As we head into playoff territory, plenty of fantasy owners are looking for a couple of last minute adds at running back to help them out during the most important part of the season. If this description fits you, then here are some players you should be looking at:
- The Green Bay coaching staff has been raving about James Starks’ talent since he was drafted earlier this year. But due to injuries, Starks was never able to showcase this talent until last game against the 49ers when he rushed for 73 yards on 18 carries. Expect bigger things from Starks down the stretch.
- While I predicted big things for Felix Jones last game, Tashard Choice is the one who stepped in and provided the Dallas Cowboys with a running game; he rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. Choice will still split carries with Jones, but at least he’s finally getting a chance.
- If you’ve followed this season, then you already know about Chris Ivory. But it’s worth mentioning that Ivory has reawaken the past three games after rushing for 254 yards and five touchdowns. As long as Pierre Thomas’ return keeps getting delayed, Ivory will be huge down the stretch.
Now that we’ve covered some sleeper running backs for the playoffs, let’s look at the main guys who will make or break you in Week 14.
Peyton Hillis @ Buffalo: Once again, it’s time to start the “who’s playing Buffalo watch.” This week it’s Peyton Hillis, who has developed into one of the NFL’s elite backs. Hillis (962 rushing yards, 11 rushing TD’s) will certainly get to display that eliteness against the Bills and their awful run defense (allowing 170.9 rushing YPG).
Chris Johnson vs. Indianapolis: Johnson has an equally juicy matchup against the Colts this week (giving up 142.8 rushing YPG). This is an excellent chance for Johnson to get back on track after a couple of poor games in a row where he’s managed just 58 yards on 20 carries.
Michael Turner @ Carolina: Turner is yet another high-profile running back with an easy matchup as he faces the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have struggled against the run all season (allowing 133.1 rushing YPG), and they gave up 83 yards and three touchdowns to a down-and-out Marshawn Lynch last week. Just think what Turner (1,062 rushing yards, 8 rushing TD’s) will do to them.
LeGarrette Blount @ Washington: Last week, Blount surprised the fantasy world by rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown against a tough Atlanta run defense. Week 14 offers Blount a much easier test as he travels to Washington to play against their 28th ranked run defense (137 rushing YPG). Expect another 100 yard performance from him in this game.
Knowshon Moreno @ Arizona: Against the Chiefs last week, Moreno thrived in an ugly game by running for 161 yards on 23 carries. Assuming QB Kyle Orton struggles again like last week, Moreno could put up big rushing totals again versus a weak Cardinals run defense (allowing 144.2 rushing YPG).
BenJarvus Green-Ellis @ Chicago: Green-Ellis had a pretty solid game last week with 72 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries against the Jets. Can he make it two in a row against the Chicago Bears? Don’t count on it since the Bears have shut down much better backs, and are ranked second in the league against the rush (84.9 YPG).
Cedric Benson @ Pittsburgh: You should even think about sitting top running backs against Pittsburgh since they are absolutely annihilating opposing running games by allowing just 62.2 rushing YPG. That being said, Benson’s only chance against the league’s top rushing defense is to sneak into the end zone on a short yardage situation like he did in Week 9 against the Steelers. But is that something you really want to take a chance on?
Marshawn Lynch @ San Francisco: Lynch broke his slump last week with three TD’s against a weak Carolina front line. But things won’t be so easy this week against the 49ers and their 11th ranked run defense. In fact, you can probably expect Lynch to fall right back into the abyss with another disappointing performance this week.
Jonathan Stewart vs. Atlanta: Stewart is similar to Lynch in that he’s been disappointing up until recently (190 yards, 1 TD in the last two games). And much like Lynch, the celebration should end this week when Stewart goes up against the Falcons’ 8th ranked run defense.
Jamaal Charles @ San Diego: San Diego’s run defense didn’t have a real strong performance against Darren McFadden last week after letting him rush for 97 yards and a TD. And they don’t exactly get a break against Jamaal Charles, who’s run for 377 yards over the past three games. But I wouldn’t bet on the Chargers run defense (allowing 95.2 rushing YPG) letting Charles run all over them this week. If you are short on running backs, then Charles should be started; however, if you have running backs with better matchups, go with them.