PFW's late-week fantasy tips for running backs:
Adrian Peterson owners naturally got worried when, after being taken out Sunday against the Texans (in the red zone, no less) in the final few minutes with an abdominal injury, he was listed as having missed practice this week — and with a groin injury added to the list. Fear not: It doesn’t appear that Peterson’s injuries will keep him out Sunday against the Packers, a team he recently ran for 210 yards and a TD against. And with milestones in his front-view — 102 yards to 2,000 and 208 to pass Eric Dickerson for the all-time mark — and a playoff bid on the line, Peterson should be plenty juiced up.
Jamaal Charles, fresh off a 226-yard game in Week 16, missed Wednesday practice with an illness, but he’s expected to play against the Broncos, a team he has had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games against.
Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee, foot) is following his typical pattern of sitting out Wednesday practice but should be good to go for Sunday against the Eagles. But will he give up carries to David Wilson? It would not be shocking in the least.
Bears RB Matt Forté did not practice Wednesday with the ankle injury he aggravated in Week 16, but, in a must-win game for the Bears, it’s expected that he will be active Sunday at Detroit. Forté usually is very productive vs. the Lions, who have been very mediocre vs. the run this season. If he plays, Forté is worthy of a start as a No. 2 RB in most formats. Kahlil Bell merits a look for Forté owners that want insurance in case Forté does not play — Bell would likely get the bulk of the workload but would share carries with Armando Allen if Forté is inactive.
Texans RB Arian Foster left Houston’s Week 16 game against the Vikings early in the second half with an irregular heartbeat, but he practiced fully on Wednesday and appears to be on track for a considerable workload Sunday against a Colts club that last week became the first in NFL history to win despite surrendering 350 rushing yards (352 to Kansas City). Foster is a must-start, especially considering this is a must-win for the Texans if they want to lock up the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Backup Ben Tate, after struggling with toe and hamstring injuries earlier in the season, also could be in line for a decent workload.
Titans RB Chris Johnson returned to action in Week 16 against the Packers after suffering an ankle injury earlier in the contest. CJ was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, making him a good play against Jacksonville’s 31st-ranked run defense.
Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey on Wednesday categorized RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who hasn’t suited up since Week Seven because of a foot injury, as questionable for the regular-season finale against Tennessee. A healthy Mojo, even after such a long absence, would be a good play against the Titans’ porous defense, but we find it hard to believe the Jaguars would risk playing their most valuable player in a totally meaningless game.
Stevan Ridley had 19 carries for 71 yards and a score vs. the Dolphins in Week 13, but most of that came on the team’s final drive when churning time off the clock. Ridley had only four carries for four yards in the first half of that game against a stout Miami run defense. Danny Woodhead is a solid flex play in deeper leagues, especially if it’s PPR, in case the Dolphins keep Ridley in check.
Lions RB Mikel Leshoure needs one rushing TD for 10 on the season, and he has reached the endzone in each of the last two games. He’s a solid play in Week 17 vs. Chicago, which is allowing 103.7 rushing yards per game.
If Browns RB Trent Richardson (ankle) can’t play in Week 17, Montario Hardesty will likely get the majority of the carries in Cleveland’s season finale at Pittsburgh. The Steelers are strong vs. the run, making Hardesty probably best as a flex option in smaller leagues if he gets the start. He can be started as a running back in bigger leagues if he's the Browns’ featured back in the finale.
Steelers RBs Jonathan Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall could each get regular work in the season finale vs. Cleveland. Mendenhall is a little more highly recommended off his Week 16 play (11 carries, 50 yards).