Unfortunately, Week 14 was another rough one for fantasy running backs – both in terms of more injuries and disappointing showings from players owners have been relying on this season. And before we close the book on last week completely, let’s take a peek and see how my Week 14 start/sit fantasy advice panned out.
Start Doug Martin (14.6 fantasy points) – Imagine what he could have done if he had more than 11 carries?
Start Lamar Miller (20.9 FP) – He scored two touchdowns on only 12 carries.
Sit Javorius Allen (3.8 FP) – Like the entire Ravens team, he was highly ineffective against the Legion of Boom.
Sit DeMarco Murray (3.7 FP) – Demoted to fourth-string RB before the game.
I warned you about starting Todd Gurley, but then he went out and promptly ran over (140 yds., 2 TDs) the Lions.
START THESE RBs...
Jeremy Hill, CIN (at SF)
Hill has been a complete bust all season long in both fantasy and real life football. He was held to 24 yards on nine touches in Week 14 against Pittsburgh, as Cincinnati had to play for behind all game with backup AJ McCarron at quarterback. So why would anyone consider starting Hill this week? Well because the Bengals will look to play a more conservative style of offense with McCarron now the starter for the foreseeable future. The matchup doesn’t hurt either, as the 9ers are allowing the most fantasy points to running backs on the season. Last week, San Francisco surrendered 213 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to the previously moribund Cleveland rushing attack. Look for Hill to have a big game.
Charcandrick West, KC (at BAL)
West was force to split carries and gave up the goal-line work to Spencer Ware last week against the Chargers, but he did manage 54 yards on only 10 carries. This week, however, should be a different story as it looks like Ware might not be able to play due to injury. That means West will be getting nearly 100 percent of the touches out of the backfield with the Chiefs headed to Baltimore this week. Even though the Ravens are giving up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs, this game looks like it could get out of hand early in the second half, meaning plenty of opportunities for West to run out the clock. West should be good for at least 100 yards and a touchdown on the ground in this one.
Lamar Miller, MIA (at SD)
It’s amazing what Miller can do when he actually is a focal point of the Dolphins’ offense. Last week against the Giants, he only carried the ball 12 times because the Dolphins were forced to play catch up, but Miller still managed 89 rushing yards and two touchdowns. You can bet that the good times will keep rolling this week as the Dolphins travel to San Diego to face a Chargers defense that has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs this season and might have already packed in it for the year. Don’t be surprised to see Miller score another 20 fantasy points this week.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Bryce Brown, SEA (vs. CLE)
Brown is more of a what the heck flex play this week, but so was Thomas Rawls when Marshawn Lynch went down and look what Rawls did. This week the Seahawks host Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns in a game that has blowout written all over it, especially with the way Russell Wilson is playing. You can imagine that Wilson will need to slow down in the second half when the Seahawks are up by 20, so Brown should get plenty of chance to show what he can do. He might just end up with more than 100 rushing yards and a touchdown.
SIT THESE RBs...
Devonta Freeman, ATL (vs. JAC)
Freeman blew the fantasy world out of the water from Weeks 3 to 6 when he averaged close to 30 fantasy points per game and scored eight touchdowns. He was one of the best late-round picks or waiver wire pickups of the season. But he’s been a below-average fantasy back since Week 8. A lot of Freeman’s struggles (and Julio Jones’ struggles too) can be solely attributed to how terrible Matt Ryan has played this year. Even in a home game this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are giving up the 14th-most fantasy points to running backs this season, you just cannot trust Freeman, especially if you are still in your fantasy playoffs.
Denver Broncos (at PIT)
The Broncos’ backfield is a mess, not only because you don’t know who is going to lead the team in carries, but also because Denver just can’t run the ball on offense. Last week Ronnie Hillman was the lead back, getting the ball 19 times, while Juwan Thompson handled the rock nine times. C.J. Anderson was active, but didn’t play. Anderson might be the best bet to produce out of all three this week against the Steelers, but Pittsburgh’s defense has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs on the year and you can’t be guaranteed that Anderson is going to get enough volume to produce. Stay away from the Bronco ball carriers this week.
DeMarco Murray, PHI (vs. ARI)
The unfortunate fall of Murray continued in Week 14, as he was moved down the Eagles’ depth chart and received a mere 11 carries in a win over Buffalo. Even if head coach Chip Kelly lets him out of the doghouse, how can you trust Murray with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles in the mix? Oh, the Cardinals pose a difficult matchup too.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Matt Forte, CHI (at MIN)
Forte is stuck in the dreaded running back by committee with Jeremy Langford. He handled 11 touches compared to Jeremy Langford's 14. Forte salvaged his fantasy day by punching in a seven-yard rushing score, but otherwise struggled to get much going against the Redskins. Forte looked to have regained RB1 value in a 26-touch Week 13 game against San Francisco but the Bears' backfield reverted to a timeshare against the Redskins, reducing Forte back to RB2 value ahead of a Week 15 date with Minnesota. The Vikings are allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs and Forte will probably struggle to get into double digits this week.
— 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.