Before I commence with my weekly dose of start/sit fantasy advice for running backs let’s see how my Thanksgiving week (Week 12) serving turned out.
Start Eddie Lacy (17.9 fantasy points) – Is Lacy’s annual late-season resurgence upon us?
Start Javorius Allen (14.4 FP) – He’s the focal point of the Ravens’ offense moving forward.
Sit Matt Forte (5.3 FP) – Is Forte going to be in a timeshare with Jeremy Langford?
Sit Lamar Miller (1.3 FP) – Miller has fallen off a cliff because the Dolphins don’t seem to want to run the ball.
Start T.J. Yeldon (8.2 FP) – In what should have been his best matchup on the season, Yeldon managed only 36 yards.
Sit LeSean McCoy (14.1 FP) – Had a pretty good day against a tough Chiefs defense
START THESE RBs...
DeAngelo Williams, PIT (vs. IND)
After scoring an outstanding 36.5 fantasy points back in Week 9 (the first game that Le’Veon Bell missed after tearing up his knee), Williams has come crashing back down to earth and has only had 83 total rushing yards in his last two games. But Williams’ value doesn’t just lie in his work on the ground; he has really been tearing it up in the passing game. Last week in Seattle, Williams caught all seven of his targets for 88 yards, that’s excellent value if you have Williams in a PPR league. This week the Steelers return home to face the Indianapolis Colts in a game they must win to stay in serious playoff contention. The Colts are giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs on the year and Williams should have no problem scoring close to 20 fantasy points this week, whether it come on the ground or through the air.
Doug Martin, TB (vs. ATL)
Is there another running back that can be as frustrating as Martin is on a week-to-week basis? One week he scores 23.5 fantasy points and the next he only scores 9.8. At least it’s safe to say that if you have Martin on your team you have been extremely satisfied with his production since you probably drafted him as an afterthought. This week Martin and the rest of the Buccaneers welcome the reeling Atlanta Falcons to town. The Falcons have lost four in a row and were just torched at home by Adrian Peterson. Seeing that the Falcons’ defense is currently allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, it’s safe to say that this week will be one of those where Martin busts out. Look for him to rush for 100-plus yards and score at least one touchdown.
Javorius Allen, BAL (at MIA)
In his first-ever game as a starter last week against the Browns, Allen put up a respectable 14.4 fantasy points and that is without scoring a touchdown. It’s clear that the Ravens view Allen as the centerpiece of their offense, which means he is going to get plenty of volume. That’s great news if you were smart enough to pick Allen up off the waiver wire because this week he has a very favorable matchup against the Miami Dolphins and their league-worst rushing defense (138.5 ypg). The Dolphins also are allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Start Allen this week and watch him roll up the points.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Lamar Miller, MIA (vs. BAL)
After lighting it up from Weeks 6 to 9 because he was finally more involved in the Dolphins’ offensive attack, Miller has only rushed for 89 yards in his last three games. Not good considering this week’s matchup against the Ravens, who are eighth in the NFL against the run. The only reason that Miller might be worth the risk is that the Dolphins now have a new offensive coordinator in Zac Taylor and hopefully he will use Miller properly by giving him the 20-plus touches he deserves. If Miller can come close to that type of workload, he would be a sneaky stealth play this week as he should be able to score 15 or more fantasy points.
SIT THESE RBs...
LeSean McCoy, BUF (vs. HOU)
It looks like McCoy is finally healthy and back to being one of the best running backs in all of football. He’s scored double-digit fantasy points in six consecutive games, which also makes him one of the most consistent fantasy RBs. The problem this week with starting McCoy is that the Bill are at home against the Houston Texans. While it’s true that McCoy has scored a touchdown in three of his last four games, the Texans’ defense has only allowed two rushing touchdowns in its last four contests and might be the best unit in the NFL right now. Look for McCoy to struggle in this one.
Mark Ingram, NO (vs. CAR)
Everyone thought that when Khiry Robinson went down with a knee injury in Week 8, that Ingram’s role in the Saints’ offense would grow and that he would blossom into an elite RB1. Well, apparently nothing could be further from the truth. Ingram has only carried the ball 14 times in his last two games, although he did manage to gain 129 rushing yards with those limited attempts. The problem is that the Saints’ defense is so bad that they are often out of games so early that the offense is forced to abandon the run for the pass in an effort to try and catch up. This week will probably be more of the same as the Saints host the undefeated Carolina Panthers, who are middle of the pack (15th) in fantasy points allowed to running backs. It’s just hard to see Ingram getting the volume necessary for him to produce quality fantasy numbers this week.
DeMarco Murray, PHI (at NE)
This might be the easiest sit of the week and if you need a big game from Murray to make your league’s fantasy playoffs, you might want to look for a better option. Murray has really slowed down and struggled as of late, just like the entire Eagles offense. Murray has scored 10.1 fantasy points combined in his last two games and is coming off a Thanksgiving outing where he carried the ball 14 times for a measly 30 yards. This week the Eagles travel to New England to play the Patriots. The Patriots are actually pretty tough against the run, currently allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Now most of that can be attributed to the fact most teams playing the Patriots have to abandon the run and pass the ball to try and keep pace with Tom Brady and company. That’s exactly what will happen this week as the Eagles won’t be running the ball very much up in Foxborough.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Todd Gurley, STL (vs. ARI)
Many people thought that Gurley was going to take them to the fantasy promise land this year but it appears that he’s hit the dreaded rookie wall. It sure doesn’t help that Gurley has Nick Foles or Case Keenum as his quarterback and that his head coach Jeff Fisher didn’t ease him into the NFL coming off a major knee injury. Gurley is coming off a game where he scored just 3 fantasy points thanks to 19 yards on nine carries versus the Bengals and this week he goes up against the Arizona Cardinals and their stout defense. The Cardinals have been solid against the run (4th in rushing defense, 12th-fewest fantasy points allowed to RBs) and know that all they have to do is shut down Gurley because there is no way Foles or Keenum are going to beat them through the air. In a week where people are fighting to make the fantasy playoffs, Gurley isn’t going to be of much assistance.
— 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.