Not only is Arian Foster expected to return today, he also has a very appealing matchup for Week 13. While Foster is the indisputable workhorse for Houston, the backfield situations for Minnesota and Tampa Bay are slightly more complicated, and not nearly as palatable fantasy-wise.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens
Probable – Shoulder
Mathews missed seven games because of a MCL sprain, but returned two weeks ago and has rushed for 175 yards in the past two games. He put up 105 last week against the Rams, but also left at one point because of a shoulder injury. The good news is that he did return to that game and was a full practice participant this week. He is Probable, and you must start Mathews, but just keep in mind that the Ravens are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to RBs.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
Probable – Groin
After missing the past two games because of a groin injury, it looks like Foster will finally get back on the field today. He was still limited in practice on Friday, but Foster is listed as Probable, which is defined as a “virtual certainty” to play. Head coach Bill O’Brien also has said he expects Foster to play. As frustrating as it’s been to own Foster this season, at least he’s picking a good time to get back out there. The Titans are last in the NFL in rushing defense (145.4 ypg) and have given up 13 TDs on the ground. Foster is a must-start and his return means Alfred Blue’s days of fantasy relevancy are probably over.
Charles Sims, RBs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Probable – Ankle
Sims is the only Buccaneer back on the injury report this week, as Doug Martin has been removed. Sims was limited in practice both Wednesday and Thursday, but got in a full session on Friday and is listed as Probable. Even though it looks like Sims and Martin are good to go for today, I’m not sure I would trust either in my starting lineup. For one, both will at least share the touches and last week that breakdown was 12 for Martin and eight for Sims. Those 20 touches, however, produced a total of 64 yards and no touchdowns. The only thing that appears clear with this backfield at this point is that Bobby Rainey is pretty much a non-factor. As far as Sims and Martin go, if you want to take a chance on either, you go right ahead but I hope it’s as nothing more than a desperation flex option.
Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, RBs, Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers
Probable – Concussion; Doubftul – Back
Looks like the Vikings will be down one man in their backfield, but it will be a different face this week. Asiata is listed as Probable and expected to return today after missing last week because of a concussion. McKinnon, however, is Doubtful as his back injury has gotten progressively worse. He was not able to practice at all this week and with the recent addition of Ben Tate, there’s no reason for the Vikings to take any chances with their third-round pick. In fact, McKinnon himself said on Friday that he was not going to play. Even without McKinnon, there could be three mouths to feed today against the Panthers with Asiata, Tate and second-year back Joe Banyard likely to see touches. How the touches will get distributed is anyone’s guess, but this has all the makings of a dreaded RBBC and is a situation I would avoid at all costs.