Fantasy Football Playoff Push: Running Back Watch

By kylesoppe
Kevin Hoffman
Kevin Hoffman – USATODAY Sports

Running back production is heavily dependent on workload, thus making it difficult to get too far ahead of the curve as offensive philosophies seem to change on a week to week basis. That being said, the writing is on the wall for a few specific teams, something you can benefit from come fantasy playoff time.

Let’s start with a player you need to deal now at his peak value: Donald Brown. He has looked great the past two weeks (157 total yards and three touchdowns), one of which was a standalone game on national TV that everyone in your league saw, but counting on that production moving forward is a major mistake.

There aren’t enough adjectives in the English language to properly describe how bad Trent Richardson has been, but his age (23) and potential (1,317 yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie) are going to keep him on the field. Even if you like Brown to take the majority of the carries, there is no denying that the going gets tough at the worst possible time for fantasy owners with games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, and Kansas City Chiefs.

Now that you’re sold that you can sell Brown, which running backs are primed to carry their fantasy teams?

First, there is no one strategy that fits all situations. For that reason, I’ve selected a running back who is set to thrive for the first week of the fantasy playoffs, a RB who should perform well in Weeks 14 and 15, and a ball carrier ready to carry your fantasy team for all three weeks.

One-week star – Le’Veon Bell (vs. Miami Dolphins)

Versatile running backs have feasted on the Fins this season (Darren Sproles, Ray Rice and Giovani Bernard to name a few) and Bell has been even better than advertised when healthy this season. It’s also worth noting that Bell will have 10 days to rest prior to this game.

Two-week difference maker – Andre Ellington (vs. St. Louis Rams and  at Tennessee Titans)

These two run defenses rank fifth and first respectively in number of rushing touchdowns allowed this season, and if Ellington’s workload is going to continue to be limited, finding pay dirt is extremely important. With the Arizona Cardinals out of the playoff picture, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them increase Ellington’s touch count as they are counting on him as the future of their ground game.

Three-week difference-maker – Fred Jackson (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at Jacksonville Jaguars, vs. Miami Dolphins)

Jackson has been getting much more consistent work this season than anyone could have projected, and it seems that the plan is to hold back C.J. Spiller’s workload in an effort to have him healthy for 2014. Jackson gets the goal-line work, something there should be no shortage of against three teams that have combined to win six of 27 games.

Jacksonville and Miami both give up over 100 rush yards and a touchdown per game, putting Jackson as an RB2 for the fantasy postseason.

Looking for more of my work? My fantasy articles and NBA picks against the spread are published routinely and I’m always fielding questions @unSOPable23

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