Week 13 is the last of the bye weeks and means those fantasy owners who have DeMarco Murray or Isaiah Crowell will have to look elsewhere to fill out their running back slots. So who should you trust to carry the load for your fantasy team this week? Before we look at Week 13, let’s take a quick peek back to see how my Week 12 start/sit advice played out.
Sit Jeremy Hill (8.2 fantasy points) – Hill is the only RB in Cincy, but last week was a rough go against the No. 1 rush defense in Baltimore.
Start Thomas Rawls (3.8 FP) – Seattle’s entire offense was terrible last week in Tampa Bay.
Start Spencer Ware (9.6 FP) – The Chiefs were able to put up 30 points on the Broncos, but Ware didn’t really help.
Teams on bye: Cleveland, Tennessee
START THESE RBs...
Doug Martin, TB (at SD)
With his health no longer in question, Doug Martin should see 20-25 touches against a run defense that ranks among the bottom 10 teams in the NFL. He’s also due for a decent game through the air, catching just two passes for three yards last Sunday. He’s a true three-down back and is doing quite well in pass protection.
Theo Riddick, DET (at NO)
Riddick is still the “feature” back in this Detroit offense. He didn’t do that much against the Vikings on Thanksgiving Day, but that is a pretty good defense. This week it’s New Orleans, whose rushing defense is still among the worst in the league. The only reason Todd Gurley finished with 89 rushing yards last week is because the fact the Rams were trailing (by a lot) for most of the game. However, that won’t affect Riddick, as most of his production comes via the passing game. Riddick is already a borderline RB2 in most leagues (solid RB2 in PPR), and this combination of bad defense and good game script makes him a solid RB2 in pretty much every league.
Jordan Howard, CHI (vs. SF)
Howard recorded a solid 12.7 fantasy points in last week's loss to the Titans, and it could have been more had he not dropped a pass deep in the red zone. I'd keep him active for an upcoming matchup against the 49ers, who have allowed the most rushing yards (1,637), the most touchdowns (17) and the most fantasy points (27.3 PPG) to RBs.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Kenneth Dixon, BAL (vs. MIA)
In Week 7, Dixon played 6.9 percent of the offensive snaps and received two touches. The Ravens then had a Week 8 bye, and since then, here is how his snap percentage has progressed: 28.6, 31.7, 38.2, 45.6. And here are how his touches have progressed: 11, 11, 6, 17. The rookie's role continues to grow, and in Week 12 he finally looked like the player many were expecting him to be earlier in the year, as he racked up 80 total yards. There's still some volatility here, but 12-to-15 touches would be enough for him to have a nice day against the Dolphins, who are 28th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed and have given up four consecutive top-10 fantasy weeks to RBs.
SIT THESE RBs...
Jay Ajayi, MIA (at BAL)
A few key injuries to his stellar offensive line and Ajayi comes back down to earth, averaging 2.5 yards per carry against the 49ers. Luckily for his owners, he got the touchdown, but he’s looked mortal and almost Melvin Gordon-esque over the last month. He needs the touchdown for you to feel comfortable, and now he gets Baltimore’s top-ranked rushing defense. There’s potential for better options, especially if you’re stacked at the position.
Jeremy Hill, CIN (vs. PHI)
There’s potential for Hill to do some damage as a receiver provided he’s no worse for the wear after a scary ankle injury last week. But in standard leagues, he could have another rough outing on the ground after gaining just 21 yards on 12 carries against the Ravens. Now he faces the Eagles, who have done a good job against RBs and just held Green Bay to a combined 48 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Rashad Jennings, NYG (at PIT)
Since the Steelers' Week 8 bye, here are the weekly RB finishes against them: 43rd, 1st, 38th, 42nd. The No. 1 finish was Ezekiel Elliott, but outside of the transcendent rookie the Steelers have been stifling opposing running backs as of late. Jennings has volume on his side – 15-plus touches in three consecutive games – but don't expect much efficiency in this one.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Thomas Rawls, SEA (vs. CAR)
On the one hand, Rawls is the clear go-to guy in the Seattle backfield, as he played 59 percent of the snaps in Week 12 and likely would have gotten more work if the Seahawks weren't forced to play from behind the entire game. On volume alone, he can be valuable, especially at a position so thin. On the other hand, though, he had trouble finding running room behind a porous offensive line (38 yards on 12 carries), and things won't get any easier this week against a Panthers defense that is first in the NFL in yards per carry allowed.
— 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.