Every year it seems that running backs enjoy taunting us, and killing our hopes and dreams. At least they get it out of the way early. So yeah, thanks for that, Jamaal Charles of 2011, and now Matt Forte of 2012.

Each August it’s impossible to read any fantasy draft analysis or preview column without being told that running backs are the scariest dudes in the entire fantasy kingdom. They can be your savior, accumulating both rushing and receiving yards while helping you skip along merrily to a championship. But more than any other position there’s a dice roll that accompanies every RB selection.

Week 1 brought us the Fred Jackson injury and three week absence. And now I give you Forte, who left last night’s game that ended in a Bears loss to the Packers with an ankle injury that’s now been given one of the most dreaded injury labels this side of an ACL tear. He reportedly has a high ankle sprain, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

You handcuffed Michael Bush to him, right? RIGHT?

While further, more detailed information should follow since the exact severity of Forte’s injury is uncertain, generally high ankle sprains can keep a running back out for anywhere between three to five weeks. Since we’re now through two weeks of the Bears’ schedule, if the worst case scenario of that timeline becomes reality Forte may not play another game until the halfway point of the season in Week 8. And that’s only the halfway point of the season in reality, which we care very little about.

Most fantasy leagues start the playoffs in Week 14, and if you’re without a running back whom you spent a second-round pick on for an extended period and he’s only available to you for six games prior to the playoffs, that’s potentially crushing. So again, hopefully you were able to handcuff Bush, who started nine games while filling in for the injured Darren McFadden in Oakland last year, and he had seven touchdowns and 818 rushing yards over that stretch for an average of 90.9 yards per game.

In fact, the situation that McFadden owners who handcuffed Bush last year faced is similar to the pain Forte owners may be about to endure. Bush can pound it in short yardage situations and accumulate touchdowns, but he doesn’t have nearly the same breakaway speed as McFadden or Forte. He had good but not spectacular yardage totals last year, with his first three starts in McFadden’s absence (120.7 yards per game) a high peak next to the very average outputs of the next six games by comparison (63 yards per game).

Bush will be good, and he may even flirt with great briefly. But the reason he has never been a full-time, featured back is the same season why he likely won’t have a sustained run of elite fantasy performances. The power is there in abundance in his legs, but speed isn’t.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • The reason Jay Cutler is a backup fantasy QB at best and was about a 10th round pick isn’t because of his talent, or his simple ability to produce. He has both of those assets in abundance. No, it’s because of his inconsistent play, and his failure to utilize his arm strength to zip balls into tight windows and command intermediate areas of the field. [Pro Football Focus]
  • Darrelle Revis has been cleared for physical activity following his Week 1 concussion, but he still hasn’t jumped over a far more significant hurdle and received clearance for contact. The Jets will make a decision on his playing status for the their game against Pittsburgh by Saturday at the latest, meaning Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown owners should monitor this situation closely. [ESPN New York]
  • A great detailed look at the Packers’ blitz pickup shows that maybe — just maybe, dear god maybe — last night was a bit of an aberration against a strong pass rush. [Sideline View]
  • If you own the Steelers defense or any of their defensive leaders in an IDP league, Mike Tomlin wants you to know that they sucked post-snap during Week 1 against the Broncos. Also, seven of Pittsburgh’s defensive starters are over the age of 30, which can’t be repeated enough. This is a unit in decline. [Total Steelers]
  • And while we’re on the subject of aging, decaying Steelers defenders, James Harrison will likely miss his second straight game Sunday, and there’s a strong possibility that Troy Polamalu will be out too with a calf injury. Polamalu has missed two practices this week, and suddenly Mark Sanchez — that awful quarterback from a year ago who oozed something in Week 1 that wasn’t complete suck, and was instead confidence — is looking like a decent play for those who picked him up this week. Ditto for Stephen Hill. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]