Bye Weeks: N/A
Grab a Helmet
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.
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.
Shane Vereen is the only Patriots running
back that can be trusted.
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
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.
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.
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.