The running back position has become a little more diverse in recent weeks in fantasy football. Some of those main names aren't the only ones dotting the top of the leaderboard. Alvin Kamara continues his torrid pace, while Rex Burkhead has multiple touchdowns in each of the last two games and Kenyan Drake may be one of the most important running backs to have on a roster down the stretch.
That should make for an interesting fantasy football playoffs, with several running backs being able to contribute in the final weeks. Here's the week 14 running backs start 'em, sit 'em guide for fantasy football.
Kenyan Drake vs. New England Patriots
With Damien Williams out in week 13, Drake showed why he should be the clear-cut No. 1 running back for the Dolphins. He ran for 120 yards on 23 carries with one touchdown against a once-stout Denver rush defense.
He's a versatile running back, who can attack the edge and catch the ball out of the backfield. If Williams is out, Drake should be considered an RB1. Even if Williams is back, I would still peg Drake as at least an RB2, based on the likelihood of increased volume.
And against the Patriots, that should mean decent production for Drake. New England gives up the 10th-most fantasy points per game against running backs and allows 120 rushing yards per game, the seventh-worst number in the NFL.
The Dolphins should be more competitive in this game and Drake will reap the benefits of added volume.
Samaje Perine vs. Los Angeles Chargers
I'll just go ahead and forget about the lackadaisical performance in week 13 by Perine. He had a plus-matchup against Dallas and the entire Washington team didn't show up. This week should be a difficult matchup for the passing offense, but the Chargers have been leaky against the run this season.
The Chargers give up the second-most rushing yards per game at 129 yards per game. They also allow the fourth-most fantasy points per game to running backs.
Even with a nice rushing matchup, Perine also has done well in the receiving department, catching six of seven targets in the last two games. The Redskins aren't known to utilize their running backs as workhorses, so it's a nice sign that Perine is contributing in the passing game.
He's safe to start in week 14 against Los Angeles.
Jordan Howard vs. Cincinnati Bengals
It's been a rollercoaster ride with Howard this season. He's had big-time moments mixed in with major disappointments. So when he failed to produce in a plus-matchup against San Francisco in week 13, it would be easy to avoid him like the plague in week 14 against a better Cincinnati defense.
However, I wouldn't be so quick with the hook.
The Bengals actually give up the 11th-most fantasy points per game to running backs, buoyed by an inability to stop the run consistently. The Bengals give up 126 yards per game on the ground, the fourth-worst mark in the NFL. The only reason why the Bengals aren't giving up more fantasy points per game to running backs is the ability to keep running backs out of the endzone.
In this matchup, though, the Bengals will shut down Mitchell Trubisky, so Chicago will have to lean on Howard for any offensive momentum. Howard hasn't always produced, but this situation is better than many believe.
Jonathan Stewart vs. Minnesota Vikings
Stewart hasn't been that bad in recent weeks, going for RB2 production in multiple occasions in the last few weeks. The only issue is that the majority of that production has been on the back of touchdowns, making this matchup a nightmare for anyone considering Stewart as an RB2/Flex.
Stewart has topped 70 yards only once this season and isn't a factor out of the backfield catching the ball. That makes Stewart's only ability to score fantasy points by tallying touchdowns at the goal line. The biggest issue against the Vikings is those trips inside the red zone are limited, and when the Panthers are there, they will have a difficult time running the ball. The Vikings allow the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs.
Risking your fantasy playoff life on a running back purely dependent on touchdowns is not a good idea against the Vikings. Give Stewart a seat on your fantasy bench.
Alex Collins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Collins has been a nice offensive weapon for the Ravens, but issues with migraines worry me as the season progresses and this week's matchup is not going to be easy.
And even though the Ravens looked good in week 13, I'm not banking on that in week 14 against a Pittsburgh defense that is one of the better units in the NFL against the run. Running backs are averaging the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game against the Steelers. Most of that is because Pittsburgh just doesn't give up rushing yards. The Steelers give up just 96 yards per game on the ground, the sixth-best mark in the NFL.
Collins is going to get decent volume, but I don't see much room for him to run. He'll have at least RB2 volume, but his production just won't match up.
Philadelphia Eagles RBs vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams offer a plus-matchup, but how can you trust Eagles running backs?
Philadelphia rotates three running backs each game, and while Jay Ajayi operated as the No. 1 running back in week 13, he barely outsnapped Corey Clement. And LaGarrette Blount, who operated as the top running back for the majority of the season, was the third option in week 14.
So who is going to get the rock in week 14? It likely has to do with game flow, which is a bad sign for anyone depending on a Philadelphia running back. The Rams are the second-worst team in the NFL in fantasy points allowed against running backs, but this matchup just doesn't add up. Starting a Philadelphia running back creates too much risk.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. Check out more at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH