Fantasy Football

Week 17 lineup calls: Running backs

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Michael Harmon

Mike is a fantasy contributor for FOXSports.com.MORE>>
 
   
 

Lineup calls: QB | RB | WR | TE | K | D/ST

Imagine that every player in your lineup carries a “Questionable” tag into Sunday morning.

With the exception of players on several teams still vying for a playoff spot, that’s precisely what this Sunday morning will look like. We’ll try to read through the “Coachspeak” and scrutinize practice notes with a fine-tooth comb. Those owners still competing for a league title in Week 17 will be digging deep down the depth charts to find a new hero for the day.

I can’t wait to see jersey sale numbers for those backup quarterbacks or tailbacks formerly buried on the depth chart that rise to the occasion and lead fantasy owners to titles in Week 17.

Top Running Backs

(Other than Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew, Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden and Rashard Mendenhall)

Ryan Mathews at Denver

Mathews has looked strong in his return to the field. He’s averaged 58.7 rushing yards per game, including a 23-yard touchdown, one of few bright spots for the Chargers in the Week 16 loss to Cincinnati. Mike Tolbert’s injury puts Mathews in line for a huge workload this week against the porous Denver run defense (153.9 yards and 1.5 touchdowns allowed per game).

Pierre Thomas vs. Tampa Bay

Thomas tied his season-high with 26 touches against the Falcons on Monday night. He amassed 102 total yards, including 39 yards on seven receptions. Christopher Ivory may be available to return in Week 17, but it’s hard to imagine Sean Payton pulling away much of Thomas’ workload, as he was the presumed workhouse coming into the season. He faces the Tampa Bay run defense that has surrendered 133.4 yards per game.

Jonathan Stewart at Atlanta

The Steelers did well to slow Stewart’s second-half surge, limiting the third-year tailback to 71 yards on 19 carries. He’s run for at least 92 yards in the Panthers’ previous four games. I anticipate a strong close for Stewart this week against the Falcons, a run defense that allows 4.5 yards per carry. Stewart ran for 133 yards on 18 carries with a lost fumble in Week 14 against Atlanta.

Shonn Greene vs. Buffalo

The Jets are likely to limit the exposure of several veteran players and quarterback Mark Sanchez. As such, I’m anticipating a huge workload from Greene against the sieve-like Buffalo run defense (162.5 rushing yards allowed per game). Greene has rushed for at least 60 yards in four of the Jets’ past seven games while splitting time with LaDainian Tomlinson.

Felix Jones at Philadelphia

Jones loses touches to Marion Barber and Tashard Choice, particularly at the goal line, but he still stands as the top option in this crowded backfield. Jones has amassed at least 83 total yards in seven consecutive games and will continue to be a force as a receiver out of the backfield.

Fred Jackson at New York Jets

Jackson posted a solid rebound from his Week 15 disappearing act against the Patriots in Week 16. He logged 94 total yards on 15 touches, his fifth game with at least 94 total yards in the Bills’ past seven games. I’ll anticipate a big workload for Jackson and C.J. Spiller this week against the Jets, a team that may be playing a number of backups.
 

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Joseph Addai vs. Tennessee

Addai returned to the field in Week 16 and immediately took on a large workload alongside Dominic Rhodes in the backfield. He carried the ball 12 times for 45 yards, including an early six-yard touchdown run. He’s on the board this weekend as the lead in the split backfield against Tennessee for the finale that will decide the AFC South. Addai is the goal-line player in this split.

Correll Buckhalter vs. San Diego

Buckhalter was the star of Sunday’s win over Houston with Knowshon Moreno banged up because of a lingering rib injury. He amassed 92 yards on 14 touches (three receptions for 50 yards) and scored both as a runner and receiver. Moreno’s injury puts Buckhalter on the radar for a possible low-end RB2 or flex play against San Diego. The Chargers still rank second in terms of rushing yardage allowed (90.3 yards allowed per game), although this unit has surrendered 13 rushing touchdowns.

Ahmad Bradshaw at Washington

The Giants were hammered in Week 16, and Bradshaw ranked among the biggest disappointments of the week with 12 carries for 31 yards. It was a disappointing performance following an impressive run from the dual-back system in the previous five weeks. He rates as a top play this week against the Redskins, a porous run defense against whom he rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns in Week 13.

Ryan Torain vs. New York Giants

Torain rushed for 65 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown in the Redskins’ overtime win over Jacksonville in Week 16. In three games since he’s returned from injury, Torain has averaged 117.7 total yards, including his monstrous 172-yard rushing effort against the Buccaneers. He’ll amass another huge workload this weekend as the Redskins work to play spoiler against the Giants (103.5 yards and 0.7 touchdowns allowed).

Sleepers

Darren Sproles at Denver

Sproles assumes the No. 2 role behind Ryan Mathews following Mike Tolbert’s injury. He emerged as the top receiving target for Philip Rivers in the loss to Cincinnati that sealed the Chargers’ fate. Sproles was targeted 10 times in the loss, registering eight receptions for 55 yards. In the past three weeks, Sproles has amassed 18 receptions for 136 yards.
 

Rashad Jennings at Houston

Jennings was to be “The Hero of the Day” as the starting tailback for Jacksonville in place of the injured Maurice Jones-Drew. He received a sizable workload, but the speedy tailback found running room sparse against the Redskins. He carried the ball 15 times for 32 yards, adding four receptions for 29 yards. He’s on the radar for the finale against Houston, particularly as a receiver, should Jones-Drew be sidelined again. Jennings has averaged 70 total yards in the Jaguars’ past five games.

Jerome Harrison vs. Dallas

Following Monday’s shocking loss to the Vikings, speculation began among beat writers and in the Twitter-verse about which Philadelphia starters would appear in Week 17. We obviously await an official position, but Monday’s loss likely means that LeSean McCoy won’t play much, it at all. That puts former fantasy superhero in line for a potential start against the Cowboys in the finale. Harrison has played sporadically for the Eagles since joining the team via trade, with his lone significant work coming in the absolute beat-down of the Redskins in Week 10. He’s worthy of a bench slot, at a minimum.

Marion Barber at Philadelphia

Barber returned to the lineup this past week against the Cardinals and torpedoed the fantasy title dreams of those who banked on late-season hero Tashard Choice to post another big game. Barber rushed for 58 yards on eight carries, including a 25-yard sprint and a 24-yard touchdown. He’s back in play for goal-line opportunities, few though they may be, in the finale against Philadelphia.

Sammy Morris vs. Miami

Morris pops up on the radar this week alongside veteran Fred Taylor. Bill Belichick is notoriously tight-lipped about injuries and intent, but it stands to reason that BenJarvus Green-Ellis and perhaps Danny Woodhead will be limited against the Dolphins, if they play at all.

Flops

Peyton Hillis vs. Pittsburgh

The story is no less great, but Hillis has been held in check down the stretch. Hillis has failed to score in four consecutive weeks and has been limited to fewer than 60 rushing yards in three of the past four weeks. Pittsburgh limited Hillis to 90 total yards (41 rushing) in Week 6.

LeGarrette Blount at New Orleans

First, I’m not calling for Blount to be benched. He’s a mid- to late-RB2 option against the Saints. Blount needs just 59 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and likely takes on a huge load this week. He’s averaged 78.4 yards per game this season, including three 100-yard efforts in the past four weeks. I’m merely anticipating a big effort out of Gregg Williams’ defense in what could net them a division title.

Cedric Benson at Baltimore

Benson promptly returned to “Duds-ville” in Week 16 following his huge 150-yard performance in Week 15 against the Chargers. He’s rushed for 52 yards or fewer in four of the Bengals’ past five games. I’m not anticipating a top-tier effort this time out. Benson ran for 78 yards on 23 attempts in the first meeting. I suspect that Ray Lewis rallies the troops for the home finale as he did in Week 16 against Peyton Hillis.

Tagged: Michael Vick, Jay Feely, Sammy Morris, Neil Rackers, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Mike Sellers, Phil Dawson, Joey Galloway, Charlie Batch, Jason Hanson, Donald Driver, Brett Favre, Ryan Longwell, Joe Nedney, Derrick Mason, Reggie Wayne, Peyton Manning, Tony Gonzalez, Sebastian Janikowski, Marc Bulger, Olindo Mare, Randy Moss, Tom Brady, Kevin Faulk, Adam Vinatieri, Jake Delhomme, Ricky Williams, Kerry Collins, Santana Moss, Donovan McNabb, David Akers, Correll Buckhalter, Thomas Jones, Kris Brown, Hines Ward, LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Terrell Owens, Rian Lindell, Matt Hasselbeck, Steve Smith Sr., John Kasay, Fred Taylor, Todd Heap, Brandon Stokley, Jabar Gaffney, Deion Branch, Maurice Morris, Jeremy Shockey, Josh Reed, Clinton Portis, Antonio Bryant, David Garrard, Daniel Graham, Chester Taylor, Ladell Betts, Shayne Graham, Matt Bryant, Shaun Hill, Antwaan Randle El, Brian Westbrook, Jeff Reed, Anquan Boldin, Jason Witten, Nate Burleson, Visanthe Shiancoe, Justin Fargas, Carson Palmer, Andre Johnson, Byron Leftwich, Bryant Johnson, Willis McGahee, Dallas Clark, Larry Johnson, Kevin Walter, Josh Brown, Justin Gage, Seneca Wallace, Antonio Gates, Tony Romo, Clifton Smith, Matt Schaub, Julius Jones, Devery Henderson, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Kellen Winslow, Roy Williams, Ben Roethlisberger, Lee Evans, Steven Jackson, Michael Jenkins, Benjamin Watson, Nate Kaeding, Bernard Berrian, Chris Cooley, Eli Manning, Derrick Ward, Patrick Crayton, Jerricho Cotchery, Mewelde Moore, Michael Turner, Lawrence Tynes, Wes Welker, Willie Parker, Earnest Graham, Malcom Floyd, Jason Wright, Mark Clayton, Aaron Rodgers, Jason Campbell, Roddy White, Heath Miller, Vincent Jackson, Frank Gore, Brandon Jones, Alex Smith, Ronnie Brown, Braylon Edwards, Cedric Benson, Carnell Williams, Troy Williamson, Dave Rayner, Derek Anderson, Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Orton, Marion Barber, Brandon Jacobs, Alvin Pearman, Darren Sproles, Roydell Williams, Bo Scaife, Rob Bironas, Josh Cribbs, Leonard Weaver, Nate Washington, Robbie Gould, Lance Moore, Ryan Grant, Greg Camarillo, Tarvaris Jackson, Jerious Norwood, Maurice Stovall, Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Vernon Davis, Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, Laurence Maroney, Santonio Holmes, DeAngelo Williams, Marcedes Lewis, Joseph Addai, Kellen Clemens, Greg Jennings, Anthony Fasano, Devin Hester, Maurice Jones-Drew, Tony Scheffler, Marques Colston, Jeff King, Bruce Gradkowski, Devin Aromashodu, Michael Robinson, Brad Smith, Jason Avant, Leon Washington, Stephen Gostkowski, Brandon Marshall, Jerome Harrison, Hank Baskett, Miles Austin, Fred Jackson, Chansi Stuckey, Kenneth Darby, Ahmad Bradshaw, Le'Ron McClain, Steve Breaston, Kevin Boss, Dante Rosario, Brent Celek, Legedu Naanee, Troy Smith, Nick Folk, Mason Crosby, Steve Smith, Brian Leonard, Brandon Jackson, Jacoby Jones, Laurent Robinson, James Jones, Mike Sims-Walker, Trent Edwards, Michael Bush, Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Ted Ginn Jr., Marshawn Lynch, Brady Quinn, Dwayne Bowe, Robert Meachem, Greg Olsen, Anthony Gonzalez, Kevin Kolb, Zach Miller, Sidney Rice, Dwayne Jarrett, D.J. Ware, Matt Prater, Matt Moore, Pierre Thomas, Eldra Buckley, Jackie Battle, Jonathan Stewart, Joe Flacco, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Dustin Keller, Donnie Avery, Devin Thomas, Jordy Nelson, John Carlson, James Hardy, Eddie Royal, Matt Forte, Fred Davis, DeSean Jackson, Malcolm Kelly, Ray Rice, Chad Henne, Matt Ryan, Darren McFadden, Lex Hilliard, Pierre Garcon, Chaz Schilens, Justin Forsett, Adrian Arrington, Tashard Choice, Ryan Torain, Keenan Burton, Tim Hightower, Jalen Parmele, Jacob Hester, Earl Bennett, Jamaal Charles, Early Doucet, Harry Douglas, Steve Slaton, Jermichael Finley, Mario Manningham, Davone Bess, Dan Carpenter, Mike Tolbert, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Albert Young, Garrett Hartley, Rashad Jennings, David Buehler, Javon Ringer, Cedric Peerman, Bernard Scott, Julian Edelman, Sammie Stroughter, Shonn Greene, Brandon Tate, Mike Wallace, Jared Cook, Deon Butler, Mike Thomas, Brian Hartline, Louis Murphy Jr., Austin Collie, Johnny Knox, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Crabtree, Knowshon Moreno, Josh Freeman, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Pettigrew, Percy Harvin, Donald Brown, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Beanie Wells, Mohamed Massaquoi, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Michael Bennett, Kareem Huggins, Kahlil Bell, Jimmy Clausen, Rob Gronkowski, Arrelious Benn, Dez Bryant, Jonathan Dwyer, Demaryius Thomas, Golden Tate, Ryan Mathews, Aaron Hernandez, Jahvid Best, Tony Moeaki, Jimmy Graham, Ed Dickson, Garrett Graham, Montario Hardesty, Dennis Pitta, Brandon LaFell, Colt McCoy, Ben Tate, Boobie Dixon, Toby Gerhart, C.J. Spiller, Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, Dexter McCluster, Max Hall, Keiland Williams, Lance Ball

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