by Ray Kuhn
If you want to keep the action going, then we have you covered for the first week of the playoffs. Obviously the pool is not as deep with just eight teams playing, but that does not mean there are not some good options. However, depending on the format in which you are playing, running back is very top heavy.
Here is how I see the Top 15 running backs shaking out:
1. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – at Indianapolis
2. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New Orleans
3. Eddie Lacy- Green Bay Packers – vs. San Francisco
4. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – at Cincinnati
5. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Green Bay
6. Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Kansas City
7. Giovanni Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. San Diego
8. Danny Woodhead – San Diego Chargers – at Cincinnati
9. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. San Diego
10. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – at Philadelphia
11. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – at Philadelphia
12. Trent Richardson – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Kansas City
13. Bryce Brown – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New Orleans
14. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – vs. San Francisco
15. Kendall Hunter – San Francisco 49ers – at Green Bay
- After the Colts acquired Trent Richardson, I’m not sure many people would have expected to see Donald Brown ranked this high, if at all. There is still a split in the backfield between the two, but Brown is the more explosive back with greater potential. On the season he gained 537 yards and scored six rushing touchdowns, but he also has value as a receiver adding another 214 yards on 27 catches and two more touchdown. It really was a tale of two seasons, as he really didn’t have his coming out party until November 10 when he gained 80 yards and scored two touchdowns against the Titans. Those 80 yards were actually the most he gained all season, but he still offers more upside than a lot of the other options. Richardson has gained 563 yards rushing, but only has four combined touchdowns.
- I don’t think that it is a secret that LeSean McCoy is going to play a large part in Philadelphia’s game plan this week. Each week teams are aware of McCoy, but they have been unable to stop him. Nick Foles has played a large part in keeping defenses honest, and I think 100 yards and a touchdown is the minimum that you can expect from Shady this week.
- The same can be said for Jamaal Charles, but if the Chiefs are going to advance, they are going to have to rely on Charles in a big way. His value comes more as a receiver (he caught 70 passes for 693 yards this season), but you can’t discount his running as Charles found the end zone 12 times on the ground. It really is splitting hairs between the two backs, but I like Charles’ matchup just a little bit more.
- Ryan Mathews has come on strong over the past few weeks coming just one yard short of four straight 100+ yard games to close out the season. In fact, Mathews had six such games in the season, but the one knock against him is that he only has six touchdowns and gives way to Danny Woodhead in the receiving game. The fumbling hasn’t seemed to an issue for Mathews this year nor has his health, and I would feel confident moving forward with him in the playoffs.
- The Green Bay backfield is a situation that bears watching. Eddie Lacy is still battling an ankle injury, although word is that he came out of this week’s game in good shape. Against the Bears, Lacy gained 81 total yards (66 rushing) while James Starks picked up 88 yards on 11 carries. Lacy did also score a touchdown. I would not worry about Starks taking away from Lacy going forward, as his performance will benefit from his ankle healing and the return of Aaron Rodgers.