Ever since New York Jets running back Shonn Greene injured his ribs, he’s been on a tear. It does help that he has gone up against weaker run defenses the last few weeks, but owners still have to love the fact that he’s getting more than 20 carries a game and all goal line opportunities for the Jets. Greene is coming off the best game of his career where he ran for 88 yards and scored three touchdowns at Washington. He’s been running with power and hasn’t lost a fumble all season. The Jets have been back to their ground-and-pound ways and will continue that trend in Week 14 with Greene being the basis of this game plan. He gets a terrible Kansas City run defense, which has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs on the season. Start him with confidence as you start your playoff run. I know it’s a gamble with Greene sometimes, but he should provide a nice stat line for you as a strong RB2.
Things are starting to look bright for Adrian Peterson owners this weekend as it seems that he will be playing in Week 14. He was able to return to practice on Thursday, which is very encouraging news and although Peterson stated that he’s only at about 70 percent healthy right now, he does plan on playing against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. High ankle sprains are tough to recover from in just a few weeks, but if anyone can do it, it’s certainly Peterson. He seems pretty confident that he’ll get the starting nod this weekend, and fantasy owners sure need him as they begin the playoffs. I recommend getting him in your lineups as long as he’s playing. Teams have had some success running on Detroit the last few weeks, plus Ndamukong Suh is still suspended, so that bodes well for Peterson and his chances of finding room to run. Keep Toby Gerhart ready just in case, though.
Ryan Mathews is one of the hotter running backs in the NFL right now. A large reason for this is because he has finally been able to remain healthy for most of the season, which has paid off for fantasy owners. Mathews has two straight 100-yard rushing games and is also averaging more than seven yards per carry over this span. He’s only scored four touchdowns on the season, but has been making up for it with his pass catching ability. He’s been quiet catching balls out of the backfield as of late, but that should change against Buffalo this week. The Bills defense is struggling about as much as a team can struggle and they are very poor against the run, so look for Mathews to make it three straight games with more than 100 rushing yards. He’s a must-start in all formats as owners will be very happy with his output in Week 14.
Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami
Thomas has been injury free for about a month now, and even though Reggie Bush is the starting running back for the Dolphins, Thomas is still seeing double-digit carries every week. Bush has been very hot over the last five games (five touchdowns), but Thomas has been the better runner overall. Either way, it’s tough to start the rookie out of Kansas State in most leagues because Bush gets all the goal line work, but I really like him this week. He has a great matchup home against the Philadelphia Eagles and will definitely get at least 12 carries. Thomas does have one receiving touchdown on the year, but he’s still looking for his first rushing score. I think he gets it in Week 14. If you still have banged up running backs that aren’t playing this week then take a look at him. He’s not a bad option at the flex spot.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland
It’s looking like both Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford are not going to play against Green Bay this week, so Heyward-Bey will once again be the primary receiving option for the Raiders. He’s had an up-and-down season thus far, but is slowly starting to build some chemistry with Carson Palmer. Heyward-Bey did have a team-high eight targets last week, but was only able to come up with three of them. One of those catches did go for a short touchdown, though, so all is not lost with him right now. Heyward-Bey is improving every week and you have to love the fact that the Packers defense has given up the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers on the season, so he could be sneaky good in Week 14. Palmer doesn’t have many other people to throw it to and the Raiders will surely be airing it out quite a bit, so take a shot with him.
Marion Barber, RB, Chicago
With Matt Forte out for at least a few weeks, Barber gets the starting job. It’s tough to label him as a must-start for a few reasons though. First of all, the Bears don’t have a passing game with Jay Cutler on the shelf so defenses have been stacking the box and shutting down the run. Also, Barber has a tough, but beatable matchup this week as Chicago is on the road against the streaking Denver Broncos. Denver has been giving up some rushing yards over the last month, though, and Barber should see a pretty heavy load, which includes all goal line situations, meaning owners could take a chance with him in Week 14. He does have five rushing touchdowns on the year, meaning he does know how to find the end zone. It’s just a question of whether or not the offense will be able to open up the run game with some passing.
Lock of the Week
Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo
Johnson has had his problems this year catching the ball and getting fined for celebration penalties, but there’s no doubt that he is a rising star in the NFL. He’s the clear-cut No. 1 wideout for the Bills and has been playing like it lately. In his last two games, Johnson has totaled 13 receptions for 127 yards and two scores. Perhaps the most important stat is that he is getting targeted at a very high clip every game. He did beat Darrelle Revis for eight catches, albeit most of them were short slant routes, and the Bills have been throwing the ball a lot lately. Look for Johnson to have another solid game this week at San Diego. He should have his way with an unimpressive San Diego secondary that has been struggling the last five weeks so start him with confidence.
Overall, the New York Jets defense has a great matchup this weekend against the Kaansas City Chiefs, but Revis is surely going to have his hands full with Dwayne Bowe. Bowe is a big physical receiver who loves going down field, but does have a history of dropping passes. Revis thrives against this type of receiver, though, so I don’t recommend rolling with Bowe in Week 14. The main reason for this is because he has Tyler Palko throwing him the ball. The Jets defense has been getting back to their blitzing ways, which could mean a long day for Palko and the rest of the Kansas City offense. Plus, Revis has been back to his usual self after that off game against Stevie Johnson. Find another option at wideout this week.