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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Running Backs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 16
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:

Grab a Helmet

LeSean McCoy v. CHI: McCoy says he wants to “roll” this weekend and put the Eagles offense on his back vs. the Bears. He doesn’t actually need to (Philly’s got plenty of other weapons), but it’s nice to hear, regardless, and especially when he’ll be facing a squad that’s giving up almost 132 rushing yards per game. That’s last in the league, by the way, and the next closest team (Atlanta) is more than a game’s worth shy of catching up. Put another way, these ain’t your typical Monsters of the Midway. Chicago likely gets Lance Briggs back on Sunday and that might help some. I have my doubts, however, that it will make a huge difference against an explosive and extremely diverse Philadelphia attack. McCoy’s no longer atop the fantasy RB heap thanks to Jamaal Charles’ ridiculous Week 15, but he still stands a pretty good chance of being the second-ranked rock toter when it’s all said and done. Even including Charles, he might be the best start of the weekend at his position.

DeMarco Murray

Memo to Jason Garrett: Give DeMarco Murray the ball.

DeMarco Murray @ WAS: Jason Garrett’s mystifying misusage of Murray in the final minutes of last week’s debacle will probably cost him his job if Dallas doesn’t make the playoffs. Whether his quarterback should have checked to a pass or not on the game’s most critical play (Romo’s momentum-changing pick), the fact is Murray only carried the ball 18 times on a day when he averaged 7.4 yards per romp and his Cowboys nursed a double-digit lead most of the afternoon. If you’re wondering how to kick away a 23-point lead in the NFL, Garrett just wrote the playbook. He can’t afford to make the same mistake twice and likely won’t against a Redskins defense that is offering up only token resistance of late. Stick with Murray and hope the Cowboys’ brain trust seeks more balance in a game they simply must have thanks to last week’s meltdown.

Ryan Mathews v. OAK: Mathews is capable of just about anything this coming weekend and might be the position’s biggest wildcard as we get set to decide league championships across the land. Recent history (two 29-carry, 100+-yard outings in a row) suggests he’s in for a ginormous afternoon against Oakland’s struggling defense. A more comprehensive look at his up-and-down career, however, indicates he’s equally as capable of breaking hearts (not to mention bones) come Sunday afternoon. The Fresno St. product had never actually carried the ball 29 times in a game prior to Week 14 and he’s now done it two times in the past two weeks. Whether that should be considered a red flag or a harbinger of great things to come is up to you to decide, but I’ll offer this: I’d start him over his backfield mate, Danny Woodhead, this Sunday. I would not have said that most of the year.

Grab a Gatorade

Pierre Thomas or Darren Sproles @ CAR: New Orleans dominated the first matchup of NFC South rivals just two short weeks ago, a much-hyped Monday night affair that took place at the Louisiana Superdome. They did so by suffocating a resurgent Panthers offense and exposing a Carolina secondary that hadn’t yielded more than one passing TD in a game all year (Brees threw four of them). What the Saints WEREN’T able to do that evening was run the ball effectively or, frankly, even at all. If you factor out Sproles’ 38-yard scamper (his only carry), they managed just 31 yards on 16 other handoffs despite being ahead most of the night. Carolina is second overall against opposing backs for a reason (only Arizona has yielded fewer points to the position) and should have no trouble making the Saints one-dimensional again this weekend. Whether that alters the bottom line this time around is another story entirely.

Stevan Ridley or LeGarrette Blount @ BAL: Calling the Patriots’ running back situation “murky” would be a significant understatement at this juncture. Ridley, Blount, Shane Vereen, and Brandon Bolden have all led the team in RB points at least twice apiece this year, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how Coach Belichick and Co. utilize them on a weekly basis. The only thing we can count on is that Ridley’s next fumble in a Patriots uniform will probably be his last. Regardless who gets the lion’s share of the work in Week 16, the chances of New England reaching paydirt by ground are probably pretty remote. Baltimore has yielded up just four rushing TDs in 2013 (only Seattle and Carolina can match that) and desperately needs a W to stay in position for the final AFC wildcard spot. Expect a slugfest in the Charm City come Sunday.

Andre Brown @ DET: Baltimore’s in position to make the playoffs thanks mostly to Justin Tucker’s 61-yard, game-winning howitzer in the Motor City last Monday night, a kick that put the Lions’ backs squarely against the wall in their own quest to make the NFL postseason. In that game, Detroit gave up just 56 rushing yards (on 12 carries) to the Ravens’ Ray Rice. Amazingly, that was only the second time since Week 5 they’d surrendered more than 50 yards to an opposing back…and the other time occurred in the Week 14 loss to Philly (LeSean McCoy’s snow-aided 217 yards). Detroit is a profoundly frustrating team that should be a lot better than it is, agreed, but the one thing they do consistently well is stuff opposing ground-gainers. Brown isn’t particularly special and neither is the New York offense right now, so sit him down.

Wide Receivers