For most fantasy leagues, this is it….the final week of the regular season. If you’re currently fighting for a playoff position, your running backs are obviously going to play a pivotal roll, so a mistake here could leave you out of the playoffs.
Keeping that in mind, let’s take a quick look at who you should be starting and sitting in Week 13.
Arian Foster @ Philadelphia: It’s not that Philadelphia has a bad run defense or anything (they’re ranked 12th in the league), it’s just that Foster has been the best running back in the league this season. When you add in the fact that he’s developed into an excellent receiver, it doesn’t matter what defense Foster is facing. Look for him to gain over 150 total yards this week and score at least once against the Eagles.
Peyton Hillis @ Miami: Hillis is really starting to establish himself as one of the elite running backs in the NFL after gaining 194 total yards and rushing for three touchdowns against the Panthers. And while Miami isn’t as soft as Carolina, they aren’t the best run defense in the league either (ranked 14th, allowing 103.9 rushing YPG).
Steven Jackson @ Arizona: Jackson had a somewhat disappointing game against the Broncos last week after being limited to just 72 yards on 29 carries; he also caught one pass for -6 yards and failed to reach the end zone. This week Jackson gets to redeem himself against another poor run defense as he faces the Arizona Cardinals (ranked 31st, allowing 146.5 rushing YPG). Don’t count on Jackson being shut down again this week.
Jamaal Charles vs. Denver: The Broncos can pat themselves on the back after shutting Jackson down last week. Unfortunately for Denver, they get no relief this week since they face Charles and Thomas Jones in Week 13. Charles should shred the Broncos and their 30th ranked run defense (allowing 141.6 YPG) for at least 125 yards and a touchdown.
Felix Jones @ Indianapolis: With nothing to lose after a horrible start, Dallas has played their best football over the past few games. During this stretch, Jones has really established himself as a dual threat with 189 receiving yards in the last three games. And while you can’t count on Jones to torch the Colts on the ground, he should gain enough rushing yards against Indianapolis’ 29th ranked run defense to have an excellent all-around game.
Darren McFadden @ San Diego: After an impressive season where he gained 757 rushing yards through seven games, McFadden has hit a brick wall in the last two contests since he’s only rushed for 16 yards on 18 carries. And while some owners are hoping that he breaks out of this slump, McFadden faces a streaking San Diego defense that’s ranked third against the run (allowing 81.1 rushing YPG).
Fred Jackson @ Minnesota: Jackson proved all of the naysayers wrong last week (including me) after catching five passes for 104 yards and a touchdown to help the Bills push Pittsburgh to the brink. After three huge games in a row where he’s scored four times, when will Jackson’s hot streak end? Expect it to end this week as he faces a Minnesota defense that is ranked fifth against the run (allowing 92.7 rushing YPG), and a respectable 14th against the pass (allowing 215.2 passing YPG).
BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Jets: You never know what you’re going to get out of Green-Ellis each game; last week those who started him got 59 yards and two touchdowns. You can probably expect Green-Ellis to run for a similar amount of yardage this week against a tough New York Jets defense, but you can’t count on the TD’s again.
Ray Rice vs. Pittsburgh: Rice has been a slight disappointment this year since he’s only found the end zone three times. Of course, he has compiled 815 rushing yards this season, which makes him a must-start in most league formats. But as is the case with most running backs who play Pittsburgh, Rice faces the Steelers test this week. Assuming you’ve got two other capable running backs, this would be a good game to sit Rice against the number one running defense in the league.
Matt Forte @ Detroit: At first glance, this looks like a good matchup for Forte because he’s facing the 24th ranked Lions run defense (128.6 YPG). Plus Forte is coming off of an impressive performance against the Eagles where he gained 117 yards on 14 carries. However, this is the same guy who has put up some duds against porous run defenses like Buffalo (49 rushing yards), Seattle (11 rushing yards) and Dallas (29 rushing yards). Detroit will definitely be keying in on Forte since he gained over 200 total yards in their Week 2 meeting, which isn’t good for Forte.