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McGahee injury leaves hole in DEN
Welcome to the Week 12 edition of our weekly look at fantasy running back committees. In this space, we’ll look at recent performances and attempt to read the backfield tea leaves to help you with lineup decisions. We’ll post this article each Tuesday, and offer updates in our fantasy coverage throughout the week, including in the Friday morning edition of the FOX Sports Fantasy Buzz Blog!
As usual, this series will focus mainly on the more volatile and/or 50-50 situations, but there are a few non-committee and injury notes as well. If you have any questions, the FOXSports.com fantasy staff is always happy to help. The best ways to reach me are via Facebook or Twitter.
Week 12 Byes: None. No more byes!
This isn’t exactly a committee, but Jacquizz Rodgers has gotten 13, seven, seven and 10 touches over his last four games. He’s worthy of starting in PPR formats, but is still on the outside looking in for standard leagues. This week’s matchup against the Bucs’ league-best run defense doesn’t help Rodgers or Michael Turner.
Beanie Wells is due back this week, so he should be owned in all formats. However, after LaRod Stephens-Howling’s 127-yard day against the Rams, there’s reason to believe both backs will be used. Wait to hear from head coach Ken Whisenhunt before making any lineup decisions, but either Cardinal figures to be a shaky Week 12 start.
Fred Jackson is expected to return after missing Week 11 with a concussion. No matter how good C.J. Spiller is – and he’s pretty terrific – Jackson will probably share the workload against the Colts’ subpar run defense. Spiller still projects as a top-15 fantasy back, but not the top-five option he’d be without Jackson around.
Is someone emerging here? Jonathan Stewart had 15 carries against the Bucs to DeAngelo Williams’ seven, posting 43 yards and a TD. Maybe Stewart really is the lead back here, but Williams, Cam Newton and even Mike Tolbert will be around to threaten his goal-line production. Stewart is a flex play at best for Monday’s game at Philly.
No committee here, but keep an eye on Cedric Peerman, who has 14 carries over his last two games, and gained 75 yards against the Chiefs. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been mostly mediocre this season, and Peerman may continue to benefit. Peerman didn’t get many snaps on Sunday, but he should still be on your radar.
We’re probably looking at one more week without DeMarco Murray, meaning that Felix Jones figures to carry the load against the Redskins’ solid run defense. However, Jones hurt his knee late in Sunday’s game, so keep an eye on his status. If he plays and Murray doesn’t – the likely scenario – he’s a solid RB2, with 15-plus carries coming.
Willis McGahee will miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury. Mike Klis of the Denver Post reported Monday that he thinks Lance Ball will start, with Ronnie Hillman’s profile rising as a speedy sidekick. Hillman is probably a better back to own, but don’t expect him to run close to 20 times – look at him more as an RB3 or flex play. The Broncos might react to McGahee’s injury by passing even more than they already do.
I don’t care if Joique Bell caught only one pass against the Packers. He’s still a decent PPR start in Thursday’s interesting matchup with the Texans. I like this year’s Thanksgiving schedule so much that I might skip dessert. Temporarily, anyway.
Committee? Not any more. James Starks carried 25 times for 74 yards against the Lions, while Alex Green was shackled to the bench. Unfortunately, Starks is a plodder, so he’s more than a volume play than a high-upside option against the Giants. Don’t expect Starks to get too many 20-plus carry games, even if the Pack has been running more often this season.
Vick Ballard emerged as the Colts’ lead back in Sunday’s blowout loss against the Patriots, running 16 times for 72 yards to Donald Brown’s 4-16 line. Ballard looks to be a strong RB2 against the Bills’ terrible run defense, but his owners will live in constant fear of Delone Carter stealing goal-line opportunities. Every back can’t be Arian Foster, you know.
Maurice Jones-Drew’s will probably miss another week due to his foot injury. Jalen Parmele (24 carries, 80 yards in Week 11 vs. Houston) took over the primary running duties last week and looks to be worthy of a low-end RB2 start against the Titans’ 28th-ranked run defense. It’s been nice knowing you, Rashad Jennings.
This situation was still a mess in Week 11, with Mark Ingram leading the way over Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas, though Thomas and Ivory combined for more touches than Ingram. Ingram’s 27-yard TD was impressive, as was his overall performance, but with Darren Sproles due back on Sunday against the stout 49ers, you don’t want to start anyone from the Ingram/Ivory/Thomas troika. Sproles is always a good PPR starter, and a borderline RB2 in standard formats for this matchup.
Our friends at Pro Football Focus noted Monday that Bilal Powell played 28 snaps against the Rams to Shonn Greene’s 26. The Jets still gave Greene 18 carries, so it doesn’t appear that they’ve realized how terrible he is, but Powell is worthy of your fantasy free-agent attention after getting a season-high 13 touches and scoring on two third-down, red-zone runs.
When we last left the Giants, Andre Brown was pushing aside Ahmad Bradshaw’s with 12 touches against the Bengals in Week 10. It sounds like Bradshaw is healthy, but I’m a Giants fan, and I’m not even sure how this one is going to shake itself out. I’ll probably have Bradshaw as a low-end RB2 this week, with Brown in RB3 territory.
At press time – does anyone still say “press time?” – we weren’t sure if Darren McFadden would return in Week 12. Marcel Reece (193 yards from scrimmage) was terrific against the Bengals, and will be a must-start if McFadden isn’t ready. If DMC does play, Reece probably won’t be worthy of a start in standard formats, but will remain a solid PPR option.
LeSean McCoy suffered a concussion against the Redskins, and his status is TBD for Monday’s home game against Carolina. The timing of the game could be an issue if McCoy isn’t cleared to practice early in the week. Bryce Brown is the handcuff to own, and could be a decent start if McCoy can’t go.
Isaac Redman suffered a concussion against the Ravens and left early. Jonathan Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall rotated for most of the game, and as noted here last week, Dwyer appears to be the team’s best back. The Steelers figure to run a lot in Cleveland with Charlie Batch slated to start at quarterback, and the ranking order here is still Dwyer, Mendenhall, Redman, with Redman a distant third whether he’s healthy or not.
Head coach Jeff Fisher said Monday that Steven Jackson (13 carries, 81 yards vs. the Jets) needs to get the ball more. That’s good for Jackson’s owners, but not so good for those rostering Daryl Richardson, who’s had just 15 touches over his last two games after seemingly working his way into a committee a month ago. Richardson shouldn’t start for anyone, and you can cut him if you need to pick up a player offering immediate help.
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