Whether you need a running back because your guy is hurt, on bye this week, or simply hasn’t been playing well, there are plenty of reasons why owners may be turning to the free agent pool for their Week 12 starter. Below are three guys who are available in at least 50 percent of fantasy football leagues who I believe can be help owners in week 12.
Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants: Sometimes you look to free agency to pick up a player and there’s just nothing — the cupboard’s barren. If I needed a running back for Week 12 and the two guys below are gone (along with Bobby Rainey, Chris Ivory, Shane Vereen and a slew of running backs who are available in roughly 15-40 percent of leagues), then I’m looking for the guy who gives me the best chance at a touchdown.
Sure, there’s a chance that Jacobs only gets a handful — maybe even fewer — of carries this weekend. But sometimes in deeper leagues, events occur and you’re stuck in a situation where your only available options are guys who only get a few carries, and there’s at least a decent bet that Jacobs’ will be used around the goal line.
The Dallas Cowboys have allowed the most fantasy points to running backs this season and with defensive anchor Sean Lee out, I expect the Giants to be effective at moving the ball on the ground. Jacobs is available in 95 percent of ESPN leagues and in 91 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts: In Week 11, a struggling Trent Richardson finally took a back seat to Donald Brown and Brown delivered, rushing for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Brown scored 21 fantasy points in Week 11 and is now averaging 5.9 yards per carry for the season, Richardson has scored 24 fantasy points since Week 5 and is averaging 2.8 yards per carry.
Because the Colts spent so much to get him, Richardson is still going to be a factor in Indianapolis, but Brown has now scored double-digit fantasy points in two straight games and has definitely taken on a larger role in the Colts’ offense. Chuck Pagano has come out and said that the Colts will ride whoever is hot and Brown has been better than Richardson pretty much all season.
The Colts face the Arizona Cardinals this week, and the Cardinals have allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs so far this season, which is the biggest reason why I have Chris Ogbonnaya ranked ahead of Brown. That being said, Brown should be in line for plenty of touches and has shown that he is a versatile back capable of being an asset in the passing game, in addition to being an effective runner.
In Week 10, Brown caught five passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, and he’s fourth among running backs with an average of 10.2 yards per catch. Brown is available in 75 percent of ESPN leagues and in 61 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland Browns: While the Browns were on their bye, Norv Turner came out and said that as long as Ogbonnaya was healthy, he would see more carries going forward. Last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland followed through with that plan: Ogbonnaya rushed eight times for 69 yards against a tough Bengals defense, and he set career-bests for snaps (48), touches (14) and total yards (99).
All signs point to Ogbonnaya leading the Browns’ backfield in rushing attempts for a second straight week as Cleveland squares off against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have allowed six rushing touchdowns in their last four games. Not only should Ogbonnaya be busy rushing the football, but he has also been second on the team in targets since Jason Campbell has taken over at quarterback.
Ogbonnaya has 11 receptions for 69 yards over his last two games. He is available in 88.5 percent of ESPN leagues and in 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and could be a very useful bounce-back in Week 12.