Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Some big time running backs have juicy matchups this week and some have matchups that will make you cringe. On to week 12!
Jay Ajayi v SF
Any way you slice it San Francisco is the worst rushing defense in the NFL. They rank dead last in DVOA, Yards, YPA and YPG. Even with the injuries to the Miami offensive line Ajayi should have a field day in week 12. Game script will also be in Ajayi’s favor as Miami is a 9 point favorite at home.
David Johnson @ ATL
In Week 10 Eagles running backs ran for a 34-199-2 line against the Falcons. Ranked 28th in DVOA and giving up over 100 yards per game on the ground things won’t get any easier when David Johnson comes to town in week 12. To make matters worse Atlanta gives up over 60 yards in the air to running backs. Johnson should feast both on the ground and through the air and could easily be the top scoring running back this week.
LeSean McCoy v JAC
Heading into the 2016 season Jacksonville’s defense was predicted to be much improved but that has not come to fruition. Ranked 23rd in rush DVOA and giving up over 113 yards per game on the ground, McCoy should continue to put up high end RB1 numbers in week 12. With Mike Gilislee looking unlikely to play McCoy could see 20+ touches against a bottom 10 rush defense.
DeMarco Murray @ CHI
For the middle part of the season Chicago had an underrated run defense, but key losses on the defensive side of the ball have left some gaping holes. Last week the Giants posted a 25-101-1 line against this defense. Game script should be in Murray’s favor as well with Matt Barkley likely leading an inept and depleted Chicago offense.
Rashad Jennings @ CLE
Cleveland ranks 30th in run DVOA and are giving up over 143 yards per game to opposing running backs. In his last 2 games Jennings has posted lines of 15-87-0 and 21-85-1. If he gets that kind of workload against Cleveland there is no reason to think he can’t surpass 100 yards. Workload may be the only thing keeping Jennings from being a sure-fire RB1 this week as you never know when the Giants coaching staff will just abandon the run.
Jonathan Stewart @ OAK
Ranked 27th in rush DVOA and giving up 4.6 YPA, Oakland represents a soft matchup for Stewart in week 12. Touchdowns have been hard to come by for Stewart as he’s only seen 56% of his teams goal line carries over the last 4 weeks. Against Oakland the yards should be there and if he can find the end zone Stewart can finish as a top 10 RB.
Spencer Ware @ DEN
Denver is a team that can shut down passing games but struggles against the run. Ranked 25th in rush DVOA and giving up over 123 yards per game Ware should continue to have a high floor. Unfortunately his ceiling is limited by his lack of use around the goal line as he’s had only 2 carries inside the 5 in the last 4 weeks. With Charcandrik West looking likely to play Ware will also be limited in the passing game. Still he should be a high floor RB2 against Denver’s weak running defense.
Devontae Booker v KC
Running backs should have plenty of success in this game. Booker has not looked overly impressive since taking over lead back duties from CJ Anderson but the workload is there. Against a Kansas City defense that ranks 21st in DVOA and gives up 4.5 YPA Booker could finally pay off for owners who thought they were getting a weekly RB1. He’s also a top touchdown regression candidate and is seeing 93% of the teams goal line carries in the last 4 weeks.
Jeremy Hill @ BAL
With the loss of Gio Bernard in week 11 Hill is in line for a massive workload. Unfortunately week 12 presents the best rush defense in the league. Baltimore ranks first in rush DVOA, YPA, YPG and total yards. Workload and goal line carries give Hill a chance to have a good game but don’t be surprised if he puts up a dud.
LeGarrette Blount @ NYJ
The Jets have been a mess this year but one area they have excelled in has been stopping the run. Ranking 2nd in rush DVOA and giving up just 3.5 YPA it could be tough sledding for Blount. It’s hard to fade Blount as he’s always a threat to score and does better in games when New England is a big favorite (-7), but this looks on paper like a game New England will attack through the air.
Doug Martin v SEA
Seattle ranks 3rd in rush DVOA and are giving up just 3.5 YPA. Martin has seen 16 and 24 carries since coming back from his hamstring injury so the volume should be there. Unfortunately playing against a defense that is firing on all cylinders lately it’s hard to see Martin as anything more than a high end RB2 this week. Martin owners shouldn’t fear though as his schedule gets much easier after this week.
Latavius Murray v CAR
It remains to be seen how the loss of Luke Keuchley will affect this run defense but so far in 2016 Carolina has been as good as advertised against the run. Ranking 6th in DVOA and only allowing 3.5 YPA Oakland running backs should be in for a long day. In the last 3 weeks Murray has seen snap percentages of 38, 49 and 55. While he seems to be trending up this is still a full blown committee. Without the requisite volume Murray could be in for a tough fantasy day.
Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman v ARI
This could be a tough week for Atlanta’s offense. With Julio likely being shadowed by Patrick Peterson it may fall on Freeman and Coleman to carry the load. Unfortunately Arizona is one of the best against the run. Ranked 9th in rush DVOA and giving up just 3.7 YPA running the ball will be tough. To make matters worse Arizona ranks 1st in DVOA against pass catching running backs. All signs point to Freeman, Coleman and the entire Falcons offense struggling this week.
Disagree with any matchups? Think of some I missed? Let me know in the comments below.