The season hasn't even (really) started and injuries are impacting fantasy football lineups, particularly at the running back position.
The biggest question mark heading into Sunday is the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch. He was able to practice on a limited basis Thursday, but the team has been tight-lipped about its plans for the former Bills back, who's suffering from back spasms.
Complicating matters for Lynch owners is his 4 p.m. start against Arizona, which could mean lineups are locked before Lynch's status is announced. If Lynch can't play, backup Robert Turbin, a rookie, is the play. He had a solid preseason.
Lynch owners have no choice but to closely watch the reports out of Seattle, as it's difficult to know if and/or when the back spasms he's suffering from will subside.
Lynch isn't the only runner presenting fantasy owners with a difficult situation. Here are a few more, and who would be in line for their carries if they can't play:
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota: A final decision on Peterson could come as soon as today, but I'm not starting him, even if he does play. As much as an athletic freak as he is, it's hard to believe Peterson can be healthy enough to play like his old self less than eight months after ACL surgery. Backup Toby Gerhart averaged 4.9 yards per carry last year and gets a decent matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He's the play.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina: Stewart hasn't practiced this week because of a sprained ankle. He's the master at playing after appearing on the injury list, though. Despite dealing with ankle and foot injuries in the past, Stewart has played in 16 games three out of his four seasons in the NFL. The thinking here is that doesn't continue. DeAngelo Williams' fantasy value goes up a great deal this week with Stewart hobbled.
Trent Richardson, Cleveland: He's had two knee surgeries this year, but the Browns are planning to play Richardson on Sunday against Philadelphia. He might not have No. 1 running back potential this week, but Richardson should develop into an elite runner. I'd feel comfortable starting him in his professional debut this week.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville: It's not an injury, but rather a holdout that makes Jones-Drew a question mark Sunday. Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey has indicated Jones-Drew will be used in some fashion Sunday, but in what role is unknown. Complicating matters is the fact Jacksonville has instilled a new offense under coordinator Bob Bratkowski. Bold prediction: Jones-Drew scores a touchdown Sunday. It depends on how much value those have in your league to determine if he's worth starting in a flex role.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh: Mendenhall's recovery from ACL surgery has been fast. He's listed as probable this week, but it's hard to imagine him getting a full workload. I expect Isaac Redman to get the most work of any Pittsburgh runner, but I'd advise avoiding any Steelers back this week. If Mendenhall was passed over in your league, though, I'd closely monitor him for a possible waiver-wire claim.
Breaking down the Bills
I know we're not supposed to put much stock into the preseason, but I can't help it. I wasn't sold by the Bills' offense this summer. Add in the fact that the Jets' defense under Rex Ryan has largely had Buffalo's number, and I'm not starting many Bills.
In fact, I'd go with running back Fred Jackson as my only must-start Bill. Receiver Stevie Johnson's groin issue and a meeting with Darrelle Revis are enough to make me sit No. 13.
I'm also of the belief Ryan Fitzpatrick has to prove it with a few good performances before I'd start him.
The Bills' defense might not be a bad play against Mark Sanchez and Co.
On the Jets' side, tight end Dustin Keller had more than 120 yards and two touchdowns against the Bills last season. Check the inactives Sunday morning. If Keller's not on them because of a hamstring injury, he's a good start against a Buffalo defense that gave up the most fantasy points to tight ends last season.
I've never been a big believer of running back Shonn Greene, but he gets most of the work and the Bills have to prove their rebuilt defense can stop the run. Greene can safely be used as a No. 2 or flex running back.
Similarly, the Jets' defense is a fair play at home.