Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
There is some danger with starting Moreno against the worst rushing defense in the NFL, believe it or not. The Broncos figure to blow this one out early and might turn to the likes of Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball in garbage time. After all, the Broncos need to establish their power-running game, and there is no better time to do it than here.
Here is a vote of confidence Moreno picks up 60 yards and a touchdown before he gives way to the younger backups, though. Start Hillman and even Ball in leagues too. Each of the three might be good for 50-plus yards and a touchdown apiece.
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
Jonathan Stewart (ankle) might be nearly ready to practice off the PUP list, but Williams is the Panthers’ feature back for at least a couple more weeks. This one figures to be bountiful against a Vikings defense that has allowed the second-most points to fantasy running backs thus far. Williams can rack up a high-carry total for a 30-year-old back, especially if the Panthers are confident Stewart will be a second-half reinforcement.
Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
Ryan Mathews (concussion) returned to practice Friday, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s Kevin Acee, but that doesn’t mean he will be cleared for Monday night’s game against the Colts. If Mathews is held out, Woodhead becomes a top-10 fantasy back. Heck, because of his receiving numbers of late, he might be that already regardless in PPR formats.
Ben Tate, Houston Texans
We didn’t expect to be this excited about the prospects of a backup running back, but Arian Foster (thumb and chest) has been limited in practice this week.
Foster is going to play and star against a Rams defense that has been a sieve against running backs (third worst), but there should be ample time for Tate to rack up 60 yards and a touchdown spelling the feature back. It certainly helps that the Texans’ Matt Schaub is struggling in the passing game. It should be a lot of handoffs Sunday in Houston.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets
No, the Steelers are not as bad against the run as their dead-last standing against fantasy running backs suggests, but you cannot ignore the feature back in a run-heavy scheme against Pittsburgh at this point.
Powell will have to contend with Chris Ivory and even Mike Goodson for carries, but 20 touches for 100 yards and a touchdown is a reasonable expectation for Powell this week in a game that should be a slobberknocker.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
We have to admit the Bills are better against the run this year (seventh best against fantasy running backs), but the Bengals should have control of this game throughout, especially with Thad Lewis starting at quarterback off the practice squad. There should be ample touches for both of the Bengals’ time-share backs, even if Bernard has had issues with fumbling of late. Both are top-25 options this week.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
When you have three running backs (or four), you really have none. The Rams are going to a power back in Stacy, but a matchup against the Texans run defense is not a great one for Stacy’s fantasy owners, despite what the numbers suggest.
The Texans are a lot more stout than their fourth-worst rush defense (tied) suggests. Stacy also has to deal with the rib issue that knocked him out last week and the rotation that will still include former starter Daryl Richardson, former back-of-the-future Isaiah Pead and even Benny Cunningham.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Like we said above, Mathews is at risk of missing Monday night or at least being limited. Heck, he has been limited all season, if not for his injury-plagued career. The Colts have been surprisingly good against fantasy backs despite allowing the third-most rushing yards per game to date. A lot of that damage has come against quarterbacks Terrelle Pryor and Russell Wilson, who both went over 100 yards against them.
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
He has held up fairly well as Bruce Arians’ feature back despite some hiccups, but this is a bad week to trust him. The 49ers are a lot better against the run than they have shown, so consider their seventh-worst standing against running backs fantasy fool’s gold right now. Mendenhall is a bad play, especially at San Francisco.
LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
The Pats tried to make do with this combo in place of Stevan Ridley (knee) last week, but it didn’t go well. Ridley is expected to play Sunday against the Saints, according to NFL insider Albert Breer.
We cannot be sure of how the rotation’s touches will be distributed, but we are pretty sure you should have better options than the plodding Blount or Bolden this week. The Saints defense has been much better under Rob Ryan, and it is in the top 10 of fantasy against running backs.
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
Granted, Bell is more pass receiver than running back, but the Browns have one of the top-10 rush defenses in the NFL, and they figure to take the backs away, especially with Calvin Johnson (knee) at less than 100 percent. Bell hasn’t been starter-quality the past two weeks, and this is the toughest matchup he has faced yet. Look elsewhere.
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||vs. Car||1||0|
|2||Arian Foster||Hou||vs. StL||3||+1|
|3||Jamaal Charles||KC||vs. Oak||2||-1|
|4||DeMarco Murray||Dal||vs. Was||7||+3|
|5||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at TB||4||-1|
|6||Matt Forte||Chi||vs. NYG||6||0|
|7||Doug Martin||TB||vs. Phi||8||+1|
|8||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||vs. Ten||5||-3|
|9||Ray Rice||Bal||vs. GB||9||0|
|10||Trent Richardson||Ind||at SD||13||+3|
|11||Alfred Morris||Was||at Dal||10||-1|
|12||Frank Gore||SF||vs. Ari||14||+2|
|13||Reggie Bush||Det||at Cle||11||-2|
|14||Knowshon Moreno||Den||vs. Jac||12||-2|
|15||DeAngelo Williams||Car||at Min||15||0|
|16||Danny Woodhead||SD||vs. Ind||21||+5|
|17||Darren Sproles||NO||at NE||18||+1|
|18||C.J. Spiller||Buf||vs. Cin||16||-2|
|19||Chris Johnson||Ten||at Sea||23||+4|
|20||Le’Veon Bell||Pit||at NYJ||20||0|
|21||Bilal Powell||NYJ||vs. Pit||26||+5|
|22||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||at Den||25||+3|
|23||Eddie Lacy||GB||at Bal||17||-6|
|24||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||at Buf||30||+6|
|25||Giovani Bernard||Cin||at Buf||19||-6|
|26||Willis McGahee||Cle||vs. Det||24||-2|
|27||Fred Jackson||Buf||vs. Cin||22||-5|
|28||Stevan Ridley||NE||vs. NO||28||0|
|29||Ben Tate||Hou||vs. StL||33||+4|
|30||Darren McFadden||Oak||at KC||37||+7|
|31||Zac Stacy||StL||at Hou||31||0|
|32||Ryan Mathews||SD||vs. Ind||35||+3|
|33||Brandon Jacobs||NYG||at Chi||40||+7|
|34||Pierre Thomas||NO||at NE||27||-7|
|35||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||at SF||32||-3|
|36||Joique Bell||Det||at Cle||29||-7|
|37||Ronnie Hillman||Den||vs. Jac||34||-3|
|38||Montee Ball||Den||vs. Jac||46||+8|
|39||Brandon Bolden||NE||vs. NO||38||-1|
|40||Daryl Richardson||StL||at Hou||47||+7|
|41||Bernard Pierce||Bal||vs. GB||45||+4|
|42||LeGarrette Blount||NE||vs. NO||41||-1|
|43||Kendall Hunter||SF||vs. Ari||56||+13|
|44||Michael Bush||Chi||vs. NYG||53||+9|
|45||Andre Ellington||Ari||at SF||36||-9|
|46||Donald Brown||Ind||at SD||48||+2|
|47||Da’Rel Scott||NYG||at Chi||43||-4|
|48||Mike Goodson||NYJ||vs. Pit||58||+10|
|49||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||vs. Det||55||+6|
|50||Robert Turbin||Sea||vs. Ten||68||+18|
|51||Bryce Brown||Phi||at TB||54||+3|
|52||Ronnie Brown||SD||vs. Ind||50||-2|
|53||Roy Helu||Was||at Dal||49||-4|
|54||Rashad Jennings||Oak||at KC||39||-15|
|55||Anthony Dixon||SF||vs. Ari||82||+27|
|56||Chris Ivory||NYJ||vs. Pit||44||-12|
|57||Knile Davis||KC||vs. Oak||72||+15|
|58||Jordan Todman||Jac||at Den||84||+26|
|59||Mark Ingram||NO||at NE||66||+7|
|60||Lance Dunbar||Dal||vs. Was||78||+18|