Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is well-known in the fantasy football community as someone who is willing to try just about anything with his running backs, whether it's removing those who are playing fairly well, trying out an unknown name (such as Reuben Droughns), etc . As such, it was quite interesting when he released Larry Johnson this week, because as the main backup to an aging and -- let's face it -- somewhat brittle Clinton Portis, the surprise move has made relative unknown Keiland Williams a lot more popular.
Williams, an undrafted free agent from LSU, had some good games in the preseason and survived the roster cuts, and he moves up to No. 2 in the pecking order now that Johnson is gone. Before LJ, it was Willie Parker and Ryan Torain who received their walking papers. Portis has been dealing with a wrist injury, but I fully expect him to play in Week 3. The two touchdowns he scored in the crazy Houston Texans loss Sunday mask a 3.1 yards-per-carry average so far, but I liked Portis as a sleeper in August because he was falling way too far in drafts, and I still believe he has a 1,200-yard campaign in him.
While Williams currently ranks ninth among running backs on ESPN Fantasy's most added list, he still needs opportunity, just like other relatively high-profile handcuffs such as Rashad Jennings and Bernard Scott. In all three cases, I think these backups can play, but the starter needs to get hurt. I don't really see the Shanahan angle as being a major part of this. I think Portis is clearly his guy, unless injury or sustained poor performance changes things. To me, this isn't really like those Denver days when fungible running backs were popping up out of nowhere.
With that, it's time for an updated look at each team's running back situation. I follow up with some notes below the table:
Running back breakdown (as of Sept. 23)
The top fantasy running backs from all 32 NFL teams and either his shared backfield mate or his backup (handcuff).