Week 12 offered a leaderboard that didn’t feature the usual suspects for fantasy football running backs.
Alvin Kamara maintained his hot streak, finishing first in fantasy points. But other top-five options like Rex Burkhead, Jamaal Williams and Tevin Coleman aren’t normally in that territiory.
But that’s how fantasy football goes and that’s why choosing the right players to start and the right players to sit is so important. Especially with a spot in your league’s playoffs potentially hanging in the balance.
START THESE RBs...
Jordan Howard, CHI (vs. SF)
The Bears will run on the 49ers because it’s all they can do. Howard will get the majority of those carries because he’s the best Bears running back, even though he only managed six rushing yards on seven carries against the Eagles. The 49ers are a bottom-10 rushing D, and the Bears play well at home. Don’t be afraid by these on-again, off-again bad games by Howard.
Samaje Perine, WAS (at DAL, Thurs.)
In standard and PPR leagues, Washington’s only option at RB could be the cork that stops your ship from sinking away from the fantasy playoffs. The Cowboys are holding opponents to less than 100 rushing yards per game, but Perine had four targets last week, and he was the go-to at all times in the running game. He’s a lock for 20 touches, and you can’t ignore that.
Joe Mixon, CIN (vs. PIT, Mon.)
Since Week 3 we’ve been waiting for that Mixon breakout game to happen, and we’ve gotten close at times, but it finally happened. He had 23 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown along with 51 more yards on three catches last week. The Browns are a sneaky stingy defense, but Mixon is proving that he can handle a big workload and the Bengals are giving him the ball. He has a tough matchup against the Steelers, so he’s still in the RB2/3 range just in case, but it’s Week 13 and you’re not benching someone who could very well get 25 touches this week.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Alex Collins, BAL (vs. DET)
After not scoring a TD the first nine games of the season, Collins now has two TDs in his last two games since Baltimore’s Week 10 bye week. Collins and the Ravens get a great matchup in Week 13 against a Lions team that has given up 14 rushing TDs on the year (second only to Buffalo) including eight in their last six games. You should start any workhorse back against the Lions these days.
SIT THESE RBs...
DeMarco Murray, TEN (vs. HOU)
Don’t let the double-digit fantasy points last week fool you. Over the last four games, Murray has totaled just 80 yards on 43 carries and has failed to eclipse 37 yards receiving in any game. He’s going up against a Houston defense that is second best in the league against RBs, only giving up three rushing TDs on the year. No thanks.
Jacquizz Rodgers, TB (at GB)
Doug Martin could miss Week 13 with a concussion, leaving Rodgers as the heir to most of his touches. When he had this role to start the season when Martin was suspended, Rodgers averaged more than 12 touches a game but wasn’t getting much done with them. He needs a touchdown or catches (for PPR leagues) to be relevant, and it’s not a guarantee that he gets all those touches back. Besides, the Packers, surprisingly, are playing well against the run over the last month holding three opponents to less than 90 rushing yards.
Adrian Peterson, ARI (vs. LAR)
Peterson’s volume is nice, but he’s getting nothing done and the Rams seem revitalized after losing to Minnesota. They need this division win. Peterson’s ridiculous volume is no guarantee, either. Game flow could lead to disaster, and even when he’s had 20-plus carry weeks against the likes of Seattle, he only scored 3.2 points. It took 37 carries against San Francisco for AP to get 16 points. Not good.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Jamaal Williams, GB (vs. TB)
Williams averaged 3.4 yards per carry in his first game as the Packers’ starting running back. He averaged 3.2 in his second game. Last week that number dropped to 3.1 But a beautifully executed screen pass resulted in a 46-yard touchdown and Williams tacked on a late score on a delayed handoff near the goal line to make it look like a great game in the fantasy box score. Without those two touchdowns, Williams had another high-volume, low-production day. This week against Tampa Bay he is likely to have another game of 20-23 carries for 60-70 yards and zero touchdowns.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.