It's the 11thweek of the 2012 fantasy football campaign, and as we near the last of the dreaded bye weeks the drive for the playoffs has kicked into high gear.
Every game has become a make-or-break contest for some teams that will determine whether this year will be looked back on as a success or a failure.
That makes squeezing every possible point out of fantasy lineups more crucial now than ever, and to help those of you in desperation mode do just that, here's a look at a trio of running backs for whom the stage is set for a sweet showing in Week 11.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CIN)
It's been lost somewhat in just how bad his team is, and drowned out by what Adrian Peterson has done this year in Minnesota, but much like Peterson Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles has come back very nicely from the ACL tear that ended his 2011 season.
The fifth-year pro has tallied 792 total yards and three touchdowns this season and is averaging a rock-solid 4.8 yards per carry. While head coach Romeo Crennel told Randy Covitz of The Kansas City Star that his threat to bench players that turn the ball over extends to Charles, he also intimated that any such punishment would be temporary.
“Look, Jamaal Charles has fumbled the ball,” Crennel said of the Chiefs’ starting running back. “So if he fumbles, and he stands over there with me for a little bit, then I put him back in, because he’s the guy who runs for a touchdown."
In fact, the biggest hindrance to Charles' production this season has been the coaching staff's bizarre reluctance to feed him the ball, but assuming that at some point a measure of logic seeps into Crennel's head, Charles should be able to find success this week against a Cincinnati defense that ranks 20th in the NFL against the run.
Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (at BUF)
Speaking of fumbling the ball, after getting off to a very strong start to the 2012 season, running back Reggie Bush of the Miami Dolphins has struggled mightily of late, and a first-half fumble in last week's blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans led to Bush watching most of the rest of the game from the sidelines.
That benching left Bush's fantasy owners holding the proverbial bag in Week 10, but head coach Joe Philbin made a point of stating that Bush isn't in dutch with the coaching staff according to The Associated Press via The Washington Post.
“It was an uncharacteristic performance by the whole ballclub,” Philbin said Monday. “He’s not in any doghouse that I know of. The guy shows up, he practices hard, works hard and is competitive. He is very, very professional.”
If Philbin means what he said, Bush should have ample opportunity to redeem himself in the eyes of both Miami's coaches and his fantasy owners Thursday night. The Buffalo Bills rank dead last in the National Football League in run defense, and only three teams have allowed more fantasy points to running backs this year.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (at OAK)
With Darren Sproles nursing a broken hand the running back situation in New Orleans has become more fluid than ever, and it can be hard to depend on any Saints running back right now given that Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory are all receiving significant touches.
With that said, and while it was Ivory that scored on the ground in Sunday's win over the Atlanta Falcons, it was Ingram that received the majority of the work. After gaining 67 yards on 16 carries interim head coach Joe Vitt believes the best is yet to come with Ingram according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Mark Ingram, we believe is an elite back, who after having some offseason surgery is starting to come around."
Granted, the uncertainty surrounding who gets what carries makes any New Orleans back a bit of a risky play, especially after Ivory broke a long touchdown run against the Falcons,
However, with a matchup on tap against an Oakland Raiders team that has been very kind to running backs this year, fantasy owners in a bind at running back could do much worse than rolling the dice on the Heisman trophy winner.