NFL rumors roundup

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Here's a look at some of the top rumors for Monday, Sept. 28, including a number of interesting backfield debates:

  • It's becoming harder and harder to ignore the production of Buffalo Bills rookie running back Karlos Williams, especially in light of LeSean McCoy's struggles to get over a preseason hamstring injury. Williams now has 40 more rushing yards (186 to 146) and three more rushing touchdowns (3 to 0) than McCoy despite playing 68 fewer snaps (126 to 58) and getting 19 fewer carries (43 to 24). As ESPN's Mike Rodak writes, head coach Rex Ryan is reluctant to sit McCoy for a game, hoping the back can instead heal a bit each week. Still, Williams continues to produce on limited carries and is a perfect fit for Greg Roman's power-based rushing attack. It's hard to see the rookie taking over the job unless McCoy aggravates his injury -- which is a possibility if he plays through it every week -- but Williams is starting to become a playable option against poor run defenses and could become a fantasy star if McCoy ever sits. For fantasy owners who drafted McCoy, it's difficult to see him putting up top-15 production this season.

  • Another top back confounding fantasy owners is the Cincinnati Bengals' Jeremy Hill, who got the start on Sunday -- a week after being benched for two fumbles -- but was outsnapped 26 to 51 by scatback Giovani Bernard. Even worse, his limited workload came after offensive coordinator Hue Jackson told NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala before the game that Hill would be a workhorse against the Baltimore Ravens. The key question: Was Bernard favored because the Bengals were more inclined to pass against the Ravens, or has Hill fallen behind Bernard on the depth chart? Considering Cincy spent almost 75 percent of its snaps with three wide receivers, we'd lean toward the former, but it's important to note the Bengals still ran about half the time. Bernard's 3.8 yards per carry average on 13 carries wasn't great, but Hill posted just 21 yards on 12 carries (1.8 average). With matchups against the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills next on the docket before a bye week, the near future doesn't look promising for Hill.

  • The New England Patriots just couldn't stand to be excluded from the fantasy RB merry-go-round, giving significant snaps to LeGarrette Blount and James White in Sunday's blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Starter Dion Lewis still had a nice day -- 67 total yards and a touchdown -- but the Patriots won't put up 51 points every week, and Blount (92 total yards and three touchdowns) is clearly worthy of some work too. We'd still expect Lewis to play the most moving forward, but in games against suspect run defenses -- like those of the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5 and Indianapolis Colts in Week 6 -- Blount is the better bet to lead the team in carries.

  • It was bad enough that a few San Diego Chargers offensive linemen were sidelined from Sunday's game with injuries. One of those who did finish the game, guard D.J. Fluker, could barely walk in the locker room, according to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Fluker played against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday just two weeks after suffering a high-ankle sprain against the Detroit Lions in the opener. High-ankle sprains typically take a full 4-6 weeks to heal, depending on the severity, and that was one suggested timetable for Fluker. It's admirable that the big man returned so quickly, but it's possible he could only be causing the injury to linger further into the year. Between Fluker's injury and those to Orlando Franklin, Chris Watt and Chris Hairston, things seem to be falling apart in front of Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon.

  • On the New York Jets offensive line, there appears to be a little bit of good news regarding guard Willie Colon. After some fear that Colon suffered a serious knee injury, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reports that it's just a sprained knee that should keep Colon out a "week, maybe more." The Jets' line struggled against a strong Philadelphia Eagles front seven on Sunday, but Colon is part of an above average unit that can usually support a run-heavy attack.

  • In the "adding injury to insult" category: It appears the Chicago Bears' offensive woes against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday may have impacted the health of punter Pat O'Donnell. NFL Media's Rand Getlin reports that O'Donnell has a knee sprain and is day to day, one day after booting 10 punts for 477 yards, including a 72-yarder. Getlin noted that O'Donnell hurt the knee during Richard Sherman's first-half punt return, but the heavy workload surely didn't help. The Bears' offense deserves a little bit of credit for not turning the ball over in Seattle despite starting backup QB Jimmy Clausen, but it's hard to understand how Chicago never even had a possession end on downs. This offense will almost certainly sputter as long as Jay Cutler remains out, making O'Donnell's health that much more important.