Fantasy Football: Running Backs to Buy and Sell for Your Fantasy Team

Mackenzie KraemerSenior Analyst INovember 20, 2008

Week 11 of the NFL season just ended, and for fantasy football owners, you're likely in one of three positions.


Your team is a playoff lock.

Congratulations. But that doesn't mean your team is completely safe. Sure, your team has been great for you all season, but in a few weeks, it won't matter how your team did all year, it will be win or your hard work is all for naught.

Every team is different, but most likely, you wouldn't mind more consistency from your running game. Studs like LaDainian Tomlinson, Joseph Addai, and Brian Westbrook haven't been themselves, while picking the next breakout running back (where have you gone, Tim Hightower?) is proving to be impossible.

If your team is lucky and good enough to be in this position in the standings, your goal is to find out in what weeks your playoffs occur and create the best starting lineup you can in those weeks. If your league offers bye weeks for the top few teams, try to get one, but your goal is to be unbeatable when the season turns to sudden death.

With that in mind, here are some players to buy and sell, along with their schedules in Weeks 14-17. More preference is given to Weeks 15 and 16, since that is when most leagues hold their playoffs.


Buy: Joseph Addai, IND (CIN, DET, at JAX, TEN)

I might be a week late on the bandwagon, but getting Detroit at home is salivating news to Addai owners. Addai will be tough to acquire because every owner will see his schedule down the stretch, but he should be a top five-10 running back, easily, down the stretch.


Sell: Michael Turner, ATL (at NO, TB, at MIN, STL)

No one is more matchup-dependent than Turner, and Weeks 15 and 16 do not look good for the Burner. If you need him in Weeks 14 and 17, obviously start him those weeks, but if you can find other options the other two weeks, you definitely should.


Buy: Larry Johnson, KC (at DEN, SD, MIA, at CIN)

19 carries for 67 yards in his return against a porous Saints defense doesn’t look good, but it shows that Herm Edwards will give him the ball, as long as he’s healthy and playing. If an owner is down on him, you might be able to steal him, as long as you understand he is not an RB1.


Sell: Any RB on the Steelers (DAL, at BAL, at TEN, CLE) or Ravens (WAS, PIT, at DAL, JAX)

Willie Parker is healthy for the Steelers, but how long will that last? Either way, his schedule is horrible down the stretch. Pittsburgh does play Cincinnati Thursday night, so convince owners of middling teams to grab him for this week.

As for Willis McGahee, Ray Rice, or Le'Ron McClain, you don’t want any part of guessing who will score week-to-week anyway, so try to trade them if you can.


Buy: Reggie Bush (ATL, at CHI, at DET, CAR)

Bush is still recovering from a knee injury, so teams who can’t afford to lose may move him for more immediate help. Chicago doesn’t look nearly as fearsome as they did a few weeks ago, and the Lions are the joke of the NFL.

Teams don’t even bother passing against them anymore. His schedule isn’t quite as favorable as some of the others on this list, but his injury status makes him a worthy buy if you can afford to wait it out.


Sell: Marion Barber, DAL (at PIT, NYG, BAL, at PHI)

I know he’s a stud, but those defenses don’t care who you are, they will shut you down. He’ll still put up good numbers, just not the numbers you wanted when you drafted him. Besides, with the 49ers and Seahawks coming up the next two weeks, he should have high value.


Your team is fighting for a playoff spot.

You watch every Monday night game, usually rooting for or against a particular player than a team. You’ve won some, you’ve lost some, and all the while, your team has stressed you out to no end!

But now, you have to win. The margin of error has passed, you have two or three weeks to post enough wins so that the December games matter to you.

At this point, all bets are off. You need to worry about every week as it happens, taking things one day at a time. You might even start making cosmetic moves that you hope work out, like switching out your kicker for someone like Matt Bryant, who has been on fire and is playing the lousy Lions.

Playoffs? You’re just hoping you can win a game. So while the guys listed before will help you more once you’re in the playoffs, here are some guys to buy and sell on the road to your destination, with their weeks 12-14 schedules listed.


Buy: Joseph Addai, IND (at SD, at CLE, CIN)

That’s right. Addai’s schedule the rest of the season is extremely favorable to big fantasy numbers. No matter what situation your team is in, if you have the chance to get the Colts’ back, go for it.


Sell: Tim Hightower, ARZ (NYG, at PHI, STL)

The Rams look great in Week 14, but then again, so did Seattle and San Francisco, but Hightower managed just 57 yards in two games against them. He probably shouldn’t even be started the next two weeks, and if he struggles, watch out for J.J. Arrington eating into his carries.


Buy: DeAngelo Williams, CAR (at ATL, at GB, TB)

Williams has posted three consecutive 100-yard games, and Atlanta and Green Bay allow 4.9 yards-per-carry each. Tampa Bay is difficult, but Williams is on fire lately, and his next two opponents will give up big plays rushing the football. Jonathan Stewart also has value, but Williams should receive the majority of the carries.


Sell: Kevin Smith, DET (TB, TEN, MIN)

Smith finally has the starting role, and he has run with it, but it’s hard to imagine him getting many yards against his next three opponents, even at home. Each allows less than 3.9 yards-per-carry, and the Lions should be behind early each time.


Your team is out of the playoffs.

Well, better luck next year! And do your lineups! No one appreciates when his rival is playing a team starting two guys who are hurt and another guy on his bye week. It’s not fair to the league, and they might not ask you back into the league.

And hey, look at the bright side. If you beat your friend this week as an underdog, and he misses the playoffs by a game, you can hold that over his head for nine months!

And if the trade deadline has already passed, this article won't do you much good, but I will take all the readership I can get!


Mackenzie Kraemer can also be reached via e-mail or at his New York Jets blog.