Backfields in motion
- Darren McFadden received a season-high 30 carries and four targets in the passing game but averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Even when healthy, DMC has been unable to break off many big runs. In fact, Mike Goodson has looked far more explosive when called upon. He received more than four carries for first time all season with 13 totes and 89 yards. Now that the Raiders backfield is back to relative health, Marcel Reece has settled back into his fullback duties. Volume alone will keep DMC in your lineup, but Goodson's sudden increase in usage makes him an emergency option in deeper formats.
A quick deficit left Doug Martin with only nine carries and 12 touches against in what was a great matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Quarterback Josh Freeman couldn't get the offense moving, and with the score rapidly getting out of the hand Martin never had a chance. The opponent this week, the St. Louis Rams, has allowed nine rushing touchdowns to running backs over their last seven games. Don't overreact. Keep the Muscle Hamster uncaged.
T-Rich also irked with game plan
- After scoring two touchdowns and giving the Cleveland Browns the lead at halftime, Trent Richardson said it was "shocking" to only receive two carries early in the third quarter and zero attempts in the final frame. Afterward, T-Rich openly questioned the coaching staff for not sticking with the game plan. This week the Browns travel to face a brutal Denver Broncos run defense that has not allowed a touchdown on the ground to a running back all year. Even though he's scored six touchdowns in the last four games Richardson has only averaged 56.8 yards per game. If Richardson is slowing down or defenses are simply selling out in an effort to stop him, he's still finding ways to score and remains a must-start.
- Ryan Mathews (collarbone) is done for the year, bringing a merciful end to his dreadful season. Curtis Brinkley got the majority of playing time after Mathews departed, primarily because the team was playing from behind. In a closer content, Jackie Battle would receive more chances to kick up some dust. If Ronnie Brown (hamstring) is able to go, he'll likely bump Brinkley out of the mix and offer a desperate flex play.
- Even though Joique Bell played two more snaps than Mikel Leshoure during an embarrassing defeat to the Arizona Cardinals, the former was not nearly as efficient in his limited number of touches as in previous weeks. The blame can't go to Bell, though, as the entire offense struggled, led by Matthew Stafford throwing three interceptions. The Atlanta Falcons have been friendly to opposing running backs for much of the season, keeping Bell has a risky but somewhat promising RB3 option.
- Mike Tolbert scored a pair of one-yard touchdowns in the first quarter during his best vulture effort since signing with the Carolina Panthers. As long as Jonathan Stewart (ankle) remains sidelined, Tolbert will get a small handful of carries in addition to blocking duties for the resurgent DeAngelo Williams. Tolbert draws a struggling Raiders run defense but is purely a speculative play in hopes of landing another short touchdown.
- The San Francisco 49ers have given LaMichael James eight carries in each of the last two games and even trusted him several times on key plays during the fourth quarter. Frank Gore has been given the rock more than 20 times in two of the last three games, so the team may look to spell Gore more frequently in hopes of keeping him fresh for the postseason.
- Leonard Hankerson scored a pair of touchdowns off rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins after the Washington Redskins opted to err on the side of caution with Robert Griffin III (knee). Hankerson was only targeted three times and is still behind Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss in the pecking order. Another scoring outburst would be tough to duplicate, but if Cousins is called up once more, a hapless Philadelphia Eagles defense could end up allowing big plays to anyone.
- Over the last three games, Riley Cooper has averaged seven targets per game for the Eagles and has scored three times in the last six. Cooper isn't posting much in the way of yardage but is connecting with Nick Foles on touchdowns, particularly in the red zone. In Week 11 he registered a season-high 61 yards against the 'Skins and looks like a pretty legit WR3 or WR4.
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts.
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