Ingram, Hightower enjoy Week 12 fantasy eruption


Welcome to "Committee Meetings," the running back portion of our weekly Targets/Touches column! Every Monday we'll recap the week that was among running backs and preview the outlook for the upcoming slate.

With Week 12 nearly in the books, it's time to dive into some backfield breakdowns. We saw some familiar names among the top running back performers including David Johnson and LeSean McCoy while guys like Tim Hightower and Derrick Henry surprisingly cracked the the top 12 for the week. Some of the bigger disappointments of the week include Jeremy Hill (yes, again) and Rashad Jennings. Below we'll try to figure out how to value these running backs going forward. That's enough small talk for now ... more on those backs and every other team's backfield below.

Note: The Opportunity Report is a living document and will be updated with the results of every game until after the Monday night game concludes. If you're looking for backfield touches data on a team and they aren't here yet, check back later.

Arizona Cardinals

ARI RBs Week 12
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David Johnson: The best running back in the NFL. The dude led the Cardinals in rushing, receiving, targets, touches, being good at football, Hall of Fame votes, and fantasy points on Sunday. OK, maybe not all of those, but you get the point. Johnson is one of few first-round draft picks who has paid off week in and week out, and has been able to transcend the Cardinals' real football struggles this season. He should have no issues putting up RB1 numbers next week against Washington. *Bonus: check out Johnson's Next Gen Stats route chart from Week 12 below. His 103 receiving yards led his team in Week 12.

Atlanta Falcons

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Tevin Coleman (hamstring) returned to action for the first time since Week 7 and while he was virtually useless as a runner, he did manage to find the end zone. Even with the score though, he didn't total double-digit standard points for his fantasy owners. Devonta Freeman was the star of the Falcons' backfield and while he only averaged 3.8 yards per carry, his two rushing touchdowns are all his owners care about. He snapped a two-game end-zone slump and posted his highest total since Week 3 when he had over 200 scrimmage yards against the Saints. Freeman remains the upside play in the Falcons backfield while Coleman will remain touchdown-dependent. The Falcons welcome the Chiefs into Atlanta in Week 13.

Baltimore Ravens

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The Ravens running back tandem of Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon basically split their overall production right down the middle on Sunday providing absolutely no clarity for fantasy owners. Dixon did out-snap West by a count of 31 to 22, but both backs saw four targets in the passing game and each had 13 rush attempts. With this situation more muddled than ever, fantasy owners should save themselves the stress and look for running back production elsewhere. Going forward, Dixon's upside trumps Wests due to his involvement as a receiver. The Ravens welcome the Dolphins into Baltimore in Week 13.

Buffalo Bills

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LeSean McCoy had netted 14 total yards in the first half on Sunday. Fortunately his final touch of the second quarter was a 7-yard touchdown run. On his next touch, the first play of the second half, McCoy burned the Jaguars defense with a 75-yard touchdown sprint on which he hit 21.87 MPH, according to NextGenStats. In addition to his 103 yards on the ground McCoy added 31 receiving yards and a two-point conversion, resulting in his second-highest fantasy total this season (27.4 standard points). He faces the Raiders in Week 13 and will be an elite RB1 option in that matchup.

Carolina Panthers

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After three straight single-digit fantasy outings (despite scoring a touchdown in Week 11), Stewart rumbled his way to 96 yards and two scores against Oakland, marking his third game this season with multiple touchdowns. Stewart posted a season-high in rush yards and yards per carry and snapped a streak of three straight games with fewer than 50 rushing yards. Much of his production came on a 47-yard run in the first quarter, which was surprisingly against a stacked box. Unfortunately, he may have a tough go in Week 13 in Seattle, so Stewart owners will have to temper expectations.

Chicago Bears

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Jordan Howard posted 99-plus scrimmage yards for the fourth straight game and averaged an impressive 4.7 yards per carry which is surprising considering how badly the Bears found themselves trailing in this game. He hauled in three of five targets for 43 yards through the air in addition to his 84 rushing yards, but failed to find the end zone. Still, with all of the injuries to the Bears skill position players, Howard should be a centerpiece of Chicago's gameplan down the stretch. Howard will enjoy a matchup against the worst rush defense in the NFL next week when the Bears welcome the 49ers into Soldier field.

Cincinnati Bengals

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Yeah, so that whole thing about Jeremy Hill seeing an uptick in volume with Giovani Bernard out for the season ... that didn't quite work out so well on Sunday. In what may be the saddest sentence I've had to write all season, Rex Burkhead was more effective than Hill on the ground with 29 yards on five carries compared to Hill's 21 yards on 12 attempts. But to save some face, Hill did manage 61 receiving yards. That kind of production as a receiver could keep his fantasy floor afloat as a higher-end RB2 for the rest of the season, but concerns regarding the Bengals' overall offensive production while A.J. Green is out may hinder Hill's ceiling. The Bengals backfield has another tough matchup against the Eagles in Week 13.

Cleveland Browns

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The Browns running backs have not been viable in fantasy for weeks, and that didn't change on Sunday. Isaiah Crowell's 16 rush attempts and 91 yards from scrimmage marked an eight-week high in both categories. He found zero room to run against a stout Giants defensive line and lost a fumble but managed 47 receiving yards which kept his floor viable if you were actually brave enough to start him. Duke Johnson, who's been criminally underused all year despite Crowell's struggles, remains a non-starter given the fact that he hasn't collected double-digit touches in a month. The Browns have a bye in Week 13, so if you need roster space, you can safely cut both Crowell and Johnson to the waiver wire.

Dallas Cowboys

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Ezekiel Elliott is good at football. He dominated yet again, and made the Redskins run defense look like Swiss cheese. He's basically unstoppable at this point but you knew that already. Fantasy owners will need to temper expectations next week as Dallas heads to Minnesota. You're still starting Zeke though, duh.

Denver Broncos

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The Broncos' offensive line was worked over by the Chiefs defensive front in this game, leaving little room for Devontae Booker to produce on the ground. On the bright side, Booker's 25 total touches tied for Sunday's high mark with Doug Martin. Booker did manage to post his first career game with 100-plus scrimmage yards (although it took five quarters) thanks to a 22-yard reception in the overtime period. He has logged 24 carries in each of his last two games, but since taking over as the primary back in C.J. Anderson's stead, the rookie has averaged just 3.0 yards per carry in four starts. Kapri Bibbs siphoned nine rush attempts, four of which came in the overtime period, so he's nothing more than a handcuff at this point. Fantasy owners will have to hope Booker can punch one into the paint next week against the Jaguars.

Detroit Lions

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The Lions only touchdown on Thanksgiving came on their first drive and it was a pass from Matthew Stafford to Anquan Boldin. So fantasy owners hoping for decent output from Theo Riddick did not get their wish. Riddick was the volume play as he saw 70 percent of the running back touches, but it only amounted to 58 yards. Apparently the Vikings front is still decent. Riddick should be able to get back on track next week against the Saints where he'll have solid RB2 upside.

Green Bay Packers

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There was a lot going on in the Packers' backfield on Monday night. Starks is clearly the primary back as he logged 22 total touches, but was basically ineffective as a runner averaging just 2.4 yards per carry. Newcomer Christine Michael was expected to get some work after spending two weeks learning the playbook, but he only got one carry the entire game. Ty Montgomery was basically a decoy in the backfield with just one rush attempt. The big story is that the Packers finally had someone other than Aaron Rodgers score a rushing touchdown, and it was … wait for it … fullback Aaron Ripkowski. His five carries were loaded with grit and bulldozing tackle breaks, but you can't put too much stock into a fullback in fantasy. The Packers' backfield faces another uphill battle against Houston in Week 13.

Houston Texans

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The Texans might be the most frustrating team to own fantasy players from in the entire league. Early in the second quarter, Houston found themselves in scoring position thanks to a defensive pass interference call that went in DeAndre Hopkins' favor. Lamar Miller got a shot at an up-the-middle goal-line carry but was stuffed. On the ensuing play, freaking Brock Osweiler scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak up the middle, playing the role of touchdown vulture to both Hopkins and Miller and leaving fantasy owners (myself included) on extreme tilt. Miller had an awful day running the ball averaging a measly 3.0 yards per carry and ended up limping off the field late in the game with an apparent ankle injury. Fortunately, he has RB1 upside in Week 13 against a depleted Packers defense.

Indianapolis Colts

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With Scott Tolzien under center, it made sense if you thought the Colts would load up Frank Gore with carries. That's not what happened though, since the Steelers took an early lead and never lost it. Gore's 1.9 yards per carry is scary bad, but it makes sense since Pittsburgh could load up the box and not have to worry about Tolzien as a downfield threat. Gore gets another tough matchup against the Jets next week, where he'll be a low-end flex play at best.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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It's rare for quarterbacks to be mentioned in the running back touches portion of this write-up, but Blake Bortles gets an honorable mention since he led the Jaguars with 81 rushing yards against the Bills. Chris Ivory, who looked good early on with a rushing touchdown and 4.9 yards per carry on his nine attempts, left the game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. In his stead, T.J. Yeldon and Denard Robinson were mostly ineffective combining for just 56 rush yards on 19 attempts. When healthy, Ivory is the best play out of the Jaguars backfield. Unfortunately, those opportunities have been few and far between this season. The Jaguars will likely continue to struggle against the Broncos in Week 13.

Kansas City Chiefs

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Spencer Ware posted his third-straight single-digit fantasy total in standard scoring, but it was his highest yards from scrimmage output in those three games. Unfortunately, he hasn't rushed for greater than 69 yards in that span, but in Week 12 his 32 receiving yards supplemented his ground gains and helped him post 9.6 fantasy points. Charcandrick West worked in on 39 percent of Kansas City's offensive snaps, but only logged three touches. Ware has had 19 touches in each of his last two outings, so fantasy owners will have to stay the course when the Chiefs head to Atlanta in Week 13 in what is an extremely favorable matchup for running backs.

Los Angeles Rams

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The Rams got off to a hot start, with Todd Gurley ripping off a 31-yard reception on the very first play. But on his home turf, Drew Brees and his offense methodically stomped the Rams. The game script got out of hand rather rapidly, and Gurley had just seven second-half touches. It was one of the late-season on-paper matchups that Gurley owners were waiting for as the Saints have allowed a ton of fantasy points to running backs this year, but it didn't work out. With just one touchdown in his last six games, Gurley will be a tough sell next week against the Patriots.

Miami Dolphins

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In the midst of a bit of a fantasy slump, Jay Ajayi's owners had to be licking their chops at the potential matchup against the league's worst run defense in the 49ers. Unfortunately, Miami was missing three starting offensive lineman due to injury, so even in a great matchup expectations had to be tempered some. Ajayi struggled to move the ball on the ground averaging a season-low 2.5 yards per carry on his 18 rush attempts. Looking ahead, Ajayi faces two of the league's top run defenses in Baltimore and Arizona in the next two weeks. Considering Miami's offensive line woes, expectations will have to remain lowered in terms of Ajayi's fantasy ceiling.

Minnesota Vikings

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As has been the case for the majority of the season, if you started anyone from the Vikings backfield on Thursday, you were left disappointed. In case you haven't heard, their offensive line is horrible and the backfield is unproductive no matter who's getting the carries. Jerick McKinnon's stat line was bolstered by a 41-yard reception when he was left wide open and sprinted down the sideline. Matt Asiata banged one in from the goal line, shocking nobody. Neither Asiata nor McKinnon will be viable plays against Dallas in Week 13 on Thursday Night Football.

New England Patriots

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For fantasy owners seeking clarity on the Patriots' running back split, we didn't learn much on Sunday. Actually, we're more confused following the split playing time of LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis and James White. The offensive snap count played out as thus:

Patriots Week 12 RB offensive snap count:
Blount: 27 (38%)
White: 25 (35%)
Lewis: 23 (32%)

With the Jets and Patriots playing in a tight contest, game flow probably had a lot to do with White and Lewis seeing nine and seven targets respectively, and Blount only receiving 11 rush attempts, his fewest in a game all season. Blount's biggest play of the game, a 23-yard run, came with just 1:32 left on the clock in the fourth quarter as the Patriots attempted to salt the clock away with a five-point lead. Either way, since nobody in the New England backfield scored it wasn't a very rewarding outcome in terms of fantasy. The Patriots take on the Rams next week in what should be a rout, but with the backfield playing time so unpredictable, Blount will probably be the only viable start.

New Orleans Saints

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Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower contributed 272 yards from scrimmage for the Saints on Sunday, absolutely embarrassing what was the Rams sixth-best overall defense heading into Week 12. Mark Ingram's two touchdowns and 161 total yards came as a surprise seeing as he was in the concussion protocol all week long. He didn't seem to be rusty at all though, trucking defenders all day in what was an impressive performance. Heading into the Sunday night game, Ingram's 28.7 points were enough to rank him as the RB1 for Week 12, and it marked his second 28-plus point outing in the last month. His performance on Sunday puts him on pace for his first career 1,000-yard rushing season. And for fantasy owners who started Tim Hightower, things were looking bleak until the Saints pulled some trickery late and had Willie Snead sling a 50-yard touchdown reception to the veteran back, saving his fantasy day and boosting him inside the top 10 among running backs for the week. Ingram and Hightower will be RB2 options against the Lions next week.

New York Giants

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In true Giants' backfield fashion, Rashad Jennings somehow failed to live up to expectations against one of the league's worst defenses. New York, for some reason, gave Paul Perkins more opportunity which he squandered as he's done all season. Jennings, who had a season-high 26 touches last week, failed to find a rhythm and managed just 55 yards on his 15 attempts. It's truly mind-boggling that Ben McAdoo insists on giving Perkins additional work after he's proven ineffective. We've seen Jennings shine when given volume over the last few weeks, but the Giants regressed to their old, frustrating ways in Week 12. Despite the touches differential, Jennings only out-snapped Perkins by a count of 28 to 21. Jennings will be hard to trust next week against the Steelers, given his inconsistent usage.

New York Jets

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Following over a month of solid fantasy production from Matt Forte, he put up a dud in Week 12 against the Patriots. He had a tough time finding holes and his biggest play, a 15-yard reception, came in the fourth quarter. As we've experienced several times this season, Forte needs a high-volume workload to be a productive fantasy running back. His 13 carries didn't cut it on Sunday. The other big takeaway here is that Forte nearly split snaps evenly with Bilal Powell, the latter of whom saw just two fewer snaps by a count of 30 to 28. Powell managed more rushing yards than Forte on five fewer carries, but despite his increased playing time he didn't see enough touches to be a viable fantasy option either. Forte will look to get back on track against the Colts next Monday night.

Oakland Raiders

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Rookie DeAndre Washington was a surprise healthy scratch in Week 12, leaving the crowded Raiders' backfield a bit less congested. Latavius Murray played on a season-high 65 percent of Oakland's offensive snaps and despite his struggles on the ground with just 2.4 yards per carry on his 19 attempts, he managed to punch in a short score and added 43 yards as a receiver finishing as the week's RB10 in standard scoring. Jalen Richard only played 13 snaps and, not surprisingly, struggled to run the ball on his seven attempts. Murray's usage uptick was a welcome development and is promising for his outlook next week against the Bills.

Philadelphia Eagles

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All of the hype over Wendell Smallwood being the starter with Ryan Mathews out fizzled out pretty quickly after Carson Wentz ran one in from 1-yard out on the Eagles first drive. Smallwood logged just 10 touches in the game since Wentz was forced to throw 36 times as Philly attempted to dig themselves out of a hole. Darren Sproles out snapped (30 to 22) and out-produced Smallwood, but his 54 total yards was nothing special. Sproles did have a carry from inside the 5-yard line on that same drive that Wentz scored on but, not surprisingly got stuffed. Fantasy owners are really playing with fire with any of these backs. A game against the Bengals lies ahead in Week 13, but we're not going near any of these guys until Mathews gets healthy.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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Le'Veon Bell took advantage of a soft Colts run defense on Thanksgiving, collecting 142 total yards and a score. This, folks, is why you risked an early-round draft pick on the kid back in August even though you knew he was going to miss games. He's averaging 142 yards from scrimmage per game this season and is currently on pace for 93 receptions, making him one of the most dangerous pass-catching backs in the league. Next week, he'll be an RB1 against the Giants at home.

San Francisco 49ers

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Usually, quarterbacks don't get any love in this section of the running back touches portion of the column, but Colin Kaepernick's 113 rush yards led the 49ers and marked the third-most of any player thus far in Week 12, so he can't go unmentioned. Carlos Hyde only touched the ball 18 times, but he did enough to rank inside the top 10 fantasy running backs heading into the Sunday night game. His touchdown came on an 11-yard reception in the first quarter. That score was Hyde's first since Week 5 and was a welcome sight for fantasy owners who have held the course with him this season. He'll be a low-end RB1 play against the Bears in Week 13.

San Diego Chargers

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For the second-straight game, Melvin Gordon went without a touchdown and collected exactly 70 rushing yards. He only added 19 yards as a receiver and failed to post double-digit standard points for the first time since Week 6. It was also the first time since Week 5 that Gordon had fewer than 20 rush attempts. Fantasy owners shouldn't be too concerned as he's still one of the most consistent producers at the running back position and remains a solid RB1 option. He should find more room to run on his home turf against the Bucs in Week 13.

Seattle Seahawks

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The Seahawks found themselves trailing 14 points rather quickly in this game after Mike Evans scored two touchdowns in the first quarter. Because of that deficit, Thomas Rawls finished with a mere 12 rush attempts in his first true game as the team's feature back, and he wasn't very efficient with his opportunities. Russell Wilson actually rushed for more yards (80) than Rawls did (a lot of love for QBs here this week). The volume simply wasn't there as the Seahawks had trouble moving the ball, leaving just four total touches for their running back in the second half. Things won't get much easier for Rawls next week against Carolina who has been tough against running backs all year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Doug Martin's 25 total touches was the biggest workload of any running back on Sunday (tied with Devontae Booker) but he only managed 90 total yards. Martin has not had the greatest year in terms of efficiency as his 3.8 yards per carry on Sunday marked a season-high as did his 87 rush yards. He's had fewer than 4.0 yards per carry in each of his five games this season. Still, the workload is promising for fantasy owners who continue to roll him out there, and his schedule opens up with games against the Chargers and Saints the next two weeks.

Tennessee Titans

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Derrick Henry scored his second career touchdown! Hooray! He also surprisingly out-gained DeMarco Murray on 11 fewer rush attempts against the Bears. Murray had 17 attempts and five receptions though, so his total yardage ended up being decent. But it was the first game all season that Murray failed to post double-digit fantasy points in standard scoring. Murray owners will have to scramble to find production next week from what's been an extremely consistent RB1 slot all year as the Titans are one of two teams on a bye in Week 13.

Washington Redskins

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Raise your hand if Rob Kelley ruined your Thanksgiving ... Yeah, mine too. Once Dallas got out to a two-score lead, Kelley was basically phased out of the Washington offense. And when he was getting the ball, he had nowhere to run basically the entire game as the Cowboys defensive line had no trouble getting penetration and meeting him behind the line of scrimmage. He's still the only back to own, and start, in Washington. Chris Thompson just doesn't get the volume needed to provide consistent fantasy value. Kelley will again be a tough sell in an unfavorable matchup against the Cardinals in Week 13.

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Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy writer/editor for Follow him on Twitter @MattFranchise