We are now firmly into the second half of the season and you need to keep your eyes wide open for that stud running back that surfaces in the second half of the season. There is always at least one running back that either by and injury or increased play, emerges in the second half of the season to help carry fantasy teams into the playoffs and maybe to a championship.
In the past it has been Jamaal Charles (five 100-yard games from Week 8 to Week 17 in 2009), LeGarrette Blount (17.1 fantasy points per game from Week 8 to Week 17 in 2010) and Roy Helu (18.6 fantasy points per game from Week 9 to Week 17 in 2011). This year I'm keeping an eye on Vick Ballard, Marcel Reece, Chris Ivory and Jonathan Dwyer as potential guys that could breakout in the second part of the season.
I'm not saying all or any of these guys are going to have a huge second half of the season, but just that you should keep your eye on them for increased workloads or if the running back ahead of them on the depth chart has an injury that lingers longer than it should. Keep your eyes open for that one stud running back. There's always one. Now on to the calls for the week.
Carson Palmer has been hot lately. All three of his best games of the year have come in the past four weeks. This week he gets another easy matchup with the easiest fantasy defense for quarterbacks to go against, New Orleans. The Saints have allowed three of their last four quarterbacks to throw for 330-plus yards and three touchdowns each. Palmer's on a hot streak against a very weak defense and that makes him a ‘good call' this week. Start him with confidence.
If you're desperate and are looking at starting Nick Foles this week, go ahead and do it. Foles walks into a very nice match-up this week as he starts for the injured Michael Vick. The Redskins have been steadily allowing seven of the nine quarterbacks they've faced to score between 20 and 25 fantasy points against them. If the rookie is going to show us what he's got, this is going to be the week. Things don't get much easier than this. Start Foles if you've got no other options, he's a ‘good call' this week.
If you're looking to start Josh Freeman this week, you may want to think again. Freeman has a tough matchup with Carolina. When Freeman played the Panthers in Week 1 he had just 138 passing yards with one touchdown and that game was in Tampa Bay. Since that Week 1 game, only one quarterback has thrown for more than one touchdown against the Panthers and only two have gone over 18 fantasy points. Freeman just doesn't have things on his side and he's a ‘bad call' this week.
The Pittsburgh defense has held three of the last four quarterbacks they've faced to single digit fantasy points. Joe Flacco is not a good play this week. He had a big week last week, but before that he had fantasy games of 10, 8, 14, and 9 fantasy points. Flacco is becoming a match-up play, and this is not a matchup you want to be playing him. Look elsewhere for your quarterback this week.
Only three teams have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are also bad at stopping the run in general, allowing an average of 4.4 yards per carry. That should help Jamaal Charles have another good game. Charles surprised a lot of people last week by racking up 100 yards against the Pittsburgh defense. Maybe, the Chiefs are finally remembering that giving Charles the ball a lot helps them win games. Either way, he's a ‘good call' this week.
Everyone thought with Darren Sproles out of the lineup that would mean more work for Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas, but in reality it was Chris Ivory who got the step-up in workload. With Sproles out of the lineup Ivory has 13 and 16 fantasy points in the two games Sproles has missed. This week the Saints get an easy rush defense to play against when they travel to Oakland. The Raiders have allowed some big games to running backs this year: Reggie Bush (39 fantasy points), Willis McGahee (28), Rashad Jennings (26), Doug Martin (60), and Ray Rice (18). Ivory should be able to get a big enough chunk of the New Orleans run game to be a ‘good call' week.
Donald Brown is a bad spot start this week if you're thinking about using him. Brown has been unimpressive this year, and Vick Ballard has been taking his touches and doing more with them. Both of them would be ‘bad calls' this week with a game against New England. Whenever a team is playing from behind their running backs don't get much work and a lot of teams are playing from behind against New England. New England ranks in the Top 10 in yards allowed per attempt, rushing touchdowns allowed and rushing yards per game allowed. The Indy running backs are not going to do well this week, and you'd be better off just staying away.
Matt Forte is going to have a tough time this week. San Francisco is the hardest defense for a running back to go against. The Niners give up an average of 16 running back points a week, and that's to all of the running backs on the team combined. When Michael Bush vultures away a touchdown, you'll be lucky if Forte gets you 10 points this week. If you've got another running back with a decent matchup start him, otherwise lower your expectation for Forte. He's a ‘bad call' this week.
DeSean Jackson should have no problem putting up a huge game this week in Washington. The Redskins have allowed the third most receiving yards and the most receiving touchdowns in the entire league this year. I think Washington will be looking for some defensive backs this offseason. With Nick Foles wanting to show what he's got, I don't see him audibling to a run play or throwing underneath. Deep passes to Jackson are going to make a statement that Foles wants the starting job, and a weak secondary against a fast receiver will help a lot. Jackson is a ‘good call' this week.
Brian Hartline is clearly the top wide receiver on the Miami Dolphins. Teams' top receivers have been able to have very good games against a weak Buffalo team. Dwayne Bowe (30 fantasy points), Wes Welker (21), Michael Crabtree (23), Larry Fitzgerald (21), and Andre Johnson (19) have all had big games when they've played the Bills. There is no reason Hartline shouldn't have another big game this week, and he's a ‘good call' to be in your starting lineup this week.
Malcom Floyd has been fairly steady this year, and makes a great match-up play for your WR3 spot. This week, however, is not a week to start him. The Denver defense ranks 5th against wide receivers, and they've allowed just one receiving touchdown since Week 5. Spot start someone else this week, Floyd is a ‘bad call.'
Would you believe it if I told you that no wide receiver has gone over 100 receiving yards this year against the Bengals? Yep, it's true. Josh Gordon came the closest at 99 yards, but no one has gotten more. This week Dwayne Bowe will be the one falling short. Bowe only has two games with over 100 receiving yards this year and has really fallen off since Week 4. With Matt Cassel starting this week things just don't look good for Bowe, and I'd sit him if I owned him.
The Washington defense is also weak against tight ends. That bodes well for Brent Celek this week. Celek has been very consistent this year, with no games in double digits since Week 2. I think this is the week he finally breaks it open. Celek is a ‘good call' this week.
The Colts drafted two tight ends in this past draft. The second tight end hasn't been getting much attention this year, but if you're looking for someone to start, Dwayne Allen is probably available on your waiver wire. The Patriots rank 30th against tight ends this season, so Allen should have no problem getting you some points. Coby Fleener is out by the way.
Aaron Hernandez looks like he'll be returning this week, but he has the worst match-up to come back to. The Colts are the best team against tight ends and Hernandez could have a tough game this week. If you've been surviving without Hernandez, start whoever you've been starting, and wait for another week to get him in your lineup. Hernandez is a ‘bad call' this week.
Logan Paulsen has filled in fairly well for Fred Davis over the past three weeks. This week he has to play against the Eagles defense which ranks 8th against tight ends. Jimmy Graham was the only tight end to have a helpful fantasy game against Philly. Paulsen is not a tight end you want to be starting this week.
Twitter question of the week: Does New Orleans make it to the playoffs this year? Reply to @curtkestila with your response.
Good luck this week and I hope you make all the right calls.