Fantasy News  

 

Mathews returns, but Oliver remains relevant

Print

Prior to Week 11's Sunday night game, just four rushing touchdowns were scored all day. And then Jonas Gray happened. The Patriots' running back scored four rushing touchdowns of his own and had 199 yards against the Colts. He is our #KABOOM running back of the week, he made the Week 12 waiver-wire list, leads the Week 11 targets and touches breakdown and could be considered a #ThatHelpsNoOne candidate since he is currently owned in just 1.1 percent of NFL.com leagues. Didn't see that one coming.

Elsewhere, it was no surprise that Jamaal Charles had a huge day with two rushing scores and over 150 yards on the ground, while Eddie Lacy plowed his way to 23.40 fantasy points against the Eagles and Alfred Blue filled in nicely for an injured Arian Foster with 156 yards on 36 carries. That's just featured backs (and one handcuff) doing featured back things.

And now for the all of the frustrating goodness of this week's Committee Meetings.

Chargers:

The Chargers and fantasy owners alike were happy to know that Ryan Mathews was back in action for Week 11 after being sidelined since Week 2 with a knee injury. In a juicy matchup against the Raiders, Mathews took 16 carries for 70 yards which works out to an average of 4.4 yards per carry. That isn't too shabby although fantasy owners still might have hoped for more from him.

Now you might think that with Mathews back rookie Branden Oliver won't have much fantasy value left, but just hold your (work)horses for a minute. The rookie had just three fewer carries than Mathews taking 13 rushing attempts for 36 yards. No, that's not much fantasy production at all but the amount of carries Oliver got proves that the Chargers are sticking with somewhat of a rotation in the backfield. Oliver also got three red zone touches to Mathews' one which means we might have a vulture situation on our hands. That's fun!

After the game it was reported that Mathews was seen limping out of the locker room with his knee wrapped up. It's not clear yet if this is just regular maintenance or if he suffered a setback during the game. This is definitely something to keep an eye on while fantasy owners need to keep Oliver on their rosters for now.

Browns:

On Sunday morning reports were flying around like Eli Manning interceptions about who would start at running back for the Browns in Week 11. But if we've learned anything about Cleveland's backfield in the past few weeks, we know that it doesn't really matter which player is deemed the "starter" since all three backs are used randomly as the game unfolds.

Last week, Terrance West was dubbed the starter and although all three Browns runners scored a touchdown against the Bengals, West finished with 26 carries for 94 yards and the score, leading the three-headed-monster of a backfield.

In Week 11, Isaiah Crowell was reported to "get the start", which he did. Despite a lost fumble he went on to lead the Browns' committee with 14 carries for 61 yards while West only saw five carries for 12 yards and Ben Tate (poor guy) toted the ball just twice for negative nine yards. Yes, negative nine. It's clearly a dynamic situation that can potentially change mid-game which is never a good thing for fantasy owners looking to minimize risk in search of solid production.

Browns' coach Mike Pettine said after the game that it's a week-to-week situation as far as the running backs are concerned, which is something he's been saying all along. The Browns have stuck to this for the most part so starting any running back on Cleveland remains extremely risky. Cleveland faces one of the worst run defenses in the league next week as they head to Atlanta so all three of them could get a good amount of work. Or not.

UPDATE: Ben Tate was waived by the Browns on Tuesday leaving West and Crowell to carry the load for the rest of the season for Cleveland, making this situation a little less confounding. Check out more on the subject here.

Broncos:

By looking at the box score you might not know that Montee Ball was active for the Broncos on Sunday for the first time since suffering a groin injury back in Week 5. Unfortunately, he had to leave the game with zero carries and just two targets for zero receptions after aggravating his groin. We will likely know more soon but initial reports don't sound promising.

With Ball dealing with his injury and Ronnie Hillman already ruled out for the next several weeks, it was C.J. Anderson who led the Broncos backfield for the second straight week. He did most of his damage in the passing game, racking up a career high 86 yards on eight catches and added nine carries for 29 rushing yards. Since he's the only healthy back currently in Denver, Anderson should be owned in all leagues. Anderson has RB1 potential as part of the Broncos high-powered offense but faces three tough matchups in a row with Miami, Kansas City and Buffalo next on the schedule.

Additional Yardage:

Unfortunate news for one of 2014's top fantasy running backs as the Colts fear that Ahmad Bradshaw suffered a broken ankle on Sunday night against the Patriots. If it's true, Bradshaw will likely miss the next 4-6 weeks (or more) making him irrelevant for fantasy purposes the rest of the way. Trent Richardson's value could skyrocket with Bradshaw out as the two Colts' backs have been splitting the workload pretty evenly all season. The next back in line behind Richardson is Dan Herron who has played a limited role this season for the Colts.

Charles Sims led Tampa Bay's backfield against Washington in Week 11 as he received 13 carries to Bobby Rainey's five. Although he only gained 36 yards on his rushing attempts it's a sign that Sims is taking over after both he and Rainey had 10 touches last week. Doug Martin was inactive with an ankle injury for the third straight week and can be dropped in all formats.

The Raiders finally turned to their talented young running back, Latavius Murray, in Week 11 which is a move many have seen coming for a while now. Murray had just four carries but gained 43 yards on the ground and added three receptions for 16 yards leading all Raiders position players in total yardage. He should be owned in all dynasty leagues and could be considered as a speculative add in deeper formats since Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew have been extremely ineffective all season. The winless Oakland squad just might be giving up on their veteran slugs.


Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @m_franciscovich.

Print