Fantasy owners who didn’t drop Felix Jones received a huge fantasy boost last week with the ankle injury suffered by rookie phenom DeMarco Murray. Murray broke his ankle early in the first half against the New York Giants, and in came Jones to the rescue. The Dallas Cowboys ended up losing the game, but Jones proved that he certainly can still be a dominant starting running back. He ran for just over 100 yards on 16 carries and also caught a handful of passes out of the backfield. He is a must start the rest of the season for owners chasing that championship, and he should be considered no worse than an RB2 for the simple reason that Dallas has no one else at the running back position. Jones has always been a solid player; his health has consistently been the only thing that keeps him from being a fantasy stud. Look for him to have a nice end to the season with matchups against Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and the New York Giants.
Though it doesn’t seem like it, Maurice Jones-Drew is having a monster season. With more than 1,300 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns, fantasy owners have to be extremely happy, especially since he’s on a terrible team with no offensive line. Jones-Drew had by far the best game of his career last week, rushing for 85 yards and two scores while also catching six balls for another 52 yards and two more trips to pay dirt. The Jaguars got blown out Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons, but Jones-Drew was still able to run for 112 yards, and although he didn’t find the end zone it was still a very serviceable night for his owners. He finishes the season against Tennessee and Indianapolis, so start him the rest of the season as the No. 1 running back that he’s been all year as he will surely help you win that fantasy championship.
I don’t suggest starting any running back not named Darren Sproles from the New Orleans Saints this weekend. All season it has been a crap shoot with the New Orleans’ backfield, and this week is no different. Sproles is going to get his reps and a decent amount of targets and should continue to be started. Even though Mark Ingram is battling turf toe and is doubtful to play Sunday, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory should be benched. There are too many weapons on New Orleans, and Drew Brees are going to be throwing a ton as he chases Dan Marino’s passing record. Minnesota is very weak against the pass, so unless Thomas or Ivory can break off a long screen pass I would keep both of them inactive for Week 15. I’m not crazy about Sproles either, but he’s found ways to be useful all season.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston
Tate has been arguably the best backup running back in the NFL all season long. He’s only gotten 146 carries and is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards. Houston already clinched a playoff spot, so it would only make sense that they take it easy with Arian Foster the last three weeks and not overwork him. With that, Tate should see double-digit carries the rest of the way. I love his matchup this weekend as he goes up against probably the worst run defense in the NFL in the Carolina Panthers. They have given up the second-most fantasy points to running backs on the season, so if for some reason you need a running back in Week 15 look at Tate. He should get at least 12 carries on Sunday and may get more work than Foster. Take advantage of his 5.6 yards per carry average and put him in your flex spot if you need some running back help.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, St. Louis
Lloyd has had a fantasy resurgence since being traded to the Rams midseason. All four of his touchdowns have come in a St. Louis jersey and he’s had at least five receptions in all but two games. He hasn’t found the end zone in the last two weeks, but is getting targeted frequently. There’s no doubt that Lloyd is Sam Bradford’s favorite option as he got 12 balls thrown his way last week. It’s troubling that he only came down with five of them, but you have to expect that ratio to start increasing. The Rams are home against Cincinnati in Week 15, and although the Bengals have a good secondary, three of Lloyd’s four touchdown catches have come at home. Look for him to find pay dirt for the fifth time in 2011 on Sunday.
Lance Moore, WR, New Orleans
With the exception of Marques Colston, it’s very hard to trust any wide receiver on the Saints’ roster, but Moore has come alive the last six weeks. He’s had a few bad games during this stretch, but overall he’s put up some nice numbers. Moore’s averaging just under four receptions a game and has five touchdowns in these six weeks, so he should be in line for a decent game in Week 15. As I mentioned earlier, Drew Brees is locked in right now and is on pace to break Dan Marino’s passing yards in a season record, meaning New Orleans will be airing it out quite frequently the last three weeks of the season. Plus, teams have been throwing all over the Minnesota Vikings, so Moore will find himself with a handful of targets and should sneak in another end zone trip.
Lock of the Week
Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay
Grant is a trendy pick as a solid play for Week 15 after his outburst last week and the fact that James Starks has a nagging ankle injury. He should get the start on Sunday against a terrible Kansas City run defense, but Green Bay still throws the ball as much as any other team in the NFL and Aaron Rodgers is in the same boat as Drew Brees right now chasing Dan Marino’s record. Nonetheless, Grant should get at least 12-14 carries and a few passes out of the backfield, which should be plenty of touches to put up solid numbers against the Chiefs. It’s obvious that he probably won’t come near 85 yards and two touchdowns like he did last week, but Grant could still get those 80 yards and one score in Week 15. I like his chances as a flex start on Sunday.
The New York Jets’ secondary has a tough matchup on Sunday as they travel to Philadelphia. Jeremy Maclin is active, which means the Jets have a tough decision to make on who they want Revis guarding. In all likelihood, Revis will be matched up with Maclin for most of the game, but I’m sure he’ll go up against DeSean Jackson for more than a few plays as well. Antonio Cromartie is better at defending the long pass, so he’ll try and bottle up Jackson while Revis will try to take a banged up Maclin right out of the game. Maclin is a possession receiver and is the key to the Eagles’ passing game, but he’s still not 100 percent and will have to deal with Revis Island. I’d bench Maclin once again this week.