Friday, August 31, 2012

Helu further shakes up Washington backfield with impressive performance

Yesterday in NFL | Matthew_Shovlin | 171 respect
Redskins' running back Roy Helu returned impressively from his sore Achilles' on Wednesday night, shredding the Buccaneers' second string defense to the tune of 90 yards on 6.0 yards per carry and two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 34 yards.

As one would expect with a Mike Shanahan offense, who is going to be getting the bulk of the carries when the season starts is completely up in the air. Just a few weeks ago, Helu was dealing with two sore Achilles', and fellow running back Tim Hightower was dealing with a slow recovery from knee surgery, making it look a lot like Evan Royster would be the Redskins' opening day starter. When Royster's sore knee sidelined him in the third preseason game, rookie Alfred Morris ran for over 100 yards and had Shanahan saying he was squarely in the hunt for the starting job.

Morris and Hightower were rested in the preseason finale, and most speculate that sitting them is an effort to keep them fresh for a big role in Week 1. Just when everything seemed to be settled, the Redskins most skilled runner, Helu, puts together a performance worthy of playing time.

Morris seems to be a lock for early down work to start the season, with Hightower locked in to the third down pass catching role. However, Helu could cut into both of their snaps significantly very early in the season. Morris, a sixth round pick out of Florida Atlantic, has one good preseason game to his name, and could very well struggle when he's thrown into the fire next weekend. Hightower does not provide much in the way of open field talent, and though he is a good route runner and pass catcher, Helu possesses the same skills with more big play ability.

I expect Morris and Hightower to start the season as the one two punch, but when Helu gets a few spot carries and looks better than Morris, Shanahan will ride the hot hand and end up giving Helu the bulk of the touches. I also expect Helu, who has a 14 catch 105 yard game on his resume, to cut into Hightower's pass catching role as well.

This is a situation to avoid in fantasy football until the later rounds. Morris is draftable, as he should get plenty of carries early in the year and has the potential to surprise me and maintain a solid role for the whole season. Helu is also draftable due to his upside. He probably won't give you much for the first couple weeks, but he should get more and more touches as the season progresses. I wouldn't go near Hightower or Royster at this point.

But then again, Mike Shanahan is the head coach, and I don't think even Adam Schefter knows what that guy is thinking when it comes to running backs.

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