FOX Sports Exclusive
Carolina's RBBC is spread three wide
Welcome to the 13th installment of our weekly look at fantasy’s most aggravating subject, the Running Back Committee. Are things finally clearing up in Washington?
Week 13 Byes: None (all teams have had their byes)
Thursday: Eagles at Seahawks
Options: C.J. Spiller, Tashard Choice, Johnny White
Outlook: In Week 1 A.F. (After Fred), Spiller was the Bills’ featured back, with 19 carries for 55 yards and three catches for 15 yards. Not great, but not bad, right? Though Choice and White loom as possible threats, the Bills sound determined to give Spiller the chance to prove that he can be a good every-down back. I’m betting that he ultimately won’t succeed, but with just a few weeks (if that) remaining in your fantasy season, he should get enough work to help you. Plan to start Spiller at home against the mediocre Titans’ rushing defense.
Options: Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams
Outlook: The Panthers’ tandem didn’t disappoint against the weak Colts, combining for 139 yards on 25 carries. Williams (15 carries, 69 yards, 2 TD) has looked strong over the last two games after spending most of the season as RB1-A in Cam Newton’s backfield. This week, the Williams-Stewart duo gets another friendly matchup against the porous Bucs, making both of them flex-worthy.
Options: Matt Forte, Marion Barber
Outlook: So, Forte had 12 carries (and six receptions) against the Raiders, while Barber carried the ball 10 times? Forte owners shouldn’t worry yet, but they should be really annoyed, as Barber appears to have gotten a minor promotion from his status as the team’s goal-line back.
Green Bay Packers
Options: James Starks, Ryan Grant, John Kuhn, Brandon Saine
Outlook: Grant led the way with six carries for 20 yards against the Lions, while Kuhn got another one-yard vulture touchdown, Starks didn’t do much, and Saine had a couple of nice late carries. I think I’m taking a break from recommending any Packer backs.
Options: Arian Foster, Ben Tate
Outlook: Told ya, didn’t I? The Texans didn’t blow out the Jaguars, so Tate got only five carries for 26 yards. Since Foster returned to full health in Week 4, Tate has had his three big games when scores have been lopsided in favor of the Texans. Play him at your own risk, especially this week against the Falcons’ strong run defense.
Options: Donald Brown, Joseph Addai, Delone Carter
Outlook: Addai (seven carries, 23 yards) returned to action in Week 12, but Brown was the lead back, carrying 14 times for 80 yards and a score. It wasn’t that long ago that Brown was the Colts’ first-round draft pick, and they still seem to like him. He’s just an OK option this week against the Patriots, though.
Kansas City Chiefs
Options: Thomas Jones, Jackie Battle, Dexter McCluster
Outlook: It’s really hard to run when the opposing defense isn’t afraid of your quarterback. The Chiefs found that out again Sunday night, when their backfield trio combined for 85 yards on 31 carries against the Steelers. Since the workload is being shared right now – Jones has 21 carries over the last two games, with 18 for McCluster and 17 for Battle – there’s not even an argument to start a busy back from this arrangement. Stay away for now, even if Kyle Orton takes over under center against the Bears.
Options: Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas
Outlook: Bush had 19 touches (16 carries, three receptions) for 96 yards from scrimmage against the Cowboys, while Thomas saw the ball just seven times. Thomas looked like an interesting fantasy option after getting 32 carries in his previous two games, but for now he should remain on your bench. Bush is a solid play at home this week against the Raiders’ weak run defense.
New England Patriots
Options: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Kevin Faulk, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead
Outlook: If this were another team, we’d take it off the committee list, since Green-Ellis has carried 34 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games. But since it’s the unpredictable Patriots, let’s leave them here so you can see the other names involved. Vereen has 15 carries over the last two outings, and could get more garbage-time production against the Colts on Sunday. You’d have to be in a really deep league to start him, though.
New Orleans Saints
Options: Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas
Outlook: With 94 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 15 touches, Ingram was the Saints’ busiest back against the Giants on Monday night. However, Thomas had 110 yards and a score on 11 touches, and Sproles got the ball 10 times for 82 yards. Due to the three-headed monster nature of this backfield, they’re still only low-end starts unless you own Sproles in a PPR league. Ingram and Thomas just don’t get the ball enough to be trusted, and not every team has a defense as horrible as the Giants.
San Diego Chargers
Options: Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert
Outlook: On Sunday morning, a report surfaced that Tolbert would start against the Broncos, with Mathews limited due to his nagging knee injury. Then Mathews went out and gained 137 yards on 22 carries (and caught a pass), while Tolbert ran 11 times for 44 yards and caught three passes of his own. This reminded me of two things:
1. Don’t trust all Sunday morning reports, as coaches could be blowing smoke to analysts, even when their judgment is otherwise as questionable as Norv Turner’s.
2. The Chargers want to run their offense through Mathews, and will do so whenever possible. He’s always risky, but you should still start him when he’s active, even this week against the pesky Jaguars, who rank 11th in the league with four yards per carry allowed.
Options: Roy Helu, Ryan Torain, Evan Royster
Outlook: Fantasy Hater Shanahan said early last week that Helu wasn’t ready to carry the load for the ‘Skins. On Sunday, the rookie ran 23 times for 108 yards and a touchdown, and added seven receptions for 54 yards. Thirty touches is a pretty big load, right?
This Monday, Shanahan responded to a Helu question by saying, “He’s our starter, for sure.” Was he telling the truth? Trying to fake me out? Can I really trust anything he has to say? He always, always, ALWAYS screws me.
You know what? I’m not going to let Shanahan’s history as a fantasy miscreant scare me away from Helu anymore. He’s a decent runner, he catches the ball, and he’s the best back on his team. Start Helu in all formats this week against the Jets. You want to call me a glutton for Shanahanian punishment? Fine. I don’t care.
INJURY ISSUES (5)
Options: Peyton Hillis, Montario Hardesty, Chris Ogbonnaya
Outlook: The Browns had their entire stable of backs ready to play Sunday until Hardesty was scratched after tightening up during pregame warmups. Hillis ran 19 times for 65 yards against the Bengals, while Ogbonnaya was nearly invisible with 16 yards on just three carries. Hardesty is likely to share the workload with Hillis when healthy, but Ogbonnaya can probably be tossed aside unless he once again becomes the last man standing in the Browns’ backfield. You can start Hillis against the Ravens if Hardesty remains out, but don’t expect a ton of fantasy production.
Options: Kevin Smith, Maurice Morris, Keiland Williams, Jahvid Best
Outlook: Best has been placed on injured reserve, so his season is done. Smith had a fast start (10 touches, 57 yards) against the Packers on Thanksgiving before leaving the game in the second quarter with a mild ankle sprain. You’ll need to watch the Lions’ injury news all week, because Smith will be a solid fantasy play if he’s active against the Saints. If Smith doesn’t return, Morris – who caught nine passes for 81 yards and ran seven times for 39 yards against the Pack – will be worthy of your consideration.
Options: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart
Outlook: Peterson (ankle) pushed hard to play against the Falcons in Week 12, but was ruled out after a Saturday morning walkthrough. Gerhart was moderately productive despite the tough matchup, running 17 times for 44 yards and a touchdown, and catching two passes for 19 yards. If Peterson doesn’t return, Gerhart will be busy enough for RB3/flex status against the improving Broncos’ D, but will also be limited by his terrible offensive line. Watch the Peterson updates as the week progresses; I think he’ll play.
New York Giants
Options: Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, D.J. Ware
Outlook: Jacobs got a touchdown against the Saints, but didn’t run very well (13 carries, 46 yards). Ware posted some garbage-time PPR value, with eight receptions for 45 yards. If Bradshaw returns against the Packers – which is the hope – Jacobs and Ware should return to fantasy benches.
Options: Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Marcel Reece
Outlook: Another week, another wait-and-see on McFadden, who has missed the last four games with a foot injury. The Dolphins have a strong run defense (3.7 yards per carry), but you’ll still want to start Bush again if McFadden isn’t ready to return. McFadden went through a light workout on Monday, but his coach said that conditioning might be an issue due to his four-game absence. Don’t expect McFadden to play this week. Also, while Reece had five receptions for 92 yards against the Bears, don’t make a huge effort to pick him up.
More Stories From John Halpin