Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Rice had a big performance against the Bears a couple of weeks ago—the last-ranked run defense in football—and he draws another weak opponent in the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday. Minnesota is the third-worst team in fantasy against running backs, so patient and loyal Rice owners should be rewarded with 100 yards and a touchdown again.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
Speaking of those Bears, Murray is coming off his three-touchdown performance on Thanksgiving Day and getting that dream matchup in the first week of the fantasy postseason. The Bears have been ripped on the ground by a 100-yard rusher in each of the past five games, including a season-high 211 yards to Adrian Peterson last Sunday. It is the reason the Bears are the second-worst team in fantasy against running backs.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
He might not be 100 percent from his early-season ankle issues, but he is getting better and is coming off a season-high 149 yards. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have allowed just two rushing touchdowns all season, but the Bills are going to be stubborn with the run. The only instances an opponent rushed for more than 15 times on the Bucs, it gained over 100 yards. It takes a stubborn running team to beat the Bucs run defense, so we expect Spiller to eventually pop one, like he did a week ago. He is the much better play over Fred Jackson.
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
Andre Ellington (knee) missed last week and is not 100 percent, so expect the game plan to feature Mendenhall, particularly inside the 10. The St. Louis Rams have given up the fourth-most points to fantasy running backs, so we expect Mendenhall to crack 60 yards and a touchdown at home, where he has scored four touchdowns in his five games played there this year.
Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns
The New England Patriots have been approaching the Bears’ basement level against the run of late—they are 31st in the NFL—and the Browns’ McGahee is coming off 71 combined yards and a touchdown. Jason Campbell is back under center for the Browns, so we should expect a conservative game plan and a healthy dose of McGahee once the Browns get inside the five. McGahee won’t be a great option, but he’s headed for 60 yards and a touchdown like Mendenhall.
Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders
Jennings has not been cleared from his concussion, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Vic Tafur. Further, he will be facing the New York Jets run defense, No. 1 in football, on the road in an early game. West Coast teams notoriously struggle in 1 p.m. ET games in the East. Jennings will be a subpar play if active, so find a replacement for him now.
Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
The Panthers have allowed the third-fewest points to fantasy running backs this season, which includes just four touchdowns. Only the Bengals and Cardinals have allowed fewer touchdowns to backs this season. You might consider using Sproles in PPR leagues, but the 30-year-old fantasy bust couldn’t prove to be a fantasy factor Monday against the Seahawks. He is headed for fewer than five fantasy points in standard leagues again.
Donald Brown and Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
Speaking of those Bengals, the Colts have a tough task to try to get their running game started on the road in Cincy. The Bengals haven’t given up a rushing touchdown to a running back since Week 3 or a touchdown of any kind since Week 4. Brown and his now-backup Richardson are impossible to trust in this tough matchup.
Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
No one knows for sure exactly how the Pats backs will split carries on a weekly basis, so consider receiving back Shane Vereen the only useful play of the lot at this point. Also, the Browns defense has been in the top five against the run, allowing just 98.9 yards per game. Even if you expect a Patriots blowout here, you would be playing running back roulette by guessing which back gets the carries and fantasy numbers.
Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite the fact the Bills have given up five touchdowns to running backs in the past three weeks, this is a much better defensive front than the numbers suggest. Outside of those five touchdowns, the Bills have allowed just two more touchdowns the rest of the season. Sure, they are trending the wrong way of late, but so is Rainey after his Week 11 breakthrough. Rainey looks headed for 20 carries for 55 yards in our eyes, which would make him a huge bust in crunch time. Put your trust in a better player in a crucial week.
|1||DeMarco Murray||Dal||at Chi||4||+3|
|2||Jamaal Charles||KC||at Was||1||-1|
|3||Adrian Peterson||Min||at Bal||3||0|
|4||Matt Forte||Chi||vs. Dal||2||-2|
|5||LeSean McCoy||Phi||vs. Det||9||+4|
|6||Ray Rice||Bal||vs. Min||17||+11|
|7||C.J. Spiller||Buf||at TB||22||+15|
|8||Reggie Bush||Det||at Phi||10||+2|
|9||Eddie Lacy||GB||vs. Atl||5||-4|
|10||Knowshon Moreno||Den||vs. Ten||6||-4|
|11||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||at SF||7||-4|
|12||Shane Vereen||NE||vs. Cle||15||+3|
|13||Frank Gore||SF||vs. Sea||20||+7|
|14||Le’Veon Bell||Pit||vs. Mia||11||-3|
|15||Alfred Morris||Was||vs. KC||13||-2|
|16||Chris Johnson||Ten||at Den||14||-2|
|17||Zac Stacy||StL||at Ari||19||+2|
|18||Ben Tate||Hou||at Jac||12||-6|
|19||Andre Brown||NYG||at SD||8||-11|
|20||Steven Jackson||Atl||at GB||21||+1|
|21||Giovani Bernard||Cin||vs. Ind||23||+2|
|22||Chris Ivory||NYJ||vs. Oak||28||+6|
|23||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||vs. StL||29||+6|
|24||Ryan Mathews||SD||vs. NYG||30||+6|
|25||Danny Woodhead||SD||vs. NYG||31||+6|
|26||Willis McGahee||Cle||at NE||42||+16|
|27||Montee Ball||Den||vs. Ten||33||+6|
|28||Darren Sproles||NO||vs. Car||36||+8|
|29||Rashad Jennings||Oak||at NYJ||26||-3|
|30||Donald Brown||Ind||at Cin||27||-3|
|31||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||vs. Hou||16||-15|
|32||Lamar Miller||Mia||at Pit||25||-7|
|33||Joique Bell||Det||at Phi||34||+1|
|34||Bobby Rainey||TB||vs. Buf||18||-16|
|35||LeGarrette Blount||NE||vs. Cle||38||+3|
|36||Fred Jackson||Buf||at TB||24||-12|
|37||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||vs. Ind||35||-2|
|38||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||at NE||39||+1|
|39||DeAngelo Williams||Car||at NO||41||+2|
|40||Mike Tolbert||Car||at NO||43||+3|
|41||Bernard Pierce||Bal||vs. Min||48||+7|
|42||James Starks||GB||vs. Atl||59||+17|
|43||Stevan Ridley||NE||vs. Cle||47||+4|
|44||Jonathan Stewart||Car||at NO||44||0|
|45||Trent Richardson||Ind||at Cin||53||+8|
|46||Brandon Bolden||NE||vs. Cle||45||-1|
|47||Peyton Hillis||NYG||at SD||55||+8|
|48||Roy Helu||Was||vs. KC||57||+9|
|49||Dennis Johnson||Hou||at Jac||52||+3|
|50||Kendall Hunter||SF||vs. Sea||71||+21|
|51||Pierre Thomas||NO||vs. Car||32||-19|
|52||Bilal Powell||NYJ||vs. Oak||40||-12|
|53||Benny Cunningham||StL||at Ari||54||+1|
|54||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||at GB||51||-3|
|55||Shonn Greene||Ten||at Den||50||-5|
|56||Mark Ingram||NO||vs. Car||56||0|
|57||Bryce Brown||Phi||vs. Det||61||+4|
|58||Robert Turbin||Sea||at SF||74||+16|
|59||Michael Bush||Chi||vs. Dal||62||+3|
|60||Knile Davis||KC||at Was||65||+5|
|61||Brian Leonard||TB||vs. Buf||64||+3|