By the time late December rolls around and fantasy playoffs are underway backup running backs can turn into starters. Because of injuries and depth chart changes, No. 2 running backs in November can help lead fantasy owners to a championship a few short weeks later.
Here are some second-string running backs that have a chance to see an increase in touches over the final month of the season:
Andre Brown, New York Giants -- Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said recently that Brown deserves more touches because he comes through every time he is given a chance. Brown is already getting most of the goal line carries; scoring in each of the Giants last four games. With Ahmad Bradshaw struggling and dealing with a neck injury, Brown could be the best fantasy option in a Giants' backfield that gets the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles' weak rush defenses over the final month.
Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh -- Rashard Mendenhall returned to the Steelers' backfield Sunday but Dwyer got one more touch (15/14) and gained 31 more yards (81/50). There is no guarantee Mendenhall will stay healthy and Dwyer has been the Steelers most productive running back this season; recording two 100-yard games. Pittsburgh will likely use more of a committee approach with Mendenhall, Dwyer and Isaac Redman but if Mendenhall suffers another setback, Dwyer will be the biggest beneficiary for fantasy purposes.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans -- The former first-round pick has started to pick it up recently, rushing for 178 yards on 35 carries over his last three games. Darren Sproles is expected back from a broken hand in Week 12 but Ingram has earned a bigger role in the Saints' offense, especially on early downs. It is hard to know how New Orleans will use its bevy of running backs on a weekly basis but Ingram's arrow is certainly pointing in the right direction with six games to go in the season.
Daniel Thomas, Miami -- Reggie Bush started the year off strong but in recent weeks it has been Thomas seeing more touches. Bush is struggling with fumbles and has only carried the ball 14 times for 41 yards in Miami's last two games. In comparison, Thomas has 17 carries for 54 yards over that span and has also caught five balls. Miami plays two of the NFL's worst rush defenses in the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills during Weeks 15 and 16, so Thomas could be a big asset for fantasy playoffs if his role continues to increase.