Week 17 Fantasy Rankings and Projections: Running Backs (RB)

Sean E. DouglasSenior Writer IIIDecember 26, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18:  Kahlil Bell #32 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a touchdown catch with Earl Bennett #80 against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on December18, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 38-14.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Kahlil Bell @ Vikings

Heading into the Bears contest against the Broncos, Coach Lovie Smith paid third-year back Kahlil Bell a compliment when he pointed out that Bell's overall game was closer to that of Matt Forte rather than that of Marion Barber. While Barber was the feature runner in Denver, poor play at the end of the game and a penchant for injuries seemingly put him in the doghouse. Then the next week against the Seahawks, Bell surprisingly received the lion's share of the backfield duties. Bell responded with a solid performance as he scored the only offensive touchdown on the day and earned himself a starting role the following week.

As I watched Bell carry the football 23 times for 123 yards and add four receptions for 38 yards, I thought for sure it was Matt Forte on the field, and not Bell. Displaying vision, footwork, cutback ability and breaking tackles were commonplace for Bell on the night, and based on Coach Smith’s comments about him after the game, Bell has momentum to be Forte’s primary backup (assuming Forte comes back) next year.

In the Bears' season finale Bell will be the feature back, as the Bears face a Vikings defense that gave up 132 yards rushing on 19 carries to Evan Royster last week. Closing out the season, Bell is a must start RB-1 and will be a player to consider handcuffing with Forte at your draft next year.

LeSean McCoy Likely Out

Look to rookie Dion Lewis as the primary option to start if you’re in need of a replacement for LeSean McCoy as it appears the star running back will be sitting out the final game after an injury last week. Veteran Ronnie Brown will be in the mix, but Lewis has played well when given an opportunity and now that the Eagles have been kicked out of the playoff chase, it’s likely Coach Andy Reid will want his young playmaker on the field, to evaluate him for next year.

Please Note—** means player could receive early rest on final week.

1 Maurice Jones-Drew Colts
2 Ray Rice @ Bengals
3 Rashard Mendenhall @ Browns
4 Marshawn Lynch @ Cardinals
5 Reggie Bush (I) Jets
6 C.J. Spiller @ Patriots
7 Kahlil Bell @ Vikings
8 Felix Jones (I) @ Giants
9 Ryan Mathews @ Raiders
10 Arian Foster** Titans
11 Michael Bush Chargers
12 Toby Gerhart Bears
13 Evan Royster @ Eagles
14 Ahmad Bradshaw Cowboys
15 Michael Turner** Buccaneers
16 Frank Gore** @ Rams
17 Shonn Greene @ Dolphins
18 DeAngelo Williams @ Saints
19 Willis McGahee (I) Chiefs
20 Peyton Hillis Steelers
21 Chris Johnson (I) @ Texans
22 Dion Lewis Redskins
23 Stevan Ridley Bills
24 Beanie Wells Seahawks
25 Cedric Benson Ravens
26 Steven Jackson 49ers
27 Darren Sproles** Panthers
28 Kevin Smith** @ Packers
29 Donald Brown @ Jaguars
30 Ben Tate Titans
31 Brandon Jacobs Cowboys
32 Jackie Battle @ Broncos
33 Roy Helu (I) @ Eagles
34 Jonathan Stewart @ Saints
35 Ryan Grant Lions
36 LeGarrette Blount @ Falcons
37 BenJarvus Green-Ellis Bills
38 Mike Tolbert @ Raiders
39 Danny Woodhead Bills
40 Lance Ball Chiefs
41 Ronnie Brown Redskins

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