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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fantasy football: Jahvid Best/Maurice Morris analysis

It all started with a seemingly innocuous note in Mike Freeman's Ten-Point Stance on

Freeman's third item in his Wednesday column: "People close to Detroit runner Jahvid Best are expressing concern to him that he needs to strongly consider sitting out the year, I'm told. Best suffered his second concussion of the season this past week. He was forced to miss the final four games of his college career due to concussion-like symptoms."

The Lions wouldn't comment on the report, but have expressed belief that the running back will return soon. Coach Jim Schwartz said Best will be back as soon as he gets clearance from the doctors.

That, combined with Adam Schefter's ESPN report that backup Jerome Harrison's trade to Philadelphia for Ronnie Brown was voided because Eagles doctors discovered a tumor in Harrison's brain, have left Maurice Morris as the primary backfield option for an offense that is averaging 29.7 points per game.

Morris, a 10-year veteran, has nine carries for 20 yards and five receptions for 55 yards on the season. His career high is 628 yards rushing in a season, and he has scored 16 TDs in 135 career games.

With six teams on a bye again this week, many owners could be looking for help at running back. If you're one of them, consider Morris a flex play at best.

He's more valuable in point-per-reception leagues (he had a combined 51 catches in 2009 and '10), but he's still not a top-20 running back even in weeks in which only 26 teams are playing.

Morris did have five TDs in his last six games in 2010, when Best had tailed off considerably after a strong start to his rookie season. In that span, Morris rushed for 295 yards and caught 14 passes while averaging 13.8 touches per contest.

Sunday, the Lions will play host to the Falcons, who rank seventh in the league against the run (97.5 rushing yards per game). Atlanta is in the bottom nine of the league in rushing TDs allowed (six).

In Week 8, Detroit will face Denver, which is No. 23 against the run at 123.4 yards per game. A bye follows in Week 9.

We can only assume Best, at worst, will return by Week 10, but keep in mind that he has had three concussions in two NFL seasons and, as Freeman wrote, had concussion issues in college.

If you own Best, your only choice is to keep him on your bench until he returns. He obviously has little trade value. Morris, meanwhile, entered this week available in more than 99 percent of the leagues.

That total has changed (by how much, we're not sure, since Morris' ESPN ownership percentage was listed as 0.8 Thursday night), but he still can be had in most formats. The possibility he could be the featured back for an extended period on a team with a potent offense automatically gives him value.

Just make sure you place said value at a realistic (read: outside the top 25 at his position) level.

Murray is the man

Since we're on the subject of injured running backs, DeMarco Murray -- one of our waiver-wire picks this week -- should be considered a No. 2 fantasy running back in Week 7.

Felix Jones is out because of a high ankle sprain, and Murray should get more work than backfield mate Tashard Choice.

The reason we're so high on Murray, a rookie who has yet to rush for more than 32 yards in a game this season: Dallas will play host to St. Louis, which owns the league's worst run defense at 163 yards per game and is yielding 4.9 yards per carry.

Choice, who is an effective receiver, is a decent flex play against the Rams.

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