In his first matchup against the Saints, the second-most generous fantasy defense for running backs, Atlanta's Michael "The Burner" Turner struggled mightily with his worst performance of the season: 13 carries for 15 yards and only one fantasy point.
From his first Saints matchup in Week 11 through Week 13, Turner carried the ball a total of 41 times for only 78 yards, which is a microscopic 1.90 yards-per-carry average.
Fast forward a few weeks and things went much better for Turner in Week 13 in his second matchup against the Saints.
Turner rushed 12 times for 83 yards, an average of 6.9 yards per carry, and scored a touchdown in his third consecutive game. His 12 carries this week was his lowest total since Week 6 (11).
As much as he is slowing down, Turner has scored in four of his past five games and has a favorable matchup next week against the Panthers.
Teammate Jacquizz Rodgers had eight carries for 43 yards, after having 10 carries for 49 yards the previous week. Although Turner's greatest fantasy value comes from his potential of extending his touchdown streak to four games, the split in workload between Atlanta's top two backs could continue to converge going forward.
Guessing the workload allocation among the Saints running backs is anyone's guess.
One week after carrying the ball once for no yards, Pierre Thomas led the team in rushing with a season-high 14 carries for 84 yards. It was only the second time Thomas had double-digit carries this season.
Teammates Mark Ingram, Christopher Ivory and Darren Sproles had six, three and no carries, respectively. Ingram did rush for the team's only touchdown and Sproles was targeted nine times and finished with five receptions for 47 yards.
Adrian Peterson's career-best pace
Despite tearing his ACL at the end of the 2011 regular season, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson is the NFL's leading rusher by 172 yards over Houston's Arian Foster. Even more impressive is that Foster has 56 more carries than Peterson through this point in the season.
As remarkable as he has been all season, AP has been his best during the past five games.
During that span, he has five consecutive 100-yard games despite facing tough run defenses like Seattle, Tampa Bay and Chicago during that span.
Not only does he lead the league in rushing, but he's on pace to set a personal best. For a running back with the talent of Peterson, that says a lot. Back in 2008, Peterson rushed for 1,760 yards and he's on pace for 1,798 yards this year.
Despite three of his past four games being against top-12 rush defenses, Peterson is averaging 7.6 yards per carry and 146.0 yards per game during that span.
Arian Foster's production, consistency and workload
Although he ranks second in rushing behind Peterson, Foster actually ranks first among backs in fantasy production. Through 11 games, he has scored a touchdown in all but one game and has a total of 14 touchdowns (12 rushing and two receiving) this season. With that production and consistency, Foster has double-digit fantasy points every week except one.
Foster has been a true workhorse back.
He has 20-plus carries in nine of 11 games and is on pace for nearly 400 carries (391.3). A player has exceeded 390 carries in a season only eight times in NFL history. The NFL single-season record is held by Larry Johnson (416 carries in 2006).
From Weeks 1 to 9, Foster had more than one reception only once (six receptions in Week 2). In the past three weeks, however, he has 13 receptions, which is one more than he had in Weeks 1 through 9.
In his past four games, Foster has 101 carries for 405 yards and three 100-yard games. On the season, he has six 100-yard games.
This week, Foster and the Texans face the Titans, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. The first time Foster faced the Titans, he finished with 24 carries for 86 yards and one touchdown.
Rookie running backs having big success
Not only does Foster have more fantasy points than Peterson, but so does a rookie running back. Tampa's Doug Martin leads all rookies in rushing yards (1,050) and is only one yard behind Seattle's Marshawn Lynch, who ranks third in the league.
While he got off to a relatively slow start, Martin has been nearly unstoppable in his past six games. During that span, The Muscle Hamster has 727 rushing yards and 224 receiving yards on 19 receptions. He also has nine total touchdowns during that stretch.
Washington's rookie Alfred Morris has been the guy in Washington all season and he currently ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing behind Martin with 982 yards. After scoring five times in the first five weeks, Morris ended his scoring drought last week with 113 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
This week, the 'Skins and Morris face the Giants, who have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. That said, Morris ran for a career-high 120 yards in his first matchup against the G-Men.
Browns rookie Trent Richardson has not had as much success as Martin or Morris, but he is having a solid year. In his first seven games, Richardson never had more than 19 carries. Since then, however, he has 24-plus carries in four consecutive games and has a total of 106 during that span. Even though he is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry, Richardson is on pace for 1,098 rushing yards this season.
In Week 13, Richardson and Browns face the Raiders, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. In fact, they allowed the most rushing yards in any game this season to Martin (251 yards).
Depending on the recovery process of LeSean McCoy (concussion), Philadelphia's Bryce Brown may not have many more opportunities to start this season. Last week, however, Brown took advantage of his first start by scoring more fantasy points than any other running back in Week 12. Even though he fumbled twice, Brown rushed for 178 yards and two scores against the Panthers.
Here are my fantasy rankings for the running backs yet to play in Week 13 (standard-scoring):
1. Arian Foster, Texans (at TEN)
2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (at GB)
3. Doug Martin, Buccaneers (at DEN)
4. Trent Richardson, Browns (at OAK)
5. Chris Johnson, Titans (vs HOU)
6. Ray Rice, Ravens (vs PIT)
7. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs (vs CAR)
8. C.J. Spiller, Bills (vs JAX)
9. Frank Gore, 49ers (at STL)
10. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (at CHI)
11. Alfred Morris, Redskins (vs NYG)
12. Stevan Ridley, Patriots (at MIA)
13. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants (at WAS)
14. Matt Forte, Bears (vs SEA)
15. Ryan Mathews, Chargers (vs CIN)
16. Mikel Leshoure, Lions (vs IND)
17. Bryce Brown, Eagles (at DAL)
18. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals (at SD)
19. Steven Jackson, Rams (vs SF)
20. Reggie Bush, Dolphins (vs NE)
21. Marcel Reece, Raiders (vs CLE)
22. Beanie Wells, Cardinals (at NYJ)
23. Rashad Jennings, Jaguars (at BUF)
24. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos (vs TB)
25. Fred Jackson, Bills (vs JAX)
26. Shonn Greene, Jets (vs ARI)
27. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (at KC)
28. Vick Ballard, Colts (at DET)
29. Darren McFadden, Raiders (vs CLE)
30. Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers (at BAL)
31. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys (vs PHI)
32. Felix Jones, Cowboys (vs PHI)
33. Michael Bush, Bears (vs SEA)
34. Daniel Thomas, Dolphins (vs NE)
35. James Starks, Packers (vs MIN)'
36. Bilal Powell, Jets (vs ARI)
37. Donald Brown, Colts (at DET)
38. David Wilson, Giants (at WAS)
39. Shane Vereen, Patriots (at MIA)
40. Ronnie Hillman, Broncos (vs TB)
41. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers (at BAL)
42. LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals (at NYJ)
43. Joique Bell, Lions (vs IND)
44. Ronnie Brown, Chargers (vs CIN)
45. Darryl Richardson, Rams (vs SF)
46. Danny Woodhead, Patriots (at MIA)
47. Alex Green, Packers (vs MIN)
48. Isaac Redman, Steelers (at BAL)
49. Mike Tolbert, Cardinals (at KC)
50. Justin Forsett, Texans (at TEN)
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