I definitely ran into that last week with Rudi Johnson out, and both Chris Brown and Fred Taylor on byes. I can also see a similar issue this week with the status of Joseph Addai and Travis Henry up in the air, and Rudi Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Brian Westbrook and LaMont Jordan all on byes. It'll get even crazier in Weeks 6 and 8 when six teams are on byes.
The problem in trying to fill those holes is that in many of the leagues I'm in, the running back ranks are usually picked clean at the draft with owners handcuffing top backups to their stars. There's a decent good chance that Kenton Keith and Selvin Young were already snapped up even before they saw added playing time last week. And the Kenny Watsons and Earnest Grahams of the world were snapped up as soon as there was an inkling of an injury to their starters. So if you were late to the free-agent party or had a late waiver claim, you might've been stuck with Samkon Gado, like I ended up having to do.
So if it's Sunday morning, you're desperate for any running back help but the field is nearly picked clean, here are some guys who might still be available to give you any sort of points. Sometimes it's those last one or two points that give you the victory:
Kevin Faulk, Patriots: Laurence Maroney owners are already mad that Sammy Morris has stolen a bunch of carries. And then there's Faulk, who seems to pick up a handful of catches and even a few rushing yards here and there. Plus, you never know who's going to steal TDs from their main men -- Faulk, fullback Heath Evans, even Mike Vrabel. In point-per-reception leagues, Faulk is a good desperation play. Faulk already has 10 catches this year.
Mack Strong, Seahawks: Fullbacks definitely aren't top commodities in fantasy football, but the veteran Strong could the epitome of a desperation play. He may get one or two carries a game, but he could also get a two or three catches as well. Again, in PPR leagues, Strong could get you a couple of points in a week. But if you're relying on him for any longer than a bye week, your team is in trouble.
Vonta Leach, Texans: Again, a much better desperation play for PPR leagues. He's got nine catches and a TD this season. With Houston's running game a bit unsettled thanks to injuries, Leach finds his way to a couple of points a week for the really desperate.
Travis Minor, Rams: Remember him as the third-down back in Miami? St. Louis coach Scott Linehan does, from their days together with the Dolphins. Minor isn't much more than a third-down back, but with all the injuries to the Rams roster, he could be in position to get a few catches or steal a few carries.
Pierre Thomas, Saints: With Deuce McAllister out for the year, Reggie Bush will pick up more of the slack, but the Saints will also make good use of Aaron Stecker. Meanwhile, Thomas, one of their undrafted gems during training camp will be lurking in the shadows as another running back to steal looks (much like Stecker did in the Bush-McAllister rotation).
Mewelde Moore, Vikings: Can't use him this week with Minnesota on a bye, but Moore can be a good multipurpose back even with the Adrian Peterson-Chester Taylor tandem in place. Moore has decent receiving skills, making him a decent third-down back. Once again, if your league counts points per reception, you've got a few extra points, especially in the flex position.
Remember, you've got to be really desperate to use these guys because your bench is depleted. In many cases, if you have to rely on any of these backs on a regular basis, your team is probably in trouble.
And now that I've gone over some of the desperate running back plays, I'll open it up to you: What were your most desperate roster moves you've had to make this season because of injuries, regardless of position? For example, in the SI.com Experts League, my opponent last week ended up going with Jabar Gaffney at a flex position because of injuries and byes. You can debate all day which of three top-25 running backs you want to start, but it takes some skill to squeeze out points when you've got little on your roster.