Welcome to the 15th installment of our weekly look at fantasy's most aggravating subject, the running back by committee. Things just got interesting for the Giants.
Thursday: Jaguars at Falcons
Saturday: Cowboys at Buccaneers
Options: Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams
Outlook: The game against the Falcons was more of the same, with Stewart getting 12 touches (56 yards) to Williams' eight. Sure, Williams broke off a 74-yard TD run to reward the owners that started him, but that's not going to happen every week. I wouldn't touch either of these guys against the Texans.
Options: Arian Foster, Ben Tate
Outlook: Speaking of the Texans, raise your hand if you had them beating the Bengals behind T.J. Yates' 300-yard passing game. Yeah ... that's what I thought. Tate had his best non-blowout performance in awhile, posting 97 yards from scrimmage on eight carries and three receptions. Foster gave his owners a subpar performance, with 74 yards on 19 touches, but he's still a must-start beast. The real question here is if you start Tate against the 23rd-ranked Panthers' rushing defense, even though they've done a good job against LeGarrette Blount (19 rushing yards) and Michael Turner (76 rushing yards) over the last two games. In many cases, I'd say yes.
Options: Donald Brown, Joseph Addai, Delone Carter
Outlook: Why did Addai carry only twice against the Ravens? Here's a quote from the formerly useful fantasy running back that appeared in Monday's Indianapolis Star :
"Going into the game, coach (Jim Caldwell) wanted me to rest and kind of take a little bit of (a break for) the hamstring and if we'd get in big third-down situations, that's when I'd go in ... that was the game plan."
Brown's nine-carry, 28-yard performance against the Ravens probably wasn't horrible, considering the opponent and the Colts' early deficit. He might be worth a low-end start against the Titans in Week 15.
Kansas City Chiefs
Options: Thomas Jones, Jackie Battle, Dexter McCluster
Outlook: In the four games since Tyler Palko took over as the Chiefs' starting quarterback, this trio has rushed 111 times for 369 yards (3.3 ypc). To make things worse, you never know who the leader is going to be. Stay away, because waiting for one good game from one of these terrible backs isn't worth your time.
Options: Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas
Outlook: Bush continued his surprisingly strong season with 130 yards from scrimmage against the Eagles. Thomas was a dud, with 13 yards on seven carries and two receptions, getting about a quarter of the workload. You can't start him and just hope he'll have one of his occasional good games.
New England Patriots
Options: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Kevin Faulk, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead
Outlook: Nineteen yards on five carries for the Law Firm? And eight carries for 43 yards from Danny Freaking Woodhead? I give up. If you want to start Green-Ellis in an RB3 or flex spot against the Broncos, he might be a decent play. Or, he might not. The Patriots vex me with their running back decisions.
New York Giants
Options: Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, D.J. Ware
Outlook: Bradshaw was benched for the first half against the Cowboys after reportedly missing curfew.
Here's a quote from me to my buddy J.D. during the game: "You know how many times a season a NFL player has to be home by curfew? Eight."
Anyway, Jacobs had his best game of the season, running 19 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns, while Bradshaw ran eight times for 12 yards in the second half. Until now, the carry split has been two-to-one in Bradshaw's favor when he's healthy. After the way Jacobs played in Dallas, it would be hard to see him not get at least a split this week. Both Bradshaw and Jacobs are worthy of fantasy starts against the Redskins.
San Diego Chargers
Options: Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert
Outlook: Is this really a committee anymore? Mathews has 363 rushing yards over the last three games, while Tolbert has just 89. However, since Tolbert has scored in two straight contests, he's still worth considering if you're desperate.
San Francisco 49ers
Options: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter
Outlook: Gore rewarded his fantasy owners with 72 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals. However, he carried just 10 times, while Hunter had eight rushes and two receptions. On Monday head coach Jim Harbaugh attributed Gore's light workload to injury issues. I'd still start Gore and bench Hunter in just about any format this week against the Steelers, but if you own Gore, you should be worried.
INJURY ISSUES (8)
Options: Matt Forte, Marion Barber, Kahlil Bell
Outlook: No updates on Forte, who is expected to miss at least one more game. Aside from his overtime fumble and out-of-bounds brainfart, Barber produced against the Broncos, with 108 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, and two receptions for 32 yards. However, don't forget about Bell, who had a respectable 64 yards from scrimmage on nine carries and five receptions. If you're scrambling for a running back due to injuries, you could do worse than Bell, who should keep getting the ball at least 10-12 times per game.
Options: Peyton Hillis, Montario Hardesty, Chris Ogbonnaya
Outlook: Hillis' nagging hip injury apparently caused some playing-time limitations against the Steelers, which is why he carried 10 times for 25 yards while Hardesty ran 11 times for 24. Be careful, and even reluctant, to start Hillis this week against the Cardinals.
Options: DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Chauncey Washington, Sammy Morris
Outlook: Murray fractured his ankle against the Giants, and is done for the season. Jones ran 16 times for 106 yards in Murray's place, and added six receptions for 31 yards. He's owned in just 52 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, and should be everyone's top free-agent target this week. I you own Jones, or if you can get him, start him against the 28th-ranked Bucs' run defense in Week 15. Washington is the only other healthy tailback left for the Cowboys, and will likely be promoted from the practice squad this week. Don't bother with him, even if you're tempted to get a handcuff for Jones.
Options: Kevin Smith, Maurice Morris, Keiland Williams
Outlook: Morris missed much of Sunday's game against the Vikings due to a chest injury, and Smith's ankle had him on the sidelines as well. Williams, who had 60 yards from scrimmage on 14 touches, is only a fantasy option against the Raiders if he's the last man standing in the Lions' backfield. If Smith is active, play him. If Smith is out and Morris can go, he's worth a play in PPR leagues.
Green Bay Packers
Options: James Starks, Ryan Grant, John Kuhn, Brandon Saine
Outlook: We're going to have to wait on Starks' recovery progress before fully assessing this situation. If Starks can't play, then Grant - who ran 10 times for 85 yards and a pair of scores against the Raiders in Week 14 - will be a solid option against the Chiefs. Saine would be Grant's backup, and although he left Sunday's game due to a concussion, he's expected to return this week.
Options: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart
Outlook: Purple Jesus was held out again in Week 14 due to his ankle injury. In three games as Peterson's stand-in, Gerhart has 57 carries for 225 yards and a touchdown, along with 13 receptions for 80 yards and a score. The Saints come to the Twin Cities this week, and your options are simple: Start Peterson if he's active, and start Gerhart in most cases if Peterson is out again. Head coach Raheem Morris said Monday that he expects Peterson to return.
New Orleans Saints
Options: Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory
Outlook: With Ingram out due to a case of turf toe, Ivory led the Saints' rushing attack against the Titans with 13 carries for 53 yards. Sproles was his usual terrific PPR self, running five times for 33 yards and catching seven passes for 58 yards. For this week's game in Minnesota, Ingram is an RB3/flex option if active, Ivory is a shaky, unreliable play in standard leagues, and Sproles is a surefire PPR starter who can play in other formats. Stay away from Thomas until he produces more often than once a month.
Options: Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Marcel Reece
Outlook: McFadden has been out for six weeks (and most of a seventh) due to his foot injury, but if you've held onto him for this long, I don't blame you for keeping him now. We'll have to wait until practice starts on Wednesday for a progress report, but in his Monday press conference, head coach Hue Jackson was his usual cryptic self with regard to McFadden's status. Bush has averaged 22 carries and 89 yards per game in McFadden's absence, and scored four touchdowns. Even if McFadden comes back this week, it's hard to see Bush being relegated to a backup role right away. Plan to start him against the porous Lions' rushing defense.