Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Divisional Round of Playoffs

There are a number of key injuries at running back heading into this weekend's game.

While DeAngelo Williams has been ruled out, two of my top-three running backs return after an extended absence this weekend. The most (injury) uncertainty at the position is in Kansas City with Spencer Ware listed as questionable, but the Chiefs and Patriots kick off the weekend's slate of games so fantasy owners will know his availability early.

Here are my Divisional Round Running Back rankings:

1. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (vs. GB)

Excluding Week 17, Johnson finished as a weekly top-five fantasy running back in three of his four other starts to close the season. One of those games was against the Packers in Week 16 when Johnson carried the ball nine times for 39 yards and a touchdown and added three catches for 88 yards in the 30-point blowout. Even though this game should be closer, no team is projected to score more points than the Cardinals this weekend based on Vegas odds. Assuming it's closer and the Cardinals don't score a pair of defensive touchdowns again, Johnson should get roughly 20 touches this time around and is my clear top-ranked fantasy running back for the week.

2. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (at CAR)

Trying to figure out Beast Mode is not easy and after practicing fully before the Wild Card round, he decided to not fly to Minnesota for the team's matchup against the Vikings. Going into this weekend's games, Lynch has said that he's "ready" and he was on the team's flight to Carolina.

With Lynch declaring himself ready, he should get approach 20 touches against the Panthers. In his first matchup against Carolina, Lynch had 17 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown.

3. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (vs. SEA)

Before leaving Week 14 early, Stewart had eight consecutive games with 20-plus carries, a streak that began in Week 6 in Seattle. The matchup against the Seahawks is a difficult one as no team allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs, but Stewart had success in their first matchup. In that game, The Daily Show carried the ball 20 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns.

4. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs (at NE)

Returning to practice on Thursday, it appears that Ware will be ready to go on Saturday in Foxboro. With a total of 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Ware has exactly 16 carries in each of his past two games. Given the uncertain status of Jeremy Maclin (high-ankle sprain), the Chiefs will likely rely heavily on their ground attack with Ware getting the largest share of the workload.

5. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (vs. PIT)

Anderson had 15 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown in Week 17 against San Diego and has now scored a touchdown in back-to-back games. Since November 1st, CJA has carried the ball 85 times for 540 yards (6.35 yards per carry) and five touchdowns over nine games. With Peyton Manning under center, I'd expect the Broncos to rely heavily on their rushing attack even though it's easier to exploit the Steelers through the air than on the ground.

6. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (at ARI)

In their first matchup against the Cardinals, the Packers scored a season-low eight points in a 30-point blowout. And in general, the Cardinals have been stingy in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs (fifth-fewest this season). That said, Lacy was one of the team's few bright spots in their first matchup as he rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries and added a 28-yard touchdown reception.

7. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (vs. PIT)

Against the Chargers last week, Hillman carried the ball 15 times for 117 yards and a touchdown and added two receptions for 10 yards. While I prefer CJA, Hillman has a minimum of 13 touches in eight consecutive games.

8. James White, New England Patriots (vs. KC)

More valuable in PPR formats, White has a total of 28 receptions over his final five games of the season. With a total of 336 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns during that span, White averaged 11.52 fantasy points per game in standard-scoring formats and 17.12 in (full) PPR formats.

9. Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs (at NE)

Last week, West had just eight carries for 26 yards and one catch for nine yards in the team's 30-0 shutout over the Texans. His eight carries were his lowest since October 11th when he had seven carries against the Bears. West is more involved as a receiver than Ware, but Ware figures to get the larger share of the workload and goal-line opportunities. If the team falls behind early, however, it wouldn't surprise me to see West have a productive week (especially in PPR formats) and get five-plus receptions.

10. Fitzgerald Toussaint, Pittsburgh Steelers (at DEN)

As noted above, DeAngelo Williams (foot) will miss another game. Toussaint wasn't efficient in Saturday's win over the Bengals as he gained only 58 yards on his 17 carries, but he had a total of 21 touches for 118 yards. Once again, Toussaint should get the most opportunities among the team's backs.

11. James Starks, Green Bay Packers (at ARI)

Starks gained 65 yards on 14 touches and scored a touchdown last week against Washington. Compared to his first matchup against the Cardinals (three carries for 11 yards), Starks should have more opportunities this time around.

12. Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks (at CAR)

Michael carried the ball 17 times for 102 yards against the Cardinals in Week 17 and he added 21 carries for 70 yards last week in Minnesota. With Lynch expected to play, however, Michael's workload should be significantly reduced against the Panthers.

13. Steven Jackson, New England Patriots (vs. KC)

In two games with the Patriots, Jackson has 21 carries for 50 yards (2.4 YPC) and a touchdown plus one 20-yard reception. It's possible that he gets a goal-line opportunity, or two, and the largest share of the early-down carries, but it wouldn't surprise me if those touches/opportunities went to Brandon Bolden.

14. Jordan Todman, Pittsburgh Steelers (at DEN)

Todman actually rushed for more yards (65 yards on 11 carries) than Toussaint and looked more explosive despite getting roughly half the touches. With Williams sidelined, however, Todman could still see double-digit touches once again.

15. Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots (vs. KC)

Bolden has double-digit touches in four consecutive games with a total of 201 yards from scrimmage on his 53 touches including nine receptions. It's hard to trust any Patriots running back, but Bolden and Jackson should both get some early-down work on Saturday.

More Divisional Fantasy Football Rankings:

Divisional DFS Cheat Sheets:

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