As you prepare your roster for your personal Week 5 matchups, you might find yourself in need of a RB. Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin and Alfred Morris are unavailable due to their byes, and several highly coveted starters – we’re looking at you now C.J. Spiller and Trent Richardson - have been underwhelming to put mildly. All of which makes Rashad Jennings an intriguing roster addition, who could become a respectable starter this week. However, there is more uncertainty concerning this situation than one would normally find when considering a RB from the waiver wire. Because injuries to three prominent Raiders will determine both Jennings’ status and his chances of being effective during Oakland's Sunday Night encounter with San Diego.
Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece were both sidelined early in the team’s Week 4 matchup with Washington, as McFadden injured his hamstring, while Reece sprained his knee. As of this writing, their collective availability for this week’s contest is unclear. Since Dennis Allen has previously been reluctant to disclose many details regarding injuries, there is an excellent chance that we will not have clarity until much closer to game time.
However, it is difficult to visualize McFadden making a quick return since his extensive track record with lengthy absences has become legend. His well-chronicled health issues have caused him to miss 23 games in five seasons, as lingering injuries have historically jettisoned him to the sidelines for extended periods of time. While his owners understandably do not want to read this, it would hardly be a shock if that process occurs once again. Not only does that bode well for Jennings garnering a high snap count, but Reece’s knee problem accentuates that likelihood even further. Even if he could somehow be involved this week, Reece’s condition would have to negatively impact his workload.
That establishes the rationale for adding Jennings in terms of the opportunity that he should have to accumulate fantasy points. It is understandable for any potential owners to be concerned about the anemic 2.8 YPC that he registered with Jacksonville last season, or the 4.2 average that he has generated during his five-year career. However, the difference with his current situation is the presence of an elusive QB that opposing defenses will be forced to account for. If Terrelle Pryor returns to the lineup as expected, the Chargers must prepare for the possibility that the former Buckeye will run on designed plays. Or, to simply take off if the pocket has collapsed, or his receivers have failed to gain separation. All of which occurs with frequency due to the deficiencies that exist within Oakland’s offensive line and receiving corp. San Diego ranks just 30th in total defense, and is only 25th against the run, which provides reason for optimism that the Raiders can generate yardage against them.
Pryor’s return could also reduce the number of check down opportunities that Jennings is involved with. Those were prevalent during Matt Flynn’s dreadful performance last Sunday, which enabled Jennings to amass 71 yards on eight receptions. But that occurrence would be offset by the enhanced running lanes that should exist as San Diego is forced to scheme for Pryor’s duel threat capabilities. Plus, if Pryor suffers a setback in his recovery from a Week 3 concussion, and the highly ineffective Flynn is back under center, Jennings will become a primary target for the QB who is incapable and unwilling to launch throws at even a moderate distance from the line of scrimmage.
Therefore, the recommendation from here is that you should add Jennings to your roster. Just remain aware that it will be necessary to continually monitor the latest updates regarding both McFadden and Reece this week. Oakland’s home matchup against the Chargers has been moved to Sunday night, which will complicate your lineup decisions if the RB situation has not been clarified prior to kickoff.
If you do secure Jennings this week, and McFadden and Reece somehow do return to face San Diego, Jennings should be kept on your roster if at all possible. Because the likelihood that McFadden will be sidelined once again remains very high. And that would quickly propel Jennings into a pivotal role within Oakland’s offense.