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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Running Backs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 13
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:

Grab a Helmet

Rashad Jennings @ DAL: Darren McFadden is practicing this week and that means he has a chance to suit up for the Raiders in Big D come Thursday afternoon. Here’s what it doesn’t necessarily mean: He’s going to immediately supplant Jennings as Oakland’s primary option out of the backfield. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson said as much early in the week, indicating the Silver and Black will ride the “hot hand” (Jennings) for now and ease DMC back into the mix. Normally, that phrase gives me heart palpitations, but not in this particular case. The Cowboys possess the league’s very worst run defense and were just feasted upon by the Giants’ tandem of Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs in Week 12 (30 carries for 202 yards, a 6.7 yards-per-carry average). Either Jennings or McFadden or both could be dining on Dallas’ toothsome defenders come Turkey Day. Definitely start the former.

Shane Vereen

Shane Vereen is the only Patriots running back that can be trusted.

Shane Vereen @ HOU: Stevan Ridley’s owners have to be very nervous after the third-year back dropped yet another football on the fake stuff last Sunday, costing his team a touchdown (it was returned for six) and himself a whole bunch of playing time in the Pats’ overtime victory over Denver. It was Ridley’s third fumble in three games and it seems at least possible he could be a healthy scratch in Houston this coming weekend. That opens the door for guys like Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen to emerge as key fantasy contributors come playoff time. My money’s on Vereen to make the biggest impact, especially in PPR leagues, as he’s the most dynamic of the New England backs (basically a receiver in a running back’s body) and also the most dangerous. He hasn’t scored yet since returning from a broken wrist, but I think he gets on the board this Sunday. If you stashed him all year, it’s payoff time.

Fred Jackson v. ATL: This is tough for a guy who went all in on C.J. Spiller this season to write, but…Jackson is clearly the more reliable option in the Buffalo backfield. There, I finally said it. I have no idea why that’s the case, naturally, or I wouldn’t have plunked down more than a quarter of my auction budget on the supremely talented but enigmatic Spiller. I’d have been better served, in retrospect, to have spent a quarter of that quarter (or even less) on the guy with the lower ceiling and the more reliable touches, not to mention numbers. Jackson has turned 141 carries into almost 600 yards and six touchdowns thus far, meaning he’s currently on pace to best his career totals in both TDs and fantasy points. That might get him into the RB top 10 by year’s end, a feat most thought his teammate would achieve with very little difficulty in 2013.

Grab a Gatorade

BenJarvus Green-Ellis @ SD: Of the 35 running backs that have toted the rock at least 100 times this season, only Willis McGahee (0.32) and Bernard Pierce (0.42) carry a lower fantasy points-per-rush average than the Law Firm. I’m not sure if that’s a meaningful fantasy statistic or not, but any figure that puts you in the same conversation as McGahee and Pierce isn’t painting a very rosy picture. BJGE has been slowly and surely usurped by Cincy’s dynamic rookie, Gio Bernard, as the season has progressed and there’s really no reason to think that trend will be reversed unless the youngster gets dinged up and misses time. I doubt you’ve made it this far relying too heavily on Green-Ellis, so there’s really no reason to start now unless you’re desperate. Avoid the less productive Bengal back in Week 13.

Maurice Jones-Drew @ CLE: The Browns have been a laughingstock basically since the franchise reboot in 1999, but there are subtle signs of life if you’ve been paying close enough attention. Josh Gordon is an absolute monster at WR, for instance, and someone you could pair with a legit QB to form a dangerous passing game. That legit QB may come sooner rather than later, moreover, thanks to the seemingly self-destructive Trent Richardson trade (for a #1 draft pick) that instead looks like one of the league’s shrewdest moves this season. Then there’s the Cleveland defense, an unsung unit that has yet to allow a single 100-yard rusher in 2013, a claim only Denver, Detroit, the Jets, and San Francisco can also make. The Browns are the still the Browns, yes, but they aren’t exactly the doormat they’ve been in recent seasons and they’re still better than Jacksonville. Reserve MJD despite his recent resurgence.

Lamar Miller @ NYJ: Surprise! If you thought I couldn’t resist another jab at the aforementioned Richardson, you stand corrected...barely. I certainly had plenty of material left (a teammate named Dan Herron outscored him last week and another guy named Benny Cunningham rushed for more yards in one game than Richardson has in over a month), but there comes a time to move on and spread the ridicule around more equitably. Call me an equal opportunity disparager. Miller certainly deserves some disparagement after the last three games he’s had. Since rushing for 105 yards in the Week 9 win over Cincinnati, the second-year back has managed just 27 yards on 21 carries, a microscopic 1.3 YPC average. Not exactly confidence-stoking stuff with the league’s best run-stuffing unit on deck, is it? Avoid Miller even though he’s likely to get more work now that Daniel Thomas is out for the season.

Wide Receivers