With only two weeks to go in the regular season, there is a good chance you know where your team stands in terms of the playoffs. As we’ve talked about in recent columns, the best offense is often a good defense when it comes to free agent pick-ups. By this, I mean that even if you’re lucky to be 7-4 or better through 11 games, don’t be afraid to go after a big pick-up this week or next to prevent another team from securing a potentially high-impact player. We talked about players like Jeremy Langford, and Matt Jones last week because of their opportunity for upside. After a relative stinker in Week 10, I missed Thomas Rawls as another name to add. After 255 total yards in relief of Marshawn Lynch, I just have to say: Oops.
Let’s take a look (with a mostly positive spin) at some running backs to consider going after for Week 12 and beyond:
Spencer Ware (11 carries, 96 yards, 2 TDs; 1 rec. 5 yards): Ware took over for the injured Charcandrick West after he was removed from the Chiefs’ dominating 33-3 win against the Chargers with a hamstring injury. His status is currently day-to-day, and certainly bears monitoring heading into Week 12. Most interesting to me is the case of Knile Davis, who was a healthy scratch this past Sunday and seems to be very clearly behind both West and Ware. If West is ruled out, Davis may be worth adding based on his talent, but Ware stands to benefit the most if there is an extended (or even one week at this late stage of the season if this week may be the difference between making it to the playoffs or not) absence on the part of West. Davis was something of a revelation last season, when he burst onto the scene as an electrically-quick back with good power and hands to match. Nonetheless, things change quickly in the NFL, and it appears that Andy Reid will go with Ware as his top back if that’s his best, healthiest option. TRENDING UP
Thomas Rawls (30 carries, 209 yards, 1 TD; 3 rec., 46 yards, 1 TD): Monitoring the injury reports all week last week, you may have heard a bit about Marshawn Lynch, but nothing sounded too serious. One of the toughest guys in the league, you expected him to play through whatever ailed him if he could. Because Seattle had a late game, the only owners who were prepared for the news that Lynch wouldn’t suit up were the ones who handcuffed Rawls. They were rewarded handsomely as he rumbled for 245 total yards and two touchdowns against their rivals, the 49ers. Rawls may once again get the call this week because it was revealed Lynch has a sports hernia that may require surgery. Rawls will likely be the top add across leagues this week because of the potential upside both in terms of talent and opportunity. TRENDING UP
Buck Allen (22 carries, 67 yards; 5 rec. 48 yards): Justin Forsett broke both bones in his forearm on Sunday afternoon, and that wasn’t even the worst injury for the Ravens in this lost 2015 campaign. But the silver lining, if there was one, was the emergence of rookie Javorius “Buck” Allen, who produced his best stat line of the season in relief. Going forward, it will be Allen and Matt Schaub in the backfield for the Ravens, who have become a M.A.S.H. unit on both sides of the ball. That could work to his advantage from the perspective of sheer usage; I don’t see Schaub being asked to throw it 45 times a game, and if he were to approach even 70 percent of those attempts, you’d have to think a significant amount would be going to Allen anyway. He’s my second must-add of the week after Rawls, and could end up being the better long-term value depending on Lynch’s health. At worst, Allen is likely an every week FLEX consideration/RB3. TRENDING UP
Alfred Blue (21 carries, 58 yards; 3 rec. 34 yards, 1 TD): With the Texans surging, this backfield could be useful going forward, and it appears that the team trusts their boy Blue the most. It is worth noting, however, that Jonathan Grimes totaled just 21 yards less than Blue, on only six total carries. Nonetheless, Brian Hoyer returns to the helm this week and likely means a slight uptick in the passing game. Whether that affects the carries going around in the back field remains to be seen. HOLD
Chris Ivory (8 carries, 36 yards; 1 rec. 9 yards): Ivory continues to battle through leg injuries and has now failed to top 42 rushing yards in four of his last five games. His stats on the season are buoyed by his tremendous Weeks 1, 4, and 6, in which he rumbled for 393 yards and four touchdowns – he has 679 yards on the season, meaning nearly 60 percent of his yardage and 66 percent of his touchdowns on the year came in three games. He’s banged up, and the Jets are hurting as they cling to playoff hopes after a very promising start to 2015. Ivory needs to be owned, of course, but it remains to be seen if Bilal Powell earns more time spelling an ineffective and possibly injured lead back. HOLD
Additional Notes: Ameer Abdullah was available on the wire in one of my leagues, and I greedily snatched him up in hopes he’d finally get a full day of work against the Raiders. While he did lead in touches among running backs (12 carries, 44 yards) and out-touched Joique Bell 2:1, the results just weren’t there. I’ll see what he does in Week 12, and hope that Matthew Stafford doesn’t call his own number on red zone runs. … In that same game, Latavius Murray went for a putrid 13 carries for 28 yards against a decent if unmotivated Lions defense. His touchdown saved his owners from a truly miserable day, but one has to hope he turns it around and gets back to his early-season form. … Coming out of the bye, keep an eye on what is asked of C.J. Spiller in New Orleans. His usage has been disappointing all year and with some changes made in The Big Easy, perhaps he’ll be integrated into the game plan more often. … Lastly, just a quick shout-out to “The Dougernaut,” Doug Martin, who dominated the Eagles all day en route to a 27 carry, 235 yard day. Martin sits behind only Adrian Peterson who is the league’s top rusher with 1,006 yards on 208 attempts. Martin has amassed his 941 yards on just 188 carries, good for an eye-popping 5.0 yards-per-attempt. More impressively, Martin has gone for 20 yards or more on a league-leading 10 carries. He’s been explosive, and efficient and has helped push the Bucs toward respectability. Does this put him in the conversation with Cam Newton and Tom Brady for league MVP? Not yet. But if the Bucs can somehow win five of their last six to push their record to 10-6 on the season, challenge for a Wild Card spot, and Martin can continue his dominance, I would welcome his name to the discussion.