Fantasy Football Week 14 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: Running backs

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Editor's note: Welcome to Week 14! We're handling Jamey Eisenberg's Start 'Em & Sit 'Em column a bit differently this season. You're still getting the same in-depth analysis as always, we're just presenting a bit differently, in an effort to get it out to you earlier in the day. This column takes a long time to write, and in the past, we've usually gotten it out to you in the evening. This year, we're going to publish it position-by-position, to get it into your hands quicker. Here's Jamey's take on running backs for this week.

Don't worry: If you want the classic Start 'Em & Sit 'Em, we'll still be publishing that at the end of the day with every position included. For now, here's running back.

Projections are provided by SportsLine.com. Projected points are for PPR leagues.

Running backs

Start 'Em
12.5 projected points
Tarik Cohen Chicago Bears RB
Cohen did a little bit of everything in Week 13 at the Giants. He had eight carries for 30 yards. He had 12 catches for 156 yards on 14 targets. And he passed for a touchdown. He finished with a season-high 36 PPR points, and he's now scored at least 15 PPR points in seven of his past nine games. This week, the Bears could be chasing points against the Rams (Sunday, 8 p.m. EST, available on fuboTV), even at home. And the Rams come into this game having allowed three receiving touchdowns to a running back in their past four games.
9.8 projected points
Sony Michel New England Patriots RB
Michel already faced the Dolphins in Week 4, and he had 25 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown. He should have the chance for a similar performance in the rematch. While he will share touches with James White and Rex Burkhead, Michel still got 17 carries in Week 13 against Minnesota. The Dolphins haven't allowed a running back to score in consecutive games coming into Week 14, but Marlon Mack still had 96 total yards against Miami in Week 12 before leaving with a concussion. And Bills quarterback Josh Allen did most of his damage on the ground at Miami in Week 13 with 135 rushing yards. Michel has the chance for an excellent performance this week.
13.0 projected points
Jaylen Samuels Pittsburgh Steelers RB
Samuels should get the chance to have a big game against the Raiders this week with James Conner (ankle) out. I also expect Stevan Ridley to have a role for the Steelers, and he's worth using as a sleeper, but Samuels should have an edge in playing time on passing downs, and he should work at the goal line. Last week against the Chargers, after Conner got hurt, Samuels scored on a 10-yard reception. He also scored in Week 10 against Carolina when Conner suffered a concussion. And the Raiders have allowed a running back to score or gain at least 100 total yards in six games in a row.
12.6 projected points
Jeff Wilson San Francisco 49ers RB
Wilson will start in Week 14 against Denver with Matt Breida (ankle) out, and hopefully he performs like he did in Week 13 at Seattle. Wilson had 15 carries for 61 yards against the Seahawks, as well as eight catches for 73 yards on nine targets. And his role in the passing game could be vital this week. The Broncos have not allowed a rushing touchdown to a running back since Week 6 and only one running back to score through the air over that span. But three running backs in a row have gained at least 95 total yards against Denver, including Melvin Gordon, Conner and Joe Mixon. And the 49ers have had a running back either score or gain at least 100 total yards in four games in a row. Look for Wilson to keep that streak going in Week 14.
12.5 projected points
Justin Jackson Los Angeles Chargers RB
We're waiting to find out if Gordon can return this week from the knee injury he sustained in Week 12, but most likely he will be out for another week. As Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said, they don't want to rush Gordon back "too soon because we have a lot of football left." And Lynn said the Chargers don't want to overwork Austin Ekeler because he's "wearing down a little bit" and is "a little tired." That could lead to Jackson getting most of the touches in Week 14 against the Bengals in an amazing matchup. In Week 13 at Pittsburgh in the first game without Gordon, Jackson had eight carries for 63 yards and a touchdown, as well as one catch for 19 yards on one target. He could be a star against the Bengals, who have allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing running backs this year. I still like Ekeler also, especially in PPR, but Jackson should be considered the No. 1 Chargers running back in Week 14 if Gordon is still out.

Sleepers

  • LeSean McCoy (vs. NYJ): McCoy is having that kind of season where he's able to be considered a sleeper this week. The last time McCoy faced the Jets in Week 10 was his best game of the season with 26 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns, as well as one catch for 5 yards. The Jets have allowed six touchdowns to running backs since Week 8.
  • LeGarrette Blount (vs. ARI): We're not expecting Kerryon Johnson (knee) to return this week, and Blount would get another start if he's out. He's had at least 16 carries in each of the past two games against Chicago and the Rams, and he was great against the Bears (22 PPR points), with a mediocre performance against Los Angeles (six PPR points). The difference was a touchdown, and Blount is facing a Cardinals defense this week that allows the most rushing touchdowns to running backs this season with 15.
  • Nyheim Hines (at HOU): Hines was back to his PPR ways in Week 13 at Jacksonville with nine catches for 50 yards on nine targets, as well as four carries for 5 yards. He's playing behind Marlon Mack, but the Colts should continue to use him in a pass-catching role. In Week 4 against Houston, with Mack out due to injury, Hines had nine catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets, as well as four carries for 10 yards. The Texans have allowed 18 catches for 145 yards on 20 targets in the past two games against Tennessee and Cleveland.
  • Doug Martin (vs. PIT): Martin has scored at least 12 PPR points in three of his past four games, and he's found the end zone in two games in a row. This week, he's facing a Steelers defense that has allowed a running back to score in five games in a row. In PPR, Jalen Richard is also worth using as a sleeper.  
  • Ty Montgomery (at KC): Gus Edwards is expected to be fine after leaving Week 13 at Atlanta with an undisclosed injury, but Montgomery could still have a prominent role against the Chiefs in Week 14, especially in the passing game if the Ravens are chasing points. In the past two games, Montgomery has eight catches for 55 yards on 10 targets, and he's become a reliable weapon out of the backfield. He's someone to use as a flex option in PPR this week.
Sit 'Em
9.9 projected points
Josh Adams Philadelphia Eagles RB
Adams has been great in helping many Fantasy owners reach the playoffs, myself included. But this is a tough spot for him at Dallas. The Cowboys allow the fifth-fewest Fantasy points to opposing running backs, and only one guy has rushed for more than 62 yards against them since Week 3, which was Adrian Peterson (99 yards) in Week 7. Adams had seven carries for 47 yards against Dallas in Week 10, which was just before he took off as the lead guy in Philadelphia. In the past two games, he has 42 carries for 169 yards and a touchdown. But he has no catches over that span, and now Darren Sproles is back to split carries, including touches for Corey Clement. Linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) also could return for Dallas, which would further impact Adams in a negative way if he plays.
11.2 projected points
Marlon Mack Indianapolis Colts RB
Mack didn't play the first time these teams met in Week 4, which opened the door for Hines to have a significant role in the passing game. A similar situation could unfold this week if the Colts are chasing points in their second consecutive road game. The Texans are third in the NFL behind the Saints and Ravens in rushing yards allowed to opposing running backs with 840 on the season. Saquon Barkley has the most rushing yards against Houston with 82 in Week 3, and McCoy (73) in Week 6 is the only other running back above 70 yards on the ground. Mack will likely need to score to save his Fantasy production, and he has just one touchdown since Week 8. He also has two catches or less in every game this season. Mack is a flex option at best this week, with his value slightly lower in PPR.
10.1 projected points
Isaiah Crowell New York Jets RB
In Week 13 at Tennessee, Crowell popped back up with a big game for the first time since Week 5 against Denver. He had 21 carries for 98 yards, along with four catches for 9 yards on five targets. That was just his first time with more than 50 rushing yards since facing the Broncos and only the third time he's done that all season. Also, the four catches and five targets were season highs. He scored the last time he faced Buffalo in Week 10, which was the last time he found the end zone, but he managed just 37 total yards in the game. It's not a bad matchup for Crowell, but it's just hard to trust him on a weekly basis. At best, consider him a flex option in most leagues.
10.5 projected points
Dion Lewis Tennessee Titans RB
Lewis has started to struggle of late, and it will be hard to trust him, even at home, on Thursday night. In his past three games, he's combined for just 23 carries for 68 yards and no touchdowns. He also has two catches or less in three of his past four games. In Week 3 at Jacksonville, Lewis had nine carries for 26 yards, along with three catches for 14 yards on three targets. And the Jaguars come into this game without allowing a rushing touchdown since Week 7, with only a receiving touchdown in Week 8 to Wendell Smallwood. It's obviously tough to trust Lewis and Derrick Henry in most leagues this week.
10.7 projected points
Chris Carson Seattle Seahawks RB
Carson is expected to play despite dealing with a finger injury, but you should be slightly concerned about his workload given his track record with injuries. And he has a tough matchup against the Vikings, even at home. Minnesota has allowed just two running backs to gain more than 65 yards on the ground, with Todd Gurley (83 yards) in Week 4 and Aaron Jones (72) in Week 12. The Vikings also have allowed just five rushing touchdowns to running backs on the year. Now, running backs have done well in the passing game against the Vikings, but Carson could be limited in that capacity because of his finger. Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis could see an uptick in touches, and right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) is out this week, which impacts the ground game in a big way. Carson still has flex appeal since he has at least 12 PPR points in three games in a row, but this could be a tough week for him, especially since he's less than 100 percent.

Bust Alert

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Spencer Ware KC • RB • 32
Week 14 projection12.2 Fantasy points

Ware was serviceable as a Fantasy option in Week 13 at Oakland with 14 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown, as well as one catch for 5 yards on one target. But the Chiefs need more from him as the Kareem Hunt replacement -- as do Fantasy owners. And this week should be tough for him against the Ravens, who allow the fewest Fantasy points to opposing running backs. Only six running backs have scored double digits in PPR against Baltimore this season. Ware could also lose some touches this week to Damien Williams and potentially Charcandrick West, who was signed this week. Or maybe we see Kansas City give some touches to undrafted rookie free agent Darrel Williams. I'm fine with Ware as a flex option in Week 14, but he's not a must-start running back vs. the Ravens.

So who should you sit and start? And what shocking quarterback could win you Week 14? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 10 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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