Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
This one should be obvious after his 150 yards and two touchdowns in Week 9. But since he got off to another slow start amid a tough early-season schedule, we feel obligated to mention him here. Johnson has favorable matchups down the stretch, and none is more favorable than the Jacksonville Jaguars here. They are last in fantasy against running backs and last in the NFL against the run, allowing over 161 rushing yards per game.
Don’t worry about Shonn Greene getting more carries and vulturing the touchdowns. In fact, start him too.
Mike James, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs finally decided to shut Doug Martin (shoulder) down for the season, so the running onus falls on James’ shoulders the rest of the way. The rookie out of Miami looked capable of carrying a fantasy team’s second running back spot last week, rushing for a career-high 158 yards. This week, he draws the Miami Dolphins, who have been the second-worst team in fantasy against running backs to date. James goes for at least 80 and a touchdown this week.
Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
An ankle issue has Richardson listed as questionable on the official NFL Injury Report, but Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star reports he is fully expecting to play. “I’m ready,” he said.
Chappell likened T-Rich’s slow start to that of the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch and, like the aforementioned Johnson, Richardson’s schedule softens in the second half. He gets the St. Louis Rams this week; they have been the third-worst team in fantasy against running backs and the fifth-worst in the NFL against the run.
Start Richardson, and consider timeshare back Donald Brown a viable sleeper as a flex play in standard leagues.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Concerns here should be subsiding after Spiller broke some huge plays last week and topped 100 yards rushing for just the second time this season. That came against the Chiefs’ undefeated defense too.
Spiller is a much more favorable play against the Steelers, who have been disappointing against the run and have allowed the sixth-most points to fantasy backs to date. They are also the only team in football that has allowed 12 touchdowns to running backs through just eight games. Spiller and Fred Jackson are viable plays in tandem this week.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
MJD is coming off his bye week and his best week of the season, yardage-wise, against a stout San Francisco 49ers defense from Week 8 in London. The Jags have lost Justin Blackmon (suspension) for the season, and the offense clearly will have to rely heavily on the running game. MJD is one of the heaviest-use feature backs in football too, with just converted college quarterback Denard Robinson as the primary backup.
The Titans are in the bottom 10 against the run and against running backs, so you should feel as confident in MJD this week as in any week all season.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
The more highlight-reel runs Giovani Bernard puts up in his rookie season, the more you have to dislike BGE in fantasy down the stretch. The starter and goal-line back still gets touches, but a matchup against the Baltimore Ravens—eighth-best against the run and No. 1 in fantasy against running backs—is a bad week to trust this plodder. The Ravens have allowed a league-low one touchdown to running backs.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Not only has Danny Woodhead usurped Mathews’ job on passing downs, he also tends to be in the game inside the five. Mathews looks like a bad play against the Broncos run defense, which is No. 3 in the NFL, allowing just 81.5 yards per game. Mathews needs rushing yards, because he doesn’t score his fantasy points on touchdowns or as a pass receiver. Start Woodhead but not Mathews, especially in PPR.
Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jacobs, Andre Brown and Michael Cox, New York Giants
You have to hate all of the Giants’ options this week, if only because they will each cancel each other out from being viable in fantasy. The Raiders have been susceptible to the pass, but they are sixth-best against the run, allowing under 95 yards per game on the ground. Expect Brown (leg) to return, but in a limited role, while Hillis and Jacobs (hamstring) share the other opportunities in a three-way split.
Brown will be the man down the stretch for the Giants with David Wilson (neck) officially out for the season, but offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride told the New York Daily News‘ Ralph Vacchiano: “When he’s healthy, he can help us.”
He doesn’t sound like Brown is returning full-go just yet. Gilbride continued to the Daily News:
A healthy Andre Brown that’s playing well will be a significant contribution to our offense. It looks like he’s physically running pretty well. The things that happened very naturally, right now are not happening very naturally, or as natural as usual, I should say—his reads, his awareness of what’s going on. But you can see he’s a good football player.
DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers
Ignore the fact that Tolbert is rolling his chubby body into the end zone on a regular basis—or the fact the 49ers are uncharacteristically 11th-worst against fantasy running backs. All of the Panthers backs are bad plays in San Francisco this week.
You might have gotten away with starting one of them if the other two weren’t healthy, but this is a full three-way timeshare, and the only back who would be fantasy trustworthy because of the goal-line carries is no guarantee to get one this week. Avoid them all.
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||vs. Was||1||0|
|2||Matt Forte||Chi||vs. Det||3||+1|
|3||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. Jac||7||+4|
|4||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at GB||5||+1|
|5||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||at Atl||2||-3|
|6||Eddie Lacy||GB||vs. Phi||6||0|
|7||Alfred Morris||Was||at Min||9||+2|
|8||Trent Richardson||Ind||vs. StL||22||+14|
|9||Reggie Bush||Det||at Chi||4||-5|
|10||Knowshon Moreno||Den||at SD||8||-2|
|11||DeMarco Murray||Dal||at NO||11||0|
|12||Ray Rice||Bal||vs. Cin||20||+8|
|13||C.J. Spiller||Buf||at Pit||15||+2|
|14||Frank Gore||SF||vs. Car||12||-2|
|15||Le’Veon Bell||Pit||vs. Buf||13||-2|
|16||Zac Stacy||StL||at Ind||10||-6|
|17||Mike James||TB||vs. Mia||14||-3|
|18||Ben Tate||Hou||at Ari||27||+9|
|19||Andre Ellington||Ari||vs. Hou||23||+4|
|20||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||at Ten||18||-2|
|21||Steven Jackson||Atl||vs. Sea||24||+3|
|22||Lamar Miller||Mia||at TB||19||-3|
|23||Giovani Bernard||Cin||at Bal||21||-2|
|24||Darren Sproles||NO||vs. Dal||29||+5|
|25||Rashad Jennings||Oak||at NYG||26||+1|
|26||Shonn Greene||Ten||vs. Jac||31||+5|
|27||Danny Woodhead||SD||vs. Den||17||-10|
|28||Ryan Mathews||SD||vs. Den||28||0|
|29||James Starks||GB||vs. Phi||40||+11|
|30||Fred Jackson||Buf||at Pit||16||-14|
|31||Donald Brown||Ind||vs. StL||32||+1|
|32||DeAngelo Williams||Car||at SF||33||+1|
|33||Joique Bell||Det||at Chi||34||+1|
|34||Montee Ball||Den||at SD||43||+9|
|35||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||vs. Hou||35||0|
|36||Mike Tolbert||Car||at SF||39||+3|
|37||Andre Brown||NYG||vs. Oak||30||-7|
|38||Pierre Thomas||NO||vs. Dal||25||-13|
|39||Jonathan Stewart||Car||at SF||41||+2|
|40||Peyton Hillis||NYG||vs. Oak||38||-2|
|41||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||at Bal||37||-4|
|42||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||vs. Sea||42||0|
|43||Roy Helu||Was||at Min||46||+3|
|44||Bryce Brown||Phi||at GB||51||+7|
|45||Bernard Pierce||Bal||vs. Cin||53||+8|
|46||Kendall Hunter||SF||vs. Car||54||+8|
|47||Robert Turbin||Sea||at Atl||57||+10|
|48||Brian Leonard||TB||vs. Mia||48||0|
|49||Felix Jones||Pit||vs. Buf||69||+20|
|50||Michael Bush||Chi||vs. Det||64||+14|
|51||Daniel Thomas||Mia||at TB||44||-7|
|52||Mark Ingram||NO||vs. Dal||56||+4|
|53||Jason Snelling||Atl||vs. Sea||50||-3|
|54||C.J. Anderson||Den||at SD||75||+21|
|55||Toby Gerhart||Min||vs. Was||67||+12|
|56||Joseph Randle||Dal||at NO||61||+5|
|57||Ronnie Brown||SD||vs. Den||78||+21|
|58||Ronnie Hillman||Den||at SD||65||+7|
|59||Johnathan Franklin||GB||vs. Phi||84||+25|
|60||Benny Cunningham||StL||at Ind||76||+16|
|61||Daryl Richardson||StL||at Ind||68||+7|
|62||Darrel Young||Was||at Min||66||+4|