Fantasy football owners with Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt are hoping for just one more week of dominating production. Both running backs have re-emerged as dominant forces in fantasy football, with back-to-back monster performances.
The two players have combined for 120 fantasy points in the last two weeks. Gurley has been consistent this year, but Hunt went through a major dry spell before getting back on track in these last two weeks. Both have manageable matchups this week, but it doesn't matter. They're plug and play options. For the rest of the borderline players, here's the week 16 running backs start 'em, sit 'em guide in fantasy football.
Dion Lewis vs. Buffalo Bills
Lewis has been tough to trust. He's a New England running back, so that is already a major strike against him because head coach Bill Belichick isn't the most trustworthy coach with fantasy running backs.
And while Lewis has been the major workhorse in touches, he hasn't been a major producer in fantasy football. In week 16, though, it's time to give him the go-ahead. Rex Burkhead's injury may force Belichick's hand at using Lewis more often, especially at the goal line, where Burkhead has vultured many of Lewis's touchdown opportunities.
This game isn't just about Buckhead's possible absence, though. The Bills allow the most fantasy points per game to running backs. They also have allowed 151 yards rushing per game in the last three games, the fourth-worst mark in the NFL.
The Bills are opportunistic against the pass, so the Patriots would be wise to keep the ball rolling on the ground. That should offer up plenty of touches for Lewis, so he's safe to start in week 16.
C.J. Anderson vs. Washington Redskins
Part of finding quality running backs is locating volume. Anderson has seen enough volume in recent weeks to be considered a regular RB1 contributor.
Anderson has 67 carries in the last three weeks combined, with 30 of those coming during a week 15 victory against Indianapolis. The Broncos have such a problem at the quarterback position that it needs its running backs to produce.
So that has helped Anderson get more touches. And the offensive line is opening up more opportunities for Anderson to have success.
With the added touches, Anderson gets a plus-matchup against Washington. The Redskins allow the 12th-most fantasy points per game to the running backs and rank 28th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.
Anderson is a high-upside RB2, with definite RB1 potential.
Kenyan Drake vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Drake is making a case for consideration as a potential RB1 for the 2018 season. During the last three games, he has more than 100 total yards in each game.
He's getting touches in the rushing and passing departments, so he's a necessary start at this point. Even if Damien Williams comes back from injury, Drake isn't in any danger of losing consistent work.
The Chiefs are good against the run, but that shouldn't matter in this situation. Sometimes it's not completely about the matchup. Drake is getting RB1 work, offering quality production on multiple levels.
Trust Drake's volume over what appears to be a difficult matchup.
Jamaal Williams vs. Minnesota Vikings
Trusting a running back against Minnesota is not a wise idea.
The Vikings are the second-ranked defense against the run this season and allow the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. And now the Vikings will square off against a Green Bay team with little to play for and likely without its starting quarterback.
There's no reason for Aaron Rodgers to start the final two games, so it's highly likely Brett Hundley will suit up in the final two weeks. That means the Vikings will focus even more on stopping the running game, thus limiting Williams' ability to do much on the ground.
He's very limited in the yards per carry department, averaging 3.4 yards per carry or less in five of the last six games. He's a starting running back, but the offense's limited ability to tally production, along with a bad matchup, make it imperative to keep Williams on the bench.
Lamar Miller vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
I still like Miller as a fantasy football option. And this year, he's been a top-12 fantasy running back.
But without a viable starting quarterback, Miller is seeing his production and touches decreasing over the last few weeks. He doesn't have 100 yards rushing all season and he has single-digits in receiving in three of the last four weeks.
He has been a fairly consistent option up until the last few weeks. So a matchup against a top-10 rushing defense is not the best remedy for a disappointing finish to 2017.
The Steelers should be leading early in this game, meaning Miller will be relegated to the background in the offensive approach. Find a more consistent option.
DeMarco Murray vs. Los Angeles Rams
If you drafted Murray in your fantasy football draft, you're likely not in the fantasy football championship. Just in case you were able to overcome that draft error, keep him on the bench for week 16.
The Titans are suffering from a lack of offensive identity. They're supposed to be a strong running team, but without a competent passing game, the rushing game just isn't up to the standard it needs to be. That hurts Murray, along with Derrick Henry also getting work.
The Rams offer a plus-matchup for Murray, but you can't trust Murray to be a bell-cow. He has 12 or fewer carries in five of the last seven games, and he has rushed for more than 60 rushing yards only twice this season.
Matchups are important, but trust also plays a role in the final week.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH