Conference Championship Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs

- Updated: Wednesday, January 14th

Scoring: These rankings are based on standard scoring (one point per 25 passing yards and per 10 rushing/receiving yards and four points per passing touchdown and six points per rushing/receiving touchdown) and are for the Conference Championship round of the NFL playoffs only.

These rankings are from Kevin Hanson (follow him on Twitter).

More Playoff Rankings: Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

There is a fairly obvious matchup to exploit this weekend: Patriots running backs versus the Colts rush defense.

What is far from obvious, however, is which of the Patriots running backs will have the biggest day. Or at least be given the most opportunities to have a big day.

After all, the Patriots have a two-game streak of one of their running backs getting four touchdowns against the Colts, but it's two different running backs that have had monster games.

All of the running backs I have ranked ahead of any/all Patriots running backs are set for large and relatively predictable workloads.

Here are my running back rankings for Sunday's Conference Championship Games:

1. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (vs. GB)

What happens once the season ends is unclear, but fantasy owners were clearly "thankful" for another strong year from Beast Mode. Lynch now has four consecutive seasons with 1,200-plus rushing yards and double-digit rushing touchdowns. In fact, Lynch has averaged 1,612 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns over the past four years. Lynch owners this weekend will be hoping for a similar performance to the one he had against the Packers in Week 1 -- 120 rushing yards and two scores.

2. Dan Herron, Indianapolis Colts (at NE)

In his new workhorse role, Herron has a total of 53 touches in two playoff games. Herron has shown his versatility as both a runner (31/119/2) and a receiver (18/117 on 19 targets) this postseason. While Lynch is my top-ranked fantasy running back for the week in standard-scoring formats, I have Herron projected to score the most points at the position in point-per-reception (PPR) formats this weekend.

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3. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (at SEA)

A slow start facing difficult matchups at the beginning of the season caused some concern for Lacy owners, but he had 1,356 YFS, 12 touchdowns and 35 receptions over his final 12 games of the season. That said, Lacy will need more than the 34 rushing yards that he had against the Seahawks in Week 1 for them to pull off the upset, but the matchup remains difficult as Seattle has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

4. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots (vs. IND)

Forecasting how Belichick will allocate touches to his backs is never an easy endeavor. Even though Jonas Gray had 37 carries for 201 yards and four touchdowns against the Colts in November, I'm not sure Gray leads the team in carries this week. Since the Patriots signed Blount shortly after this year's Colts game, Blount has averaged 12.0 carries per game through the rest of the regular season. And Blount was active last week while Gray was not. Last but not least, Blount had 24 carries for 166 yards and four touchdowns last year against the Colts in the playoffs.

5. Jonas Gray, New England Patriots (vs. IND)

As noted above, Gray ran the ball down the collective throats of the Colts defense earlier this season. Since that game which coincides with Gray showing up late for a practice and the Blount signing, however, Gray has a total of 20 carries. Assuming that he is active this week, Gray is worth a roll of the dice given his success the last time these two teams met, but I expect Blount to get the most carries this week.

6. Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks (vs. GB)

Over the final nine regular-season games, Turbin rushed for 30-plus yards in five of those games. In addition, he was given 28 carries in the team's final three games including their playoff win. Especially if the team establishes an early lead, we should see Turbin get eight to 10 touches this week.

7. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (vs. IND)

Vereen had one carry and four receptions against the Colts in Week 11 and the gameplan this week will likely feature Blount and/or Gray carrying the load in between the tackles. With single-digit touches in six consecutive games including Saturday's win over the Ravens, Vereen is not a great option this week.

8. James Starks, Green Bay Packers (at SEA)

In the opener against the Seahawks, Starks was actually more effective (5.29 YPC) than Lacy (2.83 YPC). Over the course of the season, Starks averaged 6.87 touches per game and I'd expect him to get in that range (six to eight touches) on Sunday. Duplicating his per-touch success from Week 1 will be difficult, however.

9. Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots (vs. IND)

Bolden got the "start" last week against the Ravens, but I expect him to finish third or fourth in touches among the team's running backs this week. If Gray is inactive again, however, Bolden's outlook against a soft Colts rush defense would of course get a boost.

10. Zurlon Tipton, Indianapolis Colts (at NE)

Not only has Tipton moved ahead of Trent Richardson on the team's depth chart, but T-Rich was a healthy scratch last week. If you roll the dice on Tipton this weekend, however, you're hoping for a Herron fumble. Herron coughed the ball up twice against the Bengals and Tipton got the majority of fourth-quarter carries in that game. Barring a Herron turnover or two, however, Tipton should only see a few touches on Sunday.

More fantasy football playoff rankings: Has your team been eliminated from the playoffs? Check out my 2015 NFL mock draft. (Or our NFL mock draft database.)

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