With fantasy football playoffs approaching quickly, every player owners start counts, especially at the running back position.
Running backs are some of the riskiest players in fantasy football, as there are a handful of players that can blow up for 20-plus points and then come back the very next week and only put up one or two.
Below is a breakdown of some of the riskiest running backs for Week 12, followed by a judgement call on whether to start or sit each one.
Note: All information regarding points scored is based off of ESPN’s standard scoring leagues.
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Finally, after a four-game drought, Ray Rice broke double-digit points once again. He had his best fantasy outing of the year, racking up 131 rushing yards and a touchdown on his way to a 20-point performance.
Now, he just needs to do something else he hasn’t done this season, and that’s string two successful games together.
There have been some very ugly performances from Rice this year. He’s had six games this year with five points or less, making him one of the biggest disappointments in 2013.
Things are going to get even tougher this week, as the Baltimore Ravens will be playing the New York Jets. The Jets have the best defense in the NFL against the run, allowing just 73.2 yards per game. They also rank second in points allowed to running backs per game at 11.0, just 0.6 points behind the Arizona Cardinals.
With how good the Jets are at stopping the run and with how much the Ravens have struggled to run the ball, it might be best to leave Rice on the bench this week.
Verdict: Sit ‘Em
Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No one has burst onto the scene this season quite like Bobby Rainey has.
It all started against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football in Week 10 when Mike James went down with an injury. He came in and had a solid outing, grabbing 45 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries.
Then, Rainey blew up. He carried the ball 30 times last week while racking up 163 rushing yards and three total touchdowns, leading all players in Week 11 with 34 points.
Even though he started at the bottom of the depth chart, Rainey has emerged as an effective player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This week, he will be going against the Detroit Lions.
The Lions have had a rather inconsistent run defensively. However, their run defense has been very solid, allowing just 94.6 rushing yards per game, the fifth-fewest in the league.
Even with the tough Lions defense, I like Rainey again this week. He’ll get plenty of carries once again, and even if he doesn’t break off big runs, he’ll still put up respectable numbers just by the sheer volume of touches.
Verdict: Start ‘Em
Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
Much like Rice, Steven Jackson has been one of the most disappointing fantasy running backs of the year.
Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
It’s been a very tough year for the Atlanta Falcons and Jackson. Injuries have plagued both, as Jackson has only played in six games. In those six games, he has just 192 yards and zero touchdowns on the ground along with another 112 yards and a score through the air. Since coming back from his injury, Jackson has scored just 13 total points in three games.
The New Orleans Saints have completely turned their defense around under Rob Ryan, and that’s made their team much better. Still, the defense isn’t elite against the run, as they’ve allowed 114 rushing yards per game and a total of eight rushing touchdowns this season.
Even if the Saints don’t excel against the run, it’s hard to expect the 30-year-old Jackson to make a ton of big plays in his limited offensive role. He hasn’t touched the ball more than 16 times in any game, and his lack of opportunities will keep him from putting up even decent numbers.
Verdict: Sit ‘Em