Now that preseason games are in full swing, backfield battles are playing out and we're getting a better idea of the kinds of roles certain running backs will play on their respective teams. Committee Meetings is here once again to fill you in on the latest developments with the Eagles, Texans, Cowboys and Patriots backfields. So with draft day quickly approaching turn up your "Hard Knocks" playlist and get your study on!
Murray, Mathews eat in Eagles victory
DeMarco Murray | Ryan Mathews | Darren Sproles // Eagles
Philadelphia put up 40 points against the Ravens on Saturday night and both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews got in on the scoring frenzy. Each back notched a rushing touchdown in the first quarter. Their touchdown runs were through gaping holes in the Ravens' defensive line, making things almost too easy. Perhaps this was a preview of what the Eagles offense, and what looks like a powerhouse of a backfield, will look like during the regular season. In an offense as fast-paced as the one Chip Kelly runs, there will be more than enough touches to go around for this three-headed monster (including Darren Sproles who totaled four touches for 25 yards himself). Murray remains a second-rounder while Mathews is a bargain of epic proportions at his current Round 12 ADP. Sproles isn't worth a look, save for deep PPR formats.
Blue dominates first team reps
Alfred Blue | Jonathan Grimes | Chris Polk // Texans
Since Arian Foster's injury a few weeks ago, Alfred Blue's ADP has slowly risen up draft boards. Blue, who projects as the lead back in what is shaping up to be an unpredictable Texans committee, had a rough go over the weekend with just four rushes for 10 yards against the Broncos. But the second-year back has dominated first team reps for two preseason games in a row now, which means more than his actual performance. As far as production, Chris Polk was the standout running back against Denver. He averaged 5.1 YPC on his seven attempts for 36 yards and added five catches for 34 yards -- that's a 12-point fantasy outing in a PPR league. It's worth noting that Polk sat out practice on Monday with a minor injury. He was also sidelined for a while with a hamstring earlier in camp. Despite Polk's strong play over the last few weeks, Jonathan Grimes played ahead of him, with snaps beginning late in the first quarter. Blue is really the only Texans running back that should be considered in fantasy drafts and the fact that there is no timetable on Foster's return is only a boon to Blue's long term value.
No clarity in Randle, McFadden battle
Joseph Randle | Darren McFadden | Lance Dunbar | Gus Johnson // Cowboys
Not much was settled in terms of the Dallas backfield during the Cowboys' game against the 49ers last weekend. First of all, three of the team's five starting offensive linemen were sidelined for this contest. Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden both ran with the first team, but Randle was the more productive runner by a longshot averaging 4.3 YPC. McFadden came out of the game with a paltry four yards on three carries. For now though, Randle "appears" to be the starter and has the most upside in fantasy leagues. Randle's ADP continues to hover around Round 6 which could be a nice value if the Cowboys' line can get healthy by the start of the regular season. It's hard to believe that Dallas will keep giving McFadden chances to eat into Randle's carries if the injury-prone veteran keeps struggling like he has.
Dion Lewis emerges, Blount blunders
LeGarrette Blount | Dion Lewis | Jonas Gray | James White // Patriots
Another Patriots preseason game, another running back leads the way. Maybe it's Bill Belichick's version of the "Hunger Games" or maybe he's just "evaluating talent". Yeah, whatever. Either way, LeGarrette Blount failed to impress with his 1.2 YPC average. Still, his role as New England's early-down back is pretty much solidified, a role in which there is some fantasy value. But Dion Lewis was the go-to guy on passing downs and raised the bar with five catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. James White also got a hefty amount of work in the second half and scored a rushing touchdown from inside the 5-yard line. You'd have to think that would be Blount's carry if it was a regular season game but it gave White a chance to show off his agility. The Patriots seem to be testing out their surplus of pass-catching backs in an attempt to fill the void left by Shane Vereen and until Week 1, we may not have a clear idea of the pecking order. A pecking order which is obviously subject to change week-to-week as is common knowledge when it comes to the Patriots' backfield.
Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. His nickname around the NFL Media office is Franchise, and he's totally cool with it. Follow him on Twitter for fantasy advice all season long @m_franciscovich.