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Week 13 Fantasy RBBC's
Welcome to the Week 13 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 post this article each Tuesday, and offer updates in our fantasy coverage throughout the week, including in the Friday morning edition 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. 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.
Thursday game: Saints-Falcons
JacQuizz Rodgers was on the field for more snaps than Michael Turner for the second straight week, and gained more yards because he’s a better back. Unfortunately, the Falcons want to preserve the illusions that A) they have a solid power running game, and B) Turner isn’t wearing cinderblocks on his feet instead of cleats. So, Turner will keep getting the ball 12-15 times per game and remain a reasonably solid fantasy flex option this week against the Saints thanks to his goal-line usage. Rodgers’ increased workload lately (22 touches over his last two games) makes him a possible starter in standard formats (he already was in PPR leagues).
Beanie Wells didn’t even average three yards per carry in his return to action in Week 12, but his two touchdowns made him an extremely productive fantasy play. However, we need to be cautious here, because LaRod Stephens-Howling (100+ yards in two of three games before Wells’ comeback) was limited by a rib injury, and it stands to reason that the Cardinals will use both backs when they can. Watch Stephens-Howling’s status as Week 13 approaches, because his presence could mean downgrading Wells for the matchup against the weak Jets’ run defense.
C.J. Spiller is averaging 6.7 yards on 123 carries, and it looks like nothing Fred Jackson does will change Spiller’s status as a must-start feature back. After getting just seven touches in Week 12, Jackson looks like a shaky fantasy option against the Jaguars. He might need a blowout to get the yards you’ll need.
Jonathan Stewart suffered an ankle injury Monday night against the Eagles. Stewart and DeAngelo Williams combined for 48 yards on 19 carries, while QB Cam Newton ran 14 times for 52 yards and two scores, and was very busy around the goal line. Why in the world would you want to start a Panther back, even against the Chiefs in Week 13?
Michael Bush had a big fantasy day (21 carries, 60 yards, two TDs) after Matt Forte sprained his ankle against the Vikings, and we’ll need to watch Forte’s status as the week progresses. If Forte can’t go against the Seahawks, Bush will be a solid RB2, even with the tough matchup.
The Cowboys sound hopeful that DeMarco Murray will return from a six-week absence to play in Sunday night’s Disappointment Bowl against the Eagles. Plan to start Murray if he’s active. As for Jones, you know he’s averaging 3.15 yards per carry since Murray got hurt, right? Ugh.
Thanks, John Fox. Every fantasy analyst in the world hyped Ronnie Hillman until about noon ET on Sunday, and then you had to go and exhume Knowshon Moreno (20 carries, 85 yards; four receptions, 26 yards) to screw us over. If you’re able to grab Moreno this week, do so and feel OK about starting him, even against the Bucs’ league-leading rushing defense.
Mikel Leshoure is fine for this week’s matchup against the Colts. Joique Bell had 47 yards and a touchdown on Thanksgiving, but did you know he played fewer snaps than Kevin Smith? Keep an eye on the backups here, PPR owners.
We knee-jerked a bit on Alex Green after he sat on the bench in Week 11 and watched James Starks carry 25 times. Green and Starks shared the workload in Week 12, and since they’re likely to do that moving forward, you can’t trust either guy.
That was a pretty spectacular 81-yard, Jim Schwartz-aided touchdown run by Justin Forsett on Thanksgiving. Just remember that Forsett carried the ball five times, and isn’t likely to get much more work than that with Arian Foster around. Also, Ben Tate is due back this week after a lengthy absence, making the Texans’ backup role very murky.
Thirteen carries for Vick Ballard and 10 for Donald Brown against the Bills. There will be weeks like that, and weeks when Ballard is the clear primary ball carrier. I’d avoid Brown when possible, including this week versus the Lions. Ballard looks like a low-end RB2.
Maurice Jones-Drew’s foot injury is expected to keep him out for at least one more game. The Jags sound as if they’d like to start Jalen Parmele, but he left Sunday’s matchup with the Titans twice because of hamstring issues, and his status for Week 13 is TBD. Parmele could be a nice Week 13 matchup option, but if he can’t go, Rashad Jennings is probably too mediocre to trust against anyone.
This is still a timeshare, with Reggie Bush getting 15 touches and Daniel Thomas 10 against the Seahawks. Both backs had TDs in that tough matchup, but starting them in Week 13’s contest with the Patriots is risky. If we assume that Bush gets the ball another 15 times, he’ll be OK as an RB3/flex.
Shane Vereen is making a good fantasy living in these blowouts, isn’t he? Unfortunately, unless you expect him to take another swing pass 83 yards to the house, his chances of being busy Sunday at Miami aren’t too good. You never want to count on a lopsided road win to get a guy his carries.
Check this boxscore from Week 12 and tell me how you can trust a Saints’ back other than Darren Sproles. The Falcons’ 22nd-ranked run defense can give you reason to consider Mark Ingram, but not with a lot of confidence.
Over the past two games, Shonn Greene has gotten 33 touches, while Bilal Powell has seen 27. However, Powell has three red-zone touchdowns in that time. Both can be used as RB3/flex options against th subpar Cardinals’ run defense, but Greene’s stock is trending downward since he doesn’t catch any passes or get goal-line carries.
Andre Brown is done for the regular season because of a broken leg. This probably means that rookie David Wilson will get some work – but not enough to be worthy of starting just yet – while Ahmad Bradshaw reclaims the goal-line role. Bradshaw is pretty much a must-start with Brown out of the picture.
Early word is that teammates expect Darren McFadden (ankle) to return from his three-game absence. It’s hard to tell exactly how DMC’s return would affect fantasy waiver-wire hero Marcel Reece, but I’d be hesitant to start Reece in standard formats unless the Raider coaches say something to change my mind.
LeSean McCoy’s concussion symptoms are apparently lingering, putting his Week 13 status in doubt. Bryce Brown’s 178 yards against the Panthers make him someone you’d like to start Sunday night against the Cowboys, but he could be on a short leash after losing two fumbles in one quarter. Brown is the Eagles’ only reasonable backfield option, though. Dion Lewis is too small to get a starter’s workload.
The Steelers’ Week 13 depth chart has Jonathan Dwyer first at halfback, with Isaac Redman second and Rashard Mendenhall third. We aren’t always right around here, but we have been telling you for a couple of weeks that Dwyer is the team’s best back, and you can feel OK about starting him against the Ravens’ 26th-ranked rushing defense. You shouldn’t even think about starting Redman (two carries vs. Cleveland) or Mendenhall (four carries).