by Ray Kuhn
While they playoffs don’t officially start for another week or two, for a lot of fantasy owners this week might as well be the playoffs. This has been one of the tightest fantasy seasons in recent memory, and parity is abound. That makes this week’s decision that much more important. You have to find the right mix of thinking things through enough, while avoiding over thinking. With that being said, let’s take a look at how the options for running back rank this week:
- Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Cincinnati
- Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams – at Arizona
- LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. New England
- Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. San Francisco
- Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – vs. Carolina
- Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – at Chicago
- Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at New Orleans
- Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Indianapolis
- Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers – vs. Cleveland
- Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. Carolina
- Dion Lewis – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
- Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – at Tennessee
- Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – at New York Jets
- Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Pittsburgh
- Samaje Perine – Washington Redskins – at Dallas
- Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – vs. Tampa Bay
- Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. Denver
- Jerick McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings – at Atlanta
- Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
- DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – vs. Houston
- Adrian Peterson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. LA Rams
- Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – vs. New York Giants
- Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – at LA Chargers
- Devontae Booker – Denver Broncos – at Miami
- Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Minnesota
- Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – at LA Chargers
- Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Detroit
- Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Minnesota
- Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings – at Atlanta
- J.D. McKissic – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Philadelphia
- Alfred Morris – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Washington
- Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions – at Baltimore
- Orleans Darkwa – New York Giants – at Oakland
- Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – at Jacksonville
- Danny Woodhead – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Detroit
- Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles – at Seattle
- Bilal Powell – New York Jets – vs. Kansas City
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Houston
- Jacquizz Rodgers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Green Bay
- Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at New Orleans
- With Devonta Freeman practicing last week, to some degree, the assumption here was that we would see him return. That wasn’t the case and instead Tevin Coleman took care of business with 97 yards and 2 TD on 19 carries. With Freeman being close to receiving clearance last week, the new assumption is that he will return against the Vikings. The problem is that Minnesota sports the league’s toughest defense against fantasy running backs. Freeman has had some success when healthy this season averaging 4.4 yards per carry on 116 carries to go along with 5 TD, but neither back has been a true difference maker. In fact, Freeman hasn’t carried the ball more than 12 times in a game since Week 6 and only has 19 receptions on the season. It’s hard to bench him if he is active, but I would take a hard look at other options; especially if it worked out for you the last two weeks.
- In Jamaal Williams we have found a workhorse back in Green Bay. It is more born from necessity, but Williams has proven to be a reliable fantasy option. Last week was the third straight game in which he has eclipsed 20 touches, and in each of the last two games the rookie running back has caught four passes. Things didn’t come easy last week in Pittsburgh, but he managed to make enough plays to have a successful fantasy night. A large part of that was due to a long TD reception on a screen pass, but he also punched in a touchdown on the ground. On 70 carries he is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, but there is something to said about quantity and right now Williams is getting it. This week’s opponent, Tampa Bay, is allowing borderline RB1 production to opponents so we should see another solid effort. The issue is if Ty Montgomery does return (he didn’t practice last week), Willilams could loose a few carries and likely his role in the passing game.
- It feels strange. I mean it has to, right? We are competing to get into the fantasy playoffs, and we are advocating for Samaje Perine to be in your starting lineup. It comes down to role, but you can’t argue with the fact that Perine has eclipsed 100 yards in each of his two games. It wasn’t exactly pretty as the rookie needed 24 carries, but he added 30 yards on four catches. In a season where overall rushing yardage is down Perine has 217 yards in his last two games, but it would be nice to see him add to the one rushing TD this season. With just five touches last week, Byron Marshall wasn’t much of a factor and Perine shouldn’t have too much trouble against the Cowboys this week (the absence of Sean Lee would be a nice bonus).
- I’m going to avoid going into too much depth about Kareem Hunt, although his results last week were mind boggling, and leave it that he still should be in your starting lineup in just about all situations. After allowing nine rushing touchdowns in their three previous games, I wouldn’t read too much into Buffalo’s success last week. After bursting onto the scene, Hunt has noticeably cooled off, and while he isn’t innocent the Chiefs and their lackluster offense around him should receive some blame. Hunt is simply too talented for these struggles to continue, and Kansas City needs him in order to succeed.
- That was the Joe Mixon we have been waiting for. It didn’t matter that Cleveland had actually allowed a league best 3.1 yards per carry, as the rookie had the best game of his short career. He went over 100 yards, 114 and a TD, for the first time in his career and it was his highest total of rushing yards since he gained 62 yards in Week 3. It was also the second straight week of a high workload, as he has 23 and 20 carries the past two weeks. It was also a good sign that 66 of Mixon’s yards came after contact and he added three catches for 51 yards. This week his match-up against Pittsburgh could prove to be challenging, but you can’t argue with his recent results or workload.
- It wasn’t pretty on the ground last week for Carlos Hyde, 47 yards on 16 carries, but thanks to his role in the passing game it wasn’t a lost day. Overall he is averaging a solid 85 yards per game, and despite lacking in big plays, touchdowns (just four rushing) or explosiveness he has given fantasy owners solid production. In fact, Hyde has proven to be a valuable commodity in PPR leagues as he has caught 49 passes, though it is for 295 yards. With Jimmy Garoppolo now under center things might look a little better for the 49ers’ offense, and Hyde will be the main beneficiary.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 13 rankings: