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Wilson making mark in New York
Welcome to the Week 15 edition of our weekly look at fantasy running back committees. If you’re reading this, congratulations on still being alive in your fantasy playoffs. 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.
Thursday game: Bengals at Eagles
Can we judge anything from that embarrassing, 58-0 butt-whipping at the hands of the Seahawks? Probably not. Consider Beanie Wells as an RB3/flex against the Lions, and don’t devote a nanosecond to thinking about another Cardinal back.
Michael Turner came into Sunday’s game nursing an elbow injury, and didn’t do much of anything until scoring from one yard out in the game’s final minute (whew!). Jacquizz Rodgers wasn’t much better on the ground, but he did catch six passes for 43 yards. This week, the Falcons host the Giants, who can be run on by backs that can get to the corner. That describes Rodgers more than Turner, and while neither is a great Week 15 play in standard leagues, Turner should be downgraded to flex territory.
Fred Jackson is done for the season due to a knee injury. C.J. Spiller is the man, no matter how small his workload was in Week 14, and no matter how scared you are of his matchup with the Seahawks. Start Spiller if you have him.
New week, same story. If Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is able to return, you’ll want to avoid the Panthers’ backfield mess. If Stewart is out again, DeAngelo Williams will be a decent, low-end RB2 option against the Chargers.
Detroit News beat writer Bob Wojnowski tweeted the following during Sunday’s game: “Ladies and gentlemen, your new Lions feature back: Joique Bell. Guy runs with power, like he knows where he's going.”
Bell ran 12 times for 49 yards against the Packers, and added five receptions for 47 yards. Leshoure had 12 carries for 49 yards on Sunday, and while Wojnowski’s tweet may have represented a preference rather than an actual change of role, this looks like at least a timeshare. Both backs appear to be on the borderline of RB2 consideration against the God-awful Cardinals, with Bell remaining a solid start in PPR formats.
A three-headed backfield committee, Mike McCarthy? Sigh. You can start Alex Green against the Bears if you need to, but only if your alternatives are equally sketchy. Starting DuJuan Harris after seeing him score a TD would be a classic example of irrational fantasy exuberance. You don’t really want to start a guy in a playoff game if you haven’t even been aware of his existence for 48 hours, right?
The only thing we may have learned in the Texans’ blowout loss to the Patriots is that Ben Tate (eight carries, 46 yards) appears to have reclaimed his role as Arian Foster’s trusty sidekick. Handcuff Tate (owned in 40.2 percent of FOXSports.com leagues) to Foster if he’s available, or stash him as a bench lottery ticket.
The Colts didn’t offer any updates Monday on Donald Brown (ankle), so Vick Ballard could once again be the man in Week 15. However, Ballard’s chances to help you won’t be as good against the second-ranked Texans’ defense as they were when he ran for 94 yards against the Titans.
It’s time to play another waiting game with Maurice Jones-Drew, who should start for you whenever he’s active. If MJD misses another week, Montell Owens can be considered as a flex start against the solid Dolphins’ defense. Owens is a career backup, and though you can’t really trust him, he acquitted himself pretty well (14 carries, 91 yards, TD) against the Jets.
Daniel Thomas has faded into Bolivian with seven carries over the past few weeks, while Reggie Bush has averaged 17 touches over that time. Start Bush if you can against the Jaguars’ 31st-ranked run defense, which made both Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell look like fantasy studs on Sunday.
And you didn’t think this could get any more confusing. Darren Sproles emerged from his fantasy slumber with nine touches for 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) against the Giants. Mark Ingram (13 carries, 68 yards) still appears to be the best ball-carrying option, but the Ingram/Pierre Thomas/Chris Ivory troika has been unpredictable (Ivory was inactive in Week 14 due to a hamstring issue). With the Bucs’ league-best rushing defense coming to the Big Easy on Sunday, you should try to avoid everyone here except for Sproles in PPR formats.
Holy David Wilson! Will he run for 100 yards and two scores again, not to mention the huge return day? Probably not, but he appears to have become a useful caddy to Ahmad Bradshaw, and Bradshaw (knee) is banged up. I can’t say I’d be eager to start Wilson after just one big game, though. Bradshaw’s status will obviously have a big impact on Wilson’s value.
If you were the Jets, wouldn’t you give your two decent backs a lot of work instead of putting the ball in Mark Sanchez’s hands? Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell were productive against the Jaguars, each running for more than 75 yards and a score. On Monday night at Tennessee, the J-E-T-S won’t exactly be facing a stout defense, so you can start either Jet runner. Greene has carried 44 times in his last two games, meaning that you can make him an RB2.
And in the third week, the Bryce Brown Express ground to a halt. Against the Bucs’ brick wall of a run defense, Brown ran 12 times for six yards, and crushed many fantasy playoff hopes. LeSean McCoy is out again in Week 15, so Brown owners that are still alive can roll with him on Thursday against the Bengals. It says here that Brown is still a beast, and last week was the fluke.
Jonathan Dwyer had six of his eight carries in the first half in Sunday’s surprising loss to the Chargers, and mostly got buried later as the Steelers played catch-up. On the bright side, the Cowboys have been very soft against the run lately, and are in the bottom third of the league with 4.5 yards per carry allowed. Dwyer should have a solid game against them in Week 15.
Not much to report here, other than the slight emergence of rookie LaMichael James (eight carries, 30 yards vs. Dolphins) in the wake of Kendall Hunter’s season-ending injury. James could get 10 touches on Sunday night in Foxboro, and Jim Harbaugh seems to like him. However, he’s a small, change-of-pace back, and you shouldn’t seriously consider starting him.
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