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Avoid Turner, Mathews in Week 11
Last week, the would-be “Flops,” including Jamaal Charles and Steven Jackson, rose up and posted fantastic performances. Perhaps they considered their inclusion below the fold as a personal affront. Charles rushed for 100 yards against the Steelers, while Jackson did the same against the stout San Francisco front.
Both of those tailbacks are firmly entrenched in starting lineups for Week 11. Meanwhile, fantasy owners sought one of those “Men In Black” mind erasers to wipe Reggie Bush’s failure against Dave Wannstedt from their minds. I suppose that the Thursday night game at least offered owners 130 total yards out of C.J. Spiller.
Myriad injuries, committee concerns and the last of those pesky Bye weeks (SEA, MIN, NYG, TEN) will force owners to dig deep at running back this week. Let’s get into this week’s edition of “Lineup Calls.”
Jamaal Charles vs. CIN
Charles produced big numbers in the Week 10 upset bid against the Steelers. He rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries, though he was curiously absent from the passing game. I want to ask Romeo Crennel and Brian Daboll how that happens.
Is he a roll of the dice following a three-game downturn in production? There’s no question about it. However, the Bengals have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs (10 total touchdowns). Here’s a hint for those coaches. Running backs have caught 56 passes against the Cincinnati defense.
Here’s the biggest question for this week. Do the Chiefs fold after losing in Pittsburgh, or can they rally in front of the home crowd again?
Stevan Ridley vs. IND
Ridley earned his fifth game with at least 98 rushing yards last week against the Bills. He also scored for the sixth time this season in the high-scoring victory. He’s in line for another big workload against the struggling Indianapolis run defense (I believe I’ve typed this sentence every year seemingly forever). The Colts allow 4.7 yards per carry (120.3 yards per game) and have ceded nine rushing touchdowns.
Trent Richardson at DAL
Following a peculiar start to his Week 7 game against the Colts (eight carries for eight yards before leaving because of an injury), Richardson registered back-to-back 100-yard games ahead of the Browns’ Week 10 Bye. He’s still not 100% healthy (chest/ribs), but Richardson’s in line for a big workload against the Cowboys. Start him with confidence.
Alfred Morris vs. PHI
When last we saw Morris, fantasy owners got “Shanahaned.” Morris posted a strong first half against the Panthers, then saw his workload disappear and Evan Royster swoop in for a vulture touchdown.
I’m looking for a bounce-back effort this week against the middling Eagles defense (15th-most fantasy points allowed to running backs). Morris is still averaging 4.8 yards per carry on the season, and the Eagles aren’t going to run and hide behind Nick Foles.
Willis McGahee vs. SD
McGahee was hardly dominant on the ground in Week 10 against the Panthers and lost a red zone touchdown to Ronnie Hillman. He did, however, amass 89 total yards on 18 touches, a solid total offset somewhat by a lost fumble.
McGahee is on the board as a back-end RB1 play this week against the Chargers. He amassed 98 total yards on 21 touches in Week 6 against San Diego, including four receptions for 42 yards. Opposing running backs have generated 54 receptions against the San Diego defense this year. I’m looking for 90 total yards and a goal-line plunge from McGahee this week in a home win.
Steven Jackson vs. NYJ
Jackson earned his first 100-yard game since Week 16 of the 2011 season in last week’s TIE game against the 49ers. He was dismissed as a Flex play last week, but that’s not the case here against the confusing Jets. Jackson is a back-end RB1 or high-end RB2 option this week against New York.
The Jets’ offensive ineptitude keeps the defense on the field, and they get worn down late. They rank 30th against the run, surrendering 145 yards per game with 10 touchdowns.
Felix Jones vs. CLE
Jones posted a fantastic effort overall against the Eagles in Week 10, producing 93 total yards on 19 touches, including a receiving touchdown. This came on the heels of his 14-touch, 109-yard (70 receiving) output against the Falcons in Week 9. As a result, I’m onboard the Jones bandwagon as a mid-RB option this week.
The Browns have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to running backs (170.4 total yards per game). I’m most intrigued by Jones’ impact in the passing game, as he’s contributed eight receptions in the past two weeks. Opposing running backs have tallied 50 receptions against the Browns this season.
Marcel Reece vs. NO
Reece retains a sizable role this week against the New Orleans run defense. Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson aren’t ready to roll, and Taiwan Jones was summarily dismissed by the coaching staff following Sunday’s blowout loss to Baltimore.
Reece topped 100 total yards last season in a nice balance between rushing and receiving yardage. He teamed with Jeremy Stewart (seven carries), a rookie from Stanford, in the loss to Baltimore. Look for more activity from Reece in the passing game during what promises to be a high-scoring game in Oakland. Stewart warrants deep “Sleeper” potential for desperate owners that have been crushed by the Bye week and myriad injuries impacting the position.
Darren Sproles at OAK
If Sproles gets cleared, and it appears that he will, he’s immediately on the board for a fantastic spot against the Raiders. I ranked him at No. 21 for the week pending more information as kickoff approaches. Oakland has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs, a total that includes 60 receptions and 418 receiving yards.
I’ll also be curious to see how the Saints approach the tailback position upon Sproles return. How will the workload between Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas get split up? Does Ivory go back to the sidelines?
Danny Woodhead vs. IND
Put him on the board as a deep Flex option. We keep talking about Shane Vereen as a vulture, but don’t sleep on Woodhead, particularly in PPR leagues. Woodhead has caught 18 passes in the past four weeks (44.3 receiving yards per game).
The Colts have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs, and that includes last week’s utter failure by the Jacksonville run game.
Michael Turner vs. ARI
Turner popped back onto the radar in Week 9 with a strong 102-yard performance against the Cowboys that included a rare long run (43 yards). He then flopped horribly in a tremendous spot against the Saints, producing 15 rushing yards on 13 carries. Let that sink in for a moment.
Turner has averaged just 3.8 yards per carry this season, an average aided markedly by three runs (25, 27 and 43 yards). If you eliminate those three runs, he’s averaging 3.17 yards per carry. Turner’s also been shut out in four of his nine starts despite the Falcons’ ridiculous scoring pace. Will Jacquizz Rodgers play more of a role this week? Arizona has allowed the 20th-most fantasy points to running backs, so he’s a tepid play if you assume a full workload.
Ryan Mathews at DEN
The Buccaneers did a fantastic job to contain Mathews on the ground in Week 10. He produced just 54 yards on 17 carries while adding five receptions for 22 yards. Mathews was limited to 72 total yards on 15 touches in Week 9 by the Chiefs.
During draft season, Mathews’ name rose up the ranks because of age, injury, schedule and myriad concerns affecting other running backs. He’s yet to deliver on the promise, delivering a single touchdown in seven games with two performances of at least 80 rushing yards. Mathews’ downturn in production as a receiver is particularly troubling (we knew about the red zone issues), making him middling RB2 play this week. He tallied 93 total yards on 26 touches in Week 6.
Mikel Leshoure vs. GB
The high Over/Under total in Nevada speaks to the expected fireworks between the Green Bay and Detroit passing games. As a result, I’m moderately concerned that we see more of a workload split between Leshoure and tag-team partner Joique Bell. Bell has caught 17 passes in the past four weeks, while Leshoure has registered just four receptions in the past three weeks.
Leshoure has rushed for fewer than 50 yards in three of the Lions’ past six games, and his lone touchdowns came in that three-touchdown barrage against the Jaguars. You’re left wishing and hoping for another Calvin Johnson stop at the one-yard line from Leshoure. He’s a back-end RB2 this week.
Rashad Jennings at HOU
Jennings failed in a huge spot in Week 10 against the Colts. He amassed just 27 rushing yards on 11 attempts in that Thursday night dud and did not catch a pass. In fact, Jennings had generated just 52 total yards in Week 9 against the Lions.
I won’t go back for a third try with Jennings against this Houston defense that shut down Matt Forte altogether in Week 10. The Texans have allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. They have not allowed a rushing touchdown (one receiving).
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