Complete Week Eight Player Rankings & Projections l More Sit & Starts
By this point of the season, you should know if you have a chance to make the playoffs or not. If you are close, you need to leave it all on the field and go for gold. That means starting players with a higher potential even if it comes with some risk. If you are in the top four of your league, be sure to keep the pedal down so that you secure your playoff berth, but don't get crazy. Go with proven producers and start to plan for the future by stockpiling some guys for weeks 11-14.
This weekend provides some tasty matchups, some guys who have returned from injury and are poised for greatness, and some good players who just need to be sat due to their opponent. Heed my advice and you will go far my son.
Last Week's Running Back Starts: Stepfan Taylor (18), Marcus Coker (25), Henry Josey (18), Ronnie Hillman (29), Paris Cotton (0), Bernard Pierce (27)
Grade: A. Cotton was non-existent but everyone else enjoyed plenty of rushing success this weekend.
Last Week's Running Back Sits: Isi Sofele (4), Terrance Ganaway (10), Vick Ballard (6), Brynn Harvey (8), Pat Shed (5)
Grade: A. Only one in double digits makes for a solid prognostication.
Start Em! Running Backs
John Hubert, Kansas State vs. Kansas
Hubert has been held out of the end zone as quarterback Collin Klein likes to call his own number, but against the rival Jayhawks, both Klein and Hubert should get their trips to paydirt.
Rex Burkhead, Nebraska vs. Minnesota
Burkhead is a throwback guy for the Huskers and will bring his lunch pail against the Golden Gophers. Minnesota is giving up over 160 rushing yards a game which could be doubled by Taylor Martinez and the Husker ground attack. Look for Burkhead to see over 100 yards and a couple of scores before retiring to the sidelines.
Malcolm Agnew, Oregon State vs. Washington State
This is a bit of a risky pick but I see no better chance for Agnew's "Welcome Back" party than the fertile grounds of Pullman. The Cougars are not surrendering as many rushing yards as in the past, but their defense is still not very good. Agnew saw some action last week and should be ready for a full workload.
Brynn Harvey, UCF vs. UAB
Harvey is back to form and is seeing a steady diet of carries as the top back for the Knights. Two years ago, when Harvey last played the Blazers, he rushed the ball 24 times for 130 yards and a score. These are very achievable numbers this weekend.
Branden Oliver, Buffalo vs. Northern Illinois
Oliver is another workhorse who gets plenty of carries even if the team is down. On the other side of the field the Huskies are surrendering nearly 200 ground yards a game, so expect Oliver to put up some gaudy numbers.
Robbie Rouse, Fresno State vs. Nevada
At this point you can tell I am a fan of running backs who get plenty of carries, and Rouse has been the epitome of such a rusher this season. Rouse has seen 20 or more carries in all but two games this season, so another day of mid-20 totes should equal a nice stat line for the diminutive back from the Valley.
Sit Em! Running Backs
John White, Utah vs. Cal
I know that White carried the Utes last week with 36 carries for 171 yards against Pittsburgh, but Cal is no Pittsburgh. The Golden Bears have very talented linebackers and have the 45th-ranked rush defense, surrendering just over 130 yards per game. The Cal offense will move the ball on the Utes, which will have them forgoing the run to keep up. All in all, it will be a down day for the talented Mr. White.
Chris Polk, Washington vs. Stanford
Polk has been steady as usual but will hit a hurdle against the Cardinal. I see this game being closer than many expect but with the stars of the show being the quarterbacks and not Polk. Add to the fact that Stanford has the nation's 2nd-ranked rush defense and you have more than enough reasons to sit Polk this weekend.
Michael Dyer, Auburn vs. LSU
Dyer is a star but even with decent quarterback play (which the Tigers have not had as of late) he would still struggle against the LSU defense. Dyer could have a decent day, but I just don't see him posting numbers worth insertion in your starting lineup.
Asher Clark, Air Force vs. Boise State
As is the case with many slotbacks in option offenses, they are boom-or-bust type guys. If they come up against a disciplined defense, there is usually little production. The Broncos have one of the most disciplined defenses in the country and should easily shut down Clark on the edge.
Anthon Samuel, Bowling Green vs. Temple
Samuel sprinted out of the blocks this season but has recently slowed up. Samuel is a productive back as long as he can break a long run, a la Jeremy Avery from Boise State last year. However, he will find it quite difficult to see much daylight against the stingy Owl defense, so he is best left occupying a spot among your reserves.
Lance Dunbar, North Texas vs. Louisiana-Monroe
If someone had told me that the Warhawks would have the nation's 20th-ranked total defense and 15th ranked rushing defense by midseason, I would have said they were thinking about Louisiana State, not Monroe. However, the 3-3-5 is locking down opponents and while Dunbar is a star running back, there is just not enough offensive help around him for him to get free this weekend.