Week 14 Rankings (2016): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

It’s playoff time. The hope is that you have secured a playoff berth,and you are either fighting it outfor the right to advance or you are enjoying a well deserved bye week. That shouldn’t change your preparation, as you have to spend some time looking at not only this upcoming week but Weeks 15 and 16 as well.  The problem from a waiver wire standpoint is that the options are few and far between. It certainly was a positive development that there weren’t many major injuries or depth chart changes , but that also greatly reduces any possible buying opportunities. Let’s take a look at how our options rank in another top heavy week:

  1. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – at Miami
  2. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Buffalo
  3. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. Pittsburgh
  4. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at New York Giants
  5. Matt Forte – New York Jets – at San Francisco
  6. DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – vs. Denver
  7. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – at Los Angeles
  8. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – at Detroit
  9. Melvin Gordon – San Diego Chargers – at Carolina
  10. Spencer Ware – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Oakland
  11. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. New Orleans
  12. Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins – vs. Arizona
  13. Latavius Murray – Oakland Raiders – at Kansas City
  14. Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals – at Cleveland
  15. Thomas Rawls – Seattle Seahawks – at Green Bay
  16. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – at Indianapolis
  17. Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – vs. New York Jets
  18. Todd Gurley – St. Louis Rams – vs. Atlanta
  19. Frank Gore – Indianaplis Colts – vs. Houston
  20. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Tampa Bay
  21. LeGarrette Blount – New England Patriots – vs. Baltimore
  22. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – vs. San Diego
  23. Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – vs. Chicago
  24. Devontae Booker – Denver Broncos – at Tennessee
  25. Robert Kelley – Washington Redskins – at Philadelphia
  26. Kenneth Dixon – Baltimore Ravens – at New England
  27. Rashad Jennings – New York Giants – vs. Dallas
  28. Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – vs. Cinncinati
  29. T.J. Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Minnesota
  30. Darren Sproles – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
  31. Dion Lewis – New England Patriots – vs. Baltimore
  32. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – at Los Angeles
  33. Jerick McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings – at Jacksonville
  34. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – at San Francisco
  35. Terrance West – Baltimore Ravens – at New England
  36. Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
  37. Rex Burkhead – Cincinnati Bengals – at Cleveland
  38. Matt Asiata – Minnesota Vikings – at Jacksonville
  39. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – vs. Cincinnati
  40. Mike Gillislee – Buffalo Bills – vs. Pittsburgh

Notes:

  • It is hard to ignore Jeremy Hill after looking at his match-up with Cleveland, who has the league’s 31st ranked defense against fantasy running backs. However expectations must be tempered to some degree as he isn’t enjoying the level of success some may have expected with Giovani Bernard sidelined. Philadelphia does have a tough run defense, eighth in the league, but it is no excuse for the 33 yards Hill managed against them on 23 carries. If you are looking for a sign for optimism it is that Hill still received a heavy workload despite his struggles. He was able to save some of his fantasy value by catching two passes for 12 yards, but most importantly by finding the end zone. Throughout his career, Hill has shown a nose for the end zone, and he is up to seven rushing touchdowns. Earlier this season against the Browns he gained 168 yards and scored a touchdown on just nine carries, so there is no reason why he shouldn’t have success. The Bengals did utilize Rex Burkhead in a supporting role last week, eight carries for 38 yards and four catches for another 28 yards, and that will likely continue moving forward. Hill is still the back to own here.
  • The Jets have become an absolute mess, and that was very apparent for all to see on national television last week, but that doesn’t mean you should discount Matt Forte as the Jets will now be led by Bryce Petty. With an inexperienced quarterback, New York will lean heavily on the running game and Forte also gets the benefit of facing the league’s worst defense against the run. As a runner Forte has been underwhelming, gaining just 784 yards, but he has scored seven touchdowns and is averaging 8.8 yards on 29 receptions. This might shape up to be Forte’s best week of the season.
  • Unless you truly backed into the playoffs, and this might force your hand, this is the time in the season in which you work to avoid as much risk as possible. So that means we should try very hard to resist the Ty Montgomery urge. After bursting onto the scene a few weeks ago, he is now owned in just 37.2% of ESPN leagues but is back on our radars. Montgomery led the Packers in rushing yards last week, 40 on six carries, and was targeted three times in a game dominated by snow, catching two passes for 16 yards. We also have the requisite coach speak about getting Montgomery more involved in the offense, but that is not something you want to fall victim to. He is worth an addition to keep him away from your opponents, but he isn’t worth the risk of starting.
  • One situation to monitor, once again, is the backfield in New Orleans. We have already seen Tim Hightower take control of the situation and gain 102 yards earlier this season, and Mark Ingram might not be the sure thing we originally expected him to be. Ingram has a toe injury he is dealing with, and it limited him this week (along with the fact that the Saints were trailing and couldn’t get anything going on offense). Against the Lions he managed just 37 yards on seven carries and five receptions for only 16 yards. It was a good sign that he suited up, as there was some question to his availability, and even better that Hightower carried the ball just twice. Unless we see a true change to Ingram’s status Hightower’s value is minimal, at best. However it also has to be concerning that Ingram has just two games of more than 100 yards and those two games account for 40% of his rushing production on the season. However, he does have RB2 value.
  • Even with Ryan Mathews sidelined, his status is unclear for this week, Darren Sproles’ value continues to be limited to PPR leagues. Sproles has carried the ball 10 times over the last two weeks, but has managed just 20 yards. However Sproles continues to have success in the passing game, catching a combined 11 passes for 83 yards. Last week his value was boosted by a rushing touchdown, and I wouldn’t let that cloud my thoughts on him moving forward. With 45 receptions for 387 yards Sproles continues to have PPR value (as a FLEX option at best) while being a long shot play in standard leagues.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 14 rankings:

Week 14 Rankings (2016): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 14 Rankings (2016): Top 25 Quarterbacks

18 comments

  1. Sheldon says:

    Hi, professor! Which of these RBs would you pick off of waivers for the fantasy playoffs? Henry, Morris, Burkhead, Vereen, Sims, or Zenner? Thanks.

  2. darrick says:

    hey professor which 2 rbs should i start this week. j.howard, t. rawls, l.miller, ingram or sporles

  3. James says:

    Booker or Hightower?

  4. Sheldon – All depends on your goals, but I’d be leaning towards Vereen

    darrick – Howard/Rawls

    James – Do I really have to? I guess Booker

  5. Sean says:

    I snuck into the playoffs barely and am playing a really great team this week and need help with who to start this week. In my league it is PPR and receptions are ranked heavy. A full point per reception. Very deep league.
    Pick 2 RB’s
    Pick 3 WR’s
    Pick 1 TE
    And 1 Flex (RB, WR, or TE)

    Todd Gurley, Thomas Rawls, Darren Sproles, Rex Burkhead, Shane Vereen
    Travis Benjamin, Tyler Boyd, Jamison Crowder, Taylor Gabriel, Tyreek Hill, Chris Hogan, Allen Hurns
    Tyler Eifert, Ladarius Green

  6. jn says:

    Ok Professor,

    Got Bell, Ware, Forte, Howard and West — I need to pick 3…I think Bell and Ware for sure…concerned that Powell will poach from Forte…but Detroit will look to shut down Howard to gut check Barkley…what do you think???

  7. Sean says:

    Thank you very much for the help. I had the exact same lineup except I had Gabriel over Boyd but I am gonna switch it I think cuz the bengals are against the browns. One more question. Need to start one QB and ordinarily I always start Brady no matter what but he is against one of the best defenses this week in the ravens and Carson palmer is against the dolphins kind of weak defense. I’m having second thoughts on starting Brady over Palmer. Just would like your input.

  8. Gus says:

    Hi Professor, First time using this site. I need your advice. I need to start 3 out of 4 RB’s and Which QB to start.
    RB’s – Matt Forte, Latavius Murray, DeMarco Murray, or Jordan Howard.
    QB’s – Matt Ryan, or Matthew Stafford. Thanks!

  9. jn – I’d lean Howard, as like you said Powell could play a role.

    Sean – I culd understand being concerned, but there’s a 0% chance of me sitting Brady (who is actually my top ranked option this week). Even a “down” game for him should be more than productive enough.

    Gus (welcome!!!):
    RB – Howard & D. Murray are the locks. I’d lean Forte, as the Jets have an easier matchup with SF and the team should look to lean on him.

  10. Marion says:

    Hi Professor,

    At RB I’m currently starting Ingram and Miller (both a little dinged up) and I have Jarvis Landry at flex…any chance I should swap them out for J. McKinnon, T. Coleman or Dion Lewis?

    Thanks

    mm

  11. Sheldon says:

    Professor, I’m a little worried about Booker this week…actually, quite a bit worried. I’m worried for him not just this week, but also moving forward. I have Dion Lewis, whom I can start this week against Balty. But the Balty D is tough. How about Burkman@CLE? Or Charles Sims or Quizz Rodgers vs. NO? It’s a 14-team league and I’m in the last 8, in the playoffs. Thanks.

  12. Sheldon says:

    Burkhead* 🙂

  13. Marion – I don’t trust Landry at all, so I’d go Coleman there

    Shheldon – I couldn’t trust Lewis, but the talk is Rodgers playing a big role. If you were going to sit Booker, it would be for him (not saying I would, but that’s the next best option)

  14. Sheldon says:

    Thanks, Prof!

  15. Stumped says:

    Prof…needing some advice. Coleman or Gore. Head says Gore but with Sanu out and Jones being a game time decision, I think that Coleman might see more action due to his pass catching ability and them paying the Rams. Your thoughts?

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