Week 14 is truly shaping up to be a slate where you want to be the person who went running back heavy early in your drafts. So many elite RBs appear to be walking into almost ideal spots. Derrick Henry draws an underwhelming Oakland defense. Christian McCaffrey is opposed by a Falcons squad that’s had its issues containing pass-catching running backs in recent contests. Dalvin Cook, who guaranteed on Thursday that he’ll be out there this Sunday, is going up against a highly susceptible Lions team. There’s virtually nothing to dislike here.
Still, not everyone got into the playoffs by riding top-end talent at RB. For those of you who have a few more question marks at the position, allow me to pinpoint a few interesting matchups.
Running Back Starts
I know. We’ve reached the point where its nearly impossible to sell a prospective owner on Michel’s upside without getting far too entangled with his cavernous floor; however, I seriously believe there’s reason to consider Michel a high-end RB2 this weekend. Though he’s coming off a Week 13 performance that saw him log a season-low 17.2% of the Patriots’ offensive snaps, Michel was New England’s biggest weapon in its AFC Championship victory over these very same Chiefs last season. Bill Belichick controlled the clock for nearly two-thirds of regulation, handing off to Michel 29 times for 113 yards and two scores. He’s been a massive disappointment in 2019, yet, with Kansas City one of three teams conceding more than 5.0 yards per opponent carry, I’ll take the risk.
Patrick Laird, Miami Dolphins
It would appear that Laird’s odd cult status in DFS came just a week too early. After watching Kalen Ballage carted off the field with a leg injury during Miami’s 37-31 win over Philadelphia last Sunday, Laird stepped in as the Dolphins lead back, playing a sizeable 59.2% of the team’s overall offensive snaps. It’s fair to assume this is a role he’ll keep, entering Week 14’s meeting with the Jets. New York isn’t exactly an ideal matchup for running backs, as its allowed the fewest adjusted line yards per carry this season (2.85), but Laird’s main value appears to be as a pass-catcher, anyway. So, with Miami throwing the ball on an AFC-high 66.9% of plays, Laird is definitely worth a look as a FLEX option in all PPR formats.
Running Back Sits
Derrius Guice, Washington
I’m just not buying it. If I had to pick the most important lesson I learned in last weekend’s 29-21 Washington victory, it would be to not underestimate how truly awful the Panthers’ run defense is. Coming into Week 13, Carolina sported Football Outsider’s worst run defense grade and it had surrendered a league-high amount of rushing touchdowns. Apparently, those were all legitimate statistics, as the Panthers allowed Washington RBs to make three trips into the end zone - one more than they had taken in the season’s prior 12 weeks. Green Bay isn’t exactly sterling against the run in its own right, but it’s simply difficult to trust a running back currently working in a three-man committee that saw a mere 19 snaps and 10 carries this past Sunday. I’ll take my chances fading a low-volume RB in a low-scoring offense.
Bo Scarbrough, Detroit Lions
Since the beginning of Week 11, only Nick Chubb can claim to have garnered more carries than Scarbrough. That’s kind of an insane thing to think about considering the Alabama product wasn’t even on an NFL roster prior to that point in time. Anyway, Scarbrough is the dictionary definition of touchdown dependant with his complete inability to be involved in the passing game. Heck, the man has literally zero targets the past three weeks. Unfortunately, trips to the end zone are not a reliable source of value for RBs against the Vikings. Just 19.2% of touchdowns versus Minnesota have come on the ground in 2019 and the team is conceding a mere 95.6 opponent rushing yards per contest at home. It was a nice run while it lasted, Bo.