Before we look ahead to Week 14, we look back at how we did this past week with our running back targets and duds. Jamaal Williams, Dion Lewis, Marshawn Lynch and Leonard Fournette all delivered. Unfortunately Jordan Howard, one of our top targets, left us hurting in a significant way after a poor performance.
Last week provides further lessons for this week, so we can do even better in Week 14. This week's slate includes all 16 games from Thursday-Monday given the numerous impact running backs that play on primetime games. So let's get started with our Week 14 running back analysis, targeting two top plays, four value plays and two running backs we'll try to avoid.
Melvin Gordon, LAC v. WAS, ($8,600)
While Gordon is no longer seeing the 26-plus touches per game he saw earlier in the season, Los Angeles continues to make him a focal part of its running game and Gordon also sees a few looks in the passing game as well. Now as the Chargers prepare for a matchup against Washington, they'll look to take advantage of an excellent matchup for Gordon.
Since Week 7, Washington's injury-depleted defense allowed the third-most rushing yards (803) in the NFL, with 415 of those yards coming in the last four weeks. Needless to say, this is the type of matchup that Gordon should take advantage of and see a significant workload if the Chargers can get an early lead. Gordon encounters the best matchup of the five highest priced running backs this week and it isn't particularly close, so be sure to get some shares.
Mark Ingram, NO @ ATL, ($8,200)
Ingram is only the seventh-most expensive running back on the slate and he is $1,000 cheaper than teammate Alvin Kamara, so this is certainly something to take advantage of. While Kamara continues to show he is the more explosive back and can create more big plays, Ingram receives the higher workload and he remains one of the NFL's best running backs.
While the Atlanta Falcons defense allowed the 12th-fewest rushing yards in the last four weeks and continues to live up to its reputation as a strong run defense, this week will present problems. New Orleans' offensive line is the best run-blocking unit in the NFL and if the Saints put Kamara, Michael Thomas and Ingram on the field at the same time, the Falcons will be diverting resources to different parts of the field and open up bigger lanes for Ingram. A top-five running back this week, Ingram offers quality value in his price compared to other elite running backs.
Alfred Morris, DAL @ NYG, ($6,800)
While some of it might be a result of the "#RevengeGame" mindset, the Dallas Cowboys fed Morris every time they could last Thursday against Washington. The team recognized an excellent matchup and with a dominant performance by the offensive line, Morris ran all over Washington's defense.
Now Morris faces a New York Giants defense that allowed the second-most rushing yards this season (1,312) and second-most rushing yards in the last five weeks (599). The matchup comes at a perfect time with the Giants' defense dealing with injuries and the Cowboys' offensive line starting to click in appear to be nearing their 2016 form. As a result, Morris is a top-12 running back this week and a top value play in DFS.
Lamar Miller, HOU v. SF, ($6,600)
Miller's price is quite notable given the matchup. Set to face a San Francisco 49ers defense that allowed the fourth-most rushing yards (1,285), second-most targets (100) and most receiving yards to running backs (690), this is about as ideal of a matchup that you could draw up for Miller.
Even with the offensive line and quarterback issues in Houston, Miller's effectiveness running the football and his work in the passing game make this an easy matchup for him to exploit in Week 14. Miller is game script proof, so whether Houston leads big or needs to play catchup, Miller will continue to see touches. Miller's upside for 100-plus total yards and a touchdown this week make him a top-10 running back.
Dion Lewis, NE @ MIA, ($6,500)
If not for a touchdown vulture by Rex Burkhead after Lewis ripped off a big run and took it down to the one-yard line, Lewis fantasy day would look quite a bit different. 92 rushing yards is a great performance and 9.2 FanDuel points is a worthwhile return, but a 15-point performance could have made it an even greater day for those who rostered Lewis on FanDuel.
We'll take another turn on the wheel with Lewis this week against the Miami Dolphins. After a strong start to the season for the Dolphins' run defense, they've encountered a total collapse in the second half of the season with the second-most rushing yards (762) and most rushing touchdowns (11) allowed since Week 8. New England will be without Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan in this game, so even more emphasis will land on the running game. Lewis should punch it into the end zone this week and the odds of an 80-plus yard game are significantly in his favor.
Kenyan Drake, MIA v. NE, ($6,200)
In the absence of Damien Williams, Drake became Miami's workhorse running back. Against the Denver Broncos, Drake took 26 touches and impressed everyone in attendance with 141 total yards and a touchdown. Now Drake will get another chance as Miami's featured running back in a favorable matchup against the Patriots on a national stage.
Over its last five games, New England allowed over 100 rushing yards per game to opponents. While finding the end zone might prove to be tough given the Patriots have allowed just four rushing touchdowns to running backs on the season, Drake's usage and role as a multi-purpose back will allow him to rack up chunks of yards on Monday and he could reach nine-plus FanDuel points at a quality price.
Leonard Fournette, JAX v. SEA, ($8,300)
Facing a Seattle Seahawks defense that allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards since Week 9, Fournette could find some tough defensive fronts this week against the Seahawks. Even with an injury-plagued secondary, Seattle will focus its efforts on taking away Jacksonville's running game and force Blake Bortles to be the difference maker in this game and beat them.
While Fournette might remain in consideration despite those circumstances in a normal situation, his struggles of late make him more of a play to avoid. An ankle injury, which he continues to play through, seems to be hurting some of his effectiveness and subsequently hurting his total yardage. The bigger problem is the recent failures of Jacksonville's offensive line. Fournette averaged 5.4 yards per carry in October on 73 carries, but his yards per carry in his last 77 carries sits at 2.93.
Seattle's defensive line will get interior penetration against the Jaguars' offensive line and takeaway running lanes for Fournette. Some might want to call it a rookie wall, but the 22-year-old's struggles statistically are more so just due to the ankle injury and poor offensive line play. Given the price and circumstances, it's best to avoid Fournette this week in DFS.