running back James Starks should be on someone’s team in your fantasy league, if not your own. He is coming off a Week 13 performance that came out of nowhere and should have more games just like it the rest of the season. Starks ran for 73 yards on 18 carries in his NFL debut on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Though he didn’t reach the end zone, this was definitely an excellent effort especially since he’d been hurt all season. The Packers planned on getting him around 10 carries, so the fact that he received 18 speaks volumes for what the coaching staff thinks about the rookie out of Buffalo. Brandon Jackson has been a decent receiving back for Green Bay, but he has struggled running the ball effectively over the last month so it’s just a matter of time before Starks takes the starting running back position for good. He should be in your lineup this week against the Detroit Lions’ weak defense.
Tashard Choice is making himself fantasy relevant for the home stretch as well. Marion Barber is out with a leg injury right now and though it doesn’t look too severe, he still might miss a few more games. Barber was out last week and Choice made the most of the opportunity. He rushed 19 times for 100 yards and a touchdown. Choice ran all over the Indianapolis Colts and his trip to paydirt came on an exciting 20-yard run. Owners should be aware that Felix Jones is healthy and still the starting running back in Dallas right now, but Choice will get his double-digit carries nonetheless. And with Washington and Arizona coming up on the schedule, he could do some serious damage on the ground. I’d probably start Choice over Starks right now in my fantasy league primarily because you know he’s going to receive at least 10 carries against the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend, but don’t be afraid to deploy both.
Those who stuck with Jonathan Stewart in 2010 are now going to reap the benefits during the playoff run in fantasy. DeAngelo Williams has been on Injured Reserve for a month now and Stewart has fully recovered from the concussion he suffered a few weeks back. He was splitting carries with Mike Goodson over the last few weeks, but that is about to end, especially after his Week 13 performance. Stewart carried the ball 21 times for 92 yards and a score against Seattle. That now gives him 190 rushing yards in the last two games combined. Plus, Goodson is a little banged up now with a shoulder injury so Stewart has the starting job locked up from here on out. He has a tough stretch of matchups that include Pittsburgh and Atlanta twice to end the season, but Stewart should still put up solid fantasy numbers and will help you in the playoffs for sure.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee (this was written before the game)
All systems appear to be pointing to a Week 14 return for Britt. He was out six weeks for a hamstring injury, but it looks like he’ll be back starting against the Colts tonight. It would be a somewhat risky move, but I think Britt is going to pick up right where he left off before getting hurt. Indianapolis’ defense has been horrible all season long and the secondary has plenty of holes so as long as Britt feels no pain, he should have a very nice game after missing the last four contests. He’s only considered a sleeper right now because of the fact that he’s had such a big layoff from football, but I still think 80 yards and a touchdown are very realistic numbers for Britt.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay
Since Week 8, Blount has been the premier running back in the Tampa Bay backfield and has been useful for fantasy owners. He’s averaging more than 18 carries a game and has four touchdowns in his last six contests with two 100-yard rushing performances. Last week against a stingy Atlanta Falcons’ run defense, Blount ran for 103 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and should only pick up steam the rest of the way. His yards per carry is consistently 4.5 or better almost every week and he’s got a nice matchup on Sunday at Washington. Blount’s rookie campaign started off slow, but is starting to shape into a nice debut season and should be flirting with the 1,000-yard mark by the end of the year. That’s pretty good considering he started 2010 with 10 total carries through the first five games. Blount should provide you with a nice output this week so start him.
Ryan Torain, RB, Washington
Torain has been out of the lineup the last four games with a hamstring injury, but head coach Mike Shanahan announced this week that he is ready to go for Week 14 against Tampa Bay. Before he got hurt, Torain was an absolute beast for the Redskins, scoring four touchdowns on the ground and one through the air over a five-week span. He had 16 or more carries in four of the five games and two games with more than 100 yards rushing. It seems like every team has been running all over the Buccaneers’ defense this year and Torain should be able to do some immediate damage as well, as long as he gets the carries. The only negative with him is that he isn’t the greatest pass catching back (only eight receptions in six games), but if healthy owners should get Torain back in their lineups.
Lock of the Week
Malcolm Floyd, WR, San Diego
Floyd returned to the lineup in Week 13 after missing a few weeks with a hamstring injury and had five catches for 72 yards against Oakland. He should be in line for a big game against Kansas City even though many others aren’t buying it. Vincent Jackson is inactive for Sunday and tight end Antonio Gates, we all know, is playing on basically one foot for the rest of the season, so Floyd is the best receiving option for the pass-happy Chargers. Look for quarterback Philip Rivers to target Floyd early and often in a huge divisional game in San Diego. Even though he still isn’t 100 percent healed from his injury, Floyd is very close and should put up nice numbers. Expect around seven catches 100 yards and a touchdown out of him and thank me later.