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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Running Backs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 14
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:

Grab a Helmet

Knowshon Moreno

Relevant down the fantasy stretch.

Knowshon Moreno @ OAK: I’m often amazed by who becomes relevant down the fantasy stretch, but I guess I shouldn’t be after so many years of watching football. It’s an exceedingly brutal game, after all. Bodies get broken and new ones step into the breach. Moreno has been one of the more surprising replacements since he wasn’t even deemed relevant enough to suit up as recently as three weeks ago. Regardless, he’s seized an opportunity and should now very much be on your radar, having tallied 20 totes in two consecutive games. He didn’t do much with last week’s touches (just 69 yards against Tampa) but now draws a beleaguered Raiders group that has surrendered more than 200 yards rushing on three different occasions this year. That’s bad. Christmas comes early for Moreno and the Broncos offense this Thursday night.

Jonathan Dwyer v. SD: All the Steelers want for Christmas, I’m guessing, is a healthy Big Ben and yet another berth in the playoffs. They’ve failed to reach the second season just four times since the turn of the century and have only posted one losing record in that same span. If they’re able to continue that run of success this year, it will have to be, at least for the time being, on the shoulders of Mr. Dwyer and a typically nasty Curtain D. Coach Tomlin has opted to ride the former Yellow Jacket instead of the more talented Rashard Mendenhall (a healthy scratch in Week 13), ostensibly because he’s predictable and takes care of the football. Whatever the reason, Dwyer’s worth a look this coming Sunday since the Bolts are rapidly becoming a good play-against squad. They’ve lost four straight, once in excruciating fashion, and are giving up almost 130 rushing yards/game in their last three, well above their season average. Start Dwyer.

Alex Green v. DET: The Packers are thin almost everywhere at this point (WR, RB, DB, LB) but comically so along the offensive line. Last week, they plugged in Don Barclay at right tackle, an undrafted free agent rookie. Naturally, they went out and rushed for 152 yards, their second highest output of the season. Wait, what? It stands to reason, actually. The Pack was so worried about Barclay’s ability to hold up in pass coverage – and worried he might get Aaron Rodgers killed – they decided to pound the rock with Green and James Starks. Starks tallied the sexy 22-yard TD run but Green was actually more productive per carry (4.8 yards/carry v. 4.2). Now, Starks is likely headed for IR. Though the Pack added Ryan Grant as insurance this week, Green should still get the majority of touches on Sunday. And I, for one, don’t think his opponent, the Lions, will bring their best effort after dropping three consecutive home games they could have won (and two they absolutely SHOULD have). Think Green if you’re in a bind.

Grab a Gatorade

Beanie Wells @ SEA: Wells’ owners were probably seeing red last weekend after the former Buckeye laid an egg against the Jets in Gotham. He was coming off a two-TD performance the week prior against St. Louis and was facing a New York defense that has been shockingly easy to run the ball against this year (137.7 yards/game)…until last weekend, that is. Wells tallied just a single yard on his first seven carries and ended up managing only 22 total yards on the afternoon. The most shocking part, in fact, is that he actually merited eight more carries after that absurdly unproductive start. Clearly, Arizona is hampered by a lack of experience/talent at the quarterback position and defenses are going to continue selling out to stop the run until there’s an actual threat under center. Don’t start any Cardinals, especially Wells, unless you want to bow out of the playoffs early.

Darren McFadden v. DEN: The oft-injured McFadden is back just in time for the start of the playoffs, a development that would normally have elicited cheers in years past. That sound you hear this year is the collective yawning of fantasy GMs everywhere who have grown tired of DMC’s shtick and, this season in particular, his appalling lack of production. It’s one thing to welcome back a verifiable fantasy stud like Adrian Peterson and watch him elevate, Steve Austin-style, to even loftier heights. It’s quite another to regain the services of a guy who possesses Peterson-esque ability but who promises only DeAngelo Williams production. Amongst 45 qualifying running backs in 2012, McFadden owns the second worst per-carry average (3.3 yards). Additionally, his backup, Marcel Reece, has already accumulated more fantasy points this year despite fewer than half as many starts. Finally, Bryce Brown, Philly’s new wunderkind, has tallied almost as many points in his last TWO games alone. Clearly, there are much better options than the struggling Oakland meal ticket.

Reggie Bush @ SF: Bush hasn’t generated much chatter in 2012 and a quick look at his stats might indicate why. Outside of a 31.7-point explosion against McFadden’s Raiders in Week 2, he’s posted mostly ho-hum totals week in and week out (seven games with fewer than 7 points). And yet, with one more special effort like that one he had against Oakland, he might end up pretty close to last year’s totals (a career high 181.3 points) when the smoke has cleared after Week 17. I think he’s capable of pulling it off, for the record, but probably not at Candlestick this Sunday against a San Fran team hopping mad after an unforgiveable loss to the Rams. The defense played well enough to win, as usual (St. Louis didn’t score on offense), so we can expect nothing less than laser-like focus as the Niners look to strengthen their hold on the NFC West. That’s bad news for Bush and the rest of the Miami offense this weekend.

Wide Receivers