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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Running Backs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 11
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:
Minnesota, N.Y. Giants, Seattle, Tennessee

Grab a Helmet

Ryan Mathews @ DEN: Now that Chris Johnson has safely returned to the camp of must-start running backs, it’s time to start looking for our next reclamation project. Mathews certainly meets the candidate qualifications. He was a top-notch rock toter as recently as last year, ranking seventh overall at the position for the 2011 season. This year, he’s fallen off the map, ranking just 26th overall, both on a total points basis and on a points-per-game basis (the more damning metric). It’s unlikely his skills have deteriorated drastically (it’s only his third season), so…what exactly gives and why should we start believing in him again? Would “I don’t know” and “because I said so” suffice? Probably not, huh? I guess you could say I’ve a hunch Mathews is about to become more productive, provided he actually plays this Sunday (he missed Wednesday’s practice). He’s topped the century mark in three of his four career meetings against the Broncos and has also tallied three touchdowns against them. It seems plausible he could break out on Sunday.

C.J. Spiller

With Jackson out, Spiller is a RB1.

C.J. Spiller v. MIA: Spiller’s credentials as a top-notch rock toter can hardly be questioned at this point. He’s averaging an absurd 8 yards per touch (he’s a running back) and an even more absurd 7.3 yards per rushing attempt (a really GOOD running back). The only thing preventing him from superstardom, both fantasy and otherwise, is the fact he doesn’t touch the ball enough. Or rather, he HASN’T touched the ball enough until now. That’s destined to change right quick when the Bills square off against their division rivals, Miami, in Orchard Park on Thursday night. Fred Jackson, the guy Spiller bleeds all those touches to, needs more than the short week to overcome his concussion (there’s that word again) and has already been ruled out for Week 11. More touches for Spiller means those per-touch averages will likely go down, but…more touches for Spiller! Get excited.

Trent Richardson @ DAL: Richardson recently warned upcoming opponents they’re going to see “a whole other Trent” once his ribs are healed. Translation: We ain’t seen nothing yet. Presumably, those tender ribs healed during the Browns’ bye in Week 10, so consider yourselves warned, upcoming opponents. It’s kind of scary, actually, to consider how good Richardson might eventually become. He was billed as the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson back before April’s draft and he’s been every bit as good as advertised despite playing for a terrible squad with precious few other weapons. Marked men in the NFL usually get routinely stymied but Richardson has managed to stay within arm’s reach of the top 10 ranks for most of the season. The nagging injuries might be a longer-term concern since he’s not at all a finesse back, but he’s at least sturdily built and plenty elusive. In other words, he’s able to avoid much of the contact intended for him. I like the former Crimson Tide ground-pounder to roll this Sunday.

Grab a Gatorade

Chris Ivory @ OAK: Ivory is just the latest in a long line of out-of-nowhere backs being gobbled up by fantasy GMs on league waiver wires. This happens every year, after all, and especially at the position most susceptible to rampant attrition, running back. The one big problem with guys like him is that the guys they were asked to replace inevitably return. In Ivory’s case, that’s happened much sooner than was originally expected (Darren Sproles could play this Sunday). Another problem with Ivory more specifically is that his success rests on some pretty flimsy fundamentals. He’s only carried the ball 17 times in two games. Though he’s scored twice, one of them was a 56-yard house call against the Falcons in Week 10. Take away that carry and he’s got 16 totes for 64 yards and a score in two games. Still interested in having Ivory underpin your playoff run? We can’t take that 56-yard homer away from him, of course, but I wouldn’t go expecting it to happen again anytime soon. Be careful.

Michael Turner v. ARZ: Hey, remember that time Atlanta’s coaching staff vowed to cut down on Turner’s workload and give more carries to Jacquizz Rodgers and then idiots like me lined up to guzzle the Kool-Aid like thirsty desert wanderers? Never. Buying it. Again. Also, they should probably have lived up to that promise because Turner has looked really shaky at times this year. The most recent case in point was last week at the Superdome when he failed to get the necessary third-down yard (yes, yard) on two separate occasions. One of those occasions was at the goal line in the waning moments and likely could have sealed the win for the Falcons. Alas, Turner was stuffed, the Saints ran out most of the clock, and Mercury Morris and company popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their perfect 14-0 season. You’ll probably start him against the Cardinals this weekend but if I owned him, I’d feel more like punishing him with a benching.

Rashad Jennings @ HOU: We’re another week deeper into the season but seemingly no closer to the first rushing touchdown scored by a Texans opponent. Matt Forte, a fairly elite option, managed just 39 yards on 16 carries in the Week 10 matchup at Soldier Field and never really threatened to do the deed. That doesn’t bode well for Jennings, a not-so-elite option getting the start once again because Maurice Jones-Drew is still on the shelf. While Forte was legitimately struggling against the stalwart Houston defense, Jennings was struggling – to the tune of 27 yards on 11 carries – against the far-from-stalwart Colts front. He only got 11 carries, moreover, because the Jags were trailing big almost immediately. Think there’s a pretty good chance they’ll fall behind Houston this Sunday, and in a hurry? If you do, think very hard about whether you wanna trot Jennings out there. He’s a highly risky play in Week 11.

Wide Receivers