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Helu, Jacobs, Tolbert step into spotlight; will they remain?

Associated Press
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan apparently will go with rookie Roy Helu (29) over Ryan Torain at running back.


Just when you think you know who's going to top the Touches List for this week, we wind up with guys like Roy Helu, Brandon Jacobs, and Mike Tolbert crashing the party. Are they for real? And why am I suddenly concerned about Fred Jackson (and Sunday's yardage total has nothing to do with it)? All that and two guys named Bush below.

Top 10 touches for Week 9
9. Brandon Jacobs


Fred Jackson and LeSean McCoy also had 21 touches each. How good is Jackson? The Bills offense was nonexistent Sunday and still, despite leaving briefly with an injury, he had 120 total yards. My only concern about Jackson going forward is that he's never had to be the No. 1 guy for an entire season as a bell-cow runner. Will he wear down? You can ride him every week, but be aware that that could happen just when you need him most -- in the fantasy playoffs. …

Steven Jackson is rolling. That's all you need to know. He's back to being a strong No. 1 play each week. He'll keep getting this workload because he's fresh after missing so much of the early part of the season. Yes, he's getting older but not this year. He basically had a free month of no wear and tear and he's running with his normal edge and quickness. …

DeMarco Murray isn't leaving this list any time soon. The game situation dictated his down week against the Eagles, when Dallas had to pass exclusively to try to come back. But the last game against the Seahawks showed he's got staying power -- he also caught four passes for 47 yards. Even with Felix Jones getting closer to returning, forget it -- Jason Garrett will be fired mid-game if he doesn't keep feeding Murray. I keep saying it -- plenty of owners are going to look back at this season and say the team that won it all had its season turn around when Murray was acquired in free agency. …

How about Roy Helu: Are you buying in? Mike Shanahan said he's going to ride Helu, and Ryan Torain will only play when Helu gets tired. Seventeen targets in the passing game showed he's going to be heavily involved there as well. Torain had just two carries Sunday, and he's going to be buried behind Helu. Go out and grab Helu right now: He should be your No. 1 waiver wire pickup this week. I know, it's a Shanahan running back, but you can't ignore the potential upside. …

Marshawn Lynch is pretty interesting. His best day as a Seahawk against the Cowboys was great. He faces the Ravens next. Not so great. I'm going to wait to see if he can be more consistent (which has been what's dogged him throughout his career), but with the right matchup, he's a strong flex or weaker No. 2 play. Baltimore is not one of those situations. …

The Chargers relied heavily on Mike Tolbert Sunday (19 carries and five targets) and he had a terrific 20-point day. As long as Ryan Mathews is out, Tolbert is a nice No. 2 play every week. When Mathews plays, Tolbert is a flex starter. Mathews' latest injury was a real game-changer for me. He may never be healthy enough to assume full No. 1 duties as an NFL RB, meaning the door will always be open for someone like Tolbert to snag goal-line carries and a good-sized role in the offense as a result. …

I was really stunned to see Brandon Jacobs touch the ball as much as he did. I thought for sure the Giants would limit his workload because he's coming off an injury and his overall effectiveness is waning. But he carried the ball well and moved piles. This is Ahmad Bradshaw's job when he gets back but until then? Start Jacobs every week as a No. 2 or a flex. …

Michael Bush gave the performance we expected on Sunday. He normally gets 10 touches a game, and on "NFL Fantasy Live" we expected that to double without Darren McFadden in the lineup. It did and so did Bush's production. With McFadden out, play Bush every week as a No. 2 or a flex (just like Jacobs), and when McFadden returns? You can still have confidence in him at the flex because the Raiders want to keep McFadden healthy so Bush will still get chances, especially at the goal line. …

Reggie Bush had 16 total touches for his second straight double-digit fantasy day. He's being used the right way -- finally -- as the Dolphins get him outside exclusively in the running game in addition to his normal responsibilities catching passes. Daniel Thomas is turning out to be this year's Ryan Mathews -- the prodigal ball-carrier who can't stay on the field and allows a complementary part to steal the spotlight, and the fantasy points. Which I guess makes Bush Mike Tolbert. Play Bush in your flex every week for now. …

See Jason Smith on NFL Fantasy Live, airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the Red Zone Channel, and Tuesday-Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. He writes Fantasy and other NFL pith on daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.


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