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Morris, Murray must-starts in Week 14
The first game of Week 14, the Thursday night contest between Oakland and Denver, became “The Knowshon Moreno Show.” Sure, Peyton Manning threw for 310 yards, but he generated a single touchdown. Matt Prater converted four field goal tries, but nobody credits kickers unless it’s a game-winning try as time expires. So, we celebrate Moreno’s 167 total yards on 36 touches (119 rushing yards on 32 carries), including a touchdown run. It was Moreno’s first 100-yard game since Week 13 of the 2010 season.
Did you trust Moreno in your lineup, or did you fear a disappearing act?
Let’s dive back into the remainder of the schedule for this all-important playoff week. I keep the faith with big-play threat Bryce Brown.
Bryce Brown at TB
Brown has set the fantasy world on fire in the past two weeks. He’s amassed 347 rushing yards on 43 carries with four touchdowns while catching eight passes for 25 yards. Brown has also produced 16 runs of at least 10 yards in his 75 carries. I know. He’s fumbled three times in the past two weeks.
Brown’s in line for another start this week against the Buccaneers, as LeSean McCoy has not yet been cleared to practice. The Buccaneers lead the NFL in run defense, having allowed 82.3 yards per game (0.75 touchdowns). However, Tampa Bay has allowed the 19th-most fantasy points to running backs. Running backs have been particularly active in the passing game, producing 70 receptions (fourth in the NFL) for 487 yards (12th).
Ahmad Bradshaw vs. NO
Bradshaw posted a huge game against the Redskins in Week 13, producing 116 total yards on 26 touches. It was his first 100-yard game since Week 6 in the blowout victory over the 49ers.
Bradshaw take on another huge workload this week against the Saints, the single-most generous team against running backs this season. Opposing running backs have averaged 185.2 total yards per game. The absence of Andre Brown puts him in line for another huge touch count with a goal-line plunge.
Alfred Morris vs. BAL
Morris is quietly putting together a fantastic season in the shadow of Robert Griffin III. He’s scored only once since Week 6, but he’s produced at least 76 rushing yards in five of his past six games. Morris has generated three 100-yard games during this period, including back-to-back big games against the Cowboys and Giants.
Make it a hat trick this week against the Ravens. The normally stout Baltimore defense has been run over this season, surrendering nearly 126 yards per game. For some reason, I still fear being “Shanahaned,” but I can’t look away from Morris’ weekly touch count.
DeMarco Murray at CIN
Murray was supposed to be “limited” in Week 13. I suppose that his 27-touch return to the field served as a warm-up. He produced 102 total yards and scored a rushing touchdown in the high-scoring home date with the Eagles.
Murray represents a strong play this week against the Bengals. The Cowboys will need to establish the run to try and open things up against the strong Cincinnati secondary. Cincinnati has allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to running backs (141.8 total yards per game with 10 total touchdowns).
Michael Turner at CAR
Turner produced a fantastic first series in Week 13 against the Saints and capped off a great drive with a touchdown plunge, his seventh of the season. The 30-year-old tailback from Northern Illinois has scored in four of his past five games and finds a tremendous opportunity on the schedule for Week 14. Turner earned one of his two 100-yard games in Week 4 against the Panthers (103 yards on 13 carries). He also produced the first receiving touchdown of his career (68 receiving yards in this contest). Turner’s a mid-RB2 play this week with upside.
Matt Forte at MIN
Forte posted his highest output since Week 9 in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks. He amassed 96 total yards on 24 touches, including a receiving touchdown. I don’t look at Forte as a huge force on the ground in this game, but I expect him to be active in the passing game. The Vikings have allowed the 12th-most receptions to running backs (59). Minnesota has allowed the 17th-most fantasy points to running backs. He’s a mid-RB2 option this week.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. DAL
Green-Ellis comes into this game on a three-game tear. He’s rumbled for three consecutive 100-yard games while breaking off multiple 30-yard runs. Green-Ellis has averaged 5.04 yards per carry during this stretch.
Green-Ellis rates a high-RB2 play this week against the Cowboys. Dallas has allowed the 15th-most fantasy points to running backs this season. With Jermaine Gresham ailing, look for the Bengals to try and establish the run early to open up the passing game and keep DeMarcus Ware at bay.
Shonn Greene at JAC
Greene earned his first 100-yard game since Week 6 against the Cardinals (104 yards on 24 carries). He’s produced at least 71 rushing yards in three of his past five games. Greene has hardly been overwhelming (he hasn’t scored since Week 7).
This is a glorious spot for Greene against the Jaguars. Opposing running backs have averaged 161.7 total yards and 1.08 touchdowns per game. I fear the presence of Bilal Powell to some degree, but the two-headed monster should compile a huge touch count. The Jets clearly don’t want Mark Sanchez chucking the ball downfield.
Montell Owens vs. NYJ
Touches have to count for something, right? Owens becomes the lead back after injuries claimed Jalen Parmele and Rashad Jennings in back-to-back weeks. He produced 40 total yards on eight touches in Week 13 after Jennings left because of a concussion.
He’s Flex-worthy because of the expected touch count this week against the Jets. New York has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs (146.3 total yards per game).
Vick Ballard vs. TEN
Ballard ended his five-game scoring drought in Week 13 against the Lions. He produced 62 total yards on 12 touches in the narrow victory. Ballard’s previous touchdown came in dramatic fashion, a highlight-reel 16-yard touchdown reception against the Titans.
The Titans have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs. Running backs have amassed 164.7 total yards and a touchdown per game against this Tennessee squad.
DeAngelo Williams vs. ATL
Williams produced his highest yardage output since Week 2 with 67 yards against the Chiefs in Week 13. His tag team partner, Jonathan Stewart, remains sidelined because of an ankle injury. As a result, Williams is on the board as a back-end RB2 play this week against the Falcons at home. Atlanta has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Williams raced for 49 yards with a touchdown in Week 4 in Atlanta.
Ray Rice at WAS
I suspect that Cam Cameron has been thinking about the number “13” all week. That was the number of times Rice touched the ball in the Week 13 loss to Pittsburgh.
You play your studs in the playoffs. Rice will be in your lineup. I’m merely advising you to temper your expectations. The Redskins have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs. It’s a stat that is skewed because of Washington’s deficiencies in the secondary. However, I remain lukewarm on Rice this week.
Stevan Ridley vs. HOU
Bill Belichick supports your fantasy pursuits. Ridley has been one of the most consistent running backs in the game, having produced a touchdown run in five consecutive games with 97 or more rushing yards in three of those contests.
Ridley’s a mid-RB2 option for me this week. The Texans are struggling because of an injury-riddled back seven, but the run defense remains stout. Houston has allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs, including just two rushing touchdowns.
Ryan Mathews at PIT
Mathews makes your lineup as a back-end second running back this week. It’s hard to expect anything more from him at this juncture. He was shut down by the Bengals in Week 13, producing 51 total yards on 12 touches. Mathews last topped 100 total yards in Week 8 and hasn’t scored since Week 5 (his only touchdown of the season).
The Steelers rank fifth against running backs in terms of fantasy points.
Reggie Bush at SF
Bush ranks no better than a Flex play this week against the 49ers on the road. He’s produced two touchdowns in his past seven games and has been a non-factor in the passing game. Bush has topped 66 total yards once in this seven-game period. Shut him down.
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