Week 13 Running Back Benchings

It’s hard to believe the final week of November is upon us. With Thanksgiving in the rear-view mirror, the best four weeks of fantasy football stand between the present and the litany of familial obligations awaiting in late December.

Since Lawr is clearly already in the holiday spirit, I’ll be the one to point out that playing the wrong running back this week and missing the playoffs is going to make December suck even worse than usual.

Avoid the following situations or join the fools waiting in massive lines just to get off the highway by the mall. (And see below for some relatively cheap replacement RB options.)

Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman vs. Minnesota

Freeman missed the past two games with a concussion, but he hadn’t scored a touchdown or topped 90 yards over five straight games prior to that. Coleman certainly picked up the slack in his absence, rushing for four TDs during the three weeks Freeman was sidelined and posting at least 19 carries in each. But, with Freeman slated to return this week, a renewed timeshare couldn’t come at a worse time — the Falcons face the a Vikings defense giving up the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Kareem Hunt at New York Jets

In September, Kareem Hunt looked like he might lead fantasy squads to runaway titles, blowing up for 538 yards from scrimmage and six TDs the first three weeks of the season. But the rookie out of Toledo hasn’t crossed the goal line since, and the Chiefs offense has gone ice cold in three straight losses — including a sad three field goal performance against the Giants Week 11. Worse, Hunt lost passing-down snaps last week to Charcandrick West during the Chiefs’ failed comeback attempt against Buffalo. Only LeSean McCoy has topped 100 yards on the ground against the Jets (Week 1), and New York has given up only two rushing touchdowns since Week 2.

Demarco Murray/Derrick Henry vs. Houston

Many Murray/Henry owners have already moved on from fantasy advice for the year, preferring the flawed logic of Sarah Huckabee Sanders to whatever thought process led them to invest heavily in Titans running backs this year. Both Murray and Henry have been TD-dependent booms or busts all year, with only two 100-yard rushing games between them. Houston is giving up just 18.4 fantasy points to opposing backs per game — call it 9.2 each for these guys?

Trending Up:

Alex Collins (Yahoo! ownership: 73 percent) vs. Detroit

Collins has firmly established himself as the Ravens’ lead back with double-digit carries in seven straight games and touchdowns in two in a row. The Lions have given up eight rushing TDs in the past six games.

Kenyan Drake (65 percent) vs. Denver

Denver has been tough against the run, but Drake is set for a big workload with Damien Williams out. The second-year man out of Alabama could be  a rare three-down guy this week — he’s averaged four receptions a game in his past four — and the Broncos have allowed a league-high six passing touchdowns to running backs.

Rex Burkhead (64 percent) at Buffalo

Fresh off a two-TD performance, Burkhead faces a Bills rushing defense that will offer little resistance to whomever Bill Belichick decides to gash them with. Buffalo has allowed a league-high 16 rushing TDs on the year.

Austin Ekeler (36 percent) vs. Cleveland

The undrafted rookie has produced either 70 yards or a touchdown in four of five games, including two TD catches against Jacksonville Week 10. He might be more of a DFS play this week against a Browns defense susceptible to the pass, but he’s still a worthy stash in redraft leagues — if the annual Melvin Gordon injury strikes, Ekeler is instantly a top 10 RB.

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