Fantasy Football 2011: Looking Toward the Playoffs (Running Backs)

Daniel WheelockContributor IIINovember 2, 2011

Fantasy Football 2011: Looking Toward the Playoffs (Running Backs)

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    For those of you with a decent lead in your division, it's not too early to start thinking about the playoffs.


    Yes, the playoffs. We're not like the players and coaches who always "take it one game at a time." We can look ahead and plan accordingly. If you have a stud running back that has a brutal playoff schedule, you might want to think about trading him for an equal or lesser running back that has great matchups in weeks 15 and 16.

    We will first look at five running backs that have extremely favorable playoff matchups (weeks 15 and 16), and then look to four that might have a rough time getting you a lot of points in the playoffs.

Shonn Greene, New York Jets

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    A back that can be had relatively cheap, Greene has started to turn things around as of late for Gang Green and, given his schedule, will be at his best when you need it the most.

    In Week 15, the Jets will face the Eagles and their 19th-ranked rush defense (rush yards allowed per game). The next week, Greene will get to finish with a bang against the 28th-ranked run defense of the New York Giants.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans

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    Not only has Foster been one of the top performers over the past few weeks, but he has the best playoff matchups of any other running back.

    He will be facing the 29th-ranked run defense (Carolina) in Week 15 and the 31st-ranked run defense (Indianapolis) in Week 16.

    It would probably be hard to pull off a trade for Foster, but it's worth a shot.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders

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    McFadden is a beast when healthy, and hopefully he will be come playoff time, as he should likely put up huge numbers.

    In Week 15, Oakland is playing Detroit, who has the 30th-ranked run defense. For championship week, McFadden will then get to feast on Kansas City's 22nd-ranked run defense.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    Yes, it seems like all the best running backs are the ones with favorable matchups in weeks 15 and 16. If you have one of these guys, keep them!

    Peterson's Vikings are taking on New Orleans in Week 15 and Washington in Week 16—the 24th- and 21st-ranked rush defenses, respectively.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

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    The Ravens keep feeding Ray Rice, and they should continue to do so when it matters the most for you.

    In Week 15, Rice will face San Diego and the 18th-ranked run defense, and it gets even better in Week 16 when he will look to slash Cleveland's 26th-ranked rush defense.

New Orleans Saints' Running Backs

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    You probably don't want to be starting any of these guys anyway (except for Darren Sproles in a PPR league, who is more of a pass-catching threat) because they spread the ball around so much.

    In addition to this, the Saints are playing Minnesota and Atlanta, the 5th- and 7th-ranked run defenses in weeks 15 and 16, respectively.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams

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    After his performance in Week 8, now is a great time to sell high on S-Jax. Maybe you can trade him with someone else for Foster, Peterson, Rice, or straight up for McFadden.

    In Week 15, he faces the 2nd-best run defense (Cincinnati), and in Week 16, he gets to try his luck against Pittsburgh, the 8th-best run defense.

Frank Gore, San Francisco

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    Here's a guy that you should be looking to deal anyway given his injury history; he probably has the same kind of trade value that Jackson has right now.

    The 49ers play Pittsburgh in Week 15 and Seattle in Week 16, the 8th- and 11th-ranked defenses against the run, respectively.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

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    Another good trade chip, Forte is having an outstanding year for the Bears thus far.

    Unfortunately, he is playing against Seattle in Week 15 and Green Bay in Week 16—the 11th- and 10th-ranked run defenses, respectively.

    Forte does add a lot of value in the passing game, however, so holding on to him wouldn't be the worst thing you could do.

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