Fantasy Football Week 14: 7 Running Backs to Lead You Past the First Round

Brian LendinoCorrespondent IIDecember 7, 2011

Fantasy Football Week 14: 7 Running Backs to Lead You Past the First Round

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    For most fantasy players, it's the first week of the playoffs, and if you were fortunate enough to navigate through a case of the "Johnsons" (Chris and Andre), I congratulate you.

    For now, though, you may be searching for that one player to get you to that second-round matchup in your playoffs.

    Well, here's my advice to you: They got you to this point, stick to your guns.

    If you have these guys, this is merely the assurance you need.

    Here are the seven best running backs of Week 14.

Ray Rice

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    It's amazing what Ray Rice can do when he gets over 14 touches in Cam Cameron's offense. Fantasy owners have also felt the wrath of Cameron's bi-polar running tendencies on multiple occasions this season.

    In Week 13, Rice ran wild to the tune of 204 yards and a touchdown against the Browns.

    This week, Ray Rice and the Ravens draw the hapless, winless Indianapolis Colts, who rank near the bottom of the league in rushing defense.

    In their last seven games, the Colts have given up eight rushing touchdowns and have given up over 90 yards on nine different occasions this season.

    Prediction: 142 yards rushing, 35 yards receiving, two touchdowns.

Maurice Jones-Drew

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    Maurice Jones-Drew has been dynamite since his bye week and has been a huge asset in the Jaguars passing game as well.

    He became the league's leading rusher with his 97-yard performance on Monday night and will line up opposite the putrid Tampa Bay rushing defense in Week 14.

    Tampa Bay gives up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, including 13 rushing touchdowns in 12 games.

    I like MJD to maintain his torrid second half with a monster game against Tampa Bay.

    Prediction: 125 yards rushing, 48 yards receiving, two touchdowns

Chris Johnson

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    I think it's safe to say that, after 11 weeks of playing Casper the Ghost, Chris Johnson has finally returned to his old ways.

    He's surpassed 130 yards rushing in three of his last four games—with the 13-yard stinker in between—and scored two touchdowns last game against a struggling Buffalo defense.

    In Week 14, he squares off against a New Orleans Saints defense that ranks 16th in rush defense but often becomes vulnerable to running back receptions out of the back field—something Johnson does very well.

    I'm a firm believer in Johnson's talent and ability to maintain his hot streak against the Saints, and maybe even lead his team to an upset victory over the red-hot Saints.

    Prediction: 85 yards rushing, 65 yards receiving, one touchdown.

Marshawn Lynch

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    There must be something in those Skittles that BeastMode is eating, because Marshawn Lynch is one something else right now.

    Lynch treated us to one of the nicest runs you'll ever see in football as part of his 148-yard, two-touchdown stomping of the Philadelphia Eagles defense.

    I'm in love with what Pete Carrol has done for Lynch after his exile from Buffalo, because he's turned into one of the most productive back from week to week in fantasy football.

    In Week 14, the Seahawks draw the league's worst rushing defense in the St. Louis Rams, who give up over 155 yards per game on the ground.

    Simply put, BeastMode will be going beast mode against the Rams.

    Prediction: 140 yards rushing, two touchdowns.

Michael Turner

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    Michael Turner has really struggled as of late, barely amassing 100 yards rushing in his last two games and not finding the end zone on the ground. Despite that, I really like him as a top play this week.

    The Panthers' run defense has been torched in terms of yardage multiple times this season and have given up 15 rushing touchdowns this season.

    Plus, the Burner has a history of killing the Panthers. He killed them for 140 yards and two touchdowns in Week 6 this season and has scored at least once in each of his last six games against Carolina.

    The Falcons are in the thick of the wild-card race and will ride Michael Turner to a big win against the Panthers in Week 14.

    Prediction: 125 yards rushing, 20 yards receiving, one touchdown

Reggie Bush

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    Something is in the water down in South Beach that has brought Reggie Bush the running back back to life.

    Now, I know that he only broke 100 yards for the second time this year in Week 13, but what I'm looking at more is that he's gotten more goal-line carries in recent weeks that he's been converting for touchdowns.

    This play is appealing for the sole reason of how truly awful the Eagles' run defense is. After getting annihilated by Marshawn Lynch because of poor tackling and gap assignments, the thought of Runnin' Reggie in the open space is appealing.

    I don't think he'll break 100 yards on the ground, but he will in terms of total yards, making him a great play for you in Week 14.

    Prediction: 80 yards rushing, 45 yards receiving, two touchdowns.

Ryan Mathews

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    Ryan Mathews registered his second consecutive 100-yard game against the Jaguars on Monday night. His yards per carry was impressive, and he also found the end zone.

    He finally seems fully healthy, and the play of Philip Rivers Monday night could be a sign of good things to come for the Chargers offense as a whole.

    Buffalo's defense is bad. Like really bad, especially against the run.

    They were torched by Chris Johnson for 150-plus yards in Week 13, and I don't see that getting any better against Mathews.

    Expect Mathews to register his third consecutive 100-yard game.

    Prediction: 102 yards rushing, 35 yards receiving, two total touchdowns.