Fantasy Football

Backups in for extra work in Week 17

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John Halpin

John Halpin has been a fantasy contributor for FOXSports.com since 2007. He has written and co-hosted webcasts about fantasy football for FOXNews.com, and managed websites for the NHL, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Network. Listen to his "Fantasy 15 Podcast" on FOXSportsRadio.com and follow him on Twitter.

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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.

Arizona Cardinals

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.

Atlanta Falcons

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.

Baltimore Ravens

With the Ravens having the AFC’s fourth seed locked up, Ray Rice might arrive at Sunday’s game encased in a plastic bubble. I’ll take the over on 100 yards for Bernard Pierce.

(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.)

Carolina Panthers

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?

Chicago Bears

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.

Cincinnati Bengals

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.

Cleveland Browns

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.

Detroit Lions

No change here – Mikel Leshoure is still the lead dog, with Joique Bell acting as the third-down back.

Green Bay Packers

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.

Indianapolis Colts

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.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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?

Kansas City Chiefs

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.

Miami Dolphins

Lamar Miller had a productive 10 carries in Week 16, and might get a similar workload against the Patriots as Reggie Bush’s sidekick. That’s probably not enough reason to start him.

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New Orleans Saints

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.

New York Giants

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.

New York Jets

Why did the Jets get our hopes up about Bilal Powell a few weeks ago if they were going to stop handing him the ball? Sigh. Shonn Greene is the only Week 17 fantasy starter in this backfield.

Philadelphia Eagles

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.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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.

San Diego Chargers

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.

Thanks for reading this season. You can reach me anytime in the offseason via Facebook or Twitter.

Tagged: Falcons, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Lions, Packers, Colts, Chiefs, Dolphins, Saints, Giants, Jets, Eagles, Panthers, Jaguars, Ravens, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Jonathan Stewart, Peyton Hillis, LeSean McCoy, Alex Green, Bryce Brown

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