Backups with big roles

Start – Donald Brown, RB, Colts

With a lack of production from starter Trent Richardson, Brown has evolved into the most reliable tailback for the Colts with a 5.8 yards-per-carry average in the month of November. Brown is coming off of an 80-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Tennessee Titans and will look to continue the momentum into Sunday’s game against Arizona. Even when Brown isn’t running the ball effectively, he is a consistent receiving threat out of the backfield with 64 yards through the air against St. Louis less than two weeks ago.

Sit – Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins

The skepticism surrounding RGIII’s knee is growing exponentially as the quarterback continues his sophomore slump. Griffin has not thrown for more than 300 yards since the third week of the season, a span of seven games. That used to be tolerable, because he could make up for a lack of production through the air with his running ability. However, a far more conservative play-call and concern about the long-term health of his knee has limited his opportunities to break big runs. With a dismal 1.4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and zero rushing touchdowns this season, it is better to look elsewhere for a starting quarterback this week.

Start – Ben Tate, RB, Texans

Despite suffering three broken ribs a short while ago, Tate has continued to play as one of the few bright spots in a floundering Houston team. With Arian Foster on injured reserve, Tate has been the workhorse with 15 or more carries in each of the past four games. The Texans will host a Jacksonville Jaguars team this week that not only ranks dead last in the league record-wise, but also stopping the run with more than 139 yards allowed per game.

Sit – Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons

A change of scenery in Atlanta has not served well for Jackson, who is having by far the worst season of his career. For a player with eight straight 1,000-plus rushing yard seasons prior to the move, Jackson will not come anywhere near that mark this year. A thigh contusion hampered Jackson earlier in the year, but nearly two months of rehab was supposed to solve the lingering issue. Although Jackson has been healthy now for a few weeks, he continues to see a minimal workload and has not once found the end zone on the ground this year.

Start – Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers

The big, physical receiver out of LSU has finally begun to come into his own this season. Over the past three games, LaFell has averaged just more than eight targets per game, which shows he is starting to earn more trust from quarterback Cam Newton. In Monday’s game against the New England Patriots, LaFell had a respectable 59 receiving yards and one touchdown, giving fantasy owners a solid 11 points, according to ESPN standard scoring. Carolina plays the Miami Dolphins this week, a team that ranks 19th against the pass, which provides a favorable matchup for LaFell.