Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
You might be frustrated with the use of either of these players because of the presence of the other, but both are good plays against a Jaguars defense that has given up the fourth-most points to running backs in fantasy and is dead last against the run. The two will be good for 60 combined yards and a touchdown here. If you have to pick one, Ellington is the slightly more intriguing option because of his big-play ability.
Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
Mathews has put some solid efforts together in the past few weeks, and Woodhead remains a heavily targeted receiver in the Broncos’ short passing game. Both are solid plays against a Dolphins defense coming off a bad performance Monday night against the Bucs and playing on a short week, even if the Chargers have to fly across country. The Dolphins are in the bottom half of the league against the run and have given up the second-most points to fantasy running backs to date.
Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens
How can we suggest not one but two backs from the league’s 30th-ranked running game? Because something has to give when the Ravens play the Chicago Bears’ beleaguered defensive front. It should be the Bears front line giving too.
The Bears are only better than Jacksonville against the run, so expect the Ravens backs to finally get some running room here behind that maligned offensive line. Coach Jon Harbaugh has said he is going to go with the hot hand, so expect Rice to up his game to keep his feature status. Both backs should be good for 60 combined yards and a touchdown apiece.
Brian Leonard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The loss of Doug Martin (shoulder) and Mike James (ankle) for the season thrusts Leonard into the starting role for the Bucs, who should be a run-friendly team down the stretch. Bobby Rainey is in the mix too, but he’s more of a change-of-pace back to the pounder Leonard. Expect the former fullback to get 20 touches, 60-plus combined yards and a touchdown against a Falcons defense that is sixth-worst against the run and in the bottom half against fantasy running backs.
Andre Brown, New York Giants
So much for a limited return for the new Giants workhorse. Brown gives the Giants offense a trustworthy feature back who can handle the ball over 20 times a game and do his own short-yardage work. The Packers are more middle of the pack as a matchup for fantasy backs, but the Giants will stick with Brown throughout what should be a physical game. Expect at least one touchdown, regardless of whether he doesn’t get his yardage over 60.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
He is long past being the sure-fire fantasy starter, but he also draws the third-best run defense in football in a Cardinals team that has given up the fewest points to fantasy backs this season. The Jags are coming off their first victory, but the Cardinals are not going to get tripped up here in their bid to get into the NFL wild-card race. Expect a long day for MJD, and keep him out of fantasy lineups if at all possible.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
Despite Jackson’s usage, you should keep C.J. Spiller active and sit the older, slower veteran against a Jets defense that is No. 1 against the run and No. 3 against fantasy running backs. The Bills are learning they need to get the ball to Spiller in space more, so not only will Jackson be bottled up by the matchup, but also by the move back to the now-healthier Spiller. This is a 10-carry, 35-yard performance coming for Jackson.
Shane Vereen, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
You likely cannot afford to sit Stevan Ridley, but the matchup and potential return of Vereen (wrist) complicates the already-crowded Pats running back committee. Ridley is the only decent play until Vereen’s usage is revealed, especially since the Panthers are No. 2 against the run and sixth-best against fantasy running backs. Running backs have attempted a league-low 18.6 carries against the Panthers defense, and that isn’t a big number to potentially split four ways.
Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons and fantasy owners have learned, yet again, that 30-year-old running backs are bad news. Jackson has been banged up and ineffective, and he draws a Bucs defense that didn’t give the Dolphins a sniff on the ground Monday night.
The Bucs are stout against run, fifth-best, and have allowed a league-low one rushing touchdown to running backs all season, tied with the Ravens and Chiefs. Don’t touch any of the Falcons backs this week.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
Everyone knew it would be just a matter of time before the plodding BGE gave up more and more touches to rookie Giovani Bernard, and now it’s clear Bernard is the Bengals’ more potent option on any down and in any situation. BGE is facing the Browns’ sixth-best run defense, and with byes not a real issue any longer, he shouldn’t be needed in fantasy lineups.
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||at Sea||4||+3|
|2||Jamaal Charles||KC||at Den||1||-1|
|3||LeSean McCoy||Phi||vs. Was||2||-1|
|4||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||vs. Min||3||-1|
|5||Matt Forte||Chi||vs. Bal||7||+2|
|6||Frank Gore||SF||at NO||6||0|
|7||Reggie Bush||Det||at Pit||5||-2|
|8||Alfred Morris||Was||at Phi||9||+1|
|9||Eddie Lacy||GB||at NYG||10||+1|
|10||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. Ind||14||+4|
|11||Knowshon Moreno||Den||vs. KC||8||-3|
|12||Ray Rice||Bal||at Chi||19||+7|
|13||Le’Veon Bell||Pit||vs. Det||13||0|
|14||Ben Tate||Hou||vs. Oak||12||-2|
|15||Stevan Ridley||NE||at Car||20||+5|
|16||Chris Ivory||NYJ||at Buf||24||+8|
|17||C.J. Spiller||Buf||vs. NYJ||28||+11|
|18||Ryan Mathews||SD||at Mia||21||+3|
|19||Andre Brown||NYG||vs. GB||11||-8|
|20||Andre Ellington||Ari||at Jac||16||-4|
|21||Darren Sproles||NO||vs. SF||26||+5|
|22||Giovani Bernard||Cin||vs. Cle||15||-7|
|23||Trent Richardson||Ind||at Ten||33||+10|
|24||Danny Woodhead||SD||at Mia||17||-7|
|25||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||at Jac||32||+7|
|26||Brian Leonard||TB||vs. Atl||30||+4|
|27||Donald Brown||Ind||at Ten||34||+7|
|28||Bernard Pierce||Bal||at Chi||41||+13|
|29||Rashad Jennings||Oak||at Hou||18||-11|
|30||Steven Jackson||Atl||at TB||29||-1|
|31||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||vs. Ari||27||-4|
|32||Lamar Miller||Mia||vs. SD||25||-7|
|33||DeAngelo Williams||Car||vs. NE||35||+2|
|34||Pierre Thomas||NO||vs. SF||23||-11|
|35||Fred Jackson||Buf||vs. NYJ||22||-13|
|36||Jonathan Stewart||Car||vs. NE||38||+2|
|37||Bryce Brown||Phi||vs. Was||55||+18|
|38||Montee Ball||Den||vs. KC||52||+14|
|39||Daniel Thomas||Mia||vs. SD||48||+9|
|40||Kendall Hunter||SF||at NO||57||+17|
|41||Shane Vereen||NE||at Car||31||-10|
|42||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||vs. Cle||37||-5|
|43||Joique Bell||Det||at Pit||39||-4|
|44||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||at Cin||46||+2|
|45||Dennis Johnson||Hou||vs. Oak||51||+6|
|46||Shonn Greene||Ten||vs. Ind||43||-3|
|47||Mike Tolbert||Car||vs. NE||44||-3|
|48||James Starks||GB||at NYG||50||+2|
|49||Bilal Powell||NYJ||at Buf||40||-9|
|50||Robert Turbin||Sea||vs. Min||62||+12|
|51||Mark Ingram||NO||vs. SF||45||-6|
|52||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||at TB||42||-10|
|53||Willis McGahee||Cle||at Cin||47||-6|
|54||Bobby Rainey||TB||vs. Atl||36||-18|
|55||Peyton Hillis||NYG||vs. GB||54||-1|
|56||LeGarrette Blount||NE||at Car||65||+9|
|57||Felix Jones||Pit||vs. Det||69||+12|
|58||Roy Helu||Was||at Phi||49||-9|
|59||Michael Bush||Chi||vs. Bal||61||+2|
|60||Fozzy Whittaker||Cle||at Cin||59||-1|
|61||Brandon Jacobs||NYG||vs. GB||73||+12|
|62||Anthony Dixon||SF||at NO||82||+20|
|63||Denard Robinson||Jac||vs. Ari||67||+4|
|64||C.J. Anderson||Den||vs. KC||75||+11|
|65||Ronnie Brown||SD||at Mia||66||+1|
|66||Jason Snelling||Atl||at TB||60||-6|
|67||Knile Davis||KC||at Den||80||+13|
|68||Tashard Choice||Buf||vs. NYJ||86||+18|
|69||Johnathan Franklin||GB||at NYG||85||+16|
|70||LaMichael James||SF||at NO||72||+2|