Fantasy Football Week 14 Running Back Advice: Don’t give up on Gio Bernard

Bernard has 993 yards from scrimmage this season.

Timothy T. Ludwig/Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Each week during the 2015 season, we’re going to take a look at five running-back-by committee (RBBC) situations that you should keep a close eye on. Some will have big questions, while others might be noted due to their circumstances becoming clearer. We’ll usually focus more on the week immediately ahead than look down the road.

And now, in alphabetical order …

Chicago Bears

Week 13 snap count: Matt Forte 44, Jeremy Langford 28

We predicted a fairly even split here last week, but Week 13 went to Forte, who got 57 percent more snaps and 86 percent more touches than Forte. The Bears will continue to use both backs, but if we expect Forte to get 20-plus touches – and we should – then we can return him to RB1 status against the subpar Redskins’ defense (4.6 YPC). Langford should be on the RB2/flex cusp; hopefully, he’ll catch more passes this week.

Cincinnati Bengals

Week 13 snap count: Jeremy Hill 35, Gio Bernard 19

Bernard’s owners shouldn’t panic after a six-touch game. The Bengals likely knew that they could run all over the Browns, and did so with their power back, as Hill carried 22 times for 98 yards and a score. The Steeler defense won’t be as friendly this week, so this situation should return to a split … or maybe even a Bernard edge. Over Weeks 10 and 11 – not long ago – Bernard saw 102 snaps to Hill’s 46. Both are low-end RB2s.

Houston Texans

Week 13 snap count: Chris Polk 30, Jonathan Grimes 27, Alfred Blue 9

Here’s Texans head coach Bill O’Brien on Polk from a Monday press conference:

"I think the whole thing all the time with Chris Polk is that he stays healthy. So far, he’s stayed healthy the last few weeks. He’s helped us in the running game and he can catch passes out of the backfield and he contributes on special teams. I think he’s playing pretty well for us and hopefully that will continue."

In related news, Alfred Blue – who has averaged 3.1 yards per carry since Arian Foster got hurt – was limited by a back injury leading up to Sunday’s game at Buffalo, and ran just four times for 14 yards. I thought early this season that Polk might be the next man up after Foster, but that didn’t manifest itself until Sunday.

Where does this leave us? Probably with Polk as the best option in a very confusing backfield. Not a guy you’d like to start, but more of a "break glass in case of emergency" guy. Stay away from Blue and Grimes, who’s just not getting a chance.

Kansas City Chiefs

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Week 13 snap count: Charcandrick West 34, Spencer Ware 17

OUR GREATEST FEAR HAS BEEN REALIZED! Well, at least mine has. Charcnado ran well, but Ware got some goal-line duty and one of those pesky touchdowns that still mean a lot in fantasy football. The Chiefs ran three times in the red zone at Oakland:

1st quarter: West six-yard run on first and goal from the nine

3rd quarter: Ware 10-yard run (TD) on third and two from the 10

4th quarter: Ware no gain on first and goal from the one

I have a hard time trusting Ware after seeing him get nine touches. He’s a flex with West as an RB2 against the terrible Chargers.

New York Jets

Week 13 snap count: Bilal Powell 43, Chris Ivory 30

Powell has had nine, eight and 14 touches over his last three games, but let’s not get TOO excited, as game flow had an impact on Sunday. Powell had nine touches to Ivory’s five in the second half as the trailing Jets took to the air. Still, Powell has played well – particularly in the passing game, where he excels – and you can flex him in PPR leagues. Warning: The Titans have allowed a league-low 3.2 receptions per game to opposing running backs, so if you’re into the DvP thing, that number argues against Powell, especially in standard formats.

Ivory’s usage has been inconsistent lately. He’s gotten 18, eight, 21 and 10 carries over his last four games, but has averaged a healthy 4.72 yards per carry over that span. He’s a rock-solid RB2 this week.

Others of note:

Denver Broncos: C.J. Anderson left Sunday’s game after injuring his ankle in the second quarter. He’s day-to-day, and figures to split work with Ronnie Hillman if healthy enough to play against the Raiders.

Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy (five carries, four yards) almost disappeared from last week’s gameplan after reportedly missing curfew on Wednesday, leading to more work for James Starks and the promotion of John Crockett (five carries, 22 yards) from the practice squad.

I have NO IDEA how the Pack will use their backs against the Cowboys, but if Lacy was really benched last Thursday, he wouldn’t have been used at all. I can’t say Lacy should be trusted, but I’d be willing to flex him (and Starks, for that matter). If you do so, keep your fingers crossed.

New England Patriots: With their top three receiving options hurt, the Pats threw to James White 10 times for 115 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles. Seven of those receptions came in the fourth quarter, most with the Pats trailing by a couple of scores. For that reason, it’s hard to trust White against the Texans. Blount is an RB2 candidate versus a Texans defense that – although improving – has allowed 4.4 yards per carry.

New York Giants: So many backs, so little production. Pass.

Philadelphia Eagles: DeMarco Murray was on the field for 14 snaps against the Patriots, which Chip Kelly attributed to the matchup – he preferred smaller backs Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner to combat the Pats’ big linebackers. Um, OK, Chip. Maybe you shouldn’t have paid Murray all that money to be a situational back.

Murray’s owners are in a tough spot. They can’t really bench him due to a typically solid workload, but they have to worry about this happening again versus the Bills. If Ryan Mathews returns from his concussion, this is a dicey spot. If I’m still in my fantasy playoffs with Murray, I roll with him, and let the Chips fall where they may.

Tennessee Titans: David Cobb FINALLY got more involved, matching Antonio Andrews’ 13 carries against the Jaguars. His 40 yards didn’t match Andrews’ 58, though. Both backs are in for tough sledding in a road game against the Jets.

Washington Redskins: According to CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir, the "phaseout of Alfred Morris seemed to accelerate a bit on Monday night." Morris (six carries, 12 yards) was on the field for just eight snaps, while Matt Jones ran 18 times for 49 yards. Please note that every time we’ve thought this backfield was figured out, it wasn’t. Stay away from the risky Jones if you can.

(Snap counts courtesy of NFL.com’s Game Books.)

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