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Backups in for extra work in Week 17
Welcome to the Week 17 edition of our weekly look at fantasy running back committees. In this space, we’ll look at recent performances and attempt to read the backfield tea leaves to help you with lineup decisions. We’ll offer updates in our fantasy coverage throughout the week, including in the Thursday and Friday morning editions of the FOX Sports Fantasy Buzz Blog!
As usual, this series will focus mainly on the more volatile and/or 50-50 situations, but there are a few non-committee and injury notes as well, and possible resting of players for teams that are locked into certain playoff berths (Atlanta, Balimore, Indianapolis, Cincinnati). If you have any questions, the FOXSports.com fantasy staff is always happy to help. The best ways to reach me are via Facebook or Twitter.
Beanie Wells was mostly benched after an early fumble against the Bears, and later said he’s playing “for 31 other teams” as he eyes free agency. I’m gonna bet that Beanie spends lots of time watching his final game as a Cardinal after that comment. You’re up, LaRod Stephens-Howling. Too bad you’re playing against the 49ers.
The Falcons have nothing to play for this week after clinching the NFC’s top seed. The guess here is that Jason Snelling will get plenty of Week 17 work against the Bucs, with Michael Turner not doing much and Jacquizz Rodgers being somewhat protected as well. The word “guess” is important here – I’m not sure how the Falcons will approach this game with their backfield, and we’ll need to listen to what they say as the week progresses.
(UPDATE, 12/27: The Ravens can actually move ahead of the Patriots for the third seed if they win and the Pats lose. That downgrades Pierce, but I still think he'll get a decent amount of work. Sorry for the mistake.)
Here we go again. Another week of waiting on Jonathan Stewart, and starting DeAngelo Williams as an RB2 if Stewart can’t play. Williams had only 19 yards on 10 carries against the Raiders, but an early 76-yard TD run was called back due to a holding penalty. Don't you hate when that happens?
The Bears need to beat the Lions to have a chance at a playoff berth, so look for Matt Forte (ankle) to play through the pain. As much as I was hoping for a second consecutive season of Week 17 fantasy production from Kahlil Bell, it’s probably not going to happen.
The Bengals are locked into the AFC’s sixth seed, so they don’t have much to play for against the Ravens. That means we could see some work for Brian Leonard and/or Cedric Peerman. Be careful with this one, since it’s difficult to predict.
Trent Richardson has a sprained ankle, and though he hasn’t yet been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Steelers, his status is very shaky. You might want to grab Montario Hardesty if he’s available for this difficult matchup.
Alex Green is expected to return from his concussion, and with the Packers needing a win to clinch a first-round bye, the Green-Ryan Grant-DuJuan Harris timeshare is likely to re-emerge. That’s not good news for owners who picked up Grant after his Week 16 breakout.
The Colts have clinched the AFC’s fifth seed, but the hunch here is that they won’t slow down too much for Chuck Pagano’s return this week. Vick Ballard looks like a solid play against the Texans.
Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) again looks shaky for the Jags’ season finale. Montell Owens and Richard Murphy shared carries in Week 16, and it figures that they’ll do so again in the Week 17 game at Tennessee. Do you really want someone from this third-string timeshare?
This isn’t a committee, but Peyton Hillis carried 15 times for 101 yards as the Chiefs ran all day (44 carries, 352 yards) against the Colts. Hillis’ workload has been too inconsistent to give us any faith in him, and the Broncos figure to destroy the Chiefs on Sunday, so stay away from Hillis.
For all the complaining this column has done about the Saints’ committee confusion, Mark Ingram has carried 48 times for 211 yards and two touchdowns over the last three games, and he looks really good. You can start both Ingram and PPR ace Darren Sproles in Week 17, but avoid Pierre Thomas despite his solid receiving performace (seven receptions, 61 yards, TD) against the Cowboys.
Yes, David Wilson had an impressive touchdown run against the Ravens. He also carried the ball THREE times. You can’t start him with any confidence.
Twenty-two touches for LeSean McCoy, and four for Bryce Brown – so much for easing McCoy back in. McCoy the clear feature back for this week’s matchup against the suddenly pitiful Giants, and should be active in all formats.
Did you guys know that Rashard Mendenhall is still alive? He carried 11 times for 50 yards against the Bengals, while Jonathan Dwyer toted the rock 14 times for 39 yards. Look for a similar timeshare against the Browns in Week 17, and check your free-agent pool to see if Mendenhall got thrown back at midseason. He could have a strong day.
Jackie Battle’s 49 yards against the Jets didn’t help anyone, but his 19 carries suggest that he’ll be the team’s main ball carrier again this week. With a home game coming against the weak Raiders’ defense, you can think about starting Battle.
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