Editor's note: Our bullet point articles are written to better explain our weekly rankings, which you can find here.
Week 13 is like...totally...one of the most important weeks of the year for fantasy owners. All the players who compelled you to draft them are finally going to make or break your season. Some of you will leave footmarks on your ceiling ten feet high as Week 13 concludes, while others will be left dismayed and swear off fantasy football forever only to return like a coke addict the following year.
The running back picture this week is an interesting one. There are several mid-level backs with tough matchups. Take Isaiah Crowell for example, a guy who Casey Bass covered in his Sleepers/Busts piece this week. Crowell is driving a lot of fantasy owners crazy since he's talented but not exactly matchup proof. Well, he's got a tough matchup against Buffalo and is one of our toughest calls this week. Here's a few more notable running backs and their situations for one of the biggest weeks in fantasy football.
Start of the week
Arian Foster at Tennessee — #5 in weekly rankings
Foster owners can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that his groin injury won't sideline him for Sunday's matchup against Tennessee.
Foster owners should also be also be giddy like a bull who just saw red. Just three weeks ago in Houston's first matchup with Tennessee, Foster torched the Titans to the tune of 151 rushing yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns while also adding a receiving touchdown and four catches for 22 yards. It was one of his most dominating performances of the year and it's not out of the question he repeats the feat. The Titans rank dead last in rushing yards allowed per game (145.2) and have surrendered 13 rushing touchdowns.
The Texans will also return former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback after losing Ryan Mallett for the season. More of a check-down QB than Mallet, Foster should benefit on short passes from Fitzmagic in the screen game and on wheel routes. There's a lot to like about this matchup, and Foster should have a monster game.
Denard Robinson at New York Giants— #17 in weekly rankings
The once-ferocious front seven of the New York Giants that doesn't get enough credit in helping Big Blue win two Super Bowls seems to be a thing of the past. The Giants rank second to last in rushing yards allowed (142 per game) and have given up 13 rushing touchdowns, which ranks second to last as well.
Robinson is coming off his worst game of the season against Indianapolis, where he rushed for 25 yards on 14 carries (1.8 YPC). The Colts did a good job bottling him up, plus Toby Gerhart was used on some screens which limited Robinson's value a bit. Still, his 14 carries is a sizeable enough workload and he managed to make up for his lack of production in the run game with four catches for 47 yards.
Robinson could be in for one of his best weeks of the season. The Jaguars defense has been playing well and if they continue to pressure the quarterback like they did Andrew Luck last week, expect this week's game to swing Jacksonville's way.
Alfred Morris at Indianapolis — # 7 in weekly rankings
We ranked Morris high with the assumption that Robert Griffin III would still be playing quarterback. Well, that's not the case anymore.
The Redskins surprised many when they announced RG3 would be benched in favor of third stringer Colt McCoy earlier this week. While McCoy has played well as a spot starter for the Redskins, Alfred Morris has always been more effective on zone read plays due to the threat of an RG3 taking off for a big run. McCoy doesn't possess that same athleticism at the QB spot, so defenses won't have to deal with that annoying 'wait and see which is guy is going to run' dilemma which should help them key in on Morris more.
Here's a quick breakdown of Morris with and without RG3:
Morris with RG3 (last 3 games): 313 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, five catches, 58 receiving yards
Morris without RG3 (last 3 games before RG3's return): 168 rushing yards, one touchdown, two catches for 12 yards.
This really is a great matchup for the Colts overall as well. Physical corners in Vontae Davis will be trouble for smaller receivers like DeSean Jackson, plus McCoy's weaker arm will be limit Jackson's ability in the deep game and allow the Colts to stack the box even more to stop Morris. Morris is still a worthy starter, but you may want to consider benching him for another option if you can.
Bishop Sankey @ Houston — #14 in weekly rankings
Sankey isn't the most explosive running back, but the matchup with Houston is now a bit more intriguing since the Texans will again be without Jadeveon Clowney. But even with Clowney out, Sankey hasn't proven to be much more than a weak flex option this season. He rushed for just 39 yards the last time these two teams played (and that was without Clowney as well) and he's rushed for more than 3.9 yard per carry in just three times this season.
Don't start him but hang on to him
Latavius Murray (out) at St. Louis — #10 in weekly rankings
We talked about Latavius Murray on our 'firm acts of conviction' podcast back in the preseason. Just fast forward to the 07:05 mark and check out our reasoning and you'll realize everything we said is coming to fruition. I know it's annoying to click on a link and fast forward it yourself! But unfortunately this web site isn't Grantland and I haven't figured out how Bill Simmoms does those links where I can send you to exactly that 07:05 spot within the link itself. But just do it anyway, it's a great flashback moment.
Anyway, if you watch him on film, you forget that this guy is actually 6'3, 225 lbs until you see him running along side a defensive back in the open field. You just don't see running backs of his size very often. Not since Brandon Jacobs (who was 6'4) have we seen a running back as tall as Murray with that kind of speed.
Unfortunately, Murray failed his final concussion test and won't be playing against the St. Louis Rams today. Instead, you'll have to deal with Darren 'fall down every time the offensive line doesn't give me a huge hole' McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. None of those running backs are startable in 12-team leagues. Murray will be a great flex option in Week 14 against the 49ers, a team that has been off and on when stopping the run this season.