By this point in the fantasy season the running back landscape usually bears no resemblance to the preseason rankings. Injuries, depth chart changes and other various factors seem to affect RBs more than any other position in fantasy. Owners often have to get creative with their lineup decisions in order to squeeze out a few extra points every week.
On that note, we’ll take a look at which RBs you should start or consider sitting in Week 11. But first, let’s see if I was on the right rack with my Week 10 suggestions.
Start Jordan Howard (8 fantasy points) – Howard is the only bright spot on the Bears as he had another 100 rushing yards (and a fumble) against Tampa Bay.
Sit all Minnesota RBs (10.8 FP combined) – Matt Asiata had a touchdown, but just 13 rushing yards. Jerick McKinnon didn’t do any better, finishing with 16 yards on the ground.
Sit LeGarrette Blount (24.9 FP) – Everyone thought Tom Brady would air it out against Seattle, but instead Blount found the end zone three times.
Start Jonathan Stewart (3.9 FP) – It looks like Cam Newton is back to running the ball and stealing all the goal-line carries too.
Teams on bye: Atlanta, Denver, New York Jets, San Diego
START THESE RBs...
C.J. Prosise, SEA (vs. PHI)
Prosise was already playing a ton – and playing well – with Christine Michael on the roster, but he’s since been cut (and picked up by Green Bay), which is a ringing endorsement for the rookie’s involvement moving forward. Thomas Rawls should finally return this week after a lengthy absence because of a leg fracture, but you have to think he’s eased in, especially after Prosise racked up more than 150 total yards last week. The Eagles aren’t the easiest matchup in the world, but he should get plenty of touches in what has emerged as one of the best offenses in the league recently. Fire him up as a borderline RB1 in Week 11.
LeGarrette Blount, NE (at SF)
Let’s run the big guy out here two weeks in a row. Even with Rob Gronkowski expected to miss because of a reported punctured lung, the Patriots will have no problem pummeling the 49ers and Blount figures to have a big part in the beatdown. If Blount can punch it in three times against Seattle and already has 12 scores this season, we all need to accept the fact that he is going to get his every week now.
Spencer Ware, KC (vs. TB)
Ware returned to action last week and went back to his featured role, playing 40 snaps and seeing 16 touches against the Panthers. While he didn't post great numbers, the veteran is still a solid option ahead of a great matchup against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have more than 20 fantasy points per game to running backs.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
James Starks, GB (at WAS)
Last week, Starks was playing in his first game following a lengthy absence due to a torn meniscus. Add in the fact that the Packers were down early and forced to air it out, which seemingly would have been perfect for Ty Montgomery's pass-catching skill set, and it wouldn't have been surprising to see Starks play on a limited basis. Instead, he played 71 percent of the snaps and received 10 touches. It doesn't make sense for the Packers to basically bench Montgomery, who has provided a spark to the offense, but for now, Starks is the clear lead back, and a matchup against a Washington defense that is 28th in the league in yards per carry allowed is one that even this struggling running game should be able to exploit.
SIT THESE RBs...
Carlos Hyde, SF (vs. NE)
Once upon a time, Hyde was averaging an absurd 18.0 fantasy points per game over the first five weeks and seemed destined to have his best season as a pro and solidify his status as a locked-in RB1. Fast-forward to Week 11 – Hyde has missed two games due to injury and was plain useless in the other two, producing just 66 rushing yards on 27 carries. It shouldn’t get any better this week. The Patriots haven’t allowed more than 89 rushing yards to an opposing RB this season, and the game script for this one – with the 49ers most likely playing catch up for most of the game – is heavily against a good day for Hyde. He’s a flex option at best for me.
Ryan Mathews, PHI (at SEA)
Mathews turned in his best game of the season in Week 10, carving up the Falcons for 139 total yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion on 21 touches. But we've seen him have productive games before, only to see him play 20 percent of the snaps (if that many) in subsequent weeks. With Darren Sproles still playing a significant role, and Wendell Smallwood also involved, it's difficult to predict what head coach Doug Pederson will do with his backfield on any given week. Add in a matchup at CenturyLink Field against a Seahawks defense that is third in the NFL in yards per carry allowed, and you're pretty much banking on a short touchdown if you start Mathews.
T.J Yeldon and Chris Ivory, JAC (at DET)
They’re splitting carries right down the middle still, and they’re getting basically the same touches through the air. They can both be penciled in for about 10 carries and two receptions each. Ivory may or may not be the red zone back, and this is just a reminder that there have to be better options out there for you (Rob Kelley or even the Minnesota backs). The Jags’ tandem could have RB3 or RB4 potential in PPR leagues.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Todd Gurley, LA (vs. MIA)
I've had Gurley listed in this “warning” section for two straight weeks (14.6 combined fantasy points), and I'll continue to list him as such until he shows some signs of life. Next on the schedule is a tough matchup against the Dolphins, who have allowed a mere three rushing touchdowns and an average of 15.9 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. Also don’t forget that Jared Goff will make his NFL debut in this game.
— 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.
(C.J. Prosise photo courtesy of www.seahawks.com)