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

Running back is always tough to figure out, but it would have been nice if the position had settled down for the Fantasy playoffs. Unfortunately, that won't be the case in Week 14, with plenty of running back situations around the league very much in doubt as we get ready for the biggest week of the Fantasy season so far. And, while it's easy enough to just avoid situations like Miami's, but we're dealing with some of the best backfields for Fantasy all season are dealing with big question marks for Week 14. 

For instance, if you drafted Dalvin Cook, there's a good chance you're in position to play for a playoff spot or to move on this week. He's helped carry you to that spot, but now we're at the mid-week point, and we just don't know what his role will be this week. He says he will be fine to play following Monday's shoulder/chest injury, but we can't say for sure just yet. Alexander Mattison was the top target on waivers just in case Cook can't play, but it's worth wondering whether he might not be a viable starting option even if Cook plays - the Vikings are big favorites over the Lions, so Cook could see a smaller role coming off the injury.

Teams like the Chiefs, Patriots, Colts, Eagles, Packers, Buccaneers, and 49ers all figure to produce plenty of Fantasy value for running backs in Week 14, but it'll be tough to know exactly how that will break down, which means tough lineup decisions are coming. 

That's why we're here to help. Jamey Eisenberg's Start 'Em & Sit 'Em column for running backs is here to help you set your lineup, while Heath Cummings' preview of the position gives you numbers to know, matchups that matter, and projections for the week. Make sure you're setting the best lineup possible with our help.

START 'EM & SIT 'EM
Running Backs
Start 'Em
Projections powered by Sportsline
ATL Atlanta • #24
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs CAR ATL -3 O/U 47.5
OPP VS RB
31st
PROJ PTS
12.9
RB RNK
14th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
422
REC
42
REYDS
295
TD
3
FPTS/G
11.9
Freeman returned in Week 13 against New Orleans after a two-game absence with a foot injury, and he led the Atlanta backfield with 17 carries for 51 yards, along with four catches for 13 yards on five targets. He's now gone all season without a rushing touchdown, but I expect that streak to end this week. He's facing the Panthers in Week 14, and Carolina allows the most Fantasy points to opposing running backs, including the most touchdowns with 22 total. Freeman missed the first meeting with the Panthers in Week 11 when he was hurt, but Qadree Ollison scored in that game for the Falcons. And Freeman has scored a touchdown against Carolina in three of his past five meetings with that team.
LAC L.A. Chargers • #30
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ JAC LAC -3 O/U 43
OPP VS RB
24th
PROJ PTS
15.5
RB RNK
10th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
380
REC
69
REYDS
718
TD
10
FPTS/G
18.5
Ekeler has been among the best running backs in PPR this season, but he's also been good in non-PPR leagues. It helps when you have either a touchdown or at least 90 total yards in 10 of 12 games this season, including six in a row. This week, he's facing a Jaguars team that has been miserable against opposing running backs of late. In the past four games, Jacksonville has allowed seven touchdowns to running backs, with seven guys scoring at least 12 PPR points over that span. Melvin Gordon and Ekeler should have huge games in Week 14.
HOU Houston • #23
Age: 29 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs DEN HOU -9.5 O/U 41.5
OPP VS RB
15th
PROJ PTS
7.1
RB RNK
35th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
853
REC
7
REYDS
27
TD
4
FPTS/G
9
I like the setup for Hyde this week, and he's worth starting as at least a flex option in all leagues. The Broncos run defense hasn't been great of late, allowing a running back to score or gain at least 100 total yards in four of their past five games coming into Week 14. And now defensive lineman Derek Wolfe (elbow) is out for the season. The Texans are a touchdown favorite at home, and Hyde should have the chance for 15-plus carries. In the six games where he has at least 15 carries he has scored at least eight non-PPR points five times, with at least 12 PPR points in three of those outings. He's a non-factor in the passing game, but I like Hyde's chances to find the end zone this week at home.
CLE Cleveland • #27
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs CIN CLE -8.5 O/U 40.5
OPP VS RB
26th
PROJ PTS
13.4
RB RNK
18th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
125
REC
20
REYDS
118
TD
2
FPTS/G
13
Hunt has played four games this season after coming back from his eight-game suspension to open the year, and he's been a top 24 PPR running back each week. He's scored a touchdown in consecutive games, and he has three outings with at least five catches. Nick Chubb should continue to be the lead back for the Browns and has the chance to be awesome in Week 14 against the Bengals. But I also expect Hunt to score at least 11 PPR points again for the fifth game in a row, and Cincinnati has allowed a running back to score or gain at least 100 total yards in 11 of 12 games this season.
PHI Philadelphia • #26
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs NYG PHI -9.5 O/U 46
OPP VS RB
16th
PROJ PTS
13.3
RB RNK
13th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
520
REC
32
REYDS
359
TD
3
FPTS/G
10.7
The Giants run defense has improved of late, with only one touchdown allowed to a running back in their past three games against the Jets, Bears and Packers, as Le'Veon Bell is the one who scored in Week 10. And no running back has rushed for more than 41 yards against the Giants over that span. But I still expect Sanders to do well this week, and he's worth starting in all leagues if Jordan Howard (shoulder) remains out. Sanders has started the past three games with Howard out, and he's scored at least 11 PPR points in two games in a row. His role in the passing game has been vital, and he has at least three catches in seven of his past eight games. This is a big game for the Eagles, and I expect Sanders to again play a pivotal role for them after a season-high 22 total touches in Week 13 at Miami. He's the man in Philadelphia's backfield until Howard returns.
Sleepers
Projections powered by Sportsline
PIT Pittsburgh • #24
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ ARI PIT -2.5 O/U 43.5
OPP VS RB
23rd
PROJ PTS
6.1
RB RNK
31st
YTD Stats
RUYDS
279
REC
3
REYDS
23
TD
1
FPTS/G
3.9
James Conner (shoulder) is likely out again, which should give Snell the chance for a heavy workload in Week 14 against Arizona. In Week 13 against Cleveland, Snell had 13 PPR points, and he has at least 10 PPR points in his past two games. The Cardinals are No. 10 in Fantasy points allowed to running backs, and they have allowed a running back to score in each of their past three games.
MIN Minnesota • #25
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs DET MIN -13 O/U 43
OPP VS RB
30th
PROJ PTS
4.3
RB RNK
42nd
YTD Stats
RUYDS
416
REC
8
REYDS
64
TD
1
FPTS/G
4.4
Mattison would be a must-start running back if Dalvin Cook (shoulder/chest) is out, so keep an eye on his status. But even if Cook plays then I would still use Mattison as a flex. Detroit comes into Week 14 having allowed the third-most Fantasy points to opposing running backs for the year, and the Lions have allowed seven touchdowns to running backs in their past five games.
MIA Miami • #42
Age: 24 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NYJ NYJ -5.5 O/U 45
OPP VS RB
10th
PROJ PTS
9.2
RB RNK
26th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
36
REC
12
REYDS
109
TD
1
FPTS/G
2.9
Laird will start for Miami in Week 14 at the Jets with Kalen Ballage (leg) out for the season, and Laird has scored at least 11 PPR points in two of his past three games. The Jets defense will miss safety Jamal Adams (ankle) if he's out as expected, and Laird has at least four catches in two of his past three outings. I like him as a flex in all leagues, with his value slightly higher in PPR.
SEA Seattle • #20
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ LAR SEA -1 O/U 48
OPP VS RB
12th
PROJ PTS
8.6
RB RNK
30th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
370
REC
7
REYDS
67
TD
4
FPTS/G
7.6
Penny should be considered a borderline starter in all leagues, and I'm putting him in this category just to have somewhere to write about him. He's scored at least 18 PPR points in his past two games, but his performance in Week 15 against Minnesota was impressive. He had 15 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown, along with four catches for 33 yards and a touchdown on five targets. It's doubtful he gets 19 total touches again, but I can see him getting 15 this week. And against the Rams that makes him a flex, with Chris Carson still a must-start running back in all leagues.
WAS Washington • #29
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ GB GB -13 O/U 42
OPP VS RB
27th
PROJ PTS
11
RB RNK
32nd
YTD Stats
RUYDS
203
REC
7
REYDS
79
TD
3
FPTS/G
12.3
In two of three games since coming back from his knee injury in Week 1, Guice has scored at least 13 PPR points twice. I'm hopeful that his workload continues to increase after having just 12 total touches last week at Carolina, but he scored 26 PPR points in that outing with 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns, along with two catches for 8 yards. Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson remain speed bumps for Guice, but I still like him as a flex against the Packers, who have allowed five touchdowns to running backs in their past four games.
Sit 'Em
Projections powered by Sportsline
ARI Arizona • #41
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs PIT PIT -2.5 O/U 43.5
OPP VS RB
5th
PROJ PTS
12.1
RB RNK
20th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
417
REC
40
REYDS
265
TD
1
FPTS/G
10.6
Drake has played four games with the Cardinals after being traded from the Dolphins prior to Week 9, and he's scored at least 13 PPR points in two of them and nine PPR points or less in two others. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 9, and he just had his worst game with Arizona in Week 13 against the Rams with 13 carries for 31 yards, as well as two catches for 20 yards on five targets. He should struggle again this week against the Steelers, who haven't allowed a running back to score on the ground since Week 5. We'll see if David Johnson and Chase Edmonds also take work away from Drake, and he's a flex at best, with his value higher in PPR.
SF San Francisco • #31
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NO NO -2.5 O/U 44.5
OPP VS RB
4th
PROJ PTS
8.3
RB RNK
27th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
539
REC
10
REYDS
119
TD
4
FPTS/G
7.6
Matt Breida (ankle) is expected to return this week from a three-game absence, which should make this backfield messy. Tevin Coleman and Breida will share touches with Mostert, who was awesome in Week 13 at Baltimore, but isn't worth trusting this week. Mostert had 19 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens, along with two catches for 8 yards on two targets. But with the touches likely divided three ways, as well as a tough matchup at the Saints, this is a situation to avoid if you can. New Orleans has allowed just one touchdown to a running back on the ground since Week 5.
DET Detroit • #43
Age: 23 • Experience: 1 year
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ MIN MIN -13 O/U 43
OPP VS RB
8th
PROJ PTS
8.3
RB RNK
39th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
236
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
1
FPTS/G
8.7
Scarbrough should continue to operate as the main running back for the Lions, and he has either 80 rushing yards or a touchdown in three games in a row. But he hasn't scored in the past two games and has no catches in his three appearances with the Lions on just one target. He's an OK flex play in non-PPR leagues, but I would avoid him in PPR leagues, even though the Vikings were just gashed on the ground by the Seahawks in Week 13. I'm expecting the Lions to be chasing points this week on the road, and Scarbrough might not be involved much in the second half.
IND Indianapolis • #25
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ TB TB -3 O/U 47
OPP VS RB
3rd
PROJ PTS
5.9
RB RNK
36th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
862
REC
12
REYDS
76
TD
4
FPTS/G
12,4
Mack is expected to return in Week 14 after being out for the past two games with a broken right hand, but I'm hesitant to start him this week against the Buccaneers. He could be limited with his touches, especially in the passing game, and we know he hasn't been much of a receiver this year to begin with (he has 12 receptions for the season). Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins and Jonathan Williams could also get touches, and Tampa Bay comes into Week 14 allowing the fewest Fantasy points to opposing running backs for the season. I would use Mack as a flex in non-PPR leagues and try to avoid him in PPR.
TB Tampa Bay • #27
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs IND TB -3 O/U 47
OPP VS RB
7th
PROJ PTS
8.7
RB RNK
37th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
482
REC
21
REYDS
218
TD
5
FPTS/G
9.2
One of the biggest disappointments for me this season was Jones in Week 13 at Jacksonville. I expected him to have a huge game, but he was benched in favor of Peyton Barber after Jones failed to pick up a blitz. Barber scored two touchdowns against the Jaguars, and Jones finished with six carries for 8 yards and no touchdowns. He's just too risky to trust after having single digits in touches in two of his past three games. Maybe he does well against the Colts, who just got beat up by Derrick Henry in Week 13. Or maybe Barber is once again the lead running back in Tampa Bay. I'm keeping Jones on my bench, likely for the rest of the season.
Bust Alert
Projections powered by Sportsline
KC Kansas City • #25
Age: 31 • Experience: 11 year
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NE NE -3 O/U 48.5
OPP VS RB
1st
PROJ PTS
7.2
RB RNK
31st
YTD Stats
RUYDS
410
REC
27
REYDS
177
TD
5
FPTS/G
9.5
I'm torn on McCoy this week if Damien Williams (ribs) and Darrel Williams (hamstring) are out at New England. If that happens then McCoy could be looking at a decent workload, with rookie Darwin Thompson mixing in as well. And every time Damien Williams has been hurt or out – it's happened four times this year – McCoy has scored at least 12 PPR points. But he's been touchdown dependent in doing so the past two times it's happened in Week 11 against the Chargers and in Week 13 against Oakland. He scored in both of those games, but he had 11 touches or less in each outing. And this week he's facing a Patriots defense that has allowed just two touchdowns to opposing running backs all season. I'll use McCoy as a flex option, but I'm concerned his production could be minimal if he doesn't find the end zone.

So who should you sit and start this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 14 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, 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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