Several big-name running backs have been out of action for multiple weeks and have left fantasy football owners in tough positions with their lineup decisions. Christian McCaffrey and Tevin Coleman have both been out since Week 2, while Dalvin Cook hasn’t played since Week 5 due to an injury and a bye week. Ahead of Week 8, the uncertain statuses of these players are having an impact on our Week 8 RB rankings, waiver wire pickups, and start ’em, sit ’em decisions for fantasy owners.
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Is Christian McCaffrey playing Thursday?
McCaffrey (ankle) has been sidelined since Week 2 while recovering from a high-ankle sprain. It seems that his return from IR is imminent and the only question, is about whether he will be able to play for the Panthers in Week 8.
While McCaffrey did return to practice on Monday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed that McCaffrey is a “long-shot” to play in Carolina’s Thursday Night Football matchup with the Falcons, though he is “pushing to play.” It remains to be seen if McCaffrey will win this battle, but the safe bet, at least for the moment, is that he will miss one more game and get an extra week of recovery time/ramp-up in practice.
If McCaffrey plays, he will be a top-five RB in a favorable matchup against a weak Falcons defense. If he’s out, Mike Davis will continue to handle a bulk of the carries and will work his way into top-10 consideration at the position. Luckily, McCaffrey plays early in the week so fantasy owners shouldn’t have to scramble to find a last-minute replacement even if he is out.
WEEK 8 WAIVER WIRE: Top pickups
Dalvin Cook injury update
Cook (groin) last played for the Vikings in Week 5 against the Seahawks. He missed a Week 6 tilt with the Falcons before the Vikings’ Week 7 bye. Ahead of Week 8, the expectation is that he will return to action.
Before Week 6, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that there was a “99.999 percent chance” that Cook would return to the field against the Packers. It’s worth wondering if anything has changed over the bye week, but if Cook is able to go at practice for the Vikings, he should be able to suit up. Owners will want to see his Wednesday practice status, but if he’s “full” or even “limited” in that session, that should be a good sign for his availability this week.
In the event that Cook can’t suit up, Alexander Mattison would be the top back once again. Mattison totaled just 30 yards on 11 touches against the Falcons but ran for over 100 yards in relief of Cook against the Seahawks. If Cook is out, Mattison can be trusted as a fringe-RB1 in a matchup against a Packers defense that struggles against the run.
Is Tevin Coleman playing Week 8?
Coleman (knee) was one of the many 49ers players that picked up injuries in the team’s Week 2 game against the Jets. Coleman ran the ball 14 times in that contest totaled 12 yards before suffering the sprain. He has been on IR since, but now, it looks like he may have a chance to return to action.
According to 49ers reporter Keiana Martin, Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers are “hopeful” to get Coleman back for Week 8. The 49ers are a bit shorthanded at RB in the wake of injuries to Raheem Mostert (ankle) and Jeff Wilson Jr. (ankle), so they could use some extra depth to pair with JaMycal Hasty and Jerick McKinnon, especially after the latter barely played against the Patriots.
If Coleman plays, he could be the main between-the-tackles runner for the 49ers with McKinnon and Hasty serving as pass-catchers and change-of-pace backs. The uncertain carry split in San Francisco may make him only a flex play if he suits up in Week 8 against the Seahawks, but he certainly needs to be added via the waiver wire if he’s out there.