DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
He is returning from his MCL sprain just in time to face the Vikings defense, which has allowed the second-most points to running backs to date. Sure, there is some remaining injury risk, but you can bet the Cowboys will monitor him, and all it will take for Murray to perform like a worthy fantasy starter is one touchdown. He will get that against the team that has 10 of them to backs.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
He has to deal with a timeshare with Danny Woodhead, but what back in fantasy doesn’t have someone stealing the points? Mathews went into his bye with back-to-back 100-yard games, and he draws a Redskins defense this week that is third-worst against the run and third-worst against fantasy backs. Mathews is a borderline must-start in all leagues here.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
This one is a bit obvious, but there was talk late this week James Starks would get more work coming off his 57 yards and a touchdown last week. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Tyler Dunne reports the Packers want to get more work for Starks to lessen the load on Lacy down the stretch.
It makes sense. But sitting Lacy in fantasy won’t. The Bears have proved to be soft up front and are fifth-worst in fantasy against backs. Lacy is a must-start option, while Starks is a nice sleeper for Monday night magic.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Another year and another disappointing start for Johnson owners. It is becoming a yearly thing. The good news is second-half rebounds have too. The schedule shapes up favorably for CJ2K down the stretch, and it starts this week with the Rams, who have allowed the sixth-most points to fantasy backs. Johnson will also get the benefit of a more lively Jake Locker back under center, pushing the offense into scoring position.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
That was an impressive performance against the Seahawks run defense Monday night, and you shouldn’t let his ankle issue keep you from starting him this week. The Rams offense is built around the rookie Stacy now, and the Titans are seventh-worst in fantasy against backs to date. Expect 80 yards and a touchdown even if he needs to give more carries to the slew of Rams backup runners.
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
It took eight weeks, but the Pats have finally figured out where their bread is buttered. With Tom Brady (shoulder…uh…hand—we’re not fooled) banged up and struggling with his lack of continuity at wide receiver, Ridley came on last week and owned the day. The Steelers are up next, and they have struggled mightily against the run (eighth-worst in fantasy). Expect the busiest day of the year for Ridley and the Pats running game this week.
Roy Helu, Washington Redskins
Everyone jumped on Helu after his three-touchdown performance, and then he went and posted a mere 25 yards on six touches last time out. Helu is a function of game circumstances, and he needs a fast-paced game and the Redskins’ hurry-up offense on the field. Don’t count on that happening against the Chargers, who also happen to boast the No. 1 team in fantasy against backs.
Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson
This is a mess best avoided right now. Sproles was blanked last week with four catches for zero yards, while Ingram (toe) has practiced fully this week and is no longer on the official NFL injury report. That should affect Thomas at least and likely Robinson too. Topping all this off, the Jets boast the No. 1 rush defense in the NFL and are top five against fantasy backs.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
C.J. Spiller (ankle) is probable against the Chiefs, so we should fully expect the Bills to finally unleash him on the NFL and in fantasy. The problem is the Chiefs are top 10 against the run and No. 2 in fantasy against backs. You shouldn’t sit Spiller—you drafted him in Round 1 to carry you—but you should shy away from Jackson now in this tough matchup.
Willis McGahee and Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland Browns
The Browns just are not running the ball with any kind of success, and it could be a function of the banged-up, past-his-prime McGahee just not being good enough. Ogbonnaya has stolen touches in recent weeks too. Neither back is intriguing against a Ravens defense that has allowed just one touchdown to backs and is No. 4 in fantasy against the position.
Mike James and Brian Leonard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Don’t expect another surprise rushing game against the Seahawks defense, especially not in a non-division game when it is teeing off on its opponent in Seattle. This shapes up to be a bad, bad week to be trusting the Bucs, especially these two spare-part running backs.
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||at Dal||2||+1|
|2||Jamaal Charles||KC||at Buf||1||-1|
|3||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at Oak||3||0|
|4||Matt Forte||Chi||at GB||6||+2|
|5||Eddie Lacy||GB||vs. Chi||4||-1|
|6||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||vs. TB||5||-1|
|7||Ray Rice||Bal||at Cle||8||+1|
|8||Chris Johnson||Ten||at StL||13||+5|
|9||DeMarco Murray||Dal||vs. Min||9||0|
|10||Arian Foster||Hou||vs. Ind||10||0|
|11||Stevan Ridley||NE||vs. Pit||14||+3|
|12||Alfred Morris||Was||vs. SD||7||-5|
|13||Darren McFadden||Oak||vs. Phi||11||-2|
|14||Trent Richardson||Ind||at Hou||19||+5|
|15||Le’Veon Bell||Pit||at NE||12||-3|
|16||C.J. Spiller||Buf||vs. KC||31||+15|
|17||Ryan Mathews||SD||at Was||17||0|
|18||Giovani Bernard||Cin||at Mia||20||+2|
|19||Steven Jackson||Atl||at Car||21||+2|
|20||Zac Stacy||StL||vs. Ten||15||-5|
|21||Fred Jackson||Buf||vs. KC||16||-5|
|22||DeAngelo Williams||Car||vs. Atl||23||+1|
|23||Lamar Miller||Mia||vs. Cin||24||+1|
|24||Chris Ivory||NYJ||vs. NO||29||+5|
|25||Darren Sproles||NO||at NYJ||22||-3|
|26||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||at Mia||27||+1|
|27||Danny Woodhead||SD||at Was||18||-9|
|28||James Starks||GB||vs. Chi||40||+12|
|29||Pierre Thomas||NO||at NYJ||25||-4|
|30||Ben Tate||Hou||vs. Ind||35||+5|
|31||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||at Car||37||+6|
|32||Mike James||TB||at Sea||26||-6|
|33||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||vs. Bal||43||+10|
|34||Brandon Bolden||NE||vs. Pit||30||-4|
|35||Donald Brown||Ind||at Hou||32||-3|
|36||Roy Helu||Was||vs. SD||33||-3|
|37||Bilal Powell||NYJ||vs. NO||28||-9|
|38||Daryl Richardson||StL||vs. Ten||41||+3|
|39||Willis McGahee||Cle||vs. Bal||36||-3|
|40||Daniel Thomas||Mia||vs. Cin||38||-2|
|41||Bryce Brown||Phi||at Oak||49||+8|
|42||Bernard Pierce||Bal||at Cle||42||0|
|43||Mike Tolbert||Car||vs. Atl||34||-9|
|44||Jonathan Stewart||Car||vs. Atl||47||+3|
|45||Knile Davis||KC||at Buf||56||+11|
|46||LeGarrette Blount||NE||vs. Pit||46||0|
|47||Michael Bush||Chi||at GB||65||+18|
|48||Joseph Randle||Dal||vs. Min||45||-3|
|49||Jason Snelling||Atl||at Car||57||+8|
|50||Brian Leonard||TB||at Sea||44||-6|
|51||Shonn Greene||Ten||at StL||39||-12|
|52||Tashard Choice||Buf||vs. KC||48||-4|
|53||Johnathan Franklin||GB||vs. Chi||69||+16|
|54||Robert Turbin||Sea||vs. TB||52||-2|
|55||Khiry Robinson||NO||at NYJ||55||0|
|56||Fozzy Whittaker||Cle||vs. Bal||51||-5|
|57||Jackie Battle||Ten||at StL||68||+11|
|58||Lance Dunbar||Dal||vs. Min||50||-8|
|59||Rashad Jennings||Oak||vs. Phi||64||+5|
|60||Ronnie Brown||SD||at Was||61||+1|
|61||Toby Gerhart||Min||at Dal||59||-2|
|62||Felix Jones||Pit||at NE||63||+1|