a dislocated elbow and week-long speculation on how long James will be out, and who will take his place?
While it has not been officially announced (nor will it be) the assumption by most is that James will sit out this week against Arizona State. James has yet to practice and reportedly still had swelling in his elbow as of Tuesday. And with plenty of playmakers waiting in the wings, the decision not to risk further injury would be the smart one.
Going on the assumption that James is out, Kenjon Barner will likely get the start at running back and carry the load. To say there is not a drop off between Barner and James would be flat out silly. But it would be equally foolish to think Barner isn't capable of putting up James-esque numbers.
He's proven he can grind out yards and hit the home run like the best of them. Don't look for the Ducks' to change their game plan with Barner in the game. The stretch play and zone reads will still be staples of the offense Saturday.
Tra Carson will give Barner a blow when needed, and we could also see De'Anthony Thomas lug a few carries from the backfield to keep the Sun Devils on their toes. But, I don't see Thomas seeing a heavy workload in the backfield.
Why? Putting Thomas in the backfield ultimately hurts the Ducks. It hurts the receiving corps and it takes Barner off the field. The Ducks will want Thomas and Barner on the field at the same time. Thomas proved to be the playmaker the Ducks' receiving corps was missing last week. We'll likely still see Thomas carry the ball on end arounds like we did last week and a few carries out of the backfield, but most of his damage will be done from the slot. A lack of carries from the backfield shouldn't concern fantasy owners if that is the case. He's still explosive enough to score every time he touches the ball.
Keep in my mind, this is one man's opinion. Coach Kelly was not kind enough to share his game plan with us or anyone else for that matter. He could come out in five wide with James at flanker for all I know.
From a fantasy perspective, I say start 'em if you got 'em, including quarterback Darron Thomas. You never know how things are going to shake out on game day, and ASU does field a solid run defense led by one of the top linebackers in the country in Vontaze Burfict. They'll be brimming with confidence if James is on the bench. But the Ducks have been preparing for this all week and their offense is explosive. Each could put up big numbers.
On to some other news this week...
Mike Ball, RB, Nevada - Nevada's leading rusher, Mike Ball, sat against UNLV due to a sprained ankle, but he is expected to start this week against New Mexico. ...more
Emory Blake, WR, Auburn - Whether or not Auburn wide receiver Emory Blake will play this weekend has been deemed a game-time decision. Blake missed last week with an ankle injury. ...more
Brandon Bolden, RB, Ole Miss - Ole Miss running back Brandon Bolden is among four players suspended for Saturday's game against Alabama for "breaking team rules." ...more
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson - Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd (hip) returned to practice Tuesday, and remains on track to start Saturday at Maryland. ...more
Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee - Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray will be out at least four weeks after X-rays revealed he has a broken thumb on his right (throwing) hand. ...more
DeVonte Christopher, WR, Utah - Utah is now permanently without quarterback Jordan Wynn, but could also be without star receiver DeVonte Christopher this weekend against Pittsburgh. Christopher is dealing with a high ankle sprain and is considered questionable at best to make it to game time. ...more
Josh Clemons, RB, Kentucky - They say when it rains, it pours and it is as such for the Kentucky football team. The Wildcat's offense was dealt a huge blow in the loss of running back Josh Clemons for the season with a torn meniscus in his knee. ...more
Lennon Creer, RB, Louisiana Tech - Louisiana Tech starting running back Lennon Creer suffered an undisclosed injury in the third quarter which allowed walk-on freshman Hunter Lee an opportunity to rack up the carries. He ended the game with 28 carries for 134 yards against Idaho. ...more
Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego St - San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar injured his hand and retreated to the locker room in the first quarter of last night's game against Air Force and never returned. ...more
Cody Fajardo, QB, Nevada - Nevada head coach Chris Ault announced Monday that Cody Fajardo will remain the starting quarterback against New Mexico. Fajardo started against UNLV but gave way to previous starter Tyler Lantrip. ...more
E.J. Fields, WR, Kentucky - Kentucky's offensive woes just keep on coming as wide receiver E.J. Fields is listed as questionable for the team's week 8 game against Jacksonville State with an undisclosed injury. ...more
Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M - Texas A&M wide receiver Jeff Fuller suffered a concussion Saturday against Texas Tech, but he is probable for this week's game against Baylor. ...more
Stephen Garcia, QB, South Carolina - Stephen Garcia's much maligned tenure at South Carolina has come to an end as the signal caller has been dismissed from the team for failing to follow reinstatement guidelines. ...more
Blaine Gautier, QB, La-Lafayette - Louisiana quarterback Blaine Gautier missed most of last week's game with an ankle injury, but is back at practice and is experiencing no pain at all. Head coach Mark Hudspeth says "He's moving real well." ...more
Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh running back Ray Graham is listed as questionable for Saturday's game against Utah with a hamstring injury suffered in their loss to Rutgers. Graham did return to the game last week and finished with 165 yards rushing and a touchdown. ...more
Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State - Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has deemed stud freshman wide receiver Rashad Greene (ankle) "very questionable" for this Saturday's game with Duke. ...more
Josh Harris, RB, Wake Forest - Wake Forest running back Josh Harris (hamstring) has been downgraded to doubtful on the team's injury report. ...more
Montel Harris, RB, Boston College - Boston College running back Montel Harris (knee) and defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey (foot) are out for the year and the pair will seek medical redshirts. ...more
Daniel Herron, RB, Ohio State - Ohio State running back Daniel Herron may not start against Illinois, but he will be involved. ...more
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon - Oregon running back LaMichael James did not practice again on Thursday and Duck quarterback Darron Thomas may have spilled the beans on James' status. "Same old thing, practicing, getting ready," Thomas said after practice on Wednesday. "Trying to push a little bit harder because we know we ain't gonna be with LaMike." ...more
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama - After being nagged by a toe injury for the last two weeks, Alabama running back Eddie Lacy sat out the Vanderbilt game but should return to practice today. ...more
Marshall Lobbestael, QB, Wash State - Washington State coach Paul Wulff is keeping the media and Stanford guessing as to who will start at quarterback on Saturday. “We’re still going through everything,” Wulff said on Thursday. “There’s a high probability that ( Marshall Lobbestael) could (start).” ...more
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Braxton Miller (ankle) will start at quarterback when Ohio State takes on Illinois this Saturday. ...more
Terrence Mitchell, WR, South Florida - USF wide receiver Terrence Mitchell is listed as questionable for this weekend's game at Connecticut due to a concussion suffered in their fourth game of the season. Mitchell was held out of the Bulls' loss at Pittsburgh two weeks ago as a result of the injury. ...more
Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia - Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell will miss the upcoming game against Vanderbilt due to a hamstring injury he suffered against Tennessee on Saturday. ...more
Darrin Moore, WR, Texas Tech - Texas Tech receiver Darrin Moore (ankle/knee) is expected to play Saturday against Kansas State, coach Tommy Tuberville confirmed on Tuesday. However, coach Tuberville did add that he wasn't afraid to plug in Alex Torres at flanker (Moore's position) if Moore is not 100 percent. ...more
Derek Moye, WR, Penn State - Penn State wide receiver Derek Moye is expected to miss at least the next two games with a broken foot suffered Tuesday. ...more
Danny O'Brien, QB, Maryland - Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said he won't announce a starting quarterback until just before kickoff Saturday against Clemson. ...more
Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee - Tennessee running back Tauren Poole is listed as probable for this weekend's game against LSU after suffering a hamstring injury against Georgia. ...more
Kevin Prince, QB, UCLA - UCLA quarterback Richard Brehaut is likely done for the year after suffering a leg fracture Saturday night. That opened the door for Kevin Prince to re-enter the quarterback derby. ...more
Grant Ressel, PK, Missouri - Missouri kicker Grant Ressel will have to compete for his starting job this week against Trey Barrow, a job Ressel has held since the 2009 season. ...more
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado - Colorado receiver Paul Richardson will miss about three weeks with a knee sprain he suffered last week in practice. The injury wasn't disclosed until just before game time Saturday. ...more
Brandon Rutley, RB, San Jose St - San Jose running back Brandon Rutley (ankle) has done some running and practiced in a white non-contact jersey on Wednesday. ...more
Larry Smith, QB, Vanderbilt - Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith was replaced by Jordan Rodgers against Alabama after Smith left the game with a lower leg injury. ...more
Eric Stephens, RB, Texas Tech - Texas Tech running back Eric Stephens will miss the remainder of the season due to a dislocated knee suffered against Texas A&M on Saturday. ...more
De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon - Oregon RB/WR De'Anthony Thomas took “a few more” reps at running back in practice on Monday, according to running backs coach Gary Campbell. Thomas also continued to work out at receiver. ...more
Chris Thompson, RB, Florida State - Florida State running back Chris Thompson more than likely will miss the rest of the season after breaking two vertebrae Saturday at Wake Forest. ...more